Thursday, December 01, 2016

100 years

I read a lot.  I know some of you do as well.  As I read I look for differing thoughts and opinions.  Some of those thoughts irritate me, some of them challenge me.  All of that is good.  So what do I do with all of it?  In the midst of living in a real world in real time I make decisions about life.  Some of those decisions reflect a trust in God, most of them do not.
The problem I face is reponding to the opinions, fears and thoughts of men instead of trusting in God.  It's easy to do!  Just having finished an election I reflect back on millions who responded to the words of one politician or the other. Their responses were in a vote, a protest, a post of Facebook driven by either passion or fear.  All of it fueled by the words of men.

But, in 100 years I wonder how I will reflect on the way I make choices today. Will I look back with regret at the way I have allowed men to influence my fears and decisions or will I respond to God and his word in the midst of a troubled culture?

Jesus made a troubling statement in the gospel when he said, "When the son of man returns will he find faith on the earth?"  That question provokes me, haunts me to filter all the voices I hear and respond to only one.  We have all heard the saying, "Live for an audience of one."  But are we living in response to the voice of only one as well?  Are we following God or the crowds?  Does fear drive our choices or does faith?

In 100 years how will I see today?  In 100 years will I reflect with a smile at my faith in God in a difficult day or will I reflect with embarrassment at my fear driven life?

Living in real time is hard, but in this moment my task is simple-  "Speak Lord, your servant is listening."

Monday, November 28, 2016

The ink well

We all write from the mind, heart and experiences of life.  That is the ink that feeds these blogs.  I'm discovering, for whatever reason, my ink well is dry.  Some call it writer's block but I realize I have nothing to say right now.  The world around me continues to swirl, but words escape me.  I'll return when I find more ink.......

Friday, November 25, 2016

Four little words

I haven't written much lately.  Life is happening and I can't miss it, so this place where I share my thoughts must wait.

We have just passed an election.  What an election!  Fear and panic still looms.  Uncertainty still hangs in the air.  Anger waits to attack if provoked...and it's easily provoked.

But none of that affects how I need to live.  None of those things change my primary task, my primary call.  In fact, what God calls me to do, to be is even more essential, more important because of what is happening around us.

It's contained in four little words...this call, this mandate of how I'm to live.  It's found in 1 Corinthians 16:14 and it is this,

"Do everything in love."

That's it.  That's my calling as a Christian.  The most important and difficult four words ever put together!

It means when I'm hated my response is love.  When I'm falsely labeled my response is love.  When I'm shunned by former friends, I love. When hurt by someone I thought cared,  I love.  

It means, simply, living like Christ.  It is the high calling of every Christian...but honestly, we have not done it well in recent years.  Fears have taken over and we have lived poorly.  But we must recapture the essence of our faith, it's the life of Christ lived out.

It is the most difficult life.  It means I love you enough to tell you there is a hell to shun, there is a heaven to gain.  It means I love you enough, truly love you to tell you that sin is still wrong.  It means I care enough to want your good and not simply your approval.

Do everything in love.  The most important and most difficult four words ever written.

I hope, in the new year, to model them more intentionally than I ever have, to live in Christ in a way that this lifestyle becomes normal for me....even when it's hard.

Do everything in love.  In a world filled with anger, fear and uncertainty these words invite us to a different way of living, a life like the one we follow....whatever the cost.  



Monday, November 21, 2016

Still

Here I sit.  
Still for a moment.  
It's quiet 
after a busy day of prep for Thanksgiving.  
Food to buy, 
preparations to make, 
a home to clean.  

But for a moment it's still.
In the quiet I'm thinking about 
all the things I can give thanks for.
God has and is so good.
He's always good.
We live in the shadows 
of his goodness
even when 
we can't see it.

It's because of a good God
we are here
and are able to say
"thank you!"

It's because of a good God
we have family to share
this time of year.

Thank you, God, for being so
good to us.
You are kind and gracious 
even when we deserve none of it.

Thank you.

None of this is new or inspirational,
but it's important to say it,
to do it,
to realize
we live by the mercy,
grace
and kindness
of a good,
good God.

And for that I say thank you.



Monday, November 14, 2016

Dragging stuff

Today we finish packing.  Tomorrow we move.  We are attempting to downsize our lives and move into a smaller place, but there is so much "stuff!"  As we try to pack it all we both realize our lives are encumbered by things.  Things we actually paid money to own and now wonder, "what were we thinking?"

The "stuff" of this world is so completely worthless!  As we downsize it seems the only things that we cherish are photos, gifts and cards from loved ones and the clothes we must have to live.  All the rest quickly falls away.

Why do we drag so much stuff around with us?  Why do we cling to the things that don't matter?  As Solomon said, "man works for his mouth (his appetites)" but we never seem to have enough.  Both my wife and I are trying to strip away the unnecessary and cling to the important things of life.  What really matters?  What do we really care about....and, really...it's surprisingly little.

Life is not about the stuff, it's about the people, the experiences, the memories...the stuff becomes a needless distraction.  Why does it take us so long to figure that out?




Thursday, November 10, 2016

Working on the main things


Today I'm done with discussions about the presidential race. 

Today I begin, once more, to love well, seek peace and bridge chasms. 

Today, anew, I seek to be Christ in the world and not a simply a "Christian".....whatever that means in these days. 

Today I once more revisit the main things: 
Love God, 
love others 
and do good.

The rest will work out.

It's easy to be distracted with things you really aren't called to do and fail to do what you must.

We are called to love, to serve, to care, to reflect Christ.

As the church in these days we aren't doing that well.
It's time to once more revisit our tasks-

Be a witness of what Christ has done in our lives.

Love God. That means doing what he says!

Love others.  Really love them, don't just say, "Love you man." and walk away.  Really love!  It's humbling, it's messy and it means you have to actually live out your faith.

(That would be great to see, wouldn't it?)

And finally, we must be those who bridge chasms.

I'm sure you ask, what does that mean?

It means reaching out to those who differ with us and loving them well.  It means helping those who are the outcasts, the hurting, hungry and so much more.

It means being Christ in our world and in our time.

We have failed at that as the church.  It's time to once more revisit our calling, our identity, the one thing that changes the world...Jesus Christ in us living his life through us.


Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Sore knees

Well, today we know.  Today the sun is rising just as it did yesterday.  Today people are going to work just as they did yesterday.  It's a new day and the one thing that gives us hope and confidence is that the sovereign God of the Universe is still seated on the throne of heaven.  Everything is ok.

The one thing that will be changing for me is that I realize, for the remainder of my life,  my knees will be quite sore....I am going to need to spend a lot of time in prayer for this country, this world as we near the end of days.  It doesn't matter who is president.  It does matter who is God.

And so I appeal to him that the hearts of men would be turned back to the God who made them.

Lord,  Use the events of these days to draw men and women to you.  We need you.  You alone can fix the problems of our fallen race.  You alone are Lord.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Election day

Today is November 8th, 2016.  It's a normal day except for one thing- it's the day of our presidential election in the United States.  This year it has been more controversial, angry, bitter and divisive than any other election I can remember.  Neither candidate is appealing to the America people.  I can't tell you how many have said, "I held my nose with one hand and voted with the other."

But, at the end of the day we will have a new president.  Some fear one choice will lead us to destruction. Others claim the other choice will doom us to hell.  Neither one will make an impact on eternity, but they will affect the lives of those who live in this time.  One is pro-life. The other is radically pro-abortion.  On this issue alone the election could be waged, but it has taken a back seat to the personalities involved.

One is a narcissistic billionaire.  The other is a narcissistic multi-millionaire.  One is a man, the other a woman.  Both claim spirituality,  but neither has a faith we can see as they live out their lives.  It is one of the most depressing elections I have ever witnessed.  And divisive!  I've mentioned that, but the divide is dramatic and growing between parties, between races, between people of faith and the secular culture.  The veneer of civility is dangerously thin!  Once that is breached, as it has been in some cities recently, anarchy erupts, angers swell and people are hurt.

Election day.  It was once a day of social harmony, even if laced with differing opinions.  But today it's a dark day in a country seeming to near the end of life.  Every country has a shelf life.  Every nation fails.  It seems we are seeing the first cracks of our civilization and the crumbling foundations of a nation that once prayed and sought God.  But now, like Israel before captivity, we have abandoned God and made ourselves the end of knowledge.

How little we really know.  How small we really are.  As Solomon described us, "the nations are not even a drop in the bucket."  But for us in the midst of these days we find ourselves seeking God's help.  These days move us to prayer, to looking up in desperation and an appeal to a sovereign God for revival, repentance, redemption.  Lord, save those so in need of your love and forgiveness.  And, no matter who wins, work in our midst for your glory!  We are your children and we look to your for help.



Friday, November 04, 2016

Instructions from prison

Paul gave the church some basic instructions for difficult days.  Here they are.  Weave these verses into the fabric of your life and your days will be lived with a focus on God, not a focus on man.  When we focus on God peace comes. When we focus on man fear, confusion and worry are the results and so Paul writes,

"Don’t worry about anything;
instead, pray about everything.
Tell God what you need,
and thank him for all he has done. 
 Then you will experience God’s peace,
which exceeds anything we can understand.
His peace will guard your hearts and minds
as you live in Christ Jesus.
And now, dear brothers and sisters,
one final thing.
Fix your thoughts on what is true,
and honorable,
and right,
and pure,
and lovely,
and admirable.
Think about things that are excellent
and worthy of praise."

These words come from Philippians 4.  Written to a church while Paul himself was in prison.  Words of hope and focus when it seems the world is falling apart.  In truth, when we live man centered lives fear is unavoidable.  But, if we take a moment and remember who is in charge, when we live God focused peace overwhelms us....even when we find ourselves in prison.





Thursday, November 03, 2016

The problem with man

There is a reality we don't want to face.  It's a truth that honestly attacks the very heart of our pride as human beings.


Here it is-  without God we become animals.



Brutal, isn't it?  But follow with me as Paul tells Timothy about the last days,


2 Timothy 3:1 You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God.

God warns us of the problem in the end days....it's us!  Notice Paul's warning in verse one, "in the last days difficult times will come."  And then he gives the reason in verse two, "For people will...."  

The reason the days are difficult is because men have abandoned God and when we do that we become the worst sort of barbarians and animals.  The difficult days are because men have walked away from God and the outcome is men without hearts, as Francis Schaefer describes them, men who become like animals in their desires for self, for the flesh at the cost of anyone or anything else.

That's why they will be difficult.  Man without God becomes an animal.  And, that's why we needed a Savior, a Lord who would civilize us, make us human. Without Christ and all that a man becomes because of Christ we simply lose all humanity.

Many talk about morality without God, but without God we have no guide for what that morality even looks like.  Without God, our problem reveals itself clearly.....we see man, fallen man, become what we really are...and those will be some of the most difficult days we have ever seen.


Wednesday, November 02, 2016

The fuzzy edge of God's presence

We live between two worlds.  The world of the temporal, the temporary, the world ruled by time.  It's a world with an end, a "due date,"  a life controled by and lived in moments.

And, if we are Christ followers, we live in the world of the eternal where we, at times, touch the fuzzy edge of God's presence. It's as if in a moment of time we sense him.  In him we live and move and have our being.  He lives in us and he gives us life each moment, but only  seldom are we aware  of his presence.

And yet, as we live between two worlds, with one foot in time and the other in eternity,  we begin to feel the life of eternity surging through our spirits, giving us new vision, new desire, and a different purpose.  If you watch a Christ follower for very long you will see their struggle as they live between these two worlds.

It happens as the allure of things evaporates in the presence of the one we really desire.  And, without realizing it, we turn the attention of our moments here from seeking the things that will rust or rot to the one who is the very source of life!

More and more, as I think about how I want to spend my moments, I'm drawn into eternity....drawn by the awareness that God is all I desire, all I really want. And more than ever I want the fuzzy edge of his presence to be my constant reality.

The world fades, it's goods and glory not worth the time.  Eternity draws, it's goods and God's glory worth everything!

  

Monday, October 31, 2016

I'm still here...

I know there are still a few who visit this site on occasion.  

Although blogs have lost their following for the most part there are still a few of us who will continue to write.  

I have much stored up to write here, but we are in the midst of chaos and a move.  Once that is done I'll be back.


Thursday, October 27, 2016

Here it is....


In just 9 words-
all you need to know,
all you need to do
to live out your faith.

In a world filled with fear,
selfishness,
greed,
and selfies,
here is our
mandate,
our model
for how to
imitate Christ.

That's it.

Because if you love
others
it means you will
see them,
care for them,
tell them about
your hope,
your savior,
your faith...
because 
that is what
love does.

Have a great day.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Early morning thoughts

It's Monday morning again!  I'm always up early, but this morning I had some time to read, think and reflect.  I'm watching the sun rise out the window amid the clouds.  What a beautiful morning.

I'm also watching the morning begin as neighbors leave for work, coffee in hand, to begin a new week.  Once more we begin the cycle of a new week and the crazy lives of a busy city. In the madness of all we are busy doing it's easy to forget why we are doing it.

Our lives spin up to a crazy pace and we never take a moment to ask, "What am I living for?  Why am I here?"  It seems, as I look around, the enemy has weaved a wonderful tapestry of busyness to keep us from thinking about why we live in the first place.  

This is not about the meaning of life, I'm just aware of the chaos that has created the lives we live.  In this chaos we have a moment to think, a second of quiet,  a time to ask.....why?

It's rare to find a place or a moment to think and when we do have that moment our culture reaches for the phone to occupy themselves with something that doesn't matter.

Lord,  help me find moments, quiet,  time to be still and listen, time to hear you.  In the midst of a world gone mad you are still speaking for anyone who would be bold enough to step away from the noise and simply be still.