Archive for July, 2011
When it comes to writing – I continuously find myself in need of inspiration. And when one attempts to write nearly daily – one is constantly looking for something about which to write. Daily I look to reflection from the previous day. How did I see God working in my life the day before. Sometimes that is a struggle. Why, you may ask? Certainly not because God was absent the day before. I think it is a challenge primarily because I find it difficult to be attentive to God’s movement in the moment. I have found it is an issue of training.
My undergraduate degree was a double major – Bible and English. If I remember correctly from one of my American literature classes, Mark Twain was once approached and asked how many orange peels he saw on the ground along the stretch of street he had just traveled down – he knew the answer. Now whether this is true or not, it speaks to one’s keen sense of awareness and attentiveness. I find it interesting to ponder: what if I was that observant as I went through the day when it comes to seeing God at work.
As I said, I think it is a matter of training. We have to be intentional about looking for God at work. We have to practice reflecting on events and occurrences to find God there. Over time, I pray that my sensitivity will become more and more in tune with seeing God in the moment and not just after the fact.
How about you? How sensitive are you when it comes to seeing God at work around you?
We have been focusing in our church for the last month or so on communicating our mission and strategy as a church. We have talked a lot about how we, as a family of Christ followers, should see our mission not as “our mission” but seeing ourselves as God’s mission – the mission of making disciples – of helping people to develop into maturing followers of Jesus.
We have even developed a strategy as to how that should work in our setting. We have articulated this strategy as Learning, Living, Loving . . . Together. We are to be about learning who Jesus is (not just learning about him but really getting to know him) and then living out what we learn. All of this is to be done with compassion and love and all of it done together – in community.
But a couple of weeks ago, I asked our folks to think “bigger picture.” We have a strategy that supports our mission and mission that exists because of our vision. That vision is to truly be the church God wants us to be – to be the people God created us to be. So it begins with being! It begins with an undying passion to BE!
The way we will remember this here in our setting is: 1st B. Our church is First Baptist Church. Our URL for our website is 1stb.com. So it is not a stretch to begin to think of our family as 1st B. But in doing that, we are reminded that before we do anything – we must first strive to BE.
Today, remember – God is more concerned about who you are and who you become than what you do and accomplish.
Be the person God intends you to be today!
Yesterday was an amazing day to be at our church. I have to chuckle at myself. I know in my mind that God is always present but it never fails that I am amazed when God moves in our midst!
I had prepared off and on all week to address the question, “Does God still speak?” I had my sermon wrapped up by Thursday and was feeling pretty good about what God would have me say come Sunday morning. Then on Saturday morning, I got up before anyone else to read and pray and look over my sermon.
As I mentioned, the sermon dealt with God speaking to us. As I went over the outline, I felt the overwhelming sense that God was telling me, “This won’t work.” I sat a minute and responded with resistance – “But God, this is what I thought you wanted me to say. I have been working on this for a while now. Here it is Saturday morning and you want me to start over?”
As I worked through the outline, I began to agree that there was too much there to really try and squeeze it into one sermon – but I could not figure out what to do about it. In fact, I began to pray, “God, if you want me to change this at this point, just show me how.” The answer came through Sunday morning about an hour before the service. Now, for those of you who know me, you know that I don’t like operating by the seat of my pants. But, I felt strongly that if I was going to stand before God’s people and teach about God speaking, then it would be a bit hypocritical if I didn’t listen to the prompting to change the sermon.
I changed the passage, re-ordered the outline, cut some stuff out and prayed through the entire process. To be honest, I could not really tell you all that came out of my mouth on Sunday morning during the sermon, but I can tell you that God moved. But God was not finished. Our pianist had called on Friday to say she had the opportunity to go to Dallas and see family so we were going to be without a pianist on Sunday. A few weeks ago, Andy (our interim worship leader) had asked one of the ladies on the worship team to work up a solo. So Andy called her on Friday to ask if she could do her song on Sunday morning at the close of the service – where we often have a piano solo. The song that Holly had chosen days before, fit perfectly with what God had led me say and was extremely moving. Yep – God moved!
We serve a God who is constantly at work all around us. And it is really cool when we stop long enough to notice!
Now I am looking forward with expectancy for this Sunday when we continue to look at how God speaks. If you are around Littlefield, Texas on Sunday come join us!
This morning, I am just sitting – drinking my coffee. I have a load of laundry going but other than that, I am taking a few minutes to just sit. I did not realize how tired I am until I got up this morning. I take Friday’s off when I can and so today – the plan: wrap up my sermon, take care of some emails and then – hopefully not much else.
I attribute my fatigue to being at camp this week. They were long days filled with Bible study, worship, activities and mostly 4th – 6th graders! But what an experience! I wish I could describe what it feels like to pour yourself into the lives of others. But, I am sure, for many of you – if not all – you have experienced this for yourselves.
I guess it had not dawned on me until yesterday when the two vans of kids and sponsors rolled back into our parking lot at church. I could hear the singing coming out of one of the vans even though the windows were up!
The kids piled out – looking a little tired – but looking mostly alive. They were excited to be home to tell their parents about their week. They greeted me with stories of what had gone on in the day since they last saw me. They clamored over each other to tell their stories.
It was in that moment that I remembered why I do this! At that moment, the late nights telling boys to get in bed didn’t matter. The memories of having to put my foot down to make boys take showers didn’t cross my mind. All that mattered in that moment – and since – was that these kids had an experience they will never forget, and it centered around Jesus!
Who are you pouring your life into today?
The first part of this week has been a blur. I went as a sponsor for 13 kids (4th – 6th graders) to camp on Monday and returned by mid-afternoon yesterday. Another gentleman came and relieved me yesterday (thanks Kevin!) so that I could return to the church, but I had the blessing of hanging out with our 13 kids, along with the rest of the 484 campers, and seeing God work in their lives and hearts and minds for 2 1/2 days. It truly was just that – a blessing!
Yesterday morning, our devotion time was focused on the fruit we produce and the fact that others can see what is on the inside of us by what comes out in our words and actions. We drew the connection that what we put into our minds and hearts is what comes out – good stuff in, good stuff out. Or as I told the kids yesterday, “God stuff in, God stuff out.”
What are you putting into your mind and heart today? Is it God stuff or something else?
Has anyone ever told you that God spoke to them? Has God spoken to you?
Before we get too far into this discussion let me just say that there have been people I have encountered along my journey who have used the phrase, “God told me . . .” to justify things that I believed could not have been of God. So I would caution us from the beginning to be wise in how we approach this issue. If you ever encounter someone who says, “God told me to . . .” make sure you test what they say with scripture. People can use that phrase to give credence to what they want to do.
I believe with all my being that God does still speaks. We read in scripture that God spoke in different ways to different people. Moses heard a voice and even saw God. Scripture says that the word of God came to the prophets. In Genesis, God actually walked with Adam and Eve. Paul encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus and had a conversation. Peter and others heard from God in dreams.
Throughout scripture, we are told that God spoke to people. So the question for us today is this, “Does God still speak today?”
This coming Sunday during our worship time, we will address this subject. I would like to hear from you this week – and who knows, your comments might make it into the sermon. Here is what I would like to know: Does God speak to you? How?
I look forward to hearing from you!
Yesterday, I spent the afternoon with a few of our boys from church out at Plains Baptist Assembly. They are there for a boys camp for a few days. I was able to go from station to station with a couple of them – hearing camp staffers teach on tool safety, archery, first aid, sling shots and compass and maps. You know – manly things!
It was great to just hang out with them for a couple of hours – even in the heat.
One of the foundational aspects with each station is that regardless of the topic, the staffer closed his lesson with some spiritual application. The station at which the application came through the most clearly was compass and maps. As I watched the boys trying to manipulate their compass to get the reading they needed, the one thing that we had to continually remind them of was that the needle always points north. They were each given a heading or degree to set on their compass and then told to move toward the area of the field that corresponded to the heading on their compass. It was fun to watch them try and make the compass say what they wanted it to say.
The key is always in the alignment. The compass needle will always point north. We can try to turn the compass but the needle will always point north. The key is not aligning the compass to our direction – the key is aligning ourselves with the compass.
This is very true on our life journey as well. We can take our compass – the Bible – and try and turn it to fit where we think we need to go, but when we do, we end up places we don’t need to be. We must always align ourselves with the compass and not the other way around.
How closely aligned are you with your compass today?
It is Wednesday and for some that means the middle of the week. For many it means we are in full swing and the week is already moving at break-neck speed. Our lives move at such a pace we seldom stop or even slow down.
But today, that is what I want you to do. Be still. For the next 5 minutes, realize that all the things you need to do today will still be there 5 minutes from now. So put them out of your mind for 5 minutes and listen. Do you hear it? God is calling your name!
God is saying, “I am here – I am present – this is holy space and time!”
God is present with you as you read this. So now, for the next 5 minutes – be present with God. Listen to what God says to you.
I’d love to hear of your experience with God today!
Last week on our trip, we rented a car to be able to get around in the DC area and then to travel to New York City. The car came equipped with a talking GPS device to assist in finding our way to where we wanted to go. I am sure that many of you have used GPS as well. One of the things that drove me crazy with the particular device mounted in our car was the inability to zoom out on the map to get a big picture of where we needed to go.
I have always been pretty good with directions. As long as I can look at a map and get my bearings, then I can usually find where we need to go. But the key for me is having the ability to see the bigger picture. When we are able to see the bigger picture and we know our objective, we often find that there are multiple ways to get where we want to go. If we set out on our journey and hit a road block, we are not dead in the water – we can adjust and keep moving. But if we are tied to a 1/4 mile view of where we are going, we are limited to following the path laid out for us (which is not always the best way, and in a few cases last week, wasn’t even the correct way).
There are many, many similarities in this experience to our spiritual journey. In many ways, if we live by faith, we cannot see too far down the road to know exactly what is coming our way – in essence, living with a 1/4 mile perspective. We can only live into the moment and move forward. But take heart, we have the Bible to serve as our map and to help give us a bigger picture of where we are going and how to get there. We know that our objective or purpose as followers in The Way is to live our lives to honor God. That is where we are going – our goal and objective. The path we take is one lived out in faith.
Will we take wrong turns along the way? Sure, but as long as we remember the bigger picture, we can get back on track and continue to move forward. The key is to study the map and refer back to it often.
May your journey be rewarding today!
Now where did I put that map?