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Archive for the ‘Formation’ Category

I had breakfast with a couple of leaders in our church this morning and one of them related a story from this past weekend.  It would seem that as he and his family were vacationing at the lake, his phone made its way into the water.  Since cell phones do not work nearly as well once they have been submerged in water, he found himself in need of a new phone.  So he made his way to the store to get a new one.

iPhone-in-WaterThe reason I am sharing this story this morning is his experience has spiritual application.  When he received his new phone, he simply logged into his account from the new device and all his content – stored in the cloud – immediately began to make its way onto his new phone.  Because his important data was stored in the cloud, he did not loose anything to the death grip of the lake water.

There is a distinct similarity between this experience and our spiritual lives.  When we store up what is important to us on site, we are exposing what is important to us to all the elements of this earth.  But when we store our treasures in heaven, then all those things are safe and secure.  In other words, we need to look at our priorities?  Are we seeking to make a name for ourselves here and now or are we more concerned with pleasing the Father and storing up what is important to us in heaven.

At some point, death’s grip will take hold of us and all the things we have worked for on earth will be of no significance.  The only thing that will matter at that point will be what we have stored in heaven.

I am thankful that God gives us the opportunity to live our lives in such a way that we know our efforts are not wasted when they are spent on what matters most.

Store up for yourselves treasure in heaven where lake water cannot destroy!

Be a blessing today!

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Last night, the plan was to be in bed and asleep before 11 – which does not always happen.  But last night it did.  We were in bed just after 10:40 or so.  And I am not completely sure, but I think I was asleep when the first high pitched chirp came about 11:15.  I rolled over hoping I did not hear it.  But a few minutes later – – there it was again.

I knew it was not going to go away.  The batteries in the smoke detector above our bedroom door were obviously low prompting the friendly, high pitched screech that would not be ignored.  So . . . I got up, slipped into flip flops and headed to the garage to get a ladder.  Luckily, there were fresh batteries in a drawer in the kitchen, so 10 minutes after the initial chirp, I was back in bed – problem solved.

Unfortunately, now I could not go back to sleep.  Things ran through my mind like stampedes coming and going from every direction.  I am not sure what time I finally drifted off to sleep but it was not easy dragging myself back out of bed this morning.

Check the BatteryI am glad the smoke detector has the safety feature to alert me when the batteries are low.  A smoke detector is of no value if it loses power to do its job.  But without a friendly reminder, it would go unnoticed with a dangerous assumption that all is OK.

Don’t you wish our lives had such a notification system.  Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to rely on a friendly, high pitched chirp when we are running low on energy.  Some of us do a pretty good job monitoring ourselves and our energy levels.  But for the rest of us, we tend to go about our daily lives adding more and more to our plates with little regard to the strain it is putting on our spiritual lives.

That is why it is so important to set time aside to pray – to read – to be still with God.

So this morning – consider this a friendly chirp.

Check your batteries.

 

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Have you caught a glimpse lately of how hopelessly connected we are to technology?  We rationalize it by thinking to ourselves that we are more productive (and in some ways, maybe we can be) or we suppose that we are more present in the lives of our friends and family.  But a quick look at friends and families gathered at tables in a restaurant may suggest otherwise.  It is not difficult to observe people sitting together and all be on their phones.  Being present means actually being present.

As I was reading this morning in 2 Corinthians 3:18, I was reminded that when we set time aside to think about God, something powerful happens.

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

When we disconnect and focus our undistracted attention on God, he continues his transformative work in us – redeeming us back to the persons we were created to be in the first place.

Unplug

If we are going to live into the promise of the fulfilled life, then we must unplug.  It is crucial to create space in our lives to sit and contemplate God and his glory.

So today, find time to unplug!

God will make good use of your time!

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Yesterday, one of my readings was in Romans 12.  That is one of my favorite chapters of the Bible.  There is extremely practical wisdom dripping from each verse.  I don’t know if I have just never paid attention to verse 11 or perhaps my recent fatigue caused me to see this verse with new eyes, but I have not been able to move past that verse.

Romans 12:11 – Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.

I have asked myself several times since yesterday morning if my zeal and spiritual fervor are visible.  I fear that most of the time the answer might be no.  It is easy to get bogged down in the day to day and lose that excitement and energy that comes when we are walking in step with the Father.

In The Message, Eugene Peterson translates this verse this way:  Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant.

I think he captures the heart of the verse – don’t burn out but remain cheerfully expectant.  As followers in The Way, we are to walk close enough to the Father that our strength is continually being renewed.  It is when we wander or fall behind or run ahead that we begin to walk or run in our own strength.  Gradually, often imperceptibly, our strength begins to wane.  We might not even notice it initially.

Fatigue sets in and robs us of our zeal.  Before we know it we are going through the motions – no energy, no enthusiasm – no zeal.

So how do we combat this loss?  How do we revive and maintain our zeal?

Here are two steps that will renew your zeal.

  1.  Start with rest.  Physical fatigue is the loss of energy and energy holds hands with zeal.  Take time to get physical rest.  But even more importantly, take time to rest in the Father.  Time with Jesus should never be an item on the To Do List but rather be the foundation and motivation for our To Do Lists.
  2. Set your focus on Jesus.  When we see our lives as a gift from God and we set our eyes on him and commit ourselves to staying close to him, our energy is restored..

Paul challenges us to never be lacking in zeal but rather continue serving the Lord.  Rest in him and stay close today.

Lord Jesus, on those days when we are tired, in those moments when we have no energy or enthusiasm, open our hearts to your goodness and plan for our lives and revive our energy and strength.  May others see the zeal we have for you today.  We rest in you cheerfully – expectant!

Amen

 

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Clear Vision

I have been told by more than one person around this great state of Texas that I am blessed with THE best view of any pastors’ office in the state.  I tend to agree.  For a west Texas boy who grew up on a beach with no water, being able to sit at my desk and see water and watch ships coming and going is like nothing I could have ever imagined.  I am blessed!

Clear Office View

Some days, the view is clear and I can see to the other side of the bay.  The sky is blue and the water is beautiful.  The gulls float and hover and an occasional sail boat glides in and out of my view.  It truly is a picturesque scene!

Then other days, like this morning, the skies are overcast and the haze prevents seeing more than a quarter mile into the bay.  There are ships coming and going but I can’t see them.  There is activity happening on the other side of the bay, but without having those clear days, there would be no concept of life beyond the mist.Overcast Office View

Our lives are like this in many ways.  God blesses us with vision when we are paying attention and we have moments of clarity.  We can see what God has for us and we can set steps in place to help us carry out his call on our lives.

It is that clarity that motivates us on those days when the vision is not as vivid.  There are days in our lives when we reach a point of wondering why we are doing the things we do.  On those days, remember the vision he has given you to be the best Jesus follower you can be.  Hold to the passion that comes from clarity.

God does have a plan for each of us.  He has created you completely and utterly unique – –  just like everyone else!  You are the only you on earth and God has special plans for you.  Pray for profound clarity of his calling for you.

As I finish this post, I turn to the window – – it looks like things are clearing!

Be blessed!

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Yesterday, we began a new series on Sunday mornings titled, Lord Teach Us To Pray.  For the next several weeks we will be looking at the Model Prayer found in Matthew 6.  I am excited to see what God will do through this series as we take a concentrated look at this beautiful, well known form of prayer.

We opened the series with a look at the words, Our Father, who is in heaven, hallowed be your name.

The depth and breadth of theology in this one sentence is staggering.  We are to begin our prayers with an understanding and attitude that we have the opportunity of having a conversation with the great I Am.  He is, at the same time, intimate Father and completely holy, sacred and other.  What a mystery!prayer over scripture

A.W. Tozier said, What comes to our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.  I think he is on to something.  We must have a healthy understanding – as best we can – of who it is with whom we have the privilege of an audience when we address God.

Often, we tend to think of God as an infinitely better version of ourselves.  But that is faulty thinking.  While we are created in his image, God is completely outside creation and not like anything we know.  He is to be hallowed in our minds – consecrated, set apart and holy.  This is the God we serve – this is the God who invites us to converse.

This completely other, holy and sacred God is also personal and intimately engaged in our lives.  Adrian Rogers made the statement years ago that God doesn’t love us all, he loves us each.  God knows you and loves you.  He knows your name, he knows your needs, he knows your dreams – he knows you!

What a mystery!

What a blessing!

What a Father!

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We find ourselves today living in the wake of Easter.  It is easy for us to celebrate the empty tomb and then get back to our daily lives – our schedules and commitments and all that life brings.  But I want to remind us that the resurrection changed everything.  In one wonderfully cosmic event, life as we know it changed.  Jesus overcame death securing for us the assurance of our own eternal life.

Jesus taught that if we will be first we must become last and if we are to truly live we must die to ourselves.  When we surrender our desires and plans to him, we are, in a very real sense, dying to ourselves and being resurrected to live for Jesus.

Easter should be a reminder for us to live resurrected lives each and every day.  We must seek to encounter Jesus each day not just at Easter.

One of my favorite accounts in scripture is the Emmaus Road encounter.  Two of Jesus’ followers were reeling from the events of his passion.  They had heard of the women who had gone to the tomb earlier that day and found it empty.  They were talking to each other trying to make sense of it all as they walked the road.  As they walked, Jesus joined them on the journey but they did not recognize him.

He spent time with them, instructing them on how the scriptures had foretold what would happen to the messiah but even through his teaching, they did not recognize him – at least not yet.  It wasn’t until they sat down to eat together that their eyes were finally focused on who was sitting there with them.  When they realized this stranger at the table was Jesus, he vanished from their sight.

As the two of them discussed all they had just experienced, they asked each other, “were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened scripture to us?”

There is so much power packed into that simple question!

When we encounter Jesus, our hearts burn within us.

When is the last time you experienced an encounter with Jesus that rekindled your inner flame.  Jesus is in the business of igniting passions within us to make a difference for him.

That is what it means to live a resurrected life.  It is to live a life of passion for the King!

May our hearts burn within us today because we have encountered Jesus!

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