Thursday, April 29, 2010

May 1

even when we were dead in sins,
[God] hath quickened us together with Christ

Ephesians 2:5

I surely could have found a more modern translation of this verse, but I can't ever pass up that old word "quickened."

In contrast to "dead in [our] sins," quickened officially means alive. But how many of us -- though alive -- are really bored ... distracted ... and slow -- slow of heart and dead in faith.

Quickened, to me, means more than having just a heart-beat. Quickened means living a life that is vital, having a purpose that matters, and developing a heart that thumps with as much significance as Christ's.

In Christ's Love,
a guy who needs a running coach
(I want to be quicker)

April 30

[The Lord] shall sit as a refiner
and purifier of silver"

Malachi 3:3

The most important word in this phrase -- to me, today -- is "sit."

I don't know much about refining silver and gold, but I've come to believe that it's a slow process. You heat the metal. It turns to liquid. Eventually the dross rises to the top. You scoop it out. Then you wait. Eventually more appear. Then you scoop ... and wait ... again and again.

Sit means patient.

God cares enough about you to stick with you. Hour after hour. Day after day. Year after year. Until you're pure enough to be valuable. And you are valuable. He loves you.

In Christ's Love,
a guy with silvery hair who's impurities
have probably caused God to have a few silver hairs
(Thank you, God, for being patient as I seek to become pure)
April 29

...know the God of your father,
and serve him with single mind and willing heart;
for the Lord searches every mind,
and understands every plan and thought.
If you seek him, he will be found by you;
but if you forsake him, he will abandon you forever.
1 Chronicles 28:9

Three things:

1. "Seek" God.
2. "Know" God.
3. "Serve" God.

This advice -- King David's to his son, Solomon -- could be the three most important things in life. And he expounds on it in helpful ways ...

1. Seek God ... because "he will be [and wants to be] found by you."

2. Know God ... because if the creator of the universe cares enough to "understand[] every plan and thought [of yours], why wouldn't you want to know every thought and plan of his?!

3. Serve God ... and not half-heartedly. Serve him "willing[ly]," from the "heart," and with a "single[ness]" of purpose.

In Christ's Love,
a guy who needs to be like King David
and give this advice to his sons

April 27

Ask and ye shall receive,

that your joy may be full
John 16:24

What is Jesus' hope for our life. Twice in the night in which he was betrayed ... twice in his final words and purposes for us ... twice, our gracious Lord Jesus offered a way for our "joy [to] be full."  
The mention of full joy occurs in the context of the parable of the vineyard -- John 15. Jesus says essentially, I am the vine and you are the branches. And then he invites us to abide in him and bear much fruit (v. 5). And then he invites us to abide in his love by obeying his commandments (v. 10). And then he invites us to abide in him, bear fruit, obey his commandments, and discover the fullness of joy (v 11 as a summary of 1-10).
In chapter 16, Jesus adds just one more thing for a fuller, richer joy -- prayer!
When we "ask" God for things in prayer, what do is the best thing we "receive"? It's not joy; it's Jesus. When we talk to God in prayer, what we receive most of all is a relationship with our Lord and Savior ... and by the way ... that's what brings joy!
In Christ's Love,
a guy who desires jelly beans, a cup of java, and shiny red Jaguar
and a few more important things that start with "j" like Jesus and joy

April 26

He went up into

a mountain apart to pray
Matthew 14:23
When I read today's verse, I immediately thought of a conversation I had recently with a friend. This friend has been working with a mentor on the gift of quietness.
The discipline is: Turn off the TV. Don't plug in the ipod. Silence the car radio. And practice solitude.
It's amazing, the friend essentially said, how much you can hear when there's no noise.
It's amazing, indeed. But it shouldn't be. Jesus practiced solitude. In key moments he found a place "apart" and in his prayers, the only sound was the still small voice of God.
In Christ's Love,
a noisy guy who needs to learn to say "shhhh!"


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

April 22

And the peace of God,
which transcends all our powers of thought,
will be a garrison to guard
your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus

Philippians 4:7

I like this old Weymouth translation of Philippians 4. And what an irony: To gain the peace, we need it to act like a military garrison to guard us!

Just seconds ago, I wrote the first sentence of this devotion when the phone rang. A member got chewed out, laughed at, and ridiculed at work for refusing to lie. This person needs God's supernatural peace to act as a military garrison around her integrity.

Peace can be your guard. Truth can be your guide. Integrity can be your power. And the Word of God can be your light.

What are you battling with for which you need reinforcements from God?

In Christ's Love,
a guy who wants to be part
of your military garrison


April 21

[Joshua] commanded the people,
"When you see the ark of the covenant
of the Lord your God
being carried by the levitical priests,
then you shall set out from your place.
Follow it ...

Joshua 3:3

God wants to come and abide with his people. Consequently, in the midst of the Exodus he asked that a "mercy seat" be sculpted on top of the ark of the covenant. The mercy seat was where God would "sit." Indeed, that seat was a potent symbol that God was truly present among his people. Therefore, whenever the people of Israel set out in new directions, they followed (not the ark, but ...) God who was "on" the mercy seat.

Where might you be heading next in your life?

Try following the method of the Jews: Don't move until you see God moving!

In Christ's Love,
a guy who needs to look both ways
before crossing any street
(and see if God went that way first)


April 20

Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God?
Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites,
thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—
none of these will inherit the kingdom of God.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10

Ouch. Don't you hate judgment? I'll bet all of us can find a place or two where we don't want to fit into this list -- or other lists -- for judgment.

Fortunately, Paul -- nor God -- leaves us "dead, doomed, and sinful." (Those three words are my summary of the first few verses of Ephesians 2. Blessedly, Paul chimes in with a healing word -- "but." Paul celebrates, "But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so very much, that even while we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead.")

First Corinthians gives us hope with a "but" too! Paul says, "11 There was a time when some of you were just like that, but now your sins have been washed away ..." Paul is not saying that these sins doom us to hell. He's saying faith saves us from two things: 1) damnation and 2) a life that has to be controlled by these and other sins. God's love can save us from bondage to sin.

Now ... IMPORTANT POINT ... when you see someone doing any of these sins, don't think, say, judge or imply that these people will not inherit the kingdom of God.

For one, we can't expect non-Christians to behave like Christians; therefore, use this as an opportunity for evangelism!!! Introduce them to the love and joy of faith in Jesus Christ -- love and joy, not judgment. And then let Jesus do the working on their faith, life, and behavior.

Second, even good, faithful, saved Christians will fall back into the pit of sin. It doesn't mean we're not saved. Therefore, don't ever presume or pronounce judgment on a person! Just love them more. Yes, there is a time when we need to hold a friend accountable -- that's what friends do -- but make sure you develop the friendship enough that they'll hear love first last and alway. And only then speak a word of encouragement and accountability!

If we judge, we're pretending that we're God. Let's simply love others into the hands of the one who "is so rich in mercy ... and ... love[s] us so very much, that even [when] we [are] dead because of our sins, he [will give] us life when he raised Christ from the dead."

In Christ's Love,
a guy who needs to wear less black and more red
(black robes are for judges, red makes me look like a big Valentine)


Monday, April 19, 2010

April 19
the priests could not stand to minister
because ... the glory of the Lord filled the house of God

2 Chronicles 5:14

Yesterday in worship our theme was: If you want God to show up, brag on Him! Praise Him!

Therefore, I pulled up two lists. One was the names for and attributes of God (below in green). The second was ways we could worship and praise our Lord (below blue). And in worship yesterday, we stopped for five minutes to pray and praise our wonderful, merciful God.

Now, all this year I've been praying for revival for our country. But I've come to realize that if I want that to happen, I need to pray for it to start with me ... and with our church.

Therefore, if you want more faith, more joy, more power, or more revival in your life ... if you want God to descend so wonderfully, heavily into our presence that -- 2 Chronicles 5:14 -- we can't stand up ... then I invite you to join me in praying through this list daily.

Here's how it might work for you. Everyday read through a good chunk of this list. Say something like, "I Worship you God because you are Gracious. I Praise you Lord, because you are Merciful. I Give Thanks to you Lord, because you are Slow to Anger." And so on. The list is in totally random order. So switch it up. "Today, I'm going to read the blue one and then the green one three lines down." Be creative, because if you want God to show up, start bragging on him more!

+ Worship Gracious
+ Praise Merciful
+ Give Thanks Slow to Anger
+ Bow Down Steadfast
+ Fall Before Loving
+ Rise Up Wonderful
+ Kneel Counselor
+ Sing Almighty God
+ Celebrate Everlasting Father
+ Pray Prince of Peace
+ Honor Immortal
+ Glorify Invincible
+ Bless All Wise
+ Follow Spirit
+ Obey Life
+ Give Generously Sovereign
+ Wonder Lord
+ Awe Forgiving
+ Fear Just
+ Tremble Eternal
+ Sacrifice Infinite
+ Believe Holy
+ Cling to All Knowing
+ Humble Myself Faithful
+ Adore Great
+ Submit Good
+ Talk to All Powerful
+ Trust Unchanging
+ Shout True
+ Confess Glorious
+ Cry Generous
+ Rejoice Savior
+ Open My Heart Righteous
+ Raise My Hands Close
+ Lift My Voice Excellent
+ Allow Myself to be Broken Divine
+ Spend Time with Unchanging
+ Exalt Mighty
+ Cry Out Lord of Lords
+ Wait Patiently King of Kings
+ Do Justice Alpha / Omega
+ Show Kindness Immanuel
+ Walk Humbly I AM
+ Stand Up Against ___ Savior
+ Enjoy Messiah
+ Listen Lamb
+ Devotion Redeemer
+ Pay Attention to Healer
+ Habits Trinity
+ Discipline Rock
+ Dance Refuge
+ Experience His Presence Hiding Place
+ Commit to Shelter
+ Celebrate Deliverer
+ Sanctify Provider
+ Draw Near to Shepherd

In Christ's Love
a pastor who wants to never stand up again
because we have prayed the Lord so heavily
into our sanctuary

Friday, April 16, 2010

April 18

He held fast to the Lord.

2 Kings 18:6

The "he" in this passage is the good king, Hezekiah. In the midst of a series of kings in Judah who ranged from awful to mediocre-at-best, Hezekiah "3 did what was right in the sight of the Lord. 5 He trusted in the Lord the God of Israel; so that there was no one like him ... before ... or ... after ... him."

The "he" in this passage was Hezekiah. But believe with me that the "he" can also be you and me!

For Hezekiah, "holding fast" meant, 1) "6 ke[eping] the commandments [of] the Lord" and "3 d[oing] what was right in [God's] sight, 2) "6 following" so close that he was "not departing," and also 3) "5 trusting in the Lord." If we want to "hold fast," that's not a bad pattern for us either!

1) Becoming Christ-like begins by behaving like Christ. Indeed, OBEDIENCE is the first step in the Christian adventure.

2) The second step in the Christian journey involves FOLLOWING, and in order to follow, we have to draw close enough to him to know where he is going. (This begs the question: what are you doing to know and draw close to God.)

3) Holding fast also implies TRUSTING God. Trust often seems to come naturally in good times. But do you feel like you're nurturing a faith that can hold you fast in times of trail? Indeed, are you a through-thick-and-thin fan of God's or simply a fair-weather-fan? Trust!

In Christ's Love,
a guy who wants to be like velcro
(the kind that God can't get rid of even when life shakes)

April 17

When my life was ebbing away,
I remembered you, Lord,
and my prayer rose to you ...
Those who cling to worthless idols
forfeit the grace that could be theirs.
But I, with a song of thanksgiving,
will sacrifice to you.
Jonah 2:7-8

I'd be willing to bet that you haven't sacrificed a bull before a golden calf recently. Am I right?!!

We can, therefore, feel good about not breaking the commandment against "graven images" ... or can we?

The most common graven images we make are not statues of metal or stone, but pictures in our mind of what we want God to look like -- or not look like. We say things like, "Well, I can't believe in a God who ..." and then we reject a story, a truth, or a calling in the scripture. It's the human condition to continually reject the teachings of the Bible and pick and choose and re-create God in our own image. It's not a golden calf we bow down to but to our own imaginations -- indeed do you see the word "graven IMAGE" in the word "my own IMAGINation"?

Jonah reminds us that "those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs." He suggests instead that with a "with a song of thanksgiving [we] sacrifice to" the real God. Not the God or our own imagination, but the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Peter, Paul, and James -- i.e. the God of Scripture.

In Christ's Love,
an imaginative guy
... who therefore needs to be careful
to trust God rather than my imagines

April 16

And Joseph's master took him,
and put him into a prison ...
But Jehovah was with Joseph ...
and that which he did,
Jehovah made it to prosper

Genesis 39:20-23

Life goes up and down. Good days and bad days. Health and illness.

In Joseph's case -- our lesson for today -- it was freedom vs. jail time. It was prison vs. prosper. With that in mind, I loved the title of the segment from which I pulled today's "random" verse -- "Joy in Prison."

This phrase, reminded me of a conversation I had last night. I was in a Bible Study and the up and down nature of life came up. The first "joy in prison" verse that popped up for us was James 1:2-4 -- "Count it all joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. Therefore, let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing."

Count it all joy! I love that phrase! But the verses I really wanted to pull up -- but my brain was too sluggish last night -- was 2 Corinthians 6:3-11. The Apostle Paul's joy-in-prison-testimony proclaims ...

We try to live in such a way that no one
will be hindered from finding the Lord
by the way we act ...
[Therefore,] we patiently endure troubles
and hardships and calamities of every kind.
We have been beaten, been put in jail,
faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion,
endured sleepless nights, and gone without food ...
We have faithfully preached the truth [and]
God's power has been working in us.
We have righteousness as our weapon ...
We serve God whether people honor us or despise us,
whether they slander us or praise us.
We are honest, but they call us impostors.
We live close to death, but here we are, still alive.
Our hearts ache, but we always have joy.
We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others.
We own nothing, and yet we have everything.

In Christ's Love,
a guy who needs to go to prison
... so he can find greater joy


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

April 15

Then [Jesus] said to Thomas,
"Put your finger here and see my hands.
Reach out your hand and put it in my side.
Do not doubt but believe."

John 20:27

Another friend asked a question ... "In John 20:17 Jesus tells Mary Magdalene not to touch him because he had not ascended yet to the Father. Then eight days (vs 26 & 27) Jesus invites Thomas to touch his wounds and stick his hand into the side wound. I find this confusing."

I love the questions! Keep them coming! In fact, the question was so good, I thought I'd share my two cents worth with all of you. I said ...

I don't have my Greek New Testament with me, so I can't answer it definitively from the Greek (I'm such a phenomenal Greek scholar anyway!), but here's what I think ...

The King James and about a third of the translations render the passage with Mary Magdalene (v. 17) as some form of "touch me not" or "don't touch me." The majority of the translations, however -- approximately two-third -- render it more like "do not hold on to me." In fact, in helping understand this passage, I like the CBJ version best: Jesus says, "Stop holding on to me."

Spiritually that's the difference between Mary Magdalene's touching -- or not -- and Thomas's. Thomas needed to touch to believe. Mary Magdalene, on the other hand, needed to let go of the physical touching to have a belief that would carry her for the rest of her life (and through all the challenges of being a first-century, persecuted disciple).

The question is: Do you, like Thomas, need some physical proof ... or some physical healing ... or some physical answer ... in order to believe? Or do you, like Mary Magdalene need to quit holding out for a physical answer and just start trusting even more?
Great question!

In Christ's Love,
a guy who always needs to
let go and let God!

April 14

... creation waits with eager longing
for the revealing of the children of God;
for creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay
and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God

Romans 8:20-21

"I don't like that word," a friend said. What word? "Bondage!"

Like most of us, this friend has escaped from a few corners of grief, pain, and bondage in her life and is actively trying to encourage others to escape their bondage too! Therefore, she says, "I don't like it that our Sunday morning confession often says, 'We confess that we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves.'" She passionately and accurately says, "Because of Christ, aren't we free already?! Couldn't we say instead that 'We confess that we WERE in bondage to sin.'"

"The past tense works," I said. "BUT as much as you dislike the word 'bondage,' the present tense works too. We are BOTH free from sin ... AND in continual bondage to sin. We are BOTH hopeless on our own AND simultaneously victorious through Christ who is continually conquering our sin. Yes, Jesus -- past tense -- broke the chains on the cross BUT he must also -- present tense -- continue to break the chains in my life. Therefore, I must not complacently rely on a past tense victory, BUT continually claim and make real in the present tense this gift. My sin is defeated, BUT I must continue to defeat it.

Read our verse for today one more time, because it points in even one more direction: Past means it has been accomplished -- yeah God! Present means it is continually being accomplished -- thank you, Jesus! And future means that "creation waits with eager longing for the [eventual] revealing of the children of God; for [one day,] creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the [final] freedom of the glory of the children of God."

In Christ's Love,
a free slave

April 13

Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you ...
Blessed are those who wait for him.
Isaiah 30:18

There are two meanings for "wait" in this passage.

The first "wait" often comes with a desperate cry: We have wants. We have needs. We have hurts. We crave immediate help. Why does the Lord "wait"? The second "wait" is very different. It is like being a fine "waiter" in a fine restaurant. The waiter's whole goal is to attend to and serve. The point of this whole passage, therefore, is: "Sometimes God waits until we wait -- until we attend to and serve."

Now, I don't recommend that you feed that line to friend in a crisis who's waiting, hoping, pleading for God to act. Rather it's one of those thoughts that's best to contemplate on a saner day; indeed, it's one of those truths that may just prepare us for a harder day.

So what does ... "wait for [God]" mean for you today?

Here's what it means right now for me. One of my favorite newer songs has this refrain, "Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord." Next time I hear that song, I'm going to imagine that it's a call for me to be a waiter in a fine restaurant. My number one job today is to attend to God like he's my only guest at my only table. I don't want to constantly butt in and be a nuisance to him -- ever had a waiter like that? -- rather, I want to quietly wait ... and lovingly sense ... and faithfully attend to the King's every need.

In Christ's Love,
a guy who wants a big tip
(Jesus said, "Whoever is faithful in a very little,
is faithful also in much ..." Luke 16:5-15)


Saturday, April 10, 2010

April 12

... If you are walking in darkness,
without a ray of light, trust in the Lord ...

Isaiah 50:10

I love that verse!

a) A problem is presented -- darkness surrounds us.
b) A solution is given too -- trust in God.

What has brought darkness into your life? Chances are it's caused by one of three things -- situations, depression, and sin.

When we put ourselves in bad situations through poor choices or sin, trusting more in God is obviously a better alternative.

But so many of life's hurt's are not by our choice. What happens when the situation is our company going bankrupt? Lay-offs, for example, can be a dark situation. What happens when another person's sin harms us? Paralysis can be a darkness that is caused by a drunk driver. And what happens when our body chemistry seems to betray us and we fall into the darkness of depression.

We are not responsible for all of life's hurts and darkness can set in. I've known people who are truly "without a ray of light." What's the solution? True trust is knowing that God is light even when you can't see it. True trust is knowing that "Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning" (Psalm 30:5). True trust is believing that there will come a time when "death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more [and God] will wipe every tear from [your] eyes" (Rev 21:4).

In Christ's Love,
a guy who has more crust than trust some days


April 11

"Do not fear or be dismayed at this great multitude;
for the battle is not yours but God's."
2 Chronicles 20:15

Yesterday's verse was "do not worry." Today's is "do not fear."

Think about it a minute ... do you know what we ultimately worry about and fear? Death.

+ We fear our death and worry about things like our health.
+ We fear a loved one's death and worry when our kids don't arrive home on time.
+ We worry about money because how will we live (i.e. not die) if our circumstances change.
+ We fear being embarrassed because when people think less of us, it's like dying a thousand little deaths.

All people -- even people of faith -- worry. Nevertheless, a growing faith is the best antidote to fear. Why? Because death is not as scary the more confident we are in heaven. And embarrassment and earthly judgments are not as scary when we realize our true worth in God's eyes -- loved!

This battle of life is not yours. As this passage suggests, trust in God's plan for victory!

In Christ's Love,
a guy who wants to be a tag-team wrestle
with God as his partner ...
because the battle is always his!


April 10

"Do not begin to be anxious"
Philippians 4:6

I don't know what the PBV translation of the Bible is, but I love this translation of this verse. I'm accustomed to the more familiar translation -- "Do not worry about anything." But without going to the Greek to see how accurate it is, I love the Barney Fife logic of this translation: "Nip it in the bud!" Stop it before it starts.

Wait ... not worrying is easier said than done, but after watching moments of worry-plagued paralysis in my life and in the lives many friends, it's a desperate need for many of us.

Now, all people -- even the most faithful people -- eventually and inevitably worry. Nevertheless, not worrying is truly a matter of faith. It is believing that God holds a good future in his hands. Therefore, the best way to lessen the effects of worry and grief is to grow our faith.

In Christ's Love,
a guy who's doing great today
... except for ... well ... oh no ...
what if that thing happens ...
and then ... wait ...
"do not begin to be anxious"


April 9

I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them;
I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.

Ezekial 11:19

Describing the differences between men and women, someone told me recently that ...

+ Men are waffles and
+ Women are spaghetti.

Imagine a fuss at home in the morning. The man goes to work and compartmentalizes. He leaves the fuss at home in the home box. When he gets to the office, he operates from the work box. When he goes to the water cooler, he talks to his buddy from the sports box. Men are waffles.

Women, on the other hand, are spaghetti. Everything is interconnected. No matter the task the bride is supposed to be doing -- work, shopping, kids -- the fuss with her husband is at the forefront of her heart. Spaghetti.

Re-read today's verse. God -- through Ezekial -- is not just talking about waffle-hearted men when he says we have a divided heart. When it comes to spiritual matters, virtually all of us have a godly box and a worldly life. Too often we worship on Sunday and forget God -- at least to a degree -- throughout the week.

The key to transformational faith is not being waffles.

In Christ's Love,
a guy who's loved blueberry syrup
(and the world) a little too much


April 8

The Lord blessed the latter days
of Job more than his beginning
Job 42:12

Here's the ultra-quick summary of the book of Job: Job lost everything. His friends pondered where God was. Job kept the faith. And God blessed him in the end. Quick enough?

Well, I had a wise old man come up to me once, saying, "In the beginning, Job lost everything -- his cattle, his sheep, his children. At the end, everything was restored to Job ... and not just restored, all was doubled ... except his children. Why?" said the old man, "Why did God double the return on Job's lowly sheep, but not the return on Job's precious children?"

"I don't know," I said.

"Pastor," said the old man, "you're thinking from a worldly perspective. From a heavenly perspective, it was unnecessary to double those children ... because those children were never really gone. Rather than being lost, Job would be near them again throughout all eternity!"

In Christ's Love,
a pastor who needs to be occasionally reminded
to think from a heavenly perspective


Monday, April 5, 2010

April 7

Like an eagle that rouses her chicks
and hovers over her young,
so he spread his wings to take them in
and carried them aloft on his pinions.
The Lord alone guided them;
they lived without any foreign gods.

Deuteronomy 32:11-12

The most important part of these verses is that God's people -- for once -- lived without any foreign gods and worldly priorities. The most important news is that they allowed the Lord -- and the Lord alone -- to guide them.

That's the most important part ... but not the most fun! The most fun part is the image of the eagle.

I'm told that the way a mother eagle teaches her young to fly is to take them to terrifying heights and then drop them. The eaglet falls and falls. And the mother just hovers aloft and aloof.

This free-fall must be absolutely harrowing for the young creature that's never stretched its wings. If the youngster is able, he'll set his wings and rise in triumph. If the youngster is not able, the mother will swoop in at the last moment and grasp the infant in her terrible -- and in this case, comforting -- talons.

Deuteronomy tells us that God is like a mother eagle. He "rouses." He "hovers" tenderly. He spreads is wings over us when trials come. He sometimes lets us fall from terrifying heights, knowing a) that falling will teach us to fly or b) he'll catch us before life and gravity crush us.

In Christ's Love,
a guy who's never sky-dived
(but may need to if I'm ever going to fly spiritually)

April 6

"And he took them,
and went aside privately
into a desert place"
Luke 9:10

Jesus frequently went to deserts and deserted place. The wilderness for him was frequenty a place of deep prayer. Away from the busyness and distractions, deserted places are often sanctuaries for transformation.

I think it's interesting that Jesus took them to the desert and deserted places. By definition, when a crowd arrives, it's not deserted any more!

And yet ... here's the challenge: In our busy world with cell phones, highways, instant messaging, and incessant carpools, rarely will we ever find a truly deserted sanctuary. Life will always intrude. So the question is, How do you craft a time and space for renewal in your life?

In Christ's Love,
a guy who's often needed a desert
so he can thirst more fully for God

April 5

And after the earthquake a fire;
and after the fire a sound of gentle stillness

1 Kings 19:12

We worshiped in the shadow of the mountains. They were still black and smoldering from the fire that had devasted our town. And I read that day this story from First Kings.

God's prophet Elijah was running from the evil queen Jezebel. He couldn't understand how he could do God's will and still be tormented. Repeated in this story -- though not in this one short verse -- is the phrase, "but God was not in the _______." For example, God was not "in" the earthquake, God was not "behind" the fire that destroyed our town, and God was not "in" the persecution that threatened to undo Elijah.

God was, however, "beside" Elijah during times of trial, and "with" us through the haze of fire and smoke, and "drawing near" to those during the recent earthquake in Haiti.

Beside ... with ... and drawing near ... We often find God's presence, when silence the terror of the moment and look for God in the stillness.

In Christ's Love,
a guy who's learned that God is
definitely not in the busyness


March 28 - April 4

Just when I started to post these on the web again, we had a congregational emergency.

On a Saturday, he was hospitalized.

On Monday, it was diagnosed as a tumor.

On Wednesday, surgery was successful.

On Friday, the biopsies essentially confirmed that it was benign.

On Sunday, Easter was even more joyous.

And yet, as we said during Easter worship, it could have just as easily gone the other way. Therefore, would Easter have been joyful? Absolutely!!! Easter is the promise of hope and life and resurrection the pull us through hard times ... even hard times like a sick little baby.

And it's Easter that gives us the confidence to face the grave and celebrate all of life.

Christ is risen!
He is risen, indeed. Alleluia!