Archive for December, 2012

It’s Just a Building

Remember when places of worship were sacred?  I have always been somewhat surprised when someone attacks a church – whether it be theft or vandalism.  I remember as a child, I was taught that one should treat “God’s House” with more respect than you do your own home.  I am not confessing mind you, but there may have been an instance as a kid when I stuck gum under a table in Sunday School.  But I can assure you, if said instance may have happened, I felt guilty for weeks.

Those were simpler days.


It would seem that those days may be over – at least here.  Christmas Eve our church building was vandalized.  The only blessing in the whole thing is that nearly all the areas that were painted were glass.  Either the vandals were not very good at what they were trying to do or they were conscientious vandals.  Either way, I am glad the clean up will not be terrible.

But the whole incident has caused me to think.

I am so glad that the church is not a building.  This reminds us that the building is just that – a building.  It is the place that the church meets but there is nothing particularly special about it.  If the church met in a barn, that barn would be sacred – not because of the barn but because of the people meeting in it.

God’s people are the church and we cannot be held back by a can of paint.

Now – where is my scraper?

Be blessed today!

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It Is Here!

The Eve of that special day is upon us.  We have waited all year for this.  The last four weeks – we call advent – have been about the anticipation of this moment in history.  It has all led to being excited about celebrating something that happened over 2000 years ago.

Think about that for a second – for weeks we have awaited with hope and excitement the day that we would celebrate an event that happened thousands of years ago.  What other event in human history caused such a ritual?


But then again, it only takes one instance of divinity and humanity merging to cause such an uproar.

It is here!  Celebrate God’s breaking into humanity.  Brush up against the wonder this year and let it change you!

Merry Christmas from Clay In The Hands!

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This Could Be It!

This could be it.  This could be the last post I make to Clay In The Hands.  Weird isn’t it?  I have been sharing my journey here for over 3 years and this could be the last time.

According to the Mayan’s, the calendar ends tomorrow.  I don’t know a single person who still follows that calendar but for some reason, the fact that the Mayan culture – which by the way has been virtually extinct for hundreds of years – failed to continue their calendar past tomorrow.  The assumption by those who worry about these things is that the world will end when the Mayan calendar ends – as if that extinct culture had some crystal ball that told them the exact day of the world’s end.

I really appreciate what Dr. Jim Dennison said this morning in his blog, Denison Forum On Truth and Culture.  You can read what he said in full here.  HIs point was that while we can’t say the world will end tomorrow, we also cannot say that it won’t.  But that has nothing to do with the Mayan calendar.

Jesus, the very son of God whose coming to earth we celebrate this next week, will return.  Scripture is clear that he will come again.  But scripture is also clear that we have no idea when that day will occur.

But all of this hoopla about the end of the world happening tomorrow raises an interesting thought:

If you knew for sure that the world would end tomorrow, how would you live today?

The sobering truth is that the world could end tomorrow.

None of us are guaranteed tomorrow so we need to make the most of today.

How will make today count?

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Living Delighted

This morning during my prayer and reading time I was reminded of something very simple but profound.  I was reading in Psalm 37.  The verse that I focused on was verse 4.  In this passage, the writer tells us that we should “delight” ourselves in the Lord and when we do we will receive the desires of our hearts.

On a cursory reading, we get the idea that if we follow God, God will make sure we get what we want.  But when you look closer at the passage, that is not what the writer is saying at all.  When he says “delight” he means more than give a cordial tip of the hat or an occasional prayer of thanks for what God does for us.  The word delight carries the idea of complete enchantment – an all-consuming desire to please.

When  we look at the context – the other verses around this one – we see that the writer is reminding us that when we make God the focus of all we do, when our lives revolve around pleasing God and doing what is good and right, then God will give us the desires of our hearts.

But here is the very simple yet profound idea the writer is communicating.  When we live our lives with the one focus of pleasing God – really delighting in the Lord of all creation – then the desires of our hearts will line up with the plans God has for us.

When we live in God’s perfect will (as Paul would call it in Romans 12) then our lives will be full and our hearts content; because when we seek to please God with all we are – that is the reward we will receive.

Live delighted today!

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Christmas Wonder

Has Christmas lost it’s wonder for you?  When you look at the eyes of a child as they gaze upon a brightly decorated tree or the presents under that tree – do you see the amazement?  Do you still feel that same awe?

Yesterday, we talked about the wonder of Christmas.  I pray that, as adults, we don’t lose that same amazement we see in the eyes of children as we approach this most holy day.  We know the story – many of us have heard it all our lives.  If we aren’t careful and attentive, this season will pass us by and we will not have paused to truly consider why it still holds wonder and amazement for us today.

The God of the universe decided to break into human existence – divinity and humanity merging – in order to save us from our mistakes, poor choices and sin.

A woman was chosen to give birth to God.  Even though she had never been with a man, she gave birth to a baby boy – God’s very son.  Not only did God choose to come to earth under these scandalous circumstances, Jesus was born into poverty – a common man.  And now, 2000 plus years later, we celebrate that birth.

All of that should cause us to pause – it should cause us to feel amazement.  It should remind us that there is so much more going on in this life than we can explain or even see.

Don’t let the wonder and amazement of this season slip by you this year!

Be blessed today!

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What a Disturbance

Yesterday, I referred to the story of the magi that came from the east to see the new born king.  Matthew chapter 2 tells the story and you can read it here.

In verse two, we are told why they traveled all the way to Israel.  They made their way to Jerusalem – which would make sense as they were looking for the king.  When they got there the began talking to people asking, “where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?”

As you can imagine, this began to stir up some talk.  It wasn’t long before Herod, the current ruler got wind of it.  In fact, that is what has had me thinking since reading this story again yesterday.  Verse three says that when King Herod heard what they were asking, he “was disturbed, and all of Jerusalem with him.”

Think about that for a second.  Three strangers show up asking to see a baby and all of the sudden the entire city, including the king, is concerned.  Jesus was born and even as an infant, he was already starting to impact the world.  As we know – that was just the beginning.

Jesus’ coming shook things up.  Jesus’ ministry was one of turning things upside down.  Most of everything he did and taught was counter-cultural – it went against the grain in the first century and it remains to be the case today.

In just over a week we will celebrate the in-breaking of Deity into the human existence – we will celebrate the birth of Jesus.  We will remember that Jesus came to love and live and die. He came to teach us how to love and live as well.

Today, we as followers of The Way are to be Jesus in our world.

So here is my question for you today:

“How disturbed is the world because of you?”

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In Search of a King

Christmas star

This morning in my prayer and reading time, I was looking at a particular story around Jesus’ birth.  In Matthew 2, we find that there were three men looking for a king to be born in Israel.  You may have heard them called the wise men, or the three kings.  Matthew calls them Magi.

These were men from another country who had dedicated their lives to watch for the coming of a king.  And not just any king.  This king had his own star.  That was the sign that told them they were on the right track.

Think about this for a minute.  The assumption of most scholars is that these men were not dedicated followers of the God of Israel.  They did not worship at the temple.  They weren’t from Israel at all.  The only thing we are told is that they were from the east and they had traveled a distance, following a star in search of a new king – and not just any king – the king of the Jews.

As I think about this story, and all these men must have gone through to search out the king, I have to ask myself, “How diligently am I searching for the King today?”  Am I really searching at all?

How about you?  Are you looking for the King today?

As we move closer to Christmas day, don’t forget to look for Jesus.  Search for his tangible presence in your life.

Will you find Jesus today?

More from this story tomorrow.

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Watching for Jesus

Watch with anticipation – that is the topic for this week’s Advent service at our church.  Just as the people we read about in the Old Testament looked for a messiah, we too look for him. We desperately need guidance.  We need forgiveness and the peace that it brings.  We need  redemption – the redeeming of the shambles of our lives back into the lives God intends.  We need salvation – to be saved from our plight and even from ourselves.  We need, in a word, Jesus.

So we look – we watch.  And the key to watching is being alert and paying attention.

Have you seen Jesus today?  Have you been looking?

Jesus, God’s very sone, came as an infant over 2000 years ago.  He lived to teach us how to live.  He loved, showing us how to love and then he made the ultimate sacrifice and died for us.

Scripture teaches that he couldn’t be bound by death and he came back to life in order to offer us a life that can’t be taken away.  It also teaches that at some point, Jesus will return.  So we wait and we watch.

But we must not forget that Jesus is alive.  He is at work everyday all around us.  So not only do we need to be watching for his return, we need to be looking for him on a daily basis at work in and around us.

Jesus is trying to guide your life and give you the life you were intended to have – are you paying attention?

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This past Sunday, we began the Advent season in our church.  This month we will be celebrating the coming of Christmas with the following theme:

Wait with hope . . .

Watch with anticipation . . .

Wonder with amazement . . .

Welcome with excitement . . .

This past Sunday we talked about waiting.  I don’t know about you but I HATE waiting.  I can’t stand it.  It seems there is never enough time in the day to get everything done and so when I have to wait on someone else to do what the are supposed to do so that I can my things done . . . well, I just don’t like it!

But during this season, I am reminded that waiting is not always a bad thing.  In fact, what I find is that waiting creates space.  I have been reminded that waiting is the tension between my time and God’s time.  Waiting – this tension – stretches me and reminds me that this life really isn’t about me at all.

So this Christmas Advent season, embrace the wait.  Allow the space that is created by the wait to shape you.  Use this space to consider who you are in relation to God.

Trust me – it will change the way you look at Christmas!

Be blessed!

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A Long Time Coming

Last night I had the opportunity to not only watch but also participate in something that has been a dream of a couple of people for six years.

It was refreshing to hear their story again and see all the people that gathered to celebrate with them.  Refreshing because two people are following through on a dream – a calling.

Six years ago, Mike and Arlene committed to one another and to God that they would be available to go to Costa Rica as missionaries.  They began to pray and recruit others to pray.

They did all the right things to get organized and ready for their journey.  Then the difficult task began of raising their support.  And for the last several years, that has been their day to day endeavor.

Last night, as their home church, we commissioned them to go and now tomorrow, they will board a plane for Costa Rica to begin a two year mission there.

God is faithful!  At times I am sure it didn’t seem like it would ever happen – but God’s timing is not always our timing.

Mike and Arlene – go with God and take God’s message to those who need to hear it!

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