February 27, 2010

Opening Up Your Heart

Just had the third weekend in a row where we had some overnight guests staying at our home. What a tremendous blessing each and every stay, each and every guest has been.

The growth one can experience by putting oneself in the path of others is amazing. A small gesture of hospitality to show a little glimpse of your humanity, and the Lord opens up the doors to your eyes, ears and heart. Because opening up your heart is reflecting God's heart within you. Too often in the past my heart has been like the one above, a little prickly, a little thorny, a little hard to get close to as a result.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Psalm 51:10 (NASB)
I have found that taking up the task of helping others always results in huge benefits to you, as an individual, as a member of the community, as a heartbeat within the body of Christ. I have found it is infinitely more joyful to have a helping heart than to have any other type.
As in water face reflects face, So the heart of man reflects man.
Proverbs 27:19 (NASB)
Now all I need do is to remember to be this way...always.

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February 26, 2010

Equal Time

Stopped into my local Starbucks yesterday morning and saw something I never say before and which I do not understand. There was a gentleman there, in front of me on line and when he got his coffee he went over to the area where the cream and sugar is to put his stuff into it. I came over with my coffee and he was still doing his thing. I looked and he had three groups of Equal packets in front of him.

Each group had 2 or 3 packets, not really sure, but somewhere between 6 to 9 packets (my best guess is 8) in front of him. He begin tearing them open and pouring them in, 2 or 3 at a time. All of them, into that same cup of coffee. I cannot imagine what it tasted like. Some sort of chemico-caffeine soup I should think. I have nothing against Equal, have never used it, do not know what it even tastes like.

He left, I didn't have the energy or heart to ask him what is going on. I guess we all make choices, all have our tastes in life.

Mine is a cup of coffee with a splash of half and half. His is clearly something else. But to me, that was some sort of record for sweetener, in the artificial or natural sugar categories. If I was going to use that much, I guess I would use the real deal.

Whatever gets you through the day.

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February 23, 2010

I Find This Mildly Insulting

Below is how I show up on a friend's Linked In profile in the Connections section. I do not have a problem that I am there, or that anyone can find me who has access to the profile of someone I have linked into. That's the whole point. What bothers me a bit is the little gray flag next to my name:
Do they really think that they have to flag me...for me? I just find that a little irritating. But I am dealing with it. You know, you grow.

February 22, 2010

Giving My All

We should quit asking ourselves, "Am I of any use?" and accept the truth that we really are not of much use to Him.
Oswald Chambers - My Utmost For His Highest: February 21 Devotional

You read this and it hits you. Surrender requires a true self evaluation in the face of God. He does not need us and yet He wishes to. Stop trying to figure out how you can help God and just give yourself over to Him. I have been thinking a bit about this since I read this yesterday. You really got to be broken to think of yourself as no use to God, except that He chooses to use you by grace. That is a hard lesson to learn, I feel it hammering at me even as I type this. Only God can make use of the useless. I am thankful for that.
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
Deuteronomy 6:5 (NASB)
That is a pretty simple instruction. If you follow this passage of Scripture, you should come to the place where you turn yourself over to God. Chase after Him to surrender to Him. Not run away to be able to live as you desire. This is a verse I reflected on in my journal over the past two years about a day apart in timing, but similar thoughts keep popping up when I reflect on this verse. I really need to run to Him and throw myself down in surrender.

Completely and daily.

More often as necessary.

February 13, 2010

Terms and Turf

A few days ago, my brother Mike sent me an email with the link to this Fists for Jesus article. Asking me if I had seen it, asking if it was for real. The answer to both was yes it is. He was deeply troubled by the violence it represents, of how Christians would be viewed in light of this.

I was disturbed by it as well. I do not know all that is behind this type of activity but I have trouble getting my mind around how you relate this to Jesus and His teachings. Yes, I believe the Lord was a stand up type of person. He was fearless; He took on the religious and political power structure of His time, going after their exalted positions of privilege and power. He prevailed, but He did suffer horribly as a man to redeem us as our God.

I just do not picture Him cage fighting or condoning it.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Matthew 5:5 (KJV)
I thought the concept of meek was that of strength under control, accepting in the name of Christ that which you may have the power to fend off. Maybe I am wrong, but I like to think not.

As an evangelical Christian, I try to reach out to people who are different from me, who do not share the faith in Jesus as Savior that I hold dear to me. I need to try to reach them on their turf, where they are comfortable. But I have to meet them on my terms as well, sharing my faith as Jesus taught, not changing it to fit into what the world will accept today. Yes, Jesus took the whip into the temple to drive the money changers out, but He didn't knock them down and whip them bloody when He did. Strength and conviction, yes, but with control and a righteous anger. They were defining His Father's place on earth.

Maybe some feel the need to meet those who need Christ in this arena of life by fully participating in it.

But Jesus asks us to be in the world and not of it.

I know some who hold Jesus as Savior hold to this as an effective way to reach others.

I just do not get it.

I would rather just share the Gospel:
Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead.
And then spend the time telling them how they can be sure that when they die, they will go to heaven. That's the work I am doing now at my place of work in ministry.

There have been so many misguided ways of sharing Christ with others throughout history, so many fallen ways of living that faith. I struggle along myself in my own path to Him. I want to get there, I want others to get there. But I so do want to do it in a way that makes my Lord smile down on me.

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February 12, 2010

Oh, Woe is Me!

No, I am not bummed by the weather. Nine inches or so of snow in the DFW area, bring it on. I even got to close the office tomorrow. Official snow day. OK, it isn't like what the northeastern part of the country has received over the past week or so but think about this. Nine inches. Snow. In Dallas. In one snowfall, not 5 years. It is something special.

No, it is not the fact that I should use the time to catch up on my studies at seminary. Who wants to wants a good snow day like that? A 100 year snowstorm?

No, my depression runs deeper. I just won a Kodak Zi6 Pocket Video Camera in a drawing on the The Roaming Boomers website and I took it out in the snow last night to use it for the first time. And then it hit me hard. I do not have a creative bone in my entire head. I filmed what iis probably the most boring video ever. The folks at YouTube asked me not to upload it for fear it would crash their entire site. Forever.

So, I have work to do. I mean this thing lets me add music, turn the videos into movies add effects. I got nothing. The only thing blanker than my mind is the stare on my face. Dave and Carol over at Roaming Boomers are expecting exciting video blogging. They might get induced video barfing. I mean, the pressure is building. By the way, go by and check out their site. They do some really fun things.

No good deed goes unpunished. Now I have to learn how to create stimulating and thought provoking videos, that will exhort the spirit, expand the mind and tickle the palate of human emotions. Or at the very least be almost watchable. Oy vey.

February 4, 2010

The Hand

The Hand of God touches us all, no matter who we are, nor where we are. There really is no escaping Him. That though came to me as I reflected on the following verse in Scripture:

When Pharaoh does not listen to you, then I will lay My hand on Egypt and bring out My hosts, My people the sons of Israel, from the land of Egypt by great judgments. Exodus 7:4 (NASB)
Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, "This is the finger of God." But Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the LORD had said. Exodus 8:19 (NASB)

Pharaoh might have planned on the hand of God in his life, but it was there. Moses might not have either, but there God was. Different times in their respective lives, surely; different results in their lives, most definitely. But God shows up. Always. And it might even be as you breathe your last, but if that is the first time you feel His hand, that is going to be an uncomfortable time for you I would think.

You will feel the hand of God, we all will. But I cannot tell you when.

But will it be a handshake or a head slap?

You tell me. And be honest with yourself.

February 3, 2010

What Is Easy, What Is Hard

There is nothing easier than getting saved, because it is solely God’s sovereign work— "Look to Me, and be saved . . ." ( Isaiah 45:22 ). Our Lord never requires the same conditions for discipleship that he requires for salvation.
Oswald Chambers - My Utmost For His Highest: February 2 Devotional

Read this yesterday and it hit me hard. There really is nothing easier than salvation because God does all the work. There is nothing harder than discipleship because following hard after Jesus, living like Christ, cuts against our sinful and selfish nature.

What is His alone is easier for He is sovereign. What is ours to do is hard for we are sinners. Yet the first brings great joy to any who He calls in for it is eternal salvation that we face. The second pleases God because being like His Son is the highest goal we face and it is what He wants for us more than anything else.

You can have the easy through faith, you can get closer to the hard through faithful obedience. You cannot lose the first, but you will never achieve the second until He brings you home.

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February 2, 2010

Total Ignorance is Euphoria

A few days ago I visited a blog I follow and comment on from time to time, Human 3rror. If you go there you will see my comment on this techie type update John posted, as he released it for public viewing (not even going to comment on him doing that to me, since he corrected that situation. I know he did, I went back and checked the post again).

My point was I do not know what he is talking about or what the commenters are talking about. I may have made the most intelligent or the dumbest comment, the point is I know enough that I do not know enough to know the answer to that one. Huh?

I do not get hung up on stuff like this anymore, not at my age. I know lots of things, and more importantly, I know I do not know lots of things. I am OK with that. More important, I know it is only going to get worse as I get older, that ratio of know to not know. And not even having a clue is a virulently growing category as well.

The world moves faster than me, the only thing I can keep up with is my faith in Jesus as the only way to my salvation. That moves at a pace I can keep up with and actually learn more about. The know to not know ratio improves daily. The clueless quotient drops. But I never reach the destination, although I never stop trying. That's biblical.

So the world goes on, the sun wheels across the sky, the generations march forward relentlessly. I fall farther behind the world, but all I am trying to do is keep up with God. I will let the rest gradually fall by the wayside.

If ignorance is bliss, total ignorance is euphoria. At least with worldly knowledge. Might be harder to bear the future here if it is not.

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February 1, 2010

Where Does It Come From?

Where do we get the ability, the means, the power to accomplish things in our life that once done seem beyond our abilities and comprehension? Below are two verses from my journal that I reflected on a year apart which touched on the same thing:
And behold, I Myself have appointed with him Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; and in the hearts of all who are skillful I have put skill, that they may make all that I have commanded you: Exodus 31:6 (NASB)
The LORD said to him, "Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Exodus 4:11 (NASB)
In the first verse Oholiab is appointed to work on the tabernacle and the ark of the covenant; in the second God is telling Moses to go forth and be His spokesman to Pharaoh. Both accomplished things beyond there ability and comprehension; they did what they did and how they did it because they were divinely appointed to it. Two verses in Exodus studied a year apart to the day telling me (at least in my mind) what it is I am to do when it is His will I am following.

So how do we accomplish all we set out to do if we think it is an impossible task? Step one - make sure it is God's will for you. Step two - go do it because He told you to.

So, for a couple of days in a row, I am getting a clear message that I need to seek Him always, and seek Him first; and when I seek Him, He is all I need.

I guess I must have wandered a bit off The Narrow Road as of late. And that is dangerous when you do not know it has happened. But He is good and gracious to put us back on the path.