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Archive for September, 2013

On Saturday, my youngest son had a cross-country meet in Amarillo.  The last time he ran in Amarillo, my wife and I were not able to make it because of the distance and other commitments we had that day.  So this time, we made sure to be there to cheer him on.

As we were making the trip up I-27, we were almost to Amarillo – approaching Happy – when my wife asked, “Is this the town that has Jesus on the highway?”  As I thought about it, I could remember, sometime in the past, seeing a much larger than life crucifix enclosed in a glass building along the interstate – so I knew what she was talking about.

We quickly realized that Jesus was not in Happy, nor Canyon.  We made it on to the meet, watched Bryson do an amazing job with the 5K and then we ran some errands and had lunch before heading back home.  As we pulled back onto I-27 to head south, the conversation turned back to wondering where we would see Jesus.

As we approached each little town we would both begin looking to the side of the freeway to try and catch a glimpse of Jesus as we passed by.  Finally we came to Abernathy, and there he was.  Standing there on the access road to the interstate was a 30′ tall glass building and inside, at least a 20′ crucifix.  If you have never seen this display, next time you are on I-27 going through Abernathy, look to the west.  It is very impressive.

Since Saturday, I have been thinking about our pilgrimage.  I have thought about our conversation as we looked for Jesus.  And it made me think, how many people in the world are looking for Jesus – not a crucifix on the side of the highway – but actually looking for Jesus.  They come to our churches looking for Jesus.  I can just hear the conversation in the car as they drive up to the church on Sunday morning, “Do you think we will see Jesus in there?”

I can also imagine people watching me and asking the question, “Will he show me Jesus if I watch?”

The truth is, everyone in the world is looking for Jesus.  They may not know it but everyone is looking for him.  They are looking for something more.  Something or someone who can bring fulfillment.  Something that will bring relief from the pressures of work and family.  Something that will bring security and peace in a world that offers neither.  Everyone is looking for something or someone.

As believers, we know exactly what they need; or rather, who they need.  The answer is always Jesus.

So will they see Jesus when they come through the doors of your church?  Maybe the better question – will they see Jesus when they encounter you today?

I wonder where I will see Jesus today?

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The Listening Life

Does God speak to you?  When is the last time you got a message from God?

Odd questions?  Maybe.  But I am not talking about an audible voice from the heavens (although I am not denying that possibility).  I am talking about getting a sense that God is guiding you.  That sensation that God is telling you something.

It might come through a message you hear at church.  Or perhaps through your time in reading scripture.  It might be a recurring thought that just keeps coming to your mind.

Whatever form it takes, God does still speak.  In fact, I believe God speaks more often than we know.

The issue is not in whether or not God speaks, the real issue is whether or not we are listening.

Listening

Thomas Merton said, “My life is a listening, His is a speaking.  My salvation is to hear and respond.  For this, my life must be silent.”

My life is a listening.  Powerful words.  I wish I could say that.  I wish I could tell you that my life is lived always listening for God to speak – passionately seeking God in all things everyday.  Yes, I try, but I cannot tell you that “my life is a listening.”

How about you.  How well do you listen?

 

Slow down and listen today.  God is speaking.  Will you hear?

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What are you facing today that seems overwhelming?

Maybe it’s a new job.  Or maybe a new co-worker that just doesn’t see things the way you do.  Or maybe you are facing struggles at home.  Some may be facing physical difficulties – that news you didn’t ever want to get from the doctor.

Whatever you are facing today, stand strong with God’s strength.  Hebrews 10:35-38 says this:

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.  For,

“In just a little while,
    he who is coming will come
    and will not delay.”

“But my righteous one will live by faith.
    And I take no pleasure
    in the one who shrinks back.”

The righteous will live by faith.  That is a powerful statement.  And then the author follows it up with a visual image that has become very meaningful to me.  He says God will not be pleased “in the one who shrinks back.”

When you face those things that make you want to run and hide, don’t shrink back but instead, go head on into the midst of it with the confidence of knowing God is with you.  Live by faith.  Faith in the one who has your back.  Confidence in the one that has been this way before.  Trust in the one that is still on the throne.

Live by faith and don’t shrink back.  God is with you.

Be blessed today.

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Monday night, I saw Jesus and it was amazing and humbling all at the same time.  No, I didn’t have some mystical experience.  I physically saw the hands and feet of Jesus.

I saw his hands carrying a bowl of stew to man who walked in with a confused look on his face as he was told to find a place to sit and we would serve him.  I saw Jesus’ arms as they hugged a senior adult lady before she left the restaurant.  I saw Jesus in the smiles of the nearly 20 volunteers from our 1st B family who gave of their time to serve a free meal to those in our community who could use something to eat.

But more than anywhere else, I saw Jesus in the hearts of the two ladies who opened their restaurant and cooked the food at their own expense in order to provide a free meal to those who needed it.

Yes, Monday night I saw Jesus and my life may never be the same!

Be a blessing to someone else today!

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Last Wednesday, during my prayer and reading time, I was feeling a little overwhelmed with the pressures of the day.  It was early in the morning before anyone in the house was up, but already I was feeling like there was no way to get it all done.  There were meetings to lead and planning to be done.  The church is in the midst of searching for a music minister and so trying to discern God’s direction has been heavy on my mind and heart for weeks.  All these things were running through my mind.

I began to pray and take my focus off my day and put it on God.  As I did, God began to calm me down.  I opened my Bible and began to read but as I read and prayed, my mind began to race back toward my list of things to do that day.  I continued to try and focus on God and what God would say to me and the most amazing thing happened.  God spoke.

No, not in an audible voice but it was clearly God.  God impressed me with this thought and these words, “Listen to me and bring them along.”

As a pastor, I needed to be reminded of that simple process.  My calling is to listen to God and then bring people along the path God has chosen for us.  Am I the only one God speaks to in our church?  Absolutely not.  But I am in the position that people look to me for leadership.  So it was helpful to remember that my primary task is to listen to God and then lead people in God’s direction.

Many of you are leaders in your churches.  You have people who look to you to take the lead.  Stop today and listen to God.  Remember that God has a plan for you and those you lead.  Your task is to simply listen to God and then bring them along.

Be blessed today.

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Join the Highway Crew

The area of the state in which I live has been seen as a desert for a number of years.  But lately, God has blessed us with some much needed rain and the crops are looking healthy.  So I don’t hear the term “desert” as much these days.

Image

This morning I was moved to Isaiah 40 in my reading.  As I read these verses, I thought about the calling God has given me.  And beyond me, the calling God has given the church.  Verses 3-5 say this

A voice is calling,
“Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness;
Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.

 “Let every valley be lifted up,
And every mountain and hill be made low;
And let the rough ground become a plain,
And the rugged terrain a broad valley;
 Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
And all flesh will see it together;
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Make a smooth highway in the desert for our God.  I may not be in a literal desert, but I see the evidence of a spiritual desert all around me.  Spiritually, the people of this area are parched.  Nothing grows but weeds and thorns and grass spurs.

In the midst of this desert, God has called me – and you – to make a smooth highway.  A wide path for God to be glorified.  All of our efforts each day should be to make a way for God to move in the lives of the people we touch.  We are called to turn the heads of the people we meet toward God.  We can’t make anyone believe.  And we can’t force God to move in someone’s life.  But that is not what God has called us to do.

God has called us to make a way – a highway – to those in the desert.  God will do the rest.  Isaiah tells us that when we are faithful to our calling, then God’s glory will be revealed and everyone will see it at the same time.

Be faithful today.  Join the highway crew.  There is a lot of work to be done and the days are getting shorter.

Be a blessing today!

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Time For a Quick God Break

What do you do when not only every block on your month at a glance calendar has something in it but your day’s schedule has something posted in every time slot?

What you do is stop and pray.  Take a God break. There is nothing more important than our time with God and there is nothing you will do today that will not be benefited by your time spent with God.

When we slow down, even just for a few minutes and seek God, we receive clarity and focus.  What is really important comes into focus and we begin to realize that all the peripheral things are just that.

Sit back in your chair – – go ahead – – do it now.

Reflect on God’s goodness in your life.

Take a minute to offer thanks.

Now, back to it.

Be blessed today.

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