Archive for February, 2014

I have had the blessing of being able to attend a preaching conference at Truett Seminary on Baylor’s campus this week.  The environment of being back on a college campus is always refreshing but the conference was especially meaningful this year.  We had the privilege to sit and listen to one of the country’s premier orators – Dr. Robert Smith, preaching professor at Beason Divinity School in Alabama.   Each session I made my way out of the chapel inspired and depressed at the same time.

Inspired by his words and his passion for the Word.  I walked out of there with a renewed passion for speaking God’s truth.  But I also walked out a bit dejected in knowing I most likely will never be able to deliver a message with the excitement and eloquence of Dr. Smith.  He is a true communicator and I am glad I have had the privilege to sit at the feet of an artist that can paint with words.

But here is what I am thinking about this morning as a prepare for my long drive.  I am thinking about how Dr. Smith defined the goal of preaching.  He said the goal is to take the ink of doctrine and turn it into the blood of life.

I should stop there and let you join me in meditating on that statement.  In fact, I do challenge you to meditate on that thought today.  But I challenge you to take it out of the context of preaching and think about our role as followers in the Way.

Shouldn’t that be our goal each and every day as we get out of bed and prepare for our hurried life?  Shouldn’t our goal be to take what we say we believe and put it to practice.  Shouldn’t the pages of our doctrine, our beliefs – the Bible – take on human form and action?

Our understanding of Jesus – as limited as it is – should course through our veins as the very blood that gives life.

Today, as you rush through your To Do list and responsibilities, how is your belief in Jesus going to affect what you do, what you say and with whom you interact?

Think about it.

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Yesterday, I reflected on a friend and the influence he has had on my life.  (You can read about Bill here).

Since that time I have been thinking about influence.  Influence, by definition, is the ability to affect change in others.  And I believe influence in its purest form is the ability to affect change in others through respect.

Respect is not something that has to be requested – and it can never be commanded.  In fact, if one has to ask for another’s respect, it most likely has not been earned.  Character breeds respect.  And respect leads to influence.

As believers, we are called to be influencers.  Jesus is the ultimate change agent.  In his short life here on earth, he started a revolution that has lasted over 2000 years.  As his followers, we are to be change agents – influencers for him.  Every single believer is called to this, it is not a choice.  This is not a calling for a select few.  It is not the destiny of those gifted with the ability to speak.  This calling is for each and every one of us.

The cool thing is that each and every one of us has a sphere of influence.  We each have those we do life with – those with whom we relate each day.  It may be those we work with or those who work where we shop.  And most definitely those we live with under the same roof.

So here’s the deal.  God has given you a sphere of influence.  What are you doing to influence others?  Are you living in such a way that others respect you?

That is the call.  And it is not a call for the faint of heart.  But you can do it!

So go influence someone today for the sake of the Kingdom.

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When we think of life, we have to come to terms with the fact that we have a very myopic view.  We can only see life from our own perspective.  As hard as we may try, we can never truly see life through another’s eyes.  So when people come in and out of our lives, we can only really feel the touch and the impact they have made on us personally.  We can try and determine the difference a person has made with their life, but the irrefutable evidence is limited to our own experience.  So some come into our lives and pass right through with little or no lasting effect on us.

But then – occasionally – there is that person who, regardless of the length they linger in your midst, they leave an indelible mark.  Your encounter with them leaves a permanent impression that neither time nor circumstance can erase.

This week, a saint passed this way.  He walked right through my life and stepped right out of it.

For the past three years, I have had the privilege to know and interact with a gentlemen (true to the word) who has left his mark on this world and particularly on my life.

He has been described as a “pillar” in our church family.

How does someone reach “pillar” status?  Is there something that has to happen?   Does the church have to vote?

I am not sure how one reaches this status but Bill Brooke was there.

I have an idea that it has something to do with his character, his experience – who he was.  It has something to do with the value of a man’s word.  Some men’s word is only as good as the distance you can throw them.  But Bill’s word was gold.

On more than one occasion I asked Bill if I could just record our conversations.  I did not want to miss anything that he said – and almost as important as what he said was the way he said it.  Bill had a knack for “home-spun” wisdom.  I only wish we had assigned a scribe to follow him around and write down everything he said!

I am a people person.  I love people.  I love connecting to people.  In my 40 plus years, I have not run across too many people I just couldn’t get along with.  But on the other hand, in that same time, I have not run across too many people who have made such a lasting impact on my life that I rank them in the top influencers of my life.  But Bill Brooke is on that list!

Bill – you are gentleman – a pillar – a true man of God.  You will be missed and your legacy will live on in my life – and so very many others!

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I ran across a quote on Monday that has stuck with me and caused me to do a little self-evaluation.  The quote is from Oscar Byrd, a pastor of years gone by.  He said, “God wants to give to all of us the greatest of all gifts; but we can’t take them because our hands are too full of other things.”

Hello.  My name is Brian and I can’t say “No.”

I have a real problem with limiting my commitments.  When someone asks something of me, I immediately think of all the good I might could do and how God could use me in a particular situation.  My strategic little pea brain takes off in all kinds of directions of how great this new opportunity could be and before I can stop my lips from moving, I have committed to be involved in yet another wonderful opportunity.

Here’s the deal – sometimes we have to say no to good things so that we can say yes to the best things.  I have a quote on my desk that says, “You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.”

In our hurry-sick lives, we may need to lay something down so that our hands will be free to take on the tasks that God truly wants us to tackle.

What do you need to lay down today?

What do you need to pick up?

God gives us a finite amount of time and a limit to our energy.

How will use your time and energy to make the greatest impact today?

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Stay Faithful

Last year, our church began an effort to put adult believers in front of 2nd graders in our community.  We call it Reading Buddies.  Twice per month for an hour each time, an adult volunteer goes into the Primary School, signs in, and meets up with their assigned Reading Buddy in the computer lab.  For an hour or so, the two interact.  The basic activity normally focuses on reading.  But there is so much more that goes on.  Relationships are built – concerns are shared – the hope and love of Jesus are shared.

We now have 39 adults going into the school each month.  God has blessed this ministry.  I hear all kinds of stories about how these adults are impacting the kids (and visa versa).  I have to say, my experience has been a little different.

I began meeting with my buddy in September.  He is shy and doesn’t really say much.  In fact, I haven’t been certain that he even cared that I was there.  Now, I know that my feeling of satisfaction is not what this ministry is about, so I have stayed with it.

Last month was the first time I saw much interest in my being there.  But today, it was obvious.  I was already standing at the computer lab door when the class came around the corner.  Nearly the entire class was into the room before I heard the teacher say, “He’s here,” to two stragglers that had not rounded the corner of the hall yet.  When I heard her say that, I looked up and here he came bounding around the corner in a half run half skip with a huge smile on his face.

The look in his eye told me that he was glad to see me.

I tell this story not to brag but to confess.  This morning, I had thousands of things on my mind.  I had a list of things to do as long as my arm.  My attitude about going and spending an hour was not what it should have been.  But when I saw my little guy’s face, I knew that there was not much else more important for me to do today.

God calls us to be faithful – even when we don’t feel like it.

I find it amazing how God can use faithfulness to make a difference.

Stay faithful today!

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