Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Isn't it amazing how papered we have become - every convenience right at our finger tips. It seem that even God is our butler. I was amazed to see, while channel surfing, a Christian TV show claiming that we can gain financial prosperity if we plant a seed ($25.00 donations) and we can even master a system that will guarantee a God produced miracle. Imagine that, miracles on demand - sort of like a genie! My have we got a warped view of how the world was designed to work. What makes us think it is always about our comfort, prosperity, and health?
God has a calling for all of us and it is not primarily concerned with what we value - or what we are taught to value in our culture. God might be calling you overseas, into the missions fields in your area and beyond, or into the lives of those around you. As Francis Chan, a pastor and author says,
"It is true that God may have called you to be exactly where you are. But it is absolutely vital to grasp that He didn't call you there so you could settle in and live out your life in comfort and superficial peace. His purposes are not random or arbitrary. If you are still alive on this planet, it's because he has something for you to do."
A speaker at camp from International Justice Mission (IJM) said that God calls us to be willing to give up four things: Comfort, Security, Control, and Success. We need to be willing to sacrifice these things if called upon to serve God's purposes - Really? Really! (He replaces those with Adventure, a closeness to God, ultimate purpose, and the gifts of the Spirit - love, Joy, Peace...)
A relationship with GOD is not easy but it is the best way we could ever live. Are you willing to give up what you value most for your Lord or not. Really! It is true but boy I love my comfort and security! I am working to let go when called upon -- now your turn to wrestle with it. (Look at what the Bible says and realize I am sugar coating it!)
Peace and joy,
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
I love this exchange. I googled this and it would seem that there is little or no evidence of Einstein having this exchange but it is a good argument none the less. I hope this week that you each stand up for God in your world. I don't mean be obnoxious but be bold in standing for what you believe. Do not be afraid of being a Christian - hopefully your life has exhibited a great deal of grace and love so that your belief can be warmly received. (If not embraced.)
Have a great week and be a light on a hill. (And go twins!)
Friday, October 2, 2009
I had a chance to see this video yesterday. It is making the rounds so I suppose many of you have seen it as well. My take on it follows:
As this dog tried to cross a busy highway he is hit and wounded by a passing car. He lies there for quite a while and another stray dog see him and risks his life to gently drag the wounded dog off of the road. Apparently the dogs were not a team and the rescuer simply risked everything to help another dog in need. The video is quite moving.
As I see this I wonder how many of us see these hurt people in our lives or in our jobs and get involved? How many times have we "thrown people" onto the road where they are injured or lost. (People who we judge as being wrong or involved in the wrong kind of behavior.)
I think that this week we all need to become like the rescueing dog - alert for ways to genlty and humble serve, help, and protect those who are hurting around us.
- At school - those marginalized or left out (or are irritating?)
- At home - really listen to our family members - hear their stories.
- At work - seek out collgues who need a touch of a friend (even when you do not have the time to get involved)
Put your self out there and let Christ in you save another. Let me know what happens so we all can be encourages. Remember, you have all been prayed for today.
(Sorry the dog does die - too real world for sure!)
Friday, September 25, 2009
At the end of the summer I packed up the family for our usual trip to Maine. As we load up, I pack a small utility trailer up with camping gear and bikes (Jon and I have new road bikes this year!) and we head to Kristen's families vacation home in Down East Maine. On the way while getting gas on the Tollway in New York, a car hit our trailer. It caused little damage but the trailer needed some repair and we hit the road only to realize the lights on the trailer were out. Seeing as we were getting to our destination at 1 am I realized the lights would be vital so I took the lights off my new bikes and strapped them on the trailer.
These lights were super bright LED lights that would flash for hundreds of hours so I thought they would do the trick until I fixed the lights in Maine. I set them on constant shine and took off. AS we got closer to the Maine house I stopped to check the trailer only to find the lights had run out of juice. How could this be - I thought they would last hundreds of hours? We made our destination OK and I tried to figure out the light issue the next day by reading the light instructions. It said that the lights would last 6 or 7 hours in constant mode but over a hundred hours in bright flashing mode? I would have thought it would have been the other way for sure!
That got me thinking about life - could it be that it really takes less energy to sparkle than it does to just dimly light our world. Maybe, when we conserve our efforts and put a dull shine on our work we are really wearing out quicker than if we gave it our best "sparkling" effort. This week I want you to give it a test - do it with style, do it well, add some zest to everything you do - especially at work or in your homes. Give your efforts over to God and see if he blesses you in a surprising way. Maybe your "sparkle" will bring others around and you can let them know where your energy source is really from - the Father.
God bless and have a great week
Monday, June 8, 2009
I was reading in 1 Kings 1:1-53, the story of the end of King David's life. He was ill and the time for a successor had come. Now David had many sons from many different wives but one son, named Adonijah, decided he was going to be king. He gathered up a large number of animals for sacrifice and sent invitations to many important people to attend his self inauguration party. (He left out invites to the chief priest, the prophet Nathan, and other high leaders.) As he began to gather for the party, his brother Solomon and Solomon's mother Bathsheba heard what was going on. They went to David to see if Adonijah was really the anointed one and found out that David planned for Solomon to be king. David decided to bless his son and make Solomon on the spot and God's chosen man for the job was installed.
Solomon was now king and and the party to crown Adonijah, in full session, was now illegal. All of the guests fled and hoped they would not be killed for their allegiance with Adonijah. In the end Solomon showed mercy and a new king was anointed.
The reason I tell this story is that many of us are in process of crowning ourselves king -- well not king but certainly we often feel like we are doing God's work in the world. The problem is that we cannot, by our actions, desires, or hopes, do God's work without God's blessing. How often do we set out to serve only to realize we never sought the power and blessing of the real King.
This week, recommission your lives to the service of the King, Christ our lord. Seek HIS power, and His vision and THEN move out to impact the world. I am giving over my role at camp to a greater power -I think I know what needs doing but God knows better. Get out of the drivers seat of your life and commit yourself to seeking God's will. After that wait, wait a bit more -- stop worrying and let your marching orders come from God. (Read the book of Acts to see how the disciples got their ministries rolling. -- no really Read it!) If the disciples could start with less than nothing and change the world what could we be commissioned to do?
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Amazing how Satan likes to make us believe that God's laws are a burden - a hindrance to our freedom. But in reality the structure God provides makes a life of true joy and freedom possible. In a recent study of psychologically disturbed patients, it was determined that the greatest cause of their mental pain was the result of accumulated stress. It was found that a lack of mental or societal standards or rules made every decision a toss up, needing to be evaluated in light of a hundred of changing variables. Many people simply freeze up in light of the hundreds of decisions that need to be made every day. How to decided what to do, what is right.
God's law provides us with a standard, a set of life guidelines that help take the stress out of navigating your life. His law is based upon love - God and then people, and when followed decisions just get easier. That is not to say everything always works out but the rules are simple - you know what you are called to do and can just do it.
A key here is to seek God's help in knowing His ways. A simple starting point is to focus on Love - express your love to God in prayer, ask for him to help you love him and others. Simply choose to approach every encounter with others in love. Love in dealing with ALL others regardless of your differing views, lifestyles, and persuasions. Simplify your life in the knowledge that God has taken the guesswork out of your daily lives and thank him for caring enough to do it. Now what to have for dinner...
God bless and you are prayed for,
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
I was reading about Gideon in the bible and was amazed by the story. Here is a man chosen by God to do great things and great things he did. God worked wonders through his life, saving all of Israel and securing peace for 30 years. BUT, interestingly, after the great victory by God's hand against thousands of enemies Gideon completely loses it. At the end of a decisive battle, Gideon is asked by the people to be their leader -- he refuses and says just give me one earring from each of your plunder. He takes the earrings and ... builds an idol for the people to worship (and they did).
Gideon did the job for God and lost focus, he sold out to the evil he had just defeated. Gideon needed to stay on task - to not let his guard down and keep up the work of the Lord. What about us? If Gideon could fall so easily, we need to be even more vigilant about focusing our every effort on the call of the Lord. There is no time to let your guard down and celebrate - we need to celebrate on the job.
I encourage you to stay on top of your faith journey each day. Be particularly aware of those times when a big task is just completed or in the midst of celebration - times when you let your guard down. These are the times of our greatest falls. It happens to great men and women every day so it can happen to you. No time to rest but remember God provides constant energy to make it all happen.
Be strong, and be on top of it,
Friday, May 8, 2009
It is that time of year again - mushroom hunting. In Michigan it is a sure sign that it is safe to go out into the world, or at least the woods. It is a time of mystical and magical mushroom hunting and it is a blast. You get quiet, get low, sniff the air -- and suddenly, like one of those three dimensional pictures, the mushrooms slowly appear. The hunt is so surreal - like how quiet can you get, how in tune with the woods.
Morel mushrooms are so odd looking, so complicated. Other mushrooms are simple button tops, mostly smooth and round, but a morel is odd in shape and color. No two look alike and they never grow in the same exact spot. They also are uniquely designed to make the blend into the surrounding - unbelievable how they blend in. Complicated shrooms for sure but complicated for a reason.
God made us like that too. Complicated, deep, odd, ever changing in many unusual ways. Not only are we complex but the world we live in and the relationships we have with each other and our surroundings are exceedingly complex. Does that mean that these interactions are wrong - I don't think so. God made us complex for a reason and he made our relationships complex as well. We keep changing as we grow older and we are forced to adapt our relationships to reflect that change. It is work and it is complicated but the process was designed by God to grow us into His likeness. Less concerned with ourselves and more concerned for others. The hard work means giving up mirrors and focusing outward. Not fun but necessary.
Like the morel, we are perfectly made - realize God's complicated design in nature, our bodies, and our relationships and get ready to work through the rough stuff - with a lot of help from our Savior. The result is tempered and more Godly!
From a flawed but optimistic example,
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Great teacher and willing hearts.
Inspiration - all it takes is a good teacher and a willing heart! Check out the video in above post.)
How would you like to have had this guy as your music teacher! It is amazing what an inspiration one leader can be. This teacher faced great opposition to his style of music and teaching, he overcame those obstacles and look at what he has instilled in these young lives!
This week be inspired, be in awe of the creation around you and the creator at the heart of it all. When was the last time that you were overcome by enthusiasm? As Christians we have the greatest teacher of all in Christ yet we mope around pointing out "issues." We have unwilling hearts! Be inspired this week and then be inspiring to someone else. Be excited - by friends, your kids, your school, your job, the environment, take your pick. Then let that enthusism make someone elses day.
be persistant (make em smile)
be self less
be lover of others
get over your condition
get into something, anything
Laugh (or at least smile)
May God bless you and keep you, May he make his face SHINE upon you, and give you HIS ENTHUSIASM for life (which brings peace.)
Let's you and I give it a try. (also check out fix you by young@heart on you tube - I will try to post but it isn't working - check it out and have a Kleanex ready)
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
There is something about light, the right light, that is so attractive. I love to drive in the country with the light behind me, illuminating the surroundings in awesome ways. I also love the light on Portage Lake in the fall when the far shore reflects the sun off of the trees and cabin windows like a fire lit by God hand. Light can be attractive, it can be reassuring at night, it can be helpful in getting to the bathroom in the dark -- light can be a very good thing.
BUT light can be blinding and even disconcerting. Directors have long used lighting to make scenes for horror movies. Alfred Hitchcock was a master of using light to create drama and fear. Lights shined directly in your eye can actually blind you, at least temporarily. Light can be a weapon used against prisoners to produce anxiety and sleeplessness.
So what sort of light is talked about in the Bible when Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” Jesus could have been a blinding light like on Paul's trip to Damascus (acts 9:3), or a light of transfiguration or supernatural power (Matt. 17:2) But I think Christ embodied a light that was so attractive that others were drawn to it, a light based in pure love and selfless passion. Jesus was fully God and capable of great power but he chose to model the life of a servant which proved to be the most attractive light of all.
So - emanate the light of Christ to all around you. Do not do but be a light of love and compassion. Don't take on a new project or good deed but emanate the light of Christ where you are and in what you do. Allow others to be attracted to that light and ask you about it's origins. Sorry but it might take years of being light for others to see it, so you better start today. And by the way, you will probably never win a medal or get any notoriety for this -- but do it anyway for the father.
Friday, April 3, 2009
Spring break - what a concept, a time to rest with none of the trapping of formal holidays. There are no extensive decorations or plans or traditions - just one goal, fun. I still get to enjoy spring break because my kids demand it --we went down to the Smoky Mountains and had all the prescribed fun we were could handle. It was an opportune time to be together as a family and simply enjoy being together.
During the break I was reading in Luke (4:1-30) and I was struck by the story of Jesus temptation by Satan. After 40 days of fasting in the desert, Satan tempted Jesus with all he had. But of course it was to no avail - Jesus, tired and weak as he was, simply would not be swayed from the will of his father. After the temptations there is a curious line in the bible, "When the Devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time. " (???)
An opportune time ? It seems that Satan didn't give up on Jesus but began to look for another time to tempt him. (Again to no avail!) I believe this is the same tactic Satan uses on all of us. He looks for times when we are weak, or our guard is down -- an opportune time to tempt us again. He never gives up, he knows that sooner or later we will be more available to his temptation. What are those times for you? Are their times or areas of your life that you let your guard down. Are there people in your life that make you more vulnerable to Satan's call.
Take a look this week at the rhythms of your life. Take note of places, times, and events that leave you tired and vulnerable - opportune times for you to be tempted. (to envy, to lust, to be prideful, to be selfish, to be gluttonous...) Find those moments and say a little prayer for God to help you to remain strong, for him to guide you through your weak times. At your most vulnerable points you can be sure Satan will show up so commit yourself to thinking about your Father. MAKE YOURSELF, train yourself to equate vulnerable times with Christ - and invite him in to protect and love you. He will ALWAYS answer your call - but YOU must invite him in. This will not be easy but once learned will be invaluable.
Be Strong and Couragous,
Dave (Prov. 3:5-6)
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
It was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy. On the eight day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, but his mother said, "No! He is to be called John."
They made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. He asked for a writing tablet and to everyone's astonishment he wrote, "His name is JOHN." Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he began to speak, praising God, the neighbors were all filled with awe and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, "What then is this child going to be?" For the Lord's hand was with him. (luke 1:57-66)
Sometimes God calls us to be different, to make choices that stand out -- some that do not make any sense. (Turn a cheek?) But those unique lifestyle choices or decisions get people talking, people will hear about them. They will wonder what this is all about and you WILL have a chance to tell them. If your life does not stand out in any way, as a Christian you are living a lie - we all do it but tomorrow: Be strong, be brave, be courageous, and do something - make some choices in your life that can only be from God. (And give Him credit.)
God bless and have a great week - you have been prayed for today, (even ted!)
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
I was reading in Numbers (an underrated book!), about another gathering. It seems that out in the wilderness the Israelites were getting antsy. They were sick of the desert and wanted to take their frustration out on their leader, Moses. Aaron and Miriam gathered together to talk about Moses. They began to talk against Moses (identified by God as the most humble man in the world), they felt that God was going to speak through them now and not just Moses. They seemed to blame him for their desert situation, a situation of God's making. Amazingly God stepped in right away - he called the three of them (Moses, Aaron and Miriam) into the tent of meeting for a face to face. Imagine, getting called into the office to get chewed out from God. And Chew God did, the bible says that His anger burned against the two malcontents. And Moses - he simply pleads with God to be lenient on them. Tough times really brings out the worst in many people - especially when they can gather together and talk an issue or situation into a crisis.
These are some tough times in the United States for many people. Listen to the radio or watch the TV news and you here the gossip. So called leaders or experts talking against everything and everybody, blaming others for situations we all created. In times like this we need someone like Moses, someone who speaks for God to set peoples minds at ease, to remind us that God is still in control.
Well, since we as Christians house the Spirit of God in our temples (bodies), WE need to step up and be that voice of God. We need to stop the "talking against" and start talking for the Lord. "The JOY of the Lord is our strength" Let's focus this week on being light and joy in the world. Panic does not look good on a Christian who has the assurance of eternal life! In your gatherings be aware of the fact that we need to shine light on the world around us. Our investment is in the eternal kingdom and the interest is compounding. Be aware of your talk as you interact with the non-Christian world - maybe the stark contrast of your disposition will spark some interest. What makes that person tick? Hope, joy, and peace look awfully appealing to a panicked world. See the opening - light loves to enter those cracks in lives! Be the voice of God to your world - and a smiling face.
(Loving your feedback)
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
This past week I had the chance to lead a Purity and Holiness retreat at a Church in Colorado. What a beautiful place with the sunshine and the mountains. Folks out in Colorado love their surroundings and take great pains to live very "green" lives. Many sacrifices are made to improve the environment - reduce, reuse, recycle, etc. This mindset has had a great impact in preserving the beauty that so many in Denver live for. This Rocky Mountain mindset made me think...
Isn't it ironic that so many Christians are willing to rearrange their life to benefit the environment but when it comes to changing their behavior for the work of Christ they never seem to have the time. God, who is watching and waiting to help us, seems to be last in line when it comes to our attention. As Christians, God calls us to make changes in the way we live, to be set apart (holy) for His work in a hurting world. Whether it is caring for the less fortunate or sharing our faith brother or sister, we never seem to remember our first love, Christ. How would the world be different if every Christian were to engage the world as actively as an avid environmentalist? Imagine always looking for big and small ways to share our faith. Searching for even the smallest opportunity to promote the life of faith.
I imagine that the world would be drastically changed. So let's give it a try - be radical, be a green Christian. Look for even the smallest way to change the world for the gospel. Start small, start now and let me know how it goes. Be a radical for the best cause of all, saving lives forever.
Have a great week and give some feedback,
Thursday, March 5, 2009
"(Brother Lawrence) decided he would sacrifice his life with its pleasures to God. But He said that God had surprised him because he met with nothing but satisfaction in that state."
This man who never achieved a position higher than a dishwasher, huddled in a remote monastery kitchen, found life to be rich and full. His days were spent in service and in constant conversation with God. He began to work on experiencing the very presence of God in everything he did - every moment a shared moment with the creator. He said that "that in order to form a habit of conversing with God continually and referring all we do to him, we must, at first apply to Him with diligence. Then after a little care, we would find His love inwardly draw us to Him without any difficulty.
Imagine, this simple man living life drawn into relationship with God in the most natural and intimate way. WE WERE MADE FOR THIS. This type of connection with God, the sharing of every experience and event with Him, is what we are about. Our very soul desires this loving father to show us by His presence how much He loves you. Not what you do, or the job you have, but YOU - He is in love with His finest creation - YOU.
This week begin the conversation with Him - make a commitment for one hour, day, week, to simply share each sight and sound with God. PRACTICE the presence and realize that you do not need ANYTHING else. Simple, awkward, basic conversation with a father who knows your inner most parts. Peace, satisfaction, release from pressures, simply the warmth of having everything you need without having to earn it or perform for it. Let me know how it goes.
I am praying for you, I will be in Colorado this weekend for a Purity and Holiness Retreat - please pray for me as I lead this group. Less of me more of You (God).
Have a great week and let me know how I can pray for you,
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Each year during Lent I like to add something to strengthen my faith and also add a physical discipline to be healthier. I like to give something new a try, a spiritual trial run so to speak. Usually I am only marginally successful in the physical area (as evidenced by a host of gear to tone and strengthen), but I seem to have better luck in the spiritual endeavors. This year I am resolved to improve my prayer life and am using a book by Phyllis Tickle (real name - she's brilliant) called The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime. This is a book that uses a practice called keeping the hours or saying the offices - prayer that is done within certain hours each day. The prayers in this book are both ancient and modern, mixing spoken creeds with old hymns. This is real old school and being the type of guy who sees no need for an organ or many church traditions, I need to touch base with these practices. As for the physical, I am going to add some more strength training - to keep it all working (as I try to keep up with all my staffers.)
My challenge to you - seek to know God in some new way this Lenten season. Scripture, prayer, service, kindness, reaching out to a neighbor, whatever it is - commit yourself to it until Easter. Ask God simply to reveal himself to you in some new way and chronicle your time in a convenient way. This will help so that in the future you will remember the way God moved in and around you. Have a great Lenten season and I bet all you spiritual giants will be better at this than I am - but I keep trying...
Let me know what you are thinking and how it's going.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
As odd as the characters behavior is on the Office, it seems most of us act much the same way. I mean God is watching each and everything we do yet we still act like idiots. Shouldn't the presence of the father mean something to us? Shouldn't we be altering our behavior more often? It seems that many believe that being a Christian is about heaven and to get there we will 'put up' with a meddling God. We see the Father as an inconvenince, someone who crimps our style but the reward is worth the hassel.
IF you look in the bible, God's presence is a blessing. He looks out for us, protects us, keeps our feet on paths that are worthy of taking. The presence of God each day is a gift we need to recognize and embrace. This week, become aware of the eyes of the Father and try to let that thought saturate your day. Look at the world from a fully loved perspective - and trust that God (who never sleeps or slumbers) can handle the tough stuff. (Even if we do not understand each situation.)
Have a great week and know that I am praying for all of my family and Portage Dave friends.