Friday, May 29, 2015

In God we trust?

This topic has been on my mind for a while.  It comes from friends who have referred to the slogan on our money as a sign we are a Christian nation, one nation under God.  

We aren't!  In fact I really doubt this little four word slogan is true of most Americans.  We trust our money, our savings, our ability and a hundred other things, but trust God?  I doubt it.

In the prophets of old one spoke for God and said, "You say, 'the temple, the temple, the temple' as if it were a lucky rabbit's foot, thinking that because you have the temple all will be well." Then the prophet, speaking for God says, "It will not be well because you aren't trusting me!"

In God we trust?  Not really.  I must be honest as I look around our culture to say many use God rather than trust and worship him. As the prophets lamented, "Oh that you had a heart for God!"

But I fear that is gone and all that is left is a nice slogan on a piece of paper.

Important things

A friend posted this on another site-

"I fish not because I regard fishing as being terribly important, but because I suspect that so many of the other concerns of men are equally unimportant, and not nearly so much fun." ~ John Volker

It struck me as humorous and far too honest.

My thoughts began to wander to what really is important.  What really makes a difference, what matters in life and I realize most of us make the little things important because we can do them, we can measure them, we can succeed at little things.  But the important things, the really important things are left fishing, being still in the woods, taking a nap, enjoying a day with nothing going on, turning off everything and simply enjoying God.

What is really important?  That's the question for me today.  I'll let you know what I discover.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

How little we know

In the car with my two grandsons, one 8 the other 6. The discussion about when a birthday party happened-
V. "It was a month ago."
G. "No, it was a year ago."
and on it went. I thought as I listened, they are arguing about concepts neither of them understand.
It suddenly struck me...I wonder how often do we sound like this to God?

Thursday, May 21, 2015


I've started to do something you won't see. Daily I am sending a personal note of encouragement to someone.  It's a different person each day and in a year I will hopefully encourage 365 people.  (Do I know that many people???  Makes me worried for year two.)  

Anyway, my goal is to intentionally build up, encourage, lift up others around me.  None of us hear encouraging words as we should.  None of us are affirmed as much as we need. All of us wish someone would walk with us, even for a moment, to say, "you're awesome, keep going, I see you...I'm grateful for you."

Encourage.  What a simple idea and yet how rarely do we do it because we all struggle ourselves.  I wonder how a focus on others would encourage us as a side effect?  What would happen to us as we look out towards another?  I think we might discover encouragement ourselves.

And, just maybe, we could start let me invite you to join me to be part of "Encourage."  Let's see what happens.

Monday, May 18, 2015


Have you ever wondered what went wrong with Christianity in America?  Have you ever imagined what could be if we did what Jesus told us?

Somehow we got it wrong and now, for many, we are considered judgmental, critical, narrow-minded.  It seems we have completely missed what Jesus called us to be in our world.

But imagine what could happen if we each, one by one, began to really live out our faith in small and simple ways.  Imagine what could change if we simply lived out one verse.  

1 Corinthians 16:14- "Do everything in love."  NIV translation

Four words. Pretty simple isn't it?  Imagine we just lived out these four words.  What could happen in each of our worlds?  What could God do with obedience to just four words, one verse?

Imagine we actually look for ways to love those we encounter daily, even those who don't know Jesus yet.  Imagine we were kind to them, asked about their kids, asked them how they were feeling and really listened!  Imagine we each send a note to just one person each day to encourage them.  Only one note a day!  In a year you will have touched 365 people!

Imagine giving a bigger tip to a waiter and asking about them as you encounter them.  Imagine actually turning off the TV and visiting with your wife, your husband, your kids.  

"Do everything in love."  What would happen if we lived out these four words?  How would our small part of the world change?

I remember, with a smile, a story (I'm sure it's made up) about a new young pastor in a church.  The first Sunday he preached on loving one another.  It was a good sermon and highly praised.  The next week he preached the same sermon.  The congregation gave him grace because he was young and new to the church.  The third Sunday he preached the same sermon again!  The church began to grumble a bit.  What did we do when we chose this guy for a pastor? On the fourth Sunday, yes, you guessed it, he preached the sermon about loving one another one more time.  After the service the elders pulled him aside and asked,  "Son, we know you are new, but don't you have any other sermons?"  He replied, "Oh, I have a lot of sermons and as soon as you get the first one down we will go to the second one."

I wonder....what could we do in our world if we became others focused and did everything in love?  Imagine what could happen in the kingdom of God.  Let's keep working on this one verse until we get it down.  Don't work on them all, just work on this one!

Here's what I'm going to do, beginning today.  I'm going to intentionally look for ways to share the love of Christ with everyone I meet, to do everything in love.  I'm going to send a note of encouragement to just one person each day.  I'm going to really listen to other people and care about what they are going through.  I'm going to do everything in love....with God's great help and grace.

Imagine what could happen.....

Friday, May 15, 2015


We have been gone to visit family for about two weeks now.  It's been a great trip, but very tiring.  

About an hour ago we finally got home.  What a great word that is.....home.  It's messy, dirty, cluttered, the garage had flooded while we were gone, there's a musty smell in the air.....but it's home.

It's a place where we can be ourselves, relax, let our hair down and close out the world.  It's a place where no one cares about our mess and if they do they don't have to come over.  It's a sanctuary.  A place where you can be you.

I can't tell you the joy of sitting down in my recliner, putting the foot rest up and leaning back.  

Ahhhhh....what a great place.  Home.

I think God knows how much we need a place, a home, so he's planning ahead, construction is already underway for a home we will never have to leave.  A place of rest. A place we belong. A place where we can be ourselves...finally be who God meant us to be.

Home.  What a great place that is, what a great hope we have.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

One thing

It's easy to get confused, isn't it?  We are so busy with so many things.  All around us there is noise and activity trying to grab our attention and time.  

For me, as I think about life and the distractions, it is very difficult to keep my eyes on the most important things.  

As I read the end of the book of Revelation this morning I noticed this same thing happened to John.  He was overwhelmed with visions of future things, words to write down, questions to answer, fears to deal with.  It must have been overwhelming at the least.

At the end of the book is this encounter,

"I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me.  But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your fellow prophets and with all who keep the words of this scroll. Worship God!”

With all that was happening around him John got his eyes on the wrong one, the wrong thing, and this angel quickly refocuses him on the one thing he most needed to do....worship God.

There are hundreds of things we can "bow down to" in our days, things to capture our passions, our time, our attention and ultimately our worship, but at the end of the bible one angel, with just two words, refocuses us on the one thing that is most important.

Worship God!

Have you found your passions, your time, your attention focused on the wrong things?  Have you found yourself worshipping, even if unintended, something other than God?  Take some time and brush away all the distractions.  Focus your attentions and time on just one thing- worship God.  

And when you do, everything else will find it's proper place.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Quote of the day

"You can't live in this world and expect not to get any of it on you..." -James Hinds

Friday, May 01, 2015

Nature, Nurture, Need

I love the great prayers of the bible.  I am challenged by how others prayed, how they sought God in their times of need.  Thankfully the bible gives many prayers in detail to help us.  When I come to a prayer in a narrative passage I try to slow down and listen carefully to the words of the prayer.  Each one has something to teach me.

One of the great prayers of the bible is woven into my favorite narrative from the Old Testament.  It's a story of fear, faith, trust and deliverance.  

In the passage the king hears that a large army is coming, in fact they are closer than anyone knew.  There wasn't time to prepare weapons or build defenses...the enemy was simply too close!  

The text says the king was scared!  So what did he do?  He turned his attention to seek God in prayer.  In fact he called for a fast and invited everyone to pray with him.  And the people came from everywhere, mothers and fathers with their children to join the king in prayer.

The king's prayer is wonderful in honesty and insight.  It has three parts and they are important for how we pray too.  Here is his prayer,

Part 1- Nature-  Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you.” 
In this first part of his prayer the king reflects on the nature of God- “are you not?”  He looks up.  What is God like?  Who is he?  What can I know about him to help me as I pray and seek him?  If I don’t start here both my God and my prayer will be too small and my need will be too great.
Part 2- Nurture- Our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying, ‘If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’”
In the second part of his prayer the king looks at the nurture of God- “did you not?”  He looks back.  How has God taken care of us in the past?  What has he done for us when we needed him before?  At a time of great need, when my fears are large, I need to look back at the wonderful love and care of God in all my needs in past trials.
Part 3- Need-  “Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
In this third part the king addresses his need- “will you not?”  He looks ahead. Because of who God is and what he has done I can ask for my needs.  In this story the king asks for God to help them.  He falls on the mercy of God and honestly, sometimes, that’s all we can do. 

I love his closing words.  It’s a bold statement for a king.  He says, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”  When I come to a prayer like this I’m in awe.  Here is a king, the ruler of Israel, admitting to God and his people he doesn’t know what to do, but in that admission he directs the focus of his listeners in one specific direction- UP…. “but our eyes are on you.”

The end of the story is exciting.  Because of the king’s prayer and trust in God they saw him work once more.  I invite you to read the whole story in 2 Chronicles 20.  It will inspire your faith.  

And, I hope the king’s model of prayer- look up (God’s nature), look back (God’s nurture), and look ahead (my need) will help you in your own prayers.