Archive for June, 2010

Simple subject today, and one that will help you a lot if you will follow directions. Consider the following verses:

Matthew 11:28-30
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Hebrews 4:9-11
There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.

What do these verses say to you?  God does indeed insist that we rest, but it takes effort to do so.  We rest for many reasons, involving physical, emotional and mental need; but we know for a fact that God insists that we do it.  Stop and think about it.  When do you actually rest?  Do you do it out of exhaustion just before collapse or as a regular maintenance thing?  Do you ever do it for pleasure?  When you rest, do you just rest from one thing and shift the effort to another, or do you truly put aside everything and just "be"?  Just "not going to work" is not rest.  I came up with several definitions for the word "rest"

1. Cessation of work, exertion, or activity.
2. Peace, ease, or refreshment resulting from sleep or the cessation of an activity.
3. Sleep or quiet relaxation.
4. The repose of death: eternal rest.
5. Relief or freedom from disquiet or disturbance.
6. Mental or emotional tranquility.
7. Termination or absence of motion

Seems to me that the general theme here is that rest should result in peace.  God offers that to us through faith, prayer, and quiet meditation.  God rested.  Jesus rested.  You need to rest.  So make a plan.  One that you can follow and that mirrors what God and Jesus modeled for us.

Have a restful, peaceful week.

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I got a new TV yesterday.  The picture is so clear it is incredible.  It also has 3D capability built right in.  I love it.  When I look at it I practically swoon (some of you get that feeling, some of you don’t).  For some reason, my wife Sandra doesn’t share quite the same "vision" (excuse the pun) for the TV that I do.  I look at it and I swoon, she looks at it and just imagines all the traveling we could have done with the money I spent on the TV.  When she looks at a travel magazine, she practically swoons.  I enjoy traveling a lot, but not at the same level of my much world travelled wife.  She has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, trekked in Nepal, backpacked through Central America, been on safari in Africa, done earthquake response in India, and I could go on and on. Suffice it to say she has a nomadic spirit and has covered the globe.  I on the other hand have installed computer networks all over the world in Africa, South America, etc., engineered complete multi-city networks, and solved many a technical electronic problem in my time, all leveraging my love for gadgetry.

Vive la difference.  God made us all to be just as we are, and he made many, many varieties.  Sometimes those varieties can conflict.  Sometimes those varieties get married.  Sometimes they have to work together, or go to church together.  Why in the world would God create all these situations where those so different would have to be so close?  I believe it is to perfect each other.  That does not mean that we ram our way or belief down the other’s throat, it means that we learn to give and to take, and to see things from other’s perspectives at times.  Giving in is not always giving up.  And getting your way does not always feel like a victory does it?  Funny how that works, we all are different, and have different gifts, but God can use them all.  Here is how it is stated in I Corinthians:

I Corinthians 12:4-6 (NIV)
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.

I’d invite you to go do a quick read through the entire chapter of I Corinthians 12.  You’ll get a great perspective on how wonderful different can be.   And to my wife: Thank you, Sandra, for allowing me to be me, and spend all that money on a new TV!  I think she sees the happiness it will bring US, by allowing me to be ME.

Have a great week.  Go enjoy someone being different than you!

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It happens to us all – that moment when we experience the sinking feeling that comes when something bad happens or we know something bad will happen and there’s nothing we can do to stop it.  When it occurs, our perspective changes so quickly that we may find some of our most deep seated beliefs challenged.  Now before you say: "This is depressing. What’s the next article I can read?" give it a couple more moments to hear the rest.

God has told us to expect difficulties and pain in our life.  The reality is that we will all experience pain and loss.  But we also will experience joy as we become a tool God uses to deliver "glimpses."  When people fall into difficulty, loss or pain, they go through a number of typical stages, which often includes a period of disbelief and loss of hope where they cannot imagine things will ever be right again. Their world has been rearranged, and what seemed normal has been broken askew.  My sister once described it as a swamp that, once mired in, becomes so heavy to wade through that it seems impossible.  At this stage we have lost our vision for happiness. What we all need when we are in this state and have lost our vision is just a glimpse – a glimpse of hope.  That one glimpse can be the difference between giving in and going on.

C.S. Lewis wrote a letter to someone who was struggling with faith and Christianity, and he used this sentence:

"… a glimpse is not a vision. But to a man on a mountain road by night, a glimpse of the next three feet of road may matter more than a vision of the horizon …"

Wow – there is so much truth in those words.  At times we just need to be able to see far enough ahead to decide to take one step.  The rest of it requires faith, which we all need to have, but is in short supply at those times.  If you’ve been with someone who is going through a really tough time, then sometimes faith is one thing they do not have much of.  When that happens, what do you do?  You give them a little of yours!  Sharing your faith with someone does not mean a walk down the Romans road or a lecture on the power of prayer or a bible study with them.  It is as simple as a ministry of presence and a listening ear with a non-judgmental heart. Through these simple actions on your part, you can give them glimpses of faith and offer hope that life will return to some level of normalcy, even though their life may change.  My sister described this as a "glimpse" of green pastures through the trees of that swamp.  It helped me a lot in some tough times.

Do you know someone like this right now?  Just go to their side.  Don’t try and explain why you are there; just go –  be –  sit — and listen.  You do not have to have the answers, just the presence.  If you let God use you – you can be a powerful help for someone.  Who knows, maybe one day

they will return the favor  — when you need it most.

Have a great week, and look out for chances to offer glimpses of your faith!

 

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People are amazing. I’ve witnessed  great things and seen people rise to the top of their profession or their sport, or perform some task that I could never see myself doing. To look at them, you’d likely never imagine them doing anything amazing.  We’re all familiar with the story of the ugly duckling.  You know – the small creature who was pretty awful to look at when young, but grew to become an amazing creature to behold who was the envy of many.  Or David in the Bible, who was a shepherd boy who possessed a courage and a faith that allowed him to defeat a giant.  Or Bill Gates, who was a geeky and gangly guy, plus a college dropout who became the most wealthy man in America.

These examples have two things in common.  They all had something all along that we just could not see, and they were all judged unfairly at one time or another.  People didn’t see the possibilities, only the potential limiting factors.  The duckling was ugly, David was but a shepherd, and Bill Gates wasted all his time playing with computers.

People failed to see what they could later be.

We do this to each other every day.  We bypass greatness and prioritize negative.  I’m glad God does not take that approach with me.  People judged Jesus many times as well, completely unaware that the savior of the world was inside that humble physical body.  Here is an example from the book of John:

John 1:44-46: Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. Philip found Nathanael and told him, "We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote-Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph". "Nazareth? Can anything good come from there?" Nathanael asked. "Come and see," said Philip.

And then they took him to meet Jesus, who quickly impressed Nathanael and changed his tune. Apparently Nathanael had not had good experiences with the people of Nazareth, and was quick to judge anyone from there, without even meeting them.  Do you see where the attitude changed?  It was when Phillip told Nathanael, "Come and see", and Nathanael opened his eyes and his heart to go see the possibilities.  He allowed himself to be expectant. Afterward, he witnessed incredible things; but, prior to that, his views were limited by unrelated experiences.

My views are limited by my faith in people and my prior experience as well.  God never designed it that way, and I believe he wants us all to see the possibilities and expect great and wondrous things.  This particularly applies to His children.  He wants us to believe in each other.  He wants us to "come and see" what people can do. The next time you see someone who has not outwardly impressed you, intentionally ask yourself what God has put in them that is wondrous and amazing.  Expect great things from them, and you may be surprised what you get.  Then turn that thought inward.  Just imagine what YOU can do with the greatness God has made you of.

Gotta go – there is greatness out there awaiting me today, and I expect to see it!

Have a great week – seeing greatness!

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I came to know Christ in 1985, and for many years I attended a church faithfully.  I went at least 3 times a week, participated fully in all activities,

had my ministries I devoted many hours to. But after my initial joy of learning who Christ really was to me, sometime in the first year of my Christian experience, I fell into a trap.  For seven years, I was firmly bound into that trap, and did not get seven years worth of Christian growth and experience, it was more like having the same year of growth – seven times. I was caught up in the "church trap".  I left that church (and all churches for several years) defeated and frustrated.

The church trap is that phenomenon where people get involved socially, physically, financially and psychologically in the business and process of "going to church".  We do all the things, sing all the songs, pay our tithes, and make sure we are there to be seen, but just seem to become bound to the process – not the promise.  The trap can easily cause us to go to church, and miss the purpose.  Is church a social or spiritual place for you?  The purpose of going to church is to worship.  It is not about activity.  You totally get the idea of it when you catch the true meaning of this verse:

Romans 12:1 (NIV):
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship.

This is what you do when you go to church.  This is what you do when you go to a small group.  This is what you do when you serve on the host team or pray with someone.  You enter into the "spiritual act of worship".  You turn your heart to God and offer him your whole being to use as he can and will.  If you do that, he will take the sacrifice you offer and do some incredible things.  You will be a better host to visitors, a better prayer partner, a better singer, and a better listener, but in order to do that — you have to let go of YOU.  Stop judging what God gave you in church this week, and start judging what you gave to HIM.

Once you discover how to sacrifice you will escape the trap, and easily recognize it when you are poised to fall back in.  Want to know another secret?  You can worship outside of church also!  You can offer that sacrifice anywhere, anytime.  Church then just becomes a place where you are – all the time.  It’s a nice place to be, and it will never feel like a trap.  Give it a try this week.  Worship through sacrificing yourself, and you will experience a whole new church experience.

Enjoy your week, and enjoy your sacrifice!

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