Archive for the ‘Spiritual Thoughts’ Category

imageSo I was doing my quiet time one day last week with a new online tool I found (quiettimediary.com – go check it out), and as part of my daily Bible reading plan I was reading Proverbs chapter 20. In verse 10 it says, “Differing weights and differing measures – the LORD detests them both”. When I read that, an incredibly intelligent and spiritual response popped into my mind. “Huh???”. I know – this never happens to you when you read the Bible, but it does to this simple minded fool. So as I have often done in the past, I just went on, filed the thing in my mind to ponder, and went on about my day.

Fast forward to early this week when I had to travel to Atlanta on business for a few days, and I found myself walking down the streets of downtown Atlanta looking at all the unique people. There were policeman, guys doing construction, guys and gals in suits, college students, and a few homeless people as well. For some reason, the thought popped into my mind that to God these people are all equal, and that he loves and measures them all exactly the same. Hmmm, wait a minute. Measures? Where did I recently see that? Oh yeah – Proverbs. So I scurried (I do that sometimes) back to the office and looked that verse up again. Ah-haaaaaa. Very cool. God uses the same weights and measures for EVERYONE. But do I? Do I value the homeless lady as much as the policeman or the lawyer? Do I apply different measures to them or weigh them on different scales? Ashamedly I have to admit I do. God hates differing weights and measures, and I am going to try and remember that everyone is equally valuable in His eye, and it should be the same for me.

Now before one of you great Bible scholars out there tell me that is not what that verse means, let me tell you that is what God showed me with the verse. I opened the Book, he planted the seed. I ran into a situation that made me think of the word “measures”, and God took me right back….., to HIS Word. Wow, what an incredible living guide to living our lives through God’s eyes. The Bible. So don’t fret if when you read it, you hear yourself go, “Huh”. Give the seed some time to grow, and God will reward it.

Thank you God – for that wonderful guide book! The B-I-B-L-E.

imageIt’s a new year, it’s a new day.  Thank God.  We have all just spent several weeks since Thanksgiving celebrating many different aspects of our lives on earth, most of which are related to our faith.  For Thanksgiving, we give thanks (to God) for all the bounty of things we have been provided with.  Then comes Christmas where we throw a huge birthday party for the coming of the Christ child.  Then comes New Year’s eve when we party hardy all night long, stay up way past our bedtimes, and get all excited about – the calendar resetting.  Huh?  Seems kinda silly when you think of it that way doesn’t it?  So what is the big significance of the difference between December 31st and January 1st?  For some of us it means a whole new year of vacation days have been allocated (woo-hoo!).  Or maybe it means a new year of health insurance benefits are available.  None of that did it for me so I did a little Google time on why we celebrate it, and came up with this from new-years-day.com:

The celebration of the new year is one of the oldest holidays. Many believe it was first observed in ancient Babylon about 4000 years ago and that it marked the first New Moon after the Vernal Equinox. The Babylonian new year celebration lasted for eleven days. How did New Year’s Day move from the summer to the winter? A good question, especially since the spring is the season of rebirth, of planting new crops, and of blossoming. Today New Year’s Day is January 1st.  The month of January was named for their god, Janus, who is pictured with two heads. One looks forward, the other back, symbolizing a break between the old and new. The Greeks paraded a baby in a basket to represent the spirit of fertility. Christians adopted this symbol as the birth of the baby Jesus and continued what started as a pagan ritual. Today our New Year’s symbols are a newborn baby starting the next year and an old man winding up the last year.

Wow.  I did not know all that.  But I do have a suggestion on how to totally change your perspective on all this.  If the symbol today is of a new born child coming in, and an old man going out, then I submit to you that this is a holiday we can celebrate every day of every year!  One of the basic tenets of the Christian faith is that God creates a new man (baby) on the day of salvation, and the old man (sin nature) is done away with.  That occurs when we make a decision to follow Christ.  But what about after that?  You can get that rebirth anytime on any day you want it.  I do not mean another salvation experience, that is a onetime thing, but God has promised us an eternally full well of Grace that we can access anytime, any day.  Some of you will know I do this every time I take communion, I get a “fresh batch of Grace”, and a forgiveness and rebirth of sorts.  But you do not have to take communion or do anything else for that matter to have a rebirth.  You can do it every day, just by telling Him to give it to you.  Awesome.  I need it man, I need it every day.  Maybe we should name it “New Grace Day”?

So happy January 4th everyone.  And happy January 5th, 6th, 7th and so on.  Gonna be a lot of partying for me this year as I celebrate rebirth and re-commitment whenever I need it – how about you??

Happy New Grace Day!

Connections

Posted: December 7, 2011 in Lessons learned, My Life, Spiritual Thoughts

imagePeople rushing hither and thither.  Some running and looking excited, some just look tired and bored.  Tall people, short people, people of all races and ethnicity.  Everybody going somewhere, and they all depend on the actions of others to help them get there.  Some are alone, some are with others, but they all have one thing in common. Wanna guess where I am and what it is they have in common?

If you guessed the Atlanta airport, you are right.  Man oh man are there some funny looking people here (I know – I am one of them!).  As I watched them, I realized that they all have something in common.  They are all looking for a “connection”.  I liked that word, so I looked it up on my handy dandy iPhone.  Connection means, “The action of linking one thing to another”.  Okay, that makes sense, I see lots of people linking up around here with planes taking them somewhere they want to go, but it raised a larger question for me.  What am I connected to?  What do I want to connect to?  Of course right now I am wanting to connect to a plane to take me home to my wonderful wife and daughter, but I have lately realized that I want more than that.  I want to be connected to people, and have us work together to connect closer to God.  There have been a lot of times in my life where I was pretty alone, and it was by connecting with others I came through it.  I believe we all need that, and a while back I decided I wanted more of it.

So a couple of weeks ago, I got intentional about making some connections.  I got involved with a new process at  my church called “Huddles”.  Huddles connects 2 or 3 men together to help each other be accountable.  Accountable to God, to themselves, to their family and friends, etc.  I have met twice with one of my Huddle “connections”, and I have to tell you I have really, really enjoyed it. We have now invited another man into our group, and I really look forward to connecting more with him as well.  It just feels like it’s gonna be good!  There is a process for ladies as well called “Tangles”. 

Well, gotta go make my plane connection, so I will leave you with this verse:

I Cor 14:26 – “When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation.”

Sounds like we need each other, huh?  So go!  Get connected!

imageChristmas is in just a few days, but I am not gonna talk about that.  Can we just chat a bit instead?  I wanna get in your heart for a minute.

At a restaurant this weekend, I witnessed an obvious family argument.  It was such that it literally stopped all conversation around it as people watched the drama unfold.  The end result of it was that it unsettled the attitudes and the hearts of many people around them and literally sucked the joy from the room for a moment.  It was sad to see, and it spread grief to others so quickly.  For a moment, it made my heart heavy, and at Christmas time, that really annoyed me!

I have mentioned this before, but my good friend and pastor Jay Hanson is often heard asking the question, “What is the condition of your heart?”.  I want to ask that question of each of you today, and I want you to think of it in terms of what is deep inside, especially during this holiday season.  Jay asks a couple of companion questions as well:

-    Is your heart glad (light) or sad (heavy)?
-    Why?
-    Has someone hurt your heart?
-    Have you hurt someone else’s heart?

These simple questions can help you get closer to where you are in your spiritual life, and understand how your own heart condition can affect those around you.  By stopping and examining what is really in your heart as only you can do, you can make incredible progress spiritually and relationally.  If you do this examination on a regular basis, you can approach most things with a calm sense of peace that will take you to all the right places and decisions.  Discuss the condition of your heart with God regularly.  You will never hear anything from him except the truth, and he is the Great Healer of hearts.  I love this verse from Proverbs:

Proverbs 4:23 (NIV):
Above all else, guard your heart,  for everything you do flows from it.

As we all get ready to celebrate Christmas, approach it with a healthy heart, and guard it jealously!  If you work on getting that healthy, just think of all the hearts that will be uplifted – just because you made sure yours was light.

Merry Christmas – may God grant you a light and merry heart this year!

imageMirrors give off a reflection.  I bet you knew that already.  Why do we use mirrors?  Because we do not have the ability to clearly see an image of ourselves OR see what is behind us.  Christmas is a time of reflection.  It is a time when we stop, look into the mirror of the past, pause, think about the birth of Christ and what it means, and celebrate it with family and friends.  Okay–so that’s not anything original, right?  Well, let me give you a new way to think about it.

Every day we make decisions that can change our path for the better or for the worse.  Every conversation can strengthen a relationship or can tear it apart. During EVERY season of our lives, we should always take time to reflect.  We should stop periodically and examine where we are, take a look in that virtual mirror and see where we have been, where our decisions and actions have taken us.  Have you ever said or done anything and later found out it was the wrong thing or that it caused pain?  You found that out by reflecting, probably.  If you had never looked in a mirror of memories, you would not have realized it or had been able to see it clearly.  But, what do you do with your reflections?

Let me approach this another way and show you how to get even more value from reflection.  Since I am a computer guy, I think in computer terms sometimes.  In computer science, "reflection" is the process by which a computer program can observe and modify its own structure and behavior.  Did you catch that?  "Observe AND modify its behavior".  Ahhh, that offers a different perspective on reflections doesn’t it?  What if we did that in our lives every day.  What if we looked into the mirror of our past actions, and used what we saw to modify our behavior for tomorrow?  I’m not sure about you, but I have made some bad decisions in my past, and I really do not care to repeat them.  But, if I reflect on them and use that examination to modify my behavior, I bet that I will not make the same mistakes as easily.

So don’t pass through this Christmas season missing some really good results of your reflection.  Look at your family and reflect on how much time you have given them this year. Look at your job and decide how you may want to modify your behavior to be a better employee.  Look at the birth of Christ in the inner reflective mirror of your soul, and decide if you need to modify your spiritual disciplines as a result of that.

Life is a great thing.  Don’t pass through it without reflection – and modification.

imageWell, it is about this time each year that we all get into the old battle of Christmas.  You know what I mean, it’s that honest desire to get back to what the holiday truly means, while all the while fighting the tide of commercialism, the “requirement” to get everyone on your list a gift (whether you really want to or not) and all the other miscellaneous society induced requirements of it all.  Are you as tired of it as I am?  Then I have a suggestion for you.  Read on.

Christmas is a fun time for a lot of reasons.  I know a lot of people like to do the shopping thing, enjoy all the lights, the parties, the tree, etc.  There is nothing wrong with liking all those things.  But (you knew it was coming, right) – how do we get back to that somewhere in your heart buried desire to truly connect to and honor the “reason for the season”?  I have a suggestion for you, and it fits nicely with this month’s theme we are doing at The Chapel on “Simplify”. 

Quit fighting the battle.  Just quit fighting – I mean it.  Quit trying to make this season be all about one process or another and simplify it by separating the two.  Address each area in its own right, but do not confuse or lose either one.  I know you are going to buy gifts, do the tree, and decorate the house.  That’s fine – do it to the best of your ability and budget, and enjoy the festivity of it all.   BUT, be very deliberate about intentionally making a plan to celebrate the birth of Christ and what that means to us all.  How you do it is up to you, but JUST DO IT in a meaningful and simple way with your family.

Need suggestions?  Well, you could do a daily reading, you could read about the songs of christmas, or how about spending time reading about the various traditions and how most all of them sprang from some religious beginning, yet have become so commercial.  Whatever your topic (Google is your friend here folks), just make a plan and DO IT.  I’m betting it will help you recover some of the lost effort of truly worshipping during this season, and possibly even relieve some of the stress.  Whether it is a daily time, a weekly time, or just a topic this year, just do it.

Make a plan – then let us know what that plan is and I will share it with others in a future blog post.  Tell me what you did, what you discovered and what God told you during this time.  It will help us all.  You can just post a paragraph on the one thing you will do this year.  Let’s see how many people take the challenge and what ideas we come up with!  Will you?????

I’m waiting for your post.

We are all thankful for something.  I can be just as thankful for the absence of something as I can the presence of something else.  Wait a sec – that was confusing wasn’t it?  Let me ‘splain then.

We tend to think of "thankfulness" as just being thankful for things we DO have.  I have my health, I have a great family, a nice car, etc., etc.  But what about the absence of things?  I for example am thankful that I do not have a serious disease.  I am thankful I do not have a big pile of bills that I cannot pay.  Right now I am thankful for there being no major drama in my life! 

imageI have a silly head game I play when I have a pain of some type.  For example, if I have a toothache, I think to myself, " When this pain is gone I will be so thankful, and I will appreciate healthy teeth even more".  But do I actually ever follow through on that?  Not usually, because when the pain is gone, I forget it.  When my car breaks down I am always SO annoyed with it.  Then I have to take it to a car dealer to get it repaired, which is always a difficult experience.  But when I am driving down the road on a long trip, and my vehicle obediently and reliably takes me 500-600 miles in comfort, quietly and safely, am I thankful enough?  Rarely.  Ouch.

You see where I am going here?  As we approach a new holiday season with both Thanksgiving and Christmas coming, how thankful are we for the things we do not have to deal with?  Here is a radical thought process for your holidays.  On Thanksgiving this year, before you say your prayer of thanks, have each person share something they do NOT have that they are thankful for.  You may find some interesting things, but it will also make you more thankful for what you do have.  Go ahead – shake up the tradition a little!

Here is the one I really want you to hear though.  At Christmas, before opening a huge pile of new presents under the tree this year, why not pause, and thank God for something you do not have to worry about, which was the entire meaning of the day.  Know what that one is?  You do NOT have to pay the price for your sins.  God solved that problem for you, and continues to solve it for you every day as he gives you grace and forgiveness.  Jesus died so that you do NOT have to suffer the consequences.  If that sounds hokey or religious to you, then find someone who does understand that.  Because he DID have to, I DO NOT have to.  I am so thankful I don’t.  Are you?

Go ponder this one.  It’s very cool.