Archive for November, 2009

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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“We are not on a solo journey.  We are on a journey of souls in relationship with one another.” LaPinsky Phillips

I have talked about LaPinsky before.  He is one of the most profound thinkers I know personally.  I love being around him and every time I am, I come away a better person.  This quote from LaPinsky reminds me that we are not alone.  God is always with us and God created us for community – relationships with one another.  We are designed to experience life together – to love each other and to seek to serve one another.

Have you ever gone through the process of listing people who have impacted you throughout your life?  It is a humbling exercise.  If you have never done it, or haven’t done it recently, I encourage you to take a few minutes right now to do it.

Now that you have done that exercise, here is an even more sobering task for you.  Of the people who know you, whose list would you be on?

Would you appear on anyone else’s list?  What can you do today to ensure that you will?

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Part 2

Yesterday, we talked about owning our own faith and the importance of wrestling with Jesus’ teachings for ourselves and not just taking what we are told at face value.  Today I want to take that thought to the next level.

Once we own our own faith – truly internalizing the truth of Jesus’ teachings – then that faith will begin to affect the way we live.  What then begins to happen is that our faith begins to own us, more accurately, the One in whom our faith is placed begins to own us.

I believe this is what Paul meant when he was addressing the believers in the church at Philippi when he said, “continue to work out your salvation.”  You can read it here.  It sounds strange to say that we should “work out” our own salvation.  But Paul brings clarity in the next verse when he says that God “works in you . . . according to His good purpose.”

At the risk of seeming like a simple play on words, I want you to vividly see the distinction between Owning Your Own Faith and Your Faith Owning You.  Owning our own faith is when we internalize the truth of the Bible – really dealing with the issues and settling in on the truth for ourselves.  What happens next is that very truth cannot lie dormant.  God will work through it to change you from the inside out.  That is the working out of your salvation – that is your faith owning you.

How is your salvation working out in you?

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Part 1 (2 will come tomorrow)

Last night I had the opportunity to teach a New Testament Survey class at our local Junior College.  I had a blast.  We discussed an overview of a couple of New Testament books and some other things as well.  But one of the questions I asked the students last night and I also ask you today is this:  Do you own your faith?

Studying the Bible is the key to our spiritual journey.  But if the information we find there is just that – information – then we haven’t accomplished much.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that if our understanding of scripture and Christianity does not make it from our head to our heart then it is meaningless.  Put another way, if what we learn does not affect how we live, then we are wasting our time but more devastating than that is that we are wasting God’s time and mocking God’s plan for our lives.

In order for the truth of the Bible to make it from our heads to our hearts, we have to truly wrestle with it ourselves.  If you haven’t noticed, the teachings of Jesus will mess you up.  There are things we just have to deal with for ourselves – which means we cannot take what our instructor or our preacher or our Sunday School teacher or even our parents say without really dealing with the issues for ourselves.

At Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asked the disciples two questions (you can read it here):  “Who do men say that I am?”  And the second, “Who do you say that I am?”  The difference is huge.  The answer to the first carries no commitment.  The answer to the second should change your life!

Do you own your faith?

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Prayer in a Taxi

It was a short 10 minute taxi ride from the hotel to the San Diego airport on Sunday.  It was early and I was more than ready to be home.  But I felt compelled to get to know the driver.  So I asked him how long he had been in the beautiful city of San Diego, to which he replied, “Five years.”  So I asked the next sensical question, “Where were you before that?”  He told me that he grew up in Africa and had been in the US for only five years.  He asked if I had ever been to Africa and I told him I had not but it is one of the places I want to visit some day.  He asked what I do for a living and so I told him that I am a minister in a church.

He began a conversation about Christianity and his Muslim faith of Islam.  I asked if he was able to practice his religion here and he explained that it is hard to be faithful when the strict practice requires all men to attend the mosque five times per day to pray.  I explained that Christians believe that we should pray regularly throughout the day as well but that we can do it anywhere.  We discussed the similarities in our heritage and in the difficulty of being faithful to our beliefs.

As we pulled onto the airport property, I knew our time together was drawing to an end so I asked his name.  As we parked, I asked him if it would offend him if I prayed for him.  He said it wouldn’t, so we sat in the car near the curb at the Southwest check-in and I prayed for my driver, Mohammed.  It was a very brief prayer, but when I raised my head to look at him, he was smiling.

That was it, I retrieved my bags from his trunk, shook his hand and paid the fare.  I am not so pious to think that my effort and concern made a huge impact in Mohammed’s life – maybe it did.  But I can tell you that my eyes and heart were opened to the fact that we are all human beings with similar desires and interests – with real convictions and beliefs.  Now please understand, I do not subscribe to the doctrine of Islam and I certainly don’t condone the actions of the extremists.  But I do believe that Jesus calls us to love everyone – no matter who they are or what they believe.

Is there room in your heart to love someone who doesn’t see things as you do today?

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