Archive for July, 2009

It’s the Weekend

Have you ever noticed how everyone looks forward to the weekend?  Why is that?  Is it because the days are different somehow?

The obvious answer is that the weekend brings days away from work – days off – for most people.  Isn’t it interesting that God knew we needed days off.  Genesis is clear in that when God was creating the world, the seventh and final day of creation was set aside for rest.  The writer could have just as easily said, “and on the 6th day God created . . .”  and ended the story there.  But God knew that we needed to understand the importance of rest – of time away from our regular routine.  So much so that the 7th day was included in the story to help us understand that rest is just as much a part of creation as the creation of the earth, the animals, the plants and us.  In order to function fully as God intended for us to function – to fulfill our calling as human beings – we need rest.

So what are you going to do with those days off?  I challenge you this weekend, or the next time off that you have, to 1) spend some time doing something totally different.  2) Spend some time in prayer and  3) spend some time with your family.  God will honor it and you will be ready to go for the next week.

Have a great and restful weekend – and thanks for reading!

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The Weight of Doing Good

During my devotional time this morning, I listened as I often do to the Jesuit daily prayer podcast I have mentioned here before (Pray-As-You-Go).  The scripture reading was out of Matthew (read it here).  This is one of the most familiar passages of Jesus teaching to me – I know it backwards and forwards but today it touched me as never before.

Jesus was adamant for us to come to him.  He didn’t say in that passage, “hey, someday when you have time, stop by,” or “hey, just give me a passing glance every once in a while.”  He said, “Come to me, live with me, harness yourself to me.” My first response today was a sense of unworthiness.  I don’t deserve for Jesus to help me.  But the passage kept running through my mind, “come to me.”  I was struck with an overwhelming sense of God’s grace.  But the second response I had was one of liberation.

We are so caught up in doing good things that we get weighted down to the point that we don’t feel like doing anything.  At that point, we have to remember that Jesus offers rest.  He did not say that everything we carry would be removed, he just reminds us that he is right beside us, strapped into the same harness as us.  There is great comfort in that fact – there is rest in knowing we are walking with Jesus.  My prayer is that you find rest today.

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This morning I am thinking about living the transformed life.  When you stop and think about it, that is really what following Jesus is all about – striving to be more like him.

We have developed some concrete steps or tools to help us in our effort to become more like Jesus – scripture reading, prayer, worship, service, just to name a few.  These are all essential.  But lest we think this transformed life is something we attain, remember this:  God calls us to be faithful in what we know to do, but at the end of the day, the growth, the transformed life, comes from God – not our efforts.

I read a quote this morning that said, “We know that living a transformed life means living at God’s direction with grace-given capacity.  This is more than we can do on our own, and, in fact, living the transformed life does not mean trying harder.  It means trusting more and staying close to the only One who can make us more than we are.  As we learn to put our trust and faith in God, we become open and available to receive God’s forming and transforming power in our own lives.”  (Rueben P. Job)

Wow!  Do you find this a little liberating?  The drive that is within each of us tells us that if we want to see progress in whatever we are attempting, we have to try harder and push farther.  But we are reminded today that while our effort is an essential component to our spiritual transformation, it is not the essential element.  Trust in God.  Make yourself available to what God wants to do in and through you today and then watch God work a miracle.

Thanks for reading!

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This past weekend I had 45 minutes to kill on Sunday afternoon before heading off to ensemble rehearsal in preparation for our community singing service.  So what did I do?  Well, being the time conscious person that I am, I could not bear the thought of just sitting for that 45 minutes so I decided to replace the sink faucet in one of our bathrooms.  Mistake number one – I am not much of a plumber!  Mistake number two, you don’t do anything with plumbing with the water we have in this town in less than a couple of days!

At any rate, it was not a pretty sight.  I missed rehearsal just so that I could get the line capped off and turn the water back on to the house before being gone all evening.  I then returned to the project at 9:30 that evening and “finished” the installation by 11:00.  Then I noticed that the drain pipe was cracked – quite possibly from one of my many tantrums I threw while installing the new faucet.

All of this has taught me that I need to remember that all of us have limits.  One of mine must be plumbing skills (or lack there of)!  I will most likely not refrain from dabbling in plumbing repairs in the future but I will remember that I am not very accomplished in this field – I will know my limits.

Now, before we jump to any hasty moral to this story – knowing our limits does not mean that we should become lazy.  God did create us to be gifted in certain things but that does not exclude us from serving in other capacities as well.  There must be a balance between knowing our limits and becoming lazy and using our limits as an excuse.  A committed Christian NEVER retires!

By the way, two days later, the sink is still not functional!  I know, I know!  Kristi, I promise it will be done before I go to sleep tonight!

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I was waiting at a cash register recently and no one was there to check me out.  I was in a hurry and had places I needed to be.  Finally, the employee happened over and rang up my purchase.  I have to confess that my frustration probably clouded my perception of that person – OK – no question that it did.

I was reading in Matthew this morning about Jesus’ parable about how if we have shown compassion and love to even the least, we have shown it to him.  Wow!  It hit me in that moment that everyone of us, according to the first chapter of Genesis, is created in God’s image, even that person at the register.  But in my frustration of the moment, I admit, I was not looking for the image of God in that person.

The question I have to ask myself (and perhaps you can ask yourself if you have ever been in that type situation) is this:  “How different would my interaction with that person have been had I been focused on finding the image of God in that person?”  Mind you, I was not rude or obnoxious with the person (even though a part of me wanted to be) but I was not compassionate or caring either.

I challenge you today to search out the image of God in the people you meet.  Seek to minister to everyone you come in contact with – Jesus said whatever we have done with the least of these, we have done with him.

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I woke up this morning with this thought running through my mind.  I kept asking the question, “What does living the Christian life look like in a purely practical sense.”  Or put another way, if I say that I believe in Jesus and his teachings and have dedicated my life to follow him, then what should my life truly look like to those around me.  The answer that came to me and still comes to me almost hauntingly is this:  “The answer lies at the foot of the cross.”

If I imagine myself standing at the foot of the cross, with all the sites and sounds of that horrific event swimming around in my mind, I begin to see the life of an authentic Jesus follower in vivid clarity.  I am not saying that we must each die on a cross literally, but Jesus was very clear that following him meant dying to self and taking up our cross daily.

But lets keep this image concrete and tangible – the authentic life – the life lived in commitment to Jesus – is one of sacrifice and humility.  When I look at the cross, I see a man who gave up everything and humbly did what God told him to do for others – all others including you and me.  He sacrificed everything for what he believed in – what he knew God wanted.

So, I ask the question again, “What does living the Christian life look like in a purely practical sense.”  The answer lies at the foot of the cross.  The Christian life, authentically lived should be a life of humble sacrifice – giving ourselves completely over to whatever God leads us to do.

  • Putting others’ needs before our own
  • Loving not only those who love us but those who don’t
  • Showing mercy and grace in our relations with one another
  • Turning the other cheek and not demanding my rights if I have been wronged

(Just a very brief and incomplete listing of traits)

I challenge you today to think about this, “If I claim to be a Jesus follower, does my life show it – do others see it?”

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Hands and Feet

There is an over-used, catchy saying that goes like this:  “People don’t care how much you know if they don’t know how much you care.”  In other words, we can try and share the awesome news of Jesus’ love and freedom all we want with people but it won’t mean much if what we say is not reflected in what we do and how we live everyday.

I am really proud of our youth this week.  They have already been to El Paso on a mission trip in June and now this week they are bringing it home.  They have set aside this week as local missions week.  Yesterday they cleaned up around a lady’s home who could not have done the work herself.  Today they will do a little more of the same and also begin working on her carport (that is falling down).  This lady is not a member of our church.  She is a lady in our community who needs help.

We must never fail to share the message of Jesus with folks – we are called to make disciples (read about that here) but we must earn the right to share that message by being the hands and feet and face of Jesus.  Our students are doing that this week.

How about you?  How can you be the hands and feet and face of Jesus today?

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