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Making Room

A couple of years after moving into our current home, we decided it was time to purchase a new sofa and a couple of chairs for our den.  So we began the search and finally agreed on a set.  But then came the hard part – making room.  We found ourselves with the need to get rid of some things so that the new would fit.

In a similar way, we crowd our lives with things that ultimately leave little room for God.

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday – the first day of the season of Lent.  While Baptists have not traditionally observed Lent, I think there are some things we need to be thinking about as we move toward Easter.

When we think of Lent, we immediately think about what we are going to give up, and that is certainly a part of the season.  But instead of thinking about Lent in that way, what if we approached Lent with a different question.  Instead of asking ourselves, “what will I give up?” let’s ask ourselves, “where can I make room?”

You see, Lent is really about recognizing all the things we put in our lives to bring ourselves comfort or peace or happiness and realizing that none of those things can ever do what we expect.  Lent is recognizing that we have pushed God out of our lives and we need to make room to allow God back in.

So where will you make room for God over the next forty days?

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Be Still . . . And KNOW

I have a standing breakfast with a rotating group of leaders in our church every Thursday. I look forward to this time each week. Quite a brotherhood has formed over the past several years of doing this each week. So my schedule begins a bit earlier on Thursday’s than on other days.

But on this day – I awoke at 4:15 and could not go back to sleep. I would like to say it was because I was so excited to spend time with some guys walking the same path. But the reason I could not return to slumber was all the concerns that began to parade across my mind. As the parade began, I began to pray.

As I thought of each of my children, I prayed for their lives and their walks with Jesus. I prayed for our church. I prayed for several church members who are experiencing struggles. The parade just seemed to go on forever. I tried to look down the street but I couldn’t see the end of it.

I began to sense anxiety from the overwhelming needs. And then something life-giving happened. God brought to my mind a simple phrase from a powerful verse. Psalm 46:10 says, Be still and know that I am God.

As I watched the parade pass by the eye of my mind, I heard these words with each passing “float” of concern – be still and know.

When I thought about the safety and health of my kids I heard, be still and know!

When I thought about the responsibilities of ministry I heard, be still and know!

When I thought about all the people I know personally who are struggling, I heard, be still and know!

Be still!

Take a breath!

Calm down!

Know that I AM!

Know that I AM GOD!

The one true God. The only God!

Whatever you face this day, BE STILL AND KNOW THAT GOD IS GOD. God is bigger than whatever might cause concern!

Be still and know!

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I was raised with faith being a major part of my life.  If there was a time the church was open for any reason, we were normally there.  While that sounds like I might be whining, let me just say that I would not trade a minute of it!  I am eternally grateful for parents who felt it important to have their kids in church.

Throughout my life, I have become more and more convinced of something I was told over and over again as a child.  That God has a plan for each of his children.  I was told that I would never be happier than when I am living in the middle of God’s will.

Unfortunately, there was little said about how to find that will.  So began a journey to seek God’s will for my life.  If you grew up involved in a church, most likely, you have experienced what I am talking about.

Yesterday, we wrapped up a series on Micah 6:8 in church.  In that one little verse, the prophet Micah did us a huge favor.  He answered for us what can be a life-long crucible to find God’s will.  He made it very plain.

I believe that God cares more about the person we become than about the things we do.  It is not that our actions are not important but he knows that if we are the people he created us to be on the inside, then the actions will take care of themselves.

So Micah tells us that God’s will for our lives will ALWAYS involve acting justly – doing what is right.  It will ALWAYS involve loving mercy – truly seeing people and showing them compassion.  And it will ALWAYS involve walking humbly with God.

In fact, the first two things are not really possible on a consistent basis if we are not walking humbly with God daily.  Given that fact, I want to leave you with the following challenge:

Begin each day with this prayer:

Father, this is your day and everything I do, I do for you. I want to do what is right in all things. Help me to see you at work around me and help me really see the people you put in my path.  Please give me strength to show them your love.  Be glorified in me this day as we walk together through it.  Amen.

I believe when we start our days with this prayer, we will live more completely in God’s will throughout the day.

I would love to hear how God guides you this day!  Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email.

Be blessed today!

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Do You See

How is your day shaping up?  Are you really busy?  I am sure most are like me and the answer to the second question is “Yes, extremely!”  We tend to fill our time – sometimes with good things and sometimes with less than the best.

While I encourage effectiveness and accomplishment, I am reminded this morning that my busyness must not prevent me from seeing – seeing God at work around me – seeing God at work in me – and especially, seeing the person right in front of me.

So often, our cordial greeting and inquiry about how someone is doing is reduced to a formality.  The question I asked our church family this past Sunday was, “Do we see people?”  Are we aware of the folks around us – truly aware?

Woman and Magnifying Glass

In order to show the love of Christ, we must see people.  And we must see them as God sees them.  There is an old rabbinic tradition that says that when we encounter another person, we should envision a processional of angels going before them shouting, “Make way, make way, make way the image and likeness of God!”

How would our world be different if we saw each and every person we meet as the the image and likeness of God?

Practice seeing today and let me know what you see!

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Divine Mystery

I love this time of year. But as I have aged, the reasons I enjoy this season have changed. From my earliest recollection, I understood the reason for the season as the cliche goes, but the depth of my understanding has grown ever deeper.

My appreciation of God’s love for us in sending Jesus has grown through the years. But with maturity comes the ability to reason and think. Many, like me, want to understand things – to reason them out. So when it comes to the incarnation, the event of deity becoming human, we struggle to understand and it can make us feel uneasy.

We are often uncomfortable with the incomprehensible. When we come face to face with the reality of God becoming flesh, we strive for answers. Mystery can be as unsettling as it is illusive.

A few weeks ago, I was reminded that without mystery, faith is not really necessary. Kristi and I attended Greek Fest, held each year at the Greek Orthodox Church here in Corpus Christi. It is a wonderful celebration of the Greek culture complete with traditional Greek food, bazaar and traditional dances performed by the next generation, striving to hold on to their culture.

One of the things we did this year as part of our attendance of the festival was to enjoy a tour of the church and listen to the history of the local church as well as the history of Orthodoxy. The priest is a friend I have known for over 20 years and so it was a true joy to hear him talk about his faith to a group of folks who had no idea.

One of the things Father John said as part of his presentation was that the Orthodox Church is completely content allowing mysteries to remain mysteries.

What a great reminder! So often we want to explain things away. But when it comes to God, there are so many things we are incapable of understanding.

Instead of trying to explain the divine mystery of incarnation, we are forced to accept and believe.

And I was reminded by Father John that I am OK with that.

Be blessed!

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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!



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As I have been thinking about our call to dream – the invitation God extends to each of us to be part of the on-going creative process that is our lives – I have looked to Jesus for insight.  How did Jesus carry out his mission?  How did he dream of what could be but wasn’t.

Of course, the most obvious difference between Jesus’ experience and mine (and yours) is that Jesus is fully God.  BUT, Jesus was fully man as well.  He experienced life with all its joys, hardships and challenges just as we do today.  So what inspired Jesus?  What prompted his dreams?

This Sunday, I will challenge our family to get out of the comfort zone, look to God and dream.

One of my readings this morning came from Matthew 14.  The chapter begins with the account of John the Baptist’s beheading and then moves to the story of the feeding of the 5000 and then the chapter wraps up with the Peter’s failed attempt to walk on water.

But something that caught my attention in this chapter was Jesus’ resolve to get away and spend time with the Father.  When he first heard of John’s death, he got in a boat and headed to a “solitary place.”  He wanted to get away and be alone with God to sort things out – to imagine and dream about what should happen next.

Jesus Looking at StarsHowever, along the way he encountered an interruption – over 5000 of them to be exact.  He had compassion on the masses, he healed the sick and then he fed all of them before sending them home.  Once the crowds were handled, he sent his disciples boating and he resumed his quest to find some solitude on a mountainside where he could pray.

As we consider what could be but isn’t for 2018, we need to have the same kind of resolve to get out and away from the distractions of life – out of our comfort zone – and be willing to seek God and dream.

Interruptions will come our way.  But we must be committed to spending time with the Father in order to dream God-sized dreams.

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