Archive for October, 2013

Have you ever been inspired and moved by a child?  It is a wonderful experience – and maybe this experience is intensified as a pastor.  It is humbling to watch a child live out what they are being taught.  I was asked years ago what the best part of ministry is for me.  I would have to say that different days would dictate how I answer that question.  But the most universal answer I have for that question is seeing people “get it.”  When that light finally comes on and all the pieces begin to come together and a passion for Christ is fostered – seeing that happen is breathtaking.  That would be one of the best things about ministry – getting to see that happen in the lives and hearts of people.

At any rate, a couple of weeks ago, I told you about a young girl who made bracelets and sold them in order to raise money to help the less fortunate.  She gave her entire $55 in order to buy food to go in the bags for our snack pack ministry (food that goes home with 36 grade school children each Friday).

Well, Sunday night it happened again.  We hosted one of the coolest things I have seen in quite some time.  We had church members who answered the call to come to the church Sunday evening, decorate their cars (and even themselves) and open their car trunks to the community to give out candy and treats.  It was a home run.  We had 200 to 250 kids show up to go through the parking lot in their costumes – car to SUV to car – collecting candy, smiles and hugs.

It was so successful, one of the families that had come to participate in giving out treats ran out about two thirds of the way through the event.  As I was walking through, the mother of the family approached me to apologize for running out too soon.  She said she was just going to close the trunk of her car and help out as needed.  As we stood there talking about it, I noticed something that made my eyes water and my heart smile.  Her 8 year old son was standing there in his costume holding his own candy collection in hand.  As kids would come by his car, he would reach into his own bag and give out his candy to them as they passed by.  As I watched this selfless act of generosity and love, I was speechless.  All I could do was kneel and give him a hug and tell him he was awesome.

Sometimes the most powerful of all inspiration comes in very simple acts.  Sometimes we have the blessing of watching as someone “gets it.”  And when that happens, we are reminded that all of this is worth it and that God still moves in the hearts of mankind – every single day.

How is God moving you today?

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In preparing for this coming Sunday, I pulled a little book off the shelf that I read years ago and have re-read a time or two.  The book is by Erwin McManus and is entitled, The Barbarian Way.  It is a quick read and is one of those books that should be used as a reminder from time to time.

All of us need to remember what this following in The Way is all about.  So many people look at Christianity and say, “Why would I want to be involved in a system of rules that leads to a boring life of restriction from the things I enjoy doing and that bring excitement?  No thanks, you can have it.”

But I am reminded that Jesus did not call us to a boring life.  In fact, following Christ is the most exciting, fulfilling adventure offered to mankind.  When we approach our faith completely surrendered to Jesus, we realize that we are living right on the edge.  The X-Games have nothing on following Jesus!

McManus reminds us that there is a difference between what religion has become and the way Jesus calls us to live.  Here is what he says:

When Christianity becomes just another religion, it focuses on requirements.  Just to keep people in line, we build our own Christian civilization and then demand that everyone who believes in Jesus become a good citizen.  

It’s hard to imagine that Jesus would endure the agony of the Cross just to keep us in line.  Jesus began a revolution to secure our freedom.

Following The Way is more than living by a set of rules.  In fact, it is not about conforming but rather being transformed.  Jesus did not call us to conform to a system, he called us to join the battle for the hearts of humanity.  This calling is far from boring.  It is a call to live outside our comfort zone every day.  It is a call to give everything we have to the movement of God.  And this movement is bigger than we are and greater than anything we can even imagine.

Will you join the adventure?

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Peep Hole Perspective

Growing up, we had a solid wood front door. About four and a half feet from the bottom of that door was a little round hole with a funny little round window in it. That hole was no more than a half inch in diameter. The purpose of putting a little half inch hole complete with a half inch window in it? So that we could see who was at the door without having to open it. In fact, if we were quiet, we could actually see who was on the other side of the door and they would not even know we were home.

OK, yes – most doors have a peep-hole, so nothing new. But there are a couple of things I would point out about this technology. The first is that the designers figured out that because of the small opening, the view is very limited – you might be able to see a fraction of the front porch. So they put a wide-angle lens on the thing to expand the view. But even then, you can only see what is right in front of the door and that image is very distorted.

Why all the talk about the development of peep-hole technology? As I have been thinking about our lives and how we have good days and bad days – we have days when we feel God’s presence and days we don’t – I got to thinking about the peep-hole.

You see, Paul said that we see now in a mirror dimly but one day we will see clearly. When it comes to all that God is doing around us, our vision is very limited and what little vision we have is distorted. God has promised that we will never be left alone – God’s spirit is always with us. But sometimes we wonder, “where is God in all this?”

I am here to tell you that regardless of what you are facing today, God is with you. If you could get outside your door and not have to look through that peep-hole, you would see an entirely different picture. God is with you. The spirit is moving all around you.

So remember today, we all have a peep-hole perspective. But with a little faith, we know that even though we only get a glimpse of God at work from time to time, just outside our view, God is always there.

Be blessed today!

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Last week I was inspired.  We can often see how God’s hand has moved in the past if we slow down and look.  But it is far more difficult to see God moving in the here and now.  There are just too many distractions.  We are focused on making it through the day in one piece.  We are striving to live in a manner worthy of the name Christian.  And so we get wrapped up in doing good and we fail to see God working all around us.

So when we actually see God at work right before our eyes, it takes our breath away – or at least that is my experience.

Last week, I received an email from a young lady telling me that her 2nd grade daughter had been moved to come up with a way to help those less fortunate than herself.  She decided that she could make bracelets and sell them for $2 and give the money to help provide food for those who might otherwise not have enough to eat.  For the past few months, she has been making bracelets and selling them.  She now had enough money that she wanted to get my opinion on how best to put that money to work to help with the hunger relief ministry in our church.

This little 2nd grader wanted to give the money to help with our Snack Pack ministry – a ministry that provides a bag of healthy snacks to kids who need it in our school system.  The bags are secretly placed in the child’s backpack each Friday so that he or she will have something to eat over the weekend.

I suggested to the young mom that this money could go to buy special treats that would be out of the ordinary for what typically goes into the bags – something special provided by her daughter.  She loved the idea.

So when she picked up her daughter from school, they came straight to the church.  I was standing in the hall when the front door flew open and this saintly little blonde 2nd grader marched in and right up to me.  She thrust her hand straight out holding a roll of cash – smiling from ear to ear.  Her mother explained that she had told her daughter she could hold some money back to buy herself a little something as a reward for a job well done (a suggestion that made sense to me).  But the little girl decided that the kids receiving the bags needed it more than she did – so she gave it all – $55.00.

As I took the money from her hand and looked at the smile on her face I thought to myself, “If only others could ‘get it’ like she does!”  I was inspired to do more – to love more fully – to give more earnestly – to offer myself more sacrificially.  And it was the heart of a 2nd grader that moved me.

God calls each of us to do what we can to be true to our faith and live in a manner worthy of our calling.

What will you do today to live for Jesus?

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