Archive for December, 2010

Hey, You Awake?

Growing up, my brother and I shared a room.  There are lots of stories I could tell about pestering and the like, but one memory that comes to mind is long after going to bed hearing the words, “Hey, you awake?”  And then a conversation would begin.

Now days, I often wake up for no reason in the middle of the night.  Typically this happens somewhere between 4:30 am and 5:30 am.  I have come to believe that it is God’s way of saying, “Hey, you up?  Wanna talk?”  I normally lay there and pray and find that many times I doze back off.  But if I will get out of bed, I stand a better chance of staying awake and actually having a time of meditation and prayer.

Today, I was lazy and just stayed in bed.  But I lay there for an hour (before actually getting up) and talked to God.  I realized in that time, that I don’t pray for my family nearly enough.  So I prayed for Kristi for a while, then I prayed for each of the boys, one by one.  It was a blessed time.

So just a reminder today – don’t pass up an opportunity to talk to God.  And while you are at it,  pray for your family – they are your biggest blessing from God!

Have a great weekend!

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The Love Badge

Yesterday, I received a card in the mail from one of our area hospitals reminding me that my “visiting clergy I.D. badge expires soon.”  So the request was for me to visit the hospital and update my information in their system so that I can get a shiny, new badge.  The badge serves a security purpose so that hospital personnel can identify me as someone who can be in certain places in the hospital.  It is a sad commentary on our society that a badge is even needed, but I do understand the need for such identification.

As I thought about making arrangements in my schedule to get by the hospital, I thought about how the badge will help people identify me and my role.  Then my mind wandered – like a stray animal on the open range, walking through fields . . . oops, sorry, did it again.  Where was I?  Oh, yes, my mind wandered and I began to think about how people identify me in other settings.  How do people know me?

My hope and prayer is that I am known as a Christ follower.  I desire that my actions, attitudes and words leave little room for ambiguity when it comes to what my life stands for and who I serve.

Jesus said we should wear a “Love” badge.  Well, not exactly.  What he said was this: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).  Everyone will know who we follow by how we love.

So here is my challenge for us today:  Do people have difficulty determining what you stand for and who you follow based on your actions?  Or does the way you show love to people daily identify you as a follower of Jesus?

Make sure your Love badge is completely visible  today and let people know who you really are.

Now I’m off to the hospital to get a new badge – that’s OK because I hate my picture on my current badge – the only problem is, I still look like I did when I took the last picture!

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Yesterday, I had the joy of retracing the steps of our construction mission efforts over the past 3 years in the El Paso area.  We visited with the three families we have worked with the last 3 summers.  All are doing well and are just as appreciative today as they were the day we walked away from their homes.

We then went on to look at potential projects and as we did, something began to happen to me that has happened many, many times before.  The overwhelming need fell like a thick blanket over my soul.  Thoughts of inadequacy began to flow.  Questions like:  “Where is the end?”  “What can we possibly do to help?” and “What is a long term fix for this situation?”

While it is a real dilemma in seeking to find answers for these questions, there is also great motivation to try and make an impact when given the opportunity to visit with those few we have impacted over the past 3 years.  As I walked away from one of the first homes we built in this area, the thought crossed my mind, “We made a difference here.”

Now don’t hear me say that we should ever get smug in our accomplishments.  God has brought the impact, we have just been available.  But it should be impossible for anyone to see the glaring need in this area and in the face of that need feel like they have “arrived.”

God is impacting lives in this area through men and women of faith from all over the state and even the country.  How could God use you today to make an impact in someone else’s life?  All you have to do is make yourself available!

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I keep several books going at a time from different genres.  Last week I started a new book entitled The Leadership Challenge.  I haven’t gotten very far into it yet but far enough to be reminded that a large part of leadership is always being aware of the environment.  It is so easy to become comfortable and complacent.  When things are going well we tend to catch our breath and relax a bit.

When we have an idea and we put our efforts behind it – developing it, casting a vision for it and then implementing it – we have a lot invested in it.  Then when it works wonderfully, we have a tendency to repeat it.  Before long, what was once a ground-breaking revolution, is now simply part of the landscape – we keep doing it over and over.  We get comfortable in our success and a rut is formed.

In understanding the environment, a leader must be willing to challenge the norm.  In the book mentioned above, Jim Kouzes calls this, “challenging the process.”  A good leader must be able to look at the process with an eye for evaluation and then be able to envision something better.  That is why leaders are not always popular, but if an organization is to grow and stay relevant, someone must be willing to challenge the process.

What are you doing today that needs to be challenged?  As a leader, what are you going to do today to challenge the process?

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Scars At Christmas

I have the exciting opportunity to speak to the South Plains College BSM (Baptist Student Ministries) luncheon today at the Reese campus.  I have been thinking about this opportunity for a few days and what I should talk about.  Obviously, the thoughts of Christmas are on all of our minds.  However, I don’t really know why but I have been thinking about scars.  I have talked about scars in the past.  You can take a look at that post here.

In the context of Advent (the coming of Christmas), I am reminded that God decided to come personally to a hurting and scarred world.  All of us have scars.  Some of them are physical, visible scars and some are possibly a little less noticeable – emotional or even spiritual scars.

In the midst of our scars, today we need to remember that God loves us in spite of our scars.  In fact, it is not unusual that our scars give us an understanding of the depth of God’s love.  You see, God loves us regardless of our past mistakes.

Remember that God loves us with all our problems and rebellion, with all our bad decisions and self-centeredness.  So much so that Jesus actually came to live among us and teach us about God’s forgiveness and grace.  This is the story of Christmas.  This is what I will think on today as I look upon my own scars.

How about you?


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Pray For Mexico

I made my way to Laredo yesterday on my way to deliver the gift boxes in Roma, Texas.  My prayer is that the boxes make it to the children at the shelter in Miguel Alemán today.  Please pray that the gifts get to the intended recipients.

As I made the 10 hour drive yesterday, there was plenty of time to think about all that is going on along the border.  I wish I could report that God gave me the answer of how the violence can be stopped.  Unfortunately, that is not the case.  But I did arrive in Laredo with a resolve that this trip is not the end of concern for people imprisoned in their own country and enslaved by violence.  At the very least, we can continue to pray!

I am not sure what this idea will lead us to but I can say that at this point, what I am thinking is that it may be an awareness campaign.  I have launched www.prayformexico.org.  There is really nothing there yet except for a url and some dreams.  I covet your prayers for this effort.

I asked a question of our congregation in a sermon a couple of weeks ago that I have been asking myself since that time.  The question was, “What are you going to attempt this week that will surely fail if God does not show up?”

This effort of Pray For Mexico is one of those things – an effort that will surely fail if God is not involved.  So please pray for God to guide and shape it to be something useful for the Way.

As always, thanks for stopping by and reading my ramblings – you are a blessing!

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