Archive for December, 2009

World’s Worst New Year Resolutions

As we move toward New Year’s Eve, I have been thinking about resolutions.  Today I resolve  that tomorrow I will  offer some suggestions for 2010 New Year resolutions.  But for today, here are four of the worst resolutions I have run across in a while!

  1. “I’m going to show my wife how much I really love her this year. I am going to save and save and take her on a cruise on that new really big Titanic ship.” A loving husband.
  2. “I am going to quit this group and find a group that has a chance of making it big this year.” Pete Best , original drummer for The Beatles.
  3. “I am going to work out really hard this year so I will put on lots of muscle so I will look like a real manly man.” Richard Simmons.
  4. “I will do something this year to get myself more TV exposure.” O.J. Simpson.

For tomorrow, be thinking about what resolutions you might want to make – just aim higher than those listed above.

Read Full Post »

I am on vacation this week and so this morning I have been sitting in my comfortable chair, drinking a cup of coffee and listening to the silence.  The boys are still in bed and my lovely bride has to work today – so as I said, silence.

But as I look around the room, I see the remnants of Christmas.  The tree is standing there but dark.  There are still boxes scattered around the tree but they are empty.  Christmas is over.  As I sit here, there is a sense of sadness that the big day has come and gone.  Now I am faced with the clean up.  Depressing!

But I have had something stuck in my head since yesterday (not associated with the head cold I have been dealing with).  Christmas day is not the end but rather the beginning.  We build up to Christmas day starting in October or early November (unless you are like me and then it is much later).  We shop, we decorate, we plan, we cook, we wrap and we get excited.  Then once the day comes and passes, we feel let down a little, as if everything culminated on that one day.

But remember, Christmas day is our way of celebrating the birth of our Savior; an event when Jesus was born – the beginning of his life on earth.  He then grew and gathered disciples and taught them, and us, how to live and love.

So here is my challenge to you today.  Christmas day is not the end but rather the beginning.  How are you going to live today based on the knowledge that Jesus was born?  What are you going to do differently today to show the world that you follow Jesus?

Read Full Post »

Merry Christmas

As the shepherds were doing their jobs in the fields, watching sheep, something a little unusual happened.  Luke 2 says:

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Can you imagine what those shepherds must have felt?

I pray you have that same feeling today and tomorrow!

Thanks so much for blessing me with your time in reading!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Read Full Post »

Christmas time brings a lot of joy – not only from the meaning of Christmas but also from everything else that comes with it, the food, the gifts and friends and family gathering together.  It is a fun time of year.

But today I have a burden and I want to share it with you.  While this time of year brings joy – for many, it also brings sadness and grief.  For those who have lost a spouse or child or parent  this year, along with the Christmas joy comes a sense of loss and mourning.  This is especially difficult the first Christmas after the loss.

If you are one of those who is living this experience, take heart.  God loves you and you will endure.  Allow yourself to remember and grieve, but also surround yourself with family and friends you love and simply rest.

For those of us who know friends and family who have lost loved ones this year I offer us a challenge:  Go out of your way this Christmas to let them know you love them and that you are here for them.  God calls us to laugh when our brothers and sisters in Christ are laughing and cry when they are crying.  Live that out this Christmas season.

Read Full Post »

Yesterday, the topic of discussion was centered around the attitude we have toward reaching people with God’s message of love and hope.  Today, I want to pick up the discussion with our attitude toward how we go about reaching people.

One of the catch phrases today is “culturally relevant.”  I must admit, I am a big proponent of a church being culturally relevant in the sense that church needs to meet people where they are and be able to meet relevant, real life, real time issues we all face on a daily basis.  Unfortunately, all too often, in an attempt to be culturally relevant, churches focus their attention on superficial things trying to appeal to those outside the church.  What can happen is a move to entertainment as opposed to worship.  I have touched on this issue before – you can read that post here.

When we look at the life and ministry of Jesus we find that much of what he did was counter-cultural.  He came and taught us to love our enemies, not try and hurt them.  He taught that we should live humbly, putting others’ interests before our own, not to live seeking to get ahead.  He taught not that seeing is believing but rather that believing should be enough.  The things Jesus taught and modeled did not fit the culture of his day – nor the culture our today either.

So what do we do with this?  Is striving to be culturally relevant important?  Or should we work at being counter cultural?  Do you see the tension?

I think we need both.  The age-old task of the church has always been to take timeless, counter-cultural truth and present it to current generations in relevant ways and with relevant, meaningful application.

The key is to present the Gospel message without losing the message of the Gospel.

So how will you be counter-culturally relevant today?

Read Full Post »

There is always big talk in church circles about being culturally relevant.  The question normally surfaces at some point in the conversation (in some form or other), “Why would people come to XYZ Church if it is not appealing?”  Regrettably, many churches have become more of a production than a worship service.

I want to talk more about that issue tomorrow.  But for today, I want us to think about something more foundational than this issue.  And it has everything to do with this current season – the season of Advent – Christmas.

We must never forget that God chose to strip away all glory and majesty, and enter into this world as a lowly peasant.  Entering with no triumphal entry or big parade, but rather quietly in the backstreets of a little town, in a relatively insignificant country.

The model that has been given to us is that we should take the message of the Good News to the people.  It may be uncomfortable.  It may cost us something.  But we are tasked with sharing the Good News of God’s love  by taking it to them where people live.

However, through the years we have adopted a different mentality – we want people to come to us, take up our likes and dislikes, become like us so that they can receive the Good News.  In other words, we have taken the position that our comfort and our security is more important than telling the world that God wants a relationship with them.

Here is my question for you to ponder today, and I would love to hear your feedback:  Do you have a “take it to them” attitude or a “stick it to them” attitude?

Read Full Post »

Christmas Shopping

It is that time of year.  Do you have all your shopping done?  Me either!

In fact, Kristi and I are both off today and are going to try and get all of our shopping done today.  I will have to let you know how that goes.

I am really excited about spending the day with my lovely bride – just the two of us.  But I am not looking forward to shopping.  I am a commando shopper and Kristi is a browser.  I want to get in and get out with just what is on the list – Kristi doesn’t normally take that approach.

At any rate, all of this has caused me to think a bit about Christmas today.  What if we spent the resources; time, energy and money that we use on shopping and making sure we are going to have a Christmas to remember, what if we focused our resources on helping others?

I am not saying we should not celebrate Christmas – I am just asking the question.  Let me know what you think.

Read Full Post »

Love Is My Name

I have mentioned this before but one of my favorite spiritual thinkers and authors is Thomas Merton.  I was reading some of his work this morning and was overcome by this passage:

To say that I am made in the image of God is to say that love is the reason for my existence, for God is love.  Love is my true identity.  Selflessness is my true self.  Love is my true character.  Love is my name.

If, therefore, I do anything or think anything or say anything or know anything that is not purely for the love of God, it cannot give me peace, or rest, or fulfillment, or joy.

To find love I must enter into the sanctuary where it is hidden, which is the mystery of God.

The book of Genesis tells us that we are all made in the image of God.  But have you thought about the fact that because we are all created in God’s image, that we are created for the purpose of love?  Love for God displayed in how we live, worship and relate to one another?

This short little passage dumbfounded me this morning.  All of life can be boiled down to one word – love.

In this season of the year, (or any season for that matter), don’t let a day go by in which you do not live out the reason for your existence.

Love fully today!

Read Full Post »

Most of us know the Christmas story well.  We focus our attention on Jesus’ birth at this time of year and it is wonderful to do so.  I was reading an article on the second week of advent earlier this week and the scripture used to begin the article came out of Luke 3.

The verse that has been floating around in my head since reading it is this: “The word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness.”  Now this word was for John to be the forerunner for Jesus, paving a path for Jesus and the message he would bring.

But what I want you to see today is found in this little verse.  The word came to John where?  In the wilderness!  Earlier in Luke we see that John lived in the desert and wilderness areas of Israel most of his life.  Those who made that choice spent their lives seeking God and what God would have them do.  By living in the wilderness part of their lives, they were freeing themselves of the distractions of life in order to focus.  (Where did Jesus go for 40 days immediately following his baptism?)

The point I am making is this – do you ever find yourself in the wilderness?  Do you ever feel lost and disoriented with life?  Do you ever feel abandoned and forgotten?

It is in the wilderness that we find God.  But the key is to transition our attention from ourselves and the self-pity we may be feeling and place it on God, the creator of all life.  We may dread “wilderness” times in our lives, but both John and Jesus went to the desert.  We can learn something from that fact.

Have you lost your way today?  God has a word for you – just ask.

Read Full Post »

What Is Prayer To You?

What is prayer to you?  Is it a chance to meet with God?  Is it an opportunity to pour your heart out to God and ask for help?  Or is it a chance to let God know how much you care?

I hope that prayer for you incorporates all of these things.  But do you ever catch yourself falling into a rut – or worse, bad habits when it comes to prayer?

Oswald Chambers asked a significant question in this regard.  Here is what he had to say,

Is the Son of God praying in me, or am I dictating to Him? . . . Prayer is not getting things from God . . . prayer is getting into perfect communion with God.  If the Son of God is formed in us by regeneration, He will press forward in front of our common sense and change our attitude to the things about which we pray.

How often do we take our laundry bag of needs and desires to God, dump them out and walk away, expecting God to “fix” everything?  I believe prayer has less to do with God meeting our needs and more to do with being formed to God’s will.

The closer we are to God – the stronger that relationship – the more likely our hearts will beat in sync with the Father’s.  When our hearts are beating in rhythm with God’s, then our needs will be put into perspective and doors will open.

So what is prayer to you?

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »