Archive for October, 2012

Bridge the Gap

I have been at the Texas Baptist Convention this week in Corpus Christi.  It has been a blessed time to catch up with fellow ministers from around the state – to hear what God is doing in their churches and communities.  We serve a big God and it helps to remember sometimes that my little world is not the only world that exists!

At any rate, the view from my window has had me thinking this week.  When I look through the window to the right, I see a vast expanse of water – the bay.  But straight ahead is an impressive bridge. It connects one part of the city to another part of the city while allowing ships to pass underneath.  Being from west Texas, I don’t get to see too many bridges so this one is pretty impressive.


As I have been thinking about bridges this morning, I am reminded that God calls us to be bridges.  All of us have been put in place to bridge the gap between a loving God and a world void of real love.  We must be the path by which the people around us can come to Jesus.

There are all kinds of analogies we can draw from this metaphor but let me just ask you one question today.

Are you the kind of bridge that connects people with God?

Think about it today.

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It’s About Relevance

I was on a flight recently and overheard a conversation between a young journalist from Florida and another passenger next to me.  At first I was minding my own business but I heard a statement that piqued my interest.  I don’t know what the question was, but the young journalist answered by saying, “I am somewhat dissatisfied with the church.”

Again, I was trying to mind my own business, but as a pastor, when I hear a statement like that, my ears perk up.  The reason for the dissatisfaction?  She said, “The church just doesn’t seem to be involved in the community – it just seems to take but gives nothing back.”

I wanted to jump into the conversation but I didn’t.  I sat the rest of the flight and wrestled with this perception of the church.  As I sat and pondered what I heard, I began to try and see the situation from the eyes of a young professional.  There were lots of excuses I came up with in my head for why this person might feel the way she does.  Maybe her church experience has been unique.  Or maybe, she approaches church from the mentality of “what’s in it for me” (and she would not be alone in that approach).

But as I tried to take an objective look at church in general, I became convicted that she might be more right than she knows.  A church that does not look outward toward the community with the eyes of Jesus has lost focus of why the church really exists in the first place.  Is it possible that our churches have taken on more of a social club mentality than the focus of a family of believers seeking to share God’s hope and love to a hurting world?  It’s an issue of relevance.  How relevant is church to a person who is trying to make it in the world?

Here’s the challenge – couldn’t we all do a little better?  Couldn’t we all seek to see things as God sees things?  Couldn’t we all try and love others as God loves them?  God calls us to be light to a dark world and salt to a tasteless existence.  Be light and salt today!

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How much can you carry?  I don’t mean how many bags of groceries at a time from the car to the kitchen.  Although, given my desire to be efficient, I often try and carry all the groceries in one trip – just a little heads up, that doesn’t normally work and has the real likelihood that it will end badly.

No, I am talking about the amount of responsibility you can shoulder at one time.

We often cling to the promise that God will never give us more than we can handle.  While that promise from scripture is true, I wonder if we don’t use that sometimes to justify the amount of commitments we make.  Unfortunately, I am speaking as much about me as I am about anyone else.

I have found that I have a real problem saying “No.”

The problem is that regardless of how much I think I can carry, the reality is the more I take on, the less effective I become in all of it.  And added to that reality is the humbling realization that at some point along the way, I begin to rely on my own strength, brains and experience instead of seeking God first and working through the power I find there.

Take some time today to make a list of all your commitments.  Note beside each one whether it is an endeavor to follow God’s plan for you or just something you took on because someone else made you feel guilty.  Then ask God to help you focus on those responsibilities that will bring people to Jesus.  Our ultimate reason for existence is to love God and love others.  Make sure your responsibilities are keeping you focused on what is of ultimate importance.

Be blessed today!

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Yesterday, we were blessed to have a wonderful ministry come and share with our congregation what God is doing in the lives of their students.  Teen Challenge came and shared about the ministry and led in worship.  Scattered throughout the service were opportunities for the students to share their stories of how God is at work in their lives.

As I sat and listened to story after story of God’s miraculous intervention in each life, I began to pick up on a common theme.  Each one, in their own words, said the same thing.

Some talked about coming to the end of the road.  Some described it as a realization they weren’t raised to live as they were living.  Some described it as a crossroads.

Regardless of how they described it, they all communicated that they had been living their lives one way and reached a point of having to decide to continue on their current path or change directions.

The decision they made affected everything.  Once they committed to turn their backs on their old path and turn toward following God, their lives were changed.

All of us reach crossroads in our lives.  Some are very dramatic and others, more subtle.  But all of us come to those times in our lives when we are faced with the reality that we must make a decision – the results of which could change our lives.

Maybe you are there today.  If you are, let me tell you that deciding to follow God’s plan for your life is a decision you will never regret.

I am always happy to hear from you through email or comments here on this site but I don’t always tell you. But today, I feel compelled to let you know that if you find yourself at a crossroads and just need someone to talk to, I would be happy to try and give you direction.  Just reach out to me here and we will see what God does from there.

Be blessed today!

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Never Absent

I read something that blew me away today.  Have you ever read something that was not revolutionary – something you already knew – but for whatever reason, in that moment it had huge impact?

That was my experience this morning.  You can read the full post here, but Max Lucado’s email devotion this morning reminded me of an important fact.

I know that Jesus never leaves nor forsakes us.  I know that he is always present and always leading, but when I read this something washed over me.  A peace came over me – and then conviction.

Max said, “There’s never a time when Jesus is not speaking.  Never a place in which Jesus is not present. Never a room so dark, that the ever-present, ever-pursuing Jesus is not present.”

I have to admit that sometimes I feel Jesus is not speaking.  And I would disagree with Max to a degree.  I think there are times when God is silent.  But what we must never forget is this – regardless of whether or not God is speaking – or whether we hear that still, small voice or not – God is ALWAYS present!

What an amazing thought!

Open my eyes to you today Father!  I want to see you!

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What do you stand for?  There is an old cliche that says, “If you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything.”

While this statement has become trite, it is very true.  Part of the problems facing the church stems from the fact that people are unclear on the truth.  In fact, people in the younger generations are being taught that truth is subjective and relative.

The effect is a decline in the church.  I read this morning that for the first time in US history, Protestants are no longer the majority.  You can read more about that here.

The decline of Protestantism has not been caused by the increase of any other major religion.  In fact, it has been the growth of the non-religious population.  20% of Americans now declare no religious affiliation.  They have bought into the lie that religion is pointless and truth is what they want it to be.

Somewhere along the way, the church has become irrelevant to a growing number of people.

Perhaps the perceived irrelevance is due to an opinion that the church doesn’t stand for anything at all.

Jesus said that when he is lifted up, people will be drawn to him.

Is the church lifting up Jesus day in and day out?

Are you?

What will you stand for today?

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Happy Monday

Happy Monday!

For most of us, Monday’s are not typically happy.  Monday’s seem to be the worst day of the week for most people.  Regardless of the day of the week, if I have a bad day, I can usually be heard to say, “It’s been Monday all day.”

But really, what we think about the first day of the week is up to us.

Today, I see it as the beginning of blank canvass.  I have a whole week ahead of me to see what God will do – the relationships that will be built and the tasks completed.

Make today a great day!  And then let that run over into tomorrow and the rest of the week.

Be blessed!

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Living Hope

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,           1 Peter 1:3

A living hope.  Sounds good doesn’t it?  This morning I found those words very refreshing.

So often, I find myself reflecting back to a better time.  I catch myself thinking about a mountain top experience and relishing in the emotions of a time when all was well with God and with the world.  I think back to times when it seemed everything was going just right.  And then the phone rings or my In Box sounds and I am brought back to the reality of today.

But this verse this morning splashed cool water on my weary face.  In Jesus, we don’t have a hope that comes and goes.  We don’t just have to hold on to the memories of a mountain top experience.  We have a living hope.  A hope that is growing and maturing.  And this hope is made possible by God’s great mercy.

Our hope would be non-existent without God’s unspeakable mercy.  The two things are tied together – inseparable really.

You see, God’s mercy is not a single act at one moment in time.  It’s not like we were caught red handed doing something wrong and God decided to forgive us.  God’s mercy is always with us.  In fact, that might be the best way to describe it.  God with us.  When I think that God loves me enough to stay with me even when I do stupid stuff, I get a picture of that mercy.

And that is how our hope can stay alive.

God loves you and his mercy is real!

Live into today reflecting vibrant hope.

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As I sat down this morning for part of my time alone with God, I decided to use a practice I turn to frequently – prayerful reading (lectio divina).  I turned on my computer and opened my online Bible.  There for me to read on the front page was the verse of the day.  I would normally have clicked passed this to a passage to start my time with God, but for some reason, I felt a nudge to stay with this verse.

Proverbs 29:25, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in God is kept safe.”

We are entering a journey in the life of our church family here at 1st B and on the outset, it seems too big and illusive to really get our heads around.  We are at the very cusp of what will be a new era in our church.

As I pray about God’s leadership in this endeavor, I often find myself doubting.  Thoughts flood my mind like: “What if we miss it?” or ‘What if we fail?” or even “What will other people think?”  I guess at the root of all the anxiety is that last one – what will people think.  If we attempt something big and fail, what will others in the community think?

The writer of Proverbs warns us that fearing what others might think is an immobilizing trap; a trap I believe  leads to complacency.  We throw up our hands before we even start and say, “It can’t be done – its just too big.”

I have said this before but the fact of the matter is complacency is the cancer that is killing the church.

The cure for this cancer is trust.  While the writer of Proverbs gives us this warning about fear, he also encourages us by reminding us that those who trust God walk in God’s protection.

Whatever you are facing today that seems too big – don’t fear.  Simply trust.  God has a plan and that plan includes protecting you.

Live boldly today!

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Waiting . . .

I talk a lot about slowing down and listening for God fairly frequently.  I believe it is important to slow down and rest in God’s presence.

Today, I am being forced to slow down.  I am writing this from a doctor’s waiting room.  I began to feel sick Saturday night.  Before bed I was running fever and the body aches had set in.  Yesterday, I made it through church and a meeting and then spent the rest of the day on the couch.

So this morning, I decided to go see the doctor to hopefully speed up the process of getting better.

Now, I am waiting . . .

So as I sit here, I am reminded, once again, of the importance of waiting.  I am one of those people who does not like to wait – particularly when the reason for waiting is out of my control.  But as I sit, I am also reminded that God is in it all.  I am reminded that I need to be present, even in the waiting.

Today, slow down and focus on being present.  It might just make your day come alive.

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