Time To Say Thanks

I’m taking the time to say thank you.

To My God

  1. For bringing us through the storm.
  2. Because we are still alive.
  3. For my house not flooding.
  4. For your presence when the storm was darkest.
  5. For eleven days of sunshine.

To My Friends

  1. For checking on us every day through the storm
  2. For texting all night, the night the storm was most frightening
  3. For coming over, getting on the roof, and sealing it
  4. For calling, emailing, and texting us after the storm 
  5. For continuously praying for us

To My Church

  1. For going out every day to help others.
  2. For doing the nastiest, smelliest, and dirtiest jobs
  3. For delivering supplies, dehumidifiers, fans, tools, and support
  4. For your faith, compassion, smiles and prayers
  5. For helping every day when you were sore and exhausted

To Other Churches

  1. For offering your building because ours was flooded
  2. For partnering with us in the clean-up process
  3. For encouraging your Youth Groups to partner with ours
  4. For giving the much needed funds
  5. For your prayers, encouragement, and support

To The Rescuers

  1. You placed yourselves at risk for us
  2. The boats & helicopters, lifting us up and off our roofs
  3. For coming from other states to help us
  4. For working day and night and never giving up
  5. For saving so many lives

And Now

god lending a hand
“Father, can you lend them a hand?”

Dear Heavenly Father,

Please help the people of Florida, and the 7,000,000 who are in harm’s way. Please send them all they need: the rescuers, supplies, the funds, the sacred community, and your divine grace to see them through the storm and back on their feet.

Amen

It’s A Sweet Flowing Wine

It’s a beautiful thing.

What is?

The giving and doing, and helping someone, for someone in need.

It’s the hardest thing.

What is?

The receiving of the giving, doing and helping when we are in need.

Why Is That?

  • We think others need help more than we do.
  • We fear it will make us look weak.
  • “I do it myself,” is what we’ve said since age three.
  • It’s humbling and breaks our pride.
  • We don’t want anyone to think we can’t handle it.

“I need help”

Its tough to admit, hard to accept, and difficult to ask.

Consider

We aren’t marbles in a jar, independent, tough, clicking off each other’s hard surfaces. No, we aren’t marbles, but grapes. Grapes come from the same vine, branch, and stem. They are a community, living and growing together.

They aren’t independent, tough or hard. Grapes are pliable and willingly release their beauty and sweetness, flowing together and becoming something more than any one grape could ever be. Grapes exist in community.

Now Jesus

“I am the true vine and you are the branches. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands you will remain in my love. My command is this: Love each another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay his life down for his friends.” John 15

Harvey

For a week, Harvey captivated and captured us. If frightened us. It submerged much of our city, and a week later, much remains submerged. Harvey damaged everything it touched.

trash to the curb

It destroyed homes, apartments, and businesses. It soiled furnishings, putrefied carpets, and infested walls with mold. Everything had to be discarded and everyone needed help, maybe a little or maybe a lot, but help was a necessity. We needed community.

helping truck get out

To Close

So, we’ve helped, and we continue to help, because it’s the right and decent thing to do. They are our neighbors, and with compassion and concern, we give them a hand. 

We help because he first helped us, because he laid his life down for us. Our helping is the sweet flowing wine of the sacred community of Christ.

And it’s a beautiful thing.

 

 

 

Picking Up The Pieces

“Don’t worry, it’s only things and things can be replaced.”

It’s Being Said

That statement has been said over and over ever since Harvey did his hit and run. His running was more like crawling, and excruciatingly slow.  

There’s been a sentiment suggesting that flooded homes, businesses and their contents were only things, as if things meant nothing.

I Get It

Measured against the loss of life, then yes, things are only things and can be replaced. But the people can’t and Harvey took some people. However, let’s not be quick to judge what else people have lost. 

Jesus Our Messiah

Do you remember when Jesus blessed the loaves and fish and fed the multitudes?

Mark 6:42,

“Then he gave them to be set before the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish.”

two-fish-and-five-loaves

Twelve Basketfuls

  • A sign that he could feed everyone 
  • A message to never doubt him
  • Then there’s John’s account:

“Gather the pieces that are left over, let nothing be wasted.”

Sure, it was only things, just bits of bread and fish. 

They picked up the pieces, so nothing was wasted, the pieces held value.

It’s more than things when:

  • The mechanic loses his tools and can’t work for days or weeks.
  • The business loses its building and there’s no income for months.
  • Photo albums are destroyed, decades of family pictures ruined.
  • Heirlooms passed for generations are gone.
  • Medicines are destroyed, leaving people vulnerable.

If you still aren’t sure, then go spend some time with a family who got six feet of water in their house. Carry to the curb all their mold covered furniture, clothing, keepsakes, appliances, and beds. Then pull up the stinking, rotting carpet, and tear out all the mildew infested sheetrock. Then tell them, “Don’t worry, it’s only things.” 

wet houston

To Close

Jesus made sure the pieces got picked up. Yes, he could turn stone into bread, he could always make more bread, but that wasn’t the point. Those pieces had value.

No, not the value of human life, but value for life.

Things that are lost may just be things, but things with value for life.

Shalom

It Felt a Little Gilligan

It was a rough and bumpy ride.

What Was?

Sitting in the back of a boat, in Galveston Bay, when a threatening storm stirred up. We were determined to beat the rain, lightening, and rising waves so our brave captain pushed the motor to the stops. The bow slapped and bounced and the spray flew back and drenched me.

It felt a little Gilligan’s Island. Me? I was Gilligan and feared the Minnow was lost. It was a rough and bumpy ride.

We barely made it. Relieved to escape the storm, we trailered the boat and left for friendlier places.

Now Jesus: Luke 8

One day, Jesus and his disciples got into a boat and headed across the lake. Here’s what happened:

As they sailed, he fell asleep. A storm came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. 

The disciples woke him saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and was calm.

A Week Ago

Last Saturday night we too were in a raging storm with constant lightening, cannon like thunder, and rapidly rising waters. 

wet houston
It Was A Frightening Storm And We Felt Great Danger

We were afraid, and like his disciples, we were in great danger. We wondered if our homes were about to be swamped.

Some Perspective

  1. Jesus was in the boat and he was in our home.
  2. At the darkest moment, they asked him for help.
  3. Do we wait till the moment is darkest before asking?
  4. He calmed the storm, the boat didn’t sink, and they didn’t drown.

I know. In Houston, thousands of homes flooded and over forty people have drowned.

man walking in storm
When Do We Call On The Name of the Lord For Help?

My point is this: the disciples took on water and were in great danger. They experienced the same fear as we do. And they had Jesus in the boat, didn’t we have him in our home? 

two men in raft
Is Jesus Still In The Boat?

People of faith have storms, know danger, and experience fear. Sometimes the water rises even on the strongest beleivers.

After calming the storm Jesus asked, “Where is your faith?” Isn’t that the point of the story? Where is your faith? Faith isn’t about God keeping the hurricanes from forming.

To Close

It was a rough and bumpy ride. I was wet, miserable, and glad to not get struck by lightening. I got home and was thankful.

In the storms of life we learn to say by faith, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Shalom

“Why Live There?”

Why would you live there?

A Question

 “Why live in a place that gets hammered by storms every few years?” I’ve been asked that question by people who live some place else.

It’s true. The Houston area, and the Texas Gulf coast, gets significant storm damage from time to time. Nevertheless, there are good reasons to live here.

  • People are needed here, more so than many big cities.
  • The nation depends on Houston’s energy production.
  • So does the state of Texas.
  • Its has world class hospitals and medical support.
  • Houston typically has a healthy if not a booming economy.
  • And many more reasons.

Houston12

The same could be asked of the cities and towns around the Gulf Coast. It could be asked of Florida’s 20,000,000 people.

Same for the eastern sea board including the 20,000,000 people who populate the New York/Newark metropolitan area. 

And how about Oklahoma, the Texas panhandle, and other regions that suffer destructive tornados?

The question could be asked of the 39,000,000 Californians living in an earthquake zone.

Why Live There?

How many people would need to relocate to avoid the earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados, and tropical storms? Roughly 90,000,000? More? And  move to where?

Now Jesus

Jesus used an illustration about two houses being built. One was built in a dry river bed and the other on rock.

Two questions could be asked:

  1. “Why did you build your house in the sand?” Answer: “Because I’m a fool.”
  2. “Why did you build your house on the rock?” Answer: “Because I’m wise.”

The fool built in a dry river bed. The wise built on the rock, up out of the river bed. In the rainy season, the dry bed became a roaring flash flood and the fool’s house went, “Splat!” The wise man’s house withstood the storm because he didn’t build in the river.

Houston didn’t build in a dry river bed. Neither did Corpus Christi, Oklahoma City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, or New York. Neither did New Orleans.

Foolishness: letting your kids play on a busy road, making bad decisions, choosing foolish things. Living only for self, without faith, and without God.  

Wisdom: being careful, making good choices, making wise decisions, and loving God and others as we love ourselves. 

To Close

Jesus illustrated what it meant to embrace or ignore his teaching. When it pertains to his Word, don’t build your house in the middle of a river. Be wise, be smart, embrace his word and live on a rock-solid foundation, in a house that will stand for eternity. 

Houston is my home, and home for millions of people. It’s a wise choice.

And storms are a part of life, everywhere. 

Shalom