Archive for April, 2012

Earlier this week I went to watch our hometown baseball team fight for a chance to go to the playoffs.  It was a beautiful evening and there was a great crowd.  The guys played well and ultimately won the game.

At a pivotal point during the game, we had a runner on third and a runner on second.  The batter hit a grounder toward third base.  The third baseman did just as he should, he advanced on the ball, fielded it and then . . . froze.  He had a runner headed for home, a runner headed for first and behind him, a runner making his way from second to third.  He raised his arm to make the throw home but then looked toward first.  Then he swung around to try and see if he could tag the runner passing by behind him but he was way out of reach.  By the time he turned back around, it was too late to make a throw anywhere.

Because of his indecisiveness, a run scored, a runner advanced to scoring position and now he had another runner on first.  Not a good day in the life of that third baseman.  I looked at the man sitting next to me and said, “there is a sermon illustration in there somewhere.”

I have thought a lot about that play since Monday and what we witnessed has a lot of application to leadership.

  1. A leader has to be prepared.  Life is going to come at us like a blazing grounder.  We need to be able to think on our feet.  A good way to enhance our chances of being able to make decisions quickly is to have our heads in the game.  We need to remember where the runners are and where they are headed.  Sometimes it may feel we have too many plates spinning and there is too much to keep up with.  If that is truly the case, we might have some hard decisions to make as to what needs to be delegated or even discontinued.
  2. A leader needs to weigh the options.  Even though the ball may be screaming his way, the third baseman has to be able to see the field.  We must determine what the viable options are in each situation.  Having the ability to weigh the options takes practice and experience.
  3. A leader needs to commit.  Once the options have been surveyed, the leader has to commit.  Failure to commit costs everyone.  Often we balk at commitment because of the fear of failure.  Fear of failure can cause us to freeze.  Just as the baseball player watched a run score and two runners advance, all while he was standing there holding the ball, the leader who fails to commit most likely fails.  Weigh the options, make a decision and stick with it.  There is always an element of risk but that comes with the territory.

No one ever said leadership was easy.  Sometimes we have to make tough decisions.  But the key is making the decision.  Indecisiveness is costly – take the risk and make the throw.  Otherwise, you are just standing there holding the ball while the play goes on without you.

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In some of my reading this morning I ran across this quote by Thomas Merton, “the reality which is expressible in language is found, face to face without medium, in silence.”  I guess this hit home with me due to the fact that part of my responsibility as a pastor is to communicate God’s message through language.  It is an interesting juxtaposition to think that being able to communicate through words must begin with silence.

It is very true.  Years ago, I heard a long-time pastor say, “If I haven’t spent time alone with God during the week, on Sunday, I have nothing to say.”

It is the same idea.  In order to communicate God’s truth through language, I must first spend time before God in prayer and studying the word.

This truth applies to communicating God’s message in other ways as well.  Our biggest megaphone is the way we live.  Our actions communicate more effectively than words ever can.  So are you spending quality time before God that in turn fuels the way you live?

Take a few minutes today to sit before God and listen to what you hear.

Be a blessing today!

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I was introduced to a new artist last week and I have listened to his latest album no less than 8 times since Thursday.  His sound is unique and his lyrics will make you stop what you are doing and just listen (which makes driving and listening a bit sketchy).  Josh Garrels is his name and he hails from Oregon.

On his latest album, Love and War and the Sea Between, he has a song titled Beyond the Blue.  As I drove to work this morning, this song was playing.  The chorus of the song says, “let go of all we cannot hold on to for the hope beyond the blue.”  The last time he sings the chorus he changes it just a bit and instead of singing “the hope beyond the blue,” he says “the hope I have in you.”

As I drove, I asked myself, “what should I let go of that I really can’t hold on to anyway?”  It is a great question.  So often we find ourselves stressing over things we can’t even control.  The whole time, God is standing by saying, “I am here offering liberation – real life – if you will just relax and let go of things you can’t even control.”

So today, I ask you the question, “What do you need to turn loose of that you can’t hold on to?”

Let go of it today and rest in the arms of hope!

Be blessed today!

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As Jesus followers, we know that we should live in such a way to bring honor to him.  If you have read much of my ramblings then you know I am always pushing to be true to our calling.  But today I have a simple question for you,  what is your motivation for following Jesus?


That’s it. Leave me your answers here or by email – bhill33@me.com


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God Says . . .

What is on your mind today? What is weighing heavy on your heart?

Maybe it is trouble at work. God says, “I’m here – remember I gave you that job.”

Maybe it is a strained marriage. God says, ” I called you into this relationship – hold strong.”

Maybe it is uncertainty about the future. God says, “I hold the future in my hands, nothing surprises me – trust me.”

Whatever is on your heart today, lay it down at God’s feet and lay yourself into God’s arms. God is saying to you in a soft but strong voice, “I’ve got this.”

Be blessed today!

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Yesterday, I had a young man meet me at my office to discuss baptism.  He was raised in a different faith but has been attending our church for quite some time.  I was excited about his initiative – through our friendship, he actually approached me with his questions.

As we began, I explained the differences between the beliefs common in the Baptist denomination and those common in the faith of his childhood.  We discussed the importance of having a real life relationship with Jesus.  We also discussed the reasons for following through with Jesus’ example of baptism.

Then we moved on to being a part of a church family and the benefits of actually putting down roots and getting involved.

Through all of this discussion he was in agreement and had his mind made up that he wants to “go public” with his decision.  He wants to make it official and get plugged into our 1st B family.  So we began to discuss the process that our church recognizes for taking this step.  He has been in our services long enough to have seen the process play out and he is ready to take that step.

All of what I have shared here is exciting.  But what he said next made me sit back in my chair.  He relayed to me that he knows this is what he needs to do for his own journey, but he also really wants his young daughter to see her dad take this stand.

Parents, it is so important for you kids not only to hear what you have to say about faith and following Jesus but to also see you modeling it for them.  Kids have the innate ability to sense “fake.”  We can tell them all their lives what they should do and how they should live but if we are not living it out in front of them, our words and empty and meaningless.  You have to live it.

Make sure you model Jesus’ love for your family today!

Be blessed!

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Virtual or IRL?


Everything is virtual.  Well not really.  But our world is moving toward a virtual way of doing just about everything at a scary pace.  We can talk to people around the world and actually see their image on the screen in front of us.  We can hold meetings with multiple people at the same time without being in the same town much less the same room.

We can order just about anything we want and have it shipped to our homes and never leave the sofa.  It is possible to live in our world with little to no human contact.

But that is just sad!

This week in our church we will be talking about the importance of connection.  One might argue that the things I have mentioned here would qualify as connection but for me, I believe what our world is missing and needing desperately is IRL connection.  Sound technical?  Nope – IRL is in real life.

Living resurrected lives meanswe are called to make an impact on those around us – in real life, in real time.

In most ways, the church stays behind the times when it comes to advances in technology and other things.  But here is an instance that the church has been on the cutting edge.  For years, we have been doing ministry and missions virtually.  Long before technology supported a virtual world, the church had built a system that promoted virtual ministry.  People, in the comfort of their pew can write a check so that someone else will serve others – virtual ministry.

But Jesus called each of us to get our hands dirty – to get involved.

That is living resurrected.  It’s a pretty cool way to live.  Give it a try today!

Be blessed!

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Living Resurrected

Easter has come and gone.  Or has it?  The Christian calendar now actually moves into the season of Easter.  For the next 50 days (leading up to Pentecost), we will be in the Easter season.

I must confess, I was not raised to pay an overwhelming amount of attention to the Christian calendar so when I talk as if I know of which I speak – I really am just learning – part of my journey.  At any rate, I don’t suppose I have ever really given much thought to the idea of a season of Easter.  But as I have thought about the importance of Easter – the day – I have begun to realize that there is so much more going on here than just a single day.

Easter Sunday is the day we celebrate the miraculous resurrection.  Part of that celebration is the realization of what it means for you and for me.  As believers, we live in and through this resurrection.  We no longer have to fear death and be, as Hebrews 2 says, slaves to that fear.  We begin to understand that Easter is not a day but a way of living.

This Sunday, we will start a new sermon series entitled Living Resurrected.  I ask that you pray for our 1st B family as God teaches us what it means to live resurrected lives.

I am also asking  for your input (which just might make it into the sermon).  What does the idea – living resurrected – mean to you.  Comment here are leave me a message on Facebook, Twitter or email.

Be blessed today.

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Today is Friday of Holy Week – Good Friday.  This is the day we remember the cross.  It began with a mock trial that ended with an angry mob yelling, “Crucify.”  It then moved to beating and humiliation and then ultimately to the cross where Jesus was brutally murdered.  All of this for my sin and for yours.

Walk carefully through this day.  Think about the sacrifice.  Follow Jesus up the Via De La Rosa to the hill of the skull.  Listen as the hammer bounces off the spikes.  Watch as Jesus is hoisted up into the air and left there to die.

This is what he endured for you and for me.

Stand at the foot of that cross today and let the sights and sounds wash over you.  Don’t turn away – face the reality.

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Today is Thursday – Holy Thursday.  We have walked with Jesus this week as he has moved closer and closer to the cross.  This morning we turn our thoughts toward tonight.  Jesus instructed his disciples to prepare for the Passover.  I can imagine that they hurried around purchasing the items for the meal and getting the room ready.  They were excited about celebrating this time together.

As they gathered that night, Jesus took the opportunity to spend his last few hours with them trying to pour into them as much as possible.  He had taught them that the last will be first and that the true way to greatness in God’s eyes is through serving others.  But tonight we will remember one of Jesus’ most vivid illustrations of service.

He took off his outer garments and wrapped a towel around his waist.  He put water in a basin and then he went one by one to his disciples and washed their feet.  This was one of the most lowly acts known to their culture.  The disciples were shocked.

Have you ever had someone show you this type of kindness?  How did it make you feel?  Uncomfortable?

That is what the disciples felt.  Here was their teacher – their master – doing what they would never think to do.  Foot washing was the lowliest servant’s task.  But that was what Jesus was doing.  Peter even tried to stop Jesus.

But Jesus persisted in order to make a point.  If the disciples were to follow him – really follow him – they would have to learn to put others first.  They would have to come to the realization that being a true follower  means serving.

I pray that as we move through this day and rememberer the events of Maundy Thursday, that we will be reminded of who we are called to be and what we are expected to do – the first will be last and the last will be first.

So Holy Week continues.  Keep walking.

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