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Monday, February 6, 2012

Trial Season

I recently went through a season of trial a while back. It seemed nothing I did went well, nor did it seem as though God was answering my prayers. Prayers that I had been praying for for quite a while. It wasn’t until a good friend of mine shared some important insights that I realized that perhaps God was answering my prayers, and perhaps I needed to change my prayers. I was reminded that I shouldn’t jump to conclusions right away, that I needed to give myself some time to let my feelings settle down. It really is hard to think clearly with all those emotions surging through ones brain and heart. Once you calm down, God says “Why don’t you invite me into your process of deliberation? Let my presence improve your perspective.”

Yes, if we look at our problems from God’s perspective we can see these trials both as an opportunity (to strengthen one’s faith) and not as a temptation (to allow your feeling to trump your faith). I had done the later. I let my feelings trump my faith.  What I knew was true from my past relationship with God and from what I knew from Scripture. In times of trial we must cling to the words of Jesus in Matthew, “With men this is impossible, but through God all things are possible”.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Jeremiah writes in the book of Lamentations: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. (Lamentaions 3:22)  It’s no surprise that if you watch the evening or late night news you tend to ask yourself often, “Is there any hope?” Today, dreams are underscored by a positive, successful outlook for the future. Hence the American dream, rags to riches, Cinderella, a dropout rising to greatness. But how does one define happiness though? It is increasingly obvious it’s not defined by money. Even those who possess “happiness” now are faced with turmoil. Pain results, a feeling of inadequacy, incompetence, degenerative self-worth. “I walk alone.” In this season of Advent we are reminded that Hope comes to us in Jesus Christ.
The wonder in the Scriptures is the hope pulsing through it, this statement in Lamentations on God a fitting example: “His mercy never fails. It is new every morning.” Tomorrow is a new day, a fresh start, ripe with possibility. Smog and particulates conceal celestial glory, but the right evening provides unparalleled clarity. Take a breath. Make a wish. Dream. Hope without ceasing, and then, this holiday season, bring hope to someone.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Just do Something

There are many articles and books out there that are designed to help become a better leader. I've read many of them in full and also read snipets of some. But as I read them, one common theme stands out...Just Do Something. Too many times I believe churches fall in the pit fall of not acting. We sit around and think, but we never do. We think about a future, and we plan for a future based on past results. But can we really do that? The future isn’t predictable, and you can’t think your way into an unforeseeable future. So if you can’t predict the future, why not create it?

I truly believe our fear to act lies in our fear to fail. We have been so…what’s the word…brainwashed into thinking we can never fail. Like failure is bad. All failure means is this- try again with experience. You try new things, you fail, you learn from it, and you adjust. Craig Groeschel taught me that in his book, It, “What I learned today is that action trumps everything.” Here are just a few reasons why:

1. If you act, you will find out what works…
2. …or what doesn’t work.
3. If you act, you won’t spend the rest of your life wondering “What if?”
4. If you act, you will know what is real.

It is ok for something to not work. But if we don't try, we will never know. So why not step up Just do part of what God's doing...take that step and grow from the successes and failures. But know that It is all for the glory of God.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Formula or Connection

I read this morning from Scripture, “God is Spirit, and his worshippers must worship in the Spirit and the truth” (John 4:24). It got me to thinking about worship. I been told on a number of occasions, “Sure wish church gets out in an hour or less.” I've even thought this also...many times.  It’s good thinking actually. I think people start to zone out at the one hour mark. But it also does lend itself to worship being more about a formula to make that happen, rather than worshipping in the Spirit. Now, I’ve also worshipped at a congregation that did that, and an hour and forty-five minutes later we were through. At times it didn’t feel that long, and at times it TOTALLY did. There are a lot of reasons for creating worship based on a formula. It’s easier. It’s familiar. It’s comfortable. Many Lutherans follow a liturgy that one can follow to the tee. I think too, it also helps us to recapture moments in the past and try to recreate them.
But, as I was reminded in my reading, like all relationships, our relationship with God is meant to be progressive, not repetitive. Imagine doing the same thing every day, or every week with your best friend, or family for that matter. It would be dull. It would be shallow. It would be…well just plain boring. I believe we can engage with God through worship in different ways, using a range of dynamics. The most important thing about worship should be our engaging with God. It’s about our relationship with our Creator. When this happens, it matters a lot less if everyone hits the right note, or if the band hits the right solo at exactly the right time or even if the particular song is the one you want to sing. What matters is if worship is providing you a space to connect with God—it’s not a formula or a series of easy answers. I need to be reminded of this many times. What about you? What does worship look like to you?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

God-Directed Risk

I’ve been thinking a lot about living by faith these days. I was reminded recently about what it says in both the Old and New Testaments: “the righteous will live by faith.” Paul also tells us that we walk by faith and not by sight. But that’s hard for us to do, isn’t it? For me especially because I like to know what is coming down the road. I would like to know what will be happening in the future now. But God doesn't show us the plan, until He feels we need to know. Perhaps it is because it allows us to rely more on Him. The Christian life involves living in dependence upon God. But what is faith? What are we supposed to be living in?   I recently read that one way to view faith is this: “God-directed risk.” What a powerful definition of faith. Think about it, we are supposed to be living through God-directed risks in life. Living based on simple trust in God’s promises and unseen protection. Obeying the Spirit. It’s the risk of taking God at his word and finding God completely trustworthy. Now, I don’t know about you, but it’s easier for me to write that than to actually do it! But we are called to constantly live in this way. The question for us now is: are we living by that kind of biblical faith?