Archive for February, 2023

In one of my readings this morning, I found myself in Leviticus 19. In the first eighteen verses of this chapter, the same statement appears four times. The words recorded in these verses were words spoken by God to Moses. The words are instructive, giving direction on how to live as the Lord would have us live.

As I read all the statements of shall and shall not, what struck me most deeply was not the instruction but rather, the simple but profound little statement, I am the Lord.

Four times in these verses, this statement appears. After a set of instructions we find, I am the Lord. Then we find another set of instructions and then the profound statement again.

As I have reflected on these verses this morning, I am reminded that regardless of the situation, He is the Lord.

Today, if you are facing a difficult decision, remember He is the Lord.

If you are living through struggles today, remember, He is the Lord.

If you are having the best day ever, remember, He is the Lord.

Nothing we experience changes the fact that He is the Lord.

So go out today with the confidence and peace of knowing that He is the Lord!

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A Memento With a Lesson

If you have ever been in my office and seen my “collection” you may question whether or not I am a very tidy person. I have mementos of years of ministry – each with a story. Some might call it clutter and they might be right to a degree, but they are reminders of God’s work that He has allowed me to be part of and witness.

One of those objects has been with me for almost twenty years and it might be time to let it go.

In my last post, I encouraged each of us to reflect on Psalm 46:10: Be still and know that I am God.

The object that may need to go is my daily reminder to do just that – be still and know. Many years ago, I read a book by Ruth Haley-Barton titled, Invitation To Solitude and Silence. In that book, Ruth used an illustration that has stayed with me. She described our lives as a glass of river water with sediment swirling around making the water cloudy. Her point was that if we allow the glass to sit still, the sediment will eventually settle to the bottom and the water will become clear.

When I read that illustration all those years ago, I immediately found a jar and went outside to the flower bed and scooped up some dirt. I then added some water and sealed the jar off with its lid. When I shake the jar, the water becomes brown with west Texas soil. But when I allow it sit idle, the dirt finally settles to the bottom, allowing the water to become clear again.

This jar has been on my desk for almost twenty years now as a reminder to sit still regularly and just know that God is God and I am not. Things normally become much more clear when I take the time to be still.

As I picked up the jar last week to give it a shake, I noticed that not only are the contents now completely disturbing after being in there for so long, but now the lid has begun to rust to the point that I got a little shower. So . . . into the trash it must go.

But not before I could write about it here.

Today, take some to time to be still and know that God is God. There is a good chance that whatever you are facing will become more clear as you do.

Now, to go find a new jar!

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A Blasphemous Anxiety

One of the books I am reading right now is a book I have read before. It had such impact on me that it has become one that I re-read every couple of years. The book is titled, The Contemplative Pastor, by Eugene Peterson. A few weeks ago I picked it back up to read it again and thought I’d finish it in a couple of days. But something I read at the beginning of the book has been weighing on me for more than two weeks and I have come to a standstill in moving forward in the book.

The issue that has me caught is one of busyness.

When we greet one another and ask how the other is doing, more times than not, it seems the response is “busy.” Our culture celebrates busyness because it equates activity with productivity. But when we really dissect this thought, we quickly realize that being busy does not mean we are being productive – and even if we are being “productive,” it may not be a healthy kind of productivity.

It is like heading down the highway and catching all the green lights and making “good time.” That is all well and good assuming we are on the highway that leads to where we want to go. Making good time to a destination we never intended would be pointless.

In the first chapter of the book, Peterson quoted an early church father, Hilary of Tours, in regard to this idea of being busy – particularly as it relates to pastors. But I think the idea is valid to all followers of Jesus. Hilary is quoted as saying that busyness is “a blasphemous anxiety to do God’s work for him.”

When I read that statement – or indictment rather – I stopped in my tracks. How often do I put my head down and just work through the day doing good things with little to no time spent just being still and listening to Jesus? I crave time for reflection but I never make time to do it. I get caught up in the relentless pursuit of accomplishment and checking off the boxes on my To Do list.

To think that I stay so busy because somehow I have come to believe that I need to do God’s work for Him is convicting. Does God really need me to do His work for Him? Of course not!

Now I firmly believe that we were created as God’s masterpiece to do good works that He set out for us to do (Ephesians 2:10), but when we lose sight of why we do those things, and even more importantly the relationship that prompted us to do them in the first place, we have crossed into the blasphemous anxiety that Peterson talks about.

So today S L O W D O W N and reflect. Reflect on the goodness of God. Reflect on the hope of our salvation. Meditate on Psalm 46:10 today, Be still and know that I am God.

God does not need us to do His work for Him but He does invite us to join Him in His work. Focus on the difference today.

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A Day For Love

Today is the day in America that we celebrate love. Most often this is the sappy kind of love that we find on cards and little candy hearts. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, for those who know me, you know I am somewhat of a sappy kind of guy.

But love is so much more than sentimental gestures or sappy platitudes. The love that we find displayed in the Bible gives us a much more accurate picture of what real love looks like. Jesus was asked to give his thoughts on which of all the commandments is the most important. He immediately pointed his audience to the greatest of all commands, the command to love God with all that we have – body, soul, mind and spirit. And then he added that we should love our neighbors as ourselves. You can find this encounter in Mark 12:28-34.

Jesus reminds us that our greatest love should be for God and that love should spill over into the love we have for one another. Then in John 15 Jesus says this:

12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Jesus was giving his followers a bit of foreshadowing of what was about to happen. In a very short time, Jesus would go to the cross and literally lay down his life for his friends (and all humanity). So he gives his followers this practical example of what love looks like in real life.

As I reflect on what real love looks today, I am reminded that love is selfless and humble. It is putting the needs of others before ourselves. I pray that you will not be put in a position to literally lay down your life for someone else today, but what would it look like if you put your needs and desires aside and focused on the needs of those in front of you. That is how we show love – and I believe when we show love to those around us, we are showing love to God as well.

Be a blessing to someone today!

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You Are a Masterpiece

Today is a big day for our family! In just a few hours, our daughter (in-law) will head to the hospital with our oldest son to begin the process of welcoming their first child into the world (yes – our first grandchild). We can’t wait to meet her!

Over the last several months, we have prayed and waited with anticipation but now, the reality is setting in. This morning as I reflect on what God is doing in this little life, I am also thinking about the text for the sermon this week. We are working through Ephesians 2. This week, the text will be verse 10, For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which He prepared in advance for us to do.

The word translated as “workmanship” is the Greek word poema. Obviously, we see our word poem in this word. But a closer look reveals the nuance and idea of a “masterpiece.” Paul tells us that each of us is a unique, one-of-a-kind masterpiece. The psalmist said we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” in Psalm 139:14.

I have not even met Harper yet (that is our granddaughter) but I already know she is a work of art – a masterpiece.

And so are you! God created you completely and utterly unique, just like everyone else! He loves you and has a plan for you.

So, go live like the masterpiece that you are today! I’ll just be here getting ready to meet the most beautiful little girl in the world!

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A Life-Giving Truth

This past Sunday, we started a new series looking at our lives as pilgrims in The Way and who we are as Jesus followers. The series, titled Life In Christ, will run for several weeks as we work, verse by verse, through Ephesians chapter 2. As we began this important look at living with Jesus, we focused on who we were before we committed to this lifestyle and who we are now.

Ephesians 2:1-3 gives us a vivid picture of how helpless and hopeless we were without Jesus in our lives. All humanity is lost and spiritually dead without a trusting faith in Jesus. No matter how hard we try or how good we think we are, apart from Jesus’ saving work in us, we are spiritually dead. Paul tells us in Romans 3:23 that each and every human to ever walk the planet has sinned and fallen short of God’s plan for them – His glory.

But then verses 4 through 8 remind us that we have been given the opportunity to be rescued – that Jesus came to pay the price for our sins and make a way for us to be alive in Him.

The point I really want to highlight from all of this comes in verse 4, but because of His great love for us. Eight words that make all the difference. Eight words that give us hope and a future. Eight words that make the difference between a helpless and hopeless life and a life of hope and joy – but because of His great love for us.

Someone reading this today needs to be reminded that nothing you have ever done (good or bad), nor nothing you will ever do (good or bad) could make God love you any more or any less than He always has.

God LOVES You!!

Regardless of where you are today remember that life-giving truth.

Be blessed.

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Are You Anchored

When my wife and I made the move to Corpus Christi in 2015, people told us that the wind blows here every day. My typical response has been, “It blows in west Texas everyday too, the difference is – in west Texas, there is typically dirt in it!” I have to say, they were right. The wind does blow here regularly, and most days I am grateful. With our humidity, if there was no breeze, I am not sure I could handle it.

I am blessed to have an office with a window that looks out over the bay of Corpus Christi. For a boy from the sand dunes of west Texas, it is quite a sight. As I sit here this morning, I notice the waves, driven by the wind. The waves are moving toward the south – meaning, of course, that the wind is blowing from the north. Many days, the waves are moving toward the north or west.

The point is that the waves move different directions because the wind changes directions. The ships, anchored in the Gulf awaiting their turn to make it through the ship channel and into port must deal with these conditions. Without a firm anchor, the ships would drift to who knows where. But a solid hold keeps the ships in place until it is their turn to move.

There is a similarity here to our spiritual journey. Life comes at us from all directions. Things happen on a daily basis that can throw us off course. Like the ships, not only are we pushed by the wind, but also by the currents of our culture.

This Sunday, I will begin a new series titled, Life In Christ, taking a look at Ephesians chapter 2. In the first verse of this chapter, Paul says that prior to surrendering to Jesus, we were “dead” in our sins. He goes on to say in verse three that when that was the case, we were driven by “gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts.” The original language here gives the picture of going back and forth and being driven from one thing to another with no direction or purpose – like a ship without an anchor.

But Paul goes on to say, in chapter 2, that we have been spiritually resurrected from the dead through the grace offered by God. Our being brought back to life happens through faith in Jesus. Grace is God’s part and faith is ours. Faith is trusting that Jesus is who he says he is and that he will do what he says he will do. Faith is our anchor and Jesus is the rock to which our anchor holds.

So know this today. If the wind of life is gusting and the currents of culture are pulling, Jesus is the rock you can hold on to.

He alone can hold you firm.

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An Adventurous Journey

Following Jesus is a life-long commitment and a daily decision. When we commit to following Jesus, we are committing to the journey of a lifetime. There will be ups and downs, adventure and hardships, good days and bad. But the journey is so worth it! The joy, peace and hope that come from living a life in following Jesus make all the difference.

This journey is a life-long commitment but we have to choose each day to actually take steps toward becoming more like Jesus. It is one thing to say we follow Jesus – it is quite another to actually do it – each day!

So today, decide that you are going to make a little progress on this journey. We don’t become like Jesus in a day – it is an adventurous journey of taking steps and creating moments in the course of a day that move us a little farther down the path.

Be intentional today.

Be the light of Jesus’ love to someone.

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