Friday, December 12, 2008

White washing doors...I never knew painting could be so spiritual.

I've been painting today. Whitewashing doors actually; makes me think of Tom Sawyer.
The goal was to paint the bathroom and kitchen and then my bride reminded me I wasn't done painting all the doors in the house; at least not the final coat.
When we bought our house the doors were circa 1981, super dark brown...needless to say well overdue for an update.
The thing is, after putting the first coat on, it was pretty clear it would need a second coat. I went from door to door, easily circling around and putting on another layer, no big deal. Well after a couple hours of this, it gets old. So I stopped; cleaned up and put away the brushes. You know what? The doors looked so much better, it completely changed the feel of the house; Bridget was thrilled.
Jesus talks about standing at the door of our heart and knocking, seeking to be a part of our life. But the previous verses confront complacency.
Eugene Peterson put it this way when he paraphrased scripture in The Message...
Rev. 3:
15-17"I know you inside and out, and find little to my liking. You're not cold, you're not hot—far better to be either cold or hot! You're stale. You're stagnant. You make me want to vomit. You brag, 'I'm rich, I've got it made, I need nothing from anyone,' oblivious that in fact you're a pitiful, blind beggar, threadbare and homeless.

18"Here's what I want you to do: Buy your gold from me, gold that's been through the refiner's fire. Then you'll be rich. Buy your clothes from me, clothes designed in Heaven. You've gone around half-naked long enough. And buy medicine for your eyes from me so you can see, really see.

19"The people I love, I call to account—prod and correct and guide so that they'll live at their best. Up on your feet, then! About face! Run after God!

20-21"Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I'll come right in and sit down to supper with you. Conquerors will sit alongside me at the head table, just as I, having conquered, took the place of honor at the side of my Father. That's my gift to the conquerors!

22"Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches."

You know what, it's easy to approach our lives like I did with the doors.
"It's so much better than it was." "Nobody will really notice."
The doors look great from a distance, but if you get close, the old brown is showing through in places, and until I started putting on the final coat did it become obvious how much they needed it; the process wasn't done yet.
It's the same way with our lives. God's redeeming work is a never ending process. Sanctification, that process of our lives being cleaned out by the Holy Spirit should constantly be happening. When it is, it's easy to see how far we've come, and how much we need God's grace and salvation each day.
Let us guard our hearts from being satisfied with where we came from and focus on where the Holy Spirit desires to take us...on an incredible journey.
Well, back to work...I've got another coat left to paint.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Is Thanksgiving a word or lifestyle?

As I think about Thanksgiving I think about turkey. I imagine sitting at a table surrounded by family eating way too much and then watching football and waiting for room to open up in my stuffed gut to pack away some homemade pie.

Interestingly our national holiday "Thanksgiving" can be a time when we tend to live it out the least as a lifestyle. Granted there are those who rally their own sense of self-fulfillment of "doing something good" during the holidays through charity and volunteering. But by and large the typical act of thanksgiving will be a 30 second bowing of our heads before we overeat.

So the question I pose is: what is true Thanksgiving?

A word, holiday, prayer, or is it a lifestyle?

When we live a lifestyle of Thanksgiving our perspective of living changes.
What do we do with our day? Do we treat it with purpose? Do we live intentionally numbering our days as Moses speaks of in the Psalms?

How do we live out thanksgiving for living in a country that defines freedom?
Do we take it for granted not knowing anything else? Or do we expose ourselves to the lack of freedom around the world, and then with the power of perspective live each day with a little more purpose than the day before?

Ironically, surrounded by all of the freedom we have, there is a tendency to abuse the system. The selfish sinful nature we possess pushes us to see how little we can get away with doing rather than keeping a perspective that we are not guaranteed tomorrow so I simply refuse to settle for anything less than my absolute best.

Today can impact eternity.

When we embrace this truth in our life we begin to live "Thanksgiving."

Visit for a perspective on being thankful in terms of wealth.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Great Quotes for the Day...

Mark Batterson: "The shortest pencil is longer than the longest memory." quoting unknown.

Erwin McManus: "If you can conceive accomplishing your dream, your dream isn't big enough."

Mark Batterson: "Dreaming begins with praying...Praying is dreaming."

The Lock Box Theory


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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The greatest birthday ever!

I recently celebrated the greatest birthday ever.
This year I turn 30 on October 27th. But the birthday I'm referring to is not my own but that of my son Riley who turned 2 on October 2nd. Now if someone knows me real well, like my wife for example they understand that I'm not real big into the self celebration myself, in fact I have a hard time getting really into anybody's birthday, which I've learned is an area I need to work on since I'm married.
But since the birth of my two boys life has changed in huge ways. I look at life through a totally different lens of perspective.
Now the great thing about a two year old is that they don't realize it is their birthday and there is no built in expectations yet. For Riley's birthday dinner we went to Costco and he got his own hot dog and lemonade. I'll be honest I almost felt a little guilty gettin' over on the kid for a $1.50 but he liked it and I got to deal with lemonade induced insomnia from the lil' guy. I think it was around the fourth time he tried to get me to play with his trucks at approximately 3a.m. that I swore of anything but water or milk for the kid.
The next evening we celebrated as a family with the grandparents and great aunt and uncle and great grandma. It was during the opening of gifts that I felt like once again the Holy Spirit was speaking to me about a father's love; our Heavenly Father's love for us.
Now trying to coral a two year old and convince him that sitting down so he could open presents is not an easy task on any occasion but compound that with the recently eaten birthday cake had him whipping laps around the house faster than usual. As he stopped long enough to observe eveyone sitting around watching him you could see that he was assessing the situation and trying to process what was going on. The gifts were placed in front of him and with a little coaxing he begin to reach into the gift bags to see what the fuss was all about. He began to pull out his favorite, toy cars. With oohs and aahs that can only be made by a two year old he held each one as a precious treasure. In that moment pure joy was pouring out of every fiber of his being. I looked around the room to see the looks of love on the faces of the loving relatives as they watched. Do you know what I saw? Joy and Love that may have actually exceeded that of Riley, because they understood a deeper truth. When you truly love someone you love to see them receive more than getting yourself. As I squeezed back tears in my eyes the apostle Paul's words came alive as he reflected on Jesus teaching that, "It is more blessed to give than to receive.'(Acts 20: 35)
The other profound truth is that Riley received these gifts because he is my son. MY parents, aunt, uncle and great grandma love him because they first loved me.
Jesus said that the greatest command was to love Him and a close second was to love others. This love is lived out in two ways. We love others because we realize they are a child of God and second we love them as we love our self. At minimum we desire to see their needs met.
4,000 kids died today because they didn't have access to clean drinking water. As Americans we will spend over $18 billion on make up. Think about it...we spend the equivalent on feminine face paint what would provide clean water to every third world country in the world.
So the question becomes, how do we bring Joy to the heart of God? How do we show him love? By giving to those who don't have what we do; the life changing relationship we have with him. To partner with God, see what he's up to and join with others who are going. Let's give of ourselves, let's stretch our faith, and step out and live an exciting life that reflects the heart of God.
May this truth come alive in your life. May the needs that are so vast in the world around us be met by passionate followers Christ who simply aren't satisfied with the status quo but passionate desire to change history because of their love of God and their love for others.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Where are we looking?

A few weeks ago my son Riley taught me a great lesson in perspective. That our view and focus can limit our ability to see more or imagine more when God wants to bless us beyond what we can imagine. So how did a less than two year old tell me this? Well let me give you the setting.
In the youth ministry that I lead we have created a youth center known as the 'youth building'; creative huh? I our y.b. we have a cafe stocked with food and candy. A popular item are the 5 cent 'Red Vines'. If you know anything about red vines they are the equivalent of poor man's Twizzlers, classic licorice. It didn't take long for Riley to get a taste of a red vine. From then on he was hooked. Every Wednesday after service when he gets in there he quickly heads behind the counter and starts pointing at the red vines. He is soon seen stomping around the room, red licorice hanging from his mouth, red slobber running down his chin onto his shirt, and a content look on his face.
On the night of this particular life lesson, some of our student leader girls decided to treat those who came early to 'otter pops' flavored ice. No if you know anything about cheap sugary snacks you know that flavor ice blows red vines away any day, no comparison.
Riley had never experienced flavor ice so I thought it might be fun to give him this treat for different. As usual he made a bee-line for the red vines. He was so focused on wanting his usual that he began to throw a fit as I tried to get his attention to show him the flavored ice, a cool stick of blue raspberry. He began to cry, point and beg for the red vine. He was completely closed off from hearing my voice or giving me the attention I asked for. If he would have simply looked he would have seen a much better option; mysterious and exciting.
It was at this point that I realized God was teaching me a great lesson. I also realized it was the perfect object lesson for a group of teen guys gathered at the bar tearing into their own flavored ice.
"Check it out guys. Riley is so determined to get something he knows that he won't give me a glance to show him something new and better. We're often the same way in our relationship with God. He desires to bless us beyond what we can imagine. He is our father who loves us more than we know and if we can take our eyes off of the things we selfishly desire He will give us opportunities we never conceived."
For some of us that's a new job or career path, for some it's a chance to receive a better education, for others it's a ministry opportunity we never dreamed about, and for others it may be owning a home for the first time. When God is our source the possibilities are unlimited. But too often we live in a very small world based on past experience where at some point we stop looking for something greater. We resign ourselves to a comfortable life attempting to avoid trouble, but at the same time missing out on what God is calling us to. We say we trust God with our lives yet resist the Holy Spirit speaking into our hearts...
I crouched down to Riley's level, put my arms around him and looked into his eyes. I spoke calmly, "Riley is want to show you something." He whined and wiggled. I picked him up and sat him on the counter top. The colors of the flavored ice grabbed his attention, his crying lessened. He pointed with an inquisitive whimper.
"That's what I've been trying to show you buddy. Would you like to try one?" He nodded yes, not fully grasping what he was agreeing to, but with a curiosity that was growing. As he grabbed a hold of the cold treat a smile began to creep over his face. He placed the snack to his lips and a contented giggle gurgled out. I just smiled and winked at the guys as they watched...

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

What a 1 year old teaches me.

I have a one year old son Riley.
He is beautiful and most of the time happy.
But he is an awesome example of our sin nature.
Selfishness with a body.
He can be very demanding.

My wife and I taught Riley sign language and he has learned many words including eat, more, please. (This is his favorite.)

It is so funny when he really wants something: he does one of two things.
He starts crying, whimpering and demanding whatever object has his attention that minute. If it is something he is allowed to have we tell him he has to say please, by signing (rubbing hand on chest in circular motion). More often than not he gets really angry and will throw himself on the ground crying. We try not to laugh. You would have thought we asked him to do something completely unreasonable.

The second approach is that he sees something and begins to vigorously rub his chest in the motion for 'please'. Thinking he has unlocked the key to getting whatever he wants. It can be hard to tell him no when the object he asks for is not something he should have. He cries, feelings hurt, not understanding why, when he asked so nicely, he did not get his way.

It is often the same way with prayer and life.
We think just because we ask God really nice or get really pushy about it that we should get it.
But we don't usually see the big picture (that being the future consequences).
God often says no because it simply isn't the best for us.

Consider today if your prayers are geared to match God's desire for the best in your life, or your personal expectations of what you think should be...