Archive for August, 2011

Strength to Be Bold

Yesterday I told you about José and how he serves, day in and day out, in the middle of all the violence in Juarez, Mexico.  As we talked on Monday evening, I was challenged to look at the price I pay to follow Jesus.  I had to admit, it isn’t very high.  But I was also challenged to think about how much more I should be doing since I don’t have to deal with the stress of wondering if I will be gunned down in the next hour or two.

Then today, these were the verses I meditated on from Psalm 46:

1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,

Two things jumped out at me.  The first is that no matter what struggles or threats we might be dealing with today, God is present – ever-present!  God is our refuge; our safe place to hide and take cover.  There is comfort in knowing that God is ever-present and ready to protect us.

But the second thing I noticed in this passage is that God is our strength.  With the strength of God on our side – there is nothing we cannot endure and accomplish.  Sometimes the most crucial things in life, come out of very trying times.  God gives us the strength to experience those times.  The psalmist says, even if the earth gives way and even if the mountains fall off into the ocean, God is still in control and present – we have nothing to fear.

So – – my challenge today?  Today, we live with boldness!  Regardless of where you sit today.  Regardless of what you might be dealing with today.  Have no fear – God is ever-present!  Go out with boldness and make an impact for the Kingdom today!  That is what being a follower in the Way is all about.

Be blessed!

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I had a unique opportunity last night.  As many of you who read my ramblings on a regular basis may know by now, I am involved fairly heavily in mission efforts to the El Paso, Texas area.  In the past, before the violence became so severe in Juarez, Mexico, I led groups into Mexico as well.  So I have a heart for the people of this area.

I traveled to El Paso on Sunday to meet with some area pastors and have the blessing of getting to give the tour to our new area missionary at home.  It was an incredible day of hearing what God is doing in and through several churches here in El Paso and the surrounding area and how, even now, some of these churches are still involved in ministry in Juarez.

Our final meeting of the day was with a pastor named José.  He lives and serves in Juarez, Mexico.  It has been some time since I have actually had the opportunity to sit across the table from someone on the front lines in the way that José is on a daily basis.  Over three thousand people were killed in Juarez last year due to the drug wars.  Pastors and churches are threatened weekly.  The threats normally take the shape of extortion.  Pastors are told that they must pay “security” money or their families will be killed.  Some of these men have left their churches but most have stayed.

I cannot imagine living in that environment.  I would hope that my trust in God would give me strength to carry out my calling, but I have admit that the desire to flee the area would be heavy on my mind most of the time.

José told us stories of how God is at work and that he has chosen to stay and serve in Juarez.  God is at work through José and others who minister to the people of Juarez on a daily basis.

As I have reflected on meeting with José, I have two challenges for you (and me) today.  The first is simple.  Please make it a priority to pray for Mexico and the pastors who are there offering ministry to the people who need it most.  The second challenge is harder.  Take some time today to examine your own walk.  How faithful would you be if your life was threatened simply for following Jesus?  Commit yourself today to living in faith and boldly sharing God’s love with those you meet.

Be a blessing today!

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Struggles are a part of life.

Wow, what an uplifting way to begin a post on a Monday morning.  But it is true.  We live in a messed up world.  Struggles come our way on a daily basis.  Those struggles may be shoved on us from the outside.  Or they may be more personal in nature – battling unhealthy habits or desires from within.

But either way, I am here to tell you today that God loves you.  God created you – yes you – in order to have a personal relationship with you.  You are God’s pride and joy!

So. God cares about what you are going through.  God is aware of the struggles you will face today.  But God is present.  You are not alone in this.

Trust!  Listen!  Obey!

Be blessed today!

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We are getting ready to load the van and head to Rock the Desert with students for two days of music, sun, dust, heat and worship.  It almost sounds like more of a chore than a blessing.  I must admit, it is not for the faint of heart.  But if you can get past the heat and dust you’ve got it made!  In fact, the worship experience and pure fun make up for the discomfort every time!

So pray for our students – pray that this will be a life-changing experience for them.  Pray that God will keep us safe and that we will return with a renewed passion to live like Jesus everyday.

And if you aren’t doing anything today or tomorrow – head to west Texas (half way between Midland and Odessa) for some Jesus music!  (You can check out the line-up here)

Now where did I put that sunscreen?!

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I am sure you have heard of the movement WWJD.  For many years we saw the bracelets and the T-shirts with the acronym displayed on them.  I actually thought it was a great idea and I still do.  Asking the question, “What would Jesus do?” became a pretty popular thing to ask among believers.

But the question, at least for me, seemed to be something that came up as I was faced with a decision.  The idea was that when we had to chose between one thing or another, we should ask ourselves what Jesus would do.

I subscribe to an emailed devotional offered by Lead Like Jesus and so earlier this week, I received my regular devotional and it put this question into a different light for me.

The first question of the Lead Like Jesus post on Monday was this:  “How would Jesus do your job differently?”

Think about that for a minute.  This question moves beyond assistance in decision making to directly addressing our lifestyle and leadership style.  What am I planning on doing today and would  Jesus do it differently?

I have to say that this question caused me to stop and think.

How about you?  Would Jesus do your job differently today?  Would he treat people differently than you normally treat them?  Would he approach the tasks at hand with more vigor?  Would he place the same importance on the things you see as important?

Just some things to think about today.

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The Leader and the Ladder

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to sit through a leadership training event.  The day was well spent.  None of the things I heard were new to me but it is always good to hear them again and maybe with a new twist.  One of the things that stuck in my mind from yesterday was the difference between a manager and a leader.  Their definition was “a manager does things right, a leader does the right things.”  In other words, leaders must be able to allocate some time to seeing the bigger picture – to thinking about the future and seeing how things could and should be.  If we allow ourselves to be constantly pulled into the needs of the day, it becomes difficult to maintain our focus on the vision.

I have heard this leader vs. manager description illustrated this way as well.  We can devote our energy to climbing the ladder well.  We can study how to climb more efficiently.  We might even find it beneficial to study the ladder and develop a strategy on how best to climb.  We can train and organize our resources to climb the ladder well.  We can do all these things, but, if that ladder is leaning against the wrong building, when we reach the top, what have really accomplished?  A manager works at climbing well.  The leader takes the time to step back and make sure the ladder is leaning against the right goal.

How are you investing your time today?  If you are like me, a great deal of my day is spent managing.  But, I encourage you today to stop long enough to make sure your ladder is leaning against the right building.

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