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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!

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!

The Fulfilled Life

Yesterday, my sermon was built around the idea of passion – specifically the passion to follow Jesus and serve him with our all.  The apostle Paul encouraged each of us in his letter to the Colossian believers to serve Jesus with everything we have – our whole heart.

I was reminded after our first service that the heart was considered, by the Hebrew mindset, as the essence of a person’s being.  When we think of our hearts we should think of the inner-most parts of our being – the seat of our emotions and consciousness.

As we live our lives in worship to Jesus from the very depths of our being – with our hearts – we should do so with the clear understanding that the greatest joy we will experience in this life is the giving of ourselves to our fullest ability to his purposes for our lives.

God created you on purpose for his purpose.  You are no mistake.  One of his greatest desires is for you to experience fulfillment.  This comes through a vibrant relationship with him in which you are all-in, whole-heartedly committed to living your life for him.

You can do this!

Remove the Wrapper

Last night, we went to dinner at a local restaurant.  Our time was blessed by great food and simply being together.  On our way out of the restaurant and to our car in the parking lot, something caught my eye.  As we made our way to our car, we had to walk through a line of other cars.  As I passed by a truck, I noticed something odd hanging from the rearview mirror inside the vehicle.

Tree Air FreshenerIt was an air freshener shaped like a pine tree.  You may be thinking – “where have you been, those things have been around for years!”

It wasn’t the presence of an air freshener shaped like a tree, hanging from the rearview mirror that grabbed my attention.  It was the fact that it was still wrapped in it’s cellophane wrapper!

My first thought was “there is an illustration here.”  The thought that followed immediately on the heels of that thought was, “I need a picture of that!”  However, common sense kicked in and the thought of being arrested for messing around with another person’s vehicle outweighed my desire for photographic evidence.

As I have considered the scene, my mind has continued to ponder the comedy of an air freshener, hanging where often they are seen hanging, yet with no ability to do what it was created to do.

I think this might just be a testimony.  Actually, I believe it is the story of each of our lives from time to time.

God created us with specific gifts and skills and talents.  He has filled us with passion for specific things.  Each of us is completely, and utterly unique – – just like everyone else!

He did this with specific dreams in mind – very real possibilities for each of us to experience a fulfilled life – the life he intended for us from the beginning.

But so often, we never take off the wrapper.  We live our lives going through the motions and possibly looking like we have it all together and that we are where we need to be, but just like that air freshener, we are not using our gifts and talents for their intended purpose – to glorify the king!

Today, I challenge you to remove the wrapper and live into the life God created you to live!

Be a blessing today!

 

We all go through ups and downs in life.  Some days are good and we feel like we are on top of the world.  Other days we feel like no one knows we exist and the world just keeps dumping junk on us.  The goal becomes having more days in the first category than we have in the second.

But as one who follows in the Way, you know there is something more than just good days and bad days.  You know it – – but sometimes you need to hear it.

So . . . listen!

GOD LOVES YOU!

There is nothing you could have ever done or will ever do to make God love you any less or any more than He always has!  

This is a statement I use very regularly with our church family.  Today, I offer it as a reminder to each of us!

Be blessed today!Love Stories

Stored In the Cloud

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!

Check Your Batteries

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.

 

The Need to Unplug

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!

Revived Zeal

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

 

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!