Archive for August, 2009

I thought I would do something a little out of the ordinary for the post today.  Last Friday night I was a loyal fan and made the one hour trek to our season opener high school football game.   The weather was perfect and the stands were full.  I thought I would share with you the top 5 things I heard in the stands at the game.  Here we go (imagine if you will a drum roll).

5.  “Get him Coach Goot!” (Our new coach is Coach Guitierez, I don’t think it is that people can’t pronounce his name, it’s just that, “Get him Coach Guitierez” just doesn’t chant as well)

4.  “Now that’s how you ride a mule!” (The team we played were the Mules)

3.  “Come on ref, your cheatin’ a bunch of kids!” (No explanation needed)

2.  “You mean I have to walk all the way over there to get something to drink?!” (They had one concession stand for the entire stadium and yes, it was not on our side!)

1.  “They played with heart and they never gave up!”

It was a good game despite the outcome.  Our boys played hard and they never gave up.  It takes heart to do that – a lesson from which we could all learn a little something.

Oh, just a word of warning, if you are sitting beside me at the next game, give me some room for the occasional jump to my fee to yell AND be careful what you say, it may end up on the next post!

Have a great week!

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I have been talking all week about change.  Change is a part of life – we all change and grow.  But even though change is a part of life, not everyone embraces it. All of us like to be comfortable.  We may say that we want change and really mean it – as long as you aren’t changing this or that, whatever is too personal or already “just like I want it.”  Change is often called for by one person or group but it may mean the bulk of the change will have to actually happen with another group.  This is where conflict often occurs.

So what am I saying?  Should we seek change or not?  Absolutely, as I said, change is a part of life.  But we must always remember that Jesus came and changed the world but he did it with love and grace.

If life transforming change is to happen in this community or any other for that matter, it will come from a position of love and grace, not pride and arrogance.

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Walls or Patios

Yesterday I mentioned that I would be talking about walls today.  I have been thinking a lot about walls (I still have a wall in one of the rooms in our house I built a while back and I’ve never finished – hmm, maybe I’ll do that this weekend).  Walls have one main purpose – to separate or divide.  I can’t imagine living with three boys all in one big room, I don’t care how big the room.

Walls also provide a perceived safety, keeping us safe on the inside from the evils and danger on the outside.

While Jesus was a carpenter, he was not a wall builder in the spiritual sense.  In fact, he was notorious for smashing walls down – walls between organized religion and the common folks of the day.

In our society, much work has been done to build walls in the religious circles – the taller and stronger the better.  But as I stated yesterday, maybe we need to stop focusing on our differences and start concentrating on our similarities.

What would our world be like if we took the bricks we have used to build walls and made patios instead?  A brick wall separates, a brick patio invites.  A brick wall keeps me in and you out, a brick patio provides a place for community and dialogue.

I truly believe that we can hold on to our distinctions and still work together – after all, we are all on the same team.

I don’t know about you but I think I want to live on the patio and not behind a wall.  Come on over and we’ll sit on the patio and share life together – might even throw a few steaks on the grill and really enjoy being together.

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I had a great conversation yesterday with a gentleman about change – change in the lives of people, change in our community and change in our churches.  The cool thing about it was that the conversation was not between two people who would normally interact on this level.  We have known each other for years but really never had a deep conversation until yesterday.  How did it come about you may ask?  Twitter.  Yep, we connected over the topic of change through Twitter.  A dialogue began there and moved to a face to face meeting.  So here two guys sat, one from the Church of Christ denomination and one from the Baptist denomination, having a conversation about change in peoples’ lives and the need for a fresh movement of God’s Spirit here in our town.

Now for you who may be reading this not familiar with denominational life in a rural town, it has not been too long ago that a meeting like this would not have happened.  But the tone of the conversation and the desire in both hearts were to work together to further God’s kingdom.  It was an amazing thing.

Here’s the deal – followers of Jesus (yes, all of us) are called to take the message of love and hope to a desperate world.  But in case you haven’t noticed, its a big honkin’ world.  We are going to have to work together to accomplish God’s mission.  Walls must come down (more on that subject tomorrow).

Now before you get all flustered, no, I am not a bleeding heart that thinks we should throw away our traditions and beliefs.  Those traditions and beliefs add color and beauty to our world.  I love being a Baptist.  The doctrine I choose to follow is more in line with the Baptist belief system than others, but I do not think for a minute that I have this stuff figured out.  That is why the grace that covers me, and also covers you, is so important.

What I am saying is that there is much to do in order to further the kingdom of God and it is going to take all of us working together to see the changes in lives that only the love of God can bring.

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Are You Willing?

Yesterday I talked about the fact that we often fail to follow God’s leadership because we become so accustomed to God’s word that we fail to see it as relevant and alive – we skim right over what it means for us now.  Today I am thinking about another reason we fail to follow God’s leadership.  Often times we know what God would have us do but we are unwilling.

Ever been there?  Have you ever been faced with the realization that you needed to do something different to be more effective or maybe to be closer to God but you were not willing because it meant giving something up or changing something you like to do?  I have to confess that I know in my head that I need to spend more quality time with God – setting aside time to read and pray.  But on a very practical level, that would mean going to be earlier so that I could get up earlier.  I would have to change my lifestyle to make that happen more regularly.  So what do I do?  I try to get up earlier without going to bed earlier, telling myself that if I was a committed Christian I could do it.  But what happens is that after a few days of that, I am back into the routine of sleeping later and cramming my time with God into a more convenient crevice of my day.

The book of Judges deals with this idea.  You can read an example here.  So many times we do not follow God’s plan for us because we are unwilling to change.

So here is my question for you today:  “What are you doing that you know you need to change to become closer to God and the plan that God has for you?”

The beauty of God’s love is that God’s invitation is always open.  One of the themes throughout the book of Judges is God’s pursuit of us.  God is always open and ready for us.  The question is are you willing to change?

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Hidden In Plain Sight

One of the oldest school buildings in our community has a very interesting element that I find amusing.  On the south end of the building, just above the entrance into the gym are three or four reliefs – concrete, life-sized athletic figures formed right into the wall about 20 feet above the ground.  This building was built over 50 years ago and the reliefs are not a new addition.  The poses that these figures are in I find hysterical – but that is a post for another day.  What I find amusing about all this is that when I came to this community, my first day, as we were driving around looking at the sites, I spotted these strange figures.  Now I am not the most observant person, but I picked these things out from the car at 30 miles per hour.

I have now been in this community for over 7 years and I have yet to meet one person who grew up here that, when asked about the figures, even knows what I am talking about.  I am always amazed when the subject comes up, that no one has ever noticed these amazingly funny athletes posing in a prominent place on one of our buildings.

But here is the point.  We grow accustomed to things and don’t see what is really going on around us.  The same is true in the church.  We do the same things over and over, year after year and think things are great when often times we don’t truly see what is going on around us.  James 1:23-24 speaks to this familiarity.  You can read it here.

The author of James says that hearing God’s word and not doing it is like looking in the mirror and after turning away, forgetting what we look like.  The point is this, we often become so familiar with God’s truth, we stop living it – it is assumed – and before we know it, the word, the very truth of God, loses its relevance and impact in our lives.

I challenge you today to pray this prayer:  “God, today make all things new.  Help me to see your word, your will and your plan for me in a new and fresh way – as I have never seen it before.”

I would love to hear what God does in you as a result.

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Tobymac has a new song out called, “City On Our Knees,” you can hear a clip here.  In the song he asks the questions, “If we gotta start somewhere, why not here?  If we gotta start sometime, why not now?”  So many times we want change but we expect it to start somewhere else or by someone else.

The questions were asked long before Tobymac began to sing about them.  “If not you then who?  If not now then when?”  But if change is going to come, it has to start with me and it has to start now.  We can put it off for later or we can expect someone else to do it but I have seen what happens when we do that – absolutely nothing.

At the risk of sounding harsh, God never intended for us to be pew warmers, God intended for us to be world changers.  The very future of Christianity is dependent on us.  God has gifted us with the gift of life and love – what are we doing with it?

If not you then who?

If not now then when?

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I was reminded yesterday just how blessed I am.  I follow @serenawoods on Twitter.  She is writing as a guest blogger here.  As I have read her posts over the past two days I have been moved as to how God has worked in her life.  I have also realized just how God has protected me my entire life.  I am humbled to see all that God has brought Serena through – I look forward to tomorrow’s post to get the rest of the story.

I am reminded, through Serena’s story, that God is sufficient.  In all that she has gone through, God has been there to support her and guide her through.

So no matter what you are facing today, remember:  God’s grace is sufficient.  God’s love is sufficient.  God’s peace is sufficient.

Be blessed!

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I hit my Pandora radio limit yesterday – and it was only the middle of the month.  Pandora is an online music site that allows you to set up an account and then set up different “stations” based on the genre of music you like.  Last month they announced that they were going to limit the amount of time you could stream music.  Once you hit your limit, you could pay $.99 for the remainder of the month and keep listening.  So what did I do?  I did what any music lover would do in that situation – I opened iTunes, clicked on the radio button and went back to listening some stations I used to listen to before I discovered Pandora (Club 977 the 80’s channel was the choice of the day).

As I listened to the station, I was reminded that they play good music too.  I had just moved on to newer, cooler options – but the old faithful was still there.

In our spiritual lives we are always looking for new and fresh – creative ways to grow spiritually – to “be fed.”  But I want to challenge you today.  There are old, tried and true practices that still lead us to the heart of God.

How many of you, when I mention centering prayer, meditation, the Jesus prayer or Lectio Divina think “Oh yeah, I forgot about those things?”  Most of us on the Protestant side of things are somewhat unfamiliar with these practices.  In fact, some may even cause you to raise an eyebrow of suspicion thinking these practices might be an infiltration of “new age” meditation practices.

But in reality, these practices are as old as Christianity itself.  The desert fathers and mothers used these hundreds of years ago.  So new and fresh isn’t always the ticket.

I am not knocking contemporary trends, in fact, I love them.  But I am saying that we also need to look at age old practices that work.  The good thing is that we have been away from them for so long, for most of us they are new and fresh – now isn’t that interesting!

Please comment and / or contact me if you would like more information on spiritual practices and disciplines – there is a whole new (old) world out there.

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Sunrise over Levelland

This morning I did something out of the ordinary, even for me.  I got to church early and felt compelled to spend some alone time with God (that part is not that out of the ordinary).  But today I climbed up on the roof of the church and sat right on the ridge of the auditorium and watched the sun come up (yes, that is the picture here – camera phones are great).

As I sat there in the cool morning air and watched God show off a bit, I listened and watched.  I heard all the sounds of early morning – birds chirping, cars driving past with people heading into their daily routines – all of what one would normally expect.  And in the sky was the sun, or rather clouds blocking the sun.  But it was easy to know the sun was there because of the rays coming through the holes in the clouds.

What a beautiful image of life and Jesus.  We stay so busy with our lives that we often fail to look, but there in the midst of it all, larger than life is Jesus, streaming through the breaks in the clouds.  We may not see him directly but we know that he is there because of the rays that come through, overpowering the darkness.

Hebrews 1:3 says that Jesus is the “radiance of God’s glory.”  The radiance of God’s glory!  Wow, just like the rays of the sun emanating from the source through the clouds this morning.  Jesus is the visible and tangible human experience of God.

I pray that today Jesus the Son will be as real to you as the sun in the sky.  Have a great day!

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