Archive for January, 2013

I Saw Jesus

Last night I saw Jesus.  No, I didn’t have a near death experience.  Nor was I in deep meditation and saw a vision.  I saw Jesus’ physical presence.

Now before you contact the psychiatric ward at the local institution, let me explain.

Last night, I saw Jesus standing before a classroom of 17 third and fourth graders teaching and modeling for them what the Bible says about how we honor God by respecting others and being good people.

I stood in amazement as the teacher kept their attention with such compassion and love.  I watched the excitement in the faces of the children as they listened and responded.

As I have reflected on  last night, I think about the multitude of volunteers who helped us kick off our new 1st Kidz ministry and the love and dedication they showed.

And as I thought, it hit me – I witnessed people being Jesus to those kids last night.

Jesus was there and I am humbled to have been able to see it.

Who will you be Jesus to today?

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Do you ever feel unworthy or even worthless?  I am so blessed to have parents who always instilled value in me.  I have always known they love me and have sacrificed to make sure my brother and myself had every opportunity they could give us to succeed in life.  I am not unaware of how blessed I have been.

But even with all the positive reinforcement and encouragement along the way, there are times that I feel less than deserving.  The reality is that I am undeserving.  All of us are sinful by nature and don’t deserve the blessings God grants.

But that is my point today.  This morning on my way to the office, I listened to my daily devotional, Pray-As-You-Go, and something really caught my ear.  This is what the narrator said:

There may be times that I really accept that it is only grateful acceptance of God’s love that sets me free from the self-centeredness that sin and guilt embody.  What helps me to be aware of and feel God’s unconditional love for me?

I have been meditating on those words all morning.

God offers unconditional love to us because we are valuable in God’s eyes – sinful yes – but valuable none the less.  But so often the worthlessness we feel is the result of our guilt.  We think, “there is no way God could forgive me for ___________.”  (Fill in the blank)

But I am reminded today that God offers forgiveness and unconditional love to us.  We have  a gift being handed to us.  We simply need to accept it.

Accept God’s gift of unconditional love anew today and enjoy the liberation, the joy and the peace that comes in knowing that God loves you in spite of you!

Be blessed today!

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Before All This . . . God

Take a deep breath.  It will be OK.  You will get through this.

If you find yourself needing to hear those words today, you are not alone.  You are not alone on at least two levels.  One thing to remember is that all of us have times in our lives when we don’t think we can make it through – we just can’t shoulder another thing.  If that is not you today, stop and thank God for the break and ask for strength for the days ahead when this will describe you.

If this is you today, then you can also remember that as a believer, you are never alone.  Jesus said, “I will never leave you.”  God is with you through whatever this life may bring your way.  Lean into that reality today and lean completely on God.

Just remember this – copy it down – put it on your fridge or mirror:

Before all this . . . God

After all this . . . God

Be blessed today!

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Yesterday was a long but incredible day. At 8:30 am, five amazing ladies boarded the church van and put their lives in my hands as we made the six hour drive to Dallas. We spent the trip talking about the importance of Children’s ministry and doing a little planning. Once we got to Dallas, we met with a long-time friend and expert in the field of Children’s ministry. She challenged us to look back to the basics of why we care – why ministry to children is important. Then, after dinner, we spent a couple of hours in intense nuts and bolts discussion about our Wednesday programming.

You may be thinking, “That’s cool and all, but why would I really care about a day spent planning your children’s ministry?”

Well, the thing that so amazes me is not the planning we got done or even the discussions about the ministry. What amazes me the most is that these ladies (and two additional people will join us today) took time away from their families and jobs just to spend two days focused on what God is calling us to do. These are not paid staff — these folks are volunteers who really care and are committed to following God’s leadership in their lives and in the life of our ministry. I’m paid to do this (and don’t get me wrong – I live for this) but these folks are here out of pure dedication and love.

Wow – what the church would be like if everyone were this passionate!

May we all be challenged today!

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God Is . . .

God is holy

God is real

God is present

God is love

God is worthy

God is powerful

God is . . .

Some things to think about today.  You take it from here . . .

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Time For a Refocus

This morning, as I drove to the office, I listened to my usual podcast – Pray As You Go.  The reading this morning and the questions that went with it have had me thinking.  One of the questions that was asked was this:

How can you avoid being totally caught up in the things of this world and pay sufficient attention to the things of God.

I have to admit – this question hit me between the eyes.  Over the last couple of months, I have allowed myself to become so busy with good things, I have not given sufficient attention to the best thing.  We have been in the midst of restructuring our children’s ministry.  We have been working through a strategic plan as a church family that will inform the direction of our church for 2013 and beyond.  We have been preparing for a mission trip coming up in March.  All good things – very good things.  But the problem is that I have been so consumed with these things and the regular routine of my weekly duties, that I fear I have neglected the most important.  My time alone with God has not been on the forefront of my agenda.

So when the narrator asked that question this morning, I had to stop and do a little self-evaluation.  I need to implement some disciplines into my schedule that will help me refocus on a daily basis.

What about you?  Do things of the world take your focus off of the things of God?

What will you differently this week to refocus?

I would love to hear your ideas.

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This was the sight God blessed this part of the world with this morning.  It made me think of this passage from Lamentations 3:

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”

God never leaves us and we can count on the fact that each day brings new blessings – we just have to looking.

Look for God’s hand today – in the smile of a person as you pass them in the hall – in a phone call you receive – or maybe in the sunrise!

Be blessed!

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Last week I had the distinct privilege to participate in a preaching retreat.  As the week started, one of the faculty (this was actually a seminary class I sat in on) introduced an idea that has been bouncing around in my brain for over a week now.

He pointed us back to the creation event that we find in Genesis.  We are told there that God created the earth and seas, the plants and animals and human beings – from nothing.  Before all else –  God . . .

But in the midst of the discussion about creation and God’s amazing work – he challenged us in our calling as communicators of God’s message.  He suggested the idea that God calls us to create as well.  We are called upon each week – some of us multiple times per week – to create a communication piece – to formulate ideas we find in scripture and life experience and through inspiration from God into comprehensible messages in which people can find God or a better understanding of God.

It was refreshing to think of the calling to communicate in this way.

But he also challenged me to consider the responsibility God has given in being a good steward of time.  Each week, I have the awesome blessing to stand before people.  People who come (usually willingly) and dedicate 20 to 30 minutes of their time to hear a word from God.  What I do with that time is up to me.

Wow!  Has that idea had me thinking!

But then this morning, it dawned on me.  If you are reading this, you are affording me that same privilege.  What an honor it is for me to think that someone would stop by this blog and take a few minutes to see what is going on in this messed up head of mine.  Thank you for your time and I pray that it is never time wasted.

So today, I just want to say thank you!  Thanks for reading and commenting!

Be blessed today!

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God’s Got This

Have you ever started the week as tired as you finished the last one?  Yesterday was a very long day – a good day, but long.  I sat down at my desk this morning and my first thought was “Wow, I’m tired!”  My second thought was that I don’t have time to be tired this early in the week.

But some weeks are just like that for all of us.

Here is how I am coping this morning.  Last night we looked at Isaiah 43 in our evening service.  In the first 7 verses of that chapter, we find amazing encouragement and confidence.  God is speaking.  The Message translates it this way:

Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
    I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
    When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place,
    it won’t be a dead end—
Because I am God, your personal God,
    The Holy of Israel, your Savior.

Regardless of how tired you may feel this morning or how overwhelming this week may appear at this point, rememberer, God’s got this!

Be blessed today!

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Deep Calls To Deep

There is a place in every person where the true self resides.  A place where all masks are hung on a tarnished hook by the door.   A place no one knows except that person that resides there – that person and the Other.

We can’t explain the reality of this inner most place but from our core we know it is true – we know it exists – we know we exist.

That is why Psalm 42 resonates with us.  The psalmist says, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you O God.”  And later in that same psalm we read, “deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.”

There is a part of us that longs for something more.  We may put up a front or put on a mask and pretend we have it all together – that nothing can touch us.  But the reality is that in our deepest self, we long for God.  Deep calls to deep.

Today, call out to God.

No other can bring fulfillment.  No other can satisfy.

Be blessed!

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