Archive for February, 2010

When I was 12, I played baseball – first base.  I really enjoyed it but my career came to a close one afternoon when a fast grounder came right down the first base line.  It was coming so fast I had to field it behind the first base bag.  You guessed it, it hit the bag and popped up and hit me in the right eye.  I really don’t remember what happened next.  I remember regaining my senses in the dugout and hearing these words, “That’s gonna leave a mark.”  It did – along with astigmatism I still suffer with today.

I have the opportunity to speak to a group of college students today at noon.  One of the things I want to relate to them is appropriate for us to think about today as well.

Do you want to leave a mark on the world?  At the end of your life, do you want your eulogy to include, “the world is a better place because of  . . . (insert your name)?”

If so, here is something for you to think about today.  Maybe instead for thinking “I want to leave my mark on the world,” maybe the better aspiration would be, “I want to allow God to leave a mark on the world through me.”

The question I have been asking myself over the last week is “whose mark am I trying to leave?”

Leave a mark today!

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True Community

One of the catchiest catch-words in church circles today is “community.”  But what does it mean – what does it look like?

Last night in our study, In The Dust of the Rabbi, we talked about what it was like in the first century in a Greco-Roman world to be a Christ follower.  It would have meant that you would have been excluded from society – the economic world would be closed to you, the political world would be closed as well – because you no longer would be willing to sacrifice to the gods so you would be shunned and even hated.

The early Christians had no choice but to band together to survive.  They needed one another to live.  Community was a way of life – and disciples were born in, raised by and developed in that community.  But today, in our culture, the idea of community is really a little foreign.  We enjoy being with others but we also want our space.  We live in an individualistic society that praises independence.  So living in true community seems odd to us.

Regardless of how independent we may think we are, God actually created us to need others.  So what does community look like in 2010 in America?

The first thought is that the church should be that community – and that is true.  But is it?  Do people really live in community in your gathering of believers?  Is your gathering characterized by transparency, honesty and solid relationships or is it more of a social gathering for an hour or two on Sunday mornings where masks are worn and fronts are maintained?

This morning I am sitting in one of my favorite places to think and enjoy a good cup of coffee and one amazing blueberry scone – Sugar Brown’s.  As I sit and write this post this morning, I am scanning the room and here is what I see:  I see two young females at the back table who appear to be catching up after not seeing each other for a while; I see a young business professional in his suit and kindle, listening with great compassion and attentiveness to a young man who has a speech disability.  On the other side of the room is a table with three middle-aged men laughing and having a great conversation.  Right behind me are two older gentlemen discussing politics.

Now let me clarify that I do not make a habit of eaves dropping on peoples’ conversations, but I have to confess that I am a student of people.  But the point today is that what I am observing this morning at Sugar Brown’s is a clear depiction of community – the way God created it – and it is not even happening in a church (although I could argue that the scone was a spiritual experience).

Where does community happen for you?

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In my prayer and reading time this morning I got all the way through one verse in Romans (now you can see why it is taking me multiple years to make it through the book – I’m up to chapter 12 now).

Romans 12:1 tells us that we should consider God’s mercy – that undeserved gift we have been given.  Upon considering this gift – we should act appropriately by sacrificing ourselves to God.  This is a verse we all know.  But there is something here I want us to think about today.

Paul specifically ties some things together for us here that makes all the difference for those of us who call ourselves Christ followers.  He says that in light of God’s mercy shown to us, we should offer our bodies (our physical beings, the flesh and blood you and me) as a living sacrifice – not some animal we sacrifice by killing on an altar but our living, breathing selves.

Now don’t miss this part – this is to be our reasonable, spiritual act of worship.  I know that different translations use either reasonable or spiritual here and normally I would not point it out but I want us to think about this specifically today.  Not to be a Greek geek, but the original word here is logikein – which can be translated as reasonable or spiritual.  But the point is this, which ever way you choose to translate it, the word carries the idea of our inner being – our spirit.

So what Paul is telling us is that our spiritual, intellectual worship is hollow without our physical commitment as well.  So often, we see our devotion time or sitting in a worship service and singing a few songs and listening to teaching as being where we truly worship.

But Paul is specific – spiritual worship takes physical action!  The Way is not for sitting – it is for getting knee deep in the messiness of life – in the time-consuming awkwardness of demanding relationships.  That is worship!

How will you worship today?

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Daring Humility

One of the books I am reading right now is titled, Flickering Pixels: How Technology Shapes Your Faith, by Shane Hipps.  In this book, Hipps spends a chapter discussing how our perception often shapes our reality.  In fact, if the truth be told, we build our lives around what believe to be true.  And of course, that is how it should be.

But what happens when we realize that some element we have always believed to be true turns out to be false?

Stay with me – I promise I am not out in left field.  But here is what I want us to see today – we should live our lives built on the truth as best we understand it.  But when our understanding of truth becomes an arrogant certainty, we have gone too far.

Hipps uses a great phrase to remind us of where we stand with this issue of holding our ground when it comes to our beliefs:  daring humility.  He says this:

Daring humility is honest enough to admit that we see things in a mirror dimly, and bold enough to live a life of deep conviction anyway.

While we need to admit we do not have all the answers, we need to hold fast to what we believe.

Practice daring humility today!

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On the way to the office today, a song was playing on the radio that has stayed with me.  The song is by Kris Allen titled, Live Like We’re Dying.  Not to be confused with Tim McGraw’s song, Live Like You Are Dying – both songs have much of the same emphasis of making the most of our time on earth.   If you knew you had only 3 days to live, would it change you the way you live right now?

What caught my ear is the chorus of Kris’s song.  The words remind us that we only have 86,400 seconds in each day to turn the world around or to throw it all away.  It’s our choice.  Kris urges us to tell people that we love them and make a difference in the world around us while we have the chance.

The point is this: we should live each day as if we were on the verge of death.

So here is my challenge for you:  What are you going to do, today, with your 86,400 seconds of life God has given you.  Will you be selfish or will you spend some of those seconds showing God’s hope and love – making the world a better place?

Live like you are dying!

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I had a parent tell me this story yesterday and I wanted to relay it to you.  This particular family got some bad news on Monday and they were talking and crying and praying through and sorting out all that this news would mean for them.  In the midst of the discussion, their 10 year old daughter made this observation.

“You know, God made the road and we are just the cars that drive on it.  Sometimes it snows and we slide into the ditch and get stuck.  But if we trust in God and pray, and with the help of God and our family and friends, we can get unstuck.  We are just stuck right now but we will get out.”

Wow – the wisdom of a 10 year old!

Have you slid into a ditch?  Are you stuck?  Reach out to God and to your friends and family.  God is faithful to pull us through!

Be blessed today!

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Yesterday, I was reminded of a vital truth that we all need to remember if we are seeking to follow in the Way.  Western culture is results driven.  You and I, if you live in the US particularly, are products of this culture.

We are not satisfied if we don’t see results from our efforts.  When we commit time and energy to something, we want to know it counted for something.  I always tell those who participate in mission trips that we may never see the fruits of our labor.  But we are not naturally conditioned by our culture to live that way.

Here is the truth for today: God does not expect us to be “successful” but God does expect us to be faithful.

Yesterday, I was leaving a local store after picking up some things for the church.  I followed a lady out who had a big bag of Ole’ Roy dog food in her electric scooter basket.  So I followed her to her car and offered to put her items in the car for her.  After loading her things, I said, “have a nice day,” and she said, “thank you.”  I walked away and she went about her day.

I did not hear an angelic chorus and the lady did not fall to her knees and begin to worship God.  It was just a simple act with no real apparent impact.  But that is the point, God does not expect us to be concerned with results – God just wants us to simply live in service to God and others.

Be faithful today – even in the small things.

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