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Archive for the ‘Hope’ Category

One of my readings this morning was from the book of 1 Peter.  In chapter 1, the author encourages us to remember how important we are to the Father.  In the aftermath of the meaninglessness that happened Sunday – with questions unanswered and unanswerable – many are grasping for anything.  This passage gives us something we can pull up close.

17 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

The author reminds us that as believers, we are just passing through this world – this is not our home – we are foreigners here.  But he also reminds us that we are of paramount importance to the Father.  YOU were redeemed from an empty way of life at a most extravagant price.  Your eternal security was purchased not with earthly wealth but with something far more precious.  Your redemption and hope was paid for by the very life of God himself in Jesus’ death on the cross.

Let that truth wash over your heart this morning.  God loves you!  You are a prized child.

There will never be answers this side of eternity to some of the questions we ask regarding what happened in Sutherland Springs on Sunday.  But what we hold on to today is that this is all temporary and there is so much more beyond what we can see.  What is truly important is that we are loved by God and redeemed by his grace.

Walk into that grace today!

 

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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!

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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.

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Tend the Fire

In all my years of sharing my thoughts and my heart here in this way, I have never gone as long between posts.  I began this ministry and personal pilgrimage in 2009 with a personal commitment to write at least three times per week – recording in this format a little piece of myself each time.  There have been dry spells in my pilgrimage over the past eight years but never have I stepped away from this discipline for this long.

On August 25th, my life and daily routine was altered.  When hurricane Harvey hit land on that evening, I did not realize the way it would affect the days to follow.  Please understand that my family and I, our church family and most of Corpus Christi were hardly affected physically by the storm.  But those just over the bridge were greatly impacted.  So I am not referring to any real damage that I have had to deal with personally but rather in how we have chosen to respond to the devastation our brothers and sisters to our north have been living through (and will continue to do so).  In the coming posts I will attempt to unpack the experience of the last month.

But for today, I feel compelled to share what God reminded me of this morning.  My reading this morning came from 2 Timothy 1.  In the beginning lines of Paul’s letter to his protege, he challenged Timothy with this:  “fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you.”

fanning-flames

The reminder coming from God this morning was this – as believers we have received God’s spirit and his calling on our lives but we are tasked with fanning what we have received into flame.  It is so easy to let the fire go out.

I am not suggesting that we can lose the Spirit or the calling but we can lose the passion and the intensity of living out this calling with our entire existence.  Life happens – storms come our way that move us off course and before we realize it, the flame has died down.  It is our responsibility to tend the flame.

Today – tend the fire, fan the flame and live into the calling God has placed on your life!

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What will this week hold for you?  Will you step up to opportunities to make the Father famous or will you shrink back into routine?

I have to admit, routine is comfortable.  In fact, as I look back at my life, I hate to say that far too many of my weeks have followed more closely to routine than to making God known.

But not this week.

Not TODAY!

I have the opportunity to shine for the Father this week as I journey along The Way.

So do you . . .Starting-Line

The starting gun has fired and the week has begun.  Are you still standing at the starting line?  Move forward into the world that needs hope and light.  Shine with God’s brilliance this week so that others will see him.

You can do this!

Father find me faithful in making you known to each and every person I meet this week.  May they see you in me!   Amen!

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God Pursues

As I continue to prepare for the upcoming series on spiritual practices, Practice Makes Perfect, I keep running across instances that remind me of God’s constant provision but my oblivion to that provision because of distraction – and possibly even my own disobedience.

Yesterday, I ran across a passage in Isaiah pointing to how God is always seeking a relationship with us.  Here is what is recorded in Isaiah 65:1-2:

“I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me;
    I was found by those who did not seek me.
To a nation that did not call on my name,
    I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’
All day long I have held out my hands
    to an obstinate people,
who walk in ways not good,
    pursuing their own imaginations—

God's Hands OutstretchedThe reminder I take from this passage is that God pursues us.  He stands “all day long” with hands outstretched waiting for us to notice.  But so often we are lost in our own pursuits.  We are distracted by our own imaginations.  I even fear that humanity has a tendency to take God-given talents and use them to create a false sense of independence.

Today, may we not walk in ways that are not good.  May we not pursue our own imaginations to the dismissal of God’s reach toward us.

Today, may we make time and space in our lives to hear God saying, “Here am I, here am I.”

 

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No More

What holds you back?  What weighs you down?  Our past decisions have ways of wrapping their bony fingers around our ankles and dragging us back into a prison of guilt and regret.  Just when we think we are “through” something, here come the thoughts that have a tendency to leave us feeling worthless.

This morning, a couple of verses jumped off the page as I read.  Romans 8:1-2 say:

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

Paul reminds us that now, today, in this moment there is no condemnation if your trust has been placed in Jesus as the author and perfecter of your faith.  No condemnation!  Let that sink in.  When we surrender ourselves to Jesus, the Spirit breaks the chain of slavery to sin.  He frees us from the guilt of past decisions!

broken-chainsNo more fear!

No more guilt!

No more regret!

NO MORE!

This day, in this moment, remember – – as a child of God you are free.  You are a new creation.  The old has passed and the new has come!

Live into that freedom today!

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