Archive for September, 2009

I had the unique experience of participating for the last two and a half days with a great group of people in a leadership retreat.  Leadership Levelland began this past weekend.  We were bused to a Christian camp a couple of hours north of here where we had sessions on leadership, personality studies and various activities.  On Monday, we spent all day on the challenge course – all 26 of us.  We did all kinds of different things there but one of my favorite was called the Flying Squirrel.

In this element we had 12 people.  One person was hooked to one end of a long rope that extended up to a pulley 30 feet off the ground and then down to the other 11 who were hooked to the rope as well.  There were simple instructions:  “The squirrel (ie. me in this case) runs in one direction, and the team runs in the other direction.  When all the slack is taken out of the rope, the squirrel will be immediately carried 20 feet in the air.”

I was excited.  This was going to be a rush.  The facilitator counted off and on 3, I ran one way and the team ran the other.  I took off as fast as I could – the part I failed to remember is that I don’t run much.  I was trying so hard to make this work that I lost my balance and fell flat on my face, Superman style, in the dirt about 10 from where I started.  (Yes, in my mind I had envisioned this very differently).  Just as I was doing the chest crawl to try and get back up, the team hit the end of the slack in the rope and I shot 20 feet in the air.  It was still a rush!  The others watching said all they could see was me go down into the dirt, a big cloud of dust and then me shoot up out of the cloud – I am sure it was quite a sight.

Here are two of the things I took away from the flying squirrel experience.  One is that sometimes when we are trying new things and working our plan as best we can we still fall.  It doesn’t mean that we are a failure, it just means that we failed in that one thing – we have to get up and keep trying.

But the most important aspect to this experience was the reminder that when you have a team working for the same goal, they are there to pick you up.  We are all in this together.

So where are you today?  Have you fallen?  Get up, dust off and keep going.

Or, are you the person who should be helping someone else up after they have fallen?

As Christians, we are all on the same team, striving toward the same goal.  Reach down and pick someone up today.

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A Passionate Glow

The other night I was sitting in front of the fire in the chimnea on the back deck.  The fire was dancing around inside the little fire box, casting interesting shadows on the wall and trees around me.  It was late and there was nothing going on so it was quiet and peaceful.  I had thrown a couple of pine cones into the fire and I began to watch them burn.

Have you ever watched a pine cone burn.  Once it begins to burn, the flame seems to come from within the core and come out through the leaves.  As it continues, the leaves begin to glow in an almost liquid heat.  It’s a beautiful sight.

As I sat there watching, I could not help but notice the similarity between the burning pine cone and our spiritual lives.  When the passion for Jesus begins to burn inside us, the glow should be evident on the outside.  Our lives should become a glowing light for those around us.

Is the passion for Jesus burning inside you or has it died down to a smolder?  What do you need to do today to allow Jesus to rekindle that passion?

I would love to hear your thoughts.

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Rest in the Presence

Saturday night I could not sleep but I had an overwhelming sense of being drawn to a time with God.  Now before you put me in the “mystic” column (which wouldn’t be a bad thing), I didn’t hear an audible voice or anything, but there was a distinct burning desire in my heart to be alone with God.  So I got up, went out on the back deck, built a fire in the chimnea and just sat for a couple of hours.  It was a beautiful, peaceful and quiet night with a little chill in the air – I couldn’t have asked for anything more.

One would think, at this point in the story, that God had some life-changing revelation for me and I will forever be different because of getting out of bed and going to meet with God in that time and place.  But nothing happened (at least nothing life-changing and revelatory).  But what did happen is that I rested in knowing that God was all around me and I could just live in that moment with God and know that God is in control and has a plan.

So here is my reminder for you.  So many times we get discouraged in our daily walk because we set time aside to meet with God and it seems flat or uneventful.  But the next time that happens for you, remember to simply rest in God – rest in the fact that God is all around you and loves you!

Shouldn’t that be enough anyway?

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As I was reflecting this morning on my last 44 years, I began to think about things I have learned through those years.  This list is not all-inclusive and as I continue to think about it, it may not even include the most important lessons I have learned.  But here is what is on my mind today:

  1. Trust God in all things
  2. Life is not about me – its about God
  3. Don’t think less of myself, just think of myself less
  4. Live fully – always engaged and with no regrets
  5. Love with all you’ve got

There it is – some things I have learned thus far on my journey.  Hopefully there will be many more years and many more lessons.

What are some things you have learned on your journey?

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Out of Context

A couple of years ago I was at a conference for church leaders. I was walking toward one of my sessions when I met up with a familiar face. Have you ever seen someone and thought, “I know I should know this person” but you could not remember their name nor how you know them? This happens to me all the time.

We shared cordial conversation consisting of questions like, “how are you enjoying the conference?” and “tell me where you are from?” It was at that point that things got interesting. As it turns out, the person was from right here in town.  At that point, I was really confused.  I had assumed the person was there from another church.  I finally had to ask, “How do we know each other?”  At that point the person said, “I am your pharmacist.”

Then it clicked.  I had assumed she was there at the same conference I was attending for church leaders but she was in the same convention center attending a conference for pharmacists!

The point to this story is this – in a white lab coat, behind the counter at the pharmacy, I would have had no problem recognizing this person.  But out of that context, 300 miles from home, I could not place her.

How often do we miss God in action because we have a preconceived idea of the context in which we will see God.  God is at work today, at every turn.  Remember that we must be sensitive to see God and recognize God’s work in even the most unlikely places and times.

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Who Has Impacted You The Most

As I was doing my daily parent taxi service duties this morning, we were listening to the radio when a song came on from Disciple.  The song is called “Things Left Unsaid,” and it tells a story of a person sitting in the hospital room of someone with a short time to live.  The significance of the relationship between the two people comes from the fact that the dying person was instrumental in the Christian walk of the other person.  The dying person is in a comatose state, but there is a hope that the dying person knows how much the other person loves them and appreciates all they have done for him.

I don’t know how many times I have heard this song but I listened to the lyrics today for the first time and it caused me to think of people – spiritual giants in my life who have been used by God to form me.  I think of Sunday school teachers I had growing up who impacted my life – like Mr. Fowler, my third grade Sunday school teacher, who told me, “You are gonna be a preacher some day.”  Or others who have just been there for me through the years – consistently exhibiting the life of Christ right in front of me.

But as I thought more about this – the spiritual GIANTS who stand out the most in my life are my parents.  I have had many people who have had an impact on my spiritual formation, but none more important than them.  Dad, Mom – if you are reading – know that I appreciate and love you more than I can ever say.

So who is it for you?  Who has impacted your spiritual formation positively?  If they are still living – let them know how much you love and appreciate them today while you still can.

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Do you ever get bogged down in your daily life?  Do you ever get so overwhelmed with the crisis of the moment that you forget the blessings you have been given?  Sometimes we allow ourselves to be so caught up in the needs of the moment that we forget the joy that we have in knowing and being known by our savior.  It is easy to forget that God has a plan for us when we are weighted down by our daily problems.

I was reminded of this on Sunday.  There has been a lot going on in my life over the past several months and I have struggled to stay focused on God’s plan for me and my family.  Sunday, this verse was Tweeted out by @Air1 and it caused me to remember the joy that I have in Jesus.  Every once in a while I need to be reminded that regardless of the circumstances, God is still in control.

Have you ever used Google Earth?  It gives us the ability to see our surroundings from a satellite photo.  You can pick a spot and the photo will begin from the vantage point of outer space.  You then zoom in to see the state; then further in to see the town.  A few more clicks and you begin to see streets and then ultimately you can zoom in so close as to see if there is a car in your driveway – it is amazing!

Here is my point, I tend to live (as we all do) completely zoomed in – seeing only what is right in front of us.  Perhaps, we should zoom out just a bit from time to time to see the bigger picture.  I think when we do we will get a better perspective and joy will come easier.

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Do Impossible Things

IMG_0066This past summer, our family was blessed to spend a day or two at Huntington Beach, CA.  It just so happened that the US Open of Surfing was going on at the time.  In addition to the fantastic surfing, there were “side-shows” set up on the beach.  We got to sit and watch some of these guys show off their skills on bicycles.  They could do some amazing things – things that would be impossible for me (and most likely, deadly).

Yesterday I wrote about the importance of giving it our all.  For us to truly live the life worthy of the name of Christian, we must be committed to living everyday in service to God.  That takes many forms but at the root of it all will be the way we love others and show grace and compassion to others.  You may be thinking, “That sounds good on paper but you don’t know the people I know and there is no way I can show some people love, grace and compassion – it’s impossible.”

My answer to you – “Yep, you’re right!”  It is not humanly possible to love everyone unconditionally.  But according to this passage, God can work in and through us to do incredible things – God is able if we are willing.

So here is your challenge – this weekend do a little dreaming.  What is God nudging you to do that would be impossible without God’s help?  Then set your mind about doing just that.

Have a great holiday weekend!

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If you read these ramblings long enough, you find out a lot of facts about me you may not have otherwise known.  One of the things you may have figured out by now is that I love music.  All kinds of music (must admit – not a big country fan – but even that has its place – just not on my iPod) – I even have some rap on the old pocket juke box.  I was listening to a Christian rapper this morning who does an incredible job.  He is fairly new to the mainline stream although he has been around for a number of years.

@Lecrae does an incredible job of putting meaningful lyrics together in a way that will make you stop and think.  The rap this morning that caught my ear was “Go Hard or Go Home.”  The entire song speaks to the fact that as Christians, we have to be on fire for Christ.  While the words of this rap are pretty “in your face,” the point he makes is that if we aren’t living every day for Jesus with all we’ve got then why are we even alive.

He uses a basketball illustration in the rap (which is probably another reason I like him) and says:

Take me out the game coach
I don’t wanna play no mo
If I can’t give it all I got and leave it out there on the court

In other words, I don’t want to live any longer if I am not giving it all I’ve got.  So here is the question:  Are you giving Jesus all you’ve got everyday?

Or put another way, Are you leaving it all out on the court at the end of the day?  Give it all or go home is what Lecrae would say, and I’m with him.

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Today I woke up with a conviction.  No, I am not headed to jail – a different kind of conviction.  As Christians we are always quick to say, “I’ll be praying for you” when we listen to the needs of others.  But how often do we follow through?  Prayer is such an important part of our Christian walk.  It is through prayer that we have the ability to come into the realization of God’s presence in our lives.  It is in prayer that we are molded and shaped into God’s will.  It is also in prayer that we lift others to our God for intervention.

I try each day that I write to be relevant and real, offering my thoughts to you in hopes that you might find some inspiration or healing or encouragement.

But this format is pretty one-sided.  So here is what I am adding to my blog today – Email-a-Prayer.  I would like you to feel welcome to email me any prayer request you might want to share with me.  It will be completely confidential and what you share is up to you.  I will commit to you that I will pray for you as soon as I receive that email.

I am working on making this a click and type tool but I am not there yet.  So as bad as I hate this, for right now, just copy the email address at the bottom right of this page and paste it into the “To” blank on the email system of your choice.  As soon as I have the link set up, you will be able to just click on the email address and send me an email (I hope).

Let me hear from you.

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