April 30, 2007

Less Than the Best

I was listening to Erwin McManus the other day. He was talking about beauty. Sometimes we recognize beauty, or at least we think we do. Many times, however, I'm afraid we don't recognize true beauty.

After Jesus rose from the grave, the Bible says that as He was walking along the road He approached two men who were walking along the same road. Jesus began to talk to the two men, and they walked and talked until they arrived in the town of Emmaus. They even invited Jesus to have dinner with them, which He did. Jesus took the bread, broke it, prayed over it and began giving it to the two men. Suddenly they recognized Him. They had just spent hours with Jesus, talking about the events that had just taken place in Jerusalem (the crucifixion of the great teacher and prophet, Jesus from Nazareth). They didn't even recognize Him until He revealed Himself to them. Then their eyes were opened to the true beauty of the Savior of the world.

We just got back from an amazing Encounter Retreat. We took 22 people and helped them experience and recognize Jesus in their own lives. They were challenged to recognize the best. They were encouraged to settle for nothing less than the best.

We so often settle for good enough. We get tired of trying and striving, so we give up and hope that we've done a good enough job. I'm not saying we have to be perfect (although we are commanded to try). We are still battling the selfish nature of the flesh. But we should not give up the race! We should not stop and walk if we are running a marathon! We must keep pressing on toward the goal!

Have you trained yourself to settle for and appreciate less than the very best? Have you become so accustomed to settling for less than the best, that you no longer recognize true beauty? Think about your own life. What are the things you are involved in? What do you like to do? Is it the best use of your time? You may say "It's good enough." But is it?

God sent His Son, Jesus, to this earth so that we could enjoy an eternal relationship with Him. Would you recognize His beauty if you saw Him today?

Think about it...

April 27, 2007

Encounter God

I'm off to be a part of a Southbrook Encounter retreat. These retreats are special times for all those involved. Many lives have been affected deeply by attending and being a part of these weekends.

What is it? It's a time to get away from the distractions of everyday life, and put your entire focus on Jesus for about 24 hours. During this time, through different experiences, you have the opportunity to have an encounter with God, who desperately wants to have an encounter with you.

I am looking forward to what God is going to do this weekend. Please pray for the entire Encounter Team, as well as for each of the individuals who are attending, that they would truly have a face to face encounter with God, and that they will never be the same again.

April 24, 2007

Growing in Obedience

I promised the kids that when I finished school, we would get a dog. We went Saturday afternoon and picked out a beautiful little lab mix from the animal shelter. Her name is Abby. Now we get to endure the wonderful phase of house training. Joy.
She's pretty smart, so it's been going pretty well. In fact, she has been a quick learner all around. When she wants to be, anyway.
It kinda reminds me of our relationship with God. We hear God when we want to. When a treat is in hand, we come running. When it's time to stop chewing on that thing we shouldn't be chewing on, we seem to be pretty good at pretending we don't hear God say "No!"
But eventually she will learn. Sure, she'll 'forget' every now and then. She'll mess up, slip up, call it what you want. She will disobey. But as puppies grow into dogs, if they are trained right, they will become obedient and faithful to their masters.
As a child of God, do you find yourself becoming more obedient to God? We all 'mess up' (it's called sin). We all misbehave. But as we progress through life, we should find ourselves becoming more and more obedient and faithful to our Father in heaven.
I'm looking forward to the day when Abby hears my voice and obeys me. Are you listening to and obeying the voice of God?

April 21, 2007

Water Pumps & Yard Work

What do water pumps and yard work have in common? These are the things I 'get' to do now that my school work is completed! You see, for the past several years I have been so focused on finishing up my masters, that I haven't had time to do the things normal car and home owners do. I never thought I would enjoy changing the water pump on a car as much as I did this one. I never realized how much fun yard work can be until now. I am so thankful that my studies are done!

I better wrap this up, I think I hear a home improvement project calling my name...

April 18, 2007

Spring is in the air, and in my backyard!

The other day I walked out into the backyard, and found three birds nests, in three different trees, all with eggs. I showed the robin's nest to my two year old daughter, Kelsey. It was the day after Easter. She saw the eggs and immediately said, "Maybe we can take the eggs and open them and get the candy out!" After I finished laughing, I explained to her that little baby birds would be coming out of those eggs. Then she went on to talk about how she was a baby, and that she came out of an egg one time...does this count as "The Talk?"

A couple of days later as I was cutting the grass, I discovered a rabbit's nest, just three feet from our back porch! We have been watching them grow bigger everyday. It is simply amazing. The mother comes at night and feeds them, and they just sit there huddled together 24/7.

Spring time is the time when things start over. It's the time of year when new life appears in the most unusual places. God can do the same thing in our own lives. He can renew us, give us new life, and teach us to grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ. As you check out the beauty of spring, remember the Creator who made it all. And let Him change you into a new person today.

April 16, 2007

Of Masks and Men

Our home group meeting last night was pretty amazing. There were 23 of us there. We discussed the second study in the Virtual series our church is doing. Nancy and I started this group 1 year ago. We had a few couples who came for a while, then disappeared. We had one couple who stuck it out with us, and are still with us. Then in January we had a 'growth spurt.' New people kept showing up. In fact, last night we even had two new couples join us!

The discussion last night was great. People shared from their hearts. We talked about the masks we wear around others. Why do we feel like we have to defend our actions and choices to others? Galatians 1:10 helps us remember where our focus should be. We were reminded that we often forget whose we are. We are not trying to please other men (at least, we shouldn't.) We should be concerned with pleasing God.

Galatians 2:20 is an amazing verse. "I have been crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live." It is an amazing mystery, to try and fathom the depth of the meaning of this verse. That I, a sinner, separated from God, have been crucified with Christ. And the life I live I am not living, but Christ is living in me! If we could just believe this, and live our lives in this manner, allowing Christ to have the control, we would be free, we would be bold, we would be on fire for Him and His Kingdom!

Do you belong to Christ? Then quit trying to please men! Allow Christ to have control of your life, and live your life to the fullest!

April 12, 2007

Knowing is Different than Doing!

“Teach me to do thy will” Psalm 143:10

David understood something important. The question is not “What is God’s will?” Our problem is not that we don’t know God’s will, it is that we don’t DO God’s will.

Think about it...

We have a building with about 250 seats. We have over 2000 people coming in here every week. We are in desperate need of more seats. Should we say “God, what is your will?” OF COURSE NOT! God’s will is that we reach as many people as we possibly can. “Go into all the world,” etc. It’s not knowing God’s will that is the problem. It’s DOING it! “Teach me to do thy will!” As a church, we should be praying “Teach us to do your will.” Common sense tells us to build. Building requires cash. We know what God wants us to do. The problem is it isn't being done.

Disobedient Christians are what keep God from using a group of people to accomplish His plan. Sure, God's plan will be fulfilled--with or without us. But wouldn't you rather be a part of it? I don’t know about you. I want to be in on God’s work. I don’t want to be sitting in my rocking chair someday, looking back on my life, and saying “God sure could have used us, but we were disobedient as a gathering of believers. God sure got the job done with that other church though!”

Not me! Let’s DO what we know God is telling us to DO.

“Teach me to do Thy will.”

April 06, 2007

Where do you live?

The other day I was sitting on my couch, looking around the house. I thought to myself, "Is this house the perfect house for my family?" The layout is ok. It could be better. The furniture, well, we've had it for a few years now. What could I do to improve things? We could consider moving. Maybe we could find that perfect house.

Then it hit me, as I realized, this house is not the perfect house. Of course it's not. Jesus said Himself "I go to prepare a place for you." This world is not my permanent home. This house will one day burn, with the rest of the houses, and everything else on earth. It's all going to go up in smoke. It's nice to have a nice place to live, but if all I do is put effort into making this temporary house perfect, I am wasting a lot of energy and resources.

We are only here for a short time. There are much more pressing matters than the perfect floor plan.

We must keep our eyes on the goal, focusing on the Kingdom, rather than the insignificant trivialities all around us.