Friday, December 30, 2011

Jack


Friday - 7:30am....

Just moments ago, Jackie handed me her cellphone with: "Listen to this."

I put it up to my ear and for a few minutes listened to the recording of the squeaks and soft "chirps" of our 12th grandchild...Jack...sleeping soundly at 1am.

We had already seen pictures of the little man, looking so much like his strong father.

Born in California at 6:59 last night and weighing in at 7 pounds, 12 ounces, he has already won our hearts.

His name means "God is gracious."

Micah, his army dad, got to fly home for the birthing and all went well.

A faith triumph for our kids...having lost Gracie at birth in March 2010.

Congratulations Sarah and Micah...and Ella!

"The Lord is gracious." I Peter 2:3

We are grateful for His goodness in our lives today.

Thanks be to God.

And welcome be to Jack.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Day

Reflecting back on yesterday will be like a piece of something so fine that you eat is slowly, savoring the taste and hoping it lasts for a very long time.

We gathered in the morning at Church at Briargate....the staff supposing their might be 20 or so that would come....and instead, we were all to be a part of a gathering of 125+....festive, excited and buzzing with joy. The service was shortened, but packed with meaning and life: *an international children's portrayal of christmas
*a quartette bringing down the house with a blue grass song
*a chance to present our offerings at a christmas creche
*an open time of prayer (I won't soon forget the children who joined in with all of us as many prayed out loud in turn!)
*a presentation of Sarah's Home, the women's ministry project of 2012
....and finally an interactive time with the young at the huge christmas tree, talking about bad dogs and good dogs and how we can tell
....and how God came, a baby in a manger to start it all by showing us he is kind, good, gentle
....God is good, all the time.
And there was worship, wonderful songs chosen so well.

It was truly Christmas...and a gathering of the Family of God, each part of the gathering filling our hearts even more with the joy of this season.

Then we scattered to homes to eat some wonderful food from festive table....great times with family (and we missed those who were not here this year)
....and a long walk in the warmish day and blue-skyed world.

Christmas Day.

This one was good.

Thanks be to God for His manifold graces.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Enough

Reading John Piper's devotional today - A Godward Life - and was caught by an idea...the idea of enough.

Enough - in Jesus' words:"each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34. You don't have to go seeking it...it will come to you. So don't spend your time moaning and groaning, but realize you and I are connected to One who says to the daily trouble..."enough."

That's good news...and a bunch of relief.

Oh, and on the other side of the coin, His presence with us by the Spirit is more than enough..."God will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." I Corinthians 10:13. As the Message translates it..."God will never let you down; He'll never let you be pushed past your limit; He'll always be there to help you come through it."

May you and I live in the content peace and joy of enough.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Silent night

Ever strike you odd....that in a season with such great songs of meditative quietness, the pace of our culture can almost go off the charts??

"Silent night, holy night, all is calm"
....are you kidding?!

Perhaps the words should be edited to read...

"Bargain night...black Friday night...all is cued, faces tight."

At Thanksgiving a few days ago, it felt like there were so many "critical games to watch", that frankly, our family gave up on almost all of them - watching only the sacred NU victory. :)

Bought some stuff the other day....50% off, with 20% more off added and 10% more if you use our card....long lines cued to get such deals that almost involve them paying us to come. :)

So, let me not encumber you with a long treatise
....but offer to all of us some brief maxims about all of this.

Not time to be bah, humbug.

My 2011 maxims:
1. Too many good things can reduce greatly your ability to do anything well.
2. Too much haste really does make for a lot of waste.
3. Too much energy spent in trivia, can tend to make all of life appear trivial.
4. Too many relationships on the surface, can lead to no relationships deep and long-lasting.
5. Too many sound bites can knock the stuffings out of long careful meditation.
6. Too much feeding of emotion and fun can reduce the care of body and soul.


So, in this season, I wish for all of us
1. A bunch of "no's" said to stuff that is trivial.
2. A few truly silent nights.
3. Relationships that endure and good deeply to the soul.
4. A bit simpler, some slower and truly happy season.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas!

Dave

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sequoias


JJ, Carson and I took off in the early morning yesterday to go and see the Sequoias at the Sequoia National Park.

The national forest is some three hours away....six-seven hours by the car for a two-hour look.

Totally worth it.

When we were getting near...high in the mountains (14 miles of it under construction!)...the forest became thicker, and the skin of some trees seemed to etch peculiarly, then become reddish. Young Sequoias.

Finally, we began to encounter the big ones...whose massive red trunks immediately took on the resemblance to the legs of a giant family walking among the otherwise smallish trees...I would have called them "big" before this moment.

Photograph the whole tree? Almost impossible.
...so we took to standing at the bases and appearing ant-like by contrast.


At a lodge we examined some displays explaining the tree...one stating that they basically cannot by natural means be killed, but live on and on. Even forest fires cannot reach high enough to "get them." Black charred spots on the trunks bespeaking their vain attempts.

Ancient....In proof...a cross cut trunk...with the earlier date in the center...700.

Walking up to one of the big ones, we felt its trunk and surprise...it was spongey...red, soft, stringy, airy....like a huge blanket swathing a living center.

Ah Sequoias, how much you have to teach us, about patience, and strength, about majestic stillness, and blooming where you are planted - :0

About God, Who must have leaned over in laughter and delight when He made you!

This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for Sequoias.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thanksgiving

We returned several days ago from the time of ministry in North Dakota. Amazingly 230 people were there and the sessions were marked by the presence of God. We returned to Colorado with grateful hearts. North Dakota, you are special indeed!
!

Today, at Church at BriarGate, the focus was on WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE GIVE THANKS.

We discovered that thanksgiving:

1. facilitates a conscious entry into the presence of God - see a wild illustration of this in Acts 27:33ff
2. is a faith-stirring way to change the mind focused on the minuses of the moment - see Jesus Matt.26:26-28
3. postures our hearts humbly - Psalm 92:1-4
4. diminishes the continual lust for more - I Timothy 6:8
5. sanctifies your food - I Timothy 4:3b-5
6. enriches our relationship with God...and others

Colossians 2:6, 3:15-17

So as we come to Thanksgiving Day we were challenged to take some moments before the table is loaded with food, to gather together, silence the TV, share around the table what we are thankful for, and then pray expressing our hearts to God for His provision in our lives.

It takes leadership to see this happen.....why don't you be the one to make this year special?

May the gathering you are involved in this Thanksgiving be marked by the presence of God.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Prayer

It was one of those weeks.

The moral debacle at Penn State was in most minds. Anguish for the victims, and outrage at the perpetrators.

Protests in the streets and an overturned van. A team to play in home stadium without JoePa for the first time in decades. A stadium packed with over 100,000 people. Extra security measures being taken. Players giving everything or being dispirited? Speculation was running high as the stadium began to fill and the commentators made their best guesses. Two ranked teams - Penn State and Nebraska - to do "battle" on a playing field before the world.

And before the play would begin, players from both teams began to assemble midfield, and drop to their knees, until there were hundreds on the field with heads bowed. Ron Brown, Nebraska receivers' coach and giant of faith and christian walk, had been asked to pray and he did so out loud....and for a number of minutes. Occasionally words could be heard of his prayer for the victims, and for God's justice and for His presence on the field of play.

And the two head coaches knelt side by side.

The crowd became hushed as the earnest prayers of players and coaches were lifted to God. At the end there was a growing rumble of applause from the crowd. Slaps and hugs of regard among the players. Misty eyes and great good will. Relief.

And the game began.

The outcome....a great game, played with character in a very challenging situation.

A powerful step towards healing.

A witness to the playing field that changes everything.

Prayer.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Humble acts

*Picking up the soiled kleenex that missed the waste basket when I tossed it. Placing it within the container.
*Cleaning around the lid of the toilet...cause I am the one who did that....know what I mean?
*Making the bed in the morning...cause she has a very busy day as well.
*Expressing appreciation for the meal...even if my taste buds were set in another direction.
*Putting my clothes away, not tossing, heaping them...or even stacking them.
*Stepping in and just looking for ways to help when the kitchen is abuzz.
*Letting the stressed shopper go before you at the checkout.
*Being appreciative for the good service received...or kind and forgiving for the ineptness.
*Stopping for a stranded motorist.
*Helping with picking stuff up when an accident happens.
*Calling someone to express appreciation and love to them.
*Slowing down to let the speeder cut in safely....with no expressions of getting back.
*Watching out for the elderly...and helping them practically.
*Giving to the poor and homeless...without calculation.

...and there are dozens of other things that could be listed.

Jesus' thought about all of this?

"Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

Luke 14:11.

Selah.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Attitude

Very early in the morning, several days ago, Jackie and I got up and into preset clothing...layers of it. Cold outside and dark. And after injesting nourishment rapidly, we drove south in the city, to the field of action.

There it was, lying serpent-like on the ground, the long silky, multi-colored nylon balloon. It would soon hold 175,000 cubic feet of "hot" air...at least hotter than that of the still-dark morning. A portable fan was started and occasional bursts of ten-foot flame worked together for many minutes, as the balloon was filled and rose slowly from the ground into a vertical. Has this thing ever crashed, or just leaked slowly into a pile of destruction? I began slowly walking around the scene of what seemed like somewhat desperate action.

Didn't help that we were all asked to sign off on no legal action if we crashed or broke bones....or just disappeared into the heavens.

Attached to the bottom of this brightly colored death-trap....a basket...a wicker basket! This travel container, the center of which is reserved for "piloting" and the sides (waist-high) reserved for the passengers...all six of us making it "full." And we were told on landing to crouch, and hold on, because sometimes it "bounced."

Suddenly it came to me that I would soon be in a basket elevated a thousand feet into the air, in a wicker basket, with no seat belt, parachute or secure glass-enclosed position, a thousand feet into the air (and I wondered how high until death is certain), flames leaping over my head, and alternating with a deathlike stillness as the balloon climbed aloft.

And the travel managed in breezes by fierce blasts of flame into a balloon! Hello!

So I alternated between standing up and leaning into the pilot....or getting down to armpits at the wicker edge, and knees on the floor, all the while my wife was leaning over the edge, blissful at the experience of it all. And did I mention that she was sometimes quietly snickering at the sight of me on my knees? I learned not to look down...but to look out at the mountains on the horizon. And not to think about the airline traffic that was taxiing and taking off below. And I hoped that our bouncing landing would come "sooner than I thought."

Oh and I "looked up" frequently in rather urgent prayer.

I found some solace in remembering the days when going up an escalator seemed very daring.

Finally, we landed...very softly and with expressions of "fun, adventure, I'd do it again" punctuating the air.

Some observations:
1. Doing this was really good....even if very challenging. Thanks Jackie for the push! It is what we all need often.
2. Facing my fears instead of running from them, means growth for me personally.
3. And the big serendipity...laughter. It has been fun to talk and write about this and to embrace frailty rather than stiffen and sour with it seems like a key to the journey now.

In everything give thanks.

Attitude.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Hard places

Taught from Psalm 34 on Sunday.

It is a Psalm for hard places...with two amazing "bookends."

First one -.the words before the text:"A Psalm of David when he feigned madness before Ahimilech, who drove him away and he departed." See I Samuel 21.

And the second, the closing comment in a great commentary: On the lips of martyrs as they went into the Roman coliseum to face their death. It has been spoken at their baptism and they would speak it at their dying.

A Psalm for hard places indeed.

Two immense life stabilizers are of first note:
1. :1-3 - Our spirit anchored to the presence of God
2. :4-7 - Our hearts assured by the care of God.

We then noted some important points for our lives:
1. :8 - When the test is upon you, take special refuge in the Lord.
2. :9 - Fear the Lord. There are two kinds of fears mentioned in this Psalm - :4 -the kind we face in life and :7 - the fear of the Lord that is gained by knowing Him and reverencing His nature and power.
(And if you want a sign that you do fear the Lord, it can be measured by a guarded tongue, a turning from evil and the pursuit of what bring forth peace. (:11-14))

Steps to stability in the time of storm:
1. Take refuge in the Lord
2. Fear the Lord
3. Seek the Lord...unleash your spirit. Twice in the text the word calls us to cry out.

Following this word, we began to worship the Lord together as the Presence of God became very tangible.

Some went to their knees. Many were deeply moved.

I hope you will open to this Psalm with those amazing bookends....and let it bring focus and strength to your life today.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Mortality

Read a headline today about Steve Jobs.

"Mortality drove him."

Didn't read the rest....but the thought continued.

Mid sixties seems to bring a lot more focus to things like this.

Mortality.

Lots more countings and calculatings...and watching life cycles.

Lots less expansive in the musings...

A lot more ticking sounds in the background.

Mortality.

What should drive us is not mortality, but immortality.

Even those without saving faith should give it central thought.

This life just isn't all that there is ... there is infinitely (word chosen carefully) more.

Heaven. Jesus. The Presence of the Father. Reunions. Really knowing. Justice.

No calendars. No sunsets. No anniversaries or birthdays.

Forever.

Immortality.

"Deep honor and bright glory to the King of All Time -
One God, Immortal, Invisible, ever and always.
Oh, yes!" The Message - I Timothy 1:17

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The blessing

Got ready to come to the office today...normal morning slow shift.
Blahs.
Internal twittering voices assuring me that the day might not go well.

Final thing...a kiss and "goodbye" for my best friend, Jackie.

As I began my farewell, she began a blessing.

With things like...
"I think you are getting sharper and sharper.
"I see good stuff developing in you every day.
"You are doing really well.
"You look great today.
"God is with you.
"I love you.

And "I am thinking about it.
(If you have been to our seminars, I need not say more. :))

And I went from ok to joyful....from blahs to yes!..from not-sures to can do

And I drove to work admiring the beauty of sun and trees and mountains...and God.

Blessings from the heart are fuel for the soul and strike a match to tinder energy.

Wish you would have started this way?...not too late.

Give a call, write a note, text a blessing.

What a way to start...or restart...a day.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Generations

We had gone to Cheddars to eat...all nine of us. Brad and Amy and family...and Jackie and I.
We had just been infused freshly with life at Church at Briargate.
Lots of chatter and joy.

Then I saw them come in...two very elderly people, both with oxygen assistance attached, both moving slowing to a table next to us. My guesses: married, in their 80's, out for a weekly special time together. And inside I marveled at their courage.

And as we ate I kept glancing their way, observing them often doing the same towards us...and eating with quiet seriousness.

Kendall...the 9-month-old youngest among us was being fed strained "something" and was enjoying it immensely. Smiles, reaching hands and occasional shrieks punctuating the air, insisting on more.

And finally it connected inside of me: her joy and their need for joy. What could happen if these generations could connect?

When I broached the idea to Amy, she said "fine" and so we turned Kendall in her high chair to face the couple nearby.

Quite absent looks turned bright and happy in immediate response...as we all got acquainted.

And a story began to tumble out....about being Roman Catholic, and 92!, and not married, but friends from the same elderly care facility, and where do you go to church?

About her being gone from church for 50 years and now returning. And he being a deacon.

And Kendall kept smiling and they kept talking.

And it ended with real "God be with you and bless you's."

And there was real joy...and love...and faith.

And there was Jesus.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The pile on.

In the next 5 days, Jackie and I will speak 6 times....at a midweek Bible Study, at a marriage conference, and at morning worship at Church at Briargate (CAB). We appreciate your prayers, that each session will be full of truth, reality and Presence. Thanks!

We have moved back to Colorado Springs, leaving our dear friends at Canyon Road in Ogden...tears, hugs, fond memories, prayers. Our hearts are very moved to think of them. What a special family of faith they are. Pray for them as Jeremiah and Rachel Johnson engage in their first days of ministry there.

Church at Briargate has asked us to come and immediately lead them through a time of transition - probably about six months - as their great pastor Randy Poppineau has become the District Secretary Treasurer. They have asked us to go full-time, so these months will be quite full of activity. We began last Sunday and the response was wonderful. What a unique ministry the Lord has placed us in for this season.

And now, a mental image tied to great verses of scripture.....a pile on.

I love the end of the football games when the team who has given the most on the field and won in spite of all odds are so elated they all just run to the center of the field and pile on...until it is a heap of humanity at peak celebrative energy. What a sight!!

That is what I see as Paul describes a grace pile on...to the Ephesian church....watch the words stack up with superlatives until the field is just ablaze with joy in the goodness of God....
"Now to him who is able to do EXCEEDINGLY ABUNDANTLY BEYOND ALL that we ASK or THINK, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21

Join the pile up today, my friend.

The win in Christ is big enough for us all!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Certainty

They called him "Uncle Charlie."

A very special person....radical for Jesus. Generous - like the time he opened his home to take in children. "I'll take them all," he said to the judge and the five orphaned children became his.

A preacher, a man of God, a person who walked out an entirely dependent life on the provision of God.

Late in his life his habit was to leave the house and walk in the city and find a place to preach. "I have to preach," he would say, and be gone.

This day it was the same...only the time away began to lengthen and the family became concerned. Joe (the one who told me this story) finally felt a prompt to go and try to find him and began to drive his vehicle, looking for him. Finally came upon him sitting on a park bench.

When Joe approached him his first words were: "Where have you been? You're late!"

"Why do you say that?" Joe remonstrated. "Where have YOU been."

"Well," Charlie replied, "I prayed that you would come and pick me up about an hour ago and expected you to be here much sooner."

Not an isolated story about Charlie. Occasions of storms turned back, wheat de-blighted, people healed and transformed.

A man who walked in certainty.....about God, and faith, and following Him.

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for...."

Certainty...may we walk in this path today.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Presence

Almost 300 of us gathered yesterday.

A day of heading towards the conclusion of our time of transition here and the coming of a new pastor to Canyon Road.

Lots of busyness in the air.

As we worshipped we began to encounter The Presence of God.

A genuineness came upon us...and began to be energized.

We were beginning to worship from deep within.....and then a word came, spoken clearly into a microphone: God is marked with this description "steadfast love" over and over in scripture. He has that love for you...no matter your ups and downs...He remains steadfast in His love for you.

And we worshipped.

As we did, someone came forward to the pastors, with a bible open to Isaiah 43 - and a passage about God bringing children back that have strayed from Him. And someone confirmed that as a word they too had....and shared it with the church.

I then clarified what I sensed was happening and invited people to stand if this word was speaking strongly to them.

Many did.....and we prayed. We had suddenly become "a house of prayer."

With enlivened faith and expectant hearts we prayed.

And we worshipped further.

Afterwards, to make sure that everyone could track with us clearly, I asked people to indicate if they felt they had especially been touched by God in what had happened. I urged them not to respond unless it was truly something special.

Around 20% of those present raised their hands to indicate that it had been indeed very special for them.

The offering was still received. The word was taught....and we filled the corridors and auditorium with fellowship....at the usual time of departure.

The Presence....not confusing, not sensational, not manipulated, not disruptive.

The Presence...life-giving, faith-stirring, ministry-releasing, love-enhancing.

Oh, and "in Your presence, there is fulness of joy."

Happy today too.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Table

We had been invited to "come over and join us for tacos."

We went early and stayed late.

Ten of us around table...dishes of homemade food sitting before us.

Families and friends.
And one person only known by two at the table, and that just hours ago.
A "complete" stranger invited to join us. "Come and join our family."

We ate and talked freely.
And then some turned on the others reminding them of embarrassing situations.
And they offering feeble rejoinders, to peals of laughter.
And there were the best jokes, told again.
And discussions about life.
Smiles continually present...and an atmosphere of festivity and love.
And Tommy, breaking into it all at random moments, with the gift of short phrases of song about Jesus.
Real, Life-giving.
Barriers down, watches disregarded, hearts moved deeply.

And I thought about Jesus and The Table of his daily discipling.

Was this what it was like to walk with Him?
Was there laughter like this, and some embarrassment?
Was there lingering and strangers invited, welcomed to easily break into the circle of love?

And I was deeply moved to remember that an invitation to this kind of fellowship might just be the entree to an altar call.

"We proclaim what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his son, Jesus Christ." I John 1:3

Be present at our tables Lord.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ancient Rome

Picked up a copy of extremely well-written history some days ago....and now I am 300 pages into the 418 pages of its story. Written by Simon Baker it is subtitled, "The rise and fall of an empire." (BBC Books - 2006)

What caught my attention is that it is a gripping view of the culture that St. Paul ministered in and gives some space to detailing both Christian and Jewish issues in the Roman empire.

Among some early lessons:

1. Our culture, compared to this one, is gentle, peaceful, wealthy, free and civil.

2. The cruelty and slaughter in war after war are staggering. "One million Gauls were killed and another million were enslaved." And that on just one stage.

3. The fall of Jerusalem 70AD is told in rather unforgettably. Their heroism in the face of the ever-advancing and punishing Roman war machine is breathtaking. Here is heroism.

4. The corruption and intrigue of the emperors and government - Nero, Caligula, the Caesars and clan make me very thankful for the Republicans, the Democrats, the independents, the Tea Party, CNN - need I go on?

Perspective...lots here.

A great read....in the real world of yesterday.

(I got my copy at Barnes & Noble)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Incline

It's called that because it leans....up.

An incline, by definition is neither horizontal or vertical...but it leans in some direction.

The Incline I am referring to provides a long, and ardous climb up the side of a mountain.

Doing the incline makes for sweat, deep breathing, rubbery legs...and a stronger heart. It keeps a lot of people in better shape.

To incline is to lean..to be predisposed to something...to have a mental tendency or preference towards something.

So, I am reading in scripture today and come across this verse: "Put away the foreign gods which are in your midst, and incline your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel." Joshua 24:23

Put away the junk.

Lean towards the Lord.

Not just make a decision in time...but lean that way all through time.

Marks of being on His incline?

Pictures on the walls...that speak of Christ-qualities. Crosses worn. Scriptures stored in memory. Prayer punctuating everything that matters...food, sleep, friends. T-shirts. Bumper stickers. Music. Frequented web sites.

Leaning...in the direction of godliness.

None of these things will transform by themselves, but all of these things and more help us lean.

Lean on my friend.

Incline your heart to the Lord.

It is the way to top spiritual shape...and the blessings of God.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The bucks stop here

Sitting in my office in Ogden, Utah.

Midafternoon and a bright, warm day.

Across a busy street, the neighborhood begins...house after house, and a high chain-link fence guards the first one...the kind with metal webbing going into the air.

Mature trees on the grounds and one of them punctuated by the orange ovals of ripe apricots...so ripe they are dropping from the tree, to the grass below.

And that's when I noticed them, the two bucks. Both with fine antler racks, and lots of energy to spar with one another every few minutes. And in between, to recharge their cells with some fresh apricot preserves.

Cars went by and they barely seemed to notice. They feasted for a very long time, long enough for me to have to turn away from the amazing afternoon interlude.

What a symphony of life is going on all around. Under the logs, in the trees, high in the air above. May we take time to see it...and time to worship.

"Oh Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all the worlds Thy hands have made.

How great Thou art."

Really.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Stability

Had to go up a really tall ladder the other day.

Well, it wasn't really that tall...but suddenly as I approached the fourth rung, it seemed to shoot into the air.

Aluminum ladder...a bit rickety...with no supports up high.

Needing to change a battery in a fire alarm station. (Makes me wish hot air fell, so they could put these down by the floorboards.)

After a few attempts at climbing, and feeling like I needed a parachute...Jackie had mercy on me and climbed briskly to where that little screamer could be dealt with.

Principle...for me, the higher up the more I need to hold on to something very stable to feel secure...like a post, or tree.

Same thing is true in the cycle of life.

The "higher" you go the more you need stable support...from friends, and the presence of God, a rock.

And God is really great at this...it's always been that way...Psalm 18:31-33.

Keep climbing my friend, but don't loose your balance.

'Cause the "heights" we arrive at can bring us to places of the dizzies.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Casting lots

It has been very busy....teaching, coaching, counseling, mentoring, .....so busy that I have not entered here for a few extra days. Forgive me. My commitment to this site is top drawer.
Well, it seems like we are only days away from action that could bring the church it's new senior pastor. We have taken 10 clear steps in the direction of doing it well and it has been rigorous.
So I am preparing for the teaching on Sunday, to prep the church spiritually for the action of the next few days and it comes to me to take up the text of Acts 1 - the text between the 40 days of ministry of the resurrected Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
A text often given little focus.
It is a gem.
The facing of crud in the past...Judas, including the graphic manner of his suicide.
Finding someone to replace him among the 12 core apostles.
So they set up a standard...prayed a lot....and cast lots. One was chosen and one was not.
Cast lots??!!
They end the process with what seems like a random, chancy act...casting lots.
And the choice was made..
..and the Spirit was sent..
..and here we are today!
Wow!
So I take heart that through all of our frailty, God's purposes can prevail - chosen or not.
And in these days as the lot casting (the vote) approaches, I plan to spend more time seeking His presence, than sweating the process.
And I am reminded of the proverb that says: "The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord."
Proverbs 16:33.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The perfect will of God

Ever get caught up praying for the "perfect will of God" in your life?

Ever get stalled out because you didn't feel you were in that perfect groove?

Ever make excuses for your behaviors or lack thereof because of timing and locale?

I've been guilty on all counts.

So, today I was helped a lot in reading the last portion of I Corinthians...notably 16:5-9.

My eyes start to widen as I consider that these are the words of one who has encountered the Person of Christ directly, whose writings are much of the New Testament, and who functions with apostolic clarity in all of his life.

And here are some of his "iffy" words in just one short paragraph.

Intend to
Perhaps I will
Wherever I go
I hope to
If the Lord permits
A wide door..has opened..and there are many adversaries.

Not stressed about the "perfect will of God," he seems to be doing the will of God all the time, and letting the place and timing of it all just work out. He is ambling along (if you will) knowing that if he keeps his energies targeted, God will take care of place, time and process.

No postponements.
No excuses.
No wasted prayer directions.

Just doing it today and every day...the will of God, through the life of Christ lived in us.

Selah.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Body image

Went for the annual physical checkup this morning.

Oh, I thought I was going to have a small bit of blood drawn for testing, but it proved to be the works. Pushing, feeling, probing, listening, looking, testing, vials of draws and after an hour of this, my great doctor (David Bird) said, "Don't think I'll do more...just one thing to watch and you are doing fine."

So, I walked out of the office, grateful for a body that hopefully will continue to be like the Hondas that I drive.

Oh, there are sags, and strength diminishments, nap hungers, and smaller helpings please. But at 40 pounds off max weight, I actually feel pretty good. Sure: Glasses. Hearing assistance...if I will wear them! Cap to protect from too many rays. Shoe inserts. Daily blood pressure checks and a few pills morning and evening...and thus far we are good to go. Oh, and take that walk often.

Truth is, I am working most on a new model. At the best, this present one will keep needing to be propped up and will finally give up. So, I am working on a new model.

It is one built from the inside out...an inside-to-eternity model. Started with a massive design infusion from God which made me a "temple of the Holy Spirit...a place set aside for reverence indwelt by the Holy Spirit." The makings of a God who made the universe.

It is my desire that I will live in such a way that this temple will simply keep rising up, up, up, until at peak it is touching heaven, the realm of God Himself.

Just like with our physical bodies...exercise, proper nutrition, enough sleep, and avoidance of abuses will do a lot to prolong its life...so with our everlasting bodies, our temples...time with God, being in His word, being infused with His Spirit, and all the great habits of the Kingdom, will prepare us for forever.

You can tell people who have found secrets in this temple construction...lots of horizontal lines in their faces, lots of upturned corners on their mouths, lots of creases in their hands, lots of peace upon their dwelling.

So keep the right body image in mind. May I suggest Mother Teressa?

Selah.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Kissing

Caught some of the interesting reflections from Central Bible College Alumni lately?

We, as alum, are nudged by it, to look back on our days on that campus. Preciptator: the General Council has voted to join the three Springfield schools into one large Evangel University. I am deeply indebted to those two years at CBC. It was life-shaping for me.

And sometimes funny.

A memory -

Lottie Rieckehoff was the Dean of Women and a force for dignity and what is becoming to women of God. She had clear boundaries for the women under her charge...and we all could feel the impact of her presence. Tall, thin, proper, single...and world class in signing for the hearing impaired.

One day with all of us gathered in morning chapel, she was holding forth for those characteristics of self-control, giving us a lecture with plenty of clear, and stern words.

In the midst of her lecture, she drew up to full height and said in measured tones: "I know what is happening on on this campus, and I want you to know that I do NOT approve of all the kissing that is going on right under my nose."

Heads suddenly up...elbows poking...wide eyes...muffled chuckles. Did we really hear that?!

We did.

And we remember you Lottie. Remember your willingness to risk...to make things clear (even if the boundaries were drawn too tight then - and the words sometimes became garbled). At least you stood up and made it clear...and lived it before us.

We remember your call for practiced righteousness, not just positional righteousness.

Thank you.

We remember.

Friday, August 5, 2011

For Sale

For Sale.

Saw an incredible page of information recently that was headed, "Celebrities for Sale."

On the page, everthing from...
* lunch with - Sarah Palin - $63, 500 (..and that was the midrange of celebrity lunches available)
* the tissue into which Scarlett Johansson blew her nose on Leno's Tonight Show - $5,300 - really?
* a jar of air exhaled by Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt - $523 - and the retrieval method?
* Justin Timberlake's leftover french toast after a radio interview - $3,154

A whole page of such items...anywhere from hundreds, to millions (lunch with Warren Buffet for over 2 million) -

And as I pondered, the scripture came readily to mind..."know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God...you were bought with a price (the precious life blood of the Lord Jesus Christ).

Consider then your worth.

So don't let any voices today cause you to sell yourself short. Don't exchange a bit of you for something far less worthy, like a moment of sexual expression for the internal knowledge of self-control.

Be who you are. Stand tall.

Act your worth.

For your worth?...absolutely priceless.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Facing it

Lots of us studiously avoid conflict,
situations that might contain risk, places where it is all on the line.
Instead, we turn away from great risk, great sacrifice, or great faith.
If we do this, we let those who follow us suffer from group mediocrity rather than lead the way towards making a difference.
It is so much easier to go along with the flow, to avoid the moment of confrontation, to let the next guy handle this challenge.

Heard a great story of a young man who had learned to face it.

He was installed as the pastor of a country church, attended mostly by hard-nosed ranchers and people of the earth. Conflict?...they learned to settle it in personal combat...often with fists. Hard to get someone to pastor that church.

On his first Sunday at the new post, as he was sharing with the church, a man interrupted the service, stood up, and said something like this:
"I just want you to know that when these people voted for you, I wasn't here. I wouldn't have voted for you....and I think we need to go outside right now and settle this."

The new pastor was a tall, angular, red-headed novice, but this day, he faced it.

Gathering himself to full height, he said: "Well, I'd be glad to settle this matter with you outside, whenever you like, but I need to tell you, you are not going to like the outcome."

After a pregnant pause, the rancher said: "Well, welcome pastor. I think we are going to get along just fine."

True story.

Do you have something you need to face?

"'Know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord's and he will give all of you into our hands.'
..and David ran quickly toward the battle line..."
I Samuel 17:45-49.

Facing it...with you.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Flury

You moving pretty fast too?

Yesterday: Staff meeting, office details, packing up, out to lunch, to SLC airport, fly home, to Brad's for some family time, home and to bed pronto.

Today: Up early, long talk, pick up the yard, clean up the office, check the mail, mail out copies of Spirit Life, gather teachings for Wyoming, wash car, pick up AG official, visit the wake of Virgil Illum, home and finish packing...different destinations this time.

Tomorrow..take Jackie to Denver airport - she's going to Minneapolis to see Shayla. I drive on to connect in Greely - to travel to Wyoming and speak for two days to pastors from all over that state.

Flury.

And then comes Jesus, the Prince of Peace.

With Him "in the boat" no flury will be too much. Waves and wind will simply become His means of developing us more on the inside.

Stand in our boats, Lord, and rebuke the part of the wind that seems like too much.

May Your peace - Jesus Christ - which supercedes understanding, keep our hearts and our minds.

And with this, we are doing "just fine, thank you."

Selah.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Wind

Interesting that on the day the Holy Spirit was sent to empower the church, it was windy.
Not actually...it was the "sound of a mighty rushing wind that filled the house where they were sitting."

Ooops...one artist I have seen depicts the people in the upper room with hair feeling the effects of the wind! Would have been much closer to the real thing if he had pictured some covering their ears instead.

The sound was God's way of introducing special effects to in some way represent the audio reality of the giving of His mighty power people. It would cause them to be able bear witness to Jesus. 120 people were thus impowered..and all at once.

Feels a bit like the "wind" is blowing in Ogden. This place, like the Springs has interesting weather, including winds that come up quickly, blow strongly and then subside rapidly.

Fresh winds seem to be prevailing in the church as we gather...with hearts responding to the word, vision being cast for the future, and lots of prayers and tears. As I minister, I see fire building in the eyes of those gathered. It is a joy to be able to be here to help the church transition into the future.

What a responsive and good people have been left in the wake of Ray and Bev Wead's great faithful ministry here.

So...my days are pretty busy...evening commitments, lots of teaching and discipling, a funeral tomorrow for people not even in the family that worships here. I'm going into that opportunity believing God for 10 people hungry enough to come to me and ask for a booklet that clearly explains how to come to faith in Christ and consequent transformation. Funeral is at 2...be praying.

Oh, and you should see Jackie as she loves on people, prays and speaks over them and teams with me in every way. Incredible partner in it all.

Blow...wind of God...blow!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Celebration

Unforgettable.

A night in Huntsville, Utah.

July 4th.

Huge open green covered with thousands of people...lots of children, lots of red, white and blue....shoes, hats, flags, clothing.
Then a live band....and people crowding in and swaying with the songs...hands lifted high. No alcohol problems, no fights...just joy.

As darkness began creeping in, glow sticks began to appear. Neons - yellow, red, green, blue, white. Like ornate fireflies that just kept glowing. Fashioned into hats, and balls, and space-ship frisbees. And the glow took over until it was a field of thousands with bright colors putting exclamation on the joys of all.

Finally, - 10:30 - the fireworks began with a shower of white brightness that had us ducking. We were right under the big explosions of color and sound..and for many moments, involuntary reflexes let me know just how close we were.

At the end, great cheers, and dances, and hugs. Endless circles of celebration.

All this for gratefulness to live in this land....and the sheer joy of having fun in Utah's newly relaxed fireworks environment.

And I thought of heaven
...where the celebrations will never end
....and the dimensions of it all will be galactic.

May the earthly tastes of heaven, remind us.....and pull us close to His eternal Kingdom.

Where we will celebrate forever.

Monday, July 4, 2011

America

None of us choose where we are born. The cycle of life, the path of parents, and the sovereign purposes of God marks that.
I was born to Canadian parents in Pocatello, Idaho.
They were here on mission.
So, in an unusual way, I got to be born here.
...a great gift indeed.
I carried dual citizenship for the first 20 years of life.
Finally, I said, I am here, I need to be responsible, and thankful, and become a citizen.
Took the exam and went through the process, raised my hand, took the oath and became a citizen.
Glad I did.
This country offers so much in its freedoms, so much in its trusts and its culture.
Still love Canada.
But thankful to be an American.
God (please continue to) bless America.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Pentecostalism

I am reading Donald Bloesch's book, THE HOLY SPIRIT (IVP, 2000).

He begins his chapter on Pentecostalism with these intersting quotes:

1. From J.A. Synan, historian and church leader:
"The latter-rain outpouring of the Holy Spirit is God's final great movement of power to provide a strong witness to the church and the world before the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ."

2. From Clark Pinnock - contemporary, evangelical theologian:
"Conversion without empowering is not enough - it is sub-normal Christianty. The pentecostals have been right about this - the rest of us had better listen."

3. From John Mackay -
"If it is a choice....between the uncouth life of the Pentecostals and the aesthetic death of the older churches, I for one choose the uncouth life."

I talked with a church leader last night who has in the last few days experienced a mighty empowering presence of the Spirit. It was messy, a bit loud, emotional, and appears about to be leading him into a walk more deeply in the presence of the Lord. A bit uncouth, it is something that has so enlivened him that words flow at great length.

I got hungrier just listening to him.

Are you?

May this be a time in all of our lives of seeking earnestly for His renewing and empowering presence.

Oh God, have mercy on us, and fill us to overflowing with your life.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Vision

The deviousness of our natures, the passions of our pleasures, the forces of society and the cycles of life and work, can make life into a series of circles and jumps etched out on the surface of our lives.

Anyone can end up asking: so what was my life all about? Did I get anything done that lasts? Was that worth my life?

A proverb speaks eloquently to this vast and human predicament..."Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint" Proverbs 29:18/ESV.

It is a clear sense of God's applied truth, His plan for our lives, and "the goal set before us" that not only helps us endure the crazies, but live each day with passion and progress. And in the end we are able to say, "this was worth my life."

And then...eternity!

Without clear vision the result is a circling life..the flurry of this and the flurry of that..satisfactions that last only briefly, and energies that soon ebb. Even the casting off of "restraint" - footnote: or living in a discouraged state.

The wandering life with no compelling sense of why.

Perhaps it is time to ask some tall questions, like the ones above, and wait before the Lord until something of His compelling presence begins to shape new life purpose and vision.

Jesus, was dominated by vision...for the here and now, and for forever. The closer we are to Jesus, the more we will be dominated by His vision for our lives.

In these often "lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer," may we find times and places of life-shaping encounter with Him.

'cause if you have a compelling vision, even the next step can be in the right direction.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Hell

Rob Bell got it wrong.

There is a hell.

My definition:
Hell is: being on call for two different enterprises at once,
- with a separate phone to manage each endeavor.
Oh, and a separate company made each phone, now rather aged, and two other companies manage your calling services.

And the phones have nagging "problems" and you are trying to get tech support.

After a "hold the line, we'll be back soon" and the redefinition of "soon" to be about 15 minutes, a symphonic group labors incessantly to try to make you forget the elapse of time. Not successful.

Tech support is finally live..and they begin with an apology for asking you the "24strictly confidential questions" that make sure you are really you. They need your access information, you know, that wierd word or thing never thought of from birth to the grave...at least you haven't even thought about it since you got the phone.

...eternally they keep saying, "Thank you Mr/s ________, do you have time for a few more questions?"

At times, you are guessing at what they are saying, because the tech support persons speak english as a second language and continually ask you: "Do you understand?" pronounced, "We untertand, eh?"

And your "yeses" said often in faith, come in shorter and shorter clips.

All the calls you need to respond to are "urgent," - some breaking into the connection with frequency, making you think the line has gone dead. (And secretly you wish that it would.)

All of this, while you are standing in a rather slow-moving que at a restaurant..keeping the phones switching off on your left ear to hear over the incessant crowd noise - and often a finger inserted in your right ear...and foreground music playing all the time, keeping the stalled ones happy.

What is crazy, is that some of us have been there lately.

Oh, how much we need to remember Jesus' words:
(John 14:27)
"Peace I leave with you,
My peace I give to you.
Not as the world gives do I give to you.
Do not let your heart be troubled nor let it be afraid."

So, if your days recently have become rather "hellish"...it's time to look up to heaven, get some regular re-stabalizing action going on inside, and slow down.

'Cause, stuff that comes from heaven, just doesn't make for hellish living.

Selah...

Pastor Dave

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Fathers Day Memory from Jackie

She was only five.
Now, almost 50 years have passed.
But the memory lingers on.
She remembers where it happened, what time of day, who was there, and who wasn't.
It was just her mother and father.
And it was at lunchtime.
She followed her dad, fresh in from hard work on the farm, to the place where he would wash up.
And after his hands were clean, he ran some water on his face and then on his dark hair. Then he ran a comb though it, shiney and slick, running back across his head. A handsome man indeed. An Elvis sort of look. She was transfixed.
After he went to the kitchen to eat she remained where she was before the mirror.
And then this unusual act...she ran some water across her face and hair, and took the comb and urged her hair to move back, just like her dad's.
And it was an early following of him...that would also include, work, values, patterns of life, faith...God.
He's gone now...but referred to often.
Fathers have just that kind of power...to influence those who follow.
God, too, knows that, and invites us to call Him Father.
May each of us this Father's Day weekend remember the good, and follow the best of those who have gone before.

Thanks Dad.
Jackie

Friday, June 10, 2011

Pentecost

Sunday is Pentecost Day....a celebration of the church universal just as is Easter, Christmas etc.
I think about the patience and timing of God in this day.
Jesus had been here incarnated for over 30 years.
He had ministered for over two years.
He had given His life on the cross and then risen from the dead.
He appeared to the disciples in breathtaking and convincing ways for 40 days!
Then, in front of them all he rose straight into heaven.
This is our faith...this is the certainty of what we believe.
Jesus did it all...it was more than enough to solve the sin problem, the separation of God from us problem, the where to spend eternity. problem...in essence to provide the ultimate in meaning and potential for anyone.
And yet God waited again...for ten more days.
Until Pentecost
...for on that 50th day after Jesus resurrection, the tenth after His ascension, there was to be a gala time of celebration. He had planned a spectacular inaugural all His own.
He sent the Holy Spirit upon people so powerfully that through them He would change the world.
There would be a wind of great power...flames of fire lighting upon each one....and the introduction of the language of heaven to the people of mission. What an incredible scene. Most of all, power was given to each person to live and speak Jesus everywhere.
The church that was launched goes on to this day....now numbering hundreds of millions.
So, as this weekend is upon us, lets allow our hearts to be filled afresh with Pentecost.

...

P.S. Canyon Road AG in Ogden is great...staff, leaders, people..the first week has been a winner! Thanks for your prayers!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Transition

We are close to departure now for Ogden, Utah.

We will do interim pastoral ministry there, keeping the church strong, coaching them through the search process for a new senior pastor, and providing care for the 200 or more people that are a part of Canyon Road Assembly. Projected time: 5-6 months...perhaps more.

We will live in two places, Ogden and Colorado Springs, but mostly Odgen. Leaving one vehicle here and driving the other vehicle up there.

Canyon Road is a great church that has been pastored for over 30 years by Ray and Bev Wead. They have done extremely well, with God's help, building a strong and capable group of people.

But no matter how long the years and firm the commitments, transitions do come for everything and everyone. That is until the Final Transition when Jesus returns and everything morphs into the eternal.

We hope you will turn promps into prayers, when the Spirit brings us to your minds.

Staying in touch:
a. I will maintain a regular entry on this blog
b. we will both continue on facebook
c. Jackie's cell phone: 719-200-9231
d. I will be carrying the church cell - not secured yet
e. The church number is 801-621-2185

We will continue to coach and respond to a variety of requests.

Traveling to Utah this summer? Look us up.

We sense this is a God thing, and are expecting that we will have encouraging words to pass on to you in the months ahead.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Gifts

"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand."

John 10:27-28.

It is a great word from Christ, spoken when He is being questioned about His true identity. Is He the Christ? He says, "Yes" and adds the words just quoted as though it is not just His works that testify to Him, but His unique gifts to those who would believe and follow.

Here is the short list of the gifts of Christ He promises:

1. His voice...His communication, often by the Holy Spirit and inner prompts. We are not blindfolded, in the dark, trying desperately to connect.
2. His heart-on knowledge of us...our leader is also our best Friend. We are not alone, un-cared-for, without a friend.
3. His guidance of us...we get to "follow"...He's always been there first. It is not all a maze...and who knows what will happen.
4. His gift to us of life...that goes on and on forever...a cosmic crescendo. It is not "life is but a candle" but this is just the beginning of the universe going into overdrive.
5. His strong grasp of us, such that "no one will snatch them out of my hand."
Even when I am the one who is snatchy, His arms around me hold on tightly. I really am secure...just as I am, in Him.

Ten times in a few verses God is personalizing these words..."my, me"...He is saying, "I am in charge. I am fully invested in you." It is not - "So, here are the rules, and you'd better follow all of them well. Oh, and I'll be waiting to see if you did, when you enter eternity." No, no, no.

Our responses? To listen well, to follow (when we know that He is clearly out front), to live life fully, to let the security we have enable the risks we are to take now.

Might be worth a hop, skip and jump today.

Sheep do that you know.

Not baaad eh?

......

Yesterday Jackie and I were moved by both the Joplin gathering (the President's and Governor's words), and the National Memorial Day gathering from the mall in DC. Both so reflective of people very shaped by the qualities (mentioned above) that Christ promised could be ours.

A special thank you to all who have served and are serving the causes of freedom around the world.

We are deeply and forever grateful for your service.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Yardwork

Out this morning early to work on the yard.

Beautiful, sunny, breezy.

Winter kill in the lawn? Scatter patching with seed...enough of something in it to give each seed a screaming boost into green. Hand water. "Send the label back to Scotts for a full refund if this doesn't work." That gives me courage.

Spring pruning? Butterfly bushes "cut down to 6-8". That's what the book says. That means piles of prickly dead stuff 5 feet tall.

Tree suckers? Pull back the surface roots and prune them. And don't cut the watering lines.

Weeds? Remove them getting the roots fully. (Just don't like all those chemicals.)

Mulch? Stir it and turn it over...getting close to needing another truck full. "Monkey mulch" they call it..named after what you look like as you deal with it.

Tree shaping? Remove trunk startups, awkward branches.

So I am sitting under a tree working on the suckers, getting a bit moist where my hm,hm meets the ground..and thinking about how life has become so much less professional, punctual, dressy, clean-handed, manoevering, influencing, controlling, running...just sitting under a tree with suckers, interfacing with stuff, hands dirty, mind loping across the creative order (and disorder) around me.

And it suddenly comes to me that this was the biggest portion of Jesus' life. Oh, it was wood and primitive tools...an axe, a rough saw driven by hand, a chisel to fit, and dirty hands..and sweat.

Well now, I am not trying to baptize my life. And, I'm not suggesting we all quit work...but I am suggesting that this weekend when you get outside, remind yourself that Jesus relates a lot better to what is going on out there than we often think. In fact you just might "hear" the sound of hammer on chisel and the soft movement of sandaled feet.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend.

And thank You, Jesus, for Your life, and for those whose memories and lives we cherish at this time.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Starting over

He was a preaching phenomenon.

His gutteral prouncements, humorous anecdotes and impassioned pleas, either put you right into the shoes of an old testament hero or living on the road with Jesus.

Creative, bold, unique in every way.

We called him CM - last name: Ward.

I got to sing in a choir that ministered with him for over a year. C.M became a communications lab every time he spoke....and this story lingers in my mind as exemplifying his humanness and adeptness.

He was speaking in a large church.

The Senior Pastor had resigned and left not long ago.

For some reason, CM took to joking more and more about the pastor who had left, dubbing him with unusual traits and exaggerated moments. At first there was laughter, but as he contined, it turned quiet, and motionless....until someone stepped up to CM and whispered, "the present pastor is the son of the former pastor."

With that, CM pivoted a full 360 degrees and coming back to the microphone said: "Hello, I'm CM Ward and I need to start over."

How about you? Need to start over? Need to face a bit of stark reality? Feeling immensely humbled by life?

Face it.
Eat crow.
And start over.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Gentleness

Gentleness - kindliness, being soft-mannered, a "pushover."

A text on my heart this morning:

"Let your gentleness be evident to all." NIV - Philippians 4:5
"Let your reasonableness be known to everyone." ESV
"Make it clear as you can to all you meet that you're on their side, working with them and not against them." The Message
And, coined so long ago as "sweet reasonableness" by Matthew Arnold

In a world where might makes right.
Where there are sides to everything - let's fight.
Where "it's my way or the highway."

What a light Jesus casts on our world in his gentle, self-giving manner.

We don't have to win. We've won already.
We don't have to fight. But "in Him" we can stand fast.
We don't have to fret. We are called to faith.

Living "in Him." It's the key to everything.

Peace be with you today my friend
....in the gentle grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Defiled

Defile:
to make foul, dirty, unclean. To desecrate, profance, misuse.

In reading Matthew 7:1-24 today, I ended up focusing on the word defiling. The definitions above give breadth to the translators' choice to use this word to accurately render the words of Jesus. It is a perjorative...a negative, a forcefully sombre word. (So much for the view some have, of Jesus - rather pale-skinned, making a peace sign with his fingers...not quite!)

The issue of defiling emerges in the text over a dispute - does defiling happen when stuff enters us or is it the stuff from inside that emerges in thought and deed?
Pharisees: it is the stuff that enters us. Therefore here is your exhaustive list of what not to touch or taste. Hands under control mean you've got it made.
Jesus: it is the stuff that comes out of us that reveals the nature of what is deep inside of us, and defiles us.
Then Jesus goes on to enumerate some of the things that should sound an alarm when they show up on an honest personal appraisal of what is inside. These things defile...make us dirty and unclean. Hand washing won't do the job...it takes a heart transformation.

Here, then is Jesus' list. 13 things that quickly come to his mind as things internal that defile: "evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness."

Jesus is saying it all starts on the inside. It all has its way of emerging to dirty our lives and that of those around us. And that is where the spiritual surgery should begin.

I note that Jesus simply puts all these things in a list. Foolishness gets put with murder, sensuality with immorality, coveting with theft. So my battle with envy, if not won through Christ, defiles me and puts me on murder's row.

"Jesus, today we ask that you would give us depth honesty...and wash us clean from the inside out. Some of us have been saying, 'if this behavior doesn't emerge I am ok'...when you want to scrub us squeaky clean.

No ritual moves Lord...it is you that we need. Not endless self-control, but Spirit-controlled living. Not reformation, but transformation.

Your reputation is that you "make all things new."

Us too, Lord."

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Questions

Read this yesterday...
"Islam offers lots of definite answers, but Christianity takes after Christ in leaving some questions on the table and often offering stories rather than formulas. Don Everts and Doug Schaupp, in I Once was Lost (IVP, 2008), state that "Jesus is asked 183 questions in the Gospels. He answers just three of them - and He asks 307 questions back." (In World, April 23 - p.84)

So, in my reading just this morning Jesus is asked: "Why do your disciples break the tradition...?"
And His reply: "Why do you break the commandment...?"

With us it is far different, often so focused on thinking of answers, that we even forget the questions. :)

With Jesus it was otherwise.

His purpose was not to settle people down with neat answers that elevated their view of Him, but to open people up with questions that caused them to think, and self-assess, and press on into further truth...and even many times get frustrated and angry...perhaps leave Him or walk closer. Their questions, precipitated His questions, and always a rather definitive response.

307 questions....3 answers.

Oh, don't lose track of Jesus' statements, like: "I am the way, the truth and the life." He wasn't unsure of either truth or Himself or His purpose. It's just that lingering questions often provided a better way to truth than quick answers. Still the same today.

So, join me today, in seeking to remember: if the person with the question is questing....a question in reply just might be the way to lead them further into truth.

"Selah" - it's an old ending/question and means: stop and think about it.

So...Selah.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

More or less

Thinking today of wanting to grow inside. Never stop. In that set I began to think of a very long list of more and less. Just writing it down was stimulating. Hope your reading it...and adding to it...might be for you as well. Here is part of my very long list.

I desire
MORE OF...LESS OF
prayer...self-reliance
simplicity...stuff
selflessness...pride
risking...calculating
eternity...now
Presence...chatter
Faith...what-ifs
others...me
celebrating...assessing
savoring...comparing
serving...competing
forgiving...brooding
pouring out...poured into
listening...controling
Jesus...pop culture

Get the last one right...and you have got it all.

...more or less.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mothers

My wife Jackie and I both suffered the loss of our first spouses.

Jackie's husband Tom was killed instantly in a car accident in Montana.

She was suddenly without her best friend, and the only parent to three dependent children.

She tells the story of the first Mother's Day after Tom's death....
Each of the children wanted to go shopping and had a few dollars to spend to honor "Mama."
She drove them to the shopping center and waited in the car.
One by one they came out of the store with excitement spilling over for what they'd chosen.
And she couldn't help but noticing that her son's package was really quite large.

Sunday morning of the big day came and the kids could hardly wait for her to open the gifts: *A basket filled with bubble bath and body lotions.
*A wallet with a note tucked inside...that she treasures to this day.
*And then the large gift from her son...excitement building as she began to open the bag...and discovered it was a large memorial marker that had brightly colored plastic flowers with the word, "MOM" in big letters.
You guessed it...a marker for a mother's grave.
He had found his gift in the Memorial Day gift aisle.
Unaware of what it really meant...he saw it as a great way to tell his neighbors how great his mother was.
So all that day, and several days after, this wonderful grave marker sat in their front yard to make her child's love for her known.

But that is not all that happened that day...an "alone" place in a restaurant, a deep sadness seeing all the couples in church, and one of the children throwing up in the car just before they got home.

Mother's Day is almost here.

Would you join me in being sensitive to some of the 9.9 million single mothers all around us? Mothers living with children younger than 18?....and that number is climbing rapidly.

There is time to plan something special, to adopt a young mother for the day, to do something joyful for the children, to make that hug and expression of love last a few minutes longer.

'Cause Mother's Day really should be special for every Mother.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Vengeance

News of Usama Bin Laden's death came upon us with force...added to by thinking for a second or two that it was Obama and not Usama. :)

The earthly end of a person so bent on their own agenda that they will sacrifice many of their own and kill as many of the "enemy" as possible.

An evil person indeed.

What has followed as I have watched it is a rather up/down response...some applauding and some wondering what a Jesus' followers response should be.

Blast him Lord, or show mercy?
Bury with dignity or rage?

Try this poetic expression out:
"In return for my love they accuse me, but I give myself to prayer...
And here is what he prays:
"Appoint a wicked man against him;
When he is tried, let him come forth guilty;
Let his prayer be counted as sin!
May his days be few...may his children be fatherless..."
..and that is only a portion of the vehemence expressed in this, Psalm 109.

And how about this...
"Blessed shall be he who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock!"
Another Psalm - 137:9

Years ago and again this morning, I am helped by reading from C.S.Lewis' Reflections on the Psalms. He devotes considerable space to these expressions and his thinking is really spot on. Here are a few points from his writing:
1. The culture of the time - very violent
2. The people of this expression - very strong in their sense of right and wrong, and very open. They didn't "hold it in"...as we are trained to do in our time. Their rage is reflective of deep convictions, often more than our quietness.
3. The substance of their imprecatory prayers contain words not perfectly formed, but emotions strongly expressed. Lots of us "careful prayers" could learn much here.
4. The Psalms then are expressions of human rage to a God who does judge, will do all things well, and who sees it all, and will wrap it all up in the end with justice. See Exodus 23:4-5; Leviticus 19:17-18.

In times like this...
1. May we pray not piously, but passionately.
2. May we turn feelings of deep anger into brokenness and acts of mercy.
3. May we seek peace and pursue it.
4. May we forgive and forgive and forgive....70x7, remember?
5. May our behavioral model always be Jesus...a time for anger, but a life of grace.

Working on this with you...

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Clean

"Go wash your hands before you eat."

..words often heard around our house when the grandkids are present. (and occasionally at other times too :)

And I think of Jesus' day...
no sinks, no showers, no bathtubs
no running water...unless it was you running
no bar soap, or quick spurt liquid cleansers
no hot water heaters, no water purifying systems
no toothpaste or brushes, no mirrors or convenience items, no paper products.

Must have been pretty rustic, this following Jesus.

And there were vermin a-plenty. Bugs, and mice, and creepy-crawlies. And no tight-fitting doors, or self-cleaning ovens, or refrigerators, or regular preservative actions.

Rustic indeed.

I would have thought any washing was just plain smart. Like: letting water be poured out of a pitcher and over your elevated hands and letting it run off your elbows. At special times this was how it was done. At least that was a start.

Jesus faced an accusation: "Why do your disciples not wash their hands when they eat?" (Matthew 15:2)

Jesus answered the concern in a few ways:
#1 - What is in inside you - the heart - is overwhelmingly more important than what is on the hands.
#2 - What comes from the heart has the power to "defile" you entirely. Stuff like "evil thoughts, immorality, slander." These things corrupt the whole person - Matthew 15:19
#3 - What goes into the mouth all gets "expelled" through natural processes.
#4 - Make the major focus of your energies the inside track.

So, children have a little bit of Jesus' backing in not being focused on washing hands...of course I'd never make this a focus of "Grampy time." :)

But for all of us, there is a helpful instruction: let the washing of our hands (a great priviledge indeed) become at times a Spirit tweak about a scrub job needed inside.

Ah, there is squeaky clean indeed.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Wilkerson

A few hours ago the news of David Wilkerson's horrible car accident in Texas broke into our worlds.

I remember years ago, hearing him at a rally and being pierced through with his callenging words of commitment and then his words of the amazing grace of God being manifested on the streets of New York. He was truly a man possessed by the Spirit of Christ...a prophet, a great ambassador of the gospel. His books an articles have left telling impact on my life.

The scripture that came to me pointedly in these hours was of the sudden departure of Elijah into the heavens:
it too was by a stream of water,
it too involved a vehicle of transport, in this case a chariot of fire,
it too was marked by the divine intervention and timing of God.

And may a fourth parallel come about..the fresh outpouring of the Spirit of God on others. (Read it all in II Kings 2)

May we all be praying that the family know God's voice and presence in these hours.

And may a fresh outpouring of God's Spirit fall on many.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Resurrection

I believe in the resurrection.

Not the rescuscitation, as though by some quirk Jesus had miraculously recovered from crucifixion. Not in the memorialization that makes Him "alive" still to so many.

But I believe that He fully died, became lifeless and that the penalty for sin, by the death of The Innocent was fully paid by Jesus at first Easter. And that that action of Christ covered all time prior and after His death.

It covers us today as we believe and give our lives to Him today.

I believe that the Father God sent life back into the body of His broken Son and transformed that body into a new model...a resurrected one, and the prototype of all whom God will raise from either this life, or their place of death into His presence forever. We shall be like Him..like Jesus raised from the dead.

I believe in the resurrection for a lot of reasons.

Here is a partial list written down from looking at the texts written about this event in ancient times.

Here are reasons for my faith today:

1. The texts of record about this even...various authors, various texts all saying the same thing. And those texts overwhelming preserved (1500 or more manuscrips or parts of) and maintained so that we can have absolute confidence in their reliability. They all say over and over, He is alive.

2. The stone was rolled away...uphill, by angelic power, the angels lingered long at the site of His rising. No poof and gone. No. Sitting on the burial slab...one at the head and one at where His feet had been. What detail! What care! And the angels were seen by multiple witnesses.

3. Women...it was women, contrary to normal witness proceedures of the time, that are the first reporters at the tomb, and the announcers to His followers of resurrection reality. If this was all a hoax, don't throw women in as witnesses into the mix. And this amazing detail signals the rising up of women that continues to this day, in its own way a unique evidence of His resurrection.

4. Running...the first witnesses went running. No "oooh ahing" - not swooning - "running" to tell others. So excited. So in control of all faculties. So having to share the news. So reliable, so wonderful.

5. Touching...holding his feet, putting fingers to the miraculously healed wounds in his side and hands, eating with him, walking with him, listening to him at length. He was not appearing for a final under-the-lights moment...but he appears "over many days" - 40 to be precise - to give absolute assurance to all that He is not a vapor, a wishful projection...but an actual, substantive Lord.

6. Burning hearts...out in the country on a long walk with Him, disciples (always seemingly multiple on-site witnesses) - before they even comprehend what He is saying to them, develop an interior fire in His presence. Now there is a resurrection evidence that you and I can test today.

7. Many more evidences could be listed...but I'll end with this: almost all of those who bore first witness to His resurrection, died as martys rather than turn from their confession of faith in this. If it had somehow been trumped up, would a deceptive lie have been worth all their lives?

I believe in the resurrection.

Happy, happy, happy Easter!

He IS alive!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Anticipation

We live in a most privileged time.

We live through another Easter season, knowing the outcome before it ever begins.

So, we tend to focus on the positive, the yet to come rising....the resurrection of Jesus, rather than the cross. Relatively few gatherings to focus on Christ's death, but extra services in larger spaces to accomodate the people coming to enter into the celebration of Jesus' "great gettin' up morning."

So many eager people, focused on the rising, that many were wishing each other a happy easter on Friday. Bonnets, eggs, dresses, food, flowers....reaching for just one more way to celebrate and fill the air with joy.

Now, this is not an idea offered with a wagging index finger, but a gentle call to all of us to a more balanced heart.

Fact is, God has made us to get excited about and enjoy these earthly times of joy. We are made to party hardy.

Jesus had that same makeup..."who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross."

But, it strikes me that, though He already knew He would rise - and had promised that to his disciples - it was the joy of being in the presence of His Father forever, heaven itself that propelled him with courageous, unflinching steps - forward into the worst moments ever endured.

It can be that way for us too...

So this Easter...embrace the cross, enthuse over His resurrection and all that it guarantees, and keep looking forward to that forever celebration, in the presence of our Father, where all will be gathered, and the dinner will be...well, beyond anything yet...
...and the music, and galactic fireworks, and angelic processions...of that time will be the exclamation mark to the very long statement God has been making.

Let the anticipation of it all move you forward today.

Happy, happy, happy easter!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Darkness

I write this blog on Friday, at noon - 12:36 to be precise.

This day gives us one of the opportunities we have to see the Bible on a clock...a precise time recorded by Matthew, Mark and Luke. "And when the sixth hour (our noontime) was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour."

In the darkness, Jesus is hanging, crucified, darkness on the cross. After three hours the heart-stopping silence would be broken with His cry - in a loud voice - "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabach-thani?" which is, "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?"

And the darkness must have grown darker still.

Physical horror is now blackened by human anguish.

This is the last energy of One almost dead...Why...?

From a throat graveled by thirst. From a strong body, now gasping for any life.

This, from the Lord and giver of Life!

Scrambled on a cross, our sins emptied upon Him, and having experiencing hours of the most excruciating form of pain ever known.

He is writing this in bold: death often must come before life. It is a pivotal Kingdom truth-reversal.

It is what is "sown into the ground" that springs up.

Death is a must...so that transforming life can be an expectation.

So, once again today, we enter into the Easter weekend.

The celebrations of Sunday will electrify the globe.

But may they be authenticated in us by the heart-transforming realities of His death.

Darkness...then light.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Power

We traveled a lot on I-80 in the last few days...the length of Nebraska. Saw the Spring game of the Cornhuskers, (they won! :)) some wonderful friends, great family times, Val's pizza and Runzas and more. A splendid few days!

Traveling I-80 brought back memories, for it was main street for me for four years in the early 70's. I remembered one night, when I was driving late and was very weary from teaching and interacting with collegians, yet so wanting to make it home. I became so weary that I sensed I was becoming dangerous.

Then the idea hit me, to "see how fast this car will go."

I was driving a 1971 Chevelle Super Sport, 396 horsepower, dual mags. Translated for the more stable who are reading this: a light bodied car, housing a ferocious engine. Built to go very fast.

I waited for the road to become very clear. I was going 75. Suddenly I "floored" it just to see what would happen. It "hung up" for a few seconds and began screaming, and then pushed me back in my seat as it jumped to the next level...the fastest I have ever driven.

Power.

I was wide awake from that moment until I got home.

Power...the promise to all of us is this: "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be My witnesses." Acts 1:8

Like my driving that night, we easily get into the habit of living sleepily, and never discovering the incredible power that sits under our "hoods."

By analogy, my encouragement is: "floor it" - live at least part of your days at full throttle. Attempt the "impossible." Stir yourself. When the Spirit nudges you, make the "yes" response that honestly will take His power to accomplish. Lay hands on the sick. Cast out demons. Stand up and share your faith. Commit to the incredible.

What will happen next will surprise you,
'cause there are moments when only power will get you home.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Discernment

Everything about him was impressive. The right clothing and hairstyle. Strong words when he taught, about things many would never fully understand. His pedgree was good - from a solid school, well respected. His wife seemed to match him in the above. And they were planting a church. Zeal and intensity always apparent in them.

But all was not well. The inside stuff was pressing towards bankruptcy...marriage was hanging by a thread. Church was going nowhere. His own moral life was in rapid decay.

Some of us sensed something was not right...and hesitated for a long time to confront him, because we just weren't sure. Seemed hard to get a hold of...yet the impression remained. Something was wrong.

When finally confronted, he broke down and was gone. And we began the process of rebuilding what he had so deeply marred.

Reading Matthew 7:15-20 this morning and was struck by the outline of the event I lived through so matching Jesus' words...sheep's clothing, Lord,Lord, prophesying, casting out demons...and yet living at a distance from Jesus. "I never knew you" is what Jesus pronounces over this person. Kind of makes it that church growth, slick sermons, and lights and bells might just not signify very much.

The mark of a life close to Jesus is the personal cultivation of good fruit..like Jesus reference to grapes and figs. And with both you've got to get really close to the plant to see it and witness the health of it. Big church...bad marriage? Something is wrong. Great oration...short temper? Something is wrong. Great appearance...no depth relationships? Something is wrong.

May God give us His gentle but piercing wisdom.

This ancient word from our Lord is timely today.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Responsibility

Two scenes:

In the first, I am living generations ago, and the quietness is rather intense. News travels by train, and by the time it arrives and is generated into distributable means, it is often weeks old. Not many pictures or sense of reality. Not much responsibility...for not much news.

In the second, I sit down at the table and turn on the TV. I am immediately projected into the Japanese countryside, to the horrific reality of perhaps thousands of people killed, radioactive leakage, missing persons, political awkwardness. Potential impact on the west coast. And while this is streaming at me - varied voices, hundreds of images, live interviews - several other streams of information are going simultaneously across the screen.

I feel waves of sadness, and the food just doesn't taste as good.

Am I responsible...and how?

I finally go to my study and scribble down some principles:
1. I am responsible for what God speaks to me about. The conviction of His Spirit, not just the information streamed at me, should be my measure. And I should pray and listen. When I see something that stirs me, I should make that a matter of prayer and potential action.

2. I should get in the habit of doing something about some things, and not in the habit of doing nothing about everything. There is not enough at my disposal to change the world, but there is enough at my disposal to change the lives of many.

3. I am especially responsible to my Family...natural, community, faith.

4. I am called to be a steward - to give thanks for His provision, and to make sure that it is managed in ways that bless others...avoiding gluttony, lavishness etc.

Responsible....
response to the prompts of God's Spirit as I am able.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Counterfeit

Q. Ever see a counterfeit $20?
A. Yes.
Q. Why was it counterfeited?
A. Because it was worth counterfeiting.
Q. Ever see a newspaper counterfeited?
A. No.
Q. Why?
A. Because it was not worth counterfeiting.
Q. Did you ever see a counterfeit Christian?
A. Yes...perhaps, quite a few.
Q. Why?
Think the same logic applies?

Hmmm...

May we be the real kind, the kind worth counterfeiting.
And may our encounters with counterfeit only strengthen our faith.

For real...with you.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Kestrel

Love watching birds. They will stop me in my tracks to just watch.

Saw a hawk in hunting yesterday...cruising the breeze, head bent down, and suddenly a swoop. Mouseburger time.

The hovering of a kestrel (smallish, multicolored hawk) is wonderful. Goes into a two-planed rapid-winged formation which causes him to stop midair and turn his eyes upon movement in the ground. It is a beautiful blurr and if you keep your eyes open, you will see it during these days. Lots of kestrels and hawks around for the ones who watch.

And every time we see one of these birds, it may become just another way that God nudges us, reminding us of His care for us.

"Like birds hovering, so the Lord of hosts will protect Jerusalem - (by extension, this includes us);
He will protect and deliver (us);
He will spare and rescue (us)." (Isaiah 31:5)

Need some protection? Strong deliverance? An outright rescue?

Keep your eyes open...and keep your trust built strong. God delights in communicating..and is a Master at varied revelation.

Birds: it just might be the Lord's way of signaling His awareness to you.

So, just a little reminding to all of us that our Leader said:
"Look at the birds. Consider the lillies. Interpret the skies."

We are safe..
..cared for by a God who hovers.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Streamlining

Streamlining....gets rid of excess, cuts off the weights, the stuff that encumbers. Streamlining makes for easier movement on the journey...makes living more efficient and simple. It is one important aspect of living in the future will of God right now. Streamlining allows us to say "yes" to His will more readily and move in quicker obedience.

So I had this file system...all 14 or so drawers of it...over 600 hundred categories for filing the mountains of things I collected during 50 years - notes, articles, ideas, pages from magazines, old sermons, clippings, wedding ceremonies, funerals, church memos and practices. Mountains of stuff.

When we moved to Colorado, all of it came with us in a big mound of boxes. And now, one by one, the boxes are being opened and each file is being quickly perused and dealt with. About 80% of each file goes into a big two wheeled container that gets picked up every Friday morning. Stuff not likely to be of value. Stuff to let go of. Ouch. The remaining items get put in a now very small file, labeled well, for use with mentees, writing, and consulting with Pastors.

A few things I am learning in this, rather painful process:
1. To everything there is a season...it's part of the healthy cycle of life to let things go.
2. Reviewing even quickly all the items really is a way of remembering and giving thanks. Glad I didn't just pitch everything.
3. The seasons in the church are interesting...trends come and go...community, charismatic renewal, focus on prophecy.
4. What seems of value still,is stuff generated and put to use in the church. Things of core value, discipling processes, maturity processes, operational wisdom.
5. Life goes by pretty quickly. The ride will be a bit easier if you eschew pride and stay humble, if you work on staying nimble, and if you put forth faithful and daily effort to fulfill the role that God has given you with excellence.

"...only what's done for Christ will last."

Travel sleek, my friend. Streamline.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Greatness

Every one of us want to live a life of meaning...even greatness. It is healthy to want to make a difference, to leave a mark, to strive to be better and do excellently.
It is not healthy to pull into a corner, be self-absorbed and lethargic.
Problem comes for many when they begin to equate greatness with cultural norms - size, speed, money, better-than-you's, ego.
Press for greatness.
Make life count.
But, do it Jesus' way.

Here are few thoughts about what really does add up to true greatness.

1. Focus your energy on being a servant...not a leader. Leadership comes to those who serve so well that they are asked to help others do the same. If it comes any other way, it leads to craziness. Jesus said: "Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant and whoever wants to be first must be your slave" (Matthew 20:26-27) And He said about His life: I did not come to be served, but to serve and give My life......you do it too. So serve every day, everywhere you are. Watch for ways to serve and just do it. Ask those in charge what you can do to serve them and do it. And offer all you do to the Lord as an offering of your life to Him.

2. Don't try to be flashy, impressive...instead, keep reminding yourself that faithfulness is the criterion that Jesus sets. Faithfulness is doing what you have said you would do..and doing it well, regularly, with your best energy, as though it it was someone else doing this for you. On time, ready to go, focused, humble, happy, productive...that is faithfulness. Jesus said the "well done" would be spoken only over those who had been "faithful." (Matthew 25:21) Note: you don't have to be a star, but you have to be faithful with what you have been given. "It is required of servants (quality #1) that a person be found faithful." It is a requirement of the Kingdom.

3. Greatness is measured in followability. Jesus said over and over: "Follow me" and the apostles called people to follow them. IE..if it is not changing you, don't lay the demands, expectations on anyone else. Every person with integrity. That is the Kingdom. When Jesus called people to follow it was a vulnerable (for everyone), demanding, life-changing thing that began for them all. In less than two years they all went from zero to being willing to die for the One they were following.
Can our friends, children, associates follow us?...into our habits, into our life-style, into our entertainment, into our ambitions, into our faith?

Followable. Faithful. Servant-like.

Here is greatness.

Here is Jesus.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Minding

Earlier today, I was taking time to clean up and during it, had time to mentally be untasked. We all have times like this...when eating, when shaving, when showering, when performing tasks that do not demand much mental focus. In those times it is interesting to tune in to what is happening.

My mind went to a pastor-friend in a nearby city...and as soon as it did, I found myself with a few simple options:
1. To wonder how he is doing and review some of our past interacts and present responsibilities.
2. To weigh in on his great strengths and self-assess, developing some negative personal thoughts and attitude.
3. To wonder if this was a prompt from the Lord, and assume that I should either contact him, or at very least pray for him and bless him.

Our minds are really complex. Our options are always bubbling. And what we do with the options that come to mind is a great key to victorious christian living.

I have found that sometimes, "the most trivial thoughts" lead to a clear assignment in the Spirit and an ushering forth of the Presence of God into my life and that of others.

"Those who trust God's action in them find that God's Spirit is in them - living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God...ignores God...thinking more about self than God."
- from The Message - Romans, Chapter 8.

May our "minding" lead us to joy and meaning on this journey called life.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Apologizing

Sign on a new deco eaterie wall:

"Proper Apologies have 3 parts:
1. What I did was wrong
2. I feel badly I hurt you.
3. How can I make this better?"

Good human wisdom.

And I grab several concordances to find a biblical reference to this and found only one, in the Message concordance....where the people who threw Paul in jail, did so not knowing he was a Roman citizen, and thus came to him hurredly in the morning and "apologized" - see it all in Acts 16.

A question: why does the Bible not include this in its vocabulary of recommended human activity?

Hmmm....

Thursday, March 17, 2011

God Wins

I'm out of the office this week....having fun with grandkids, reading and assisting our children as they walk down the path towards foreign missions service.
In the past hours I downloaded Rob Bell's new release: God Wins, and read it with interest. I had seen the promotional lead that was released, and really wanted a first look and an entire read prior to making comment here.
What a great communicator he is. It is artfully put together, daringly fashioned, refreshingly focused on things that really matter to everyone. Lots of people will read this.....and talk about it. The feedback already is abundant and it has only been out two days?!
I plan to read as much of the reviews as I can. This stuff is important.
But, what can I say right now that might be helpful to all of us?
Here is my short list of immediate responses:
1. Caution! Do not lean towards what is natively pleasing....like God winning by seemingly getting everyone into a redeemed state in the end. I like that...and the conversation with my kids heading into missions has already had strong focus. Why should anyone do what they are heading towards, if it is not compellingly necessary?
2. Before you accept everything Bell and editors have so skillfully put together, go back to the passages of scripture that the Spirit prompts in you and read the word again. Remember: the Bible was written and was meant to be grasped by people, not just academics. Read the word and let the Spirit of Truth, inform you and guide you.
And here is the short list of passages that I have felt led to revisit:
a. About the full view of the nature of Jesus - Matthew 23-24.
b. About the kindness of God - Romans 1-3
c. About wrath not really being a central part of God's function - Revelation.
3.Read Rob Bell...it will equip you in conversations for a long time. BUT read the word, it will inform and balance your grasp of the truth that is.
On the journey, with you....and remember, God really does win!
Revelation 20 and 21