Monday, September 28, 2009

Hey You, Just Be You (Message to Me)

You can only be you. The real you. You can pretend for a while to be someone else. Someone you like, someone you admire, someone whose life you envy...

But in the end you must be you. And that's a good thing. Because God created you to be the most amazing you that you can be. He wired into your very being everything that He wants for you to become. It's like there is a secret code He unlocked in you when you saw with eyes of faith that Jesus is who He said He is (and He was very specific on that subject!) and called on Him to be your Lord and Savior.

We can struggle with our identity for many years and wander all over the map in trying to "find ourselves". Jesus brings a clarity to our lives, purpose, and identity that can't be found anywhere else. Other people and things and philosophies will try and bring that meaning to us but in the end, when we stand before Jesus (every knee will bow), we need to be able to say, "I am found in You, Jesus."

So, the desires and purpose that God has placed in your heart. PURSUE THEM! Only then, as you move forward in faith, will God begin to open the doors of opportunity and unlock the God-given talent and gifts and use them to impact this world. No facades, just be you.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

How Do You Celebrate Fall?

We changed seasons this week! Autumn is by far my favorite season and brings cool weather, hunting, football, bonfires, fall camping, and the start of those activities that carry us through the fall and winter seasons.

Kim (the brains of this outfit!), loves to do puzzles and the more challenging, the better. Lately, she's been finding some micro-puzzles at the local dollar store. Started out with a couple of 500 piece and now is working on this 1000 piece!

We read a lot more when the cool weather comes and play more games. It's as if there is something wired into us with the changing of the seasons to settle in for the Long Winter's Nap.

So that familiar feeling coming on? It's the call of the season. Get ready to enjoy this reminder of God's faithfulness and creation and drink it in!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Atlanta's Water Problem

Photo Courtesy Atlanta Journal Constitution

So, you've probably been hearing and seeing this on the news. It's really hard to believe that this "capital of the south" was under severe drought conditions not long ago! Now it's almost like someone forgot to be very specific with God in praying for water! I've found myself, along with many others, now praying, "Ok, God, if you will, you can turn it off now, please!"

Now, of course, God really knows whats going on. But it does drive home to me the reminder to be very specific in how I pray... I know that Larry the Cable Guy can be a little crass, but I really do laugh when he stops to pray after saying something a little risque, and says what we grew up in church praying..."God bless the missionaries there with the pygmies, blah blah blah.." as if saying a little hail mary covers us.

So, knowing my Father a little better now, I try to be specific in what I'm asking for. What do we ask for? The guidlines are found in the Lord's Prayer and help me when I call out to Him. This model for prayer keeps me praying about and asking for the things that line up in His will.

If you read this, remember to pray for the people of Atlanta. It's heart-wrenching to hear of homes lost/destroyed and people affected. Pray for the churches around the country that are coordinating with area churches (WestRidgeChurch BuckheadChurch TheChurchAtChapelHill)to reach out and help in any way they can. This is a great time for Jesus' hands and feet to be seen and God's message of love and salvation to be heard.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Good Friends

We have some really good friends. These are the friends that make it easy to hang out and enjoy each other's company. Friends that are not just like us...far from it!

The longer we tread on this side of the dirt, the more we realize that the good life is not about setting up for our comforts but for maximizing the experience while here.

We've had friends in the past who were "pad answer" people like us, towing the old fundamental and legalistic line. Friends like that make life seem easy, always saying the "right" things and doing the "right" public anyway. (Legalism is a wall to hide the real you so you don't have to deal with real heart issues like marital relationships, pornography, ethics, etc!)

Through the years as God has moved us to live in His freedom, it's always funny when you try and have conversations with the old friends that seem to look at you like you now have a hole right in the center of your head. It was frustrating at first, dealing with the non-understanding looks and comments. Over time, you begin to realize that the ones who never move beyond legalism to walk in freedom feel threatened. There is a security when we can wrap our minds around a set of rules. There is uncertainty when we really have to place our faith daily in the person of Jesus. Yet the great paradox is that it turns out quite the opposite!

For Jesus calls us to a life of adventure and freedom! No more of that life of unfolding the list of rules each day and checking things off! Now there is the moment by moment communication with God that involves listening for His voice and calling on Him! And falling more in love with Jesus!

So, our friends look different today than they did a few years ago. Some have taken the journey with us and others still shake their heads with a tsk-tsk when we happen to meet them in the mall. Our friends today stretch us, challenge us, and encourage us; friends that live here, live in other states, friends that we have met through social networking and other churches.

What does your circle of friends look like? Good friends are truly a gift from God in this journey of the Good Life!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Conqueror or Maintainer?

Often when I read through the account of the kings of Judah and Israel from the Old Testament, I find myself frustrated at the state of man. Such a reflection on my heart so many times in giving God only part of me when he desires and craves it all! I know God does not need me, but He wants me and not just part, but the whole kit and kabodle! The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly! (plenty of the latter two!) This Video that Michael Harrison reminded me of this morning says it all!

When you read the story of David, you get the insight from the writers of scripture that He, for all his faults, really had a deep connection with God; hence, known as being "after God's heart". You don't see that with many kings that followed. Yes, there were bright spots in Judah's history and kings, but what set David apart?

I wonder sometimes if it wasn't the adventure that David took with God. David was forging new territory in Israel's history. This whole "king" thing was fairly new (after the first disaster of Saul) and David comes along annointed by God's prophet both with oil and Spirit; however, David's adventure with God did not start at that physical annointing,for God had already captured his heart as a boy while learning to care for his father's sheep. David's life was a series of "next steps" with God and he was in love with God; for God was in love with him!

David did not choose ease, nor did he try to maintain what Saul had established. He and God worked this kingdom out from scratch. Many battles, many long hours of administrating and establishing this new peace and prosperity for Israel. Many more hours seeking God and meditating and praising him in prayer and song.

The kings that followed mostly seemed to go into "Maintain" mode instead of expanding the kingdom at God's direction. They allowed foolish pride to enter in, mostly did not seek God's guidance. Perhaps it was also that David forgot to pass his legacy on to his children!

What do we take away from all this? Seek God wholeheartedly! (God, please forgive me for not giving you my best!) Meditate on His words, His praises, His guidance. God is working all around us to build His Church/Kingdom. Enter into that fresh work. Some churches have sought to just maintain the "good, ol' days" and maybe it's time for you to step out and be part of something fresh and new; forge ahead into new uncharted territory! And don't forget to include your family in this adventure and pray that they will come to experience God in amazing ways too!

Monday, September 7, 2009

ChickFilA Free Sandwich

If you were like me today, you were 1 of the millions that went to ChickFilA for the free Labor Day Chicken Sandwich.

We spent the day with friends at the lake today so we did not get to our first ChickFilA until 6:40pm. We parked in an adjacent parking lot and were going to walk in to order. We were stopped at lot though and informed that they had run out of chicken. Wow! That's a lot of chicken, considering they had been giving it away since 10:30am this morning!

We proceeded to the next location enroute to home and the girls and I actually got inside and up to the counter to order. As we ordered, we heard the guy from the kitchen come and tell a manager that there were only 15 sandwiches left. Those of us that heard were told that we were probably safe. Needless to say, once we received our sandwiches (yes!), we made a quick exit of the building. We did not want to be there when they would soon announce the "Out of Chicken" bit!

ChickFilA was not offering, so far as I know, a voucher for those that missed the opportunity for a free sandwich. Sooo glad we made it in time!

Reminds me of Jesus' story of the 10 virgins waiting on the groom. 5 were wise and prepared ahead of time with extra oil for their lamps, and 5 were foolish and did not prepare ahead. At ChickFilA, we made it by the skin of our teeth, or as Scripture says, "as by fire". I want my life to be one that is ready for Jesus; one that is ready for His return, one that is ready for His daily displays of His love, grace and mercy to others.

Preparation starts with time spent with Jesus each day. These times with Him are incredible; He has so much to share, it has become one of my favorite things about the morning! Jesus never forces it , he waits for us. Many of us like to say, "O, I'm waiting on God..." but as Pastor P always says, "we've never had to wait for God, it's He who waits for us!"

How about you? Are you prepared for whatever Jesus has for you? Whatever it is, it's even better than a free chicken sandwich!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Much Ado About Nothing

There is nothing more frustrating than being misunderstood. Sometimes you walk into a land mine. When I walk into those situations that throw me back, often my first reaction is to lash out (selfish mechanism). What I may or may not realize is that I just happened to be the proverbial straw that sets someone or something off. It can be discouraging and just plain yucky! Thoughts of "Wow, how did we go from HERE to THERE in a matter of minutes!"

When that happens, I find it helps to first cry out to God (even when frustrated), and God then seems to direct me to my "encouragers" who always seem to have the right thing to say or write that helps me get back on track. When I leave God out as my first cry for help, I often only find others who sympathize but don't let me see beyond the situation.

So I'm thanking Him today for setting the path for me and for renewing my mind with His words and through His servants (my encouragers).