Archive for November, 2011

Simple Hope

We have entered the Advent season.  The time of year that we anticipate and celebrate the coming of Jesus to earth.  There is so much to celebrate – so many facets of this season to think about.  Things like the peace that Jesus brings or the love that God showed in his incarnation.  I think of the hope that we have because of Jesus’ coming.  And even within this hope we find layers of meaning.

But one simple, little idea hit me today.  The idea is this:

Hope comes in knowing that I was worth the effort.

Let that sink in for a second.

Regardless of what you are going through today or where you find yourself.  Regardless of where you have been or what you have done.  God saw in you a reason to shed heaven and put on human skin in order to bring redemption, a meaningful life and salvation to you.  You are that important to Jesus!

That brings hope – Christmas hope!

Be blessed today.

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Hope Beyond Cyber Monday

Today has been deemed Cyber Monday.  As if it were not enough to have a day designated as Black Friday to set aside a day for shopping, now we have to have one for internet shopping as well.  We live in a world in which children die each day of malnutrition yet the earth produces enough food that no one should ever go hungry.  The problem is distribution and the answer to that problem is money.  But yet, we spend more and more each year at this time on things we really don’t need.  There is something wrong with this picture.  I wish I had the answer to the problem but I don’t.

I am not trying to be a scrooge.  I really love this time of year.  And yes, I will be spending money to buy gifts for my kids and family members.  It is as much a tradition as it is another way of showing each other we care.

My point is that maybe we need to take a step back this year and put more emphasis on the gift we have been given and we can pass on to others that money can’t buy.  The hope of the Christmas story.  In a world spinning out of control – hope is the answer.  Regardless of a person’s place in life – whether rich or poor, powerful or not – one thing unifies us all – we all need hope.

Remember the hope you have that is made possible by the Christmas event – – share that hope today.

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This morning as part of my morning reading, I picked up Thomas Merton’s A Book of Hours.  I read him fairly regularly and when I do, I rarely come away from the experience disappointed.  Take a look at this and let it rest on your soul for a few minutes

To say that I am made in the image of God is to say that love is the reason for my existence,  for God is love.  Love is my try identity.  Selflessness is my true self.  Love is my true character.  Love is my name.

If, therefore, I do anything or think anything or say anything or know anything that is not purely for the love of God, it cannot give me peace, or rest, or fulfillment, or joy.

To find love I must enter into the sanctuary where it is hidden, which is the mystery of God.

If we truly are made in God’s image (and scripture clearly says we are) and if God is love (and scripture teaches us this truth), then should not our purpose revolve around love – loving God and others.  In fact, isn’t that a part of what Jesus came to teach us?  The person God created me to be is to be defined by love.  Does that describe you today?

Love generously today!

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Time to Pause and Re-Focus

There are so many things – good things – that compete for our attention and time.  The work piles up on the corner of our desk.  The kids have a program at school and then a game or two.  That room needs to be painted.  The Bible study class at church is having a social.  The car needs an oil change.  The boss needs that report by noon.

This is life in America, and for the most part, I don’t think I would change much.  But my question for us today is this:  How do we make room for Jesus?

It is so easy to take our eyes off of what truly matters to deal with the matters at hand.  We do it consciously at first – “I will spend time in prayer today but I have to do this first.”  Before long, it is happening without our awareness.  We soon find ourselves caught up in the rat race with no real direction and no focus on what is important.

Today, hit the pause button for a few minutes and re-focus.  Remember that we cannot be all that we are called to be at work, at school, at home or at church if our eyes are not firmly fixed on Jesus.

Pause and re-focus today!

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Typically, my prayer leading up to each Sunday is that God’s presence would be felt and known during our time together here at church.  I pray that God’s spirit would move and people would truly have the experience of coming face to face with God.  That will continue to be my prayer.

But this morning during my devotional time, I read this prayer:

Lord Jesus, may it be evident today that there is only one Lord in my life:  You.  As I interact with other today, my they sense that they have been in Your presence.

That has become my prayer for today.

How about you?  Will others sense that they have been in God’s presence after encountering you today?

Something to shoot for, don’t you think?

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Isn’t it cool how God can use anything to connect people?

Last night at our church meal time, Mike approached me and said, “I noticed on your Facebook page that you are a fan of Phil Keaggy.”

I am sure my face lit up because it is not everyday that I run into people with common interests in music.  Actually, I am sure that there are many people out there who would like what they saw on my iPod (and probably a few who would be shocked) but it is not normally a conversation starter.

Mike has been extremely faithful to come to church and be a part of what we are doing but we had never really had a real conversation before.  But when he asked about my love of Phil Keaggy’s music and ministry, it gave us a common interest from which to have a 10 minute conversation.  I was blessed to stand there and talk with him.

Now, if you have never heard of Phil Keaggy, let me tell you a little something about him.  Since the invention of stringed instruments – going back to David sitting on a hillside watching sheep while he played his lyre – there has not been a more accomplished guitarist.  And his vocals aren’t too shabby either.  What Chuck Norris is in the hero world, Phil Keaggy is in the music world.  Maybe you get the picture that I’m a fan.  My dream in high school was that when I married, I wanted to get Phil Keaggy to play at my wedding.  Yeah, I guess I am a fan.

I made that statement to Mike last night and he said, “I did have Phil play at mine.”  My eyes got big and then he smiled and said, “We had one of his CD’s playing as ambient music.”  Why didn’t I think of that?

Here is the point I am trying to make – and it is not just to communicate that I am a huge Phil Keaggy fan.

God can use any part of us to make a connection with someone else.  I had seen Mike week after week and had exchanged the normal pleasantries, but we had never had a real conversation.  Until . . . we connected through music.

As I have mulled this over since last night, I have been reminded that God has given me a unique portfolio of interests, experiences and gifts.  My job is to figure out how to use those things to connect with others.

How about you?  Who is your Phil Keaggy?  If you don’t have one – might I suggest Phil Keaggy?  🙂

Seriously, what has God given you that can help you connect with those placed in your path today?   How will use those things to build a new relationship today?

Hey Mike – I say we find the next close Phil Keaggy concert and declare “Road Trip!!”

Be blessed today!

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Yesterday, I told you about a man who distinctly influenced me early in my life.  Brother Green was the pastor of the church I grew up in as a child.  In fact, he is the pastor who baptized me.  I have to be honest, I can’t say that I remember every sermon he preached (did I mention that I was young?), but I do remember his passion in the pulpit and in the way he led the church.

Another memorable aspect of Brother Green was that he was a giant of a man.  Not just in stature even though he was over 6 feet tall, he was and is a giant in character as well.  I remember him as being a man whose word was as good as any written contract.  If he said he was going to do something, he did it.

But at the top of my list of how L.D. Green impacted my life was what I saw in his heart.  His heart for people was (and is) something that, even as a child, I had no problem recognizing.  It was obvious that his love for people was a direct result of his love for God.  He  loves people.  He taught me that one can say all day long that they love God, but if it is not evidenced in the way they love people, then is there really any love of God present in their lives.  Even at age 90, he is still loving God and loving people.

Thanks Brother Green for the way you impacted my life – and so many others.  And thank you even more that you are still at work serving God and loving others.

You are an inspiration!

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