Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The journey

Photo by Tatyana Tomsickova

We all find ourselves on a journey of faith.  There are times when we feel alone, scared and lost, but we never are.  We are never alone, Jesus said I will never leave you or forsake you.  We never need to fear, Jesus said "do not fear I am with you". We are never lost, God said he would direct our steps. 

Although the journey is scary at times God is always with us. Even when we feel alone, lost and troubled, we never are....God is there, leading us, caring for us.  All through the bible he is constantly reassuring us, "don't be afraid little flock, I will take care of you."  

Wherever you find yourself on your journey today you need to know God is with you, holding your hand, leading you in the way you should go.  He will never leave you.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

God loves me?

How do you know God loves you?
How do you see his affection?
How do you see his smile?
How do you know he cares?

I've always questioned his love.
I've often wondered how he could love me.
I know what I'm like.
Who would ever love me...if they really knew me?

Constantly I struggle with this.
Constantly I feel unworthy.
Constantly my mind rebels at his outstretched hands,
I'm not worthy!
Don't tell me you love me.
I don't deserve it.

And yet he reaches out.
With nail pierced hands that tell me of his love.
With a smile that says, "I love you! I want to be with you."

I struggle with that.
I'm so unworthy.
How can he love me?
He knows my heart.
He knows what I'm like.
How could he like that?

I'm unworthy and yet he loves me.
My mind can't absorb it.
I don't know what to do with that.
It's too much.
I don't deserve it.

And finally I collapse in fatigue.
I give up.
I stop struggling and finally respond,
"Yes, you love me.  I know you do.
I don't understand it, I don't deserve it.
I can't respond to it, but finally, in despair
I rest in your love."

And finally I find the me he has loved all along.
I discover that I am only complete in his love.
I'm only fully what he made me when I rest in his love.
A love for someone unworthy.

I don't know what to do with all of this.
It doesn't make sense to my mind.
My heart rejoices, but my mind struggles.
It's only when I stop trying to figure it out,
and simply rest in his arms that I understand...

....that God loves ME!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Saturday's funny

I found this on Youtube and thought it was great.  Just something funny for a Saturday morning.  Enjoy...

Friday, February 22, 2013

Finishing Well

A friend of mine sent me a link to a message by Howard Hendricks that I had not listened to in decades.  It was a very poignant message in light of the fact that Prof Hendricks died this week.  To be honest I forgot about this message many years ago, but it's theme and conviction has followed me my entire life.  The message was titled "Finishing Well" and it is profound, convicting and has challenged me to reenergize my push for the prize.  I just listened to it once more.  If you are a Christian it's a message you need to hear.  You can listen to it here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

You are not alone

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Again, God says to you: "For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you."   Isaiah 41:10, 13

A friend sent this to me this morning.  He's a good friend, he's been praying for me, he loves me.....and I needed this.  I am prone to discouragement and depression.  I struggle some days to function, to just get up and go, but I do.  Often, as I'm driving away from the house in the early hours of the day I'm aware that I already have a frown on my face.  What a way to start!  What a terrible way to start a day.  

I have no reason for my discouragement or depression.  Most of us who struggle with it rarely do, it's just a dark cloud we live under and try to survive.  This morning I'm reminded that I'm not alone.  God is with me, my friend loves do many others.  I am not alone. Neither are you.  We are never alone if we are God's children.  This promise applies to each of us who have trusted him.

Let me encourage you to "graze" on this passage.  Roll it over in your thoughts, think about it through the day, take time and memorize it. I'm going to memorize it.  Passages like this are vital to the life of anyone living in a fallen world, anyone struggling with discouragement, depression, or feelings of are never alone.  God is holding your hand.  Look up!  God is smiling dear child, he loves you!

Big footprints, a big life

Early this morning one of the great men of my life passed away, Howard Hendricks. Most knew him as "Howie" or "Prof". All of us who were influenced by his life and words loved him.  For me, the relationship with Howard Hendricks began when I went to Crusade staff training in Arrowhead Springs the summer of 1971.  Howie was our teacher for the evening sessions in the outdoor theater.  As a young 20 year old student among 1,500 others training to be part of Campus Crusade for Christ staff it was a magical summer.  I can still see Howie on the stage each evening as he taught us.  I knew he had to be 6'3" tall!   He wasn't, but the image in my head even today is of a man larger than life. He was.

His messages on cassette tape were part of my regular diet as a growing Christian.  I know he told the stories over and over again, but I never tired of them or his sense of humor.  A few years ago my wife and I went to a conference he hosted with Chip Ingram.  It was great to see him and visit with him again.  He was warm and engaging with everyone, but we each felt special.

Great men of God are rare in our world.  Howie was one of them.  He was one of the men who influenced my life and I'm grateful for his influence and impact on my walk with God.  

Thank you, Prof, for being part of so many lives as you served God.  I think you will be surprised one day to see how many lives were changed because you were faithful.  Thank you.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Relax, enjoy your life....

While walking in Balboa park yesterday we came across this booth.  I had to take a photo.  I wish I had time to visit with those in the booth, but we only had an hour to see the park.

I was humored by their banner...

Hell does not exist
or heaven either
enjoy your life.

To be honest my first thoughts when I saw the banner...if there is no life after this what is there to enjoy here?  How could I possibly relax if this is all there is to my existence?  Relax?  Enjoy my life?  All without a hope, without eternity?  Absurd!

The other thing that came to my thoughts do they know there is no hell, no heaven, no eternity ahead?  How do they know that?  What an arrogant claim...the claim that they know about the unknowable.  It's a claim no one can make with knowledge, except for one person...Jesus himself...who knew about what happens after death, who knew about heaven and hell.  No one else knows the certainty of the afterlife but the one who experienced it and came back to tell us about it.

The absurdity of these claims is missed by even those who make them.  How could they know?  They don't!  And yet they make dogmatic claims that are baseless in truth and absurd at best.

I would rather put my faith in someone who really does know about eternal things....the one who made eternity, and told us about what's on the other side of death, God himself.  He's the only one who knows for sure what follows this life.  I think I'll take his word for what's next.  He is much more "in the know" than these atheists in Balboa park on a Saturday afternoon.

Friday, February 15, 2013

39 years ago today....

Thirty nine years ago today I married a beautiful young lady I had known for less than three months.  We really didn't know each other at all!  

Now, today, thirty nine years later I know her better than anyone else on the planet and love her more than I could imagine.  It's amazing how quickly thirty nine years passes.  It's amazing that we can live with someone for so many years and grow more in love each day.

There is another person involved in our marriage.  It's God.  He's woven our lives together, helped us grow in love for each other, our kid and for him.  It's his presence in our lives that has made all the difference.  We both knew him when we married, but didn't realize then that he would be the key person in the success of our marriage.  It's his love and forgiveness of us that has helped us love and forgive each other.  Today we celebrate our years together with God who made it possible.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Getting away

As you might have noticed I haven't posted for a bit.  A lot of distractions are my excuse.  Tonight I add another one...a trip away to celebrate our anniversary.  We will be back soon, but for a few days the focus is entirely on my wonderful wife.  

Celebrating God's goodness

This week is Valentine's day.  The bane of every man and joy of every woman.  We men have no idea what to do, but we try...we try to get the right card, flowers, dinner out, and hope we can express how we feel about our loved one in a way that makes them feel loved.

It's also another special day for my wife and I.  We got married the day after Valentine's day.  It seemed like a good idea at the time, but has proved difficult for me to make both days special over the years.  This Friday we celebrate 39 years of marriage.  It's strange to write that.  I'm not old enough to be married that long and I never imagined I would be.  Couples married this long are always old, but we aren' it feels a bit odd.  

As I write about this special person and these many years together it also speaks of a third person who has been part of our lives through it all....God.  It's because of his goodness and love that I met my wife.  It's his goodness to us that has helped us through the many difficult times of life.  It's having that third person in our marriage and his goodness to us that has made it easy for us to get to 39 years together.

Taste and see how good God is has been a wonderful truth for us in our lives together.  We are both grateful for the goodness of God and the wonderful years we have had together.  I think, at least for me, that I never imagined marriage could be so good, but when God is part of it it makes all the difference.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Have you noticed?

Have you noticed that most of life is just a bit boring?  Days come, days go and we work, we sleep, we do the same things day after day.  To be honest most of life is pretty boring.

Have you noticed that storms only come once in a while? They aren't the norm in any life.  We live rather repetitive boring lives with an occasional storm that seems to overwhelm us for a time, but they don't last.

Have you noticed we hate the boring normal, but we hate the storms even more?  And yet, it's the storms that create the stories of our lives.  Storms are the events of life that make us grow!  

Have you noticed that after you have been through a few storms they don't scare you so much as they did at first?  In the storm there is fear, but it's in the storm that our faith grows as well.  We come through the storm stronger than when we entered it.

Have you noticed that people who haven't suffered many storms in their lives are honestly a little boring, a little dull.  They haven't had to grow, to fear, to trust....all the things that happen to us in storms.

Have you noticed that the normal boring of life doesn't change us much, but the storms always do?  The storm that we feared would destroy us actually has made us stronger!

Have you noticed that God allows storms because he loves us?

James 1:2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Come to me

 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  -Jesus

These verses from Matthew have encouraged Christians for centuries.  They have been comfort, help, and direction for many.  I have heard these verses taught by many pastors and teachers, each with the encouragement of the promise Jesus makes in his offer.

Might I narrow my focus a bit?  Could I talk about just three words in this passage?  The words that have captivated me this morning are these, "Come to ME".  "Come to me" is an invitation to a relationship, an invitation to a person, to a conversation.

For me to even consider such an invitation I must know that the one offering the invitation cares about me, is interested in me and is safe.  And I need to know this person is available....

As I focus my attention on these three words I find them blooming and beginning to produce fruit.  Come to me....for a person living more than 2,000 years after these words were spoken I have to know that his offer is still available, that he's still available.  I also have to know how to approach him, how do I come to him?  How do I find him?

"Come to me" is the boldest and most personal invitation to relationship ever offered by anyone.  It puts the Christian faith in a completely different category from any other faith.  It makes this thing called Christianity all about relationship....a relationship with someone who, with just three words, has invited us all to know him, to talk to him, to share our lives with him.

There is another subtle nuance that must be mentioned....for me to come to him these 2,000 years later he must still be alive and able to welcome me.  He cannot be in the grave or his offer was just mean, cruel and the words of a liar; but if his words apply to me and you then he must be alive and still speaking these words to the generation I live in.

Come to me.  It's probably the grandest most loving invitation ever offered....for God in flesh, Jesus Christ, to say to me, "come to me...." and welcome me to a relationship, to his love, to acceptance, to his home and eternity ahead....why it's more glorious than I can even imagine.  Who could ever think of three words that would be more important than these?  

"Come to me" was and is an invitation by Jesus to every man.  An invitation into an intimate relationship with the God who made us.  No other religion, no other god has ever made such a wonderful offer, such an amazing invitation.  How could we possibly say no?

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Photo of the day

It was a great day in Dallas today, a perfect day to be outside.  I was able to join friends for a photo walk in Grapevine.  Here's one of my photos from the walk.  

Saturday's cartoon

Friday, February 01, 2013

Walking in darkness

It was nearly 40 years ago.  My first apartment after college.  I was pastor of evangelism at a growing church and just starting in ministry.  They were fun and exciting days.  My monthly salary was $364.00.  There wasn't much left at the end of the month, but it was never boring!

One of my new neighbors was about my age.  I don't remember what he did for a living...I don't even remember his name, but I do remember he was blind.  

One evening he invited me over for dinner.  I was glad for new friendships and looked forward to the visit.  His apartment was a mirror of mine, but much more basic in decor.  There were no pictures on the walls. I realized that pictures were useless to him.  Who needs pictures when you can't see them?  Furniture was very basic as well.  Any extra clutter just got in the way, something to trip over.  Decor was an unknown concept to my friend. I guess if you can't see it, it doesn't matter.

We had a great visit and the dinner was really good, but I soon realized was getting dark outside and so it was inside as well.  My friend had no need of pictures on the walls, but soon I realized he had no need of lights either.  Gradually the darkness of the night outside settled into his apartment as well.

I didn't want to be rude, so I said nothing and tried my best to find my food on the plate and not sound strange as we visited in the dark.  It was normal for him. It was a memorable experience for me.  My friend never bothered with lights, so I'm sure it never came to his mind that I might need them. 

If all you know is darkness it's normal.  My friend had never seen, never known the experience of seeing, of color, of sunsets, of a baby smiling, the movement of the trees as the wind blows.  He didn't know what he was missing.  How could he? 

But once you know light, once you have really seen what's around you, life is never the same again. 

God uses the imagery of light and dark to contrast his kingdom with the world as it is...a world of darkness.  There couldn't be a more dramatic contrast.  All around us are people living in the light and people living in the dark.  Those who walk in the darkness have no idea what they are missing.  They don't worry about lights, about pictures on the walls, about a beautiful sunset, they don't even know.

People of the light are keenly aware of the difference between light and dark.  They see and enjoy it all. 

God's desire is to give sight and light to every man, to heal every blind eye, to illuminate every soul. God's desire is for everyone to come to the light, to see...  

"I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness." -Jesus