Archive for September, 2009

I have been taking my kids to school for about 12 years now.  There are a few insights I have gleaned over the last 12 years and I thought I would share them with you today.

1.  There is no such thing as a routine (it can change daily – just deal with it!)

2.  You cannot get up too early (regardless of when you start your morning – most likely you will still be late)

3.  Normally acceptable drivers leave their brains at home in the mornings (enough said)

4.  Regardless of the understood process, someone is still going to park in the drop off line and leave their car (not sure if they are going into the school for coffee or a teacher conference – but that’s why the school also has a parking lot!)

5.  No matter the age of the child, 6 or 16, there is still a tinge of sobriety that hits me every time they shut the door – they are getting older and it is just a matter of time before they are gone (make the most of every moment!)

These are just a few of the things I have learned – don’t even ask about pick-up in the afternoon!

What are your experiences?

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Keep Walking

A few years ago, our family was planning a trip to New Mexico for a little time away.  I was actually attending some training at a Christian camp and my family was tagging along.  The boys were very young, their ages would have been 6, 4 and 2.  I had built up the trip to the boys – there was going to be lots of fun things to do.  My big push was telling them we would go hiking.

I grew up hiking and climbing and experiencing all the adventure of exploration that comes with it.  So the day came that we were going to climb one of the mountains near the camp – we were finally going hiking.  The boys were excited to start this new adventure.

About 10 minutes into the hike, one of the boys asked, “When are we going to start hiking?”  I thought this was a funny question and quickly replied, “That is what we are doing.”  His reply back to me was very insightful: “This is just walking!”

Oh the wisdom that sometimes comes from a child!  We were just walking.  The hype of hiking and exploring had been reduced to just “walking.”  Needless to say, we did not make it to the top of that mountain that day.  Interest quickly began to fade.  The journey the boys were expecting was not at all what they were experiencing – so they just wanted to turn around and go home.

I was reading Colossians 2:6 today and it reminded me of this little hiking experience.  Paul told the church at Colosse that just as they had received Christ (the instruction and understanding of Jesus) so now they should walk in Him – “you have been taught what it means to follow Jesus – now live it.”

Sometimes the journey we find ourselves on is not at all what we expected – just walk.

Sometimes things come our we that we didn’t expect – just walk.

Sometimes we don’t feel like going on – just walk.

Jesus promises to always be with us no matter what life brings our way – we simply must trust in Him and keep walking!

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This Sunday night I will be preaching on “Doing Impossible Things.”  In thinking about the sermon, I am reminded of a story from Matthew, you can read it here.

At the end of a long day, the disciples were in a boat headed across the lake (Sea of Galilee).  It was after dark when Peter spotted a figure walking on the water a few yards away.  I can’t imagine why they were shocked – I am sure I would have been more mature (yeah right!).

Once the disciples figured out it was Jesus, Peter, being the bold one called out, “If it is you Jesus, call for me to come out there and join you.”  Jesus said, “Come on in, the water is fine” (or something to that effect).  Peter stepped out of the boat and on to the water.  He was doing fine until he took his eyes off of Jesus.  At that point, he began to sink.

Jesus has a knack for calling us out of our comfort zone and into something unknown – something impossible.  I heard a new song today on the radio. I did not catch the title, but a line in the song hit home, “Impossible is not a word, it is just a reason not to try.”

What impossible thing is Jesus asking you to do today?  Keep your focus on Jesus and trust enough today to get out of the boat.

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For Ruben

We buried Ruben yesterday.  He was 51 but looked much older.  I have known Ruben for most of the time I have lived in this town.  He always had a very long and scraggly beard.  He couldn’t work anymore due to disability, but he worked before his accident.  He liked to grow things and he liked people.  He loved to walk around town and visit with people.  He rarely turned down food and on occasion would ask for money.  But when he would ask, he would always commit to pay it back – and he often did.

In the church business, Ruben was considered a “benevolence case.”  We helped him from time to time.  The world might call him one of the “forgotten.”  But standing at that graveside yesterday, I was reminded that Ruben was so much more.  Jesus died for him, just like he died for me – and that fact puts us all on the same playing field.  I was reminded that Ruben was loved absolutely by God.

My mind then began to remember times that Ruben and I talked (looking back, it was not nearly frequent enough).  I also remembered a time or two that I helped Ruben with a little money – again, not often enough.  But in each of those times of interacting with Ruben, I don’t remember thinking, “This is a child of God.”  And for that, I am regretful.

Ruben has taught me that every single person in this world, regardless of status, capacity or any other measure we can apply, is loved by God.  As such, we are called to love them as well.  I don’t have all the answers as to how to go about it, but I believe it starts with caring enough to know their stories.  From there, I believe God will lead.

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I did a lot of driving yesterday, about 8 hours in the car.  But somewhere between Waco and Levelland I saw a billboard that said, “Eternity is a long time.”  As I drove, I thought a lot about that statement.  Of course, on the surface it is somewhat comical in the sense that, of course it is a long time – eternity means forever.

But I began to the think about the meaning behind the statement – the idea that eternity is forever, so we better make sure we know where we are going to spend it.  I also began to think about the assumption that this statement puts out there.  We tend to think of eternity as a place, or at least period that begins after we die.  Honestly, when you hear the question, “Where are you going to spend eternity?”  what is the first thing you think of?  For me, my mind automatically jumps to where I will go when I die.

But here is something I want to challenge you with:  as Jesus followers, eternity has already begun (in all honesty, eternity has already begun for all others as well).  So maybe we need to think more along the lines that what we are doing today is part of that eternity.

More concretely, think of it this way:  we don’t need to think of a separation between this life and the next – we simply change addresses when we die.  When we choose to follow Jesus and bend our will to his, we have already begun our eternity.  And what we do here and now not only carries with us, it also affects the eternity of others.

So since you are already living in eternity, what are you going to do today to live like you will live forever?

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Today marks 100 posts to this blog.  In all honesty, when I started this back in April, I did not know where or even if it would go.  I just knew that I needed to be involved in this avenue of connecting with people.  So I began with honesty and transparency and have tried to stay true to that format.

The website is “Clay In The Hands.”  I chose that title because it describes all of us.  If you are a follower of the Jesus way, then you realize that all of us are in the process of being shaped and molded into the person God wants us to become just as clay is shaped by a sculptor.  If you are a skeptic of the Jesus way of life, then I hope you realize that you too are being shaped and molded as well – that is a reality of life.  The issue really is not whether or not we are being shaped and molded, but rather, who and what do we allow to mold us?

My prayer in all of this is that we all grow together, being molded into the likeness of Jesus.

This blog has served as a sort of journal of my progression or journey on this Jesus way.  My intention has been, and continues to be, to share with all who will stop by and read, what God is teaching me along this journey in hopes that God will use my musings and ramblings to inspire, encourage or touch someone else.  My prayer is that through this simple connection point, a new layer of community can be formed – a community of Jesus followers on the same path, all being molded similarly.

My commitment to you is that I will continue to share my thoughts, my struggles, my joys and the simple revelations God bestows on me.  My challenge to you is to join in the dialogue.  If you have never left a comment, that is ok – don’t feel pressure to do so.  But the sharing of life together is how relationships – true community – are formed so I encourage you to join in.  Share your thoughts and we all grow.

May God’s unfathomable grace fall on you today in a way unlike anything you have ever experienced.

Thanks for reading – I look forward to the growth we will all share in the next 100 posts!

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Cleansing Rain

This morning I awoke to the sound of rain dripping outside my window.  I just lay there for a while and listened and prayed.  As I listened to the rain I began to think about the cleansing it can bring – all the dust that has collected on things outside is rinsed off leaving things clean and fresh.

I am reminded that we all need that cleansing rain – forgiveness.  We get weighted down with the mess of life, the poor decisions we make and the things we do even though we know we shouldn’t.  But then God sends rain to remind us that there is forgiveness available.

So today, if you feel that you have gone beyond God’s forgiveness, let me assure you – you haven’t.  According to this passage, there is nothing you can do (or anyone else can do for that matter) to cause God to discontinue loving you.

God is there to forgive you.  So whatever it is today that you feel is holding you back or weighting you down, let the cleansing rain of God’s forgiveness wash over you and make you fresh and new.  I can promise you, it is a wonderful experience!

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A Path That Leads to God

When I was in high school I “surrendered to ministry.”  Now for those of you who are not from the Baptist tradition, that means that I dedicated my life to a career of full-time occupational service to God.  I did not know what that would look like then but I knew that I wanted to follow God’s leadership in my life.  I began to talk to people about discerning “God’s will for my life.”  That became a mystical and very illusive goal for me.  Over the years, that “will” has taken several different forms.  God has used experiences and periods in my life to grow me and prepare me for the next stage.  The key, I have learned, is staying engaged through it all.  It is easy to see our current state as a preparation for the next, (i.e.  I am in college now but when I get out, I am really going to serve God then).  We have to be about serving God in every stage of life.

I am beginning to see that maybe I should be less concerned about discerning God’s will for my life and more concerned about making sure I am on the path that leads to God.  Perhaps the Jesus way is more about a journey or process than an accomplishment.  As long as I am seeking daily to do what I know to do to follow God, then maybe, just maybe, the rest will take care of itself.

Are you on that path?  My prayer for us today is this:

Father, give us a faith that is so much more than a subscription to a belief system or religious tradition – give us a living and breathing faith lived out every day – a path that leads to You.


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I was listening to a sermon by Rob Bell the other day and he got me to thinking.  When Jesus gave up and breathed his last, Matthew 27:50-51 says the curtain in the temple was ripped from top to bottom – why not bottom to top?  To prove it was God breaking into our reality.

For generations, the mentality of the people had been that the Temple was the center of their spiritual world.  It was the home of God – so much so that only one person could enter in to that place and only once per year.  Even then, the priest would have a rope tied to his ankle in the case that their sacrifice was not pleasing and God decided to strike the priest dead – they could then pull out the body.

When Jesus came, he broke into humanity – came and lived among us – experienced life just as we do.

When Jesus died, the curtain separating “God” from the world was torn from top to bottom.

What did this mean?  For starters, it meant that no longer was coming into God’s presence limited to one person a year.  No longer would man be hindered from coming to God.  No longer would man be kept out of God’s presence.

But here is another aspect to this event.  Not only was man no longer kept out of God’s presence, God was no longer kept in that place.  No longer should the temple be seen as the sacred dwelling place of God.

We know that the building is not the church, the people are the church.  We state that there is nothing particularly holy about the church building.  But do we understand that God is all around us?  Do we gather on Sundays in order to find God?  Do we expect to come into God’s presence?

Or is the point of gathering to listen and learn how to find God everywhere else?

This change in focus has the power to change everything!  God is not limited to a building.

Our lives should not be compartmentalized – we should not have our church life, our work life, our play life – etc.  Jesus should be in all parts of our lives.

Do you see Christ in everything?  Do you look for him in everyone?  Remember, Jesus said, “In as much as you have done it to the least of these, you have done it to me.”

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Jesus the High Priest

We have been working through the book of Hebrews on Wednesday nights for Bible study.  Last night we wrapped up chapter two of that book and in the closing verses we see that Jesus came to earth, lived among us – experiencing all the things we experience – and died a physical death.  By doing this he was able to completely relate to us in every way.

The reason that was important was that Jesus had to become our mediator – our high priest.  Up to that point, the religious system called for sacrifices to God.  People would bring things of value and give them sacrificially to God as a way of showing their remorse for things they had done or to show their gratitude for the blessings God had given.  But every ritual had to be performed by a priest.  To the point that once per year the high priest would go in to the holiest of all places in the temple (the area known as the Holy of Holies where the people believed God actually resided).  The weight of all the sins of the nation were carried by that one man as he entered that place to offer a sacrifice.

But when Jesus came, he did away with the need for all of that.  Hebrews 2:14-18 tells us that Jesus became our high priest.  No longer do we need someone else to offer up praise and offerings and repentance.  We now can go directly to God on our own.  That is huge for a number of reasons.  But the one I want you to think about today is this:  Not only are we free to go to God on our own, but now the responsibility for our relationship with God is solely on our own shoulders.  Before, there was no thought of a personal relationship with God, the people related to God through a priest.  But now we can have a relationship with God and we have no one else to blame if we don’t.

So think about this today, are you taking responsibility today for your relationship with God or are you looking for a priest or a minister to serve as a buffer between you and God to give you the answers.  The responsibility lies with you.

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