Archive for the ‘Formation’ Category

We Remember

We remember.

We stand at the foot of the cross, or kneel.

The draw of the exuberance of the empty tomb pulls at us but your words to your disciples to stay – to remain awake – to stay near compel us to pause.

We remember your words, even as the wafer touches our lips – “This is my body, given for you.”

Lord Jesus, we remember.

Cross in Communion Cup

As the cup is raised to our mouths we look to the cross and we remember.  This is your blood that was spilled out for us.

We remember.

Lord Jesus we remember!

We are not worthy of your sacrifice.  We do not deserve the gift of eternal life you made possible on that cross.  But we do remember.

And we say thank you!

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Pause At the Cross

Here we are in the middle of the holiest of weeks.  I make it a habit each year to remind our church family (and myself) to take time to pause at the cross before moving to the empty tomb.  We set aside Easter Sunday each year to celebrate the resurrection of the savior and we should do just that!

Jesus, over two centuries ago, began a movement that has changed the world.  But his movement has had far more of a crucial impact than on social reform alone.  In fact, the social implications are minor compared to the eternal spiritual difference he has made.  Jesus rose from the dead, defeating death and conquering sin.  Without the resurrection, there would be no hope for us.  We are given the opportunity to live resurrected lives when we choose to die to our own desires – to humble ourselves and submit to Jesus’ leadership.  That is good news and only possible through the resurrection.

Looking Up at Cross

So it is right to celebrate an empty tomb!

But let us not rush past the cross on the way to the empty tomb.  There would have been no empty tomb had there not been a horrific cross.  Jesus paid a debt we could not pay – our debt!

On this Silent Wednesday (silent because scripture does not record any activity of Jesus on this day of that final week), reflect on the cross.  Meditate on the weight of the sin of the world coming to rest at one point in time on one man.

Pause at the cross and remember.

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In one of my readings this morning, I ran across a reminder that should inform and shape each day of our existence here on Earth.  In Luke 10, Jesus sent out 72 of his followers in pairs to prepare the way for him in the towns he would visit.  He gave each of them authority to heal and cast out demons.

When they returned they were exuberant with excitement over being able to cast out demons.  While Jesus rejoiced with them, he cautioned them and reminded them to keep a proper perspective.  He said to them in verse 20, “do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

His words remind us that what happens here on Earth does not matter nearly as much as our eternal destiny.  We can have great “success” here but it will not matter much if our eternity with the Father is not secure.

As I have reflected on this thought I realized that the opposite is also just as important – even when things go terribly wrong here and we experience struggles and tragedy, we need to remember that our eternal destiny far outweighs what we endure here.

We tend to live with blinders on but we need to expand our perspective.

My reflection moved me to write this note to myself and I share it with you in hopes that it can serve as a reminder for you as well:

We must strive to gaze at the eternal panorama and not allow ourselves to stare at the temporal snapshot.

Remember that today!

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Over the past few weeks I have talked with so many people who are carrying such heavy loads – more than normal.  I have been more sensitive in our weekly worship gathering to see hollow looks and stressed-out faces.

The reality of life is that we all pass through moments or days or even seasons of difficulty as we journey along the Way.  It is a mis-conception to think that by giving our lives to Christ and living for him as best we can, we are no longer going to experience struggles.  In fact, most often, the struggles are amplified in some ways because we live in a world in which those of us who strive to honor Jesus with our lives are looked on with condescension or even condemnation.

But I want to encourage you fellow travelers in two ways this morning.

The first is that you are not alone!  You are part of a huge family made up of all kinds of people from all walks of life and all parts of the world that are on the same journey and are experiencing the same struggles you face.  Sometimes it is helpful to know you are not alone.

But even more important to remember today is that no matter how bleak things may seem today . . . Easter is coming!Easter Poster 2018

Jesus walked this Way 2000 years ago and he was treated with condescension and condemnation.  He was pushed to the outskirts of acceptable culture and when he would not go silently into the obscurity, the leaders of his day killed him.

But that was not the end.  He rose from the dead and when he did, he conquered death and defeated sin to show us once and for all that we are more than conquerors when we live our lives for him.  His triumph gives us hope that he is bigger than any temporary struggle we face.

So today, if you are feeling like there is little in your life that offers hope remember that you are not alone and Easter is coming!

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You Are Loved

Monday morning reminder: 

You are loved!

You Are LovedSometimes we need to remember that fact.  God sees you as a soul worth saving – not because of anything you have done but simply because he created you and loves you more than you can ever truly comprehend.

We often allow the circumstances we face or even people in our lives to prevent us from realizing his true love.  We listen when we are told we aren’t of any value or just not quite pretty enough, or smart enough or strong enough.  But those voices are not from God.  He loves – unconditionally.  Before you were born, he felt you would be worth the sacrifice of the life of his own son!

May this day be filled with glimpses of the evidence of his love for you.  You ARE loved!

Prayer for the day:

Father, today, in this moment, shine your light into my life and allow me to see myself as you see me.  Give me the strength and courage to live into the life you see for me today.  Amen.

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Life Is Good

One of the most popular brands these days is LG.  You find the brand name on televisions, sound equipment and appliances.  Many may not realize that the letters LG stand for Life Is Good.  The brand name speaks to their mission to make life better – to help us see that life is, indeed, good.

Life Is GoodWe often forget that fact, do we not.  It is only a few steps from the top of the world to the lowest valley.  Life is good but it can become a grind if we are not careful.  Without proper perspective, the busyness of life becomes one big obligation and instead of living in the realization of the joy life can bring, we see only responsibilities and feel only pressure.

I have found, over the course of my journey, that the pressures of life are the most stifling when I let the tasks of my day take precedence over my time with the creator.  Something we need to foster within our hearts is a desperate longing for God’s presence.  When we yearn to be present with God we make time to make ourselves available.  As believers, when we are available to God we realize God is always with us.  And if God is with us, what on earth can overcome us?

At the most base level, what we need is love.  If we love God, we will make time to be with him.  And as we spend time with him, we realize that our capacity to love God is monumentally insufficient.  With that realization, our desire should become to learn to love him more.  It is in loving God that we live in the reality that life is good.  It is good because God offers it as a gift.  It is good because God is good!

So here is a simple prayer for us this day:

Holy, and loving Father.  I do love you.  At least I think I do.  At least I try.  Please help me to love you more.  Amen and amen!

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There is something special – even sacred – about our relationships with fellow believers.

I had the opportunity to have breakfast with some wonderful people this morning – one of which has been a friend for 15 years.  His kids call me Uncle Brian even though there is no familial relationship.  It’s that kind of relationship!  He is like a brother to me in many ways.  He is in town for the day for work and he carved out some time to get together this morning.Having Coffee

One of the things that I noticed as we talked and caught each other up on family news was that it was as if we picked up where we left off the last time we spoke.  There is something powerful about a relationship with another when hearts are aligned.  There is a sacred bond between people of faith.

As I have reflected on our time together, I have had two parallel thoughts.  One is that I am so thankful for my friendship with Lew – he is a blessing in my life.  The other is a conviction that I should see all the relationships to which God draws me as being just as sacred.

We are wired for relationships – that is God’s design.

What relationships do you see in your life today that you would count as sacred?  Do those people know how you feel?

Let them know they matter!

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Unclutter Your Space

Today marks the beginning of Lent.  This is a season on the church calendar but not traditionally a part of the Baptist tradition.  While we are not offering ashes here today, we are placing emphasis on Lent within our church family this year (as we have in previous years).  This past Sunday we began a series on Sunday mornings that will run up to Palm Sunday called Uncluttering Your Space.

We have a tendency to fill space.  If we move from a 2 bedroom home to a 3, the first thing we think we must do is – – fill that space.  We do the same with our schedules.  If we have a day on the calendar that has some extra space, we strive to fill it.  We have bought into the lie that busyness is productivity and that doing things – anything – is better than doing nothing.

The problem is that the things we fill our space with can distract us from what is truly important.  In fact, we have a tendency to grow attached to things – even those things that begin as simple distractions.  As we add more and more to our space, we gain a false sense of worth or importance.  And we begin to grow attached to those things with which we have cluttered our space because of the feelings they often generate.

But with attachment, those things move from being distractions to becoming obstacles.  Even worse, some of the clutter may even take the place of what we truly need – a relationship with the Creator.

Lent is about reflection.  Lent is about having the courage to set things aside that clutter our lives and prevent us from the relationship God wants and we desperately need.

This Lenten season, I challenge you to unclutter your space.  What are those things in your life that you have grown attached to that may prevent you from having space for God?


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This morning I was up early for a meeting.  I arrived early to have time to reflect on the day and spend a little focused time with God.  One of my readings today took me to the Gospel of Matthew.  In chapter 19, one of the stories we find there concerns a young man who approached Jesus to ask about how he could get to heaven.  In verse 16, the young man asks Jesus a question that at first glance seems like a logical, heartfelt question.

He asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

Based on Jesus’ response, we know that he was able to see through the question to the heart of the individual.  At first, Jesus played along with the train of thought.  He offered several commandments that should be kept.  But the young man was quick to respond that he did a pretty good job of keeping all those requirements.

So Jesus cut straight to the point and said, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

We are told that the man went away sad because he had great wealth.money

As I have reflected on this passage, I see myself in that man, and I think, if we are real about it, we can all relate to what the man was after.  We all want a simple formula.  We want to cut to the chase and find the quickest, easiest route to heaven.  But Jesus reminds us, it is not like that at all.  There is no secret formula or insider information.  The way to eternal life is stunningly simple and yet overwhelmingly difficult.

The way to eternal life requires following Jesus with our entire being.  We must not allow anything in our lives to rank higher than our relationship with Jesus and our devotion to him.  That is what Jesus was saying when he instructed the man to sell all he had, give it to the poor and follow him.  Jesus could see that what stood in the man’s way – what was more important to him than eternal life – was what he had gathered here on earth.

What stands in the way of eternal life may be different for you and for me.  But the principle is the same for us that it was for the young man standing before Jesus that day.  We must not allow anything to be more important in our lives than Jesus.

What will you need to “sell” today to follow him?

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Honestly Real

This morning, I had the opportunity to speak at our school chapel.  The subject I had been assigned was honesty and the Biblical character I was asked to use as an example was Thomas.

Most associate doubt with Thomas rather than honesty.  When Jesus appeared to the disciples after his resurrection, Thomas was not present.  So later, the disciples were relaying their experience of seeing the risen Jesus but Thomas struggled with trusting what they were telling him.  In fact, John 20 tells us that he went so far as to say, “unless I see him for myself and touch the wounds of his crucifixion, I will not believe.”  Thus he has been dubbed Doubting Thomas.

But I think if we are real with ourselves and God we should ask ourselves how differently would we have responded?  Don’t we have doubts and fears when it comes to circumstances we don’t know how to navigate?

I think we should give Thomas a bit of a break.  He was real and transparent.

In John 14, when Jesus was preparing his disciples for what was to come – his death and resurrection, Jesus made the statement that he would return and take his followers to be with him.  Thomas was the only one to ask a question.  I think he was not the only one with questions and doubts, just the only one willing to be honest about them.  He asked, “Jesus, how can we know how to get to where you are going?  We don’t know the way.”

He was honest.  It was not that he doubted Jesus’ truthfulness, he just wanted to understand and he was willing to show his struggle.  In fact, one of the greatest and concise statements of faith in the New Testament came from the lips of Thomas in John 20:28, “My Lord and my God.”

The reality is that God already knows our thoughts, our fears, our doubts.  Why would we try to hide those from him – – that would just be dishonest!

Today, let Honest Thomas be an example of being real with God – and with each other.

Be blessed today!

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