Archive for October, 2014

How much time will you spend in God’s word today?  God’s word transforms us but we have to be exposed to it in order for it to do its work.  You may be saying, “I went to church yesterday – that is my Bible fix for the week.”  Or maybe you are working through a good Christian book that is challenging you to dig deep into your spiritual walk – and so you feel good about what you are doing to grow.

There is certainly nothing wrong with attending church – I think that is something we all should do.  And a good challenging book can be used by God to change our lives.  But just attending church or reading a book to learn about what someone else thinks about the Bible is not the same thing as spending time focused on God’s words to you.

Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is alive and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” God’s word is alive and active.  It is relevant.  It is personal.  It is life changing.  But it will never make a difference in your life if you don’t read it and apply it.

Spend some time in the word today – not just reading my thoughts about it.

Be blessed!

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The Third Place

Scripture is clear and sociology confirms that we were not created to be alone.  We were created for relationships.  Some people are more relational than others given their personality, but even the most socially awkward person was created for relationships.

The primary relationship God desires for us is a relationship with himself.  Genesis describes an intimate scene where God came to the garden where Adam and Eve were hanging out just to take walks with them.  When God created Adam, Eve was not far behind because it was not good for the man to be alone.

The point to my thoughts today is that we were created for community.  Those who study humanity have realized that people need what they have termed a “third place.”  In our culture, we value the home as our first “place.”  Our school or work then becomes our “second place.”  But humans need a third place.  A place where they can relax with friends.  That is why bars are attractive and that is why coffee shops have popped up all over the place.  We need that third place to go and BE.

Here is my challenge – why shouldn’t church be the best “third place” around.  Do people see the church as a viable third place?  I think some do.  But why wouldn’t everyone?  The answer – perception.  People are working off an old stereotype.  One that paints churches as places of rules and hypocrisy instead of compassion and understanding.

It is time to change the perception.  It is time for people to see the church as it truly is – a gathering of imperfect people who love God and love each other.

It needs to start today.  It needs to start with me.

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What Is Left?

When the world crashes down, what is left?  One minute, things are good and then the phone rings and you get news that crumples you to the floor – that promotion did not come through or that loved one did not make it through surgery or the test results are back from the doctor and it does not look good.

The reality is, as much as we ignore the fact, we are fragile creatures.  Our world can come tumbling down in an instant.

So what do you do when that happens?  What is left?

When we strip away the surface items, the only thing remaining really is our faith – or the lack of it.  It is in times of struggle that we determine where our faith is actually placed.  We have a tendency to say we trust in God but if we are truthful, we often place a lot of trust in our own abilities – our hard work – our smarts.  But when that phone call comes we realize how truly helpless we are on our own.

Take some time today to think through your own experience.  Where do you place your trust?

There is only one who will not disappoint.  Only one who is worthy of our faith and trust.  Only one that can rescue.

Put your faith in Jesus today.

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Nearly Dying To Live

The Christian journey should be carried out awake and fully aware.  On the surface, you are probably saying, “Well, of course!”

But let me ask you, “Are you fully aware of God’s work in your life and around you right now, in this moment?”

I have read many authors who have impacted my life – brilliant minds that communicate truth in a way that inspires.  One of those is Ben Johnson.  In his book, Living Before God, he addressed this issue of living life unaware, calling it “life sleep.”  He talked about how we go through our daily routine – get out of bed, get ready for the day, go through the day, come home, eat, relax, get ready for bed, get in bed – REPEAT.  Our routine drones on and lulls us into a sense of oblivion.  We may think we are awake when in reality, we are going through the motions without even thinking about what we are doing or why.

Part of becoming more like Jesus is remaining fully aware of God’s work all around us.

Several years ago I nearly died – literally died.  A good friend of mine named Steve and I had just wrapped up a funeral (ironic I know).  The memorial was held for a man who had been a flight instructor and had trained numerous people to fly.  At the graveside, the plan was to have a fly over.  As west Texas weather works, that morning turned off with cold temperatures and drizzle.  But one committed soul (not necessarily bright soul) decided to brave the elements and honor his mentor with a fly over.

As we were leaving the grave site, we noticed the plane banking to make one more pass over the cemetery.  The plane’s path would take it directly over us as we were walking and then right over the top of the tent at the grave.  The plane continued to descend directly at us.  About 50 yards in front of us, the plane hit power lines that stretched across the cemetery.  One of the lines snapped and sparks began to fly.  The wings of the plane dipped but recovered and was able to stay in the air.  Had the plane come down, it would have taken us out – pushing us right into the very grave we just left.

Steve and I walked around the live wires dancing on the ground and got into the car.

We both sat down in shock.  We looked at each other and I don’t remember who spoke first, but the question was asked, “Do you realize how close we just came to dying?”  My heart was racing, the hair on my arms was standing and i was breathing hard.  All of the sudden, life was raw.  It was almost surreal.  But in that moment, I was fully aware of my humanity and the fragile existence we call life.  I was fully awake.

I am not suggesting that we should seek near-death experiences on a daily basis in order to live life fully alive, but I am asking the question, “Shouldn’t life be lived with our eyes open and with an awareness of God’s movement in it?”

A part of growing to be more like Jesus is being fully engaged in life – in all of life.  We cannot allow ourselves to check out and fall asleep.

Wake up – life is happening and God is at work!

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Christianity is often labeled as a belief system of requirements complete with a laundry list of “do’s” and “don’ts.”  People protest “religion” because it is a system designed by humanity that sometimes takes the place of God all the while claiming to be the avenue by which we can reach the creator.  And often, this system is virtually impossible to follow.  It can lead to frustration and confusion.  The result has been a movement to reject organized religion.  Those doing so have grown in numbers to the point there is a name for them – the “nones.”

Unfortunately, the claim that religion is a problem is often true.  Religion can become a hinderance to an authentic relationship with God if we let it.  But don’t throw out the baby with the baptismal bath waters.  Hebrews 10:25 reminds us to never turn away from the gathering of like-minded believers together in order that we might encourage one another along this journey in The Way.

We are relational creatures.  We were created with a need for one another and even more so – a need for God.  So organized religion can serve a purpose.  We are called to be salt in a tasteless world and light in a dark existence – and we can fulfill that calling more effectively together.

But the question remains, “What does God expect from me?”

It is true, humanity has built elaborate systems to try and answer this question.  But the reality is – the answer is extremely simple.  Micah 6:8 boils down the entirety of the Christian walk into a single verse:

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.

There it is – act as we should, love mercy and walk humbly with God.  God seeks a relationship with you.  God wants to walk with you along this journey and guide you to live as you should and to be a person that is know for your humility and mercy.  And we can lean on one another along the way and learn from one another as well.

So how are you doing.  How is your relationship with the Father progressing?

Be a blessing today.

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It’s a new week – a fresh start.

I challenged our folks yesterday – and in so doing, myself – to press forward to maturity in our faith.  That requires something of us.  Progression in The Way – in becoming more like Jesus – is not something that just happens.  It does not occur by osmosis or by accident.

Don’t misunderstand, I am not talking about salvation.  We are rescued by the Savior, not by anything we do.  But a one time decision to accept the grace Jesus offers by faith does not mean we automatically become mature in our faith.  Maturity comes through effort on our part.  That effort begins with time and focus.  We will never get to know Jesus without spending time focused on him.  Prayer, silence, scripture reading and listening are ways we connect with him.

Where is you focus today?  How much time are you willing to invest in the only relationship that will make a difference in your life?

Be blessed this day.

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