Archive for February, 2016

Bay ViewThis morning I am spending time in prayer and reflection, and my attention is drawn to the window.  I gaze out of my office window at this view.  I see the wind blowing out of the north on this chilly February morning – well of course I don’t see the wind but I see the white caps created by it.

The palm fronds flitter in the wind and glisten with the sun’s rays.  The entire picture, I realize, is a reflection of the beauty and magnitude of God.

Paul was right when he wrote in Romans 1:20, “ For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

The invisible God has left his imprint on creation.

Thank you God for giving us a portrait – such a beautiful creation!

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sharingThis coming Sunday we will be discussing the importance of sharing.  I remember as a child, I was taught to share.  The lessons weren’t always pleasant because there is something inherent in us to want to keep things for ourselves.  I would like to think that as we grow up, we get better at sharing.  But sadly, I think that we just get better at masking our selfishness.  It is a constant battle to put other people’s interests above our own.  But that is what we are called to do as believers.

Unfortunately, often times this reluctance to share prevents us from sharing the most important news of all.  We, as believers – as followers in the Way, have the message of hope and rescue.  We hold the key that will unlock the chains that imprison individuals – chains of fear and isolation, chains of guilt and depression, chains of emptiness and low self-esteem – the chains of sin.

The Gospel is the message of rescue.  It is the news people need to hear.  The good news is that Jesus has made a way to free us from the chains that hold us down.  And we have that news.  Not only do we have that news, we have been given a mandate to share it.

Paul tells us in Romans 1:8 that people all over the world were talking about the faith that the believers in Rome had and how that faith was encouraging others and making a difference in their lives.  Acts 2:47 tells us that because of the faith and actions of the first believers, God was adding daily to their numbers.

There is something contagious about faith lived out.  Something powerful happens when people actually live out what they say they believe.

Live out your faith and share what Jesus has done for you with someone new today.

Be a blessing!

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We have been working through the book of Ecclesiastes on Wednesday nights.  It is not known as the source for inspirational thoughts for greeting cards.  Solomon was at the end of his life, reflecting back on all his accomplishments.  He thought about his fame, his wealth, his knowledge and his abilities and came to the conclusion that whatever is done on earth is meaningless.  The old adage, “You can’t take it with you,” is just as true today as it was for Solomon.

We have a tendency to strive for recognition and fame or to work to gather up wealth and status.  While the saying, “he who dies with the most toys wins,” may be a cute consumer driven philosophy, the raw truth is that he still dies.  The question I want you to consider though has more to do with living.

Solomon, in all his wisdom, realized that possessions to do not bring real meaning.  Only a life lived for God brings fulfillment.  So our tie to possessions becomes a chain.  And that chain restricts us from finding real and lasting meaning and chokes out the life God intends for us.  Our focus must be on what lies beyond this life under the sun.

Jesus said in Matthew 6:19-21:

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

May we never be so tied to possessions that our possessions chain us to a life with no meaning!

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Intended Purpose

Last September, I was back on the campus of my alma mater for a meeting.  As I drove down Ambler Street headed to the school, I saw a portable sign with an interesting message.  It was one of those signs that can be pulled around and then placed where you want it – the kind you can change the message by manipulating plastic letters.  The message was so intriguing that I turned around and went back to take this picture.


This image has inspired me each and every time I have thought about it.  The owner, out of frustration, changed the message on the sign to address the circumstances.  The purpose of the sign is to communicate – to promote – to inform.  But due to the vandalism, that purpose was diverted.

Earlier this week I talked about purpose (you can read that post here).  How often do we get distracted and move away from living out the purpose for which we were created?  How many times per day do we allow our circumstances to pull us away from what is really important?

Stay focused.  Yes, there will be situations that pull us away.  There will be a current that will cause you to drift.  But stay focused on your intended purpose – serving God with all you have – and when you lay your head down tonight, you will be able to do so knowing you have made a difference.

Be a blessing today!

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When we settled here in Corpus Christi last year, we found a place to live on the opposite end of town from the church we serve.  That was not our goal but it was just how it worked out.  So my daily trek takes me across town and I have found multiple routes to get me from home to the office and back.  One way takes me through residential streets filled with homes, parks and quaint shops.  Another takes me down busy streets with traffic and stop lights.  Another takes me by way of a freeway, crowded with commuters.  Depending on the day and the time of day, one way will be better than the others.

Path Through TreesOur world would tell us that there are many different ways to God.  Depending on what you want out of life and the experiences you may seek, the path you choose will wind around but eventually they all end up at the same place.  I don’t find that idea in scripture at all.  In fact, the truth about the path to God is very directional.  If I leave the city going south, I will never end up in San Antonio.  If I head north west toward San Antonio, I will never get to the Rio Grande.  The same is true of finding our way to God.

Isaiah 35:8 says there is a way to God and that way is called the Way of Holiness.  It says that only the redeemed will walk there.  The theme of the Way appears throughout scripture.  But the most vivid example is found in John 14:6 when Thomas has asked the question, how will we know how to get to heaven and Jesus answered, “I am the Way.”  This Way of Holiness is lived out by following Jesus and his teaching.  It is a daily commitment to seek Jesus and him only.

So, as followers in the Way, we are on this journey together.  Take heart, the path is narrow but the rewards are great – not only at the end of this road but along the way as well.  Stay with it!

Be blessed this day!

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This morning I was out for a run.  It was early and the sun was just coming up.  The air was clear and the temperature was perfect.  I was about three minutes in when I noticed a dog down the hill.  The brain process began.  Do I turn around so as not to have to deal with the possibility of being chased (I was struggling Dog runningenough to run as it was)?  Do I slow down as I get to him and try to befriend him?  Do I run past and ignore him in hopes that he wouldn’t notice the huffing and puffing of what must sound like a water buffalo with asthma?

I opted for the last option.  As I neared him, he spotted me easily – I’d like to say that my stride reminded him of a gazelle but I’m sure that wasn’t it.  By the time I got within 20 yards of him he began to bark and run toward me.  I continued on as if he wasn’t there hoping my heels and calves would be safe.  As I ran by he nipped at my shoe once but for the most part, he just barked and ran along side me until I got past his home.

As I started up the hill, I replayed the scenario in my head.  The dog was doing exactly what he was created to do.  His instinct is to protect his home.

I rounded the corner and it hit me – we are created for a purpose.  That purpose should come naturally for us.  We will never feel  more alive and fulfilled than when we are functioning within that purpose.  When our passions, skills and talents all line up with the task at hand it is a beautiful thing!

So today, look for ways to work within your passions and strengths.  Realize that God has created you just as you are for a purpose.

Now . . . to find a new running route . . .

Be blessed today!

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Dare To Love

One of the online Bible sites I use daily is BibleGateway.  As I opened that site this morning for my reading time, I came face to face (and heart to heart) with the verse of the day.  Given the emphasis placed on February 14th, the verse of the day, 1 Corinthians 13:4-5, is fitting.  Sunrise Heart

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

As I meditated on these two verses that describe many of the facets of real love, I began to dissect the phrases and ask myself how the love I offer measures up to this standard.  Part of my mental process was to understand each of the descriptions as positive actions.  As such, I think we can paraphrase the verses like this:

Love is patient and kind.  It trusts and is humble.  Love brings honor to others and puts their needs before our own.  Love is understanding and forgiving.

As I reflected on the verses and the paraphrase, I began to wrestle with how we can possibly love this way consistently.  Then I remembered 1 John 4:19, “We love because he first loved us.”  The idea expressed by John in this little letter is not that we love out of obligation because God loved us first.  The idea is that we are able to love because God has illustrated real love for us.

Not only does God give us the perfect example of love but because God loves us, we are secure.  Because of this confidence, we can be willing to risk loving others.  There is nothing we can do to make God stop loving us.  So even if we risk to love others and our love is rejected or not reciprocated, God’s love for us will never end.

Dare to love like that today!

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I had the opportunity to speak in the chapel service for our school this morning.  My instruction was to cover one sentence of the model prayer Jesus gave us in Matthew 6 – verse 13; “lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.”

As we look at the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples to pray, we see just before this plea to protect us from temptation, a request to forgive us for our shortcomings.  There are things in our lives we can’t change – decisions we have made that we can’t change – words we have said we can’t un-say.  For those things, Jesus teaches us to ask for forgiveness.  We learn from our mistakes and humbly ask for forgiveness.Praying at Sunrise

But moving forward, now we can do something about that.  We can make good decisions moving forward.  We can watch we say and do for the rest of this day.  So Jesus reminds us to ask for forgiveness for the past and then ask for direction and protection moving forward.

Here are three things we can learn from this petition in verse 13:

  1.  God will guide us and give direction if we seek it.  James 1:13-15 tells us that God does not tempt us.  We are tempted by our own evil desires and lusts.  But Jesus reminds us to pray for God to lead us and guide us away from temptations.  So our prayer should be for his guidance.
  2. We can’t do this on our own.  If left to our own, we will fall prey to our own desires.  Without God’s guidance, we will allow our focus to drift away from God and toward instant gratification and our own lusts.  James 1:15 says, “after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”  We need God to guide and protect us.
  3. God is fully capable of delivering us from evil.  Evil is anything that takes our focus away from God. When we allow God to guide our steps, we will be led away from temptation and protected from evil.

Father, we humbly ask for your forgiveness for our shortcomings up to this point and pray that you will guide our thoughts, words and actions this day.     Amen

Be blessed today!

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This past Sunday, we began a new series in our services together entitled, Church 101.  We church_101-title-2-still-16x9
are going back to the basics of what it means to be the church.  God’s church is made up of God’s people – followers in the Way.  So if a church is to be a vibrant church, it must be filled with vibrant followers.

The first step to being a vibrant follower is a commitment to growth – growth in our understanding of God, growth in our relationship with Jesus and growth in our relationships with others.

As we continue to grow in our understanding and knowledge, our relationship with Jesus grows as we experience his truth lived in out in our lives.  And as our relationship with Jesus matures, our love for one another grows.  We begin to see others as Jesus sees them.

God’s plan A for the redemption of the world is the church.  Commit today to be the church God expects by committing to be a vibrant, fully engaged follower.

Be a blessing today!


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