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Archive for January, 2016

Are you a goal setter?  How about a resolution maker?

Here we are 3 weeks into the new year.  Statistically, most of us have already given up on our resolutions.  In another week or two,  the guilt will set in as we begin to beat ourselves up over how we can’t seem to stick to  that diet or that overzealous exercise regimen we set for ourselves while still under the influence of a food induced euphoria almost a month ago.

I’m not knocking the genuine recognition of the needed improvement in taking care of one’s self.  But I wonder if we have put the same emphasis on our spiritual health?  How many resolutions were made to spend more time in prayer or scripture reading?  How many resolutions were made to do a better job of loving God and loving others in 2016?

We are only 3 weeks into 2016.  It’s not too late to make the best resolution you could ever make for 2016.  Join me in refreshing your commitment to spend time with God daily in prayer and in the sacred text.  God will honor your commitment with joy and peace.

Stick with it!

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This past week the mornings came early. But nothing gets the day going like a strong cup of Dominican coffee and a cool breeze blowing through the open-air roof top perch overlooking the northern part of the city of Santo Domingo. I have always heard that Las Vegas is the city that never sleeps but I am pretty sure Santo Domingo stays awake most of the night as well – or at least the dog next door does.

While the city may be the loudest city I have ever spent time in, the people have to be some of the most hospitable and joyful people I have ever had the pleasure of walking with. I visited the beautiful island of the Dominican Republic for several days to get a glimpse of what God is doing there among the faithful believers in that country. We visited orphanages and schools, churches and homes – and without exception, God was at work in the lives of his servants.

I have walked among people in many different counties in my lifetime and I am always reminded that true joy comes not from material possessions but from a relationship with God lived out in community with other followers in The Way.

It really doesn’t matter what we acquire in this lifetime. Material possessions wear out, break or just become out dated. Money gets spent and can cause more relational problems than it solves. Fame doesn’t last and neither does authority and power.

The only nugget left in the sieve when our lives have passed through it’s screen is our relationship with the Father and the relationships we developed as a result of knowing him. On the surface, that seems harsh. But the glorious truth of the matter is this: when we place our priority on the most important relationship in our lives – our relationship with God – then all else becomes joy (Matthew 6:33).

 

Seek after God today!

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SaltIn Matthew 5 we have one of the most profound sermons ever delivered to humanity. Jesus saw a teachable moment and he made the most of it. What has come to be known as the Sermon on the Mount is recorded here in this chapter. Jesus was the master teacher. His words changed the direction of humanity and they still have the same effect today.

In verse 13 of this chapter, Jesus used a common, household item to make a very concrete statement of our role as followers in The Way. He told his followers gathered on that hillside that they were the salt of the earth. Salt is something used in a number of ways. It gives flavor to what otherwise might be a bland dish. It can also be used as a preservative, helping to prevent things from spoiling.

In the first century, salt was viewed with a bit more significance than we might see it today. But the point of Jesus’ message was that we, as believers, should exist to bring taste to a tasteless world and the hope of preservation to a world void of hope. We are called to be salt.

But when salt loses it’s saltiness, it is of no value. For us to be effective in our service, we must not lose our saltiness. We must stay close to the only one who can bring taste to a tasteless world and hope to a hopeless existence.

Stay salty!

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Adoration of the Magi - El Greco 1568

We are almost a week into 2016.  Today is January 6 – a day we might live through with the idea that it is a day just like any other.  But historically, the church has set this day aside as the day to remember the Epiphany or some call it the Theophany.  The mysterious reality of the revelation of Jesus as the son of God to the three magi that came bearing gifts.

The word Epiphany carries the idea of manifestation – God manifested wholly in a child.  Colossians 1:19 says, For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him.”  We remember today that Jesus was and is fully God and fully man.  He came to earth as God in flesh.  He is called Immanuel which means “God with us.”  

The other aspect of this special day is the idea of the magi bearing gifts.  God came to earth and Gentile men, men who had nothing to do with Judaism, came to fall at the feet of this manifestation.  They came to pay tribute to the king.  Their journey was long and treacherous.  But they endured that trek in order to see the king.

I am reminded today that God’s love for me demands something of me.  Just as the magi came to Jesus bearing gifts, I too must fall before him offering something.  But I have nothing to offer worthy of the very son of God.

All I can do is humbly offer myself with no strings.

What will you offer the king today?

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The beginning of another year – an arbitrary line drawn in time marking the end of one increment of measurement from another.  There is nothing really special about the day.  It is just another day – like the one before and the one after.

The significance comes not in the 24 hour period but in the idea that we are beginning another era.  We leave the past year with its joys and struggles and turn to a new year, hopefully a bit wiser.

This is a fresh start – a clean slate.  We can make this year the best year of our lives or it can be just another year stacked on the pile with all the others.  It is really our choice.  You may be saying, “Yes, but what about all the unforeseen circumstances that are going to come my way.  How can I be assured that this will be the best year yet?”

While it is true that life is going to happen over the next 365 days, it is just as true that God is in control of all of it and his strength will see us through those struggles that come our way.

The way to make 2016 the best year ever is to focus daily on your relationship with Jesus.  When your sights are set on Jesus and following him in The Way, all else is woven into the fabric of the year.  As we remain in him and draw ever closer to his heart, life takes on vibrant meaning and purpose.

So commit this day to remaining in Jesus and 365 days from now, you will look back and say, “I think that was the best year of my life so far!”

Be blessed today!

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