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Archive for April, 2011

Life Marker Decision

Tomorrow night, I have the opportunity to speak at a banquet honoring graduating seniors from an area high school.  I am planning on sharing that this is a life marker in their lives similar to a mile marker along the highway – a marker showing progress and accomplishment.  All of us pass life markers through the course of our lives – first words, first steps, first day at school, getting a driver’s license, first date – many, many life markers.  It is a huge step for them.

For some, this could mean a new chapter in their lives.  Unfortunately, for some, it may mean nothing more than more of the same – a continuation of life as usual.  The choice is really up to them.  That is the significance of this particular life marker – no longer will they have anyone standing over them, making decisions for them – this one is on them.  They can choose to do life as usual, or they can take hold of this opportunity to become the person God intended.

As I prepared this talk, I began to ask myself some of the same questions.  Questions like, what am I doing today to become more like Jesus – to be more of the person God intended?  Do I have the drive to relentlessly pursue God’s plan for my life?

How about you?

There is good news!  It is never too late!  Grab hold of the opportunity afforded by a new day!  Go make a difference!

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Yesterday, I had the opportunity to catch up with one of my seminary professors and long-time friend.  I told her about our upcoming transition into a new pastoral position.  She was very excited and encouraging.  She left me with this advice – not new information, but something we all need to be reminded of occasionally.  She said, “Never neglect your time alone with God.”

Now, you may be thinking – “You’re a pastor, how could you ever neglect your time with God?”  But the reality is that pastors are no different than anyone else.  Time is short, life is moving at the speed of light and it is easy to allow devotion time to become squeezed into a corner of our day and forgotten.  Or, more typically, preparation for teaching from the Bible becomes a replacement for a true spiritual encounter with the Father.

As I said, this is not new information for me, but it sure helps to hear it and be reminded from time to time of the importance of developing a meaningful relationship with God.

How about you?  Need a little reminder today of just how important it is to spend time alone with God?

Well, there you go!

Be blessed today!

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God Made THIS Day!

Psalm 118:4 says, “This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Think about that for just a minute.  This day – today – right now, God made this day.  It is typical for us to think of God creating the world and all that is in it, and that time began when God spoke it into existence – all one linear progression.  The danger is when we start viewing our lives as a bunch of days running together in a meaningless blur – living for the weekend, or holding out until that next vacation.  We are reminded in this verse that God is present now and made this day to be special.

The possibilities are endless!  What are you going to do today to rejoice?  What about your life today will be considered praise to God?  How will you live today so that God is pleased?

It is all up to you.  You can choose to do nothing special with this day – OR – you can decide right now to make your life matter, make it count.

What will you do?

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The Heart of Worship

Today, I was reading this in John 2.  So now, I am thinking about worship.  What is true worship?  Why did Jesus make such a scene in the temple courts?  Was it the mess that the animals were making of God’s house?  Was it the profiteering of the merchants?

I think it was something deeper – something more fundamental.  I think Jesus’ actions cut more to the heart of the problem.

Worship is a matter of the heart.  It must be authentic and real.  At the very core of worship is a realization of who we are in comparison to God.  This realization should produce in us a desire to give ourselves to our Creator – to submit our desires to God’s – in a word:  sacrifice.

In the early days of the Israelite worship system, God instructed the people to offer something of worth and value as a symbol of their love and devotion.  But it was never really about sacrificing animals – it was about submission.  Psalm 51 teaches that the pure heart is what God desires – not the sacrificing of animals.

But what Jesus encountered in the temple courts was a lucrative business that enabled people to purchase submission and sacrifice.  As is typical with human nature, what God intended as worship had become something else – something twisted.  No longer did a person have to feel submission and devotion to God.  One could simply pay the system and feel his duty had been done.

Now, I realize that there were authentic worshippers in Jesus’ day.  But this particular instance in scripture shows us that Jesus was concerned about the system that had been established and how it had the potential to remove people from true worship.

So what about us – what about today?  Are we any different?  When we set aside time to worship, are we truly seeking to submit and see ourselves in relation to God?  Or has worship become more about us – more about a sense of going through the motions because people are watching and it is what “good” people do?

God is looking for a pure heart – one that loves and submits.  That is the heart of worship.

Is that your heart today?

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A week ago, I preached at First Baptist Church in Littlefield, Texas.  The church had asked me to come for consideration as their new pastor.  In Baptist life, we call this “going in view of a call.”  It went well – I am thinking most of the people must not have been paying close attention to my sermon because it wasn’t very good and yet they voted to call me anyway (smile).

Yesterday, I officially resigned from my current position at First Baptist Church in Levelland, effective May 1.  It was a difficult time for me and for my family, as I read my letter of resignation.  We have been in this community for almost nine years.  Over the course of that time, we have put down roots, made friends and become ingrained in the community.  As I looked out over the congregation, I saw many, many dear friends.  And that makes this transition difficult for all of us.

But, God never called us to be comfortable.  Choosing to follow Jesus is the most fulfilling lifestyle possible for any human being, but Jesus never said it would be easy.  In fact, he used phrases like “take up your cross and follow,” and “the first shall be last.”  Life is not about being comfortable.  Real life is about being faithful and committed to carry out what God has equipped us to do and to become the person God intended.

Several people have asked about my ramblings here and whether or not I will continue with Clay In The Hands.  This has become a part of my ministry and really, more of a part of who I am.  And so, yes, Clay In The Hands is not going anywhere.  I knew this day would come and so all of this is set up to follow me where ever I go.

In fact, you know that I tend to be transparent with what is going on in my life and typically share my life lessons here.  I think the next few months are going to be an amazing journey so I encourage you to stop by often and join me for the ride!

Be blessed today!

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Have you ever wondered why you were born where and when it happened?  I mean, why was I born in Texas in the mid-60’s?  Why not in Europe in the 1800’s or Israel in 12 AD?

I read this earlier this morning and it reminded me that God has a plan for each of us.

You were created for a time such as this.  God has gifted you, equipped you and called you to make a difference in your world that no one else on the planet can make today!  Just you – only you!

Go make your mark!

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Fully Present

I got to the office early today.  It has been refreshing to be able to get my day organized and think through some things in peace and quiet.  As I sat, thinking about the day ahead, I noticed several quotes I have plastered around my desk.

One of those caught my eye this morning with a strong reminder.  Albert Camus said this:

Real generosity toward the future consists in giving all to what is present.

Thinking toward the future is important – I am a big planner.  But, tomorrow is built today.

What are you going to do with your today?  Will you be completely present?  How whole heartedly will you throw yourself into what you do today?

Jesus expects sold out followers.  Will that be you?

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