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Archive for January, 2012

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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More Like Jesus

Yesterday’s sermon was the beginning of a series we are calling, The Family Resemblance.  Over the next couple of weeks, we will be talking about and thinking through the need for us to look like Jesus.  God calls us to this lofty task and not only that but our world needs us to be the light in a dark place.

As we work through this series, there will be one aspect that remains constant through all of it and that is my challenge to you today.  We must make time to be with Jesus on a daily basis if there is to be any hope of us becoming more like him.

Yesterday, I asked our folks to think about why they decided to follow Jesus in the first place.  You see, most of us go through times on our journey when we lose that original passion and excitement.  If we are to strive to be like Jesus, I believe we must do so out of conviction and commitment but also with passion.

I must confess, as I did to our congregation yesterday, that over the last couple of months, it seems my relationship with Christ has grown stale.  My prayer has become that of the Psalmist who said, “Create in me a pure heart O God and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”  I long for that passion to follow Jesus.  I desire to be more like him today than I was yesterday.

I invite you to this prayer today as well.

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Constantly Creating

As I drove to work this morning, I plugged in and listened to some Gungor.  To be honest, my mind was on the mountain of tasks that this day holds.  So I wasn’t really listening to the words of the song.  But one sentence caught my attention.

Jesus – your the one who saves us – constantly creates us into something new.

Has Jesus saved you?  Is he creating you into something new?

When we turn the control of our lives over to Jesus, he begins his work.  You see, when we make the decision to follow Jesus and his teachings, we don’t automatically and magically become all that God wants for us.  Growing in our relationship with God and as a follower in the Way is a journey – a progression.  But it is constantly happening.

I guess that is the word that stuck out for me this morning – constant.

As I have mused over this little word I have been reminded that the Holy Spirit uses all kinds of things to shape us – to mold us into the people we were created to be in this world.  Think about this – just about everything you do today and everything that you encounter could be meant to be a growing opportunity – a learning experience – a part of the process and progress.

That means that the little inconvenience you experience when the person just drops by to say Hi! and it turns into an unplanned 30 minute interruption may be intended to grow you.  That added task you did not have on your To Do list when you got up this morning is meant as a life lesson.

The key is being sensitive to this process and being willing to be molded.

Years ago, I chose the name of this blog – Clay In The Hands – intentionally.  As a follower of Jesus, we must see ourselves as clay to be shaped.  But dried out clay isn’t pliable – it can’t be shaped.  In order for the artist to be able to turn a lump of clay into something beautiful, the clay must be willing.

Are you willing today to be molded – to be constantly created?

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Last week I read a question that I have not been able to get out of my head all week.  This was the question:  “Who will praise God for you in 2012?”

I guess I don’t think much about other people praising God for me.  But as I have pondered this question, I have reached the conclusion that I truly hope someone could praise God for me during the coming year.  That would assume that I had followed God’s leadership in serving someone else in some capacity which would result in them stopping to praise God for me.  I hope that my life and actions will impact someone in a positive way in 2012.

But I also realize that it won’t just happen.  I must make it a priority to connect with others.  Each day I must look for opportunities to make a difference.  I firmly believe that God will provide those opportunities.  The key is for me to be sensitive and aware when these divine appointments occur and then be willing to seize the moment.

Are you with me?  Will you join me in making others a priority in your life?

Who will praise God for you in 2012?  Who will thank God for you today?

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