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Wake Up and Live

I have come to see that there are two kinds of sleep.  We were created to need rest.  The human body needs sleep to survive.  We may try to convince ourselves we need less in order to do more – but the truth is we need a balance.  So slumber is a good thing – bringing refreshment and renewed energy.

But there is another kind of sleep that is not what God intended.  Ben Campbell Johnson calls it “life sleep” and it seems to be an epidemic in our world from which no one is immune.  We allow ourselves to become so preoccupied with the things – desires – attractions of the world that we become numb to the realities of existence.  We walk through our days in robotic fashion devoid of vibrant meaning and fulfillment.Hitting Snooze

We need to wake up.  Wake to the reality of God’s love.  Open our eyes to the salvation, grace and mercy offered by Jesus.  We need to shake off the slumber of this world to truly experience the life God created us to live.

So today, don’t hit the snooze button of life – wake up and live!

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Yesterday, I addressed the need to make room for God.  I challenged each of us to see the Lenten season not so much as a time to give something up but rather a time to make room.

Each Easter season, we are reminded to walk with Jesus – to Jerusalem – into the city for the joyous entry – to the upper room for one last meal – to the garden where he would agonize the coming day – to the hill where he was crucified – to a tomb where he would not be for long – to the sea where he would ascend to the right hand of God.  We are encouraged each Easter season to reflect on our need to walk with Jesus daily.

For some, this past year has been a beautiful journey of walking closely with the savior.  But for some, this past year has been a struggle to stay focused.  We have not been as faithful to staying close as we would have liked.  We have allowed other things, some good, some not so good, to distract us.

It is the call of Lent to return to a closer walk – a call to a renewed focus.  It is a call to remove the distractions from our lives in order to see the Father clearly.

Today, we commit.  Today we set our minds on being more intentional with our daily lives – intentional about making room for God – intentional about not allowing anything to come between us and the Father.

Are you ready?

 

Making Room

A couple of years after moving into our current home, we decided it was time to purchase a new sofa and a couple of chairs for our den.  So we began the search and finally agreed on a set.  But then came the hard part – making room.  We found ourselves with the need to get rid of some things so that the new would fit.

In a similar way, we crowd our lives with things that ultimately leave little room for God.

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday – the first day of the season of Lent.  While Baptists have not traditionally observed Lent, I think there are some things we need to be thinking about as we move toward Easter.

When we think of Lent, we immediately think about what we are going to give up, and that is certainly a part of the season.  But instead of thinking about Lent in that way, what if we approached Lent with a different question.  Instead of asking ourselves, “what will I give up?” let’s ask ourselves, “where can I make room?”

You see, Lent is really about recognizing all the things we put in our lives to bring ourselves comfort or peace or happiness and realizing that none of those things can ever do what we expect.  Lent is recognizing that we have pushed God out of our lives and we need to make room to allow God back in.

So where will you make room for God over the next forty days?

Be Still . . . And KNOW

I have a standing breakfast with a rotating group of leaders in our church every Thursday. I look forward to this time each week. Quite a brotherhood has formed over the past several years of doing this each week. So my schedule begins a bit earlier on Thursday’s than on other days.

But on this day – I awoke at 4:15 and could not go back to sleep. I would like to say it was because I was so excited to spend time with some guys walking the same path. But the reason I could not return to slumber was all the concerns that began to parade across my mind. As the parade began, I began to pray.

As I thought of each of my children, I prayed for their lives and their walks with Jesus. I prayed for our church. I prayed for several church members who are experiencing struggles. The parade just seemed to go on forever. I tried to look down the street but I couldn’t see the end of it.

I began to sense anxiety from the overwhelming needs. And then something life-giving happened. God brought to my mind a simple phrase from a powerful verse. Psalm 46:10 says, Be still and know that I am God.

As I watched the parade pass by the eye of my mind, I heard these words with each passing “float” of concern – be still and know.

When I thought about the safety and health of my kids I heard, be still and know!

When I thought about the responsibilities of ministry I heard, be still and know!

When I thought about all the people I know personally who are struggling, I heard, be still and know!

Be still!

Take a breath!

Calm down!

Know that I AM!

Know that I AM GOD!

The one true God. The only God!

Whatever you face this day, BE STILL AND KNOW THAT GOD IS GOD. God is bigger than whatever might cause concern!

Be still and know!

I was raised with faith being a major part of my life.  If there was a time the church was open for any reason, we were normally there.  While that sounds like I might be whining, let me just say that I would not trade a minute of it!  I am eternally grateful for parents who felt it important to have their kids in church.

Throughout my life, I have become more and more convinced of something I was told over and over again as a child.  That God has a plan for each of his children.  I was told that I would never be happier than when I am living in the middle of God’s will.

Unfortunately, there was little said about how to find that will.  So began a journey to seek God’s will for my life.  If you grew up involved in a church, most likely, you have experienced what I am talking about.

Yesterday, we wrapped up a series on Micah 6:8 in church.  In that one little verse, the prophet Micah did us a huge favor.  He answered for us what can be a life-long crucible to find God’s will.  He made it very plain.

I believe that God cares more about the person we become than about the things we do.  It is not that our actions are not important but he knows that if we are the people he created us to be on the inside, then the actions will take care of themselves.

So Micah tells us that God’s will for our lives will ALWAYS involve acting justly – doing what is right.  It will ALWAYS involve loving mercy – truly seeing people and showing them compassion.  And it will ALWAYS involve walking humbly with God.

In fact, the first two things are not really possible on a consistent basis if we are not walking humbly with God daily.  Given that fact, I want to leave you with the following challenge:

Begin each day with this prayer:

Father, this is your day and everything I do, I do for you. I want to do what is right in all things. Help me to see you at work around me and help me really see the people you put in my path.  Please give me strength to show them your love.  Be glorified in me this day as we walk together through it.  Amen.

I believe when we start our days with this prayer, we will live more completely in God’s will throughout the day.

I would love to hear how God guides you this day!  Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email.

Be blessed today!

Do You See

How is your day shaping up?  Are you really busy?  I am sure most are like me and the answer to the second question is “Yes, extremely!”  We tend to fill our time – sometimes with good things and sometimes with less than the best.

While I encourage effectiveness and accomplishment, I am reminded this morning that my busyness must not prevent me from seeing – seeing God at work around me – seeing God at work in me – and especially, seeing the person right in front of me.

So often, our cordial greeting and inquiry about how someone is doing is reduced to a formality.  The question I asked our church family this past Sunday was, “Do we see people?”  Are we aware of the folks around us – truly aware?

Woman and Magnifying Glass

In order to show the love of Christ, we must see people.  And we must see them as God sees them.  There is an old rabbinic tradition that says that when we encounter another person, we should envision a processional of angels going before them shouting, “Make way, make way, make way the image and likeness of God!”

How would our world be different if we saw each and every person we meet as the the image and likeness of God?

Practice seeing today and let me know what you see!

Divine Mystery

I love this time of year. But as I have aged, the reasons I enjoy this season have changed. From my earliest recollection, I understood the reason for the season as the cliche goes, but the depth of my understanding has grown ever deeper.

My appreciation of God’s love for us in sending Jesus has grown through the years. But with maturity comes the ability to reason and think. Many, like me, want to understand things – to reason them out. So when it comes to the incarnation, the event of deity becoming human, we struggle to understand and it can make us feel uneasy.

We are often uncomfortable with the incomprehensible. When we come face to face with the reality of God becoming flesh, we strive for answers. Mystery can be as unsettling as it is illusive.

A few weeks ago, I was reminded that without mystery, faith is not really necessary. Kristi and I attended Greek Fest, held each year at the Greek Orthodox Church here in Corpus Christi. It is a wonderful celebration of the Greek culture complete with traditional Greek food, bazaar and traditional dances performed by the next generation, striving to hold on to their culture.

One of the things we did this year as part of our attendance of the festival was to enjoy a tour of the church and listen to the history of the local church as well as the history of Orthodoxy. The priest is a friend I have known for over 20 years and so it was a true joy to hear him talk about his faith to a group of folks who had no idea.

One of the things Father John said as part of his presentation was that the Orthodox Church is completely content allowing mysteries to remain mysteries.

What a great reminder! So often we want to explain things away. But when it comes to God, there are so many things we are incapable of understanding.

Instead of trying to explain the divine mystery of incarnation, we are forced to accept and believe.

And I was reminded by Father John that I am OK with that.

Be blessed!