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Fix Your Gaze

I think God may be trying to tell me something.  I posted yesterday about the importance of realizing how easy it is to drift away from God and the things we hold true.  You can read that post here.

So this morning during my time of silence and reading, I was reading through the story of Cornelius in Acts chapter 10.  One of the practices I try to use often is Lectio Divina or Prayerful Reading.  With this practice, you work through just a few verses and read them through looking for a word or phrase that stands out to you and then spend some time meditating on whatever that might be.

As I read the story, Luke tells us that Cornelius was not a Jew but was a God-fearer and prayed continuously (a habit we could all adopt).  During a time of prayer, an angel appeared to him and at his appearance, Cornelius “fixed his gaze” on the angel.  That is the concept that has continued to stick in my mind.  He fixed his gaze – his eyes were glued, his mouth was open and he was completely captivated.  The house could have collapsed around him and he would not have noticed because his full attention was locked on the visitor.

If we want to stop the drift – we have to learn to have that kind of focus.  We have to give God our complete and undivided attention.  When we do, we will experience God in a way never before possible.

Fix your gaze today!

So Easy To Drift

This past Sunday, I preached from a passage in Hebrews 2.  The writer gave an emphatic suggestion that as believers we have to pay attention to our relationship with Jesus.  Verse 1 tells us that if we don’t pay attention, we will drift away from the things we know to be true.  I don’t know about you, but I have found this to be overwhelmingly true in my life over and over again.

For those of you who do not know me, I am a type A person.  I have a To Do List for everything.  In fact, I have been accused of having a To Do List to remind me of what needs to go on my To Do List.  I like checking things off my list and the sense of accomplishment that brings on the days when I actually get to do that.  If I just described you – HIGH FIVE!  There is nothing wrong with being like this.

However, in my drive to accomplish, it is very easy to take my focus off what is really important.  Instead of concentrating on the bigger picture and the overarching calling that is on my life, I get pulled into the minutia that is my day.  It’s subtle.  It’s all but imperceptible – but little by little I drift.  I get busy and push time in silence to the back burner.  It tell myself, “That is what I’ll do when I get home tonight.”  The problem is, there is always one more thing on the To Do List that I could do – one more article I could read – one more call I could make.  So what happens is I fall into bed at an indecent hour and begin thinking about all the things I have to do tomorrow – never once stopping to think about the fact that I served Jesus all day but rarely had a conversation with him.

A day can turn into a week and before long, we look up and we have drifted to a place that we had no intention of being and we really don’t even know how we got here.

Well, today – – I stop drifting.  Today, I focus on what matters.  Today, I anchor my thoughts and actions to the one who called me to this in the first place.

Join me and stop the drift.

Be blessed today!

It is hard to believe that summer is gone and it is time to fight school traffic and all the joys that brings. But beyond the traffic and the lunches and the paperwork (yes, the same pages you filled out last year) there is something intimidating about this day for kids and parents as well.

For kids, there is the excitement of something new and challenging mixed with the fear of the unknown and the dread of homework.  But for parents, the intimidation is different.  It comes more in the form of losing control.  That child that has been under your exclusive care is now out of sight and the care is coming from someone else.  That is scary in many ways.  But take heart and find peace in the fact that God is never absent!  So today, when you feel that concern – simply pray.  The reality is – that is the best thing you can do for your kids – and yourself.

Lord God, I pray today that you will protect our kids. Please grow them into the responsible people you want them to become. Develop them into sincere followers of Jesus so they can make a difference in their schools, in our communities and in our world. And walk with us as parents today.  May we know the peace and comfort that comes with the realization that you have our kids in your hands.  Be with the teachers and administrators in our schools.  Strengthen them and guide them as the strive to pour into the lives of our kids!  Amen!

And It Continues

On Sunday, 7 kids and 3 adults loaded into a van in Littlefield, Texas and emerged a few hours later in the heart of the Metroplex. The task at hand? To serve people in Arlington through the ministries of Mission Arlington.

Day 1 was spent traveling and settling in but day 2 began with getting our assignment for the morning. We drove to an apartment complex in south central Arlington and stepped into a world somewhat foreign to the world our kids know. But they adapted and quickly jumped into building relationships with kids through playing soccer in the parking lot or coloring pictures with some. We sang songs and played games. We had a Bible story and prayed.

After lunch we headed to another apartment complex with 20 cases of avocados to give away. We went door to door (to well over 200 doors) giving away the fruit to anyone who wanted it. We had an opportunity to brighten the lives of many people all while serving. We prayed with some, talked with some and smiled a lot – even amidst the heat and humidity.

Day 3 took us back to the same apartment complex we had served the morning before and many of the same kids we met on Monday.

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In fact, Adrian and Frankie were ready to go when we got to their apartment. They were excited to see our group back for another day but I may have been more excited to see them than they were to see us. Frankie and I hit it off on Monday so I was looking forward to seeing them on Tuesday.

Our kids have begun to experience some pretty important realizations. Missions is not necessarily specialized work done by a select few in some foreign country. Missions is a lifestyle that should come naturally. Our ministry should be an outflow of the love we have for Jesus. And we don’t have to travel across the state to practice this lifestyle. We can serve others each and every day regardless of where we are standing.

Today is our last day. I wonder what God will do here?

What will God use you to do on your mission field today

And So It Begins

You haven’t lived until you have taken a group of 4th, 5th and 6th graders on a mission trip – well – that may be overstated. I’ll be able to confirm that in another day or two. I am writing this on Sunday night after a 6 hour drive in a van with 7 kids so it may be too early to tell.

Two other adventurous adults are along for the ride as well. They thought that it would be a good idea to bring a group of adolescents to Mission Arlington to experience getting out of our comfort zones and serving others less fortunate.

Now I know that there is no need to travel 6 hours away to serve others who need to see the love of Jesus. In fact, we should be showing the love of Jesus to everyone we meet each and every day. But there is something transformative in a person’s life when they are willing to go out of their way to serve. God blesses our efforts, as meager as they may be at times.

So today, I ask for your prayers. Pray that God will use these kids to speak into the lives of others. Pray that God will grow them through this experience. Pray that God’s hand of protection will overshadow each of us this week. And pray for the adults who bought into this vision in the first place.

I am holding to the hope that my opening statement will still be true two days from now. Right now, I am just wishing they would go to sleep!

Be a blessing today!

What does the Spirit of God look like? The Spirit has been described as wind and as fire. There is the accepted idea that the Spirit can’t be seen but just as we can see trees move and know the wind is affecting the change, so I believe we can see the Spirit’s moving and affecting change.

Yesterday in worship I witnessed the Spirit of God moving. I watched as a man with arms decorated with artwork made his way to the front of the church to share with our family that he wanted to be part of our community. I then watched as our family lined up to pass by him and hug his neck. The Spirit was busy.

And then later on in the day, I watched as I presented an idea to our church family for making a significant change to the way we do things. I was not nervous but I was cautious in presenting the idea because of the nature of this change. But I heard one after another endorsing the idea. The Spirit was moving each person present out of their comfort zones.

So what does the Spirit of God look like? I can’t say. But I can say that the affect of the Spirit’s movement is changed lives.

Let the Spirit move in you today!

Be blessed.

Today, my commute to the office was accompanied by a gentle, refreshing rain.  I could see through the streaks of rain running across my windshield how the ground was welcoming the moisture by changing colors – from it’s normal reddish sandy color to a deeper, richer brown.  Our land has been so dry for so long – it is a refreshing sight to see God’s blessing falling all around us.

As I have continued to reflect on God’s blessing, I am reminded that God showers blessings on us on a daily basis.  But how receptive are we of those blessings?  Or are we even aware of how God is at work all around us?

As we open our hearts to receive God’s blessings, we should begin to take on a different appearance.  Just as the soil welcomes moisture and is changed, our countenance should become deeper and richer.  Our faces should reflect God’s joy.  Our words should carry comfort.  Our actions should reveal compassion.

God is constantly blessing us.

How receptive will you be today?

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