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Archive for August, 2012

I received a letter last week asking me to consider subscribing to satellite radio.  The vehicle came with it but I am too cheap to renew the subscription.  But the letter also said that there would be a free week, beginning August 29, to try and tempt me into renewing.

So this morning I had it programed in to listen to my favorite 80’s channel.  Yes, if you are new to my ramblings, I am a music nut – all kinds of music (OK, maybe not much on the country side).  But my biggest passion in music outside of worship music is classic rock and anything from the 80’s.

At any rate, as I drove to work, I had 80’s on 8 playing loud.  A song came on from Genesis – Land of Confusion.  The lyrics of the song are pretty powerful if you pay attention.  Now I don’t know Phil Collins personally and certainly don’t know his spiritual leanings, but I can tell you that the church could take note of what he sings about in this song.

Here is what the chorus says:

Too many men
There’s too many people
Making too many problems
And not much love to go round
Can’t you see
This is a land of confusion.

Now this is the world we live in
And these are the hands we’re given
Use them and let’s start trying
To make it a place worth fighting for.

That hit home for me.  I believe it is time (past time actually) for Jesus followers to stand up and make a difference in the lives of the people in our communities.

It’s time!

One of the verses in the same song says this:

My generation will put it right
We’re not just making promises
That we know, we’ll never keep.

Is this the generation that will make a difference?  Are we the people that will allow ourselves to be transformed by God and will allow God to use us to transform our world?

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What are you praying for these days?  With the start of school, many of us are praying more intently for our kids.  Today, we find a part of our nation under the threat of hurricane Isaac.  The storm made landfall twice in the last several hours, dumping water on New Orleans that has power knocked out and is testing the integrity of the levies built after Katrina.   So we are praying for our brothers and sisters enduring the brunt of that storm.

Maybe today you are praying for a change.  Perhaps, you need God to intervene in your job or at home.  Or maybe you find yourself praying for God to move around you – in your church or community.

Whatever you have on your heart that you are praying about today, let me challenge you.  Tonight we will continue our study of the book of Ephesians.  We will be looking at the end of the third chapter.  In verse 20, Paul pushes us to be bold in our prayer.  He reminds us that God can do more than we can even imagine.

Here is how I interpret Paul’s idea.  He is suggesting that we pray for God to work and move in such a way that it will be so mind-blowing people will be talking about it for years!  Do you ever pray with that kind of boldness?

I don’t know about you, but I would love for God to move in such a way that it is life-changing and the talk of people for years.

Join me in asking God to move like that today!

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Over the last month, the post that has received the most views has been this one.  I wrote it on the first day of school last year and, given the recent interest in the post, I thought I would revisit the topic – particularly since today is the first day of school for my kids for the 2012 – 2013 school year.

The school years are so important in the lives of our kids.  They mature and grow, not only physically but emotionally and mentally as well.  When you think about the amount of time they spend in school compared to the time you have with them at home, it becomes even more obvious just how important it is to pray for them and for their teachers and school administrators.

So here is what I would like you to do this morning.  The following is a guided prayer.  This concept may be a bit foreign to some (it certainly was to me when I first encountered it several years ago), but it can be very effective and meaningful.  Simply follow along and pray as you feel led.

Spend a couple of minutes clearing your mind and focusing on the magnificence of God.

Pray that your children will enjoy their day.  Pray that they will be receptive to what God has for them this year.  That they will connect well with their teachers and that they will make at least one new friend who will help them stay the course in their followship of Jesus.

Pray for the teachers.  Pray that God will give them a sincere passion to make a positive impact in the lives of their students.  Pray that God will give them wisdom as to how to help each student.  And pray that God will give them the tools and the strength to use those tools to teach our kids.

Pray for the school administrators – all those folks who work to make our schools a safe and effective place of learning and growing.  Pray for their wisdom and passion.  Ask God to bless them today.

Ask God to use you to make a difference in the lives of your kids and in the schools in which they attend.

Father, I thank you for my kids.  They are growing up too fast.  I remember when I used to have to do everything for them and now, it seems, they can do it all themselves.  God, I ask you to be there for them when I can’t.  Protect them and keep their feet on the right path.  Put people in their lives today to direct them and teach them.  Grow them into the people you created them to be for your purposes, and help me to be the parent I need to be for my kids for your glory.  Amen

Be blessed today!

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All of us have a story to tell.  The intricate weaving of the experiences of our lives come together to make a beautiful tapestry.  Each individual experience might seem insignificant by itself, but when pieced together with all the others, the tapestry takes on a picture that is unique to you.

God has created you to be you and there is no other you – never has been, never will be!

All the things you have done, people you have known and experiences you have had make you the person you are today.  And in the midst of all of it – God has been at work all along the way.

You are of ultimate importance to God and you were created to reflect God’s love and life.  God has brought you to today with a story to tell that will make all the difference in the eternity of the people to whom you tell it.

So tell your story – what has God done in your life to bring you to this day?

Be a blessing today!

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How frantic is your life?  How much pressure do you feel to get things done?  Do you ever feel you are not doing anything well because you can’t devote enough of yourself to any one thing?

I find myself there much of the time.  And, I am sure, most of that pressure is self-imposed.

But I ran across this quote from Thomas Merton yesterday that has had me thinking.  He said,

Unnatural, frantic, anxious work, work done under pressure of greed or fear or any other inordinate passion, cannot properly speaking be dedicated to God, because God never wills such work directly.

What I take from that is the idea that God intends for us to be productive and to work.  We were created to be fruitful and satisfied in our efforts.  But God never intended for us to take on so much that we cannot be effective in anything.  We were not created to live under that stress and pressure – and further, that pressure is not from God but from other sources.

So today, regardless of how long your To Do list may be, ask God these two questions, “What do YOU want me to accomplish today? Where do YOU want me to focus my attention?”

Give it a try and see what God does in and through you.

I’d love to hear about your results.

Be blessed.

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Last Friday, our community celebrated together.  One of the streets downtown was closed off, tents were set up and food was served.  People were everywhere.  It was a wonderful experience complete with a strong sense of community.

The occasion?  The beginning of football season.  Our school mascot is the wildcat.  So the event was appropriately titled, “Meet the Wildcats.”

Now there is a lot I could say about the over-emphasis on sports in our community – I mean, we don’t get together and celebrate the band students or the high academic achievements of our students – not that these things aren’t celebrated, but we don’t close a street and make it a community event.

I could talk about that but that is not what is on my heart today.  The point I want to make is how wonderful it was to experience that sense of community.  People were friendly and encouraging.  We enjoyed good food and had a great time just being together as a town.  It was moving.

As I have reflected on that day, I have been reminded that God created us for community.  We are wired for relationships – both with God and with one another.  And the best place to grow our relationships is in a safe and welcoming place filled with honest and transparent people who want the same things.

The only place I know of that fits that description is church.  I am not saying the church is filled with perfect, saintly people who have it all together.  In fact, it is somewhat the opposite.  The church should be a place filled with people who are willing to be transparent and let others know they aren’t perfect and they don’t have it all together.

If we had it all together with no problems and no needs, then why would we even need church?

The thing is, we all need community and the reality is we all need church.  As long as people remain imperfect, there will always be a need for church.  And no one will attain perfection in this life.

All that to say, we all need relationships – we were created that way.  We all need community.  And the best place to find it is at church.

If you aren’t involved in a church, find one in your area and get plugged in.  Just give it a try – what have you got to lose?

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This Won’t Be Easy

We are working our way through the book of Ephesians on Wednesday nights in our church.  It has been a great study complete with challenges.  But last night, we began with chapter 3 and we did not make it very far.

Paul opens the chapter with this statement, “For this reason, I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus . . .”

All week I have struggled with Paul’s self-designation.  He could have picked all kinds of things to call himself, but he chose to use “prisoner” as a description.

Why prisoner?  If I am trying to convince someone that following Jesus is the best decision a person can make, I will probably stay away from the idea of being locked up against one’s will.

As I prepared for our time together last night, I wrestled with this idea.  Obviously, Paul was a committed follower – one who would not have changed his path for any amount of money of fame.

So why did he choose such a negative term?

I will not say that I have it all figured out, but here is what I believe Paul was communicating.  Following Jesus takes commitment.  it is not easy.  It is not a Sunday morning thing – it is a lifestyle of self-denial in order to focus on God’s desires.

For too long we have tried to make following Jesus appealing – watering down or avoiding all together the costs of followship (yes, I realize I have coined a word).

Yes, being a believer and a follower is the best decision a person can ever make.  There is more peace, joy, strength and satisfaction in following Jesus than any other life path a person can choose.  But it is counter-cultural.  It will require sacrifice.

Jesus did not say, “He who would gain his life must lose it,” because this would be easy.  He wanted us to know on the front end that following him is difficult by the world’s standards.

So today, I want to challenge you to approach your faith with resolve and diligence.  Set your mind right now that you will live this day to honor God, regardless the costs.

Be blessed!

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