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Archive for March, 2011

Complete Surrender

This morning, I sat down in my chair to have my prayerful reading time (Lectio).  I spent some time centering myself in preparation for my time with God – trying to clear my thoughts so that nothing would hinder my hearing what God wanted to say.  The concept I focused on to try and clear my mind was the idea of complete surrender.  Each time a random thought would enter my head, I would think the words, “complete surrender.”

The passage I read was Proverbs 3:5-15.  I struggled as I read.  Nothing was jumping off the page at me.  I meditated on the verses and then went back for a second reading.  Still – not much happened.  I meditated on the idea of God’s discipline and on wisdom and then went back for the third reading.

Throughout this process, I continued to think the words, “complete surrender.”

As I closed my time in prayer, I became a little frustrated that I did not feel I had met with God.  I did not sense an encounter in which God spoke to me through the words I was reading.  I thought back over the passage as I prayed, and I remembered the first words in verse 5 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

I began to think about my experience.  I had entered into this time of prayer and reading with the expectation of hearing from God.  I had entered into this time with the idea that I would be completely surrendered to what God would say.  As I thought about my time, I remembered that I may not sense a vivid connection with God each time I sit down to read and pray.  That is not to say God is not present or that God is not listening and speaking, but somedays are more clear than others.  But complete surrender means I put myself in God’s hands regardless.

Then it dawned on me – that is the trust God expects of me.  Complete surrender requires complete trust.  I may not always “feel it,” but that doesn’t mean I stop trusting or surrendering.

So here is my prayer for you and for me today:

God, I do trust you.  I know that you are present and that you have plans for me today.  I surrender myself to you.  Use me as you see fit today.

Amen

Be blessed!

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Inconvenient Love

Bobby seemed like an old man the first time I remember meeting him as a kid.  It was strange because I had been taught to address adults with sir and ma’am but Bobby was just always Bobby.  He would stop by our house periodically and stay for hours – just talking to my parents – particularly my dad.  I didn’t understand it at first.  I didn’t realize that my parents were showing him Jesus’ love and grace through their actions.

You see, Bobby was in his 50’s or so, but he had the mind of an adolescent.  He was known all over town but he was lonely because few people would have anything to do with him.  And honestly, I can understand that because if Bobby had you cornered, you could not get away for an hour or more – at least not without being rude.  So people avoided him.  When they saw him coming, they ducked out of sight.  If they saw him approaching their homes, most would not answer the door.  He really didn’t have anyone.

My parents took the time to show Bobby respect and offer him something many would not take the time to offer – love and dignity.  That is what Jesus would have done.  That is what Jesus called my parents to do and so they did.  Through their actions, I was taught that showing God’s love is not always convenient.  It rarely fits our schedule to stop and take time for someone needing attention.  But it is part of what it means to be a follower in the Way.

I am so incredibly blessed to have grown up in my parents’ home!  Much of what I learned about what it means to be a Christ follower I learned from them – sometimes by verbal instruction, but more often by mere example.

Thanks Dad and Mom!  You are at the top of my list of heros!

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I have been thinking a lot lately about how connected we all are through technology.  It is not only a part of life but a real benefit – most of the time.  But sometimes we need to set it aside.

It is spring break here and my boys are out of school.  So, for the next couple of days I am unplugging.

I will be back with stories to tell on Monday.

Be blessed today!

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I’ve Got This

What are you worried about today?

You may be concerned about safety.  After last week’s horrific earthquake and tsunami in Japan that would be understandable.

Or maybe you are worried about the economy.  Retirement is out there somewhere but will there be enough or will I have to work until I die?

There are any number of things we could concern ourselves with today, but I want to remind us of one simple truth – God is in control.  Matthew 6:25-26 says this:

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

In the midst of all that is going on around us, remember, God is saying, “I’ve got this.”

Be blessed today!

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I use Bible Gateway for my online Bible.  Anytime I need to look something up, it is there to help.  Last night I went there to do a little reading and on the home page they list a verse of the day.  Yesterday’s verse was this:

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,   1 Peter 3:15.

What an amazing reminder.  Our entire approach to how and why we should share our story is found here.  We share our story to explain the hope that we have in Jesus.

I don’t know how often you stare hopelessness in the face, but when you do, there is no mistaking it.  You can see it in a person’s eyes.

The writer of 1 Peter reminds us that for those who follow Jesus all out, we have a hope that makes a non-believer curious.  A hope that allows us to hear a bad report from the doctor and yet still know that God is in control.  Don’t think for a second that the hope you have is not obvious to others.  It is obvious because it is not the cultural norm.  It doesn’t make sense to a person who doesn’t follow in the Way.

So this verse tells us that we should be ready when someone asks us how on earth we can still have hope when the world around us is falling apart.

But don’t miss the final instruction from this verse.  The writer says we must be ready and willing to share our story and to do so with gentleness and respect.  I have used this cliché before, but it is true – people don’t care what you know if they don’t know that you care.

Our sharing of our stories must be done through a relationship.  We must be gentle and show love and respect to others.  Quite honestly, just as much hope will be communicated through that gentleness and respect as will be relayed through your telling of your story.

As St. Francis is credited with saying, we should tell others of the love of our Savior and when necessary, use words.

Show hope through gentleness and respect today.

Be a blessing!

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On Monday, I talked about how we sometimes need to disconnect from all the things that pull at us and spend time with God.  (You can see that post here).

Today, I am going to a workshop dealing with how to use FaceBook as a tool.  At the risk of sounding contradictory, there is no question that we need to get away from technology at times in order to meet with God.  But the reality is that technology is a huge part of our lives now.  And it is becoming more so all the time.  Technology is changing at the speed of light.  I just saved enough money to buy an iPad and already, the next generation is about to hit the stores this Friday (YES!!!!).  10 years ago, the most common use of a cell phone was to actually punch in numbers and call someone.  Today, a smart phone can do just about anything – and yes, even make calls!

Social networking has become a secondary life for many people.  There are online communities that, for some, have taken the place of real community.  In fact, can I just get something off my chest here?  I really wish the people caught up in Farmville would actually move to a farm and quit inviting me to play – sorry, don’t mean to offend but enough is enough.  OK, I feel better.  In a world in which we are more connected to one another through social media, people suffer from being more alone than they have ever been.  How often do you meet people in person anymore?  Much of the communication we engage in on a daily basis is via email or FaceBook messaging.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the age in which we live.  But how can we use this technology to actually engage one another more fully?  How can we use technology as a tool to build real community – to build the Kingdom?

How are you using technology to make a difference in your world?

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The other day, a friend of mine described a few leaders she has known as ADHD Idea Generators.  You may know the type.  They have a new idea for every staff meeting.  The staff leaves each meeting not knowing if they should complete the steps to carry out the vision of three weeks ago, or move to tackling last weeks big idea – or simply can it all and start on this week’s brain child.  The problem is that many leaders with this approach see themselves as visionary.  But in reality, they are, as my friend described – ADHD Idea Generators.

The difference between an idea generator and a visionary leader is that a visionary leader not only has vision, but also the strategy to see that vision come about.  The visionary leader also must possess the patience to stick with it to see it through.  So a visionary leader is more than an idea person.  A visionary leader sees where the organization needs to be and then puts together a plan to get it there.

Which describes you?  A visionary leader or an ADHD idea generator?

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