Friday, July 31, 2015

Morning prayer

This morning, as I began the day, I took some time to pray and talk to God. Outside I heard a bird chirping. This is what I heard.....

chirp, chirp, chirp, chirp, thank you, chirp, chirp, chirp, chirp, thank you, chirp, chirp, chirp, chirp, thank you, chirp, chirp, chirp, chirp, thank you,

I paused to listen and this became my prayer this morning, without the chirps of course....although maybe I should have kept them.

Thank you. 

Thank you. 

Thank you......

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Quote of the day

  "I can't, You never said I could.  But You can and always said You would."  -Maj. Ian Thomas 

Morning prayer

Good morning lover, glorious lover.  I'm so glad you describe yourself as a God of love.  I need that!  To know that you loved me before I was worthy, before I "deserved it" is beyond my comprehension.  To know you love me just because you love me calms all my feelings of not being enough.  Thank you today, wonderful Lord, for loving me.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Morning prayer

Good morning grand maestro, glorious creator of music!  I wake each morning to your orchestra as birds praise you with songs for anyone who will listen.  Each day, as I listen to the radio, I hear music, something you created for our enjoyment, for your praise.  Music was part of your realm before you made the Universe with angels praising you constantly.  And as you created the Universe the angel choirs sang.  What amazing background music!  So, this morning, grand maestro, thank you for music.  Thank you for creating notes, just as you made colors, for your glory and for our enjoyment.  I can't wait for the day when I can sing to you of how glorious you are and do it in perfect pitch. Thank you for music!

Monday, July 27, 2015

The heart of an artist

A few years ago I had lunch with a man in our church.  He was trying to find his way, figure out the "third-third" of life and decide what was next.  I asked him, "what are your passions? what do you love?" and from that visit he began to paint.  He's a gifted painter, brilliant in fact.  This weekend he brought me a wonderful gift, one of his paintings.  

He told me that painting lets him put his heart on canvas, express who he is, and he does.  I'm so thankful that I can see God work through lives like his as he lives out the gifts God has given him.

Morning prayer

Good morning, wonderful artist! When I look around I see the most amazing works of art...colors, shapes, white clouds in a blue sky, green trees with red apples hanging from them...all around is the glorious work of a brilliant artist. We try to copy your work, but at best our attempts are feeble. Thank you for being so wonderfully creative and making it all for us to enjoy.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Morning prayer

Good morning Father, thank you for thinking about me even before I woke up. Thank you for caring for me in more ways than I know. Thank you for another day to be your son and tell others what a sweet Father you are.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Bowing to the right King

Who is he, this King of glory? The LORD Almighty-- he is the King of glory. -Psalm 24:10

I live in a world of fearful Christians.  To be honest, they have their eyes on the wrong king.  The kings and kingdoms of this world are all enthroned by fallen men.  Men who sin, make bad choices, act unjustly, have an agenda.  

If the king you bow to is a man fear will always be the result.  Over and over in the Bible God tells us not to fear men.  Fallen men leading broken countries will always produce fear in the people.

But there is a King who rules everything.  The one who made everything, who is sovereign over everything, the one everyone will one day bow to....the King of Glory....God.  He is the only King you need to worship and if you get that right no earthy king will ever cause fear in your life.

Our fearful eyes these days are on the wrong capitial.  We look to Washington for justice, right, honesty, fairness and will rarely see it.  We need to change our focus and focus our eyes on the only King who will always be kind, good, fair, just, loving.  The King who sits on heavens throne. The King of glory.

When I read the fearful comments from Christians in the news, on Facebook, and in the many blogs that address the changes around us I'm tempted to ask, "But who's your King?  Is he still in charge or not???  If he is, then why are you so fearful?"  

Let's get this straight.  There is only one King we can worship who will give us peace, joy, calm, who will take away our fears, wipe every tear....and so much more.

But be sure of this, all of us will bow before a king of some kind.  All of us will worship something.  Our mouths and words reveal which throne we bow before.  But one day every knee will bow before this awesome King of glory and worship him alone.  He is the King of glory!

One day we will all bow to this King,

Then I heard every creature in heaven 
and on earth and under the earth 
and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!”  
Rev. 5:13

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

My life depends on You

Lord, my life depends on you.  

All that I have, all I am, all that will happen for good in my life comes from you.  

You gave me life.  

You are my creator.

You gave me breath.

Then, wonderfully, you sought me, you wooed me.

You drew me by your Spirit and when I responded you saved me. 

You gave me your Spirit to be with me forever.  

You gave me your word. 

And then, on top of that you helped me to understand it.

You invited me to talk to you, to ask you for anything I need.  

You told me you wanted to be my Father, that you wanted a relationship with me.  Me. Imagine that.  The God who made everything wants to have a relationship with me!

You watch over me. You meet my needs. You care for me. You protect me. 

And, beyond anything I could imagine, you tell me you think of me often.  I can't even fathom the truth that you, the God of creation, really think about me and like me.

And if that weren't enough you tell me you are building a home for me without a mortgage. A place where I can live with you forever.  

All I am, all I have, all I will ever be is dependent on you.  You are the source, the sustainer and the reason for life.  

You hold me together.

My life depends on You.  How could I not worship you and bow before you oh lover of my soul?  How could I ever say "no" to such a wonderful God?

My life depends on You.

And I rejoice in You oh wonderful Father and God.  

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

My word!

A few weeks ago we came home to discover that our dog had taken up a study in the word, an intense digging into and digesting the word of God.  

It WAS my favorite bible.  

Now, sadly, it's a commentary to how not to consume the word of God.  

I know it's a small thing.  We are blessed to be able to pull another one off the shelf and pick up where the dog left off, but the discovery forced me to make some micro-second decisions.  Anger, irritation, frustration were all there, but I had a choice.  What would come out?  How would I respond?

In every crisis where life is changed, where things don’t go as we think they should, we have a moment to filter our responses and then what comes out will reveal to others our heart and our god.

Jesus said, "What goes into someone's mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them."  

And in a moment our heart is revealed, the world sees what we have put in…because it always comes out.  When something precious is destroyed, something important taken, when crisis comes...and it will...what will come out?  Problems put pressure on our hearts and our lips reveal what we have invested in.  Our lips reveal who we trust and tell more about us than we often realize.

There is a passage in Psalm 109 that fascinates me.  I’ll close with these astonishing words from the Psalms,

He also loved cursing, so it came to him;
And he did not delight in blessing, so it was far from him.
 But he clothed himself with cursing as with his garment,
And it entered into his body like water
And like oil into his bones.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Are we alone?

Stephen Hawking, "Current technology gives us a real chance to answer one of humanity's biggest questions: Are we alone?

Stephen Hawking has launched a new multi-million dollar project to seek out intelligent life in our Universe.  It is one of his passions to discover alien life. It's his hope that this discovery will give meaning to our lives as well. 

It would be a lonely planet if we leave God out of the picture.  

It would be a hopeless place to not really know why we are here. 

It would be rather meaningless if we have no knowledge of origins or the future.  

Without God we seek purpose and meaning in other aliens.

If aliens exist maybe they could tell us why we are here.  If we could find them we might find ourselves. If we can discover other intelligent life we might have answers to our place in the Cosmos. At least that is the hope of those who will not let God into their formula of life.

Are we alone?  No, not at all!  We live in a world rich with life we know nothing about.  We are surrounded by "aliens" and don't even see them.  Let me give you an example,

"When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked. “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha." 2 Kings 6:15-17. 

We live in a world where our sight is blinded to much that is going on around us.  We live in the very presence of God and don't even see him, hear him or sense his presence.  We live in a world where angels watch us.  And I wonder, how much more is there besides what God has shown us already?  

But the real question for us is not "Are we alone?" but rather, "How should we live out this life as the Universe watches?"

Hebrews 12 gives us a hint of an olympic game with the bleachers full of watchers as we live out our lives.  How amazing is that?  

Are we alone? 


So now what?  

How then should we live?

Friday, July 17, 2015

I don't need another slogan

Culture is rich with pithy little life slogans to help you think well, but to be honest, as I thought about it this morning I realized slogans don't really do that much to help me.  They sound nice, they sometimes make us smile, make us angry and may even make us think but they do nothing to help me live.

I found these 37 life slogans, many you have heard, as examples of how we try to help one another with nice little words,

A day without laughter is a day wasted.
Accept what you can’t change. Change what you can’t accept.
Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.
Bite off more than you can chew.
Bloom where you’re planted.
Counting other people’s sins does not make you a saint.
Do small things with great love.
Do something each day to bring you a little closer to your dreams.
Do something good today.
Done is better than perfect.
Don’t be so hard on yourself.
Don’t put the key to your happiness in someone else’s pocket.
Dreams don’t work unless you do.
Enjoy every moment.
Flirt with adventure.
Have less. Do more, Be More.
I can be as contrary as I choose.
It will all work out.
It’s the little things.
Knowledge speaks but wisdom listens.
Laughter is the best medicine.
Live by the sun, love by the moon.
Live in the moment.
Live what you love.
Make it happen.
Make mistakes.
Never ruin an apology with an excuse.
One day at a time.
Please and thank you are still magic words.
Rejection is not fatal.
Rise above the blues.
Seize the day.
Sometimes the wrong choices brings us to the right places.
Take a moment and breathe.
The glass is half full.
The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.
There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind.

Some are a bit true, some are helpful....but none model for me what will help me really live well.  As I left to take the dog for a walk this morning my daughter came by to take care of a few things. She was stressed, a bit overwhelmed and I gave her one of the many little slogans we use.  She laughed sarcastically and replied, "Thanks John Lennon!"

So what do we need?  What will help us live, really live well?  

What we all need is a life lived well, lived all out in which we can see how it's done.  When Jim Elliot said, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." it really meant little until he really did it and gave his life for the souls of others.

What I need is someone who has really lived well!  That's why there are four gospel narratives.  Four stories of men who watched the perfect man live life as we are meant to live it.  We don't need another slogan, we need someone who has lived it out.  Jesus did that.

And so, daily, I'm "following Jesus" as he walks the dusty roads of Israel, engages people, helps those in pain, cares for the outcast, deals with the proud.  When I tell you I follow him that's not just a nice phrase, it's how I read the gospels.  In the stories of Jesus there are not just 12 disciples, there are 13....and I'm that 13th one.

As he fed the 5,000 giving bread and fish to the 12 to pass out I'm also passing some out.  When he calmed the storm in the boat and the 12 worship so do I.  In every story I'm there and as I follow Jesus I see what life was really meant to be, what we were designed to be.

Slogans are nice, but they don't help me live.  What I need is someone to follow and I follow Jesus.  I hope, one day, to look like him a bit.  I hope, one day, someone will say, "weren't you with that Jesus fellow?" And will exclaim with excitement, "YES!  Yes I was!"

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The most important question

If I were to ask you, 

"What is the most important question?" 

What would you reply?

This question assumes something very important.

It assumes there is one question 
that is the most important...

...for any person

...for any situation

...for any problem.

And that would be true.

What question will help anyone 

with anything 

in any place?

Here it is,

"I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; 
is anything too difficult for me?" Jer. 32:27

Why is that question the most important question?

Because in the answer to this one question 

is the solution to every problem!

In the answer to this one question 

is the person who can answer every other question.

So, when you come to a difficult place remember God's question to Jeremiah,  "Is anything too difficult for Me?" 

If not, then you have your answer, 

you have the solution to every fear, 

to every need, 

to every pain.  

You have him.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Following Christ

"You must have the same attitude 
that Christ Jesus had.

Though he was God,
 he did not think of equality with God
 as something to cling to.
 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
 he took the humble position of a slave
 and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
he humbled himself in obedience to God
 and died a criminal’s death on a cross."
Philippians 2

These few verses are some of the most difficult in the Bible.  They begin with these words, "have the same attitude..." and what follows is the model for how we are to live out our lives.

Instead of glory we are to choose obscurity.

Instead of the first place we are invited to sit in the lowest place.

Instead of ruler we are invited to be the servant, the slave.

We are invited to humbly serve God and the ones he puts in our path....just as Christ Jesus did.

This is the most difficult call to discipleship in all of scripture.  This invitation challenges us to put to death our pride, our desire for glory, fame, success and humbly serve.

And to what point? To what outcome?  The example Jesus gave us is to the death, to the point of giving all we have and are for the souls of those around us! This is our model, this is our invitation, "you must have this same attitude..."   It's the attitude of a servant not seeking anything except the approval of the master.

Everything about following Jesus is counter to the way our culture works.  It's a call to being nobody in this world so Christ can be seen through you.  It's an invitation to put pride to death and serve without a "thank you", without acknowledgement, without the death.  

That's our model.  Setting aside everything we want, desire or claim so that God can work though us and glorify his name.  This is the highest calling in all of human history...the call to be nobody so that Christ can be seen and glorified through us.

How wonderful it would be to be completely unknown, living a life of anonymity so God can be seen through us, so those who watch us want to know this God we serve.  Could there be a richer life than that?