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Need Help VisorI had a friend send this picture to me yesterday.  As you can see, I am not sure the person used the sun visor properly – so either some training in proper use of this particular sun visor would be in order or someone needs to call the police.

My first response was that if I need police assistance, I am not going to put a message on my windshield and hope for the best.  But as I have thought about the picture, and the comical prompting to take it, I have continued to muse about the lesson I can learn from what the picture shows us.  The lesson to be gleaned is one of the importance of observation.

In this instance, either the person putting the visor into position did not pay attention to what they were doing or even worse, based on the fact that there was no police presence, no one observed the message and called the police.  Either way, someone was not paying attention.

I wonder how often we miss an opportunity to experience God at work in our lives because we are just not paying attention?  We rush to get to where we are going and we fail to pay attention to God’s movement all around us.  How often do we miss an opportunity to experience God’s movement because we fail to notice the chance to be used to make a difference in someone else’s life and situation?

God is at work and wants to meet with you today.  God wants to use you today to make a difference in the world and the lives you meet. Will you be observant enough to seize the moment?

Stay on your toes today!

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A little over a week ago, I was blessed to minister to a group of ministers in Juarez, Mexico.  It is an annual event for pastors and their wives in the Juarez area.  We meet at a hotel in Juarez and for three days we get to fellowship and invest in the lives, ministries and marriages of these wonderful servants.

This year we were privileged to have thirty-eight couples attend the retreat (which is paid for completely by donations of individuals, churches and organizations here in the United States).  It is a huge blessing to the couples who attend each year and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve them, as well as for all those who give to make it possible.

This year, one of the most meaningful and moving experiences of the weekend was the closing worship service.  We celebrated communion at that service and it was special for our team to be able to offer the elements of the supper to those who normally serve but rarely get to receive.

My sermon that morning communicated the reminder that God’s grace is sufficient and Jesus’ sacrifice is enough to overcome whatever we face.  As the pastors and their wives made their way past the offering of the bread and the cup, they were also handed a small nail to remind them moving forward that Jesus’ sacrifice truly paid all costs.  In that moment, many were moved to tears with the reality.

My writing today is two-fold:

1) To offer a heartfelt thanks to God for making this event possible (our eleventh year) and for all those God uses each year to support this vital ministry.

2) I also write to remind each of us that regardless of what we are facing today, God’s grace is sufficient.

La gracia de Dios es sufficiente!

Jesus’ sacrifice is enough!

Live into that truth today!

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I have to admit – sometimes my sense of humor does not match up with the rest of the general populace.  I often find humor in things others might not notice.

This morning I am traveling.  I am headed to Juarez, Mexico to help lead a conference for Juarez pastors and their wives for a few days.  As I sat at my gate to make my connection in the Houston Hobby Airport (I have spent some time here in the past – more on that here), I heard a voice come over the intercom and announce – Someone has left their flip phone at the security check point and you need to return to claim it.

The very first thought that went through my head was this – They didn’t forget it, they were just too embarrassed to pick it back up.

As I said, my sense of humor does not always match up.  If you still carry a flip phone, hold on – please don’t be offended.  I share this experience here to make a point.Flip Phone

There was a time in the not-so-distant past that the primary use of a cellular device was to make actual voice calls – remember, those interactions where we talked to a live person over the phone?

As technology has progressed at speeds that even Carl Sagan could not quantify, I fear there has been a cost that is now slowly coming into view.  The more “connected” we have become through messaging and email in our pockets, the less truly connected we have grown.

Now we can sit next to a person for hours and never acknowledge their existence.  We can quickly become consumed with all the things at our fingertips literally in the palm of our hands and forget that the world continues to turn and life continues to move forward all around us.

Perhaps the days of the flip phone should not be forgotten.  How about today, instead of an email or text, you actually call and talk to a person.  And while you have them on the phone, tell them what they actually mean to you!

Make the connection.

Be a blessing today!

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Yesterday, I shared my thoughts on what a model church should look like based on 1 Thessalonians 1. The picture painted there is a body of Jesus followers who allow their faith to produce work that is characterized by love and carried out with hope in Christ.

But what is the work? If our faith is to produce work, what should that work entail?

Book shelves are easily filled with books talking about the work of the church. Seminars and conferences draw attendees looking for that next big plan that will push their churches to the “next level.”

We spend hours crafting mission statements and strategies.  We evaluate and plan, we research, investigate and develop ideas.

All of those things are extremely important.  And each ministry setting is unique.  But I think the work of the church can be defined universally, at its core, as making disciples.  ThChurch Line Drawinge church that is making disciples who in turn make disciples is living out the Great Commission – the church’s marching orders.

With this understanding then, our faith should lead us to lovingly make disciples, placing our hope not in our own efforts but rather in the savior we serve.

Lord Jesus, may you find us faithful!

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A Model Church

Last week, we began a new study on Wednesday night.  Over the next few weeks, we will be digging into the letters to the church at Thessalonica.  Paul wrote to encourage the new believers there and he opened his first letter with some glowing words.

He told them that he prayed for them often.  He gave God the praise for what these believers were doing.  He shared that he no longer had to tell other believers about the good things happening at the church in Thessalonica because the believers in other parts of the world already knew.  People were talking about a church on fire for God.

Paul even used the word “model” to describe the believers in 1 Thessalonians 1:7.

As I have continued to study this passage, I have become convicted that I can’t name any churches that I would consider using the word “model” to describe.  Don’t get me wrong, there are wonderful churches in the world full of sincere believers.  But I don’t know of any model churches that fit what Paul described in 1 Thessalonians 1.

In looking at the passage, I think we can point to verse 3 as the goal we should all strive to attain in our churches.  I would summarize it this way:

The work of the church should be a direct product of the faith of the people motivated by a love for God and others and continued, even in the midst of trials, through a living hope in Jesus.

If our faith moves us to serve God in concrete ways, that service will reflect a love for God and others and continue, regardless of circumstances, because of a genuine hope in Jesus.  That is a picture of a healthy church – a model church.

That is a picture of the church we should strive to become – the church the world needs.

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We talk a lot about how following Jesus is less about religion and more about a relationship.  You have heard me say or read my words when I have suggested that God created us for relationships – relationship with himself and with others.  We are wired for community – to relate to others.

As we look at this most holy of weeks, think with me about Jesus’ desire for relationship as it became intensely evident in the final days and hours of his time on earth.

As Jesus entered the city on what we now call Palm Sunday, he did so with those closest to him – he did not make the trip alone.  As he celebrated the Seder meal on Thursday – who was there?  Those he loved most personally.  When they left that room and made their way to the garden where they had been before – together – what did he ask of those closest to him?  To stay with him – to pray with him.

In his deepest pain, he wanted his closest friends – yes, he called them friends – to be near.  He asked the twelve to stay close and pray – to be with him.  And those three that he had poured so much into over the previous three years, he asked them to follow him a bit farther and stay with him.  For them to remain present was what he wanted most.

Jesus, in his humanity, drew encouragement from the presence of his friends.  He asked them to be with him on this journey.

He asks the same of us.  Yes, we have the benefit of knowing how that week and the following weeks played out, but he asks us to stay with him.  It is easy to allow ourselves to jump directly to the empty tomb.  But Jesus says, “Go with me – stay close.”

As his follower – as his friend – stay present with him this week, each step.  Listen to his words as he explained his sacrifice in that upper room.  Walk with him down through the valley and back up to the garden overlooking the Temple.  Remain present as he agonizes the path before him.  Follow close as he is led away to a joke of a trial.  Join those gathered as they look on while Jesus is crucified.  Stay close as his body is laid in a tomb.

We do this knowing that tomb couldn’t hold him – but don’t rush through the events that led to that empty tomb.

Relationship means being near when we are needed most.  Will you walk with Jesus this week?

Be present – – stay close!

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This morning, I arrived early for my regular Thursday breakfast meeting at the historic Town and Country Cafe.  I try to arrive early each week to have time to sip some coffee and read a bit before the guys I am meeting show up.

Today, part of my morning reading came from Luke 10 and the story of the disagreement between Mary and Martha over who was dong the majority of the work in preparation for hosting guests.  I read the story of Martha’s complaint and Jesus’ response.  It is a familiar story in which Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus, learning from him.  Martha was busy trying to get things ready to serve the guests.  Martha, frustrated that she was doing all the work, finally approached Jesus to complain.

Jesus used the opportunity as a teaching moment in which he illustrated the importance of priorities.  He pointed out that what was more important was the relationship and not the preparations. Busy Waitress The word that caught my attention in the story is “distracted.”  The Greek word translated here can be understood as covered over or consumed with worry.

As I sat and pondered the idea of Mary’s frustration, I watched the waitresses in the restaurant serve the patrons.  I noticed the light hearted back and forth exchanges between the frequent customers and their familiar server.  I thought about what the picture might be if the waitress was consumed to the point of being overwhelmed with the task of serving.  The result of a situation like that often leaves the customer feeling like they are more of a burden and nuisance than a patron.

How often are we consumed with our schedules and tasks to the point that those we serve feel they are a burden to us – just one more responsibility?

Jesus reminded Martha that she shouldn’t be so concerned about all the peripheral distractions when there is really only one real need.

When it comes to service, there is always a job to do, but when the “job” takes precedent over the relationship, then we have missed the point.  So today, as you go through your busy schedule – don’t forget to love the person in front of you.  Take time to see the people not just the task.

Be a blessing today!

 

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