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An Evening At Camp

I had the opportunity to make a short drive out to Camp Zephyr yesterday to hang out with the children from our church that are in the midst of children’s camp this week.  They were all having a great time and making it through the heat just fine (I’m not sure I can say the same for our adult sponsors).

Worship at ZephyrI got in on a game of Gaga Ball and got to eat camp food and go to worship with the group before heading back last night.  The games were fun and the speaker was great but what impacted me the most was getting to watch our kids worship.  So often, I fear kids do not feel part of what happens in corporate worship on Sunday mornings.  I was moved to hear kids singing with open hearts.

It was a truly beautiful sound!

I left challenged to make sure we are more intentional in the way we plan worship services.  I went to camp to be with the kids for an evening so that maybe they would see how much I care about them and that I am just as much their pastor as any adult in the family.  I left reminded that we need to make sure they feel our church is their church.

What will we do to be used by God to form the next generation?

Need Help VisorI had a friend send this picture to me yesterday.  As you can see, I am not sure the person used the sun visor properly – so either some training in proper use of this particular sun visor would be in order or someone needs to call the police.

My first response was that if I need police assistance, I am not going to put a message on my windshield and hope for the best.  But as I have thought about the picture, and the comical prompting to take it, I have continued to muse about the lesson I can learn from what the picture shows us.  The lesson to be gleaned is one of the importance of observation.

In this instance, either the person putting the visor into position did not pay attention to what they were doing or even worse, based on the fact that there was no police presence, no one observed the message and called the police.  Either way, someone was not paying attention.

I wonder how often we miss an opportunity to experience God at work in our lives because we are just not paying attention?  We rush to get to where we are going and we fail to pay attention to God’s movement all around us.  How often do we miss an opportunity to experience God’s movement because we fail to notice the chance to be used to make a difference in someone else’s life and situation?

God is at work and wants to meet with you today.  God wants to use you today to make a difference in the world and the lives you meet. Will you be observant enough to seize the moment?

Stay on your toes today!

Welcome Home

Where is home for you?  Is there a difference between where you sleep and home?  I pray that these places are one in the same for you.  But I am thinking of home in a deeper sense.  Home is that place you are the most comfortable.

I started a new sermon series yesterday dealing with love.  John 15:9 says, As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.  This word, “remain” carries some deep meaning.  Eugene Peterson, in The Message, translates this verse this way:  I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love.

heart-and-cross-2What a beautiful picture of home.  Finding complete contentment and security in the love that Jesus has for you!

Maybe you have been betrayed in the past.  Maybe you have been burned by someone to whom you had given your heart and love.  Jesus reminds us that God’s love is unconditional and limitless and we can rest and take up residence in his love.

Find your home in the love of Jesus today!

Choices

My commute to the office each morning takes me past several churches.  One of the churches along my regular route has a marquis with changeable letters.  Often this church uses this sign to make announcements of upcoming events.  But occasionally it is used for a thought provoking statement.

Yesterday I noticed one of those statements and it has circled back in my mind a couple of times since.  The statement read:

Life is full of choices, eternity only has two.

ChoicesThere is truth in this statement.  We are bombarded with options every day – pulled in multiple directions to make decisions regarding everything from what shoes to wear to what car to drive to what music to enjoy.  The truth is, it would be easy to make thousands of decisions in a day without once considering truly important issues.

Is it possible that the enemy uses all the options freedom affords to distract us from considering the most crucial choice of our lives?  Satan is known for taking what God means for good and distorting it into something completely different.

Life is full of options and choices.  But the most important – literally life and death – decision an individual can make is what to do about eternity.  We only have two options – an eternity with God or an eternity without him.  God gives us that choice – and we must choose.  While it is never too late to make that choice while we still draw breath, by putting off the decision we are making a choice.

The best decision you can ever make is to live this life for Jesus.  Don’t be distracted by all the other decisions you will need to make today.  Truthfully, if you make the ultimate decision first, it will drastically impact the remainder of the decisions you will make.

Choose wisely!

Vacation Bible School starts this morning.

The sights and sounds are very different for a Monday morning here in our building.  Hundreds of hours of preparation have gone into this week.  Prayer, sweat and maybe even a tear or two have been part of the process.  And now here we are – time to open the doors and let the children in!

There is little the church does throughout the year any more important in the scheme of eternity than this outreach and ministry to children and their families.  Jesus scolded the disciples when they tried to keep children from rushing to him.  Jesus showed compassion and even reminded us that to truly embrace a relationship with him, we need to approach Jesus with child-like, innocent faith – complete surrender.

What will you do to minister to the next generation today?

How will you show them the way to Jesus?

Reminder From Juarez

A little over a week ago, I was blessed to minister to a group of ministers in Juarez, Mexico.  It is an annual event for pastors and their wives in the Juarez area.  We meet at a hotel in Juarez and for three days we get to fellowship and invest in the lives, ministries and marriages of these wonderful servants.

This year we were privileged to have thirty-eight couples attend the retreat (which is paid for completely by donations of individuals, churches and organizations here in the United States).  It is a huge blessing to the couples who attend each year and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve them, as well as for all those who give to make it possible.

This year, one of the most meaningful and moving experiences of the weekend was the closing worship service.  We celebrated communion at that service and it was special for our team to be able to offer the elements of the supper to those who normally serve but rarely get to receive.

My sermon that morning communicated the reminder that God’s grace is sufficient and Jesus’ sacrifice is enough to overcome whatever we face.  As the pastors and their wives made their way past the offering of the bread and the cup, they were also handed a small nail to remind them moving forward that Jesus’ sacrifice truly paid all costs.  In that moment, many were moved to tears with the reality.

My writing today is two-fold:

1) To offer a heartfelt thanks to God for making this event possible (our eleventh year) and for all those God uses each year to support this vital ministry.

2) I also write to remind each of us that regardless of what we are facing today, God’s grace is sufficient.

La gracia de Dios es sufficiente!

Jesus’ sacrifice is enough!

Live into that truth today!

I have to admit – sometimes my sense of humor does not match up with the rest of the general populace.  I often find humor in things others might not notice.

This morning I am traveling.  I am headed to Juarez, Mexico to help lead a conference for Juarez pastors and their wives for a few days.  As I sat at my gate to make my connection in the Houston Hobby Airport (I have spent some time here in the past – more on that here), I heard a voice come over the intercom and announce – Someone has left their flip phone at the security check point and you need to return to claim it.

The very first thought that went through my head was this – They didn’t forget it, they were just too embarrassed to pick it back up.

As I said, my sense of humor does not always match up.  If you still carry a flip phone, hold on – please don’t be offended.  I share this experience here to make a point.Flip Phone

There was a time in the not-so-distant past that the primary use of a cellular device was to make actual voice calls – remember, those interactions where we talked to a live person over the phone?

As technology has progressed at speeds that even Carl Sagan could not quantify, I fear there has been a cost that is now slowly coming into view.  The more “connected” we have become through messaging and email in our pockets, the less truly connected we have grown.

Now we can sit next to a person for hours and never acknowledge their existence.  We can quickly become consumed with all the things at our fingertips literally in the palm of our hands and forget that the world continues to turn and life continues to move forward all around us.

Perhaps the days of the flip phone should not be forgotten.  How about today, instead of an email or text, you actually call and talk to a person.  And while you have them on the phone, tell them what they actually mean to you!

Make the connection.

Be a blessing today!