Archive for November, 2009

I’m Going to Jail

At the risk of seeming self-serving, I have a request for you today.  I promise, it is not for me.  And I also promise that this platform is not designed to push an agenda save that of the honest and transparent sharing of the spiritual life together.

But please indulge this exception today.  I am going to jail!

OK, not a real jail – but I am being arrested this morning as part of an MDA program to raise awareness and funds to fight Muscular Dystrophy.  You can learn more about the program and even donate by clicking here.

Again, I do not plan to make a habit of using this avenue to push any agenda but I do believe as followers of the Way, we have a calling to try and make a difference in any positive way we can.  So I am asking you to go to my MDA home page through the link above to learn more.  Pray about how you might get involved in this or any other worthy cause to further the hope of Christ in a hurting world.

Blessings to you today!

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It’s Up to You and Me

I received a donation request, as I do every year, from the American Bible Society last week.  As I read through the letter, the opening statement caught my attention.  Now most of you might be thinking, “It is a request for money, good marketing would tell you the opening statement should catch your attention.”  And that is true.

But here is how the opening statement read, “More than 2,000 years ago, an angel proclaimed Christ’s birth.  Now it’s up to you and me . . .”

Let that sink in for a minute.  What if the proclamation of Jesus and the rescue he offers was completely up to you?  What if the only way people were able to hear the good news that there is hope for them in all circumstances was for you to tell them.

Well, in a very real and significant way, it is!  I have said on many occasions that if the plan to redeem the world had been left up to me, I am not sure I would have entrusted that important of a task to humans.  But that is exactly what God has done.

It’s not marketing – its living a life that reflects Jesus.  The Christ has come!  He is with us today!  Shout it from the roof tops!

Live today as Jesus.

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Give Thanks

It is hard to believe how quickly this fall is moving, but tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day.  I will not be posting tomorrow or Friday, but I will be back to it on Monday.  I pray that you have a blessed Thanksgiving.  One of the exercises I do periodically and especially around Thanksgiving is to ask myself a question for reflection.  I am asking you this question today as you think about that for which you are thankful.

Here is the question:  “What are the three things that you would miss the most if they were taken away tomorrow?”  Think on that question for a while.  Those are blessings you have been given.  This is the season to be thankful.  Make sure this year to give God the praise and gratefulness deserved.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving holiday filled with family, joy and the love of God!

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You don’t hear it much any more, but growing up I remember hearing the phrase, “Now that’s living!”  It usually followed an experience of excitement or joy.  It conjured up the idea that someone had “made it” and now they were all set – really living.

Yesterday we began to look at what it means to be in the world but not of the world.  There is no doubt in scripture that God’s people are to be in the world but there is also an idea of being set apart.  So how do we do that?  The first thing you need to remember is that it is a journey toward a goal.  You will have days where you do very well and then you will have days when – well, not so much.  But that is life.  The key is to stay focused.

This past summer we were at the beach in California as a family.  It was awesome – the tallest surf they had had in years.  But with the incredible waves came an extremely strong current.  We got out and body surfed on the waves – riding a wave into shore and then fighting our way back out to deeper water to catch the next one.  What happened with each wave is that we got carried further and further down the beach.  But we were having fun and living life and just taking it as it came.  After about 20 minutes of that, I realized we were 1/4 mile away from where we started.  Because of our lack of attention to what was happening, we were carried away from where we should have been.

The same is true in life.  If we are to be in the world without being of the world, we have to be focused on the goal of living for Jesus.  We cannot take life as it comes and disconnect.  We have to stay engaged in our relationship with Christ.  But how?  Here are a couple of things to work on:

1.  Stay committed to your personal time with God – Prayer and Bible reading will keep you grounded

2.  Stay connected with your faith community – We all need each other to stay focused

3.  Find someone to hold you accountable – God designed us to need one another

Remember that Jesus commands us to be salt in a tasteless world.  But if we become so diluted by the world, we lose our effectiveness and become useless for the kingdom.

We are called to be light in the darkness.  We are called to show hope when everyone else is in despair.  We are to show love to those who don’t even know what the word really means.  There is nothing more relevant than that.

Now that’s really living!

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In The World

Today (and tomorrow) I want to deal with one of the questions I received last week.  The question was, how to live in the world without being part of it.  I have been thinking about this for a couple of days now.  Today I want to focus on the importance of living this way.  Tomorrow we will look more into some suggestions as to how to do it.

The best place to start when trying to determine how to live is to look at the life and teachings of Jesus.  If you read the stories about Jesus in the Bible, it doesn’t take long to get the picture that Jesus did not come to earth to hang out with the church folks.  He grew up learning and studying the Hebrew scripture – in fact, even at 12, he understood it as well as anyone.  So he did not live as one ignorant of the religious tradition and the truth of the Jewish faith.  But understanding the law of God, he chose to live among the less desirables anyway (or more probably, because of it).  He partied with tax collectors and had open conversations with prostitutes.  He was definitely in the world!  But the impact he had was directly related to his counter-culture approach.  He brought the love of God to life in their lives – before their very eyes.

Matthew 5:13 records Jesus’ very words when he told his followers (and us) to be salt in the world.  He tells us that we are in the world for a purpose – to season it.  I am not a big salt eater but I do like it on several things.  If we have french fries at home, the salt will certainly be on the table.  But if the salt is left in the shaker sitting next to the plate, it doesn’t really make much of an impact on the taste of my fries.  In order to make a difference, it has to be poured out on the fries and mixed in.

Jesus never intended us to live in isolation – in our little shakers – and not come into contact with the world.  He intends for us to mix it up – to jump right in and get involved with people’s lives.  Is this risky?  Is it dangerous?  Sure!  But Jesus never asked us to play it safe.  Tomorrow we will look at the dangers a little closer and then offer some practical steps on how to do this, but for today . . .


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Your Chance to Ask

In case you haven’t noticed, my passions drive most of the content of my writing here.  Most of what I write about deal with spiritual formation and growing to be more like Jesus.  This blog will always be focused heavily on that subject, but it dawned on me today – maybe I should ask you if you have specific topics you would like to see me address here from time to time.

So here is your chance – let me know what you would like to see addressed here.  Ask me questions or suggest topics – I will do my best to address them.  Just leave me a comment here or email me at the address over in the right column toward the bottom of the page.

I look forward to hearing from you.  Have a great weekend.

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I have been reminded this week that life brings all kinds of trials, whether it be the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job or just difficulties at school.  We may be tempted to ask, “Why?”  But we must remember that we live in an imperfect world where struggles are a part of existence – we can’t escape them, no one is immune.

As I think about those trials and struggles the reality sets in that we really only have two options when faced with trials.  The first is give up and check out and the second is to hang on and lean on the hope that God has better days ahead for us.  The weak give up and check out – trying to remove themselves, at least mentally or emotionally, from the situation.  The strong face the struggles and strive to grow through them.

Now here is another reality – we all have days that we are strong and brave and we all have days that we are weak and defeated.  The key is to remember who’s we are as followers of the way.

Earlier this week I talked about being transformed.  Trials are the very workshop in which that transformation takes place.  No matter the struggles and trials you are facing today, God is still God and we never will be.  God loves you and has a plan for you.  There are better days ahead.  So be strong in God’s strength knowing that those who persevere will be stronger, wiser and more fit for God’s service on the other side of the struggle.

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Planned Spontaneity

As I was taking Bryson to school today (our youngest) we were talking about the day and the fact that he is participating in the UIL competition this afternoon.  His event is “Impromptu.”  I know what the word means but I am not sure what all is involved in this competition but I am sure it has something to do with not knowing what is coming.

At any rate, as we were driving I asked him this question, “What time is your Impromptu?”  After I said it, the comedy of the question hit me.  If you know what time it happens, is it still impromptu?  Bryson and I had a good laugh about it.

But it got me to thinking (man I say that a lot don’t I).  All of us need a routine, some more than others, but if our schedule does not allow for impromptu meetings, or prompting by the Spirit of God to get involved in someone else’s day, then I don’t believe we are leaving much room for God to work.

So here is your challenge today – be spontaneous.  Now stop laughing – I realize I am asking you to plan to be spontaneous and in and of itself, that makes no sense.  What I am asking you to do is to be open to the idea that God just might prompt you to pick up the phone and call someone you haven’t talked to in a while.  Or you may be led to go beyond the cordial greetings with the checkout person at the store and ask how they are really doing today.

Just be open to God’s movement today and everyday.  I would love to hear what God does in and through you today!

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Transformed Understanding

Romans 12:1-2 talks about giving ourselves to God and focusing our attention on God and our sacrifice of ourselves.  Verse 2 is a well-known command that reminds us not to be concerned about this world but rather be more concerned about our spiritual transformation that comes when we “renew” our minds or change the way we think about God and the world and our priorities.

What I want to leave you with today is what comes after that phrase.  Verse 2 says, “Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” I am thinking again of God’s will.  I wrote a little about it here.  As I ponder on what it means to “know God’s will for my life” I am confident that rather than God’s will being a concrete fact I need to find, it is more of a process of growth, experience and understanding.

This verse says that we will be able to realize God’s will as we are transformed – a process.  Be confident today that God has a plan and our mission in life should be to live in that plan.  And understand that as we grow in our relationship with God, our understanding of God’s will becomes increasingly more clear.

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind and  never forget that very transformation is the largest part of God’s plan!

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He Threw a Wide Loop

Yesterday, as I was settling into my Sunday morning routine at the office, my phone rang.  The news I got in that phone call took me a while to process (in fact, I am still processing it).  The news came that Danny Williams had passed away.  Danny was the pastor of the High Plains Cowboy Church here in town and a great friend.

I made arrangements for my duties and then headed to the Cowboy Church.  What I found there was a group of people hurting but doing just as God intended, leaning on one another.  One of the first people I spoke to made the statement, “Danny sure threw a wide loop.”  I have not been able to get that image out of my mind – he threw a wide loop.  His circle included a lot of people.

As I looked around the room, I realized the truth of that statement.  There were people there from multiple generations, multiple races and multiple socio-economic backgrounds – all walks of life.  They all felt welcome there – it is home.

Danny threw a wide loop because he knew that the Gospel includes every body.  It is meant for everyone – all people no matter who you are.

I know Danny is checking out the pastures in heaven today, but he leaves a posse behind that would not exist had he not understood the Gospel and had he not thrown such a wide loop.

Danny, happy trails!

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