Archive for May, 2010

I don’t normally do this, but I am going to put in a shameless plug for a book I just read.  The book is called "The Noticer"
by  Andy Andrews.  I read a lot of books, so why am I mentioning this one to you?  Because it shook me up.  It made me uncomfortable, and sent me on a path of real self-examination.  It is a book about the perspectives people have on life, relationships, etc.  By the time I was halfway through this book, I was finding myself rethinking a lot of what I assumed were truths about who people are, and how I should view them.  I won’t spoil the book for you (but do hope you will take the time to read it, only 176 pages), but I can just about guarantee it will give you some very big improvements to your perspective, relationships, and day to day life.
Perspective is basically a filter through which we view things.  If you encounter someone who seems to be a bit short with you today, you will likely assume that they are just being rude to you.  That is viewed through your "I should be treated better than that!" filter.  But what would happen if today when someone treats you rudely, you put on the "I wonder what has upset them" filter?  You may stop, politely ask them if they are okay, and possibly find out that they had a long time pet pass away today (that actually happened to me by the way).  Once they expressed what was going on in their life that made them upset, my perspective toward that person totally changed, and I was able to be a positive listener for them, instead of being angry.  Big difference.  Now this is but one example of how perspective can make a difference, but the book contains many, many thought provoking life situations that have helped me to see just how wrong I am in the way I view things at times.  That upset my little apple cart a lot, and has propelled me to cast away a lot of my "known" judgments and perspectives.  It changed my perspective on perspectives!
What about your God perspective?  Do you see Him as a loving, caring God, or are you angry at Him for not answering your prayers, or allowing things to happen to you that you do not like.  God’s perspective of us is viewed through the filter of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.  His filter is love –  not anger or disappointment.  We are the ones who assume He is angry or upset.  Think about that for a while.  If your perspective towards someone is total love, how forgiving are you?  Amazingly so.  So it’s not that hard to understand that the grace God gives us comes from a total filter of love.  He just loves us – it is simple.
I hope you will get a copy of "The Noticer", and I hope you will always remember when God looks at you, his filter is love.
I hope you have a great week examining your perspectives!

 

Advertisements

We had a great time at church last week talking about prayer. As an adjunct to that, I’d like you consider something that can really help your prayer life.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are currently six billion, eight hundred twenty one million, eight hundred ninety six thousand seventeen souls running all over our planet as of 7:30 a.m. this morning. No wonder I have a hard time getting a table at Olive Garden. The traffic on our roads is getting almost beyond my limits, and the lines at the grocery store (or heaven help me if I have to go to Wal- Mart) are just ridiculous. People are everywhere I go. But wait a minute. According to Wikipedia, there are about 197,000,000 square miles of earth (only about 57,000,000 of it is land, but that’s not my point). There are lots and lots of open spaces still left on this earth. Why you can actually get in a boat off the coast of Georgia, ride for about 15 minutes out to sea, and not be able to lay your eyes on another person. Or you can take a walk in the pine woods west of Brunswick and not be seen by anyone all day.

So why don’t you? Go off on your own occasionally I mean. There is plenty of room for you to do that, in spite of the world population! Why in the world would I do that? To think. To rest. To organize your thoughts. To examine your heart. To pray. Those are some pretty good reasons. Or you could do it — just because it is what Jesus did:

Mark 1:35-37 (NIV): Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon, and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: "Everyone is looking for you!"

Luke 5:15-16 (NIV): Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

Sometimes when Jay and I get together and we don’t really have a topic of conversation, he will ask me, "So what’s the condition of your heart today?" It shouldn’t, but it almost always catches me off guard. Sometimes my heart is hurting, sometimes it is happy, and sometimes it is a bit hard, but it always feels good to stop and consider it. You need to clear your head and your thoughts periodically, and then examine your heart. I read once that a pure heart is a clean heart, and to clean your heart, sometimes you must cut away unnecessary things and quiet the noise. Being alone has a way of allowing you to hear your own heart and examine what is in there. God will show up to help, if you truly seek it.

If you do go off alone for a while, chances are that someone will start missing you. When you return, you’ll have a smile on your face. If they ask you where you were — tell them. "God and I were working on my heart". It’s a great conversation starter, I promise.

Enjoy some time alone this week. Let me know what God tells you!

del.icio.us Tags: ,,,

My coworker and good friend Patrick Witherow and his wife Kara are going to be parents tomorrow, and have named their baby daughter Nora. Such an amazing time in the life of a couple, and they will be faced with many, many decisions and choices for this child as it grows. I thought about what I would tell them having raised two children of my own. It got me to thinking about the patterns in life, and how there is this general and incredible framework that God has created for our lives, strongly infused with grace. Let me explain.

image From the basic building blocks of life, we are created in our mother’s womb. God watches over us at that time and determines our sex, our unique character, and our general physical makeup. God is there to take care of us, and we really can’t make choices about what happens. Then we grow and develop these incredible relationships with our parents, siblings, and other family members. God chose those people for us, and he wants us to each help each other, and offers us guidance along the way, but we can choose to be good or bad to those around us. Thus begins our path of choices. Then we make friends, and it is at this point that we make more choices, be they good or bad ones. As we grow, we choose how we will live our life, we choose a mate, we choose an occupation, we choose lots of things. God is still in control, but we can choose some pretty bad things. Bad choices are called mistakes, and we have to decide what to do with them.

We are faced every day with many opportunities to choose, and those choices help determine the direction of some things. We make good choices, and we celebrate those. But what happens when we make a bad one? A lot of times we try and deny them or rationalize it to a point where it is not our fault. Bad choice, and that usually turns out poorly, plus can lead to more bad choices. It is certainly not what God wants us to do. He would far prefer humility, honesty, and offers us grace to admit our weakness. I like what Jay says has always told his kids about how to handle a mistake. Admit it, address it as best you can, and move on. That is the path to perfection, since it honors God and exposes his grace. Consider this verse:

2 Corinthians 12:9 (New International Version) But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Boast about my weaknesses? Not what we are taught to do is it? Making bad choices will happen, it is inevitable. Sometimes it is because we are not in touch with our own weaknesses, or are not able to admit them. God knows us, and he honors us admitting to weaknesses and mistakes by offering His grace.

So to Patrick and Kara, I offer this advice. Make decisions prayerfully and cooperatively, and understand that your choices now affect the life of little Nora. Understand your weaknesses and admit mistakes to each other, and even admit it to Nora when necessary. Learn from those mistakes, admit them and deal with them, then move on in God’s grace. And to the rest of us, boast of your weaknesses, and people will help you with them. Even if they don’t, God’s grace is complete in the incredible framework he created! And remember that your choices affect others as well. Good or bad, all decisions are covered in grace!

Have a great week, and make good choices!

del.icio.us Tags: ,,,

Ever been on a road trip with friends? That’s what I am doing today, and have in fact done several times in the last weeks as I travel around on business for my job. When you are on a trip with friends, you share with one another, you laugh, and you get to know each other better. If you need help on the road, your friends provide it as needed. It is all a product of being together, doing life together. This is how God intended it to be, people being with people, sharing and helping each other when we struggle.

Do you realize that this is what church is all about? We attend church to do life together, to share and help each other along the way. We laugh, we learn, and we spend time doing the all important task of worshipping. But we don’t just do that on Sunday. Do you? Tell me you don’t leave it at that!

One of the things I like the most about being a part of The Chapel is that it is not a once a week thing, we do life together. All through the week I watch Chapel people interact, spend time together and do so much more than just sit together in church services. Our small groups are not Sunday school! If you haven’t caught on to that yet, you are really missing the boat. They are so much more than that, they are mini parties with some people who will soon become some of your best friends and support mechanism. We are to love and support one another, as in this example:

John 13:34-35: "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

For far too long the church has been seen as a place we go once a week to socialize, to be judged and made to feel guilty. God did not intend it to ever be that, he intended it to be a joy and a place to serve and be served — every day! If you ware not living that promise out every day, you are missing so much.

We are on a road trip together. I hope you will show up to be there when I need you, and I’ll do the same for you. Let’s enjoy the ride God gave us.

Have a great week, see you on the road!

del.icio.us Tags: ,