Monday, April 30, 2012

The Pastor

I just finished Eugene Peterson's memoir, The Pastor.  What a wonderful and honest look at his life as a pastor of many decades.  I was challenged by his balance between the knowledge of the Bible and his relationship with God.  Few of us balance both well.  

He was asked near the end of the book what he liked best about the pastorate and he replied, "the mess."  I get that!  The mess of lives working through all the stuff, growing in faith, struggling with the world.  What a great way to describe the pastorate.

I've wanted to read this book for a while and today I had the joy of reading this amazing story.  It's not a book that would interest everyone, but if you're a pastor it will challenge you and make you smile as well.  


As I begin this odyssey called sabbatical one of the things I want to focus on is listening. Listening to the Holy Spirit, listening to my own heart and thoughts, listening for God's moving in me. It will mean I must be quiet. In a world of noise finding quiet places is difficult, but my desire is to listen for the work of God in my life. I pray that I will be able to quiet my life so I can hear that still small voice of God.


Psalm 62:5
Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.

Today I get off the hectic road of ministry and begin a time of rest.  Today I begin to refresh and rediscover my relationship with God.  Today I begin a sabbatical from ministry.

I hope that this time will be a great time of rest, refreshing and discovery.  My goal is to step away from all that I'm doing right now and focus my time and attention on God.  Books to read, naps to take, places I must go, but in the midst of it all is do I get better acquainted with the God who made me?  How do I discover a new closeness to him?  That's my quest.  I'll update you here as I journal my time away.

Saturday, April 28, 2012


Have you ever felt small?  Have you ever looked at the night sky and thought how small and insignificant we seem in the vast universe around us?  

We find ourselves on a small planet in the back alleys of the universe looking out at an amazing view of just a few of the billions of stars around us.  It all makes me feel very small and it was meant to.  As I look at the universe and see how vast it really is the question I ask is this, Who made all of this?  What kind of God is this that could make and sustain all that I see?  

The bible says that God named every star and knows each one by name.  Really?  In the vastness of this amazing universe God claims to not only be the creator but also the sustainer of it all.  What fascinates me as I look at the night sky are these words from Genesis 1,  "He also made the stars."  With just five words God describes a work that scientists are still trying to figure out.  Amazing..... 

Small?  It's a sense of our place in the universe and yet we seem to claim we know so much.  Around us are men who claim to know how it all began, where it came from, and yet they really know so little.  In the vastness of all that is around us it is fascinating to me that some claim knowledge they cannot possibly have.  

Small.  It's how I feel until I read these simple words, "God loved you so much that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him will have everlasting life."  In that short passage I realize the God who made the heavens sees and loves me.  Even if no one else ever sees me God does and he loves me.  How strange that God would love such a small little planet like this.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Talking to the one who hears

Psalm 115
 1 Not to us, LORD, not to us 
   but to your name be the glory, 
   because of your love and faithfulness.
 2 Why do the nations say,
   “Where is their God?”
3 Our God is in heaven;
   he does whatever pleases him.
4 But their idols are silver and gold,
   made by human hands.
5 They have mouths, but cannot speak,
   eyes, but cannot see.
6 They have ears, but cannot hear,
   noses, but cannot smell.
7 They have hands, but cannot feel,
   feet, but cannot walk,
   nor can they utter a sound with their throats.
8 Those who make them will be like them,
   and so will all who trust in them.

As I read these words this morning I paused to thank the God who hears, the God who is.  It saddens me to know that throughout time men have worshiped man-made gods, the works of our hands.  

Somehow we all know there is a god and many have made them with this inner sense and need to worship.  I am thankful that the God who is has revealed himself and is able to speak, to hear, to feel, to respond to my prayers.

I'm thankful that the God who made heaven and earth loves us and has provided life, community, his word and his presence so we might know the God who is, the God who hears.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A proud dad!

Our son, Ian, is 37 today!  He's an amazing man and I'm very proud of him.  

He's a Christ follower, a husband, a dad, a musician and an amazing artist.  He doesn't know a stranger and has more friends than anyone I have ever met.  

I love you son!  Have a great birthday.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Thoughts on Dubai at 1:30 in the morning

Saturday night we were in Dubai to catch our plane home.  It is an amazing airport.  Probably one of the most beautiful I have ever seen.  We arrived at 11:00 pm and left at 2:40 am.  We had a few hours to see the airport, shop and rest.  What amazed me were the thousands of people at 1:30 am moving through the airport to catch their flights to their next destination.  They were from all over the globe.  Black, white, asian, arab, every language you could imagine.  I don't think I've ever been in one place that had so many people from so many different countries. It was amazing.

I wish I could have visited with some of them and heard their stories...where they were from, their lives, their sorrows, their joys.  I wish I had been able to know more about them than that we were all going somewhere.  Each life with a story.  Each person with an eternity ahead.  I so wish I could have had time to visit with a few of them about God......


Trust God for the moments.

Often our problems are so big, so painful that we can't imagine how we will get through a day.  It's just too hard.

Don't focus on the day.  Take it one moment at a time, one breath at a time and trust God in that moment, for that brief time when you can trust him for just this moment of time.

God is the God of creation, but even more important to me is that he is the God of moments.  At any time of test, of sin or of pain I can call to him and he's there.  He will help me, comfort me, love me and carry me through the moments of my day.

As each moment passes God will walk with you, comfort you and help you.

Trust God in your moments.  It's a living breathing relationship with the God who loves and cares for us in our moments.

Psalm 73: 23 Yet I am always with you; 
you hold me by my right hand. 
24 You guide me with your counsel,    
and afterward you will take me into glory. 
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?    
And earth has nothing I desire besides you. 
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,    
but God is the strength of my heart    
and my portion forever.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Our team

Here's a photo of the five guys on our team last week.  I'm honored to be part of the team.  All of them did an amazing job of teaching and loving on the pastors at the conference.  It was a great week!

Monday morning thoughts

I'm up early.  Not adjusted to the time here at home yet.  I guess I'm still on Kenya time.  It always takes a while to adjust.  Here are just a few thoughts on the last week in Africa:

-We had a great team on this trip that worked really well together.  They helped each other and supported one another all through the week.  It was great to see a group of men bond the way this team did.

-It was a week without.  Without television.  Without cell phone.  Without internet.  Without e-mail.  Without texts.  I realized, as I thought about this, that it was a wonderful loss.  I had time to think, to rest, to relax.  The constant flow of information in our lives is not all that healthy.  It was great to be without it all for our week in Africa.

-Our trip took us through Dubai.  What an amazing airport!  At 1:30am Saturday night the airport was packed with travelers, literally thousands from all over the world, running to meet the next flight in this airport in the dessert.  It was also amazing what a facility they had built.  The airport had over 200 gates for airplanes.  It was like a sea of people flowing to the next destination.

-I'm so glad for foods from around the world.  I love the different spices, the different flavors.  It was amazing to taste garlic that was hotter than chili peppers.  It was interesting to have a veggie burger at McDonalds in Dubai.  It was great to have lamb with all the spices that go with it.  But, I have to admit....I'm so glad for good ole' american food.

-One of the things that the pastors in Kenya do really well is worship.  It was a rich blessing to participate in worship with such excitement and joy.  They love to worship and it gave us a greater love for it too.

-The pastors we met with all begged for books.  None of them have good resources or the money to buy them.  They want to learn, to grow, but don't have the resources to do it.  That's my next project.  To get them good resources to do their job as pastors.

-These trips are always good for me.  I get so myopic in my little world and forget that around the world life is going on even as I live my moments.  I pray for a bigger view of life than the one I have now.

I'll share more as the thoughts process, but for now it's great to be home.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Home at last

Finally home.  After 36 hours of travel we are home!  I will tell you more after some rest, but for now I'm just glad to be home.  Thank you all for your prayers for our trip.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Building up one another

My teammate, David Vinson, took this photo. It's from our time together today. It's Tuesday evening here and my first chance to get an internet moment. The week so far has gone really well and our team is wonderful together. They have helped one another, encouraged each other and built up each other as we have worked together. It's been a great experience to see five men work together to serve God and share with other men and women half-way around the globe.

Our time with these pastors has been a rich blessing. They are so sweet and caring. Each one asks about our church back home. Each one gives you the "Kenyan handshake" (there are rules to this secret handshake), and each one loves us. It's such a blessing to be here. We can all see how needed this time is with these pastors. They are learning so much and are hungry for everything we give them. They have no other source for material to grow so they are like baby birds with their mouths open.

Thank you all for your prayers. God has richly blessed and we are enjoying the answers to your prayers as we spend this week in Kenya. I'll share more as I can.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Off to Africa

This morning I am on my way to the airport for a flight to Africa. We will be in Nairobi, Kenya sometime tomorrow afternoon. I have a great team with me and am looking forward to a wonderful week with 50 great pastors in Kenya.

As I have opportunity I will keep you updated, but because of where we will be there is limited internet connections. Thanks for your prayers and support.

Off to Africa.....

Thursday, April 12, 2012

It's all about Him!

Romans 11: 36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.
To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

This amazing verse comes at the end of a difficult treatise by Paul about his people, the Jews.
The question unasked in Romans, that Paul now answers in chapters 9-11, is this- what about the Jews? What is God's plan for them. Many are still trying to understand all that Paul wrote in these three chapters, but this verse we are looking at today is his conclusion.

From him- God is the source of all things. They all come from him. He made everything. That's a clear declaration of scripture from beginning to end. Why? He will explain that at the end of the verse, but core to understanding all that exists is this source question- where did all of this come from? God declares clearly, "It all came from me. I made everything that is." Even science agrees with God on this. The word science uses to describe this "from Him" idea is a term science calls biogenesis. It means that living things come only from other living things. This is a scientific principle that agrees with the declaration of scripture. Life made life. The life that is the source of all life is God himself.

Through him- Not only is God the source of all things he is also the sustainer of everything. One of the things science cannot explain is life itself. Where did it come from? How did life start? What is life? What the bible declares is that God not only gave life to all things, but even holds them all together and sustains everything that is. He keeps it all going, every cell, every life, every breath. (Col. 1:15-18)

To him- And, finally, he is the one all things return to. Life came from him and returns to him. Source, sustainer and finally culmination of all things.

Why? Why has he set it up this way? I love the last part of this short verse, so that "To Him be the glory forever." Why did he do it this way? So he would be glorified, worshiped and praised. All that is comes from him, is held together by him and will return to him so that he will be glorified and praised. That's the right response to all he is and all he has done.

It is, in fact, all about him. Man's response? In our world today, as Paul describes in Romans 1, is to deny the creator and credit the creation with its own inception, but there is no question in scripture that at the heart of everything is God himself. It is, in fact, all about him! Amen!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Close call

As I watched this video I many times have I been this close to disaster in my own life and didn't realize it? How often has God had to protect me from certain death and I was oblivious to the situation?

In Psalms David talks often about how God is a fortress for him, a protection in difficult times. I think God does that for us as well. I know from my own life that God has often protected me and I was unaware of the threat. God is a wonderful fortress for those who trust him. A safe place to rest in difficult days.

Heading east.....

In two days and a couple hours I will be on a plane heading for Kenya. It an extremely long trip, but such a joy to spend time with pastors and friends in this wonderful country. We are beginning year two of our four year bible college with a group of pastors on the east coast. I'm really falling in love with these guys! They love the Lord and are committed to growing in their knowledge and ability to serve him.

I'm also really excited to be taking four great men with me. None of them have been to Kenya before, but I know they will leave their hearts there. I can't wait to see what God does. It will be exciting.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The test

There is a story in John 8 that has always captivated me. It's a story of a test, a test of Jesus by the Jews. As I read it this morning I thought, maybe for the first time, "why was this a test?" Here is the passage and then a few thoughts,

John 8:3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

You can read the entire story that follows verse 6. It's very familiar to most readers, but here is what captivated my thoughts this morning,

Why was this a test?

Jesus was a good Jew. He loved the law, in fact he wrote the law! The test comes in this way, Moses commanded us....but what do YOU say? Do we go by the law and Moses and stone her? What do you say about this?

Again, I thought, why was this a test?

Then I realized something the Jews knew about Jesus. He put people above the law. He healed on the sabbath, he helped people contrary to the rules of the Jews. People were most important to Jesus and the Jews knew it. The test was this- do we go by the law and judge this woman or do we do things the way you have been doing them and set the law aside to extend grace?

They knew Jesus by now and knew this was a test, the law of Moses vs. the grace of Jesus. They were willing to sacrifice a woman's life to trap him! This story is profound in this way- the Jews knew Jesus to be a man who cared about people, their lives, their forgiveness, and giving grace above anything....even to a woman caught in the very act!

At the end of the story the woman survives and hears these amazing words,

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Grace. Forgiveness. Love. Judgment has been suspended, grace and forgiveness have been given. Jesus has introduced a completely new way of dealing with the sins and lives of people and it's different than the law of Moses. Jesus' way of dealing with us is rich with grace....grace that says to the sinner, caught in the very act, "neither do I condemn you....."

Grace, what a wonderful thing, what a difficult response for those of us who want justice, but in this story Jesus confirms without compromise that a new way of dealing with sin has arrived.....and I'm so glad! Like this woman caught in sin we have each been caught and found guilty and according to the law we should die, but Jesus looks our way with a smile and forgiveness and gives us what we most need....grace.

Happy Birthday, Vaughn

Our grandson, Vaughn, is 3 today. Happy Birthday, buddy, we sure love you!

Monday, April 09, 2012

Monday's cartoon

Easter's greatest truth

"I'm absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God's love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us." -Romans 8

This last weekend was the Christian celebration of the crucifixion and Easter. It's a celebration of so much more than we can even explain or think about in these few days, but core to it all is this- it's about God's love for us. Because he loved us he came, became one of us, died for our sins, and then rose to give us his life and hope for the future. It was all because of his love that the events of the last weekend happened more than 2,000 years ago.

The greatest truth of Easter is this- God loves you. In fact his love is the reason for the Christian faith. I can't think of another religion on the planet that declares, as the Christian faith does, that our God loves us and that's why Jesus became a man and died. It's an amazing story all based on love. No other faith has such a reason for its existence. No other religion has a god passionately in love with his creation as the God of the bible portrays.

Personally, this message is my greatest solace. It's core to my faith. There is a simple verse that every Christian knows, but most miss the heart behind God's actions...."For God so loved the world..." It was love that put this whole Jesus story into action and it was a love eternally working in past history. That's the entire message of the bible- God loves us. It's the golden thread woven throughout the bible. And it's what keeps drawing me closer to him. As I get closer to God I see him not as a judge, a fearsome God waiting to punish me, but I see a loving father waiting to embrace me.....with all my messy life included. God loves me. He loves you. That's the message of Easter.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

What if....

What if Jesus really did rise from the dead. What does that mean? What are the implications for the human race? Why is it so important?

I know there is much I cannot deal with in these words, but let me mention a few implications of the resurrection,

1. If Jesus really did rise from the dead then someone has conquered death.
2. If Jesus really did rise from the dead then there is a God who has power over death.
3. If Jesus really did rise from the dead then he is who he said he was.
4. If Jesus really did rise from the dead then there is life after death and eternity awaits us.
5. If Jesus really did rise from the dead then it is proof he never sinned.
6. If Jesus really did rise from the dead then there is hope beyond this life.
7. If Jesus really did rise from the dead then he is God.

Easter Morning

We just finished our sunrise service celebrating the resurrection. I'm so glad that Jesus rose from the give hope to our faith and assurance to his promises....for if he didn't we are to be pitied above all men.

Thankfully, this Easter morning, the tomb is empty and He is risen!

Friday, April 06, 2012

God's love demonstrated

For God so loved the world that he gave his only son so that anyone who believes will not perish, but will have eternal life. -John 3:16

The great exchange

In my reading I've come to Mark 1 and one of my favorite stories in the bible. It's a very short story...not much said about it, but it's heavy with impact to me. I always slow down as I read this story because I love the message it communicates. Join me in the crowd as we watch what unfolds....
Mar 1:40 And a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, "If You are willing, You can make me clean."
This very action was completely contrary to the law. A leper was required to move from family and friends and live alone. If anyone came near who was not a leper the law required that the leper announce, "Unclean! Unclean!" so that those coming near would know not to get too close. This man did the forbidden, he came unannounced to the very feet of Jesus! When the crowds saw him I'm sure the outcries and insults were loud and emotional. How dare he come here unannounced. But his plea was an amazing one. Listen to his words over the cries of the crowd, "If you are willing, you can make me clean."
Mar 1:41 Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and *said to him, "I am willing; be cleansed."
Now stop just for a moment and read those words again....moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him. I can just see the faces of the crowd. Surprise, amazement, could Jesus touch a man covered in leprosy? I can hear the outcry, the shock. Now Jesus is unclean as well! Now Jesus has made himself an outcast. But he frames his touch with these words, I am willing, be cleansed.
Then it happens, in a moment, with a touch that changed everything for this outcast man...
Mar 1:42 Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.
Immediately, instantly, right then his life was completely different! Not only was he healed, but Jesus had touched him! I believe that Jesus' touch was meant to heal two things- his body and his mind. A man who had not been touched in years was touched by Jesus. The compassion of that touch changed everything. He was a different man!
Mar 1:43 And He sternly warned him and immediately sent him away,
Mar 1:44 and He *said to him, "See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."
Mar 1:45 But he went out and began to proclaim it freely and to spread the news around, to such an extent that Jesus could no longer publicly enter a city, but stayed out in unpopulated areas; and they were coming to Him from everywhere.
And here is the great exchange- the man who was a leper and outcast to the unpopulated areas was now whole because of Jesus' touch and I can just see him hugging everyone he saw and telling them his story. His life was completely changed, and a great exchange happened. Now the outcast was welcome back into community, and the healer took his place....Jesus is now the one in the wilderness, in the unpopulated areas.
The story of the leper is my story. It's his touch when we were in our sins that cleansed us, made us whole and gave us new life. And with his touch he took our sickness and sin on himself. He took our sin and sickness and gave us his life. The story of this leper who experienced the touch of compassion of Jesus that changes everything is my story, it's your story. It's the story of the great exchange.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Does God care?

by Philip Yancey

"A youth pastor in Colorado, had just learned his wife and baby daughter were dying of AIDS. The mother had received a contaminated blood transfusion just before her delivery date. "How can I talk to my youth group about a loving God?" he asked me. "How can I tell them God cares?"

That same week I also heard from a blind man calling on a public phone. Several months before, he had invited a recovering drug addict into his home as an act of mercy. He had just learned the recovering addict was molesting his wife-under his own roof. "It's like God is punishing me for trying to serve him," he said. Blind, he began to imagine all that had been going on. Had the addict forced his wife, or did she cooperate willingly? Just then he ran out of quarters, and the phone went dead. Silence.

I have learned not even to attempt an answer to the "Why?" questions. Why did the youth pastor's wife happen to get the one tainted bottle of blood? Why does a tornado hit one town in Oklahoma and skip over another? Why did that one woman's child get hit by a skateboard on Boston Common? I do not know, and, frankly, after much study I have concluded the Bible does not give us the answer. In his speech to Job, when God had a golden opportunity to enlighten us on causation issues, God avoided the topic entirely.

One question, however, no longer plagues me as it once did. The question Does God care? lurks behind Chet Raymo's poignant story about the silent universe. It also lurks behind much of the Old Testament. Job reluctantly concluded that, no, God could not care about him or about other suffering people. "How faint the whisper we hear of him," sighed Job. The psalmists cried out for some sign that God heard their prayers, some evidence that he had not forsaken them.

I know of only one way to answer the question Does God care? and for me it has proved decisive: Jesus is the answer. Jesus never attempted a philosophical answer to the problem of pain, yet he did give an existential answer. Although I cannot learn from him why a particular bad thing occurs, I can learn how God feels about it. Jesus gives God a face, and that face is streaked with tears.

Whenever I read straight through the Bible, a huge difference between the Old and New Testaments comes to light. In the Old Testament I can find many expressions of doubt and disappointment. Whole books Jeremiah, Habakkuk, Job-center on the theme. As I have said, almost half of the psalms have a dark, brooding tone about them. In striking contrast, the New Testament Epistles contain little of this type of anguish. The problem of pain has surely not gone away: James 1, Romans 5 and 8, the entire book of 1 Peter, and much of Revelation deal with the subject in detail. Nevertheless, nowhere do I find the piercing question, Does God care? I see nothing resembling the accusation of Psalm 77: "Has God forgotten to be merciful?"

The reason for the change, I believe, is that Jesus answered that question for the witnesses who wrote the Epistles. In Jesus, God presents a face. Anyone who wonders how God feels about the suffering on this groaning planet need only look at that face. James, Peter, and John had followed Jesus long enough for his facial expressions to be permanently etched on their minds. By watching Jesus respond to a hemorrhaging woman, a grieving centurion, a widow's dead son, an epileptic boy, an old blind man, they learned how God felt about suffering. By no means did Jesus solve the "problem of pain" he healed only a few in one small corner of the globe-but he did provide an answer to the question, Does God care?…

Finally, Hebrews tells us (5:7), Jesus "offered up loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death." But of course he was not saved from death in Gethsemane and at Calvary we get the incredible scene that Martin Luther has described as "God struggling with God." Is it too much to suggest that Jesus himself asked the questions that haunt me, that haunt most of us at one time or another. Do I matter? Does God care? What else can be the meaning of his quotation from Psalm 22, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

When Jesus Christ faced pain, he responded much as anyone else does. He did not pray in the garden, "Oh, Lord, I am so grateful that you have chosen me to suffer on your behalf-I rejoice in the privilege!" No, he experienced sorrow, fear, abandonment, and something approaching desperation: " ... if it is possible, may this cup he taken from me." Ever attentive to bodily detail, Luke adds, "And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground."

We may not get the answer to the problem of pain that we want from Jesus. We get instead the mysterious confirmation that God suffers with us. We are not alone. Jesus bodily reconstructs trust in God. Because of Jesus, I can trust that God truly understands my condition. I can trust that I matter to God, and that God cares, regardless of how things look at the time. When I begin to doubt, I turn again to the face of Jesus, and there I see the compassionate love of a God well acquainted with grief."*

*Yancey, Philip. The Bible Jesus Read. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1999, p. 208-211.

One week away

One week and counting....another trip to Kenya will be underway. I love these trips. I love taking men and women oversees and watching as God works in their lives. I love seeing what God does as we serve him together. Another exciting trip awaits me only a week away......

The Final Solution

Tomorrow, Good Friday, we remember the most horrible and wonderful day in human history. It stands alone as a day that tells us God loves us, understands our pain, and has provided a solution for our sins. In one day more than 2,000 years ago God declared, through what we all saw at the time as a terrible failure, that he loved us and had provided the final solution for sin. I have heard many call the Christian faith a bloody religion. It is. But what they don't realize is that through the sacrifice of one man forgiveness of sin and restoration of all things has been accomplished once for all.

I am one of billions who have said yes to this gift of love and forgiveness. I am one who understands how wonderful this horrible day was. In the death of Jesus Christ life was provided for everyone. I am a grateful recipient of the eternal life offered to anyone who would simply trust Christ. Because of his sacrifice my sins are forgiven, I have new life, I have a relationship with God, I am now his son, I've been bought back and given life rather than death. Eternally I will have the joy of saying thank you to the God who loved me so much. It seems wrong to celebrate such a horrible day as good Friday, but in that terrible sacrifice the final solution was provided for all of mankind and in that sacrifice for me and you I will now and eternally rejoice.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Quote of the day

"We are outside-in focused, instead of inside-out." -Greg Spencer, Being Real is a real problem


Yesterday was an amazing day in Dallas, Texas. In a matter of hours we had dozens of tornadoes pass through our cities. Hundreds of homes destroyed, but thankfully no one was killed.

The stories told of the day are fascinating. One grandmother held onto her grandchild's feet as the tornado pulled him away. She won that day and held onto him, saving his life. Another elderly woman told of her house coming apart around her as she prayed, "help me Jesus, help me Jesus!"

Tornadoes are so random, so unpredictable. The weatherman this morning said they didn't expect the day to unfold as it did. It completely surprised him. Disaster and changes in our lives are like that. They destroy one home and life while leaving the next untouched. Why? Why did one family lose everything while the next was untouched? I don't know.

In the midst of a day like we had here it gives me pause to think about why we were spared while others lost everything. The question I asked myself was this, "If I had lost everything how would I have responded?" Do I cling to my things? Do I hold the world too tightly? Is my life and identity tied to the things I have accumulated? How would I respond if I lost everything?

I don't know for sure, but I hope my response would be one of praise and thanks to God that he cared for us even as we lose all we have here. Disasters are clarifying. They clarify what is important to us. They focus our vision on what we have most valued. No one wants a disaster, but those who have survived them have a new clarity of what's really important.

Passion week project

We are in day 3 of our passion week project. I wish I had thought to mention this on Monday, but you can still watch the videos for Monday and Tuesday and join us in this Passion week discussion. Join us in our discussion at our Facebook site.

Passion Week Project: Day 3 from Crossroads Bible Church on Vimeo.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Living in the moment

Mat 6:33 Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Mat 6:34 "Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. -THE MESSAGE.

One of the great challenges of life is just the simple task of living in this moment, living a "present tense life." There are two great enemies of a walk with God that try to keep us from walking with God in the "now." One is "the fantasy of what could have been," and the other is "the fear of what might be." Let me address each one of these for a moment.

1. The fantasy of what could have been- We all live our lives looking back to the past or ahead to the future. It's rare that we live in the present tense. One of our enemies is the "fantasy of what could have been." We will often look with a longing for a change because of our present adversities- "If only I had married the other person," or "If only I had finished college," or "If only I hadn't made that horrible mistake" then life would be..... And our thoughts race to alternate present reality because of our dreams of "if only." Dreaming about what could have been can be a wonderful diversion, but it's sin plain and simple. The truth is that there is no "if only I had." There is only what is. Dreaming about an alternate life that would turn out different is a fantasy that brings nothing good to our present situation. It only makes the "now" harder because our fantasy solutions would have completely eliminated our real dilemmas and the need to trust the Lord with our real problems today. So, here is the first sin we often fall into. When you are tempted to visit the land of "if only I had..." make the decision not to go. It's a trip that only brings disappointment to what is your life right now.

2. The fear of what might be- The other problem I see many struggle with is "the fear of what might be." They are experts at worrying about something that hasn't even happened yet. There is no way any of us can see the future, so for us to worry about it before it ever gets here is a clear lack of faith in God to care for our tomorrows. Jesus clearly said, "don't worry about tomorrow." He knew we were tempted to do this, and warned us against it. Fear of what might be often keeps us from walking with God and trusting him RIGHT NOW. We miss the joy of a walk with God in the present tense.

We each have to live a present tense life intentionally. The distractions of fantasy about the past and fear about the future will easily get our attention away from a walk with the living God right now. I mentioned the word “walk” intentionally. It’s the word that the bible uses to talk about our lives of faith. The bible calls it a walk because there are some wonderful present tense elements to a walk that will help us stay focused on the now. Here they are quickly for your consideration- a walk demands a destination, but it can only be done one step at a time, one foot on the path toward the goal, one decision at a time to reach the goal. A walk demands a present tense life. That word, walk, often helps me get back to “now.”

As you go through your day living your life and find the temptation toward fantasy or fear, stop for a moment and ask the Lord, “Lord, where are we right now? What are we working on? Why am I tempted to leave this present tense walk with you?” That quick prayer and awareness of the temptation to thoughts of the impossible will make your present tense life an exciting place to be and will quiet those fantasies and calm those fears. Have a great day.

Monday's cartoon

As an "Apple guy" I thought this was a good start for the day. Have a great Monday.