Archive for June, 2010

Thoughtfulness requires thinking and thinking requires slowing down long enough to actually think.

There is also an element of planning in thoughtfulness – not to say there is no such thing as spontaneous thoughtfulness, but thoughtfulness should be purposeful.

But at the core of thoughtfulness is the act of putting someone else’s needs above our own and there is something Biblical about that.

Be thoughtful today and touch someone else’s life.

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Last night, actually this morning, I took the time and upgraded my operating system on my phone.  The new OS4 came out last week but I have been holding off on upgrading.  Typically, I will wait until I am confidant that it will work without a lot of bugs and problems.  But last night I decided to go ahead and take the leap.  So far so good.  The home page works a little differently but other than that I have not run across any major changes yet except in the email department – communication.  It is vastly improved.

You may be asking, “Why am I sitting here reading some geek rambling about operating system upgrades?”  Stick with me – I do have a point.

How current is your operating system – your relationship with Jesus?  Do you consistently go to him for current upgrades?  You see, if you are constantly connected to Jesus through Bible reading, prayer, and other practices, the upgrades happen naturally and you don’t even know it.

But, if you aren’t consistently connecting to Jesus, your relationship can grow stale.  And if you are away for too long, your operating system becomes so outdated, it can become dysfunctional and even irrelevant to the world around you.

You see, your relationship with Jesus should be dynamic and real – always growing and improving.  If it is not, then Jesus can’t use you to make a difference in the world around you.  Just like if I refused to update my phone operating system for a couple of years, the newer applications being developed would not perform properly on my phone – they possibly would not perform at all.  Would the phone still work?  Probably, but it would not be relevant to the current needs.

Stay on top of your operating system – make consistent upgrades.  As followers of the Way, Jesus has called us to make a difference in the world around us – but we can’t do that if our relationship with him is not vividly and vitally fresh and real.

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I was reminded yet again yesterday that the church is not the worship service on Sunday morning but the gathering of a family together.  Sometimes we gather to study God’s word, sometimes we gather together to worship, sometimes we gather to laugh and sometimes we gather to lean on one another in difficult times.

This past week was a difficult week for our family and in sharing with another family last night around the dinner table, we found out that it was not a great week for them either.  We cried together, we laughed together and we shared life together.

I got home last night and decided to sit on our deck and watch the lightning show.  As I sat there, I reflected on the events of the evening and I was reminded that the church is not a tradition-prescribed set order of service or comfortable programing.  The church, as Jesus intended it at its core, is a family of like-minded believers sharing life together.

As the writer of Hebrews urged, “Let us not give up on meeting together . . . but let us encourage one another.”

Following Jesus is not an individual endeavor.  We were made for each other, we were designed for community.

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I have written on several occasions about “discerning God’s will” for your life.  Over the last couple of years, God has used some very trying experiences to remind me that being a believer and a follower of The Way is not about me.  I have always believed, and still do, that God has a plan specifically for me – that only I can do to fulfill God’s plan.

What I have found, however, is that this view lends itself to being very ego-centric.  It often causes me to take my eyes off of God and focus more on what I can do for God.

I am slowly coming to believe that God is more concerned about the redemption of mankind than the fulfillment of one man.  I realize this is a controversial stance to take, but I think that if my heart is beating as God’s, then my fulfillment will be realized in joining God on this path.  Does that mean that God does not care about me as a person?  Absolutely God does!  But we have to remember, “It is not about us.”

With this stance, I begin to see that God cares less about whether I sell cars for a living or preach the Gospel and more about whether or not I am learning to love others as Jesus taught us to love.  In other words, perhaps God is concerned more about the person we become and less about what we do for a living.

So today, my prayer for us is that we focus more on becoming the people God created us to be and less on what we think God wants us to do.

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This morning I was lead to this Psalm.  It is a beautifully poetic description of God and creation.  I encourage you to read it today when you have a minute.  The impact the writer’s words have on me today is that God is beyond imagination in grandeur and I am really small in the grand scheme of things.  But even in my insignificance, God cares for me and listens to me when I call out and when I offer my praise.

Verses 33 and 34 are my prayer today.  Maybe it should be your prayer as well.

33 I will sing to the LORD all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

34 May my meditation be pleasing to him,
as I rejoice in the LORD.

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Life Change at Camp

Yesterday afternoon, I helped our Children’s Minister carry kids to camp.  It was a four and a half hour drive up to Fort Lone Tree.  We took 15 kids this year.  As we left the church parking lot, the kids were bouncing off the walls – literally.  Over the course of the next couple of hours, they settled into the trip a bit, but as we neared the camp, the excitement grew to the point that as we arrived, they were back to bouncing off the walls.

As I made the four and a half hour drive back home last night, I remembered my days at camp as a child and youth.  I remembered those feelings of excitement.  I also remembered the impact most of those experiences had on my spiritual development.  It was at camp that I began to experience God’s movement in my life like never before.  It was at camp that I first stood before one of the largest groups of  people I had ever seen and spoke and sang.  And it was at camp that I committed my life to serving God fully and completely as a vocation.

So obviously, for me, the Christian camp experience holds great memories.

I have two questions for you today:  Did you have similar experiences at camp as a child?  And second, how do you have those experiences as an adult today?

I would love for you to comment here and tell me what you think.

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It is really sad to say, but unfortunately, this occurrence is rare.  Maybe it is timing, maybe it is motivation, I am not sure, but God’s plan and our availability do not always result in great things for God.  But when it does, you cannot contain the results.

So if God has a plan and we make ourselves available to be used by God, why wouldn’t it always result in great things?  I struggle with this issue.  But two things have surfaced for me over the past few years.  One is that we are not God (I know – a real inspirational and deep thought showing my real genius!).  Our job is to maintain a close enough relationship with God that we sense when God is moving in a certain direction and in the lives of people around us.  When we sense it, we must be ready and available to jump in.  Unfortunately, many times, I am not maintaining my relationship with God on a daily basis and thus my heart is not where it needs to be in order to sense God’s prompting.

Another reason for the rarity of seeing great things happen is our motivation.  Perhaps we are poised and ready, we have seen God’s movement around us and we make ourselves available and jump in to be used by God in some situation or effort, but still nothing much seems to come from it.  If our motivation is to receive a blessing or “make something happen,” then we are getting involved for selfish reasons.  God will not be manipulated.

But, when God’s plan intersects with purely motivated availability – the results are hard to explain.  The key is to be sensitive to God’s leading and be willing and available to be used in whatever manner God chooses without concern for outcome.  Ever group I have taken to do mission work has heard me say at least once over the course of the trip, “Be flexible.  It is not about us – it is about being used by God.  We may never see the fruit or the results of our efforts but that is OK.”  When we approach serving God from this understanding – of being available to be used regardless of the outcome – then God can do mighty, life-changing things with us and in us.

I firmly believe that it is impossible for a person to come face to face with God’s love and not be changed.  The results are not up to us, but the choice to be available is.

Make yourself available to God today and don’t worry about the outcome.

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The Weapons of Mass Construction team is home.  It was a great trip.  We are all exhausted but God blessed us beyond any blessing we could have possibly given anyone else.  As I think through and process all that God did last week, I will be telling you about it here.  For now, please know that your prayers were felt and God did amazing things.  Here are a few before and after shots of the home we repaired in Mesquite.

Entrance to the Guererro home before . . .

. . . and after.

The living room and den before . . .

. . . and after.

Bathroom before . . .

. . . and after.

God is good!

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The last two days have been long and full.  Yesterday we began work on the flooring in the home as well as the porch out front.  Today we got to meet the family, including Alfredo Jr. – the 5 day old new addition to the family.

It was obvious why Sofia Hernandez, our contact who helped us find the family in need, chose this family to assist.  They have two girls and now two boys.  They are so appreciative of the help and it really comes through in their humble attitude.  A couple of the guys made a tree swing for Angelica, the younger girl and she took to it quickly.

Tomorrow we will finish up the bathroom, flooring and the rest of the project.  Over the coming week, I will be telling you of the relational outcomes of our efforts here this week but for now, here are a couple of pictures.

The porch at near completion.

Jerry and Ratha McLellan and the mobile Wienerschnitzel waggon fed us at lunch today.

This picture has little to do with our mission efforts but he was at Kinley’s Tea and Coffee House when I went to update the blog.  He said it took four years to grow his hair this long and it takes 45 minutes to make it look like this.

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Day three of Kid’s Heart El Paso and the crew did great.  We got more done than we had planned.  God brought just the right guys together for this trip.  We have two electricians on this trip and so we got some wiring done as well.  Pastor Israel is ecstatic and grateful for the work accomplished this week, but more importantly, his plan to have a place for the youth of Fort Hancock to meet and for a food distribution center are closer to completion than they were three days ago.  Israel has been on the field at this church for two months.  Over the past three years the church has grown and now that Israel is here, the work is going even better.  Pray for him today.   You can see how the project ended for us.  Tomorrow we start in Mesquite, NM, working to ready a home for a family welcoming a new baby home from the hospital.  We found this family through a lady who does social work in the area.  I will tell you more about Sofia Hernandez later this week – she is truly an angel sent from God to the people of the area and it is our privilege to work with her again.

Thanks for your continued prayer!

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