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Archive for October, 2009

Changing Seasons

Fall Backyard

Fall officially began a couple of weeks ago, and it is in full swing around here now.  The picture above was taken yesterday in my yard.  I love this time of year.  The leaves are turning and the temperatures become very pleasant – brisk mornings and warm afternoons.  Everything is changing – it’s refreshing.

As I drove home from work yesterday, I was noticing all the fall colors and I began to think about the change of seasons.  In most parts of the world, God created four seasons – four distinct climate changes to keep us on our toes.  I really believe God knew that if things stayed the same day in and day out, that we would become complacent, stagnant and bored.

With the changing of seasons, I think we are reminded of at least two things.  The first is that we should guard ourselves against becoming stagnant and bored.   God created us to be alive – to live life and enjoy it – to make a positive impact on those around us.

The other thing we are reminded of is that regardless of where we find ourselves today, tomorrow is a new day full of opportunities.  Just as the seasons change, so can our situations.  There is a lot of hope found in this fact.

Life should be full of hope!  God intended us to live and to do so with hope.

My challenge to you today is to reflect on areas of your life that may need a little change and then take concrete steps to make those changes for the better.

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I read a blog post earlier this week from Glenn Packiam entitled, “Practicing the Wrong Presence.”  (You can link to it here).  In that post, Glenn makes the point that we often say we want to experience God’s presence.  But in reality, God is always present.  You quite possibly have heard me say or read when I have written that we should not think of God’s presence as something that comes and goes.  We don’t “come into the presence of God.”  We should rather think of it as being sensitive to God’s presence.

I love the way Glenn uses the word presence to make this point.  He states that the issue isn’t whether or not God is present with us, but rather whether or not we are present with God.  You see, God will never leave nor forsake us – God is always with us.  The question we need to ask ourselves is “Are we present with God.”

Have you ever been talking to someone and you can tell they are distracted or maybe thinking more about what they are going to say next than actually listening to you.  Doesn’t that drive you crazy (if I have done that to you lately – I apologize!)?  Trying to talk to someone who is not present mentally or emotionally is very frustrating and not very meaningful for either party involved.

Don’t do that to God!

Practice being present to God and to others today – you won’t regret it (and neither will those around you).

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Are You Judgmental?

Are you judgmental?  What a way to start the post today!

The Pray As You Go meditation today is focused on Romans 2:1-4 (you can read it here).  We all judge – the act of comparison of ourselves to others leads us to judge.  But in reality, we are no different than anyone else.  We have all done things we aren’t proud of at some point in our lives.  So Paul tells us that we don’t have an excuse.  We have no right to judge others.

But the real heart of this passage comes in verse 4.  God, who has every right to judge, shows kindness, tolerance and patience to all.  It is this reaction that leads us to a change of heart.

So what can we learn from this passage?  Maybe we should focus more on kindness, tolerance and patience when it comes to relating to others.  I don’t believe that God expects us to turn our backs to injustice, but when it comes to relating to others, the key is to treat them with kindness.  That is how God deals with us, why should we treat others any other way?

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Some days it just doesn’t happen – you know?  No matter how hard we try, some days we just never settle enough to hear from God.  It should never be an excuse but I think rather than beat ourselves up, we should realize that God is near and trying to speak to us regardless of our disposition.

From the outset of this ministry, my intention with this blog has been to be completely transparent with my thoughts.  Sometimes that comes out more raw than polished but you will not find anything but honesty here in these posts.  My blog posts, most of the time, flow directly out of my own personal journey and the insight God gives me through that journey.  But today, I went to the file cabinet in my mind and found the files pretty bare.  Pray for me.

But even in this experience, God is teaching me that we are not going to have a deep, inspirational time with God every morning (or whenever you spend time with God).  The real issue becomes faithfulness and consistency.

So know this today, even on the days that your time with God seems dry and lacking fruitfulness, God is there right beside you.  Stay strong – stay faithful.

May the God of all blessings and mercy shower you today with the peace that you can’t understand.

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This past week was extremely busy for me.  Normally, I have an evening or two at home with the family but this past week it didn’t happen.  Then the weekend was crazy with things going on at church as well.  Consequently, I spent no time with my family the entire week.  I have to tell you, as I drove to the office today and thought about the week ahead, I was convicted.  I have all these important things on my calendar for this week and, again this week, my family isn’t on the list.

So my challenge today is to look for ways to adjust and put in some quality time with my family.  God has called each of us to carry out the plan God has for us.  And in doing that it is very easy to get so busy doing good things that we lose focus on the best things.

Don’t lose sight of the greatest blessing God has given you – your family.  Make time for them today.

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I have been working through the book of Romans for quite some time during my prayer time.  I have been camping out in chapter 10 for weeks.  I think God is trying to tell me something.  Maybe God will use this to tell you something as well.

Romans 10:14 is a very logical illustration of how God’s plan to spread the Good News should work.  You can look at it here.

Paul, in the previous verse, has explained that anyone who cries out to God will be rescued.  Then Paul moves into a very logically explanation of what this should look like by asking some questions.  People can’t cry out to someone they don’t believe in or trust.  And they certainly can’t trust in someone of whom they have never heard.  And they will never hear about God’s love and trustworthiness if no one tells them about God.

All very logical.  We know this is true – but what do we do about it?  How does this verse, this logical explanation of God’s plan, play out in your life everyday?

God could have chosen to redeem the world in any number of ways, but this is the plan chosen.  Be the hands, feet and voice of God today.

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In our tech savy world, we have become quite efficient.  We have learned to do more with less – or have we?  We have developed technology that helps us communicate with others in all kinds of new and creative ways – efficient ways.  I can email someone in another city or even country and in seconds, get an answer to my question.

I can send a text message to a friend and get a response without the wasted time of all the normal pleasantries of a personal conversation.  We have become very efficient in many ways.  But what is this doing to our relationships?  (You know it might be an issue for you if you text message your child to come to dinner and he or she is just in the other room).

We have become proficient in communicating in 140 characters or less thanks to Twitter, but what can we really communicate in 140 characters?

Don’t get me wrong, I have adapted to the way we communicate right along side the rest of you, but every once in a while, maybe, just maybe we ought to stop long enough to really have a conversation – invest in each other’s lives.

My challenge to you today is this:  Think of someone you have not talked to in a while – then pick up the phone and call them – maybe even go to lunch and really build a relationship.

God created us for community, one with another.  It is hard to grow a community in 140 characters.

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Have Some Fun

I have been listening to the new David Crowder Band CD for about two weeks.  I don’t know if you are a Crowder fan but I have always loved their music.  I had the opportunity to visit University Baptist Church in Waco a few years ago and got to hear them there (they are the worship band for the church).  I think I have every release they have done.

At any rate, this new work is a little different (of course most of Crowder’s are).  The title cut is called “Church Music.”  The song is not what you would expect – it has a 70’s disco sound combined with a little 80’s pop – and it is just fun.

As I was listening to the song this morning, I was reminded that church – and our Christian walk – are not meant to be serious all the time.  God created us to have fun occasionally too.

So here is your challenge today – go have some fun.  Do something spontaneous – and while you are doing it, praise God for loving you!

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Living On The Beam

Balance Beam Pic

Sunday I did something out of the ordinary.  I used a prop for my sermon on doing impossible things (I borrowed the illustration from Francis Chan).  For about a third of the sermon I stood on a make shift balance beam about 3 feet off the stage.  I used the balance beam to relate our Christian walk to walking on the beam.

When we become Christians, there is an excitement and enthusiasm that we feel – we are going to do amazing things for Jesus.  But over time, life hits us in the face and from the side and from every direction.  Before we know it we figure out that it is just easier to hold on and ride it out.  Gradually, we find ourselves not standing on the balance beam attempting amazing things but rather, holding on to it for dear life –  trading the idea of doing great things for the safety and comfort of security.  Unfortunately, the picture you see above is what most Christians look like.

At the end of life I want God to be able to say “Well done!” not “What was that?”

Dare to risk – dare to live on the beam, not holding on to it!

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Here are a couple of questions to start your week off in the right direction:  “Is your religion big enough for God?  Does your belief system allow for mystery and faith?”

The history of the church is such that mankind has worked very hard to define beliefs and answer life questions.  This is not a bad thing at all.  God gave us brains to process our life experiences and then try and understand them.  But what has happened over time (hundreds of years) is that we have developed a belief system that seems to have an answer for everything.  Man has worked for years to put God in a box.

Is it possible that over time, some very important aspects of our understanding of God and our relation to God have been left out or even worse, maybe things that have no real relevance to our relationship with God have been added to the belief system?

I believe we do a real disservice to ourselves and others when we strive to downplay or even deny the mystery of God.  We can never truly understand God.  At the end of the day we can only hope that we partially understand the parts of God that God has chosen to reveal to us.

For me, my religion is not big enough for God and knowing that, I think, puts things in perspective.  God is full of mystery and it is that mystery that draws me continuously toward God – seeking a relationship with my creator whom I can never fully understand on this side of death.

What about you?  Do you embrace the mystery?  Or does it make you uncomfortable?

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