Archive for September, 2009

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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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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