I am so glad no one told my Bougainvillea that we are in the midst of a pandemic not only of COVID-19 but also of fear.  As I sit here, still on my back patio and gaze at its brilliance, I can’t help but think this is the time faith needs to show through with the brilliance of nature.  This plant does not realize the frenzy of the world swirling outside this backyard.  All it knows is that God created it to produce beauty and regardless of my lack of a green thumb, it is doing just that – brightening the world with God-given beauty.

BougainvilleaGod created us to do the same.  He did not give us a spirit of fear but of power and love and a sound mind.  What the world needs to see right now is a faith that is anchored in the giver of life.  The world needs to see that the faith we talk about casually in the good times makes the most difference in the difficult times.  The world needs to see that this hope we have in Jesus makes a difference in the way we live – even in the midst of a storm.

This storm will pass.  IT WILL PASS!  But what will we do in the midst of the storm that will point others to the source of our hope?   The world needs Jesus – it always has and always will.  Could it be that you could be the agent of hope that would point someone you know to Jesus?

Be an agent of God’s hope not the world’s fear.

The last several weeks have been scattered and chaotic.  I am fully aware of the fact that when life gets the craziest, our time with the Father each day becomes even more crucial.  But I am also a Type A, list making “To Doer.”  Often for me, the greatest struggle I have is slowing down, putting the list aside and just resting in God.

But this morning, I did my best to take some time to sit still.  When I did, God reminded me that even though I struggle to focus on Him, He is always there.  He encourages me to breathe – to simply be still, rest and breathe.

Sit still today and know that He is God!

God’s presence is never in question – our attentiveness is always the problem.

Be still – – – breathe!

God Is Faithful

I sat and watched the sun come up over Santo Domingo on Monday morning. It was inspiring to watch the clouds and sky change colors as they reflected the coming sun – even before it was visible above the horizon. This was our team’s last day in the Dominican Republic. It had been a great week (but challenging for me). Monday was the first day I had been able to be up in time to see the sunrise. I was sick all week – not bedridden completely but fever, aches and all the other friends of such ailments.

I was able to lead a pastor’s conference on Saturday and preach at Iglesia Bautista Quisqueyana Sunday. But on Friday, I was having serious doubts that I would be able to lead the conference on Saturday and had put others on alert that preaching at the service on Sunday might not be possible.

But God is faithful. The conference went extremely well on Saturday as did the service on Sunday. And then something interesting happened. At 2:30 am Monday morning, I woke to soaked sheets and a wet pillow. My body was covered in sweat. My fever had finally relented!

But not until God had proven his faithfulness!

He was my strength all week. He was my rock that helped me stand. He was the one getting me through the construction, the heat – all of it!

Whatever struggle or obstacle you face this week, take heart! God may not remove it BUT he is faithful to help you through it, over it or around it!

Be blessed!

The Heavens Declare

This morning I was on the first flight out of Corpus Christi on my way to Juarez, Mexico for the blessing of leading a time of refreshment and renewal for pastors and their spouses in that city and surrounding area.  This has become an annual event and one that I look forward to each year.

This ministry has grown to the point of the creation of an organization to manage the efforts.  The organization is called Proyecto Fortaleza (The Strengthening Project), and we exist to minister to pastors and their spouses with particular emphasis on spiritual formation and marriage enrichment.  It is a blessing to serve along side a wonderful team of individuals who each have a heart for those who serve God’s church.

Sunrise at 30,000 Feet

As I flew out this morning, the sky was overcast but as we rose above the blanket of clouds, I could see the horizon out the window and the glow that would soon give way to the beginning of the day.  As I intently watched for the sun, Bible Gateway’s verse of the day was playing like a recording in my mind.  Psalm 19:1-2:

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.

It was a breathtaking scene to watch the sun peek through the clouds.  The heavens truly do declare God’s glory.  We just have to take time to look.

I ask for your prayers this week as our team strives to point God’s servants to the glory and provision of our Lord.

Take It All In

As I sat down to read and reflect this morning, spending time with God, my prayer was that God would speak to me.  While that is very often my prayer, this time was different.  I was sincerely yearning for an indication that God was near.  I know in my head that God never leaves us – he is always with us.  In fact, I preached that very fact yesterday.  But this morning, I really wanted to experience his closeness.

I turned to 1 John 1.  In the opening verses of that chapter, John adamantly proclaims that he is writing his words “to declare” what he has seen, and heard and touched with his hands.  He declares that Jesus, who was from the beginning, came to earth and this Jesus is the one he personally heard, saw and touched.

As I read those words, the question arose in my heart – What do I have to declare?  

I began to gaze out the window at the bay, watching the gentle waves and the moving of the palm fronds as I wrestled with this question.  As I watched, a seagull swooped near my window, flapped around in my view for a minute and was off.  God impressed on me in that moment that he is always with me.  But my view is often limited just as my view out my window is limited.  Just because I may not see him does not mean he is not there.

His word to me was, I am always with you – and on those chance moments when you see me, take it all in!

I then began to reflect on all the moments where I have seen God at work recently.  There is an old rabbinic tradition that calls these God moments kisses from the King.  As I reflected on the kisses from the King I have received lately, my heart turned to praise.  I do have something to declare!  I have seen God working and heard him speaking in my life.  He makes himself known to me in even the smallest of ways – like a seagull swooping into my limited view.

Pay attention to the kisses from the King!

Take it all in!

Be blessed this day!

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!

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!