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Archive for July, 2013

Yesterday I told you about the challenge I issued to our church family on Sunday.  If you missed it, you can to a look at it here.

What I didn’t tell you is that I accepted the challenge as well.  There is no way I can ask our folks to do something that I am not willing to do myself.  So Sunday, I announced that on Tuesday, I would fast from food all day and rather than stuff my face, I would focus my attention on what God wants for me and my relationship with my savior.

I also asked the folks who accepted the challenge to fast this week to report back to me what God does through the experience.

So today, I am sharing what God showed me yesterday through my efforts to fast from food.

Let me just say from the beginning that what I am processing from my experiences is not what I was expecting.  I mean, I expected to have some moment of clarity where I felt more like a child of God than I have felt in a while.  Or some grand revelation or new direction.

But the coolest things happened that opened my eyes to how God works.

The first thing I was reminded of is that God has a very real sense of humor.  I knew this.  It wasn’t a new revelation.  Just take a few minutes on any given day to observe the world and you will see it too.  But I am here to tell you, God is a real jokester.

I was sitting in my office and it was getting to be about lunch time.  I thought about what I should do during the time I would normally be grabbing some fast food.  I thought about spending the time in silence and looking into God’s word for a while.  I thought about praying through some things going on in my life.  Several things were floating around in my head when I received the text.

One of our 1st B family members sent me a text asking if I wanted to catch up over lunch at one of my favorite places to eat here in town.  I text back and explained I was fasting but that I would sit with him and drink a Diet Coke.  After the pleasantries back and forth about not wanting to torture me, we agreed to meet at noon.  I sat and drank and watched him eat a very attractive plate of chicken strips.  But things were good.  I really enjoyed our time together and felt God used that time and my focus to really connect with him.

As I drove back to the church, I was thinking about the experience and feeling pretty good about myself and my ability to go without food.  I’ll admit, there may have been a little pride in my chest.

When I got back to the office, my wife called to tell me that her parents would be coming through and spending the night with us and that they wanted to meet us in Lubbock for dinner.  She then remembered my commitment and offered to change the plan but I was feeling pretty good about my will power and so I told her that would be fine.

Last night we met for dinner at one of my most favorite places in Lubbock to eat.  I won’t tell you the name of the establishment but it is Spanish for grandfather.

Now I need to step back and tell you that Mexican food is my weakness.  And chips and salsa are my drug of choice.

I sat through that meal praying that someone would call me so I could be excused to go talk on the phone (thanks Tiny for not calling).  So there I sat, watching everyone around the table enjoy the meal I love the most.

God has a sense of humor!

But in all seriousness, God used both of those experiences to show me something extremely important.  So important that it will change my approach from now on.

What God showed me in a very concrete and “in my face” way is the beauty and absolute joy of community – of fellowship.  Since I wasn’t eating, I could focus completely and intently on the people around the table.  I could see the joy of being together.  I could really hear the passion in their voices as we talked about the church.  I could see God in the magnificence of it all.

It was moving and enlightening.  I am so humbled and thankful that God has a sense of humor and that God put me in those situations.

I am also reminded that God truly does reward what is done in secret.

What about you?  What is God teaching you through this challenge?

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How’s Your Focus

This past Sunday I talked about the need to put into practice, the things we say we value.  If we call ourselves Christians, how are we actually striving to become more like Jesus?

Throughout history, believers have used disciplines to create time and space in their lives in which they can experience God’s movement and transformation.  For us today, we hear the word discipline and it has a tendency to conjure up negative images.  In fact, we tend to think of discipline as some sort of punishment for doing something wrong.

But in the sense of spiritual disciplines, they are practices or, as I described them Sunday, habits that help us do our part to experience God in new and fresh ways.

Don’t misunderstand that spiritual progression occurs through the grace of God and by God’s blessing of growth.  But that growth will never happen if we don’t do our part.  We can’t wake up one morning and say, “Today, I become more like Jesus,” and then go about our day in the same way we lived the day before.

We have to put practices in place and remain consistent with those practices until they become habits.  These practices are designed to help us shift our focus from ourselves and our desires, to God and God’s movement in our lives.  There are a number of habits to explore but one of those is fasting.

Fasting is the act of giving something up – something of significance – for a set period of time for a set purpose.

So Sunday, I challenged our family to fast.  In fact, the challenge I issued was for each member to open his or her heart to God and ask God to show a specific area in which things needed to be given up.  Then I challenged them to commit a day this week to giving up whatever God revealed to them for the express purpose of focusing more fully on God and our relationship with our creator.

I also asked them to let me know how it goes and what God does through their efforts.  So far, I have had many of our family members tell me that they have accepted the challenge.  Now I am excited to hear what God will do.

If you would like to take the challenge its not to late.  The question I have for you is this, “How’s your focus?”  What could you give up for a day that would allow you to focus more intently and intentionally on God and what God is doing in and around you?

Message me and let me know what God does.

Be blessed today.

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It is good to be back.  The last 2 to 3 weeks have been insanely busy – two conventions spread from the east coast to San Antonio and then a much needed vacation with the family.

But I am back in the saddle now and ready to get back into something that resembles a routine.

My time away gave me time to think – about my life, ministry and direction.  As I thought about the direction of our church family, I became very convicted that the church, not just ours, has become more of a social club than a church.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe with all my heart that when the family comes together, we should enjoy it and have fun.

But if our reason for existing as a church family is because we enjoy getting together then we are just a club.  When I read the New Testament I come away with an understanding of what Jesus expects of the church and it is more than just a gathering of somewhat like-minded people who enjoy being together.

The role of the church in our world should be to offer God’s light to a dark world – to offer hope to those who have none – to love when no one else will.

I am back with a renewed passion to do my part to see the church truly become what the church is supposed to BE.

Who is with me?

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God At Work

I spent the day yesterday reconnecting to colleagues and partners in ministry. It was a wonderful time of hearing about what God has been doing in so many lives and so many areas of the country and world. It was also a time to share how God has been at work in my life as well.

Have you ever noticed that you don’t think much about how God is working around you until someone asks you that question. All of the sudden you have to take a look. You begin to think about the good things you have seen and the lives that have been changed.

For me, I try to do that on a regular basis but it is usually more of a practice of trying to see God’s movement in the here and now. But when I think about all the things God has done over the last 6 months, I begin to see God’s hand in many different ways.

Why is that?

I think it has a lot to do with our “want it now” mindset. We tend to overestimate the change we will see in the next month and underestimate the change we will see in the next year.

The truth is, change takes time. God is at work every minute of every day – bringing about the change we need.

Don’t think for a minute that God is not at work all around you. Just take a look at the last 6 months and you can see it.

Stay faithful.

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Seeing God

When is the last time you rejoiced in your creator?  When is the last time you watched a sunrise or sat and listened to a thunderstorm?  Or maybe watched a small child at play and really saw the wonder in it all?

I have heard people struggle with faith (and if we are honest, we have been there) and say, “If I could just see God, then I could believe.”

We look to scripture and find that Moses was the only human to live who had the opportunity to see God.  But I would suggest that we can all see God if we will just look.

God has created a beautiful self-portrait all around us.  We can see God’s smile in the face of a child.  We can see God’s strength through creation.  And we can see God’s compassion when we see someone going out of their way to positively impact another.

We can see God every day – if we will just take the time and look.  And we see God up close, we can do nothing but rejoice.

How will you see God today?

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Simply Rest

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The last two weeks have been unlike my normal day to day routine. From Vacation Bible School two weeks ago to preparation and execution of the community centennial celebration this past weekend I have been meeting myself coming and going. I had to introduce myself to my family on Sunday.

Yesterday, I had a church member show sincere concern that I am over doing it. I assured her that I will slow down. And I will. In fact, I can see vacation only a little over a week away.

But until then, I find rest in being still. In observing God at work.

This morning I am enjoying an amazing sunrise from 30,000 feet. Even though the trip to the airport came awfully early this morning, the view has been worth the short night.

Isn’t this the story of each of us? All of us get really busy from time to time. And each of us must find ways to decompress and unwind. When you reach that point of not thinking you can go on, take a minute and look for God at work around you. You will be reminded that you are not alone. Others have passed this way before you and still others will follow. But more importantly, God walks with you.

If what I have described here reminds you of yourself, then take heart – God is saying, “rest my child – lean back into me and rest.”

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Whose faith do you hold?  I  am not asking “Who do you have faith in?”  I am asking whose faith is it that you hold?

For those of us raised in a Christian home, the natural progression of our faith development is to reach an age when we realize that what my parents have been teaching me all my life might just be true.  All those days spent in Sunday School and Vacation Bible School and camp may have just been important.

While this realization is important, the tragedy is, that so often, it stops there.

We come to the realization that this stuff is true because it has made such a difference in the lives of the people we respect and so we adopt it as our own.  We surrender to the religion of our fathers and mothers – and life is good.  It is as it should be – – or so we tell ourselves.

You see, God does not ask us to adopt a religion.  The desire of God’s heart is not that we “buy into” a belief system.  The longing of God is that we commit ourselves to a relationship with our creator.

So when I ask the question, “Whose faith do you hold?” – I am asking you to search your heart and mind and make sure that the faith you hold is your very own.  So often, we never work through and wrestle with the difficult questions of faith.  We accept it and tuck it away like something we can check off a spiritual check list and move on to life.

Faith of substance affects everything we do and every decision we make.  We cannot make it through this life on the coat tails of our parent’s faith.  We have to own our own.  We have know it first hand.  It has to be real and concrete.  it has to be the foundation upon which we build our lives.

So whose faith do you hold?

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