Archive for March, 2016

One of my readings for today came from the Gospel of Mark.  A group of us are reading through this book together and today we focused on chapter 2.  About half-way through the chapter, Jesus made a significant statement about his identity and calling.

He said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”  As I have reflected on this principle, I am reminded not only of Jesus’ work on earth to bring salvation through his sacrifice; but I am also reminded of my desperate need for what Jesus offers.

Isaiah 53:6 tells us, We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”  The person I was created to be has been damaged by my own doing.  I have made choices in my life that led me farther and farther away from the God of creation.  Many times through out my life I have known the right thing to do but I chose something shinier or more appealing – we like shiny things don’t we.

I have gone astray, but thanks be to God – Jesus came to restore the sinner!  He came to heal the sick and redeem the wayward.

And for that, I am forever thankful and indebted!

Be blessed today!

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empty-tombYesterday was Resurrection Sunday.  We celebrated an empty tomb.  We praised God because Jesus is alive!  We reflected on the new life that is made available to us through Jesus giving up his and being raised three days later.  I pray you celebrated in grand fashion with your church family.  Around here, we pulled out all the stops and had an amazing time of worship.

Now, here we are the next day.  The schedules and pressures of everyday commitments are already pressing in.  How will the celebration of yesterday affect your today?

Was it just another day – albeit a great day – on the church calendar?  Was the celebration left at the church building?

Or will the truth of the resurrection change your today?  Will you live today with the hope of knowing that there is more, so much more, to this life than our daily grind?

Jesus defeated death to give you new life!

Live resurrected this day!

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As the path took Jesus back into the city on that Thursday, his disciples prepared a room where they could all gather to celebrate the passover meal together.  They had no idea how the evening would unfold.

Basin towel and sandalsJesus used this time as yet another teaching moment.  He knew what was coming and he wanted his followers to be ready.  He explained that the life of a follower is a life of humble service.  There is no place for wanting to be first in God’s Kingdom.  He demonstrated this important lesson by going to each disciple and washing his feet.  The point he was making was that even he came to serve and not be served.  As the path led out of that room, into a garden and then on into a mock trial and crucifixion, the lesson became even more clear.  He came to serve all of humanity with the ultimate sacrifice.

As we pass through this day, stay close to Jesus.  Listen to the words he offered his disciples.  Watch as he passed the cup and bread.  Pay close attention to the symbolism of his act of service.

Stay close!

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This Holy Week is about grace and faith.

Grace is not grace if you deserve it.  Grace is not grace if there is something you can do to earn it.  Grace  is that which God does for us because we cannot do for ourselves.  We have things in our lives there is no way we could ever repair.  There is no way we could ever be strong enough, competent enough or righteous enough to deserve a relationship with the Holy God.  So Jesus came to make a way.  God’s instrument of grace sacrificed himself for us because we could never deserve Gocross-prayingd’s grace on our own.

Faith is believing without seeing.  Knowing ourselves as we do, we might be tempted to think, “There is no way God could ever love me.”  But scripture reminds us that God loves us so much that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  We simply have to believe.

So this Holiest of weeks is about grace and faith.  It is a vivid picture of how God offers his grace even when we do not – and cannot ever – deserve it.  We are simply asked to trust and believe.

Make space to experience that grace this week.  Make space to rest in that faith.

Be blessed!

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Holy-Week 2We now begin one of the most – if not THE most – special weeks of the year.  Holy Week shows us God’s plan spelled out.  We see the culmination of the Gospel in all its glory and mystery funneled into 7 days.  The full human-ness of Jesus is put on a donkey, hailed in the streets as the King and then nailed to a cross.

But then, in the same week we see the fullness of God displayed in the resurrection and an empty tomb.  Colossians 1:19-20 tells us Jesus was not only human but is also fully God –

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

It was a dark week with a light at the end of the tunnel.  But as we enter into this most Holy of weeks, don’t focus on the light with no attention to the dark – don’t rush past the cross on the way to the empty tomb.  Stop at the foot of the cross and observe the sacrifice – observe the love – observe the perseverance – observe the grace.

Make space to reflect this week.

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I’m not even sure where I ran across this quote from Philip Yancey but it gave me such pause that I typed it up, printed it out and now it has joined so many others that decorate my desk.  The quote is this:  “Grace, like water, flows to the lowest part.”

Many may not know this about me but a lifetime ago, when I was a seminary student in Fort Worth, I worked in the roofing industry.  I had put roofs on homes through college to help support myself and so when I applied t
o the seminary, I found a job that I knew.  One of the most basic principles of roofing is understanding that water runs down hill.  If there is any possible way for water to answer the calWater flowl of gravity, it will.  If there is the slightest vulnerability in a roof, water will capitalize on it.

Water naturally flows down filling any and all voids.

When I consider Yancey’s quote, this is the mental picture I get – water filling all available voids.

God’s grace is like that.  When we seek God first, God offers that grace and it flows in filling all available voids.  The hurts, the mistakes, the emptiness – filled and covered!

What a sense of relief to know that God’s grace flows to the lowest part of us – filling us from the bottom up.

Create space today to allow God’s grace to fill it!

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Monday night we decided to cook fajitas.  We got everything ready and then began the process.  A few months ago, my brother gave me a huge outdoor cooking wok made from a plow disk – it works great!  So I got it set up on the burner on the patio and started the fire.  I guess I didn’t realize how hot the wok had become when I put the oil in to start sautéing the vegetables.

Hot oil started popping and splattering everywhere.  Here is the key to the story – I was wearing shorts and flip flops.  You may already know this but the skin on the tops of your feet is very sensitive – who knew!  In a matter of seconds the skin began to blister.  And two days later I am still in pain and wearing shoes just makes it worse.

As I have thought about how pain affects us, my thoughts have turned to Jesus and the pain he endured for us.  He willingly endured beating and torture and ultimately a cruel death to offer grace to all people.  My little blisters are nothing compared to what he endured.  We all endure pain in life but nothing will ever compare.

Maybe you have experienced emotional pain.  Maybe the ones closest to you have betrayed you.  That hurts.  It leaves scars that may never heal completely.  But consider Jesus, being arrested and hauled off to a mock trial and the anguish he felt as each and everyone of the people he had poured his life into turned away.  Think about the loneliness he felt on that cross as even God turned his face.

We may have experienced physical and emotional pain.  But Jesus experienced all we have experienced and more and yet he was not shaken.  He finished the mission.  He stayed on that cross and carried out the Father’s plan.

So when you feel life is too much, remember – Jesus lived it – for you.

Be blessed today!

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What motivationdrives you?  What, when you really think about it, keeps you up at night?

On Wednesday nights, I lead a Bible study and right now we are working through the book of Ecclesiastes.  It has been said that this book is the least read (and even less understood) book in the Bible.  If you have read any of the book, you know that it is not the stuff of greeting card sentiment.  It is a dark and seemingly pessimistic book.  In fact, most weeks I remind the attendees of the study that we should not go home, curl up in the fetal position and refuse to get out of bed.

What runs through the book like a bungee strap holding it together is the idea that everything “under the sun” is meaningless.

Everything under the sun . . .

In other words, if our only concern is what happens in the here and now, then we will come to the same conclusion as the writer of Ecclesiastes – it is all meaningless, “a chasing after the wind.”

In chapter 4, the writer makes a strong statement.  He says, “all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another.”  That statement should give you pause and cause some serious reflection.

So back to the original question for the day – what drives you?  I have to admit that I am not immune to being driven by envy.  I see the “success” of others and say, “I could do that.”  But when we allow our motivation to be envy and competition, we will come to the same realization – it all leads no where and amounts to nothing.

But, when our motivation is beyond the sun – when our drive comes from a desire to live for Christ and honor God – then our efforts do lead somewhere and our lives will count for something.

So what drives you?  What is the source of your motivation for today?

Live this day for God.

You won’t regret it!

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Rain and windWednesday is trash pick up day in our neighborhood.  So this morning, before leaving for the office, I pulled our trash bin to the curb.  Now, last night the prediction was that we would get rain overnight and into today.  When I opened the garage door to go to the side gate to get our trash bin, I noticed it had not rained enough to even get the driveway wet.

But as I opened the gate to retrieve the bin, it began to rain.  By the time I added a trash bag from the house and pulled the bin through the gate, it was pouring.  So I ran back to the garage to grab an umbrella.  Of course, as I described our level of being settled in our home in yesterday’s post, I could not find one.  I knew there was one in the back of my car so I ran out to the car to get the umbrella (the car is not in the garage because it is so full of stuff we still haven’t found a home for that the cars sit outside).

Protected by the umbrella, I pulled both the trash and recycle bins to the curb – of course by now I was soaked and my shoes were covered in mud.  So I retreated to the garage to remove my shoes and clean them off.  Just as I got my shoes wiped down, the rain stopped!

Just stopped!

Have you ever felt like the world dumps on you and you alone – that the cosmos is just against you?  Or to think on another level, have you noticed that sometimes this following Jesus thing seems harder than not following him?

The truth is, nature does not single you out to reek havoc on your day.  There is no gremlin watching you, waiting for the right moment to throw a wrench in your plans.  We live in a fallen world and sometimes life happens.

That is why scripture teaches us that we should run with endurance and perseverance.  Hebrews 12:1-3 says,

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross,scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Following Jesus is not for the faint of heart.  It takes effort on our part.  But always remember that no matter what life throws at us, Jesus promises to be right by our side.

Now where did I put that umbrella?

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We have been in our home here in Corpus Christi now for almost 5 months but to say we are settled in would be a stretch.  You know how you feel when you need something and  you know it has to be here but you just can’t find it?  Depending on what it is, it can lead to desperation when your search turns up nothing.  When we first moved in, this was a daily occurrence.  At least now, it only happens about once or twice per week – this morning it was an umbrella.

In life, we chase after a lot of things – that career, that perfect house, the accolades that we expect from hard work, comfort and peace.  We spend our lives in pursuit, never satisfied and never content.

Scripture teaches us that there is something – or rather someone –  we should seek before all else.  Jesus words tell us that we should seek after God’s Kingdom before all else and when we do, all these other things will come, but it starts with seeking God.

deer-and-waterI have to ask myself, “Do I seek God before all else?”  Am I desperately seeking a relationship with Jesus?  The Psalmist paints a vivid picture in chapter 42.  He says in verses 1 and 2, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.”

Does your soul literally pant for God?  Are you desperately seeking the Father as if your life depended on finding Him?

The reality is, your soul does.

Seek God today.

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