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Archive for the ‘Hope’ Category

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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An Evening At Camp

I had the opportunity to make a short drive out to Camp Zephyr yesterday to hang out with the children from our church that are in the midst of children’s camp this week.  They were all having a great time and making it through the heat just fine (I’m not sure I can say the same for our adult sponsors).

Worship at ZephyrI got in on a game of Gaga Ball and got to eat camp food and go to worship with the group before heading back last night.  The games were fun and the speaker was great but what impacted me the most was getting to watch our kids worship.  So often, I fear kids do not feel part of what happens in corporate worship on Sunday mornings.  I was moved to hear kids singing with open hearts.

It was a truly beautiful sound!

I left challenged to make sure we are more intentional in the way we plan worship services.  I went to camp to be with the kids for an evening so that maybe they would see how much I care about them and that I am just as much their pastor as any adult in the family.  I left reminded that we need to make sure they feel our church is their church.

What will we do to be used by God to form the next generation?

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Welcome Home

Where is home for you?  Is there a difference between where you sleep and home?  I pray that these places are one in the same for you.  But I am thinking of home in a deeper sense.  Home is that place you are the most comfortable.

I started a new sermon series yesterday dealing with love.  John 15:9 says, As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.  This word, “remain” carries some deep meaning.  Eugene Peterson, in The Message, translates this verse this way:  I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love.

heart-and-cross-2What a beautiful picture of home.  Finding complete contentment and security in the love that Jesus has for you!

Maybe you have been betrayed in the past.  Maybe you have been burned by someone to whom you had given your heart and love.  Jesus reminds us that God’s love is unconditional and limitless and we can rest and take up residence in his love.

Find your home in the love of Jesus today!

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Choices

My commute to the office each morning takes me past several churches.  One of the churches along my regular route has a marquis with changeable letters.  Often this church uses this sign to make announcements of upcoming events.  But occasionally it is used for a thought provoking statement.

Yesterday I noticed one of those statements and it has circled back in my mind a couple of times since.  The statement read:

Life is full of choices, eternity only has two.

ChoicesThere is truth in this statement.  We are bombarded with options every day – pulled in multiple directions to make decisions regarding everything from what shoes to wear to what car to drive to what music to enjoy.  The truth is, it would be easy to make thousands of decisions in a day without once considering truly important issues.

Is it possible that the enemy uses all the options freedom affords to distract us from considering the most crucial choice of our lives?  Satan is known for taking what God means for good and distorting it into something completely different.

Life is full of options and choices.  But the most important – literally life and death – decision an individual can make is what to do about eternity.  We only have two options – an eternity with God or an eternity without him.  God gives us that choice – and we must choose.  While it is never too late to make that choice while we still draw breath, by putting off the decision we are making a choice.

The best decision you can ever make is to live this life for Jesus.  Don’t be distracted by all the other decisions you will need to make today.  Truthfully, if you make the ultimate decision first, it will drastically impact the remainder of the decisions you will make.

Choose wisely!

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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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