Archive for April, 2010

Shane Hipps, in his book, Flickering Pixels, deals with the role of the heart in spirituality.  He explains that it is the heart – emotions – that drives desire and without desire our spirituality dries up.

. . . the most damaging effect of suppressing the heart is that it deadens desire.  That deep longing for life, love, and God fades.  Instead, we come to expect less from life.  We acquire the bland taste of a domesticated god who resides somewhere in our head.  But our head is not home for the divine.  The head helps us understand the divine from a safe distance.  This is a powerful and valuable enterprise to be sure, but there is a difference between knowing about God and knowing God.

I don’t know about you but I do not care to serve a “domesticated god.”  The God I choose to serve is full of mystery and strength, love and grace, justice and mercy.  There is no domestication of the one true God – and we should rejoice in that fact!

How faded is your desire?  How badly do you want to move beyond knowing about God to a point of truly knowing God?  Do not seek knowledge – seek a relationship.

Father, may you fill us with desire to truly know you today and to grow in our relationship with you!

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Portal to the Heart

Whatever is in your heart comes out in your actions and your words.  Matthew 12:34-37 speaks to this – you can read it here.

This is a powerful passage.  Our words are a reflection of who we really are inside.  We can say, “I didn’t mean that,” after we have said something we regret.  But the reality is that the words coming from our mouths are an overflow from our hearts.  Our mouths give the world direct access to our being – scary isn’t it?

I don’t know about you, but some days I need a check valve in the line from my heart to my mouth.

We can work on keeping our words in check but the point for us to wrestle with today is this:  the key to this dilemma is to constantly work on what is in our hearts.  If our hearts are filled with hate, jealousy or selfishness, then the words coming from our mouths will reflect that reality.  My prayer for us today is Psalm 51:10 – “Create in me a pure heart, oh God.”

What is filling your heart today?

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The Reading Bus

Miss Kooki (Rosemary Peterson) is a 63 year old school bus driver in Florida who was about to turn in her keys.  The kids were unruly and she had reached her limit of putting up with the chaos.  She began to pray about what to do.  She was at the end of your patience.

She says God revealed an answer to her.  The next day, once she had all her kids on the bus, she presented them with her plan.  The following day they were to bring a book onto the bus.  After completing a book, each child would write a book report and submit it to Miss Kooki.  The students who wrote the most book reports would get prizes.

The plan took off!  Now the bus ride that used to be chaotic, loud and distracting is more like the serenity of a library.  The ripple effect has been the kids are doing better in their classes as well.  What a turn around – what a plan!  (You can watch more of her story at NBC Nightly News online)

Miss Kooki took a hopeless situation and filled it with a renewed sense of purpose.

Are you facing any hopeless situations in your life?  If so:

1) Take a step back

2) Pray about it

3) Look for something you can do to make things better (and don’t be afraid to think outside the box)

4) Then get busy doing it!

God created you for a time like this!

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Make Today Count

Yesterday I attended two different funerals, both of which reminded me that life is too short.  One was the funeral of a 41 year old mother of two and the other, a 26 year old mother of one.  I went to bed last night thinking about the frailty and brevity of our existence here on this planet.

The way I see it, we can approach the reality of death from two angles.  We can come to grips with the startling reality that we are going to die and there is nothing we can do so why try.  Or we can come to grips with this reality and determine within our hearts to make the most of what we have been given.

As  followers of Jesus, we have an added element of hope in knowing that this life is not all there is but rather just the beginning of our true existence.

So given the reality that you are going to die, maybe not today but soon enough, how will you live for the next hour?  The rest of today?  The rest of the week?  The rest of your life?

I have a two-fold prayer for each of us today and it is this:  1) that we choose to make today count for something, and 2) that we continue to make that choice everyday for the remainder of our time on Earth.

Be blessed today and make it count!

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If you read my post last Thursday, you know that Kristi and I got away to celebrate 2o years of marriage.  In my planning for our time together, I wanted to have at least one romantic meal.  I did my research and even emailed the San Antonio Visitors center to get some ideas.  After all that, I decided on a restaurant that would be the perfect choice.  I even made reservations to ensure that our evening would be memorable.

We took a cab to the area and arrived early to make sure that we could find the site of our candle light experience.  Promptly at 7:30, we walked up to the hostess and I said rather smugly, “We are the Hill’s and we have a reservation for 2.”

The hostess picked up two menus and asked us to follow her to our special table.  It did not take too long, as we strolled through a restaurant of empty tables, to figure out that we were the only ones in the joint.  As I looked around, I could see a sheer curtain separating our fine dining from the breakfast buffet line.  Come to find out, we were in a hotel restaurant in downtown San Antonio – and yes, we were the only ones there!

What I thought was going to be a fine dining experience in an eclectic, romantic atmosphere, turned out to be something similar to a trip to Denny’s with candles and linen napkins.  Not what I had envisioned at all!  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Denny’s as much as the next guy, but not for a romantic dinner to celebrate 20 years of wedded bliss!

Kristi was a great sport – I think she could see my embarrassment and disappointment.  But the one good thing about being married for 20 years, when it was all said and done, we had a great time and now we have a humorous memory of our romantic evening in San Antonio.

Have you ever had a “date” with your spouse that didn’t turn out as you planned?

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A Day Away

Today, Kristi and I are taking a couple of days to get away.  We will be celebrating 20 years of marriage next month, but this was the only 2 days we could get away together for the next 3 months – so here we are.

I am so blessed to have such a wonderful partner for life.  I have mentioned before that she is a perfect pastor’s wife.  It has been a great 20 years!  I am excited about the next 20, 40 or whatever God gives us!

Thank you Lord for your giving us each other!

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I have been reminded this week of the joys of getting back into the swing of exercising on a regular basis.  Today marks day three.  I am still in the phase of not being able to walk normally nor straighten my arms.  I told myself I would “ease” back into it slowly.  But as has been my pattern in the past, I worked up the desire to get back into the gym and once there, over did it – now I am paying the price.

However, I know from experience that the answer to my pain is consistency.  Eventually, the pain will subside and over time, the sacrifice of a little sleep will result in more energy and better flexibility.

I have found that my spiritual walk shares many of the same characteristics.  The key to any spiritual practice is consistency.  So often we allow ourselves to relax in our commitment to pray and read the Bible and before we are fully aware of it, we have gone weeks without spending time with God.  So we resolve to jump in and often overdo it – overcommitting ourselves and soon we are burned out and even worse, feeling guilty about it.

But if we can ease into a routine of spending time with God, carving out 20 minutes or so, 3 or 4 times per week and remain consistent, then in a matter of days we will begin to feel more energy, peace and joy in our lives than we have ever experienced.

Spiritual progression comes from God, but we have to persistently do our part.  Commit today to stay consistent in your routine of spiritual practices – your walk in following the Way and then stick with it – don’t let up.

You will never regret time spent with the Creator of the Universe!

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