Thursday, April 9, 2009

Sam Walmart, What Message Are You Sending Your Customers?

Sam Walmart has worked hard to build a shopping experience with his Super Walmart stores. Everything from gardening the groceries, automotive to electronic, household to pet supplies can be found within its walls. As I enter the Walmart stores, I find the greeters friendly and warm and make me feel really welcome. Perusing through the aisles, I can almost hear the merchandise cry out, “Buy me, buy me!” I continue with my shopping, picking out those items I originally came to get, and a few I did not intend to buy. I move toward the checkout lanes, looking for the one with the shortest line and rush to the cashier. She/he greets me with a smile, and asks if I found everything OK. I say yes, returning her smile, smiles are contagious. She scans each item and bags my purchase. I pay for my purchases and place my items in my cart. I say have a blessed day, a response is normally returned, and proceed toward the exit. Now, this is where the problem arises. I am stopped at the door; my purchase is checked and compared with my receipt, as if I am walking out with something I did not pay for. I feel violated and suspected of being a thief. Others who have checked out proceed to the exit and leave. I stand there and watch as only certain ethnic groups are stopped and subjected to the search. My feelings of the warm welcome are now replaced with anger. Sam, what message are you sending to your customers? Although I enjoy the shopping, there are now certain Walmart stores I do not patronize.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Untie Your Ropes

We make a living out of what we get.
We Make a life out of what we give.
Dave Toycen

In his book, When The Game Is Over, It All Goes Back In The Box, John Ortberg offers an excellent guide for spiritual formation. One chapter stands out in my mind. In chapter five, “Untie Your Ropes,” he tells of an experience in which a friend invited him to go flying. When he arrived at the airport, his friend was pre-fighting the airplane. John noted there were ropes securing the wings to anchor bolts in the ground. These ropes keep the airplane from blowing around when the winds are high. Johns friend entered the plane and started the engine. After checking all his instruments, he called the control tower for clearance to take-off. Clearance was given, the engine was advanced to operating RPM, and the pitch on the propeller advanced. The little airplane strained to move forward but was held back by the ropes.

Ortberg contends that many Christians strain to move forward along their Christian journey because they forget to untie their ropes. For some it might be misguided beliefs, for others it might be fears or doubts? What may be hindering you from drawing closer to God? Get rid of those things which hold you back.

Untie your ropes!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Peace Be Still

And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. (Luke 8:37-39)

In the midst of the storm, Jesus cries out, "Peace be still."

She was nearing the end of life and those around did not understand her ramblings and her anxiety. She saw people who had died long before. She seemed anxious and would seem to through fits. As I read scripture to her, she pointed and cried out, I see Jesus. What is he doing? He’s waving for me to come, a sigh and then a look of disappointment. What’s the matter? He’s gone. She rested and listened as I read to her again. Several times, she would become anxious and cry out I see Jesus. In a moment, she was silent. The smile on her face said everything. She was at peace; she was now with Jesus.

Life can be filled with chaos; storms rage all around as we venture on our journey. In the midst of the storm, Jesus arose and told his disciples to fear not, he rebuked the winds and said, “Peace be still!” In the midst of your storm, you can find peace, reassurance and comfort in the presence of Jesus Christ.

Monday, March 30, 2009

That Cold Gray Door

Oh, that door, that cold gray door,
That silent door.
The many days and endless nights,
I’ve watched that door.
It just sits there and watches,
That overly protective Cyclops.
Shan’t I ever see that outside world?
Why does it open only for me?
Doesn’t it realize (perhaps it doesn’t know).
I must be with people.
It always turns them away.
Wait I hear footsteps,
They are coming close.
They’ve stopped outside the door,
They’re coming in.
They’ve stopped again,
They are leaving (WAIT!!)
Oh, that door, that cold gray door.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

I Will Send You A Comforter

“I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” (John 14:18)

The week began as usual and I began my rounds as the chaplain of the hospital. As I made my way from room to room, I hesitated. I walked down the corridor and knocked on the door of a room far down the hall. I could not help myself; it was as if I was being drawn to this particular room.

Julie, the daughter of the patient, asked me to come in and sit next to her on the lounge. As I sat there, she began to cry and said the doctors told her, It would not be long before her mother passes away. I listened as she spoke of their lives together and those magic moments they had together. She spoke for some time of how she would miss her mother. I looked up at the patient and noticed she was no longer breathing and asked Judy to excuse me a moment.
I went to the charge-nurse and asked if she would check the patient because I thought she had died. I returned to the room to be with Julie when the nurse arrived. The nurse leaned over the patient, placed her stethoscope to her heart and listened. It seemed an eternity. She turned to Julie and said, “I am so sorry for your loss.” Julie turned, threw her arms around my neck. Weeping, she placed her head on my shoulder and mourned. At this moment, I found I had no words to say but then, no words were necessary. This was a moment when a tender presence was more comforting than any words.

Jesus told his disciples, “I will not leave you comfortless.” He will send a comforter; God’s Holy Spirit reminds us of the nearness of God in our times of despair. God is there waiting for us to reach out to Him.