Sunday, June 17, 2012

Stuck in traffic?

In the San Francisco Bay Area it was a week of snarl ups, traffic congestion, blockages and all sorts of tie ups to hinder us from reaching our various destinations. So, what did you do with your waiting time? Raise your hand if you fussed. Did frustration jump in your car and take a seat? Did you do like my daddy used to do and roll down the window and holler? Did you do like I did on Friday when I saw the road block ahead?—I dashed into a turn lane, got off that path only to be tied up on another thoroughfare down the way.

Oooh Lordy and then later that evening after a very exhausting day, I got on the back road to avoid the parking lot on the freeway only to discover that that pathway was blocked too. Now mind you I needed badly to get to my destination. I left work with a one track mind. I said to my co-workers—I am going directly to the nail shop. Then I’m going home and get in my bed.

Now at first read you might think that my destination was not significant, maybe even trivial. Well you wouldn’t say that if you had seen my crusty feet. This is sandal weather here in sunny California and pedi’s have to be cured. I’m headed to the shop even as I write and be assured the nail technicians will need power tools to bring my sorely neglected and crusty feet to a state where they can be exposed in public places. Lord have mercy and thanks be to God for the weekend. (LOL)

In the midst of all of the week’s congestion I began to think about how natural circumstances speak so clearly to spiritual issues in our lives.

There are no coincidences when you walk with the Lord, so this was without a doubt a week designed to open our eyes. I asked myself this morning, now what’s blocking me from reaching my destination in Christ? God wants me whole. He wants me looking like Him so I can impact a lost and dying generation. So, what’s blocking me from getting to my divine destination? You can ask yourself that question too. What is the root cause of the congestion in our lives?

A few weeks back on Mother’s Day I blogged about unforgiveness issues with my Mom that had me ‘stuck in traffic’ for years. Since this is the month we celebrate Father’s Day many of us may be dealing with trust issues because our dads abandoned us either physically or emotionally. As a result we don’t trust our Heavenly Father because our earthly fathers failed to provide the validation, protection and provision we needed. Unfortunately, that transplanted lack of trust we freely issue to our Heavenly Father makes all of our relationships crusty—kind of like my feet. Now somebody ought to say Lord have mercy because the very one we don’t want to or are afraid to trust is precisely the one we need. Do you see the congestion here, the traffic snarl ups? Trust issues tie up traffic in our lives. We hold onto the wrong folk and mutilate and let go the people who are in our lives for our good. It’s a mess only God can heal.

Well, heads up. Jesus died and took the stripes for the sickness in my soul just like He did for the sickness in my body. (Isaiah 53:5) God is the Great Physician and those tweaks, renovations, those minor and major ‘spiritual surgeries’ that we need in our lives are par for the course for our God. Now is that good news or what?

I am a living breathing witness that my God is a healer. When I was stuck on alcohol God miraculously took the taste of alcohol out of my mouth. But that was just step one in my treatment plan. I was relieved and highly blessed with that first taste of freedom but God had complete restoration in mind. (Philippians 1:6) I had to give Him room to bring me out.

Now of course there were blocks and traffic jams along the way. There were a few altercations with issues that did not want to leave and some ‘knock down, drag out battles’ with issues I didn’t want to let go. But as the Psalmist says I had to learn to wait patiently on the Lord. (Psalm 40:1) I had to cooperate completely with His prescribed treatment plan. Along the way I had to forgive myself when I faltered and believe that God would lead me back every time onto the path of righteousness. I had to seek godly counsel and I had to seek the Lord so I would know legitimate godly counsel when it came my way. (Psalm 1:1) I had to make the Lord my final authority on everything even when my emotions were screaming ‘not so’. (Colossians 3:15 ) Most of all I had to keep reminding myself that my God loves me unconditionally. (Romans 5:8) God loved me when I was totally ‘tore up from the floor up’ and He loved me when I was resisting His fixing up.

As I get ready now to go take care of my feet issue I can’t help but give a shout out of praise to my God for being a God who cares even about the little things in our lives. When I think about how many little soul ‘traffic jams’ God has gotten me out of, my soul shouts hallelujah. I am so thankful that He blessed me with the good sense to finally let Him do the driving in my life.
Nowadays when traffic slows my busy life down, I thank God for a few extra moments to spend with Him. God’s got it all under control, so I might as well enjoy the ride.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Dad's Recliner Chair

When we were growing up, my brother, sister and I fought over my daddy’s recliner chair. We all wanted to sit in it, pull that wooden crank and lean back just like Daddy did. Daddy ruled from that chair. He also rested in that chair. When Daddy was in that chair the television belonged to him—even when he was snoring loud enough to wake up our neighbors across the street. Just when we thought he was out for the night, Daddy would wake up and yell, “Don’t touch that dial.”
After my dad finished preparing his Sunday sermon on Saturday nights, he would always turn the television to The Lawrence Welk Show. (If you are not old enough to remember Mr. Welk, please do a Google search so you can hear what we had to hear every Saturday night for years. No, on second thought, just click on his name.)

 Every Saturday night we’d sit on the living room sofa like three blind mice just waiting for my dad to fall asleep. Then, the boldest of us would tiptoe over to the TV and quietly turn the knob. Like clockwork, Daddy would wake up just long enough to shout—“Don’t touch that dial.” Then, he’d turn his head and go back to what my mom affectionately called –calling hogs.

Yessiree, Daddy ruled and rested from his favorite recliner chair.

Even when the telephone on the hallway stand would ring, we would race to answer it and Daddy would inevitably say—“Hand it to me”.

When we were very young my parents gave us a phone answering script and Daddy would keep at least one eye open long enough to approve our humble recitation.

McNair residence, who’s calling please?”

Even if the call was for one of us we still had to pass it to Daddy first. He was the official telephone screener too. Daddy totally ruled from the comfort of that favorite recliner chair.—ruled and rested.

Since we had tested the chair in Daddy’s absence, we understood how easy it was to snore and lived for and fought for moments when we could occupy that chair.
As I look back it is funny to me just how much we wanted to sit in dad’s chair. For myself, I couldn’t wait until my older brother and sister were off to college so I and I alone could get the chair whenever Dad was gone for the day. I would often sit there, stretch out and get my snore on just like Daddy did.

Interestingly enough, when I was the last child left at home, I wanted Dad’s chair but I didn’t want his mantle. He was a retired Army Chaplain and a Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) Pastor in Menlo Park, California. I didn’t want any part of any of that.

In my senior year of high school I remember doing a little bit of yelling back when Dad would chastise me for taking a stand at school. I had become a militant overnight and like a lot of teens I thought that I had arrived, knew everything and was more than ready to chart my own course. Whenever the school dean from Ravenswood High School would call to report on me, Dad and I would argue.

All of these heated discussions would end the same way. I would say, Daddy, I do not want to be like you!” Sometimes I would even repeat my words for emphasis.
As I got older and began to make decisions for myself I tried to do everything in my power to prove that I was not like my dad. My parents drove me in our worn out Chevy station wagon to the dormitory at Pomona College and I literally went buck wild for over twenty years.

I shed more than a few tears when I finally surrendered, first to accept Christ as Savior and Lord, and then about ten years later to accept the call to preach. As only God would have it, I am now not only teaching and preaching the Gospel like Daddy but I have also taken up the cause of helping people overcome educational barriers. That was Dad’s ministry assignment in the military. He would pray for soldiers with one hand and show them how to get a high school diploma with the other.

I think it is hilarious that I now treasure the times when I can make a pastoral house call--- just like my daddy did.

As a matter of fact, the only thing this feisty, ex-rebel in the bloodline of Elisha B. and Sarah W. McNair has not done is join the U.S. Army.

Well, I may not be in that army but I am fully signed up and fully committed to serve in the army of the Lord just like my Daddy did.  He sung about that service in a familiar song.

I am on the battlefield for my Lord and
I promise Him that I will serve Him ‘til I die.
I am on the battlefield for my Lord.”

Thanks be to God for giving me just the right Dad!  

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Reflections on the Light

Imagine walking in a place where darkness does not intimidate you.  Imagine being comfortable with not knowing what’s around the corner or not knowing what’s coming your way.  Imagine being able to boldly and fearlessly face and conquer any dark (sinful) area in your life.

David in Psalm 139:12 said in the Amplified Bible—“Even the darkness hides nothing from You, but the night shines as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to You.

Early this morning when I began to consider this biblical fact side by side with Genesis 1:27, I had to sit up and pay attention. We who are made in the image of God are living beneath our divine potential unless we connect and apply these two verses to our lives.  We are made in His image and He regards light and darkness as one and the same.  The darkness and the light are both alike to Him and the darkness and the light should be both alike to us.  If we begin to walk like our Father then we have an answer and a defense whenever fear shows up.  

 It makes sense then that the lamp of His Word in us dispels the darkness.  Do we believe that His Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our pathway? (Psalm 119:105)  If we have a lamp and carry it wherever we go we have no reason to fear.  It is more than possible to walk by faith and not by sight (2Corinthians 5:7)---just take the lamp with you and allow the lamp or the light of God’s Word to illuminate every dark place.

So much of our divine potential is not realized because we fail to walk like we are supposed to.  Why not begin to take on the darkness, whether it is body or soul sickness within or an ungodly spirit without.  We have what it takes to be more than conquerors in this area.

When I was little, the dark was scary.  I was afraid of what was around every corner.  I could always conjure up a mental picture of something gloomy coming that would get me.   

Thanks be to God I know better now and since I pack much of the living and written Word in me, I have no reason to fear.  I simply need to tap in and allow the Holy Spirit in me to bring that Word to the surface so that I can see everything through the lens of the Word. The mental pictures change if I go with the flow of the Holy Spirit.  Thank God for the revelation light of God’s Word that lights my path.

On this day I commend you to never leave home without your lamp.  Fill up on the light of God’s Word as often as the day allows.   Read it, memorize it, listen to it, meditate on it. 
That’s it.  That’s all.