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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!

Last night, Kristi and I did something we don’t do very often. We attended a concert.

If you know me very well, you know that I love music – all kinds of music. While most of my listening is dedicated to Christian music, I also indulge occasionally in other genres. I grew up on 80’s Rock and there is still a part of me that enjoys a well-played guitar.

So several weeks ago, I did something impulsive – I bought tickets to the ZZ Top concert. While Kristi is not necessarily a rocker (more of a country girl), she agreed to go with me – what a trooper!

I have been to concerts performed by artists whose time in the spotlight had been lived out decades before and the experience was not pleasant – most of them should have moved on and not tried to live in the past (a lesson we could learn from but a post for another day).

Last night, I watched and listened as an aging Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard, two of which still donned dark sunglasses and sported impressive beards, played the songs of my younger days.  I was impressed to the point of being amazed at how Tres Hombres still command the stage but do so with an awareness and ownership of who they are today.  They blended the older elements of their show (fuzzy guitars and sunglasses) with an authentic sound.  They did  not reproduce the sounds first recorded 40 years ago.  They played those old songs to be sure, but they did so with new twists and matured riffs.Sunglasses

As I sat and listened, I thought about how important it is to live out our passions.  But the danger in doing that is sometimes we want to live in the glory days of the past.  We remember a time when things were great and we want to live there.  However, what I have come to see time and time again is the “glory days” were not quite as glorious as we remember.

We need to own our passions and seek daily to live within them, doing the things God has gifted us to do for his glory.  Part of the living out of those passions is having the authenticity to accept the fact that as we mature, our passions mature as well.  We do not need to feel the need to try and relive the past but rather understand how are passions best fit the needs today.

God has created you on purpose for his purpose.  And that purpose is to serve him daily by using your gifts and passions to bring glory to him in ever changing ways.

Live into those passions with authenticity today!

Swipe Right

I recently was blessed to have lunch with a couple who are engaged to be married. In fact, their big day is coming up next month. As we visited, the question of how they met came up. It was interesting to watch their faces as they looked at each other with looks that communicated – “so how do we explain this one?”

The gentleman began by saying they met through an app – a dating service designed around a phone app. He explained the process this way: a person signs on with the service and builds a profile within their system describing themselves – their likes, dislikes and so on. Then the person gets to scroll through the profiles of the other people who have done the same.

When a person sees someone they might be interested in – the person simply swipes right with their finger. If there is no interest in the person one simply needs to swipe left, never to see the profile again.

On the other side of the relationship equation, the person has no idea someone else is interested in them. BUT, if they happen to swipe right on the person who has swiped right on them, both are notified that there is a match that has been found and at that point, they can choose to meet.

And that is how they met. A very interesting process if you ask me.

As I heard their story, my mind began racing thinking about how this process might relate to matching up with God. As I see it (and scripture suggests), we always have a choice. According to 2 Peter 3:9, God wants to have a relationship with each and every person on earth – he chooses us first. But we have a choice. When presented with the good news – God’s profile – we can either swipe left or swipe right.  God has already swiped right for us – we just need to do the same for a relationship to begin.

Which way have you swiped?Swipe Right

I think this concept has daily ramifications as well.  We choose daily regarding commitment to follow his lordship. Each day we can choose to swipe left and do our own thing or swipe right and follow him.

Today – – swipe right!

An Amazing Calling

We began a new sermon series yesterday – Called To Be Missional.  The idea is that as believers we are called to live our lives to please God – to know God and make him known.  We are part of something so much bigger than ourselves.  We are part of a movement that began with Jesus building his church over 2000 years ago – and this movement actually began with a relationship that stretches back to the very beginning.

There is more going on all around us than we can possibly comprehend.  God is at work all the time – but do we see his hand at work?  There are needs we pass by everyday but has the constant sight of those needs caused us to become numb?  Have we allowed the need around us to blend into the backdrop of our daily, busy lives and thus go unnoticed?

It can be overwhelming!  When we are sensitive to seeing needs and God’s movement around us, we can become overwhelmed to the point of paralysis.  But remember this:

You cannot do everything – – but you must do something.

God created you to meet a need that only you can meet.

What an amazing calling!

Live into that calling today!

Breaking Free

There are so many things that hold us back in this world – fear of failure, fear of embarrassment, poor decisions that lead to consequences.  In a fallen world it is hard to truly live the life God truly wants for us.  In fact, on our own, it is impossible to have the life God created us to live.

The biggest barrier to experiencing God’s best for us is sin.  Because of our sin we are enslaved and held back from all that God has for us.  But God created a way for us to have the life he wants for us.Bonds Broken

In John 8:31-32 we find that Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Jesus came to teach truth and live that truth so that we could be free.

What is holding you back today?

Jesus offers truth and that truth brings freedom.

Healthy Bread

One of our favorite Monday night rituals is to frequent a local Italian restaurant because of their half-price deals.  But once there, one of the perks is their amazing bread.  I am not one to go seeking bread everyday – in fact, my doctor tells me I should limit my bread intake for health reasons.  But their bread is almost addictive.  So observing this Monday night ritual comes with a down-side as well.  For many, bread is a real temptation.Loaf of Bread

But what if I told you that there is a bread that provides tremendous health benefits with no long-term negative effects?  What if there were a type of bread that offered all the daily nutrients needed to sustain life?

Would you be excited?

Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.  Whoever comes to me will never go hungry.” (John 6:35)  The bread Jesus offers sustains life – full, meaningful life.

When we trust in the nourishment that Jesus offers, we realize we don’t need all the filler foods we tend to stuff into our lives.  The empty calories provided by the distractions of the world cannot compare to the life-giving food Jesus offers.

What kind of diet will you follow today?