Archive for January, 2012

How’s Your Faith?

Time for a Tuesday Faith Check.  The scripture for my time with God today was out of the book of Mark.  It was the story of the woman who was healed of a hemorrhage that had plagued her for twelve years of her life.

She heard that Jesus was going to be in her village and so she made it a point to be looking for him.  Here is the story out of Mark 5:

 A large crowd followed and pressed around him. 25 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.  30 At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”  31 “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”  32 But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

What incredible faith!  As she approached Jesus she did so with such humility and faith!  She was not thinking, “I need to get his attention and if I can tell him my story, maybe he will do something for me.”  She wasn’t even thinking, “I need to get him to touch me.”  In fact, she wasn’t even thinking she needed to touch Jesus.

No.  She knew that if she could just get close to him – just touch his clothes – then she would be healed!

I am not sure I have that kind of humble faith.  I pray for God to touch me every day.  I pray for God to intervene in my life and in the life of our 1st B family on a daily basis as well.  Maybe my focus should be on the unimaginable power of the supreme God.

All we really need is to get close to God – that is all it takes.  God’s power is sufficient!  God’s love is all we need.  God’s grace is life-changing!

Draw close to Jesus today – he will make all the difference!

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We have finally made it to the point in our remodel project to be able to put paint on the ceilings and walls.  So I got the bright idea to try and find an airless paint rig.  I put the word out and found a couple of folks who had one and would let me borrow it.

So for the past two weekends I have been trying to get our house painted.  The process has taught me a few things.

  1. There is a reason why a lot of tool rental places don’t rent paint equipment – and for those that do, why they charge an arm and a leg.  If the unit is not cleaned properly after it is used, it will be almost impossible to use again.  So I have spent almost as much time cleaning the unit as I have actually using it.
  2. What goes up also comes down.  When spraying ceilings, just remember that not all the paint will make it onto the surface.  Much of it will make into your eyes.
  3. Just because you are painting in the dining room does not mean the kitchen is not also getting some paint.  The way the gun works is that it takes normal paint right out of the can and turns it into a fine mist.  This mist drifts where ever the draft carries it (there is a sermon there I think).
  4. Masking is your friend.  Even though it takes longer to mask the room than it does to paint it, it will be time well spent. (Masking one’s self is also a good idea).
  5. There is only one way to put the filter into the gun and still have it work and it is not the way that makes common sense.  After a couple of hours I learned this by frustration.
  6. You know you have been painting with a paint gun when you wake up the next day and there is paint in the corners of your eyes.

These are just a few things I have learned while using an airless paint gun.  But at least the house is almost painted.

Have a  great day!

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Today, during my time of being present with God, I read the first chapter of 2 Timothy.  As I read, Paul’s words reminded me of something we all need from time to time.

He assured Timothy that he believed Timothy possessed strong faith.  He shared that he had seen this faith in Timothy’s grandmother and mother and now sees it in him.  But then he said something very telling.  He says, “I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you.”

He goes on to explain that this gift is a spirit not of fear but of power, love and self-discipline.  I was reminded that I don’t always live with a spirit of power or of love or of self-discipline.

But the point of encouragement for me today from Paul’s words is that, as a believer, I already possess this gift – I just need to fan it into flame!

If this describes you as well, take some time today to think about this fact.  As a believer, you already possess this gift but maybe it has died down to a smolder.  Fan it back into flame.  Realize that God is a mighty God.  God is fully aware of everything in your life and is ready to provide for your needs.  God is still in control.  Regardless of what lies in your path today, God is saying, “I’ve got this.”

There is noting impossible for God.  There is nothing too big (or too small) for God.

As a believer, you know all of this.  So fan this gift of power, love and self-discipline into flame today.

Go impact your world!

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Come Awake

One of my favorite current praise songs is Come Awake.  When I sing this song, I am reminded how easily I doze off to what God is doing all around me.  I become so distracted by the busyness of my life – doing good things – that I become numb to God’s activity, and even God’s calling.

If this describes you as well here is my challenge for us today:

Take 10 minutes to be still – to settle your mind and your heart.  Open your eyes to God’s movement.

Come awake!

Be blessed!

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In preparing for our devotional time last night, I ran across a quote from Lion and Lamb, by Brennan Manning.  He said,

What distinguishes the Christians whose faith is deep, burning, powerful, and luminous is . . . seriousness.  Seriousness is not the opposite of joy but of superficiality.

He then went on to use Francis of Assisi as an example saying that he was fun-loving, light hearted and whimsical.  But that was only a part of his character.  He was also committed to a “relentless search for truth and reality.”

And then he made this statement about Francis of Assisi.  He said Francis was a “Jesus-haunted man who gave up all to obtain all.”

Jesus-haunted.  I don’t guess I have ever thought of it that way.  I interpret this idea as being unable to rest in our pursuit of Jesus – pressing ever forward toward knowing him more fully and deeply and living out of that increasing knowledge and growing relationship.

I have been challenging our 1st B family to be the church outside the walls.  Yesterday, I made the point that our community would forever be impacted if each family member were completely tuned in to the same unified focus of becoming more like Jesus.

So often, our biggest problem is superficiality – we don’t take the whole “Christian thing” seriously.  I can’t even imagine all the ramifications of what our world would look like if we all lived a sold-out existence for Jesus.  Can you?

I challenge you to dream with me.  What would it be like?

I would love to hear your thoughts.  Please take the time to comment here or on Facebook or even email me at bhill33@me.com.

Let’s put our heads together and dream of a world in which Jesus followers were sold out for Him.

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Today’s Pray-As-You-Go Jesuit podcast reading was out of the Gospel of Mark.  It was the account of Jesus having to get into a boat and push out into the water so that he could speak.  We are told that people were coming from every region to see and hear him.  In this particular account, there were so many people crowding around him that he could not even speak – thus the need to get out into the water.

Jesus was an amazing teacher.  When he spoke he spoke with authority – like no one before him.  It was fresh and real and people just knew it was the truth.  People were drawn to him.  Sure, some were drawn because of the miracles and maybe even the thought of a free meal (funny – a free meal still works today).

I believe people are still drawn to Jesus – the real one.  Not the one that we sometimes fabricate in our churches.  But the one in scripture – the only ONE.

In Jesus’ day, there was no internet, no cell phones, no newspaper.  The word about Jesus spread solely by word of mouth.  And yet, there were so many people seeking him out from all over the region that he could not even speak without getting into a boat and pushing out into the water.  What would happen today if we got the word out about Jesus.  If we were to use the resources at our disposal to proclaim the news about Jesus we should see our world turned around.

Jesus, when he was talking to his disciples, made the statement that he would be lifted up and when that happened, he would attract all people to himself (you can see the discussion here).  Now not to take this out of context because he was referring to being put on a cross explaining how he would die – but the truth of his words are still true today.  I believe that when we put Jesus first, when the focus of our ministry is to promote Jesus – to lift him up – people will be drawn to him.  What if that was our only focus today?

How will you lift up Jesus in the next 2 hours?

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Who Has Your Heart?

Who has your heart?  Obviously, your literal heart is beating inside your chest.  But what about the center of your being?  When the Bible talks about the heart, it is referring to the deepest part of you – that part of you that only you and God truly knows (and by the way, God knows better than you).  That part of you that defines you as a person – what makes you tick.

All of us have that center – the heart of who we are – complete with dreams and aspirations, passion and focus.

So who has your heart?  It could be your job.  It could be your family.  It could be yourself – and many of us fall into this trap often.  Our biggest desire is to be in charge of our own destiny and focused on ourselves.

Today, try giving your heart to Jesus.  Focus on his leadership in your life – his compassion for others.

How your day goes will be directly related to where you put your heart today.  Make a good choice.

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Make an Investment

I had an idea of what I was going to ramble on about today.  I had to leave the house early to head to Lubbock and I left early on purpose in order to have time to stop by my new favorite coffee shop.  As I drove, the sun was just beginning to come up and the sky lit up with an explosion of orange and purple.  It was breath taking.  I took some pictures with my phone thinking I would talk about the beauty of God’s creation.

Then I arrived at J & B Coffee and all of my plans changed.  As I ordered my house coffee, I surveyed the room to find a place to plant and write.  I noticed a group of people around a table but really didn’t pay any attention to what they were doing.  My coffee in hand, I headed to the doctor bar (the place where I take the perfectly good coffee and add things to it so that I can actually drink it – yes – I am a wimp).  As I stood there adding half and half and a Splenda, I noticed the group more closely.  It was made up of 5 people – two young ladies in their 20’s and two young men about the same age.  But in the middle was a man in his 70’s.  Being a little intrigued, I looked more closely.  I thought maybe that this was a study group – J & B is just a few blocks off the Texas Tech campus.  But as I observed, I realized that each of the people around the table had their Bibles open.  What a refreshing sight!

As a pastor, I wanted to go over and make a fuss about how great it is to see folks gathered for Bible study in a public place.  Or how cool it is to see people up early to spend time together in God’s word.  But I decided to take a seat across the room and just watch and write this little post.  As I sat and watched – and even tried to listen in just a bit, the picture that overwhelmed me was a 70 year old man investing in the eternity of 4 young adults.  As he led the discussion, his eyes were on fire with passion for God’s word.  Even though I could not hear what he was saying over the Indie music being piped in through the sound system, I could see the compassion and love in his face.

It was a humbling and beautiful sight – even better than the sunrise today!

I was inspired to renew my commitment to invest myself in others.

Who will you invest in today?

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Where do you encounter God?  Is it at church?  When you are there, do you sense God’s real presence?

Or maybe you encounter God when you witness a breath taking sunrise.  The colors and magnificence scream of an amazing God.

Maybe for you, God can be found in the face of a child – their eyes filled with trust and innocence.

Honestly, I encounter God in each of these ways – and others as well.

But what about in the face of the homeless person you see at the corner with his sign that reads, “Homeless – Please Help.”  Do we encounter God there?

I must admit, I have allowed myself to become callous to the scene.  I have allowed my busy schedule and my own needs to blind me – to block those folks from my vision (at least much of the time).

But I can’t get around this passage in my mind.  Jesus told us that we can encounter God in the hungry and in the hurting.

Today, I will not look past or see through the suffering.  Today, I will look for Jesus in everyone.

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I was reading an article written by a pastor in the early 1900’s last night.  The title of the article by Percy Ainsworth is The Wilderness and the Sunrise.  The overall theme of the article is the hope we have in Jesus.

One of the statements Ainsworth made in the article has set me to thinking and reflecting on my approach to people.  Here is what he said:

Jesus knew more about the sinfulness of the world than anyone else could ever know, and yet he never seemed to be expecting to find sin in human hearts.  He was always looking for something good.

Let that thought wash over you for a few minutes.

Jesus, who knows everything about you – he not only knows your actions, he knows your thoughts, your motives and your attitudes.  He sees what is in your heart.  And yet, when he looks at you – he looks for the good.

What a thought!

That should bring you hope today.  That should motivate you to look for the good in others as well.

For me, I have been challenged to strive, with God’s help, to really look at the people God puts in my path today.  I want to look past what the outward appearance presents to the good in each person.

Isn’t it possible that we could find something positive and good in each and every person we find standing in front of us today?  That is seeing people with God’s eyes.

Those are the eyes I want.

Be blessed!



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