Today I am in transit back to west Texas for a meeting. I rarely spend the money for a shoeshine but I had a little time in the Houston airport and my shoes looked terrible.
So I stepped up on the chair and waited as the gentleman next to me had his shoes shined by a quiet, older man. There were no words exchanged between any of us as I sat down. The businessman was busy considering his connection and the man with the polish was hard at work, business as usual.
But something changed the entire experience.
Out of the blue, a Southwest flight attendant walked up to the shoeshine man and with a bubbly delivery said, “Good morning honey bun!” She gave him a hug and asked how he was doing. After a brief exchange, the flight attendant looked at each of us in the seats and said, “You gentlemen are about to get the best shoeshine you ever got.” And then, she was off about her day.
But that brief exchange impacted that shoeshine man. His eyes changed. His hands moved more passionately. He was a different person.
But that was not all. Now, the businessman was engaged. He looked at me and with a touch of arrogance, said, “I travel all over this country and I am in and out of a lot of airports. I don’t get my shoes shined just anywhere.” Up to that point, I had no reason to think this man had ever used the services of this particular shoeshine man – and for that matter, I still don’t.
But because of that flight attendant and her encouragement, the dynamic of our 6 or 7 minutes together changed.
Encouragement is a powerful and contagious force. It can change a person’s day. When given and received consistently, it changes a person’s life.
Who will you encourage today? Go out of your way to change someone else’s day today. You won’t be sorry and I can assure you, the recipient of your kindness won’t be sorry either!
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What happens when you come face to face with divine love? I am not talking about love as the world would define it – offering affection with the expectation of getting something in return.
I mean the kind of love that shows forgiveness and compassion to a person who is guilty of unimaginable things – dark secrets and evil decisions? How do you respond when you experience grace but you know you don’t deserve it?
The apostle Paul would answer this question by saying “Christ’s love compels us” to stop living for ourselves and, instead, live for Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). He died so that we could live. But this gift of new life is not meant to enable us to squander more living in foolish pursuits. This gift of a new creation is meant to compel us to live to honor Jesus daily with our attitudes, thoughts and actions.
We were not created to live for ourselves but rather to live beyond ourselves. Thomas Merton puts it this way:
To go out of ourselves is to act at the very summit of our being, not moved by our own nature but moved by God Who is at once infinitely above us and Who yet dwells in the depths of our being. . . . A perfect act of faith should, at the same time, be a perfect act of humility.
How will you respond to the realization of Christ’s love for you? What will you be compelled to do?
How will you live outside of yourself today?
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What is the last thing God said to you?
I ask myself that question periodically and then I write down what comes to mind. What I have found through my journey is that God does, in fact, speak. But I am rarely tuned into hearing the voice. Sometimes it might be considered selective hearing. When my kids were young, there were those occasions when I knew they heard me but they chose not to listen. Sometimes I think we are like that with God.
But then there are other times when we are so caught up in the noise of our lives that we can’t hear God even if we try.
So what are we to do?
Create S P A C E
Calm the noise.
Listen . . .
God is speaking right now.
Can you hear him?
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I have been thinking about what it means to live a resurrected life. Over the past two weeks, that has been the subject on Sunday mornings. We have talked about living with hope – and hope is a confident expectation that Jesus is who he says and will do what he promises. We serve a risen savior who has conquered sin and death. There is nothing we face that Jesus has not already faced and overcome. So we find hope in knowing that these light and momentary troubles are just temporary (2 Corinthians 4).
We have also talked about the fact that living resurrected lives should mean living with peace. This hope we find in Jesus gives us the opportunity of peace. We don’t have to worry about tomorrow because we have a confident expectation that Jesus will take care of it.
When we live with hope and peace, then we are freed to live for God fully and when we do that we live for others as well. This will be our topic this Sunday – Living for Others. As I have been thinking and praying through this series, I ran across a quote that illustrates the idea of living for others. If you have read my ramblings for any length of time, then you have noticed that Thomas Merton is a favorite of mine. He said this:
To go out of ourselves is to act at the very summit of our being, not moved by our own nature but moved by God Who is at once infinitely above us and Who yet dwells in the depths of our being. . . . A perfect act of faith should, at the same time, be a perfect act of humility. (Thoughts In Solitude)
When we live resurrected lives – as the new creations we are becoming – then we live outside ourselves. Our focus has shifted to the desire to please God and make a difference in the lives of others.
Go and make a difference today!
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There is a people group who get overlooked often. In fact, for the most part, I think they are taken for granted – as if a part of the scenery. They are expected to do their jobs and as long as they do, no one really notices.
But every day of their careers, they get up, go and face terrifying people who rarely show any appreciation for them. They do this with a smile all in hopes of shaping those rarely grateful, terrifying people’s lives.
This under-served people group is made up of our teachers and school administrators.
Today, our church is stepping out to show some appreciation for this group. We are moving out of our comfort zone and into the world. We will be blessing the teachers and staff at a local elementary school with lunch. There is no agenda. We don’t want anything out of our efforts. We simply want those on the front lines to know they are loved and appreciated and to offer to come along side them in any way we can bring help and encouragement.
Make sure to pray for our schools today and for those who pour their lives into the lives of littles all over our communities. And if you have kids in school, make sure your children’s teachers know you care about them.
Be a blessing today.
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Today, I have the privilege of speaking at the funeral of a man who has been larger than life here in Corpus Christi – a successful business man and entrepreneur – a philanthropist and generous supporter of the community.
I had the opportunity to meet Dusty Durrill a couple of months ago. He knew his days were becoming limited and he wanted to find peace with God. He admitted to me that he had never doubted the existence of God, but he had not followed him with his life. In fact, he had never had much use for religion and the church.
I appreciated his honesty and authenticity. But through our conversation, after he had grilled me as to my intentions, he found his peace with God and that is a morning I will never forget.
But as I have reflected on his life and his story – I have become more and more convicted and concerned. How many other people have that story and that perception of the church? I wish I could say the perception of the church being filled with hypocrites is a false perception. But sadly, just being honest, it is not.
Now before you stop reading, let me say, there is not a place on earth that is not filled with hypocrites. If there are people – there are hypocrites. So to shun the church because she is filled with hypocrites is just an excuse.
But my conviction is this – shouldn’t we strive to be authentic and real? Shouldn’t people find a place where they can be themselves when they come to church?
God loves us just as we are but he also loves us too much to let us stay that way.
So today, be REAL. Let others know you are human but that you are striving to live like Jesus. The world needs real believers being real.
Be real today!
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I am reading through the Gospel of Mark with our deacon body this month. It has reminded me that there are key ideas that are important to Jesus. We learn these principles by studying the Gospels and what Jesus actually taught when he walked the dusty roads with his disciples.
I often have to remind myself that I need to go back to the source. It is easy to get caught up in what others say about what Jesus said, and fail to study Jesus’ actual teachings.
In Mark 7, we find a key principle important to Jesus. He pointed out that it is crucial to make sure we base our faith and actions on God’s commands and not the traditions created by humans. It is human nature to try and take God’s commands and apply them to the way we live. And at some point, there will arise opinions on how we live out those commands. Over time, these opinions become practice and before long a tradition is formed. When those traditions supersede the commands themselves, we have moved away from God’s intent.
Today, make sure to go back to the source. We have done a good job of creating religions but too often we focus on the religions and not the relationship. So focus on that relationship with God today.
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