Archive for May, 2011

Last Friday, I was working around the house on my day off.  We are trying to get the house ready to put on the market so that we can make the move to our new community.  I was doing some prep work, getting ready to paint a door frame in the garage when my cell phone rang.

It was one of those calls that any parent dreads.  My oldest son said, “Dad, I’m at the clinic.  I was hurt at work but it’s not life threatening.”

I am not sure what else he said because I was already scrambling to get to the car.  I heard “not life threatening” and I added those words to the fact that he called me himself and so I was not in panic mode – but still, the only thing that was important to me at that moment was getting to the clinic to be with him.

Turns out that he got one of his fingers tangled up with a band saw and needed five stitches.  While that is never a pleasant experience, it could have been much worse.  But he is fine and today, is headed back to work.

I am sure that he learned some lessons through this experience – one of which is that band saws can be dangerous!  I also hope he was reminded that his dad will be there when he needs him!

But I learned something too.  Sometime over the course of  the days following the incident, it dawned on me:  If I had the feelings I had when I got that call, how much more does our heavenly father care for us when we experience pain.  The Bible says that God knows the number of hairs on our heads – God cares for us individually!  What an amazing thought.

So no matter what you are going through today, know that God cares and is right there ready for you to call!

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This past Sunday, our church hosted the high school baccalaureate service.  It was my honor to speak to the graduating class and challenge them as they cross this threshold in their lives and move into a new phase of their journeys.  One of the things I discussed was the difference between happiness and joy.  Happiness is fleeting.  It is dependent on how we feel.  When things are going our way, we tend to be happy.  When we have a bad day . . . not so much.  The bad news is, we are all going to have bad days from time to time.  Things are not always going to go our way.

Joy, on the other hand, is lasting.  It is more than a feeling, it is a confidence in knowing the end of the story.  It is the contentment that comes when we remember that God is in control.

Today, I used Psalm 51:10-12 as my reading.  Here is what it says:

Create in me a pure heart, O God, 
   and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 
 Do not cast me from your presence 
   or take your Holy Spirit from me. 
 Restore to me the joy of your salvation 
   and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

I have always loved verse 10 where the writer asks God to create a pure heart within him.  But today, my mind locked in on verse 12 where the author asks for the joy of God’s salvation to be restored to him.

Do you ever get so tied up and weighted down in the day to day grind and the problems that come your way that you forget about the joy you possess?  The joy that is available to you simply because you know the Creator of the universe personally?

It happens to all of us.  Sometimes we do need to be reminded of the joy that is ours as believers.  So today, my prayer for you and for me is an echo of the psalmists words:

Lord God, I ask that you renew your joy in us today.  Remind us of what your salvation truly means.  And then, help us to live that joyful life today – regardless of our circumstances.


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You know how you hear a song time and time again, and then one day you actually listen to the words.  I did that yesterday on my commute home.  I had the radio on and the volume pretty low – which according to my wife,  is not normal.  But I caught myself singing along and so I turned up the volume and all of the sudden, I heard the words.

The song was Something Holy by Stellar Kart, and the chorus caught my attention.  Here is what the words say, “We were born to be, a part of something holy.  All of us are restless until we find.”  Then the chorus finishes with “bigger than you and I.  Bigger than all our lives.”

We have been focusing on this idea on Sunday mornings for the last few weeks.  This sums up what we have been talking about – being part of something bigger than ourselves.

It is so easy to focus only on ourselves.  In fact, that is what our culture forces upon us.  We live in a “me first” society and we have all, regardless of how holy we try to be, fallen into this trap to some degree.  Even in the church, it is not uncommon to experience the attitude of “I want it my way.”

But following Jesus means focusing our lives and our love outside ourselves.  It means striving to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.  It means longing to be part of something holy.

Is that your desire today?

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It is Monday – two days after the world was to end.  I am still here and if you are reading this – so are you.  I mentioned this at the beginning of my sermon yesterday and a little girl, about 7 years old, shouted out from the second row, “Nobody knows when the world will end – that is what Jesus said in the Bible!”

First off, I loved the enthusiasm.  I have told the congregation that I love interaction and to feel free to respond to questions.  So this little girl was just showing how comfortable she feels in our worship services and I think that is awesome!  Secondly, she was right on!  How cool to have a 7 year old remind us of what Jesus said!

But I have a question for you today.  What if you knew for sure that the world would end on Friday?  How would you live today?  Who would you make sure to call and talked to?  How would your actions be different?

My challenge to you is this:  do those things today – live as if your days were limited – because in reality, they are.

Be a blessing today.

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Silent Listening

On Wednesday nights at the church we are talking about prayer (and we are putting it into practice).  Last night, the lesson was on listening.  It is hard to hear God speak if we are not listening.  The problem is, we do not practice listening very often.  God is always present and always ready to lead, but we rarely pay attention.  It is really about sensitivity.

One of the things I had our folks do last night was to sit in silence for 2 minutes – and I timed it.  The objective was to clear their minds and listen for God to speak.  I then asked for responses of what it was like.  Most said it seemed like much longer than 2 minutes.  One gentleman said he had to keep telling himself to shut up.  We all chuckled at that but that has been my experience as well.  I can sit and be still.  I can keep my mouth shut, but my mind continues to run at 90 miles per hour.

The art of listening takes practice.  Being still and quiet is harder for us than we might want to admit.  However, if we are going to hear from God, we have got to make listening a part of our daily routine.

So here is my challenge for you today.  Make time today to find a quiet place in which you can be alone.  Then sit down and make yourself comfortable (not nap time comfortable, just at ease).  Then sit in silence for 5 minutes and do your best to clear your mind of all the thoughts floating around in there and just listen for what God will say – the impressions you will feel.

I would love to hear of your experience.  Feel free to leave me a comment here.

Be blessed today!

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I was reminded yesterday (and am living that reminder today) that when we allow ourselves to be pulled from our comfort zones, we need to remember to be flexible.  My plan had been to wrap up our mission project in Fabens by noon or so and then get the group started on the next project, collect my things and hit the road for home.  Instead, we finished at about 4:30 and then drove to the next project, looked it over and then headed for the dorm around 6.

I knew that by the time I got cleaned up and ate dinner, it would be 8 pm MST before I could begin the 6 hour drive.  I decided to stay one more night and make the drive today.  As much as I wanted to be home last night, I know that the work we accomplished is pleasing to God.  So, the inconvenience is worth it.

This is a common issue on mission trips.  In fact, I never lead a group on a trip like this without a discussion about being flexible.

But how about the rest of the time.  How flexible am I during a normal work week?  When I have an extensive To Do list, do I get frustrated when interruptions keep me from being able check things off my list?  I am reminded that God would have us be available.

Will you make yourself available for God to use today – remaining flexible?  Or will you get frustrated when an opportunity arises?

Your choice.

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Existing to Serve

Today I have a wonderful privilege before me.  My work crew, made up of 8 students and a couple of Baptist Student Ministries assistant directors, began work yesterday in Fabens, Texas, on a dorm facility.  We scraped and painted most of the exterior of the building.  Today we will return to finish what we started.  The facility is owned by First Baptist Church of Fabens and has been there for over 30 years.  It’s purpose is to house groups who come to the border to do mission work.  A number of years ago, one of the groups I lead actually stayed in the facility.  Over the years, countless thousands of people have stayed in the dorm, while ministering to the people in the area – on both sides of the border.

But there is another amazing ministry that operates in Fabens out of First Baptist Church.  It is called Crossing the Border Ministries.  Joan and Elfie run this effort.  It is a ministry that provides food for people on the Mexican side of the border.  Each and every Tuesday, pastors cross the border and enter Fabens.  They make their way to the church where they pick up food and other supplies and then return to Mexico to distribute the items to people in need in the villages along the border.  It is a wonderful and vital ministry.

It is one thing to give up a few days out of a busy schedule to come to El Paso and serve.  It is important and in many ways and just a couple of days can make a huge impact.  But it is quite another to make this kind of service a way of life and a daily existence.  That is what Joan and Elfie, and many others like them, have done.  What examples of commitment and dedication to God’s Kingdom!  They are reminders that God calls each and every one of us as followers in the Way, to make service to others a part of who we are – to make it a lifestyle.

I have heard about Crossing the Border Ministries for years, but today, I get to see it in action!  I’m pumped!  It is going to be a blessing.

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Discussions between Christ followers about what we believe can often draw us closer together but sometimes it can drive us apart.  This morning I read something and I wanted to share it with you.  Jim Dennison is a long-time pastor and professor in Texas and a very respected thinker and theologian.  He shares a wonderful approach to theology from which I think we could all benefit.  A simple question – “Will this change the way I live today?”

I encourage you to take 3 minutes and check out what Jim says here.

Have a blessed weekend!

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I grew up on the seat of a dirt bike – well not literally of course.  But riding was a big part of my summer days as a kid.  We lived on the edge of town and we had found a huge pit about 5 miles out into the pasture from our house.  So we spent untold hours out in that pit on our dirt bikes.  One Sunday afternoon in the pit will never be erased from my memory.

I was about 9 or 10 years old and was riding my Yamaha YZ 80.  I loved that motorcycle.  My dad had gone with us and we made our way to the pit.  There were trails all the way around the lip of this big hole in the ground and of course trails going in and out of the pit as well.  On the north end of the pit was a flat area among mounds of dirt that had been pulled from the hole and left for who knows what.  It made a great place to sit and rest and so that is what several people were doing.  I made my way to the area.  I approached the area from the mounds of dirt and just as I got there, I realized that there was a 4 foot drop from where I was and where I wanted to be.  I panicked.  I could have stopped and turned around and gone back another way or I might could have accelerated and possibly kept the front end of the motorcycle up so as not to crash.  But instead I froze – I didn’t commit to either approach.  I coasted over the ledge, and for what seemed like the next hour and a half, fell the four feet, the motorcycle  landing on the front wheel and my chest landing on the handle bars.  I couldn’t breathe for what seemed like an eternity.

I learned a couple of lessons that day.  One, it helps to know the trail.  Two, landing on the handle bars is painful and embarrassing.  But the biggest lesson of the day was that being non-committal can get you hurt.

Seems like Jesus mentioned something like that when he talked about being either hot or cold.  He said that being luke-warm disgusts him.  He would rather people be cold to him or be passionate followers – the non-committal in between folks make him sick.

So where are you today?  Are you resistant to following Jesus or are you passionately seeking him and living your life to honor and please him?  Or . . . are you in the middle?  This is one instance where being in the middle is not the place to be.

Think about it today.

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You may have heard about the “Awakenings” from many years ago.  They were unrelated movements in the 1800’s and early 1900’s, where God’s spirit began to move and people were changed – in fact, entire societies were changed.  I have had a question rolling around in my mind over the past few weeks relating to the idea of awakening:  “Can it still happen today?”

I believe the answer to that question is yes.  God is still God and God is still in the transforming business.  So what is the problem?

I would say that the problem is not with God, it is with us.  The reality is that transformation is happening in our day and time, but not here in America.  There are countless stories of God’s movement in areas south of the equator.  God is at work in miraculous ways in other parts of the world – so why not here?

I believe the answer is very simple.  In our self-centered culture, we have grown to believe that we can do things on our own.  The idea of “self-made man” has been so prevalent in our society for so long that we think we don’t need God anymore.  Well, we might say we need God – we pray for God to make things go our way.  But do we really believe that we need God?

This Sunday, we will be talking about this idea.  My prayer is that God will begin an awakening here, this week, in me.  If you are around Littlefield on Sunday, stop by the church about 10:45 and we’ll see what God does.

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