Archive for October, 2010

I don’t think it occurred to me as our Children’s Minister and I were vacuuming the popcorn and trash off of the gym floor at 8:30 last night.  In fact, I don’t think much occurred to me other than I was tired and I wanted to be at home.  But as I reflected on our evening at church, I put it all into perspective.

Last night we had church!  We hosted our annual fall festival.  We had games and food, a bounce house and a ton of kids with their parents.  It was awesome to see so many people having fun together in a safe environment.  It didn’t matter if they regularly attend our church.  Everyone was welcome and everyone had a great time being together.

In my mind, that is an image of what the church should look like all the time.  People coming together without any pressure of wanting to “fit in” – just happy to be together.

As I look back on last night’s experience – it was worth it.  I would vacuum the gym again if I had to.

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Stretching is Necessary

With the weather being so pleasant over the past two weeks (and partly due to the inspiration of my youngest son) instead of getting my cardio exercise done on a machine in the gym, I have been beginning my workout each time by running outside.  I mapped off a mile and decided I would start with that.  For the last two weeks that has worked well.

Until yesterday.  I was in the home stretch – the last 100 yards, when my right calf began to tighten.  I finished my run but my leg was beginning to really hurt.  I went back into the gym to finish my lifting routine but couldn’t do the leg press station because of the pain in my leg.  I finally gave up and took a shower.  I limped the rest of the day.

Last night, I was giving my son a hard time by blaming him for my pain.  He took it in stride but then asked me, “Did you stretch before you ran?”

I have to admit, I grew up playing sports and we always had to stretch before we did anything.  But yesterday I did very little stretching before setting out for my run.

He is probably right – the pain in my leg may very well be the result of my failure to prepare to run.  Stretching loosens the muscles and warms them up before they are put to use.  Had I stretched,  I might not be limping today.

As I have reflected on my experience, I was reminded that God sometimes stretches us.  And similar to the athlete stretching before activity, God’s stretching is preparing us for what is to come – making us ready to be of use in God’s plan.

So if you are going through a period of “stretching” today, just remember, God just might be preparing you for important service.  Take heart – God is in control.

And – if you see a fat guy limping around today, please have pity, it’s probably me.

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Making the Bed

Some days, I make the coffee.  Some days, Kristi makes it.  The only days it’s a problem is when neither one remembers to do it.

Every weekday morning, we share the responsibility of making the bed – a task that is left to the last one up on the weekends.

I never even thought about all this until this morning as we were pulling up the comforter and re-setting the pillows in their spots.  It is simply one of those things that for the past 20 years we have just done.  It’s our routine.

Even though these are mundane examples, we have a partnership that works.  I love it when we get to spend time together.  I depend on her support.  I cherish her love.  God has blessed us with a relationship that I all too often take for granted.

I am not saying our relationship is perfect.  Marriage is work – somedays it’s real work.  But any relationship worth fighting for is going to be work.  But I can tell you it’s worth it.

My challenge for you (and me) today is to stop and think about even the mundane things and appreciate your mate.  Don’t let this day pass you by without letting your spouse know how much you love, appreciate and cherish them!  Show them today.


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30 Seconds for God

It is definitely Monday.  I have  a sick child at home and as soon as I hit the office, my routine was out the window.

I decided to stop and pray before getting out of the car this morning – good thing because I am not sure when I will have that opportunity to stop again.

Sound familiar?

Take 30 seconds right now to stop and give your day to God.  Everyone can let go of 3o seconds.  It will make all the difference.

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I grew up in a small town in west Texas – Kermit (Go Yellow Jackets!!).  In my hometown you could find a wide variety of folks but everyone got along fine.

One of the things I remember about our church and our community is that a couple of times per year they would do what I would call the “preacher swap.”  Our pastor would preach in another church in town one Sunday and a pastor from another church would preach in our church.  It was one of those Sunday’s that I was introduced to Brother Lewis.  He was the pastor of the black Baptist church in Kermit.  I had never in my life heard anyone preach with that much passion and enthusiasm.  When he really got “cranked up” he would begin to sing his sermon.  I never watched the time when I listened to him preach.  I guess the reason I was so drawn to him was that his preaching was a mere reflection of who he was and how he lived.  He was a true humble servant of God.  It affected me to the level that I would take some friends and go to their church occasionally, just to hear him preach.

The only catch to going to visit his church was that if you visited, he would expect you to get up and sing for the congregation.  Now, I’m not sure you are getting the picture, but it was impossible to sneak into their church and blend in and remain anonymous – I was a little lighter skinned than the norm of the others sitting in the room.  So I knew when I went that I would have to sing – but I didn’t mind – it was worth it.

I tell you all of this because I am going to today to pay my last respects to this legend of a preacher.  A man that affected so many lives.  A man that was arrested in the 60’s for his non-violent protests.  A man that marched on more than one occassion with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  A man who leaves a huge hole in so many lives.

He did not pastor a mega-church.  In fact, his name never became well-known.  But for those lives he touched – he was a giant and he will be missed!

So I am going to his funeral today – I wonder if they will ask me to sing! 🙂

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Encountering God

In my reading this morning, I was reading excerpts from A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God.  I ran across this quote from Edward Hays.  He said:

If we are to experience God, we must be open to God, to the mystical, to the divine, appearing in our lives.  And we must have an openness that is free of any preconditions about how that will happen.  Looking for God in a godly form is the great historical mistake.

How do you expect to see God today?  Maybe a precursor question might be “Do you expect to see God today?”  God is at work all around us.  But often we miss that encounter because we are not looking – or maybe we miss it because we are expecting to see God in a certain way.

My prayer for each of us today is this:  O God, I know you are at work right now, all around us.  Help me to see you today in a fresh way.  I want to experience your presence as never before!

May God bless each of us with eyes to see and ears to hear!

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Unfailing Love

I have been preparing for the funeral of my friend Ettie that will be held Thursday.  I met with the family yesterday to make the arrangements and discuss the service.  I asked to see Ettie’s Bible in hopes that I could get a glimpse of what passages she held dear.

One of her grandsons went to get it from her night stand and when he got there, it was opened to the book of Psalms.  He brought it to me as he had found it.  As I looked over the chapters on those open pages I noticed there are 4 or 5 chapters visible on those two pages so I have no idea what Ettie was reading the last time she picked up this book.

But the chapter that caught my eye was chapter 13.  The chapter is only 6 verses long but it is amazing!  It begins with a heart-wrenching cry:

How long, O LORD ? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Do you ever feel like that?  I am always transparent here and today is no different.  I feel like for the better part of the last 2 years,  I have been where this author was when he wrote this passage.  God has been working on me and it has been painful.

Maybe you are there today as well.  Maybe your cry is the same:  “How long O Lord must I endure . . .”

My encouragement for you (and me) is this – hang in there.  God is still in control.

The psalmist continues in this same chapter by saying this:

But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.

I will sing to the LORD,
for he has been good to me.

God will continue to take care of us.  God has a plan!

Don’t give up but rather trust in God’s unfailing love!

Be blessed today!

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Never Quit

I want to tell you about a friend of mine.  I got a call last night that my good friend had gone on to be with the Lord.  She had to have some stints put in a couple of weeks ago and while she was in the hospital, she decided to go ahead and have a pace maker put in.  She has been feeling a little tired lately and it has begun to affect what all she felt like doing.

You see, she had a job at the hospital “sitting with the old people,”  and she needed to regain some of her energy in order to keep doing the things she loved to do – caring for people.

She had the pace maker put in and everything went fine.  But a day after going home from the hospital, she experienced a massive stroke – a stroke from which she was unable to recover.

All of this is very sad and some might even say tragic.  Why would a person with such a giving spirit (and at times a little stubborn) have to endure all of this?

Let me add a bit of information that will not make it any less sad, but it might just bring a peace in the situation.  Ettie was 92.  Most 92 year olds I know (which is not a large number) would most likely have not decided to try the pace maker.  The risks were too great and the pay-off too small.  But Ettie was determined that if she was going to live to be 100 (which was her goal) then she did not want to do it sitting around.

That is a testimony of a true servant of God.  I have found Ettie to be pretty inspirational to me for the 8 years I have known her.  But I think she is even more inspirational now.  How can I sit back and think, “I will sit this one out and let someone step up and do it.” when a 92 year old lady was willing to undergo a heart procedure in order to have more energy to keep on going?

Ettie, you will be missed, especially by me.  But you never quit!  You fought the good fight, you finished the race – and you did it well!

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We started a college and young singles Bible study class at our church two weeks ago.  We are going through a study that focuses on what it means to truly be a disciple of Jesus.

The study is called In the Dust of the Rabbi and it is written by Ray Vander Laan.  Our lesson yesterday painted a picture of what being a disciple meant in the first century.   It was a life choice – a commitment to dedicate one’s life to follow a rabbi (in some cases, 24 hours per day) in order to become like him.  When Jesus selected his disciples, they gave up everything to follow and learn from him.

As we worked through the study, a statement came up that has haunted me since.  It is this:  “If I am not completely and passionately committed to following Jesus with everything I have, then I really cannot call myself a disciple in the Biblical sense.”

Has the term disciple become so common that we forget the significance of the word and the ramifications of its meaning?

I challenged the class to do something this week that will bring them closer to Jesus – to being more like him.  I then assigned one of the class members (thanks Coe) to hold me accountable to the same challenge.

Will you take the challenge this week?  What will you do to become more like Jesus this week?

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Trust Is the Key

I am getting really close to finishing the book of Romans.  Today I read further into chapter 15 and was reminded that I need to work on trusting God more.

Paul offers a blessing right in the middle of the chapter which I find a little odd.  Normally, Paul opens his letters with a formal greeting and then somewhere near the end he closes with a form of a blessing.

But here it is right there in verse 13.  He reminds us that one of the characteristics of God is hope and that God will fill each of us with joy and peace as we trust.

It would be easy to read over this verse (as I have done before) and miss the implication of Paul’s words.  He says that God will fill us with joy and peace as we trust God.

How many times do we pray and beg God for peace about something.  Or how often do we pray for God to make us happy or make things “good.”  And then as soon as we finish praying, we sit there and expect God to make it happen immediately.  We often expect some kind of Godly intervention to miraculously happen that makes our lives alright.

What Paul is saying is that the joy and peace will come but it will come when we let go of our expectations and trust that God really does know what we need.

Speaking from first-hand, real-life experience – that is very easy to write in this post but much more difficult to put into practice.  But today – that is what I am going to do!

So, in the words of Paul (Romans 15:13)

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

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