Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Community’ Category

As a believer in America, what is going through your mind this morning?  What can we do to ease the suffering of those directly affected by the shooting yesterday?  How do we move forward toward celebrating a new Sunday this week without the horrific tragedy of yesterday at the forefront of our minds?  Will we gather free of fear and able to focus on heart-felt worship?  Or will we be tentative and distracted?

Yesterday was the first of two consecutive Sundays set aside as International Days of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.  We live in an era in which Christians are persecuted.  There are countries around the world that do not allow open worship of Jesus.  And even in our own country, the church is being painted as an institution of hate instead of the gathering of believers who love.

Jesus prophesied and said that if we follow him, we will be hated by the world.  This is nothing new.  But when something like the shooting in Sutherland Springs happens so close to home, this prophesy takes on powerful significance.

So what do we do?  How do we move forward?

First, we pray.  We pray for our brothers and sisters in Sutherland Springs.  We ask for God to bring healing – both physical and emotional as well as spiritual.  We ask God to find us faithful as the larger church in being strength and encouragement for those who were directly impacted by this act of cowardice.

Second, we trust.  Not one of us knows what tomorrow will bring and because of that fact, we must approach the day in one of two ways.  We either hide in hopes of finding protection, or we trust God to walk with us through whatever this day may bring.  I choose to trust.

No matter the evil we face in this world, God is bigger!

Never forget that fact!

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Yesterday marked the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses being nailed to the church door in Wittenburg, Germany.  As we have reflected on the changes brought about by that act, we have recognized the debt we owe to those early reformers.  Our focus on grace alone through faith alone comes directly from this movement.Wittenburg door

But I have wrestled with something for the past several weeks leading up to this momentous day.

Are we still in need of reform?

It is said that the generation of leaders after Martin Luther held that every generation is in need of reform.  I believe that is true.  The Gospel message does not change.  The fact that all people are sinners in need of saving does not change.  The truth that salvation comes only by God’s radical free gift of grace does not change.  The reality that this grace must be received by each individual through a heartfelt trust and faith does not change.

But what does change is how we live with these truths and how the church seeks to carry out her calling into God’s mission in light of these truths in an ever-changing culture.  We walk a line between being in the world but set apart from it.

I believe we are guilty of gross negligence if we acknowledge the courage and boldness of Martin Luther and other reformers but do not take a serious look at where we may need reform today.  What are the areas we have conformed more to the world than been transformed to God’s kingdom and rule?  Are there areas of life and ministry where we have lost sight of what matters most?

Holy God, show us your ways!

Read Full Post »

Caught Between

On August 25th, the lives of all Texans were drastically effected by a devastating storm.  Hurricane Harvey produced more rainfall in Texas than the United States had seen in one storm in recorded history.  Of course the damage caused by the rainfall was not all the damage produced by Harvey.  It was a Category 4 hurricane at land fall.  The initial destruction was due to 130 mile per hour winds and storm surges reaching 8 to 9 feet (or higher in some areas).

While most were not directly impacted, this storm affected all Texans.  Life changed for everyone for at least a week or two.  Hearts were drawn to those who were directly impacted.  Generosity was plentiful.  Donations of needed items as well as time and labor were offered from all over the state.  Honestly, there was a sense of renewed hope in the kindness of humanity – actually making one proud to be a Texan.

Now here we sit – two months removed from Harvey’s winds.  Two months ago, many of us were scrambling to make preparations – boarding windows, purchasing supplies, trying to find gas stations that still had gas.  But today many are still trying to find hope and desire to move forward.

For the bulk of the state, life for most folks is back to normal.  Even here in Corpus Christi, most people have rejoined the daily mayhem that is “normal” life.  But so many other people here in the Coastal Bend are trying to decipher what normal will be moving forward.

The experts are telling us we are looking at a 2 to 3 year period of rebuilding before we can expect a new normal (others are saying it will take much longer).  So what do the people do who are caught in the middle what once was and what is not yet?  Where do they find hope?

sunrise-over-lake-and-mountains-13826409293GfI am reminded of David’s inspiring words in Psalm 121 – “my help comes from the Lord.”  When things look darkest, we can know that there is help – there is hope.  We need to remember that this world is temporary.  We are not citizens of this world but rather simply passing through.

So what do we do in this in-between time – this time between what once was and what is not yet?

We lift our eyes to the Father and trust.

Read Full Post »

Creating Space

How are you making space for God today?  It is so easy to fill our days with important things and somehow leave out the most important.  Making sure we make time to spend with God should take the highest priority but unfortunately, the sacred often gets pushed back by the mundane.  It is not so much a lack of priorities but rather a lack of perspective.

We become overwhelmed with the sheer volume of the mundane and step into the circular race that ends where it starts.  We give in to the pressure to perform and we know that God will understand if we wait until later to spend time with him.  So we justify in our minds the idolatry of productivity.  Before we know it, we have gone days or weeks without spending quality time with the creator.

But there is a very interesting truth that we often overlook.  The truth is this – we cannot be the best version of ourselves (that means even in the area of productivity) when our focus is on anything other than the Father.

But this focus takes intentionality on our part.  Focus does not just happen.  We must work at it – – constantly.  We must create space in our schedules and in our lives to allow God to work.  God provides the progression toward being more like Jesus but we must do our part.

I am excited that this Sunday we will begin a new series – Practice Makes Perfect.  If you are in the Corpus Christi area, I encourage you to make this series a part of your August plan.  We will be working through some habits that can make a real difference in your walk.

Create space today!

Read Full Post »

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!

Read Full Post »

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!

Read Full Post »

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!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »