Monday, August 31, 2009

Redeeming the Days

I put a bottle of water in the freezer. I want a bottle of cold water. Not a bottle of ice. And I sure don’t want an icy mess in the freezer either. Cold water is what I want. Better watch the clock to make sure time doesn’t slip by. I better be intentional.

What are you trying to accomplish with your time? Do you have some goals? Are there some things you want to accomplish in life before time runs out? It will slip by, you know. The clock is ticking even now.

We aren’t looking for mere busyness though. We’re looking for effectiveness. We should be looking to redeem the time. Have you really considered how you will use your time to bring results? Good marriages don’t just happen. Neither do raising children of character. Growing in your faith doesn’t just happen either. It takes time and even a plan.

The Bible calls us to redeem our time because the days are evil. Now saying the days are evil doesn’t necessarily mean that you are going to do something immoral or illegal if you don’t plan to avoid that activity. Evil days are wasted days. We’ve all had those days. You come to the end of the evening and you really don’t know where the day went. You’re left frustrated because nothing of value has been accomplished.

Redeemed days are those where righteousness has been accomplished. You had some solid conversations. You’ve spent some time thinking about your life and how it compares to God’s way of living. You served someone. A major project is out of the way or maybe at least begun. Rest even holds redemptive value. Are you planning for these things to happen?

My water bottle is going to freeze in the freezer. It is a scientific fact that my time is limited. If I forget about it and fail to plan accordingly I’ll just have a regretful mess. Life is the same way. You may not know how many hours and days you have, but it is set. When it ends will look at it and see some of those achievements that were intentional or will you be dealing with a regretful mess? Redeem the days.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Would You Listen?

If I were to create a 2-3 minute devotional thought a couple of times per week, would you listen? It would be something you could stream or download so it would be easily accessible.

Let me hear from you to know if you would listen on a regular basis? After all, I'm not interested in just talking to myself. I do that enough any way!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

True Religion is...

On Sunday morning we read from Isaiah 1:12-20. In the middle of this passage God calls His people to, "Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; ​cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; ​bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause." There are many meaningful calls to action in this passage, but I was (and still am) thinking about bringing justice to the fatherless.

As many of you know, our oldest boys, Maddox and Isaac, are adopted. They were born in Kazakhstan. Monica and I had the opportunity to bring them into our family when they were only six months old. Now they are seven years old and it seems that adoption process happened a lifetime ago. At times I forget that they are adopted. While that is good on one hand, I don't want to forget they were adopted.

The adoption of children is such a beautiful picture of what God has done for Christians through Christ. Paul makes the direct comparison in Ephesians 1. The love I have for my boys reminds me of the love God has for me.

Adoption is important and should be remembered by more than those who face infertility issues. It is something that all Christians should hold as a priority. I am thankful that there are many churches across our country that are bringing adoption to the forefront. There is now a conference called Together for Adoption that seeks to bring attention to adoption. I pray that God will lead many to care for the fatherless through adoption.

Of course, orphans are only one category of children that are fatherless. There are others that are fatherless. Some of them may even live on your street. How will you care for the fatherless this week?

Monday, August 24, 2009

See Through Their Eyes

Sometimes I follow senior adults. That’s right; sometimes I try to follow them at a very close range. Before you think bad thoughts though, let me explain. Years ago I was talking with a senior adult lady who was sharing her frustration with younger people who are impatient with her because she moved a little slower than they did. She told me she wanted to move faster, but with knees, hips, ankles and feet that were feeling the wear of many years she just couldn’t move any faster. She said that if they could feel the pain in every step that she feels maybe they would understand and be a little more patient. I had never thought of that being the reason some people move slower than others. To remember that conversation occasionally I will intentionally walk up stairs or down a sidewalk behind a senior adult so that I will be reminded that life won’t always move at my pace. Seeing this senior adult’s reality I am reminded I need to be patient.

How often do we consider other people’s perspective on life? Too often I find myself expecting everyone to move at my pace and, honestly, wanting them to move at my command. Until we slow down long enough to consider where someone else is coming from, we won’t know how to serve them.

For instance, if I don’t slow down and try to understand where my children are coming from I won’t be able to help them. If I don’t understand why they are frustrated or what they do not understand I won’t know how to truly help them remedy the issue at hand. Sure I could just fix the problem, but I won’t be able to help them learn how to solve problems on their own.

As a pastor, if I don’t know the struggles of the people I am supposed to serve I won’t be able to serve them well at all. I have to be able to see the world through their eyes. That is the point of God coming to earth and becoming flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. Christ is able to understand the human experience and care for us not only from the Creator’s viewpoint, but from the vantage point of someone who has shared in the human experience as well.

When was the last time you looked through someone else’s eyes? Why not have a conversation today and really listen to make sure you understand the other person’s perspective. Then, you might be able to serve them in a way that will make a lasting difference in their life.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Hypocrite's Confession

I lost it. I really did. Fortunately, it isn’t my mind I’m talking about, but my temper. I was faced with some choices in dealing with a difficult situation and I chose poorly. I was guilty of letting my pride get the best of me and a great display of anger was unleashed. To add to it, the storm had rumbled early in the day and I was left to watch the replay in my mind over and over all day long. After watching for a few hours, my anger turned to hurt and frustration that I had blown it once again.

It's not the end of the story, though. There is hope. God did not turn away. In fact, He used the remainder of the day to teach me about this early morning conniption.

First, I was set to talk with a man about a struggle he has having. What might this struggle be? That’s right, anger. I’m having lunch to talk about this man's anger and all I could think of was mine. Ever been there? Needless to say as I listened to the biblical wisdom I was giving him, I wondered if I would heed my own words.

After I survived the lunch of conviction salad, I returned to the computer to finish some work. The phone rings and it’s another friend seeking some advice in a different counseling situation. As our conversation rolls on he says, “Isn’t it funny how God uses the things we tell other people in counseling to deal with our own problems?” No, it’s not. At least that’s what I wanted say. By this time I was really starting to get the point. God had seen my little display earlier in the day and was now at work correcting me. There were no lightning bolts or voices from Heaven, just nudges throughout the day to get my attention. He got it.

You’ll be happy to know that I did return to the scene of the crime. I did seek and receive forgiveness. And, I did leave with a desire to learn and grow from the experience.

But I also left wondering how often God weaves people and conversations through our day so that we will ultimately think of Him. Do we truly realize that God is at work all around us? Have you taken notice of how active He is in your world?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What's In Your Schedule?

What’s on your schedule today? Why is it there? As you made your plans, have you considered how they impact the Kingdom of God? Would you be able to recognize the Kingdom of God? Do you have a desire to live within the Kingdom of God?

These questions do matter because Jesus has told us that we are able to live within the Kingdom of God even now.

In John 3 Jesus says that the only way you can see or enter the Kingdom of God is to be born again. Questions may arise through that phrase “born again”, but let’s first consider what the Kingdom of God is.

In Romans 14:17, Paul says, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” So, the Kingdom of God is not as much a physical place as it is a state of being. It is a place of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. It could be said, then, living in the Kingdom of God is to finding our joy as we live in an understanding and application of God’s ways of living.

How do we do this? It comes down to the lenses by which we view our world. To one person something is weird. To another it is normal. Where do you find your definition of normal or different; right or wrong? What is our goal of success? What is our goal for joy? Where do we seek our joy and satisfaction? I know you’re looking because I am too. Are we looking for God’s wisdom in our decision-making? Or, are we looking to our own wisdom or to what everyone else seems to be doing around us? The competition is fierce. There are many that are vying for your attention. At the end of the day, though, not everyone’s wisdom is equal.

As Paul says, finding righteousness, peace and joy in God comes only from God.

Are you seeking it?

In our next blog we’ll talk about how you can find it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Peace and Quiet

Will you help me? I've been asked to write an article for the Barren County Progress and I want your feedback on my first submission. Here it is. Read it and let me hear from you...


The peaceful and quiet life. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? Yet, we know it is elusive. It’s probably something people do in some other town. Our lives are active and busy. There are always errands to run, chores to be finished and deadlines to meet. And, even if we aren’t on the go that much our minds are always racing. There is little doubt that we can become overwhelmed quite easily. We don’t like this fact, but many find it true more often than not. Does it have to be this way? What causes us to be this way?

There must be something that motivates our busyness. The calendar doesn’t dictate our lives to us. We hold the pencil in our hand. We allow ourselves to be overwhelmed and driven until we are run ragged. But why? Could it could be that our fear of what others think of us drive us to this maddening pace? We don’t want to be thought of as the bad son or daughter, the parents that are always lagging behind or the neighbor everyone talks about at the end of their driveways. We don’t want to be the employee that seems to underachieve. Now, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t work hard and take care of our responsibilities. Indeed, we should. What I’m saying is that I often take on too much because I’m worried about what others are thinking of me. And I think you might as well. In my pursuit to be perceived as living the peaceful and quiet life I create waves of chaos to keep the illusion flickering on the screen of life.

Is there a solution? Paul, an author of the New Testament of the Bible, offers a suggestion. Prayer and humility before God are what he recommends. Prayer forces us to acknowledge that God is working all around us. Whether we are asking God for wisdom or provision, or thanking Him for what He has given we are forced to realize that He is the Giver and we are the receiver. He is the Need-meeter and we are the needy. The humility we discover in 2 Timothy 2:1-7 tells us that we are, ultimately and supremely, to be concerned with pleasing God. And there is that notion of pleasing again. It’s interesting that when we please God many of the people mentioned above are pleased also. Not all, but many. Then, maybe we’ll find that peace and quiet we desire.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Purification Process

We long for pure things, don’t we? Pure chocolate, pure gold…you fill in the blank. When something is purified, though, we often forget about the first part of the process. The hard part is the removal of the impurities.

This purification process is true for people also. If we are going to become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ, we must be purified. This is a hard process for us because it calls us to realize that there are imperfections and impurities in us. Then it gets even more difficult as we are called to join with God in the removal of our impurities.

It’s like losing weight or gaining muscle…we love to think about how much healthier we would be or how our clothes fit better, but thinking about the process to get there is a whole other matter. Talk about hard work!

Jesus came in the flesh to purify all those that would follow Him. That includes His atoning death for sin, but it includes more. The purification includes the process of God working in the lives of disciples to make them like Christ. (Rom. 8:28-29) And, for us to be more like Christ, we must have impurities removed from us.

Here’s where it get personal.

Could you name three impurities in your life right now? Can you put your finger on three attitudes or regular actions that God would consider offensive?

Then, would you pray that God would help you to see these impurities and give you the desire, strength and wisdom to join Him in the purification process?

Yes, it is hard work but I thought we said we longed for pure things. God does.