Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Can Somebody Slow This Thing Down?

Have you ever been a passenger in a car and the driver was driving way to fast for your comfort zone? I'm not talking 10 or 15 mph over the speed limit. I'm talking "way" too fast! To the point where you are thinking if we hit a bump in this road we are toast. I must admit in my younger days, I was in that passenger seat a few times. The whole time I'm praying for God to save me and hoping this crazed lunatic driver comes to his senses before we, or at least I meet Jesus face to face. It's a helpless kind of feeling. You really have no control and you are at the mercy of the guy driving.

Have you ever felt that way when it comes to life? Life is coming at you at what seems a million miles an hour, from a million different directions. If your life is anything like mine, I know you can relate. We're hit by the unexpected time and time again, and we just want someone to slow this thing down. At times, we feel swept away by it all and totally out of control. We feel like we have no control and find ourselves at the mercy of the one driving this thing we call life.

That's really it isn't it? We're not in control. We can't control everything and that puts us in a tough position sometimes. It puts us in a position where we have to trust God. It requires us to rely on him and not our ability. Let's face it, that can be extremely uncomfortable for us. I feel like I live here about 99% of the time.

For example, just about 7 weeks before my wife and I got married, we both got laid off from our jobs. Great wedding gift, huh? I had worked in ministry for several years receiving a pretty small salary which was no big deal since I was a single guy. Of course, with that type of salary, its not like you are able to have some nest egg put away for difficult times like this. The truth is there was no savings account, not much in my checking account, and I'm out of a job just weeks before I take Lori to be my wife. Can you say uncomfortable? Or better yet, panic stricken?

Prior to our unemployment, Lori and I had discussed the issue of where we would live once we got married. We had pretty much decided we wanted a 2 bedroom, 2 bath apartment or small home to lease. I remember after we were laid-off, I told Lori that the only way we would ever get that 2 bedroom 2 bath place was if someone gave it to us. Funny thing, that's exactly what happened. Within just a few days, Lori had landed a job with an apartment complex that provided us with a place for free. I remember going with Lori to inquire about the job. When we went there we were certain that the apartment that we would get would be the small 1 bedroom plan. I will never forget our reaction when the lady showing us the apartments said that all the plans at this complex were 2 bedroom 2 bath. I know God's got a since a humor, because I think I almost heard an audible chuckle from him that day.

Here's the point, we were thrown into an unexpected whirlwind and things did not go as we had planned. The truth is, Lori and I both found jobs that payed better money and we got a free apartment for a season. Our lives are full of stories like that. Time and time again, God has proven that he knows what he's doing. He has never left us in a bind. Truth is, he's always gotten us out of them. I'm sure if you look back at your life, you'll find the same kind of thing. God just doing his God stuff and proving over and over that he can be trusted.

So what's all the fuss about? Let's just trust that God's on his throne and everything is gonna be alright. So, sit back, buckle up and enjoy the ride!

What Brings You Life?

If I was asked to make a list of my most favorite things to do, lawn maintenance would not be anywhere on that list. Mowing is not something I jump out of bed in morning excited to do. Actually, I usually put it off as long as I possibly can. I'm not sure, why I dislike it so much, it's not like it's really hard work. You just push a mower around the lawn a few times, and then spend a few minutes with a weed-eater and that's about it. It doesn't take a lot of skill or brain power, but, for whatever reason, I just don't get a kick out of it. That being said, I found myself this past week really getting into it. I would even go so far as to say, I found joy in it. Wait a minute, did I really just say that? Its true though, I found myself mowing more this week, and finding pleasure in doing so.

What's my secret? Did I get a riding lawnmower? Not hardly. I actually just mowed for someone else. I mowed a couple of yards this week in an effort to help out a few people who needed a hand. In doing so, I truly found enjoyment. Now, you and I both know that I didn't all of a sudden take a liking to something that I normally don't like at all. The truth is that in doing something for someone else, we find life for ourselves. Its in those moments, when we lay our life down and live our life for someone else that we truly find fulfillment in living. Jesus said it like this, "whoever saves his life will lose it and whoever will lose his life for my sake will find it." We've probably all had moments when we've found joy and fulfillment doing something for someone else. Times when we have stepped out of ourselves and found this powerful statement by Jesus to be so true. Why is it then that we so quickly go right back to living our lives for ourselves? I mean if we find this kingdom living to be so fulfilling, what is it in us that causes us to revert back to a way of life that is not fulfilling at all? I don't know about you, but I want to strive for that life that fulfills. That life that Jesus talks about. That life that he modeled. Of course I know its a journey and we don't arrive overnight, but hopefully tomorrow we'll be a little further down the road than we are today.

Oh yeah, and if you're wondering, no I'm not coming over to mow your yard this week.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

I Think I Caught Of Glimpse Of Jesus The Other Day

Have you ever wondered what Jesus looks like? Sure, we've all seen those pictures of him with the long hair, full beard, and the long robe, but wouldn't it be great to see him for real? I'm talking up close and personal. Face to face. One on one. Believe it or not, I think I did. Incidentally, he didn't look anything like the pictures.

My wife and were in the process of putting our house on the market. Our house is relatively new, so there's not a lot of work to be done, but there's a few things that need to be taken care of. However, that list of things began to grow as one thing after another began going wrong. One thing in particular that went belly-up was our garage door opener. I come home one afternoon, push the button to open the door, pull the car in the garage, and then push the button to close it, and nothing happens. Just like that, no more garage door opener. Now, I'm not the greatest fix-it man in the world, but I am capable of trouble shooting things and narrowing down the possibilities of what could be wrong. In this instance after working on the thing for several days, my non-expert diagnosis was that I needed to call in a professional.

There happens to be a guy at my church that installs garage doors so I gave him a call. He takes a look at it and tries to fix it, but determines I need a new one. Not exactly the news I wanted to hear. Did I mention that our car had just been in the shop as well? The expenses had begun to add up and the thought of an additional bill for a new garage door with installation wasn't exactly making me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

A few days later, the guy shows back up at my house with a new garage door and installs it for me. My cost? Zero, nada, nothing, zip!!!! It seems my garage door guy called a few people and together they took care of it for me. I have to admit, that made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

I recently read a quote made by a 4th century Greek writer named Lucian, who by the way, opposed the early church. "“It is incredible,” says Lucian, “to see the ardor with which the people of that religion help each other in their wants. They spare nothing. Their first legislator has put into their heads that they are all brethren.” What a testimony! When the world can say that kind of thing about the church of today, then I think we will find that we are on the right track.

I really believe our mission in life should be nothing less than being Jesus with skin on. We so often pray for God to show up and do something, but I think we are really missing it. We fail to realize that God is waiting on us to show up and do something. He just needs some skin to put on and he'll do some powerful things. He just needs someone's hands and feet to work through and someone's heart to love through.

Anyways, I'm pretty sure I saw Jesus the other day. By the way, he has brownish blond hair and drives a white truck that has parts to garage door openers in the back.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Living On Yesterday's Word

Have you ever found yourself doing something you know God called you to do? You know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you heard his voice and you stepped out in obedience and here you are right in the middle of it. Life is rewarding and fulfilling and you don't see yourself doing anything else.
That is a great place to be, but if we are not careful, we'll miss the next assignment God has for us. It is so important to be in tune to the Spirit of God and to consistently hear his voice. So, many times we hear a word from God and we live on that word alone for too long. Abraham was told by God to take his son Isaac to the mountain to offer him there as a sacrifice. Imagine what would have happened had Abraham not heard God speak to him a second time and tell him to stop. That would have really spelled out disaster for Isaac.
It's great to hear God's voice and to walk in obedience. But, we need to make sure we are constantly hearing his voice or we can really miss it. What is He saying today? What is today's assignment from Him?
We can all get really comfortable where we are and let's face it, hearing a new word from God usually requires us to step out of that comfort zone. As a result, sometimes we are hesitant to listen for that progressive word from the Lord. We fight really hard to hold onto what is, and as a result we fail to be released into the new thing God desires for us to walk in.
Determine to listen for God's voice today and refuse to hold onto the things He longs for you to release.

Saturday, February 3, 2007


While watching my 9 month old today, I was reminded of the rewards of determination and persistence. In our family room, we have a small art table for our toddler and on top of it are small clay figures that he created with the help of his mom. For about 10 minutes, I watched my 9 month old try and try to reach one of those clay figures that was well out of his reach. He went from one side of the table to the other, stretching out as far as he could. After a few minutes of observation, I was certain there was no chance of him reaching them but I wanted to see how long he would keep after it. Eventually, he squeezed himself between the table and the wall and reaching as far as he could, he was still a couple inches short. Finally, he pushed the table away from the wall, moved in a little closer, and the next thing I know he grabbed the clay and as he does with everything, he started to chow down.
If you have kids you know this story is not unique. Young children can be so persistent. Passing by those golden arches or taking a trip to Walmart and just passing by the toy isles is all it takes to remind us of this fact. That quality can drive us nuts sometimes, but it can also teach us a valuable lesson. If we want our life to be one that is filled with success, nothing can take the place of determination and persistence.
From our careers, to education, to marriage, to parenting, to ministry, to character, and beyond, success often hinges on this quality. In every area of our life, we are faced with the temptation time and time again to quit. It is always easier to quit than it is to continue. Continuing requires hard work and sweat. It requires rolling up our sleeves and not stopping until the job is done. It requires focusing on a goal and letting nothing stop us from achieving that goal.
Proverbs 24:16 says "Though a just man falls seven times, he rises up again." The key is how we react to what life throws us. Get ready because life will throw you pain, disappointment, failure, and a host of other negative things that are designed to get you to throw in the towel. Those with persistence get back up, time after time after time. Like Rocky Balboa who takes a beating round after round yet somehow finds the strength to get up and fight one more round.
Those who were members of the early church knew what this was all about. "We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;" (II Cor. 4:8-9) They were hit from all sides but refused to let life whip them. That attitude is one that we all need in order to live a victorious life.
Has life hit you hard? Have you been knocked down by the circumstances of life? Have you tried and tried and continued to fail? Determine to get back up and go at it again. Make a decision to get back in the ring. It ain't over, til you say its over!