Learning from Mrs. McGhee

I found out that a friend of mine, Mrs. Ellen McGhee past away last week in Chattanooga, TN.  

In the late 90’s, my church was asked by the city if we could help a widow pay her rent.  She needed $100 or she was going to be evicted from her apartment.  The deacons paid her rent and our church gained an elderly, African-American lady as a new member of our community.

Folks in the church helped Mrs. McGhee find work cleaning at a large insurance company in town, including the office of a friend, now one of her fellow church members.  I always enjoyed the smile on her face as we talked a bit before or after the service.  But I was most touched by the gifts Mrs. McGhee gave me.

She would find me in the hall of the church and slip a card into my hand – a Christmas one in Dec, birthday ones in February and September for my kids.  In addition to a nice note, she would always include a few dollar bills.  At first, I felt guilty taking the money.  I am a white, middle class guy; I don’t need a few dollars from a poor, elderly widow.

But God used her generosity to teach me.  Yes – my life was very different from Mrs. McGhee.  But I am just as needy.  Different but needy.  She had been touched by grace and now that grace was flowing over to others.  Who am I to think that I’ve got my life together so don’t need anything from a lady like her?  I need to receive grace as well as give it.  Mrs. McGhee’s generosity broke my proud heart and showed me a little deeper insight into God’s grace.

God’s community is one that should give and receive grace. Thank you, Mrs. McGhee, for teaching me.  See you on the other side.

I didn’t marry the right person!

Congrats to my friend, Edd, who asked his girlfriend, Katie, to marry him last week.  Edd bought her this wonderful ring:

But Edd has a problem.  He’s not marrying the right girl.  I know this is true because I  didn’t marry the right girl 18 years ago.  After reading this from Tim Keller, I see that none of us marry the “right” person.

But there is hope for those of us looking for or married to Mr./Mrs. Right (at least they seemed Right on that wedding day!).  Keller does a good job in this article in showing how our marriages bring out both the best and the worst in us.  None of us are Mr. or Mrs. Right.  Marriage changes us but more importantly, marriage is a union of two sinful people.  There are no “right” people.  But there is hope and marriage is an imperfect picture of this hope.

I just bought The Meaning of Marriage by Tim and Kathy Keller last week and will try to read it together with my Mrs. Right over the next few months. So if you see Edd or Katie, congratulate them, but gently remind them that they aren’t marrying the “right” person.

Roll with the punches

Yesterday I wrote about my morning routine and of course what happens this morning?

  It all fell apart.

I stayed up too late last night talking with friends who are sleeping in my office.  So this morning, I woke up late and realized that my bible was resting peacefully with my sleeping friends.

Two lessons learned – I need to be careful in proclaiming my spiritual practices to the world as if I’m some kind of master.  Nope – just a regular guy who loves Jesus and is struggling along.

I also learned that I need to roll with the punches.  Missing one morning of bible reading because I forgot to prepare the night before is not the end of the world.   God’s grace is real for people like me who can’t even live up to their own standards let alone God’s standards.

Thank God for that.  And now to go get my bible.




Morning decisions

I got up this morning.  Yep – just like you, I woke up this morning as I do every morning. As I stumbled out of bed, there was a decision to be made.

Actually, it wasn’t much of a decision because I have the same routine almost every morning.  Normal human relief, make coffee, check email on my phone while coffee is brewing, and open my bible to the place I finished reading yesterday.  I then spend the next 30 minutes or so reading and praying through the scriptures.  Different reading plans over the years but same morning routine.

My decision for what to do this morning was made 30 years ago.  It was a struggle in the early days.  I wanted to be like my Dad whom I saw reading his bible every morning so I started out.  Missed some days.  Missed some weeks.  Maybe even missed some months. But a habit was finally set in place.

Spiritual disciplines are just habits we have chosen to undertake for the purpose of becoming more like Jesus.  Nothing magically.  Nothing really that exciting.  But as our routines are set deeper and deeper in place, the Spirit will be at work.  Daily decisions don’t need to be made.

Space is freed up for our hearts and minds to be touched by the Spirit.

What decision will you make today?

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