Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Gig' em

The crawl below the TV news read "College Station woman aims at skunk, shoots husband." This bizarre statement seems to be a cross between some kind of Aggie (Texas A&M) joke and a National Enquirer headline. Turns out, a woman aimed a shotgun at a skunk in her house (did she think about what the result would smell like?) and missed. The bullet ricocheted through the screen door and lodged in her lounge chair resting husband's stomach. He's okay.

How many times did you think you were doing the right thing only to have it go horribly wrong AND, in hindsight, may not have been that great of an idea in the first place? For me, more times than I can count.

Too often, Christians give off an air of "You better not mess up, God is watching and you'll go to Hell." That is a prescription for fear and inaction. And, it's not true.

Jesus tells a story of people who were given money to leverage through investment. Two did so and returned principle and interest. The asset owner was pleased. One hid the money and kept it safe to return. The owner was mad. A return on the investment was expected. I think the owner would have been happier if the third person invested as best as she thought and lost it all. Risk was where faith is found and leveraged. Certainty needs no faith and leads to death.

If the Cross and Resurrection (you cannot separate them) tell us anything; it is this. God has made allowances for mistakes; planned, ill-advised or otherwise. Take what you have been given. Put it to use. Risk it. If it stinks, say you are sorry. Try again. If it smells like a rose, give God some credit.

What risks will you take today for God?

Monday, August 27, 2012


I was mad. So mad, in fact, that I decided to make a list of the things that suck the life out of me. Maybe with a list I could begin to eradicate bad behavior once and for all, one step at a time. Here is my preliminary list. I figured I'd think of some better ones for my Top Ten if I gave it some time, so this was just the ones "off the top of my head."

Top 10 Things That Suck the Life Out of Me

Bad news via email or voice mail and not in person
Coming to a meeting unprepared, expecting others to do the work
Unwillingness to listen and talk
Uninformed opinions
Badly prepared food
Phoniness or self-righteousness
20 items in the 15 item checkout lane
Fixing toilets
Assuming I agree just because I don't want to argue

Jesus says "pray for your enemies" so I figured I'd offer these up to prayer. Maybe I'd evoke a lightning strike or something (maybe not for the toilets.)

Know what? Jesus got me. I saw that I, too, do these things (again, except for the toilets.)
Grace is when we get good stuff what we don't deserve it. God is loaded with it and spreads it around pretty think. I get grace (and encouragement to change) when I deserve a brick.

I need to practice grace and give thanks it is practiced on me.

Saturday, August 25, 2012



Have you asked God not to disturb you? I am sure neither of us has actually said those words. Maybe we have come close, however.

Maybe we remember these words.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6:34 (NIV)

Trouble seems to show up on its own. We cannot avoid it. Therefore, we need a place to go when trouble hits. A place we can count on.

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. Luke 1:29 (NIV)

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. John 11:33 (NIV)

God, at times, troubles us in order to move us into action for the greater good. God see a need for a kick in the pants.

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God ; believe also in me. John 14:1 (NIV)

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."  John16:33 (NIV)

God is bigger than trouble.

How will trouble enter your life today?

Monday, August 20, 2012


Would you rather "Live to Work" or "Work to Live?" I prefer the latter. The "Work" here can be for pay or not. It can be the Work of raising a family. It can be volunteer Work. Meaningful work is foundational to a rich life. Jesus promised a rich life to all who followed him (John 10:10.)  Faith and life should go hand-in-hand.
I read recently of the difficulties (and dangers) of adults who are not creating a healthy work-life balance. Too much busy. Too much work. Too little life. Work, as meaningful as it is, cannot be the end or purpose of life, only a means to life. The end must be a rich, satisfying life. Jesus would want it that way. If we follow Jesus, we will have a work-life balance. God will not crush us with too much to do over too long a haul. Joy, even in sacrifice, is a fruit of work-life balance. Read here God describing how he will accomplish his vision of Life without killing us in the process.
He will not shout or cry out,
    or raise his voice in the streets.

A bruised reed he will not break,
    and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.

In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;
    he will not falter or be discouraged
till he establishes justice on earth.
    In his teaching the islands will put their hope." Isaiah 42:2-4 (NIV)
Consider today your own work-life balance. Bored? God may be calling you to reach out and share the work of someone who is overworked or under-resourced. Stressed to the point of burn out? Whose lead are you following? Is it time live the life you have been given rather than mortgage it? Do you need to ask for help?
A thief comes to steal and kill and destroy,
but I came to give life—life in all its fullness. John 10:10 (NCV)


I like it when someone will help me with a project. I like to work hard but a burden shared is more fun. Many of us started our Christian life enthusiastically. A shared project. An adventure. A few are still there. Too many have become just plain sour. Going it alone. Trying to be perfect. They could never convince another that a life in Christ was a good thing. Faith became work. Coal mining type work.
The difference? Some of us have turned play into a job.
Maybe you or someone you love have moved from the early stages of loving God and doing whatever came out of that to slaving for God without a job description.
God thinks this is foolish. God asks only that we love him. We do this by following his son, Jesus. God even helps by the Spirit visiting us right this moment. Think of how crazy you acted when you first fell in love. Give the same to God. Think of church and church life more as a sandbox with God encouraging you. You are loved unconditionally. God only wants what you have to give back in your own unconditionally love towards God.
How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?  Galatians 3:3 (NLT)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Do you have it all together? I mean, the perfect life, children, health, parents, job, lawn? Just like everyone else? Here's a secret. They don't have their act together. Neither do you or me. And the perfect life is an illusion and a crummy goal.

I'm not okay. You're not okay. But that's okay because God is okay.

First off, when God says to be perfect, God means "be perfectly YOU." No posing. No copying. Be the YOU God thought was just what the world needed. You are, after all, God's prized creation.

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:48 (NIV)

Secondly, God is totally aware that we don't have our act together. And God is not ashamed of us. That's why God sent his Son. Jesus came for those who do not have their act together.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14 (NIV)

Third, nothing we do or accumulate will really get our act where it becomes "together." But God will do it for nothing if we will let go of trying to perfect ourselves or hide our "untogether act."

"I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.
Jeremiah 31:3 (NIV)

You're pretty nifty. As is. Live the day as if it were true even if you cannot quite believe it yet. Follow God's lead.

Caught Up

The answer to most every personal inquiry includes, "I've been busy." Maybe even, "Crazy busy." Often followed by either, "I'm sorry" or "I'm tired." If there is a god for today, its name would be Busy. When our busyness is limited due to age or illness, we feel less than human, often apologetic.

Jesus, the Son of God, sacrifices himself for us. Loves us no matter what we are up to. Encourages us at our lowest point. Can resurrect the worst situations. Encourages rest. Promises joy.

Busy god consumes our days (where did they go?) and our energy (later, dear.) It promises great things which often turn up empty, especially when we look back at what we had hoped for in our obedience to busy. Busy often fuels our lowest points. We sacrifice to it. Worship of busy is joyless.

We cannot live in the 21st century without being busy at times. A burst of busy can produce great things. But there is a difference between busy as an occasional event and busy as a lifestyle or even a god.

Reflect for a moment on the role of busy in your life. Does it trump God? Do you lay it at God's feet?

I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ.

Obviously, I'm not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ's servant. Galatians 1:6, 7, 10 (NLT)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Are you healthy? How about your family? I'm not talking physical health as much as I am talking spiritual/emotional health.

I was at a leadership conference last week. One of the presenters talked about organizational health (OH.) He stated that no organization (and I might add organism) will thrive, no matter how smart it is, if it does not have OH. In fact, OH multiplies the resources a company (or organism or family) does have. He knew business health was important. More important that smarts or wealth or strategies. I plan on applying this to church health. But what about you and your family?

Are you buying all the right things, being involved in all the right activities, living in the right places and employed in the right jobs but have ignored your own vitality and that of your family? Are you surrounded by things that promise life but are failing to deliver nothing more than exhausting busyness?

"No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Luke 11:33-35 (NIV)

Following Jesus, and not knowing about Jesus, brings a life than no one or no thing can put to death. Wouldn't you trade the accessories that promise life for life? Look to Jesus, the Light of the World, and follow. Seek health. The rest with come.
These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.  Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. "So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today. Matthew 6:32-34 (NIV)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


If you are from Texas, you know how to conjugate "fixin.'"  It means, I'm about to" or "I'm getting ready to." Using the term "fixin'" implies that whatever I am getting ready to do, I will carry out.
Too often, my relationship with God is one of an unfinished "fixin'." In reality, my promises to God often are couched in
"Once I..., then I will…."
Or worse,
"Once you (God)…, then I …."
Jesus asks us to follow him. I think he means NOW. The day things are perfect for a follow are an illusion and waiting for that day is a guarantee that we will never follow. The Gospel writer, Mark, underscores this urgency in his prolific use of the words "Immediately" and "And."
Are you fixin' to follow Jesus today or are you following? The answer makes all the difference in the world.

My Prayers Were Answered

Today, a politician who was in a heated primary election, said at a press conference, "My prayers have been answered." Presumably, his opponent was saying, "Mine weren't." A freakishly fast sprinter won her gold medal today. She pointed to heaven. I assume she was thinking, "Thanks, big guy" or "Hey, the credit is all yours." Maybe the 4th place finisher said, "God, I guess you have something else in mind."  People in Houston said, "We prayed Hurricane Ernesto would spare us and our prayers were answered." Meanwhile, flooded residents of the Yucatan were saying, "God why didn't you spare us?"
I may be in a minority but, I don't think God had a direct hand in any of those things. What would be his metric? The area with the most people praying gets the good stuff? Whoever prays the longest, or hardest, or most eloquently gets the prize? Christians or Americans get their prayers answered first? Silliness.
I believe prayer is a mystery. Prayer is so much more than cause and effect. Prayer cannot be reduced to a "to do" list for our Maker.
I believe prayer shapes us. It shapes our initiative and response. Prayer triggers resources and power we could not muster on our own. Prayer ripens over days and years. I don't believe in prayer as a meritorious endeavor. Prayer is a conversation between intimates that renews, challenges, twists and turns, but always communicates love. Prayer opens up eternity to the here and now. Prayer is oxygen for the soul.
I believe God looks down on winners and losers and says one thing, "I love you and I want you to know how much."
Will you pray today?

Saturday, August 4, 2012


An analyst on BBC radio interviewed a scholar on how competitors feel when they place in the Olympics. Obviously, the gold winners are ecstatic. Silver medalist fare the worst, thinking, "Wow, just a bit more and I could be on the top platform." Whereas the bronze medalists do fine thinking, "Wow, at least I am better than all those who didn't medal at all."

We live in a competitive culture. In sports, that's one thing. In life competition is another. In many cases we do have to compete. It's part of life. But when we take a competitive attitude into everything, we see others as obstacles rather than as people for whom Christ died and rose.

Christ is not clear about competitive sports but he is clear about life and the Christian's take on it.

[Jesus said,] "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all." Mark 9:35 (NIV)

[Jesus said,] But many who are first will be last, and the last first.  Matthew 19:30 (ESV)

 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 
Philippians 2:3 (NIV) 

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 (NIV)

Whose team will you be on today?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


We like to read about and know who's being an idiot. This won't be about that but my title may have helped overcome the hesitation to read on.

If I landed from another planet, I would think that the world is awash in idiots. In the age of social media, everyone has an opinion and most of them involve calling or demonstrating how stupid another person is (or their beliefs.) Now I disagree with about half the things I read and about half the people who write these things. I lead a fantastic church with people who have opinions all over the map. I know two things.

No one has a lock on the truth, which should lead to some openness and humility.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 1 John 1:8 (NIV)

We all share the most important thing and all discussions and diatribes should start there. We all belong to God. The grace that comes from Christian love should under gird our speech.

Then God said, "Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." Genesis 1:26 (NIV)

I pray we have opinions and even things for which we will give our life, both in word and deed. Arguments are a part of good civil discussion. Naming belongs to God. Each encounter today will be with a person for whom Christ gave his life. May grace lace your speech towards others.

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you
Matthew 5:44 (NIV)

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become
in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.

Ephesians 4:15 (NIV)