Sunday, March 26, 2017

Ordinary

It's a simple word really.  

Ordinary. 

It speaks of the unnoticed, the normal, average, life as it's lived every day.

But what if it spoke of how we should really live out the Christian life?


A friend and fellow pastor, Brent McKinney, wrote this as a suggested mission statement, "Ordinary people in ordinary places doing ordinary things to the glory of God."  I love that vision!  It imagines living out faith in even the little events of life, the things that we think unimportant...the ordinary.

We all have to do the ordinary things, get groceries, sweep the floor, wash dishes, eat a meal and a hundred other things that are the mundane ordinary things of living, but what if that is where God touches our lives and the lives around us? What if those are really the important things?

Really, if we are honest, few of us will be great, famous or successful, but all of us will do ordinary things...simple things...what if we did those things to the glory of God?  I wonder...could it be that these will be the things that God can best use for his glory?





Thursday, March 23, 2017

Last words...but not here....

I realize my last post described last words....but I didn't mean that for this site.  Sorry.  I've been a bit too busy and honestly have little rolling around in my head to share....I guess I am doing a bit of a reboot.  I'll be back when I know what's going on with me.  Thanks for your patience.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The first word and the last


The last words of a person are often immortalized.  Their final words, especially if they know they are dying, are significant. 

But the first recorded words can be just as important. First words give us insight into what a person thinks most important, what that person is becoming.  

Scripture gives us several examples of each, but let me focus, for these thoughts, on just 4.

First words-


Samuel, "Speak Lord, your servant is listening."

Early in 1 Samuel the young prophet is awakened from sleep by God.  God has a word for this young man, but he's never heard from God before and doesn't know his voice.  When he finally knows it's God these are his words to God when he comes to the young man.  Open ears and an available life are key to this response and from these first words we watch the life of this young man morph into one of the most important prophets in Israel's history.


Jesus, "Why are you looking for me, didn't you know I would be in my Father's house?"

At the age of 12 these are the first recorded words of Jesus.  What a fascinating place for us to start in his life.  Already he knew who his Father was.  Already, he had an intimacy with God that few of his Jewish brothers understood or dared emulate.  

Final words-

Mary (Jesus' mother), "Do whatever he tells you."

These are Mary's final words recorded in scripture. What a great closing message for us as Christ followers.  What a simple description of what it means to be a Christian.  I can't imagine a better last word from the mother of Jesus than this.

Jesus, "It is finished."

These are, I'm sure, the most famous last words ever recorded.  They speak volumes and in fact volumes have been written about them.  I will simply let Jesus' last words stand without further comment.  They brilliantly tell us about the completion of everything he can to say, be and do....and now, in his final words, he tells us he did it, he accomplished all the Father sent him to do.

These are just a few brief thoughts from first and last words.  Both tell us something about the life of those who spoke them.  Both reveal a vision, a passion, a heart.

If today recorded your last words what would you want them to be?  What words would you want others to remember from your lips?


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

God, giants and me


It's easy to feel small.  If you don't feel that way already the world around you will make you aware of how small you really are.  And, of course, there are always those pesky giants to deal with.

My first encounter with the giants was in middle school (or, as we described it, Jr. High School).  I had never encountered giants before that time, but I ran into them there.  It surprised me at first because they didn't seem that big, but as fear grew of the bullies and their stories, these little giants became bigger and bigger.

Most of the giants I have encountered over the years have not been big in stature as the world would describe a giant, but they were big to me.  These giants caused fear, anxiety and the threat of harm or hurt if I got in their way or crossed them.

Today we each live with giants all around us, giants we fear and giants we avoid.  Others may not see them but we do!  They define our lives and challenge our faith. 

The reason the story of David and Goliath is so fascinating to us, especially when we were children, is that we all knew about other giants in our lives and to see someone like David slay his giant thrilled us and gave us hope.....maybe the giants can be beaten, maybe I don't have to cower in fear all my life.  Maybe I could slay my giants.

David gave us hope and a new vision of how to look at giants because he saw someone greater than the giant in front of him.  He saw and trusted God.  And when we trust God it makes our giants much smaller than we think they are.

One of my childhood giants was a boy up the street. He was my age, my height, but he was a bully...a giant.  He would sit on the roof of his garage after school and harass us as we walked home each day.  One day, for no reason at all, he hit my younger brother in the stomach.  When I heard of it and saw my brother's tears this giant had to be conquered.  In a rage of anger I went down the street and quickly dealt with my giant.  He never bothered us again. Never.

My giant killing days as a child were all done in a rage of anger, but the giants of our adult years are much bigger and anger, fists and a good fight will not conquer them.  Now, to deal with our giants, we need a big God.

When fear of the giants comes realize it's simply because you are not looking at a big God.  Giants can only grow in size when we lose sight of the God who is Lord of our lives.  When I see God right sized I've always discovered the giants seem to become much smaller than I ever imagined them to be.  When God is in your sights giants simply become target practice for our slingshots.




Monday, March 13, 2017

Will you trust me?



Will you trust me? 

It depends on who's asking.

But, what if God asked you that question?
What if you heard him clearly say, "Will you trust me?"
How would you respond?

It's a critical question for anyone who 
claims to be a Christ follower.

In that question are a whirlwind of other questions I have to answer first.  Do I know him well enough to trust him?  Have I trusted him before and found him faithful?  What about the time I trusted him, but it seemed he failed?  How will I know what I should trust him with?  What does 'trust him' even look like as I live my life?

"Will you trust me?"

It's a question that forces me to deal with HIM....who he is, what he says and decide....CAN I trust him?  And if I did what would that look like today?  

Those four simple words force me to deal with God in a way I may have never done before, but if I will it could change everything!


Now the bigger question is this-  Will I trust him?



Saturday, March 11, 2017

Simple comfort


"The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad." Psalms 97:1

"The Lord reigns, let the nations tremble."  Psalms 99:1

The Lord reigns.  But as look around me and watch the news it appears no one is in control!  Chaos rules, men live in fear of the coming events and yet, above it all there is a good God fully in charge of everything.  That should give us comfort that even when it seems everything is falling apart he is fully in charge and events are moving toward his wonderful destination.  

A verse I think of often talks of this.  It's hidden is the early Psalms when David wrote,

"The Lord sat as King at the flood, the Lord sits as King forever." Psalms 29:10

As you watch the chaos swirl around you remember, God reigns!  It's all under control and a loving good God is at the helm making sure this ship of humanity arrives at its appointed destination.


Monday, March 06, 2017

Chosen


"But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted." 
1 Peter 2:9

If you have trusted Christ as your savior you are one of his "chosen ones."  Chosen for a task that will change the world.  In our day few have clarity of what they were saved for, but it's not just to get YOU out of hell and into heaven, it's to be his priest, his people, his instrument, his voice to speak to a dying world and tell them where you found life, where they can find it as well.

How odd it is that we Christians have no idea of our tasks, our calling. Many of us live like everyone around us and have no idea, no vision of what God has designed us to do.  But his new identity for us is one that changes eternity in the lives of those we speak to about him.

Do you know that you have been chosen to be part of a plan that changes the eternity of those around you?  Do you realize how important that job is?  How could we think it's just about getting our sins forgiven and not about changing the world? 

You were chosen to be part of God's amazing plan designed from eternity past.  Do you realize how glorious that is, how wonderful it is?  And you thought you weren't that important, didn't you?  

But God has chosen you to be part of a plan that will change eternity!  


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Asleep in the storm



You never know what a day may bring.  Each day holds the seeds of joy or disaster.  Here is how our week has unfolded.

“Hey, why don't we celebrate our Presidents? What a great idea! Oh, and let's have it on a Monday. We'll close the schools, banks and post office. What a great idea! Today, on this President's day a single mom living two stories above us goes to work and leaves her girls at home alone. As luck would have it one of the girls had a great idea....let's make donuts! And so she did. She got out the oil, put it in a pan and turned it on high. Much to her surprise the grease caught on fire so she ran to the sink to get water. She thought water would put out the fire but it only made everything even worse. The sprinklers go off, the fire alarms roar, fire trucks arrive, and we all wait. The water from the sprinklers floods the third floor apartment putting out the fire, and it floods the second floor apartment, collapsing the ceiling. We are on the first floor. Now, on this wonderful President's day when a single mom leaves her girls home alone we find ourselves homeless. Murphy couldn't have written a better script. We can't wait for the next chapter in this story of President's day. I'm sure we will see the amazing grace and provision of a good God.”

Now, two days later, as I deal with all the insurance companies, moving companies, and a myriad of others I find, in the middle of it all, I’m at rest.  It’s strange, but in a time when chaos overwhelmed our lives Joye and I find we are homeless but wonderfully blessed by friends, the love of the church and the sweet peace and rest of God.

It’s interesting, as I write about it, that in the midst of a storm I can be at rest inside.  During the night last night, as I thought about the events we were thrown into, it was wonderful to rest in the peace, love and care of God.  Rest isn’t a beach somewhere with a margarita; it’s sleeping in the boat while the storms rage all around us.


In the midst of this storm I’m enjoying the rest that only comes because of God’s great love and provision....even in a storm.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Son of the Sovereign

It's easy to feel insecure, fearful, uncertain about the events around us.  It's easy to worry, to panic as we see things that seem out of control....

.....but do you know if you are a Christian you are a son (daughter) of the Sovereign of everything!  The one who made everything, the one who holds it all together, the only God is your Father.  He rules everything!  Relax.  He's in charge and he loves you.

You are a son of the Sovereign and nothing is out of his control.  Relax.

Friday, February 17, 2017

He knows you


Do you ever feel lost in the crowd?  Ever wonder if God even knows you are here, what problems you are having, how hard things are for you?  Ever feel a bit invisible to God with so much going on in the world?

We all have!  And yet, this morning, I began 1 Chronicles in my reading.  It's chapters of names and places.  In the middle of chapter one is this verse,


"Eber, Peleg, Reu,"
1 Chronicles 1:25

Who were these people? What did they do? How did God remember every one, every name and then write them all down for us to read thousands of years later? Here's what these three names tell me- God sees me (and you), he knows us, he cares, he knows us by name....we are not invisible and our names mean something to him! He loves each one.

If you want to see how serious God is about this read Psalms 139. In that chapter, in amazing detail, God tells us he sees us, he knows us and we are not invisible! We are precious, important to him!

Ever feel lost, invisible? God not only knows your name he designed you! He made you, as Paul describes it, his work of art. Go out there and enjoy being one of God's masterpieces.

Now, have a great day.




Monday, February 13, 2017

A world without grace



I have been watching, reading and listening to the changes coming in our world. The winds of change are brewing, and they whisper of a world ahead without grace. It's evident in the culture around us. It's a culture completely lacking grace. The contrast between the secular world and Christianity is dramatic, and it's very evident in this one area- grace. The God of the bible demonstrated his grace and love for man by becoming one of us, revealing himself to us, dying for us, and offering us forgiveness of all our sins...simply because we ask in faith!

There is nothing else like it. A faith based on the grace and love of God, full of promise and hope. All the work is done by God, not by us.

But we are in a time, in many parts of the world, where the grace of God is denied, ridiculed and suppressed...it's no longer the iron curtain we deal with, it's the graceless curtain of secular anger and rage. But God is amazing. He is penetrating that curtain with his grace and love. Man's best attempts at keeping him out look like children trying to dam a mighty river....their efforts are hopeless, the river will win and sweep them away. And in this battle between the world and the grace of God...God will win....he always does.

How amazing that, in a world where God's riches and grace are free, so many want to rage against the grace and love of God. This is spiritual warfare at the highest levels. It's our opportunity to shine the light on God's wonderful grace in a world where many are without God's grace, and have no idea of how much he loves them.


-->

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Death

I didn't decide to be a pastor.  
It just happened.
I'm not sure when it
became part of my identity
but it did
Now, after all these years,
I can't imagine any other
career

But there are parts
of this job
that I never anticipated
Tasks I've always dreaded
Painful days
Difficult words
Tear filled moments

For you see
in my job
death is part
of my work

Today I will
be part of a memorial
for a member of
our church, a friend

It's always hard
because
we avoid death
we don't want to deal 
with it
think about it
experience it
but
we all
WILL

And so
today
once more
I will
be part of the story
of one who 
died

Family and friends will gather
tears will be shed
laughter will happen
but will feel odd and uncomfortable
Memories will be shared
hugs exchanged

And then
tomorrow
we
all go back to our "normal" lives
and as quickly as possible
put death out of our minds

But we will each meet our end
we each will face death
we each will come to the end of our days

And then we will meet God
The question today is this-

Will you meet him as Father
or
as judge?

It's your choice

Death will find you one day and the very next
thing on your calendar will be
your appointment
with God

Are you ready?