Saturday, May 31, 2014

Resting in the Lord

Psa 116:7 I said to myself, "Relax and rest. GOD has showered you with blessings.

Psa 37:7 Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him;

We all long for rest...for time to stop, and refresh our lives. The pace of life, the worries we carry, the busy pace we keep wears us all out, and so we look for times to stop and rest.

Many are able to indulge in something called "vacation". This is a time to rest for a week or two, to get away from the busy lives we all live and

The bible mentions another kind of rest- a rest of presence. A rest that is done in the midst of a busy life...done in the presence of God. A rest that can refresh the life and heart in the midst of all the craziness. Rest in the Lord..I read that, but really wonder how that works in real life. How do I do that? How do I rest in him in the middle of all I have to do?
I'm finding it is similar to something that Jesus did....he drew on the resources of God the Father in the midst of a busy life. There is a verse, often passed over, that hints at this hidden resource-
Joh 4:31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging Him, saying, "Rabbi, eat."
Joh 4:32 But He said to them, "I have food to eat that you do not know about."
These verses are in the middle of the story of the woman at the well. The disciples had gone into town to buy food because Jesus was hungry. Now they have returned and this is his response? There is a hint for us from Jesus that there are resources available to meet our needs beyond the physical world we know about. In fact, that's what the manna was all about in the wilderness. A trusting in God's supply in places where there was no physical supply of food, and yet their hunger was satisfied.
In this discussion on rest we are invited to rest IN the Lord. To rest in a relationship with our creator that refreshes us even in the midst of a busy life.
I can't tell you how to do this in your life. In fact David didn't give us the "how", he simply gave us the command- Rest in the Lord! Let me invite you to pursue this rest in your own life. Seek after the rest...the food...that has one source- God himself.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Quote of the day

The measure of our life is not the circumstances we face, but how we face them. 

The Normal Christian Life

I've been thinking about the Christian life. Specifically MY Christian life. I've been trying to evaluate my route of recent years. Why has my odyssey gone this way or that way? Why have I struggled at different times and why have other days been easy and inspired? It's clear that my walk with God has not been a progressively growing and increasingly happy life. I don't think anyone has that kind of walk with God.

Let me see if I can describe the Christian life from my own experiences. For me, as I walk with God, it seems that my walk looks more like a long walk through the desert with an occasional stop at an oasis for refreshment and rest. An oasis is a strange place. In the middle of miles of sand, suddenly and for no reason, water, trees and life appear. It's at the oasis where a weary traveler can rest, get water and gain new strength.

It is my experience that my walk with God can best be described this way- There are many dry days as I continue to walk with God. All the way I know God is with me and caring for me, but days of joy, inspiration and great victory are rare. Then, suddenly and for no reason, I come to an oasis. It's wonderful! Refreshment, rest, water and revival of spirit. If I can, I linger at the oasis for a's such a great place, but at some point I must continue my odyssey and so I head back into the desert to my walk with God.

The oasis is great. It's needed. I would get discouraged and might give up if it weren't for the occasional oasis, but life with God has to be a life of dependence. It must be a life in which I look to God and trust him. I won't find that relationship at the oasis. I have to go out into the desert to discover that kind of relationship. It's the dry days when I learn to trust God. It's the days in the desert when I look to him to help me and give me what I need for the day. It's the dry days in the desert when I grow in my faith the most!

Some pray for an eternal oasis. They never want to leave the cool springs, the wonderful shade, the fig trees, and the comfort of the oasis. But if you depend on the oasis you will never learn to depend on God. So, off to the desert we are led. Led by God to meet with him there. Dry days when we will find our richest walk with God. As I've tried to think through my own walk with God I think this describes my odyssey so far. It's not glorious. It's not always full of great testimonies to share. It's often dry and difficult, but it's my time in the desert where I find an intimacy with God I can never find at the oasis.

This is what I would call the normal Christian life. I think it's the real life of every Christian. Many linger long at the oasis not wanting to leave the comfort there, but some find a hunger for God more powerful than the comfort of the oasis and so they head off into the desert. It's there we find an intimacy and relationship with God that will never be found at the oasis. It's this strange contrast between oasis and desert that describe the walk of the Christian. It is not always glorious, and not always easy. It isn't filled with wonderful stories although there are some. There are days when the best we can say is, with God's help, we got through the day, but between rest at the oasis and walking with God through the desert we grow in faith. The goal? A walk with God that is lived in dependence on him. 

As best as I can describe it, this is my walk with God.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

When I say... "I am a Christian" by Maya Angelou

Updated Dec 21st, 2013
“When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not shouting "I'm clean livin'."
I'm whispering "I was lost,
Now I'm found and forgiven."

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I don't speak of this with pride.
I'm confessing that I stumble
and need Christ to be my guide.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not trying to be strong.
I'm professing that I'm weak
And need His strength to carry on.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not bragging of success.
I'm admitting I have failed
And need God to clean my mess.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not claiming to be perfect,
My flaws are far too visible
But, God believes I am worth it.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I still feel the sting of pain.
I have my share of heartaches
So I call upon His name.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not holier than thou,
I'm just a simple sinner
Who received God's good grace, somehow.”

― Maya Angelou

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Rules

"The Rules" - by Mike Messerli 

Rule #1 - It's ALL about me! I'm the "god" of my world, the "lord" of my universe (this works well, except rule #2 is also true)

Rule#2 - Everyone else also thinks rule #1 applies to them (Reality: rules 1 & 2 don't work, thus #3)

Rule #3 - We all need a new God. The one we "worship" now is not working. We need to allow God, the one who made heaven and earth, to be the only God in our lives and the Lord of our lives. We must stop trying to be our own "gods".

Rule #4 - Sin is defined as any attempt I make to reestablish rule #1.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Quote of the day

Apart from knowing Christ life is a furious waste of time. 

-Mike Messerli

Friday, May 23, 2014


A friend posted this on Facebook. It's a sign on the "jumbo-tron" at a mall.  

It's the theme of a new song by Pharrell Williams.  It's a fun song by the way.  

As I read this bit of "wisdom" I thought about a question I asked a young Amish girl years ago.  We were in an Amish community in Iowa and stopped at the market.  The food there was wonderful and bountiful.  We bought a few things and went to pay for them.  At the check out was a young Amish girl ringing up purchases on a manual adding machine, it had to be 40 years old with a hand crank to add the numbers.  As she added our purchases I asked, "So, are you happy?"  She looked at me with a strange expression and replied, "What has that got to do with anything?"

I was surprised by her answer and amazed that a little 16 year old girl would think at that depth.  Clearly it had been a topic of discussion in her world and was something she had already dealt with and resolved.  She saw life in a different way.  I wish I could have visited with her longer to hear her thoughts on life and happiness, but there were customers behind us waiting to check out as well.

If the purpose of our lives is to be happy what is the goal of that?  What does that even mean?  And what do I do when what makes me happy makes someone else miserable?  It seems I would be messing with the ultimate purpose of that person!  How can we all "be happy"?  

We can't!  And again I ask, what does that even mean?  Does it mean to be without pain and full of food? Does it imply I enjoy every moment? Have all I want? Not ever cry?  If happiness is our goal none of us reach's impossible, elusive and ultimately selfish and self serving.  And, honestly, to quote my young Amish friends comment, "What does that have to do with anything?"

Yes, we all enjoy being happy, having fun, having things our way, but most of the world...and I mean more than 90% of the world....has no idea what happy means and have rarely experienced it.  They are just surviving!  If you asked an African struggling for food for the day, "Are you happy?"  He would probably reply, "What does that have to do with anything?  And what does that even mean???"

I think we love the idea of being happy, the experience of it when we have it, but it's fleeting, temporary, it's a vapor and then it is gone....and then life continues.  It's like a piece of delicious chocolate at the end of a hard day.  It tastes great, but you can't eat it all the time...after a bit you would begin to hate it.  Too much of a good thing...even chocolate, even happiness...becomes repulsive.

Ok, so where am I going with's my invitation- take some time and think about this question, I'll leave it open for you to fill in the end.  "The purpose of our lives is......"

Depending on your worldview your answers will be dramatically different, but the answer to this question defines you.  Directs you. And, it ultimately evaluates your life.  How would you finish the sentence...."The purpose of my life is......"

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Stuck places

We all get stuck. Stuck at points of our life that cripple us in the days ahead. From that "stuck place" we find that we now "walk with a limp." Something happened, we were hurt, wounded, broken, abused, sinned against. A parent died, a wife left, a child became ill, and we got stuck at that terrible that moment in our life.

I'm finding that the problems in people's lives are often the result of their stuck places. From that wound, that death, that divorce we are emotionally stuck and cannot go further, cannot grow, cannot walk away from the wound and so we carry our woundedness with us and sadly create stuck places for others we encounter. We are the walking wounded, the mass of humanity stuck in the past hurts and wounds of our lives that have affected us and now affect those around us.

Stuck places...places we remember vividly because of what they have done to us, moments in time we have recorded in our brains we can replay in high definition detail. We are stuck because of what happened, because of what someone said, what they did to us, how they hurt us. We remember every detail, every moment. We are stuck.

This morning I was visiting with a friend and described my thoughts on this topic. He knew immediately his stuck place and described it in fine detail, as if it had happened yesterday, but in fact it was decades ago. It was life changing for him, he's never forgotten it, he knew exactly when, where and how he got stuck. It's changed him, it changed his family and his life.

Another man I visited with has struggled with alcohol and drugs for more than 20 years. I asked him when he started drinking, doing drugs. He replied, "I started drinking when I was 12." My next question changed everything in our visit. I asked, "what happened when you were 12 that made you look for something to dull the pain?" He lowered his head, he was quiet for a moment, and then he replied, "my baseball coach sodomized me....." There was silence for a moment, but I knew right away that he was stuck at that event in his history. It had affected his life, his family and his path. He was stuck! I told him, "It's not your fault." He broke down and wept, broken, stuck, wanting out, but stuck at 12 years of age.

I know this may not fit with all the counseling models I read about, but I also know that I am seeing this more clearly in each visit I have with someone who is having a difficult time in life, something happened and they got stuck.

Another man I know grew up in a horrible home situation and ran away from the abuse and brutality of his family at the age of 13. Imagine things being so bad that you run away from home at 13. Now, even as an adult, when things get difficult, conflict happens in his life, relationships are hard, he runs away. He's stuck at the tender age of 13 and doesn't know how to resolve his brokenness, his stuck-ness in the pain of his past and so he lives it out in how he makes choices today, more than 30 years later.

Imagine this multiplied by 6 billion. The whole of humanity stuck in the pain and hurt, rejection and abuse of their pasts. Imagine the wounds that are still open, still tender, still bleeding from what has happened in our pasts. Imagine what can happen when even one person brings all their mess, all their stuck-ness to God to resolve.

Where was Jesus when you were hurt, when you were rejected, when you were abused? Where was God when you got stuck? He was right there with you, walking with you through your hurts, your abuse, your divorce, your rejection. It's his great desire that we take our brokenness to him, our stuckness if you will, and allow him to heal, restore, and move you past the pain, past that moment that got you stuck.

My friend who was sodomized at 12 is doing much better, he's no longer a broken hurting 12 year old boy. He's a man beginning to recover. It's available to everyone, no matter what happened, no matter where you got stuck, Jesus came to dissolve the glue of our past, erase the pain of our wounds, heal the scars of our encounters and make us new.

Paul described it this way, 2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation (something brand new!) has come: The old has gone, the new is here (present tense)! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. (getting us "unstuck") And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Are you stuck? Jesus can fix that.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Focusing my vision

"So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him." (ESV) 2 Cor. 5:9

This verse fascinates me with its focus and clarity. It makes me pause and ask some difficult questions. 

In one translation it reads, "We make it our goal to please him." I wondered, honestly, if that really is my goal. Am I living with this as my focus....will this decision, this action please him? 

How can I live today in a way that will please God? 

What does that even look like? 

With this verse I clearly have a target.  With these words I'm given a purpose.  The one thing I need to contribute is to aim at the right target!  It seems, at times, I'm aiming at a dozen different targets in a day and not hitting any of them.  If I were an archer I would be a complete failure!

So now I have a couple questions to ask- What does it look like to "aim to please him"?  Where is the target?  Am I thinking about this with each decision?  Is this a focus of any of my day?  

Quickly I see how easy it is to aim at all the wrong things.

And, finally, what would change in my life if this was my aim?  If I looked, in every situation, every decision, for what it would look like to please him. How would my days change?  

Just a few thoughts from someone who often aims in all the wrong directions......

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Celebrating little things

I have a friend who battles severe mental illness.  Years ago, before all of this developed, he got his degree in robotics.  He was a brilliant man.  Then schizophrenia began to rear its head in his life and everything changed.

After years of treatment that destroyed his mind he is beginning to do better with recent medical discoveries.  It's been hard for him.  He struggles.  He's not always socially appropriate.  He knows it, but there isn't much he can do.  He's trying really hard to find a "new normal".

This morning he sent me this note in an e-mail, "I am worth something.......(smile)."  It's a profound statement for him.  He wonders constantly, with the illness he battles, if his life has meaning, if God can use him.  This brief note is a cause for celebration to me!  For the normal person we assume this is true, but not my friend.  He constantly battles self-worth and his place in the kingdom of God.  He frequently asks, "Do you think God can use me the way I am?"

This morning I'm celebrating little steps for a big man trying to walk with God.  Every life is worth more than all the gold on the planet.  Every person has infinite worth to God.  How wonderful that my friend is beginning to discover that in his own life.  Even the broken, the wounded, the hurting around us are worth more than you will ever know to God and he longs for them, for all of us to know it.

Let me rewrite a verse you know far too well to make my point today, "God loves you so much that he gave the most valuable thing he had to be able to show you his love and have a relationship with you."  Even if you feel worthless to the world, outcast by those around you, even if you feel unloved you are more valuable to God, more loved by God than you will ever know!

Monday, May 19, 2014

On being nobody

I live in a time and place in history when fame and popularity are important.  In fact, if we can't find fame from the media we create it through Facebook.  With enough friends reading all about us and our lives we have a sense of value, significance, a feeling that we are somebody.

Often I have fallen into this trap as well.  I have had the goals and desires for success, fame in my field, the desire to be "known".  With the years of life I am realizing how fickle and worthless all of this really is.  Quickly people weary of any one person and move on to the next "celebrity" who will provoke their interest and attention.  Fame is fickle!

In my world of Christianity I have desired to "make a difference", to be known, recognized, speak in front of large crowds, to "be somebody"!  But I am at a place where I'm honestly thrilled to be nobody.  If God does anything with who I am, where I am and what I do that's up to him.  As for me, I'm finally content with anonymity.  What a great place to be.

Suddenly I find that I can engage people without an agenda, without watching my watch.  Time, status, position and fame don't matter.  What matters is a walk with God....all the rest is God's problem.  Aaaaaaahhhh......finally, I pull over to the slow lane and enjoy the scenery, really listen to those around me, think, experience the world God has made, "smell the roses".  

Finally, for me to live is simply knowing Christ and when it's over I get to be with him!  How great is that?  

All the rest is smoke and mirrors.  

Everything else is a waste of time.

Friday, May 16, 2014


Our sweet daughter has a birthday today.  She has been a wonderful blessing to us since we first met her in the delivery room.  It is true that some of God's best gifts come in small packages.  When she was born they wrapped her in a blanket and then tin foil.  She looked like a little baked potato.  I guess at the time they thought it would keep the warmth in.  What a site!  We love you Linz and hope you have a great day.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


This morning I did the unthinkable....I slept in.  It wasn't intentional.  I was simply exhausted and slept until I woke. It felt great!

Usually I'm up before the sun to read, meet someone for coffee or write. But today I turned off all the alarms and just slept!  It was wonderful.

Someone recently said, "Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is sleep."  This morning I agree.  Now, with that admission is a measure of guilt as well.  I "could have accomplished something" this morning, but I slept instead.  

For many like me who have a bit of an "A" type personality the idea of wasted time is unthinkable, but sleep is never a waste.  It's how God made us.  We need rest to function.  In fact we will all spend at least a third of our lives asleep.  Seems like a waste, doesn't it?  But if we didn't the other 2/3 would be miserable.

As I thought about it this morning a few things came to mind,

Rest is part of another word we use often.  It's the core of the word restore.  Restoration is a renewal of something worn by age or time. To restore me to function with a bit of sleep is the best thing I can do for body, mind and soul.

Rest is a place of accomplishment.  It comes at the end a day of work.  Rest is the finish line for the day.  Rest is the reward for work well done.

Rest is a blessing.  All through the scripture it describes rest as a good thing.  It is true that it can be an escape for some, but for the most part rest is a reward for a day well lived.

Rest is unavoidable.  We must rest.  We are not able to go very long without some renewal, restoration, recovery from the work of a day.  Our bodies need it.  We need it.

Rest is also, ultimately, an acknowledgment that I am not God.  God doesn't need rest, but I do!  Rest for us is a sign there is a portion of the day when we must turn over control of everything to someone the God who made us, the God who designed us to rest.

At night it's a great opportunity to say to God, "Ok, I'm going to go to sleep now. Your in charge while I rest.  I'll see you in the morning."  It might even remind you that he's in charge all the time...even when you're awake.  

Renewal, refreshing, restoration, reward, all words for what rest accomplishes.  Those are all good and needed things.

It's why God uses this word when he writes through David,

"Rest in the Lord...."  Psalms 37

It's in the Lord, as we rest in his care, that we find all we need for another day.  

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Saturday's cartoon


"An angry person stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered person commits many sins." -Proverbs 29:22

Angry people are everywhere.  They show up on the news with the result of their anger in road rage, violence to others, wars, murder....well, you know the list, you see what happens when angry people act out.  It's all around us.

But I was thinking this morning....why are they so angry?  Why are they mad?  Recently I commented on an atheist site in a discussion and the response from another reader was angry and hostile.  Why?  My words didn't deserve that response, it was completely over the top, out of line and surprising.  "Why is he so mad?" I wondered. 

Then I look at the Muslim world.  Anger seems to drive much of what they do as well.  Anger, they claim, for the honor of Muhammed and Allah, but why are they so angry?  What is driving this?

These are some things that have been bouncing around in my thoughts this morning.  It's clear from scripture that the anger really isn't justified and most often it's exaggerated. Where does this come from?  And then I read this,

"why are the nations so angry?...."  Psalms 2

In the words that follow David explains.  They are angry at God!  They are angry that he is there and he is sovereign.  They are angry that THEY are not god and so they push and shove, fight and kill so they can be the "god" of their world.  

They are angry at God!

So how do we respond?  What do we do when we become angry in our own lives?  

First, respond in love.  The best passage for a proper response is Luke 6:27-38.  It's profound in the implications it offers.  And the one who spoke these words, Jesus, actually lived them out perfectly.

Second, when you become angry realize it's your little attempt to be "god".  Calm down, get over yourself and surrender to the God of everything.  He will take care of the problem for you.  You don't have to fix it.

So what do we do with the increasing anger in the world?  How do we deal with it?  We respond in love and kindness.  Anger and rage around us will increase until the day Christ returns, but the contrast between the world and God's kids will become more evident as the world vents its anger at the God who made them.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Allah, school girls and Boko Haram

Selling school's what is about to happen in Nigeria. Here's part of the story,

"(Reuters) - The leader of Boko Haram on Monday threatened to sell more than 200 schoolgirls his Islamist militant group kidnapped in northeastern Nigeria last month.

Boko Haram militants stormed an all-girl secondary school in the village of Chibok, in Borno state, on April 14 and packed the teenagers, who had been taking exams, onto trucks and disappeared into a remote area along the border with Cameroon.

The attack shocked Nigerians, who have been growing accustomed to hearing about atrocities in an increasingly bloody five-year-old Islamist insurgency in the north.

"I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah," Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau says in a video, chuckling as he stands in front of an armored personnel carrier with two masked militants wielding AK-47s on either side of him.

"Allah has instructed me to sell them. They are his property and I will carry out his instructions," he says."

This is what Allah would do? 
"Allah has instructed me to sell them." If that is the way of Islam and Allah then I want nothing to do with a god like that!  

Legacy living

Do you realize that the only impact you will make on time and eternity is in the lives of the people you encounter?  It's most unlikely that we will be remembered beyond our children's memories.  If we are lucky we will get to impact the lives of our grandchildren, but beyond that you and I will most likely be forgotten by the world.

Actually, that's ok because the impact you make on those you encounter can and does have an eternal result.  It's the results that come from a kind word to a cashier, a smile to a child, a listening ear to a hurting friend, a small courtesy to a stranger, a cup of coffee for someone in need.  

Legacy living is not living  for the future, but living in the now fully engaged in the lives of those around you.  It's that legacy that you are here for.  It's those lives that you are here to love, care for and impact for Christ.  Legacy living is a present tense, fully awake, totally engaged life of touching the lives of everyone you meet in a way that their lives are better, encouraged, blessed and changed.  

It's a life lived in the present tense for an eternal goal- that everyone you meet and talk to and engage might know Christ and experience forgiveness and eternal life.  

Often we live for a legacy in the future, but that's an illusion.  Few, if any, will remember you in the future.  They will be living their lives and what you did will have little impact on them and rarely be remembered. But living in the now, fully awake to the people around you, loving them, caring for them, praying for them, listening, giving a smile, an encouraging word, a hope for the day, all of that...even as small as a cup of cold water will not be forgotten, it will impact a life, it will change an eternity.  

Don't live for "some day", for "significance in the future", simply live right now fully awake to the people around you and engaged in touching their lives in a positive way.  That legacy is the one that will last.  Look around  you, turn off your phone, notice those God has brought into your presence and pray for what God would have you do for them.  It's that kind of living that makes an eternal impact.

Saturday, May 03, 2014


Friends are at "Peter Pan" today in Dallas.

At the moment I'm watching "Hook" with the grandkids.

The whole story of Peter Pan and Neverland has fascinated children for years, but it also fascinates adults.

It captures our attention and passion because it speaks of a land of dreams and fantasy.  It is, in fact, the story of dreams.

But it also speaks of another land.  Without even realizing it the story of Peter Pan and Neverland is a shadow of another land, another day that is real, that will be a forever land.  The real never land is a land of never's such an outrageous and amazing idea, a land of promises beyond our imagination that it sometimes seems to be just a dream...but it's real and it's near.

The real Neverland is a land of never agains....

Never will you die.
Never will you get sick.
Never will you cry.
Never will you sorrow.
Never will you grieve.
Never will you fear.
Never will you worry.
Never will you be depressed.
Never will you hunger.
Never will you weary.
Never will you need anything.
Never will you dread.
NEVER WILL YOU AGE.  It's better than Peter Pan could have ever imagined.

And on the list goes.....

It's a land of never again.  It's a land where God dwells.  It's a land we will live in forever....if we have trusted Christ as our savior.  It's the land of our dreams....but it's more real than the chair you sit in, more real than the sun in the sky.  It's the real world God designed us to live in.....forever.

The never land we wait for is a forever land.  A land, a world where God dwells...and one day it will be home.....can you imagine how amazing it will be to never again face the pains and fears of this world, this life?  It's the land of promise more real than all you know and experience.  I look forward the the day when I will never again.....