Archive for March, 2014

A Breath of Peace

It’s Thursday – that day when we are beginning to feel the wear of the week.  We ramp up all week and get busier and busier as we go.  By the time we get to Thursday, everything becomes a blur.  The pressures of the day become more difficult to handle.  We think, “If one more thing gets added to my plate I may just lose it!”

If I just described you today, take heart.  Paul reminds us of something important in Colossians 3.

In verses 1 and 2 of that chapter, Paul says this:

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

And then he goes further later in the chapter and says this in verse 15:

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

Here is what this means for us – the break-neck doers of the world.  When we remember the fact that, as believers, we are no longer residents of this world but rather just journeying through it, when we remember that real life comes only in Christ, then the pressures of this world melt away – they don’t disappear but their significance becomes manageable.  When our focus is on Christ, our lives take on proper perspective.  And when that happens, we realize that the peace that can only come from Jesus washes all over us.  All of the sudden, like a slow, deep, cleansing breath – we feel different – the day is not impossible any longer.

There is an old hymn that comes to mind.  The chorus of that hymn says this:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.

May you find room to breathe today.  May you find peace.  May you rest in the arms of the only one who can offer you that peace.

Be blessed – – and breathe!

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A New Day

Today is a new day.  I got to the office early this morning so I took my coffee and my Bible up to the roof.  As crazy as that may sound to some, I do this when I can.  I feel at peace when I can see the world from a different perspective.  Sunrise 3-18

This was the seen from atop the church today.  As I watched the sun rise through the clouds, my mind was drawn to Psalm 51, particularly verse 10:  “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

What the Psalmist experienced was a new dawning – a realization that God is not after what we can do or how hard we can work.  God does not take pleasure in how good we can be or the accolades we can pile up for ourselves.  God is not even honored in empty words sung in worship or spoken from a pulpit.

What is pleasing is a pure heart – open and transparent to God.  When our hearts are right, then all the things listed above do honor God.  With a heart that is focused only on God – humbled and broken – our lives take on new meaning.

Praise God that every morning God’s mercies are new and fresh.

Today is a new day.

How is your heart?

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Your Choice

Genesis teaches us that God created humankind for relationships.  When man was created, God then created woman so that the man would not be lonely.  But even beyond the relationship between man and woman, both were created for relationship with God.

But in order for this to be a true and authentic relationship, humans needed a choice.  If the first man did not have a choice but to love God, then the relationship wouldn’t be real?  In order for the relationship to be meaningful, God allowed an option.  Humans could choose to have a relationship with the creator but they could just as readily choose to ignore the creator.

When we choose to ignore God and go it on our own, we fall prey to our own selfishness and that leads to sin.  Sin then creates a barrier between us and God.

Throughout the generations since that first man and woman, sin has continued to move humankind farther and farther from God.

But God’s plan to redeem humankind back to the relationship for which we were created meant something drastic had to be done.  God had to put on skin and walk among us to show us the path back to where we were intended to be from the beginning.  So Jesus emptied himself and came to earth to teach us what it means to have a relationship with God.

But there was still the issue of sin and the way it had deformed the creation.  Something had to be done about that.  The barrier created by sin had to be pulled down.  The greatest lesson had to be taught.  The only way to defeat sin and pull the barrier down was a sacrifice.  So Jesus went to the cross to defeat sin.  He offered himself as payment for sin – and not just some sin, all sin!

What we learn from this lesson is that in order to fully live in authentic relationship with God, we must die to our sin – die to our self-centered mentality and lifestyle.  When we do, and focus our lives on living for God we begin to experience the life God intended – the relationship that God has desired from the start.  But this only possible through the gift of grace Jesus gave us through his sacrifice.

God invites each of us into this relationship.  But we are given a choice.  We can choose to go it our own way – or we can choose to surrender our desires to the one who created us and knows our needs better than we know them ourselves.

Your choice.

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Today, this post marks a milestone in my ramblings here at Clay In The Hands.  Next month, I will have been posting my thoughts and struggles, joys and heartaches here for five years.  Today is the 800th post.  So as I have thought about this post, what keeps coming to mind is the journey I have been on over these last 800 posts.

I have come to believe that we drastically overestimate the change that will come in a year, but just as drastically underestimate the change we will see in five.  As leaders, we see things that need to happen and we work toward those endeavors with passion believing we will see immediate results.  However, normally, as the days wear on, it seems nothing is happening.  We look toward the goal and feel we are making no ground at all.  It can be frustrating, draining and discouraging.

But then you hit a milestone and you turn around and look back and realize, it may not have come in a year but the distance covered in five years is astounding.  I look back on where I was five years ago and to be honest, I am not sure I could have ever seen then where God has me now.  God has led me these past five years – sometimes kicking and screaming – and sometimes letting me think it was my idea – but God has been with me every step of the way.

“So the point of all this is?” you may be asking.  The point is that we are in the midst of a journey on The Way that should be seen as a marathon and not a sprint.  Just look back at your own life.  It should not be hard to realize the progress you have made over an extended period of time.

Regardless of where you are on this path, God is at work.  As long as you are striving each day to be more like Jesus and to live for him, you are moving forward.  Even when it may not seem there is any progress at all, God is forming you.

Stay with it.

God is faithful.

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