Archive for May, 2012

Hold Fast to Your Faith

This past weekend, we loaded up the family and headed to Lubbock to celebrate our 22 years of marriage.  We had some errands to run and also had a nice dinner together – all 5 of us.  It was nice to all be together for an afternoon.

One of the errands we had to make was a return to Lowe’s Home Improvement.  We had purchased some lights for the house and decided to go with a different style so we had a box to return.  Since we had no other business in the store, the family decided to just wait in the car.

If you live in west Texas, you know that the last few days have given us horrible winds – sustained 35 to 40 miles per hour both Saturday and Sunday.  I mention that fact because after fighting the wind to get back to the car, I found my family watching a run away shopping cart.  A lady had pushed the cart to her vehicle, unloaded her items and instead of taking care of business and putting the cart in the cart bin, she simply left it sitting in the parking lot and drove away.

The wind began pushing the cart to the east.  By the time I got to the car, it had already traveled about 50 yards across the parking lot.  So I joined the amusement and began to watch the cart as well.  It was headed to the east side of the parking lot where it would be stopped by the curb.  But a very surprising thing happened, as it neared the east side of the parking lot, it veered to the left – turning toward the exit.  Part of this was due to the contour of the parking lot but much was due to the driving swirling wind.

It continued to travel, moving closer and closer to the exit of the parking lot and my mouth fell open.  It turned again to the right and exited the parking lot, headed directly across the access road and ended up in the ditch on the other side – still upright.

Cars had to slow down and swerve to miss the cart as it meandered across the heavily trafficked access road.  It was quite a sight to watch.  We laughed in amazement and yes, felt a bit guilty that we didn’t try to do something (honestly, we never thought it would cross the street and by the time we realized it was going to, it was too late.)

As I have mused over that event, I have been reminded of the power of the wind.  Scripture talks about the wind in many different contexts.  But the one that seems applicable today is the passage in which we are told not to be tossed by the waves and driven here and there by each blowing wind (you can read it here).

We need to be grounded in our beliefs and convictions.  We need to know what we hold on to and remember who we trust.  Otherwise, we will be just like that shopping cart – blown right out into traffic and end up in a ditch.

Hold fast to your faith – even in the midst of the storm!

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When was the last time you stopped and gazed at the wonder of a rose?

When did you last watch a sunset and feel inspired by the magnificence of God?

Jim Dennison made some good points today regarding how great our God truly is.  You can link to his post here.

We get so busy with our “ant hill lives” that we forget to look up and realize that there is a much bigger world out there and God is in control of it all!

Take a minute today and look for God around you.

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Here it is Monday and I am reflecting on my journey last week and looking forward to where the path will lead this week.  Yesterday, we had a great morning in worship.  We celebrated with the graduating seniors in our church, we heard the story of one of our senior adults and we praised our ascended savior.

We talked about the fact that Jesus died, but was not held in the grave.  He spent forty days with his disciples, giving them last minute instructions before breaking all bounds with this natural world and physically ascending into the clouds and out of sight.

For us today, we don’t understand how this was possible.  But really, neither did the disciples on that day.  Acts 1 tells us that they just stood there in amazement – I am guessing with their mouths open.  Two angels finally had to show up and tell them to move it along.

There are elements of our theology that may not make sense in this world but it does not make them any less true or real.

The point I take from this story in Acts is that Jesus proves, yet one more time, that he is not bound by this world.  He can come and go as he chooses.  That is the God we serve.  We simply must have faith and believe.

I ran across a poem by Alexander Pope entitled, An Essay On Man, in my reading this morning that may help us in this area.  Here is an excerpt:

To him no high, no low, no great, no small—
He fills, he bounds, connects, and equals all….
All nature is but art, unknown to thee: 
All chance, direction, which thou canst not see:
All discord, harmony not understood;
All partial evil, universal good.

We have to remember that we rarely see the whole picture.  What we are living is but a flash of the greater picture – a thread in a magnificent tapestry.

Trust and believe today and live into the life God has for you!

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Tonight I have the opportunity to address the group of students, doctors and nurses and sponsors who are on the mission trip to El Paso.

What do you say to a group of folks who have taken a week of their time to travel hours from their homes in order to minister to people they have never met?  Do you say “thanks?”  Honestly, I don’t think any of them are looking for a thank you for what they are doing – certainly not from me.

Do you tell them that what they are doing is dabbling in the eternal?  That what they are doing will have forever implications and impact?  Yes, I should probably say that.  That sounds good.

But what I am drawn to say is less altruistic – almost selfish and self-serving.  But I have thought and prayed about this for a long time.  What I am compelled to tell them is that what they are doing may just have more impact on them than any impact they may be making in the life of another person.

There is no denying that a result of a trip like this is a renewed passion for Jesus – a boost to our commitment.  Some might even call it a “spiritual high.”  And if the motivation for making a trip like this is all about what you will get out of it – well then, that just seems wrong.

But here is the reality.  Yes, we will meet people and we will impact their lives for a day – and hopefully, that impact will have everlasting results to their reality.  But at the end of the week, we are leaving – heading back to our reality.  We will remember the good things we have done for a time but what difference will it really make?

Here is the difference.  Getting out of our comfort zones and serving is part of disciple making. It plays a huge part in our becoming.  As believers, we are called to be disciples – apprentices.  A large part of that process is selflessly serving others.

So what do I communicate to the group tonight?  I tell them that what they are doing has kingdom impact both in the lives of others and in their own lives.  It is part of what it means to be an authentic Jesus follower.

Yeah, that is what I will tell them.

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I am always reminded when I have the opportunity to participate in a mission trip, that God is already at work long before we show up.  I remember when I did my first trip like this fifteen years ago or so.  I went with the attitude that I had something to give and the people I would see may not know it yet but they needed what I had to offer.  In many respects, that is not a total fallacy.

I had hope and love that I could offer through my relationship with Jesus that everyone needs.  But the reality was, and is still today, God is at work whether I show up or not.  God did not call us to go and be the salvation to a group of less fortunate people.  But we are instructed to go and share our story.  Go and share God’s love.  Go and offer hope.

You see, when we go and offer our time to minister to others, we are not the salvation they need.  We are simply the messengers of the one who is that salvation and that hope.

God is at work all around us – we just have to see it and plug in.

Be a blessing today.

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What do stethoscopes, roofing nails, Bibles, drywall and a dentist chair have in common?

Give up?  The annual Baptist Student Ministry from South Plains College mission trip to El Paso.  This week, about 100 college students, doctors, dentists and others will join forces to offer free clinics, do minor construction and share the love and hope of Jesus to the people of the El Paso area.

I need your help.  I would like you to commit to pray for the folks on this trip.  Petition that God would give us all the energy and passion to be Jesus to each and every person we meet.  Sometimes that is challenging – like when the shingles don’t show up on time and all the students are standing around with nothing to do.  Or like when you come face to face with the horrible conditions some people live in and you realize that what you are doing, while it is meaningful, isn’t really making much of a dent in what is going on.

Pray that God will be obvious and people will see the hope that is offered through a relationship with Jesus.

We may have 100 people here, but we need hundreds more all over the world praying for what God is doing.

Be blessed today!  And thanks for your prayer!

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Will God Show Up?

Part of my reading today was in the classic, My Utmost For His Highest, by Oswald Chambers.  Today’s reading deals with the idea of having our focus on God as opposed to the world or ourselves.  Where we put that focus affects everything.

Chambers says that once we lose sight of God, we begin to do things in our own power and by our own initiative.  For me this is a constant battle.  I believe that God has gifted me with certain strengths and passions and expects me to get off my laurels and use those things for the growth of the kingdom.  But if I am not careful, it becomes about achievement – about me.  Chambers reminds us that the danger becomes reaching the point of not expecting God to show up at all.

He asks two questions that will stay with me through this day and hopefully throughout each day, and I pray with you as well.  He asks, “Is our attitude today an attitude that flows from our vision of God?  Are we expecting God to do greater things than He has ever done before?”

Is that your expectation for this day?

I pray it is so!

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God Loves You!

How long has it been since you stopped and just thought about how much God loves you?  We get so busy and I guess we know deep down inside that God loves us.  But the pressures of the fast-paced rat race that is your life causes the realization that you are loved to slowly fade.  It begins with moving from a deep understanding of God’s unconditional love for you to a good feeling that God might just actually care about you.  From there it creeps into a general acknowledgement that God loves everyone.

Before long, the pressures of life weigh us down to the point that self-pity permeates all that we are and we forget that God truly loves us.  We take on the attitude of, “If God really loved me, I wouldn’t be going through . . .”  And so we no longer feel God’s love not because it is no longer there but because we have allowed our focus to shift.

Take some time today to remember that God loves you.  Regardless of what you may be experiencing in the moment you are reading this – God loves you – you are valuable and worthy.  God loves you enough to know and care about you personally – to the point that Jesus came to show you just how deep and lasting God’s love is for you.

God loves you – you are truly blessed!

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Yesterday, I asked for input from those under 60.  I asked them for some thoughts on how older generations have impacted them.  I asked for their input to help inform my sermon this week on leaving a legacy.  Sunday is senior adult Sunday and we plan on structuring the service to recognize our senior generations.

So today, it is the over 60 crowd that I ask for input.

If you could instill one or two nuggets of truth in the younger generations, what would they be?  

Give it some thought and leave me a comment here or email me at bhill33@me.com.

The reality is that in many ways, we are experiencing a leadership void and we need to focus on pouring into the younger generations.

So how would you do that?

I look forward to reading your wisdom!

Be blessed today!

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This coming Sunday will be Senior Adult day at our church.  We will have a different structure to the service and everything will be pointed toward recognizing our older generations.

I will be preaching on the importance of leaving a legacy.  I plan on addressing both the senior crowd and the younger crowd.

If you are over 60, I’ll be asking for your input tomorrow but for today, if you are younger than 60 years old, I need your help.  If you are like me, there are many, many people who have played an integral part in your life.  Take some time today to think about those folks.

As you think about the generations ahead of you, who has made an impact on your life and how have they been able to affect you in such strong ways?

Just leave your comment here or email me at bhill33@me.com.

I look forward to reading your comments – they just might show up on Sunday.

Be blessed today!

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