Friday, September 26, 2014

Closer to God

People: "What can I do to know God more?"

       Me: "Spiritual Disciplines"

P: "What's that?"

       M: "Spiritual disciplines are practices or disciplines that you put into place in your life that help you grow closer to God."

P: "That sounds cool, like what?"

       "Well, some are things like praying, and fasting and..."

"Fasting, like going without food?"

       "yeah, generally fasting would involve depriving yourself of something so that you can use your energy to focus on God for a time."

"I don't do that who depriving thing.  What else you got?"

         "Like I said praying and..."

"Oh, I pray."

         "That's great, lets build on that some. Tell me about your prayer life."

"I pray before I eat."
"well, when I remember, and if it won't embarrass me."

        "So have you ever set aside a little time each day just to pray?"

"I really don't have time to."

     "what can I do to help you?"

"I'd really like to know how I can get closer to God, without having to do anything differently."

     I have not had this conversation, but I have.  I am teaching through Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster right now.  It is a book that has brought great comfort to my life and has changed how I interact with God.  However, I have a difficult time getting others to even try out a discipline.  Even those who greatly want to know God more.  These young adults express a great desire to not just know about God, but to know God, to experience God. These same adults in their 20's and 30's are so busy with life that, other than Sunday morning and the occasional Wednesday night, there is no place, or no space, for God.

How can we help them slow down?

How can we help this age prioritize God into their lives?

Have you done anything recently with this age group (my age group) that helped them grow spiritually?

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Glory of The Son-- Compadres

So I am a part of a secret, (but not so secret) loosely connected, group of ministers (and several people who are not ministers) on Facebook.  This group prays for and encourages each other.  Sometimes it is a healthy place to vent, complain or rant, Sometimes it is a place to go ask questions, get ideas, or seek advice. It is called Compadres and the people in the group are truly compadres.   This summer several compadres are blogging through the theme "The Glory of the Son," This is my submission.
Below it are links to others who have blogged in this theme as well.    It is humbling to be included with this list of bloggers/writers.


These four words may not sum up the Gospel, but they should sum up our response to the Gospel. 

Jesus is traveling with his followers to Jerusalem when Mark tells the story of Jesus' third prediction of his death.  Jesus, like he has twice before in Mark, tells his followers that he is going to die when he gets to Jerusalem.  So they do what any rabbi following, messiah loving, Jesus wannabe, students would do-- two of them pull Jesus aside and secretly ask him if they can have the places of honor when Jesus is in his Glory (Obviously oblivious to what that would entail, and clearly not what disciples should do).  So he tells them,  "These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.” Who would have ever guessed the two that would eventually be at Jesus' right and left. 

If they only knew what they were asking they would have never asked it.  If they only understood these three predictions of death, they might would have stopped following.  They probably would have gone home; given up; and continued life as they knew it before they were called by Christ.  But they did not get it.  Just didn't understand exactly how things would happen.

So he calls them all together and tells them the way things should be.  “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you.

Not so with you... Hear these words.  These are the words that Jesus uses to turn everything upside down.

This is the way the world works... Not so with you.

This is the way the world defines strong... Not so with you.

This is how the world defines first... Not so with you.

This is how the world defines rich... Not so with you.

This is how the world defines righteous... Not so with you.

This is how the world defines religious... Not so with you.

Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.

If you want to be great among my followers you must be my followers' servant, but if you want to be great among everyone, must be a slave to everyone. 

But Jesus doesn't just tell his followers that they must.  He lets them know that he must also.  "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

And just five chapters later Jesus is hung on a cross.  Mark is clear to point out that on each side, his right and his left, a thief was also being crucified (those two having been prepared for those places).  Here was Jesus on a cross; a very brutal form a torture and death, bleeding, gasping for breath, hurting, in anguish, and pain.

And it was there on the cross that Jesus THE SON was in his GLORY.  It was there on the cross that Jesus took the greatest servant/slave role-- a role that only he could take. 

And in this flip flopped, turned upside down world the Jesus calls us to live, we must constantly look at the way the world defines things and remember four words. 

"Not so with you."

It is in these words that we find the Glory of Jesus.  

Other blogs 

Carl Jenkins John 6:1-15. The feeding of the 5,000 ------

Johnathan Dobbs  2 Corinthians 12:7-10 ----- 

Chris Hodges  Matthew 17:1-8 - The Mount of Transfiguration  -----

Jeremy Hoover Matthew 10  -----

Allen Carr  Matthew 10:40-42 "The Glory in the Welcome" ---

Friday, December 27, 2013

2014 The New Year

                “James... earn this. Earn it.”

                In the movie Saving Private Ryan,” as Capt. Miller (Tom Hanks) is about to die and these are the words that he speaks to Pvt. James Ryan.  Miller and his special squad have wandered all over Europe looking for Ryan so that they could get him out of the war.  Miller is the last member of that squad and is now dying as they are being rescued and Ryan is being saved.

                “James... earn this. Earn it.”

                I usually think about this sometime before the New Year.  As many of us are thinking of resolutions and about how to better ourselves over the next year, how do you decide what your resolutions should be? Are there just one or two things about our life that we need to better or are there hundreds? Do we only choose 1 or 2 because 98 would be too many to work on? I wonder if I have ever kept a resolution to the year’s end. I wonder if my resolutions do any good.  If it is worth keeping for one year isn't it worth keeping for life? 

                I have no illusions about my life.  I know that I cannot earn, or even attempt to be good enough to be worthy of what Jesus did for me. I know that His life was more worthy than all of humanity. I know (even though I don't  always understand it) grace.           

                But this time of year I always ask myself, “Can I do better?” & “How much better can I do?”

                As a minister? As a Christ-follower? As a father? As a husband? As a Friend? As a brother? As a Son? Can I do better as a preacher? Bible class teacher?

                What do you ask yourself? As the calendar changes, don't worry so much about resolutions, but ask some questions.  Evaluate where you are and where you would like to be.  Make a plan, and stick to it. 

               The end of the movie always sticks with me.

 As Ryan approaches the grave of Miller he says this, "My family is with me today. They wanted to come with me. To be honest with you, I wasn't sure how I'd feel coming back here. Every day I think about what you said to me that day on the bridge. And I've tried to live my life the best I could. I hope that was enough. I hope that at least in your eyes, I've earned what all of you have done for me."

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Really Busy??

Be Consistent.  This is one of the main rules of developing followers if you are going to Blog.  So this is what I am trying to do.  I have been trying to Blog Mondays and Thursdays.  I think I am going to change that to Tuesdays and Thursday.  But here is the reason I didn't blog yesterday.

After last weeks post of the notes from Jud Wilhite's talk at Catalyst Dallas.  You can read it here.  And a lot of prayer.  and a few moments of complete nervousness, and conversations with friends and mentors, and some deep moments of self doubt.  My wife and I have made an offer on a house.  As most of us know there are a lot of things that go with that so depending on how things go we may be home owners again relatively soon. Please pray that we have wisdom.

How do you make large decisions? What do you do to make sure you are being wise and following God's will?  What processes do you have in place?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Catalyst Notes: Jud Wilhite: Staying Grounded in Ministry

     Jud Wilhite’s (Senior Pastor of Central Christian Church, Henderson NV.) talk at Catalyst in Dallas was great.  It probably was a gut check to a number of ministers who are often hoping to move into larger and larger churches during their preaching careers.  Not all do, but there is a pull on many ministers that says that they are not successful unless they are at a larger church.  And so the question begs, “When are you then successful? When you are at the largest church in the world?”  If success depends on how many you are preaching to then you will never feel successful.  Jud Wilhite walked through II Corinthians 5:11-15 with us and reminded us to be present where God has called us to be.

2 Corinthians 5
-----New Living Translation (NLT)-----
11. Because we understand our fearful responsibility to the Lord, we work hard to persuade others. God knows we are sincere, and I hope you know this, too. 12. Are we commending ourselves to you again? No, we are giving you a reason to be proud of us, so you can answer those who brag about having a spectacular ministry rather than having a sincere heart. 13. If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit. 14. Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. 15. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.
-----New Living Translation (NLT)-----

“God might not call you to a spectacular ministry, but will always call you to a faithful and sincere heart.” (v. 11-12)

Paul lets the Corinthians know that it is more important to have a sincere heart than it is to have a spectacular ministry.  He doesn’t say that spectacular ministries are wrong, just that our focus should be on having a sincere heart.

Jud reminded us that very few ministers will ever be able to work at large congregations.  The facts are simply that most churches are small.  We must measure our success first by having a faithful and sincere heart to God, and to where God has called us to be now.  Jud stated, “At the end of life nobody cares about the ministry scorecard.”

“Stay a little crazy for God” (v. 13)

Paul goes in to say that if what he is doing doesn’t make sense to them it is ok (v. 13).  They are doing things differently so that they can reach people with the message of Christ.

Jud had two great quotes on this point. 
  • Sometimes you have to get down in the mess to help people get back on their feet.
  • Ministry is messy, because sin is messy.

“Compelled by Christ”  (v.14-15)

It doesn’t matter if I appear crazy or if it all makes sense to you.  But what matters is that it is the love of Christ that controls or compels us. We no longer live for ourselves but instead we live and try to love others as Christ loves them. 

Jud reminded us all that no matter the size of our congregation or ministry,
 “Home is where God calls you to be.”

Have you made where you are home?  How do you fight the conflict between being present where you are and wanting to be more successful? Is there a to be content with where we are and have a holy discontent with the way things are? How do you stay focused on a sincere heart when the world screams we need a spectacular ministry/lifestyle/job/income?