Archive for March, 2010

I remember when the slogan became popular.  I was young but even then it made an impression of home and prompted thoughts of friendliness and being welcomed.

Tom Bodett had no affiliation with the motel chain, but was a voice that helped launch the chain into the forefront of the market.  But the ad-libbed slogan is what people remember (at least if you are my age or older).  Anyone know what I’m talking about?

Yep, you guessed it – “We’ll leave the light on for you!”

A very simple statement that communicates a world of images and has stuck with the chain for over 20 years.  I had not heard a radio ad for Motel 6 in years for some reason, but just this week I heard the familiar voice recite the familiar slogan on the radio.

All this got me to thinking about hospitality and providing a welcoming environment to others.  Leaving the light on sends the message of “We are ready for you and we want you here.”

Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is the church.  Is your church welcoming of others?  Do the individuals in your community know that they are welcome in your church?  Do you go out of the way to “leave the light on?”

But the focus on my mind today is a little more personal – a little closer to home.  How welcoming are you?  We talk a lot about showing people God’s love and grace and many of us do that regularly – but on our terms and our time frame.  What about the inconvenient drop-in to your office or to your home?  When you are in the big middle of a huge project, how inviting are you to someone who needs to talk?

God’s call on us as followers of the Way is to show love and grace as a way of lifestyle, not as a project we do on “Outreach Night” at the church.

My prayer for each of us today is that we will be welcoming and inviting to those who need us.

I have done this before, but I want to make the invitation to you again.  If you need to talk or just simply want prayer for a need you may have, my email is to the right – please feel free to contact me.

“I’ll leave the light on for you!”

Read Full Post »

Easter week is finally here.  It was a dark week in Jesus’ life.  It was a week filled with extremes.  Jesus entered Jerusalem at the beginning of this week to the sights and sounds of the homecoming of a victorious king.  People crowded the streets as he passed by to shout praises and to see the king.  A few days later, some of the same people stood in a courtyard shouting, “Crucify him!”

Now before we sit back in our seats and think, “How could those people do that?” ask yourself this question, “How are we any different?”  We come on Sunday and praise God and seek inspiration from God’s word, but on Monday, how often is it “business as usual?”  When God asks us to sacrifice in some area of our lives or simply live each day loving as Jesus loved but we refuse, we are saying, “Crucify him!”

Easter is a time for remembering Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice but also a time for difficult self-examination.  Are you ever guilty of shouting “Hosannah” on Sunday and “Crucify” during the week?

Read Full Post »

Today is the day!  And we have a winner!  For those of you do not know what I am talking about, last week we had a little drawing.  Last week I reviewed Francis Chan’s new book and study video, Forgotten God.  To make it interesting I promised to give a copy of the book to one lucky winner.  It was a lot of fun.

And so today, congratulations are in order for Barbara Pinner.  I will be emailing you today Barbara to make arrangements to get the book to you.

For those of you who did not “win” this time, I encourage you to pick up a copy of the book the next time you are in a bookstore.  All of us could stand to be reminded of the power of the Holy Spirit that is ours if we are followers of the Way.

A word of warning about the book (you might want to check out my posts last week if you haven’t already), do not pick it up and read it if you are not willing to be challenged.

I pray each of you have a truly blessed week this week.

Read Full Post »

Today we are looking at the book and video, Forgotten God, as it pertains to the work of the Holy Spirit and the church.  What we discussed yesterday regarding the work of the Spirit in the individual lives of believers is also true of the church.  When individual followers of the Way are truly committed and submitted to following the leadership of the Spirit in their lives, the church will reflect this as well.

As individuals, and corporately as the church, our purpose is to help others know Jesus and to come alive in him.  Is your church doing that on a daily basis?  Is your church doing supernatural things?  Francis makes the statement in the book, “I don’t want my life to be explainable without the Holy Spirit.”  Can you make that statement?  Can you explain the importance of your church to your community apart from the work of the Holy Spirit?

In the video (Session 3: Theology of the Holy Spirit 101) Francis uses a great illustration of a football team.  He describes a team running onto the field at the beginning of a game – the crowd goes wild and the team responds accordingly with excitement.  They huddle up on the field, call the play and then as they break, each player runs to the sideline and takes a seat on the bench.  After 30 seconds or so, the team runs back onto the field, huddles up and repeats the previous scenario.  After that happens a couple of times, the fans lose interest or worse, begin to see the game as pointless!  The connection is that this is often how the church acts or at least looks to the community.

We meet on Sunday and listen to an inspiring talk, and often we even leave with a challenge – a game plan for the week.  But then when we walk through the doors of the church, we head for the sidelines.  We have no intention of getting in the game and risk getting dirty or even hurt.  The community looks at us and thinks, “Pointless.”  Folks – that is sin!

The church is to be about building up the body – helping people find a deeper relationship with Jesus and then encouraging those same followers to go out and make a difference.  However, our churches have, in most cases, become a place of learning and institutionalization.  In the process, the church has become a place that deadens passion instead of encouraging it.

Does your church foster passion in you or does it seek conformity from you?  How is your church a reflection of you?

This study, Forgotten God, is not for the complacent and the satisfied.  This study will challenge you and get in your business.  So if you are not willing to be moved out of your comfort zone then I would recommend you stay away.  But if you want more of God, this is a great place to start!

(If you are interested in winning the book see details here)

Read Full Post »

As promised yesterday, today and tomorrow the posts will be dedicated to the book and video by Francis Chan, entitled, Forgotten God.  As I read through the book again, and watched the video one more time, some overarching ideas began to surface.  Today I want to focus on the challenges Francis gives us as individual believers and then tomorrow we will take a look at what these challenges mean to the church.

If you have ever listened to Francis or read Crazy Love (his first book), you know that his style is one of “telling it like it is,” and holding nothing back.  Several places in the book and the video as well he asks the difficult question, “Do we really want to hear from God?”  Do we really want more of God in our lives or do we just want God to bless what we are already doing so that we can feel good about ourselves?  This is a question you need to ask yourself before picking up the book.

The video is set up to follow the book and offer a small group discussion series around each chapter in the book.  But ingrained in the approach is the idea that knowledge for the sake of knowing is worthless.  In fact, it is possible to look at our own lives and see that added knowledge often does not lead to changed lifestyle or deeper commitment.  It can even be seen that increased knowledge often leads to pride that actually stifles spiritual growth.  So the challenge that Francis gives to us is that if we are studying this material with no intention of doing anything with it then we should put it down and walk away.

The study is about the Holy Spirit – the “forgotten” person of the Trinity.  God gives us the Spirit to empower us to be someone better – to do supernatural things.  Do our lives reflect an empowerment by the Spirit?  If someone can’t look at my life and say, “God is at work in his life,” then I am not living by the Holy Spirit.  We don’t need the Spirit to live a good life and attend church on Sunday’s – we can do that all on our own.  But loving as Jesus loved and ministering as he did to others, that will take the Spirit of God living and working in you.  Do you have that?  Do you do supernatural things daily?  Do you really want to?

It is God’s will for you to allow the Spirit to live in and through you.  But we tend to get caught up in wanting to know “God’s will” without understanding what that really means.  God is not concerned about a long term plan for your life as much as God wants you to be obedient in the moment.  Francis reminds us that it is safer to commit to follow Jesus someday than it is this day.  I have talked about this before (you can take a look at that post here).  We are concerned about “knowing” God’s will when really we should be more concerned about being obedient in the moment.

The book and video are filled with personal challenges that will “mess you up.”  But that is Francis’ forte – the issue is, what will you do about it?  If your plan is to read the book and watch the video and then move on to the next hot book on the market, then don’t even bother.  But if your desire is to learn more about the Holy Spirit and submit to the Spirit in your daily life, then you need to work through this study for yourself.

Tomorrow we will look at what the study says to the church.  Don’t forget about the book give away (details here)!

Be blessed today!

Read Full Post »

Forgotten God

For those of you who read my ramblings regularly (which obviously would be you), you know that I do not make a habit of promoting particular items for you to go out and buy.  My intention with this blog is never to turn it into an infomercial.  However, I was asked by David C. Cook Publishing, a couple of weeks ago to view the new Francis Chan video, Forgotten God, and then review it here at Clay In The Hands.  You can hear what Francis says about the book here.

I have read the book and watched the video, so over the next couple of days, I will be writing about it here.  But wait, there’s more – I want to give the book away to one lucky person.  OK, sorry, now it’s sounding like an infomercial.

Seriously, I am excited about what Francis has to say and so I want to give a copy of the book away.  Here is how we are going to do it.  Each day this week, you can email me at the address to the right to enter (bhill33@me.com).  Next Monday, March 29, I will randomly draw one name out of those who email.

Check back tomorrow and Friday to get my thoughts on the book and video.  I pray that God will use this to touch your life and open your eyes to the power that we so often neglect.

Be blessed today!

Read Full Post »

One of the guys I follow in the church growth and missions realm is Ed Stetzer.  I had a chance a couple of years ago to hear him in person at a conference I attended and since then I try and keep up with what he is doing.  I was listening to him on a video this week (you can watch it here) and have been challenged.

In the last few seconds of the first video on this link he makes this statement: “The greatest sin in most churches is that we have made it OK to sit there week after week and do nothing and call yourself a follower of Jesus.”

This statement convicted me on two levels.  One is that I had to ask myself, “Do I sit week after week and do nothing?”  And the second level of conviction asks the question, “Have I encouraged a church structure and system in which this sin has been fostered?”

I have to say, I feel like there are times when I can answer yes to both these questions.  But I also must say that my desire and calling is to combat this sin head on.  When the church has become a place where we meet weekly because it is the “right” thing to do or it is the thing we do to hold our social position in the community, then the church is no longer the church, it is a country club.  There is nothing wrong with a country club – but it should never replace the church.

How do you see yourself in light of this sin?

Read Full Post »

I have all kinds of things on my desk, but one thing you would see if you came into my office is in the picture above.  Looking at it here, it does not look like much.  But for me, it carries many memories and a couple of reminders as well.

In 1988, I had the privilege of spending 6 weeks in Israel on an archaeological dig.  We were the first group to dig at Banias, which was Caesarea Philippi in the New Testament.  Since we were the group to “open” the dig, there was prep work necessary before we began our work.  I found this preparatory work interesting and contrary to what I would think would be normal activity for historians.  The government brought in a huge Caterpillar front end loader to scrape off, literally 2000 years of history, in order to get down to the first century.

Once they had reached what they estimated to be the approximate layer of first century civilization, we began our work of tediously digging to find artifacts and clues about what went on there.

But in my mind, I was puzzled by the fact that so much was pushed off and piled up as insignificant.  We were allowed to sift through the piles of “unimportant” stuff during our breaks and keep what we found.  This piece of pottery that sits on my desk is a base of a big pot that dates to the Mamluk period (1200’s to 1500’s).  It reminds me of my time in Israel and the experience of a lifetime with which God blessed me.

It also reminds me of something else.  While I understand that the goal of our dig was to explore the relevance of the site in the first century, this pottery reminds me that I should never see anyone or any relationship as insignificant.  While our purposes in Israel were not concerned with the Mamluk period, this pot sherd represents a person living during that time who spent several hours crafting this piece of pottery.  It reminds me of a person and a time much different from me and the time in which I live, and I choose not to take that for granted.  It serves to remind me that I must value the people and relationships in my life – all of them.

While this pot sherd was not significant to the work we were doing, it is significant to me.

Is there anyone you take for granted?  Take a minute today to let them know you care!

Read Full Post »

I am the world’s worst when it comes to being “Type A” and wanting to make sure I make the most of my time.  In fact, I used to keep a slogan pinned to my wall that said, “No Regrets.”  I didn’t (and still don’t) want to to get to the end of my life and say, “I wish I had done this or that.”  So my approach to life has been intense – making the most of my time by becoming as streamlined and efficient as I can be.  The biggest area this has come in to play is the area of multi-tasking.  I never go to the doctor’s office without a book or my computer – I can’t stand the thought of waiting with nothing to keep my productive.  I often return emails while talking on the phone.  And I never go on a trip without more work than I could possibly get done while I am gone – just in case there is some down time and I could get something done.  The result, however, is impaired focus.  There is no way for a human being to focus, truly pay attention, to multiple things at the same time and the thought that we can is a sickness caught from our society.

I ran across this blog post yesterday by Pete Wilson (@pwilson), a pastor in a church in Tennessee. You can take a look at it here.  It is very well done and reminded me of the importance of balance – the balance between what I think I need to get done and my relationship with God.

Several years ago, I did a lot of study on spiritual practices and realized that I must carve some time into my “busy” schedule to be still before God.  That means if want to be close to God, one of the first things I must do is nothing.  That is really hard for me to do, but that is what it takes.  Simply being still before God and forgetting about efficiency and productivity.

In the long run, the real regret would be a life lived without a relationship with God.

Be still today!

Read Full Post »

Feed Your Faith

I went to the doctor’s office this morning to have my leg checked.  It’s just purple but Kristi thought it would be better to be safe than sorry (she’s pretty smart about these things).  At any rate, while I was waiting, I noticed one of the nurses wearing a jacket that had the hospital logo on the front, but on the back was a neat statement.  It said, “Feed your faith and your fears will starve to death.”

What a great thought!  As I think about my own life,  any time I feel uneasy about anything, if I will stop and remember that God holds my life in the very hands that created the world, things somehow don’t seem so bad.  When we focus on our faith and growing in our relationship with God, our fears become very small.

It is not that our fears are magically removed.  And it is not that the things that cause us fear go away.  But rather, when we take our eyes off of ourselves and our problems and focus on God, life is put into perspective.

So today, are you feeding your faith or are you letting your concerns and fears eat at you?  Your choice.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »