Archive for March, 2012

I love music – all kinds of music (not particularly fond of the red neck stuff – but even that I can take in doses).  I love to sing too.  Unfortunately, I am not all that good at it.  It’s kind of like when people ask me if   I am a golfer; my common response is that I love to golf but I would not call myself a golfer.

The reason I bore with you with these little tidbits of information about me is this: I have agreed to sing a song during our Tenebrae service next Friday as part of our Holy Week activities.  Yikes!

The song that has been on my mind for months is a song by Todd Agnew entitled Blood On My Hands.  It speaks to the fact that Jesus died for me and for you.  The first line of the song says, “Each crack of that whip was for my mistakes – his blood is on my hands.”

We are entering into Holy Week.  This is a time we set aside each year to stop and think not only about the cross and the sacrifice – but why it was necessary.  Richard Niebhur said there would be no Christianity without the cross.  I think he was right.  It was for us Jesus died.  We need to live with that fact this week.

So who put Jesus on the cross?

I did . . . and so did you!

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Why does God offer us salvation?  Are we really that bad off?  Do we need to be saved?

The world would tell us that we are OK – that we can save ourselves.  Or worse yet, that we don’t need salvation.

The Bible teaches us differently.  It explains that we all have a sinful nature and that nature shows itself in the way we live.  We, by nature, want things our way.  Often, it is not that we adamantly want to go against God, but rather we simply want to have our own way.  While this seems harmless enough, if we are to be seeking to honor God but we choose to live otherwise, then we are not living as we were created to live.  If our lives are all about us, then yes, we need salvation.

If the Bible is not proof enough, look around.  The reality of a sinful, selfish world is inescapable.  I am one that chooses to believe that there is something good in all people.  But my experience shows me that all of us make bad choices that put us on paths that lead us farther and farther away from God.  We make those choices because we are inherently selfish.

Regardless of how good we think we are, at the heart of all of us is a rebellious streak and because we have all chosen to rebel at different times in our lives, we need a savior.

We are in the fifth week of Lent.  Our focus is on Jesus – his sacrifice, his life and his death.  It should also be on our sin – our rebelliousness.  It is our sin for which Jesus died.  It is my life he came to save.  And I am forever grateful and indebted!

Be blessed!

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I have been thinking.

Last week I mentioned that I have the opportunity to speak to a group of pastors and church leaders at a social media workshop today.  I asked for your help in defining the impact this ministry of Clay In The Hands has had in the lives of the readers. I have to tell you, as I have read all the emails and comments, I have been overwhelmed and humbled by how God is using my feeble attempts to communicate life in the Way – this journey that we share.

As I have continued to think about the presentation for the workshop and more importantly, why this ministry has become a part of my daily life – one thing stands out regarding impact.  Connection.

The fundamental reason that I take up room in cyberspace is to create a platform by which to connect with people.  Through the comments I received last week, it would appear that connections are being made.

God has taught me some things along the way:

1) Some days, it just doesn’t happen!  There are times that, regardless of how hard I try, the words just don’t come.  That’s OK.

2) Regardless of what I think of the post, God can use it in ways I never considered.

3) People are looking for transparency with integrity – we all need to know we are not alone on this journey.

4) People are gracious!

In many ways, Clay In The Hands is my own personal spiritual journal.  It is a place I can work through things and share some thoughts for the trip.  It is also a place to connect with others who are on the same path – some a little further down the road and some just getting started.  We are all in this together as believers.  We need each other!

Thanks for reading!

Be blessed today.

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Where is your center today?  You might look at your midsection and say well – right above my naval.  But that is not the center to which I am referring.  What I am asking is where your focus today?  At the heart of who you really are – deep down – that place that defines you as a person.  Our hearts are the center of our being – that place that only you and the Other enter.  Those closest to us know it is there and may have even seen glimpses of it, but they have no idea what all goes on there.

That is the part of you I am asking about today.  Where is your center – your heart – today?  Only you can answer that question.

I can tell you where God would like for it to be; at rest and at ease in the very presence of God.  Just as you long for the constant swirling and pulling to subside within you – God desires it more.

So here is a short little exercise for you to try to help find your center and re-focus yourself for the day ahead:

  1. Get up and find a quiet place – maybe it is simply closing the door to your office.
  2. Sit still with both feet on the floor and your hands rested in your lap.
  3. Close your eyes and humbly ask God to clear your mind and fill your heart.
  4. Focus briefly on your breathing and then turn your focus to Jesus.
  5. You might even find the Jesus Prayer helpful at this point.  It is an ancient Christian practice that I find meaningful.  You simply repeat this prayer over and over in your mind, “Lord Jesus, Son of the living God, have mercy on me a sinner.”
  6. Close by asking God to stay with you throughout this day.

Give this a serious 5 minutes and see what it does for your focus.  With God at our center all else becomes more clear.

Be blessed today!

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I Need Your Help

I have the opportunity to speak at a social media workshop next week.  My part will be to speak to the use of blogs and Twitter in ministry.  It has had me thinking for the past couple of weeks as to my motivation for offering up my ramblings 3 or 4 times per week here in this format.

As I have thought about it, a few things have come to mind.  At the heart of the “why” I do this is compassion and hope:

1) I write here in hopes that God can use my words to impact another life

2) My words are a window into who I am as a man, a husband, a father, a believer and a minister who is on the same journey as you

3) I write because I care for people and I am striving to learn to care more through God’s love

This platform has never been about self-promotion it is about connection and relationships – at least that has been my hope.

So I had this idea, and it is going to sound like a complete contradiction to my last sentence.  In fact, I have struggled with this idea and prayed through it and still feel it just smacks of looking for ego stroke – but that is the last thing I want.

As I stand before the folks in the workshop next week, one of their questions is going to be “How do you know your time and effort are making an impact?”

Quite honestly, I feel that God is using this ministry to touch folks – but it is difficult to quantify that belief.  So here is my request – would you consider emailing me or leaving a comment here on this post or on Facebook or Twitter as to how Clay In The Hands has touched you?  I am not looking for an ego boost – even though it sounds like I am.  I am simply trying to gather examples of how this effort has made a difference.

I humbly look forward to hearing from you.

Be blessed today!

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The Family That Skis Together


This past week was spring break in our area, so we decided as a family to head to New Mexico for a little skiing.  I took a day of vacation and we headed to the slopes.  Our three boys are teenagers, so the drive was pretty quiet – each with their own headphones plugged into their favorite music.

But once we hit the slopes, we had a blast.  It was so good to be together as a family doing something we all enjoy doing.  The boys had a great time – and except for one dislocated collar bone, we had a relatively safe time.

Our time gathered around the back of the car eating lunch in the parking lot was filled with talking about our favorite runs and what we were going to go do next.  We laughed and genuinely enjoyed being together.

Now that the boys are older, unfortunately, those kind of times are fewer than they used to be but they are no less meaningful.  In fact, I think I cherish them more.

Family is so important.  Don’t take yours for granted.  Take some time today and remind each person in your family just how important they are to you.  You’ll be glad you did.

Be blessed!

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A Little Time Away

We are in the midst of spring break in our area.  It is a time of year that our school calendar dictates the rest of the community, even if you don’t have kids in the school system.  Many people take their families and get out of town.  It is a time to get away and hopefully rest.

All of us need time to get away.  We need to take time to step back and refocus.  In the Gospels we see that Jesus set aside time to get away as well.

Let me encourage you today to take some time and just sit and rest in God over the next few days.  Let God speak to you and speak into you.

Refresh and refocus.  It will make all the difference.

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A Sacrifice That Demands

This Sunday, as part of the Lenten season, we will be discussing the sacrifice Jesus made for each of us.  He left paradise, emptied himself and took on humanity.  He lived on earth for over 30 years teaching us how to live in a manner that brings true joy and peace, and then suffered a terrible death – all to bring redemption to a fallen world.

That sacrifice cannot be minimized and it cannot be ignored.  Jesus’ sacrifice demands something of us.  We must respond.  We cannot come face to face with this reality and simply turn and walk away.

Too many churches today are consumed with meeting people’s felt needs.  Don’t get me wrong, the church exists because of the needs of the people.  The problem is the felt needs and the real needs of people are not always similar.  Church for many people is a place to go and feel better – a place to go to “get fed.”  So in order to grow a church, many have turned to a consumer model of ministry – just giving the people what they want.

While some of that is necessary, I am convinced that we are not honoring God if we don’t tell people that following Jesus demands something of us.  We cannot look on the cross with gratitude without hearing Jesus’ words that we too must take up or crosses on a daily basis.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, many years ago, reminded us that grace without sacrifice is cheap.

God’s grace is free but it is not cheap – it cost Jesus his life and it demands something of us as well.

So remember today that as believers, we owe a debt that can only be paid by the submission of ourselves to the one who died for us.  But that is a price that has a heavenly return on investment!

Be blessed!

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In the midst of a Monday . . .

I realize that for some people, Sunday is technically the first day of the new week.  But for the vast majority, Monday is when the week begins.  And Monday is seldom seen as a good day.  Have you ever noticed that people can’t stand Monday, but Friday is an entirely different mindset.

This will show my age and my taste in music, but back in the 80’s (the best rock era by the way) there was a popular group by the name of Loverboy.  They did a song that made the charts entitled, Working for the Weekend.  The idea is that Monday through Friday afternoon is just time we have to suffer through to get to the good stuff.

So if that is the mentality – that for the next five days we are biding time until the weekend – where is the motivation to make each day count?

I think we need an attitude adjustment.  We need to rethink how we approach this day we call Monday.

As believers, we are to strive to please God everyday, not just on Sunday.  Every day should be filled with possibility – not just the weekend.

So in the midst of this Monday, my challenge for you is to rethink what this day could mean – what it should mean.  Today is the day that God has made and we should be joyful about it.  It is teaming with possibility.

What will you do today to make it count?

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If you read the headlines today, you will see things like “nuclear armament,” “solar storm,” and “severe drought.”  It would be easy to pick up a paper or surf the web this morning and become very overwhelmed with all the problems we face.

Personally you have a lot on your plate – activities with the family, more work than you can do, church activities, civic duties and somewhere in there finding time to take care of yourself.

Then add to that all the need you see around you.  It would be possible to spend every waking minute caring for others who are struggling if that is what we chose to do.  We sit in the midst of one of the worst recessions of our lifetime.  People’s lives have been destroyed as a result.  And people are running scared.

It is easy to become overwhelmed with life.

The typical response when we feel overwhelmed is to retreat.  We desire to get away from the pain.  We resolve that things are just too bad – too hard – there is nothing that can be done.  And so that is what we do – nothing.  We allow ourselves to be pushed into indifference.

But today, I want to remind us that God is still on the throne and still in control.

Today, you might not be able to change the world but you can impact your little corner.  It is a choice.  It is a commitment.  It is what it means to be salt and light.

Go be make a difference today.

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