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Week of May 13, 2019

Monday, May 13, 2019
 Blog for Week of May 13th

 

For all the criticism that Hallmark gets for creating events for celebration to boost sales, we must be grateful for the prompts. Left to ourselves we will tend to become so self-absorbed that we can easily become the persons that God did not create us to be. Honoring our mothers is just a taste of the life Jesus called us to live. Consider Jesus’ words to John from the cross, see my mother; take care of her.

The message of these kind of Hallmark days is to call us to live as intentional followers of Jesus full of honoring and gratitude. I have yet to find a human being who does not want to be honored or thanked. They may have a difficult time receiving love, but that’s their story. Frankly, most of the instructions that we receive from the scriptures raise the importance of the many ways of expressing love for one another, i.e. honoring one another, building up one another, encourage one another, pray for one another, I could go on and on.

So, I encourage you to be teachable wherever God’s truth and ethic shows up. I hope and pray that we can become the solution to the brokenness in our world. If we purport to carry the gospel of Christ within us, may we become genuine in our faith and life.

Week of June 3, 2019

Friday, June 07, 2019
 

Blog for the Week of June 3rd

              We are faced with an important time in the era of the Church.  Since the 4th century Christianity has dominated a good portion of planet earth, maybe not true discipleship with Jesus, but we have been able to become “Jesus admirers” rather easily.  The Judeo-Christian ethic dominated European based societies.  In a way we have been deceived by the social dominance of the Bible as the source for most of our ethics (i.e. “thou shalt not steal), but that is little by little, no longer the case.

              We have entered a most important day where true believers must be willing to stand up for the ways of the kingdom of God and the priority of the gospel of heaven (Matt. 4:17).  More and more discipleship will be delineated from “Christian faith.”  In the days ahead, we will be weighed in the balances of “the way, the truth, and the life.”  Our “conversion” to Christ will be tested as to whether it is real in any genuine way.

              The cultural “political correctness” will denigrate biblical life styles as narrow and “hate-filled.”  Conviction will be threatened as anti-American and as a “disease” from which to be cured.  Laws based on righteousness will be challenged as “hate-filled” and unjust.  The dominance of Christian morality with be only a thing of history and seen as irrelevant.  Jesus and the Epistles of Paul, John, and Peter should become mastered to the glory of God.

Week of May 27, 2019

Tuesday, May 28, 2019
 Blog for the Week of May 27th

With the celebration of Memorial Day, we are introduced to “serious” spring/summer. It brings to mind that in our journey with God, He brings the season of growth and rest to us. Those may seem like contradictions, but I think they are meant to be two sides of the one coin. In a way the more we grow, the more we need rest to gather up our resources so that we have the spiritual energy to press on.

The summer is a great time to practice the rhythms that Mark Buchanan included in his book, Spiritual Rhythms. As in creation, summer is a time of growth and blooming. It is a beautiful time, when the best of what is has the opportunity to show itself in sensual glory. At least in this Rocky Mountain region, we know that summer is not a long season, but one that is the fruit of the sacrifice of the other three seasons.

The challenge with summer, however, is to not hurry just because it is short. The growth in character needs to be celebrated, enjoyed and embraced. All of that takes a disciplined intentionality. In this season, make space to reflect on what God has been shaping and developing over the past months of deep internal work. Our greatest beauty is our character. The more you are like Jesus in your interior, the more there is for God to boast about

Week of May 20, 2019

Wednesday, May 22, 2019
 Blog for the Week of May 20th

Spring time is a season replete with subtilties. In our scurrying world we look at a tree or even a series of trees and all we can say is green. But I challenge you to drive down any street bordered by a line of trees – but drive slowly – and see that the varieties of green seem almost endless. I want to suggest that life in Christ is no less subtle.

Yes, we can gain so general sense of the Way, but if we will tune into the subtilties of the varieties of the way Jesus lived among us, it will reveal that there is so much more for us to understand. I know the fact is that without even thinking we will naturally approach each day from a self-referenced lens. Yet, as apprentices of Jesus we are being called to alter our point of reference, so that we can “walk with Him in spirit and truth.”

In the words of our treasured contemporary mentor, Dallas Willard, “the challenge is to live your life the way Jesus would live your life.” I guarantee that we will pick up the beauty, goodness, and truth in our living that we would not have noticed any other way.

Week of April 29, 2019

Tuesday, April 30, 2019
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In the rhythm of the church year, these next six weeks compose the remainder of the Easter Season. As one thing leads to another, Easter leads to Pentecost in our spiritual lives. Resurrection set us up for the immersion and indwelling of the Holy Spirit, so that we would walk on a completely different path as apprentices of Jesus.

John describes us in his Patmos Revelation as a kingdom of priests for God. Now we are called to a vocation of holiness in which we are shaped and formed by the love and intention of the Trinity, in order to learn to know and serve the Author of Life. Can we acknowledge that life goes better if we can lean this in our hearts, souls, and minds?

At each season of life, we are challenged with the experience of re-formation so that we might become the person we were created to be in the first place and thereby learn to listen to His Voice and not waste time on that which does not give life and what truly doesn’t matter. Engaging in our calling is that which gives us the greatest meaning to our lives.  

Week of April 22, 2019

Wednesday, April 24, 2019
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Easter isn’t just a day, it is a season; it is a way of life. These weeks are a bridge between Jesus in the flesh and Jesus in the Spirit. Once again, the disciples of Jesus lived in the mystery of the not yet. They had no idea what they were waiting for, all they knew was that Jesus told them to wait. The Counselor who would be with them would be coming soon. How are you with waiting? It seems like in the realm of the Almighty, waiting is always a part of the process. Isn’t our frustration about the fact that our focus is on the destination and God’s focus is on the journey? It seems like waiting has always been a part of the divine method. It seems like the absence of activity is a normal part of how God facilitates trust in us. It reminds me of an old song from my childhood, “trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” What does it take for us to learn trust? I don’t think trust can be built without the absence of activity. It seems to me that one of the ways of God that Moses learned (Ps. 103:7) was that there would be periods for simple obedience today with what had already been shown. Nothing new, no new instructions, just sheer dailiness. As we wait in this Easter Season, how about we join the disciples in waiting expectantly. 

Week of April 15, 2019

Wednesday, April 17, 2019
 Blog for Week of April 15th

 

In writing this blog this week I am especially conscious of the fact that we live in two kingdoms as apprentices of Jesus. The visible one this week is blind to what is going on in the invisible kingdom this week. But, in the End that which is invisible to earth’s eyes will dramatically reveal itself in power, pure holiness and righteousness. In the historical events of this week that are out of sight of most, there is a story being retold. As followers of the King of Kings, we remember the King’s journey to the Day the Revolution began. The Friday we call Good was the day the power of sin was broken for those who would believe and follow the Crucified One. It is on that Day that we were invited into the redemptive plan of Almighty God, that through our obedience we might become the servants of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. The final victory occurred in the resurrection of the Holy One from death. He then gave us the privilege and assignment to be the hands and feet of the Resurrected Christ, that the world might know the Truth and in now knowing the Truth be set Free. Therefore, I urge you to walk closely and deliberately through each day from John 12-20. Read it over and over and read it slowly. Allow yourself to enter the story as a participant.

Week of April 8, 2019

Tuesday, April 09, 2019
 Blog for Week of April 8th

 

In so much of scripture we are faced with what appear as exhortations or expectations that simply seem impossible (i.e. “be thankful in all circumstances”). There is two realities that I think we often miss, one quite visible and one quite invisible. The visible is to pay careful attention to the grammar of scripture (i.e. “in” is not “for”). The invisible is the fact that as disciples of Jesus our vocation is to live a Christ-referenced life, not a self-referenced life.

The power of obedience is the “in Christ” life, lived in the power of the Holy Spirit. Life in the Spirit requires a surrender to the love and will of God. Much of life includes living both in the body (our human being) and in the Spirit, which elevates our lives into eternity’s realm. We experience both the potential and the limitations of living in our humanity, but we also house life in the Spirit, which calls us beyond defining life in earth’s terms.

We often pray, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” – now. That is a call to all of us who follow Him. I pray that we each embrace the Spirit’s call to live by his power and grace so that we can live in such a way that the Christ-referenced life becomes our source of identity.

Week of Apill 1, 2019

Tuesday, April 02, 2019
 Blog for Week of April 1st

 

What we do with familiar truth is a case of mistaken identity. When Jesus tells the truth by painting a picture through parables, we err when we settle for the gist of the story. There is a protective coating that is cast across his stories, but his stories reveal so much more than simple print on a page. The protective coating is so that we can learn without the direct sense of command.

We tend to take Jesus’ statements as “suggestions” rather than law like the Old Testament people took the Law of Moses. In that law there were some 620 statements that the children of Abraham were accountable to keep. The breaking of anyone of those statements required a sacrifice and repentance that could not be casually entered into.

All of that to say, the parable of the lost son in Luke 15 speaks and speaks and speaks even more deeply as to our intrinsic interior obstacles that keep us far from God. Like the sons in the story we can “live under the same roof” with God, our Father and know so little of Him and His ways with us. In the descriptive term of Dallas Willard, I appeal to us to develop and “faith of sufficiency” in who our Father is. The sufficiency that the sons had missed

Week of March 25, 2019

Wednesday, March 27, 2019
 Blog for Week of March 25th

 

Tragic events often confuse and confound us, because we have the instinct that, that isn’t the ways that “things ought to be.” We constantly look for a linear cause and effect, but we are usually wrong because our thinking is faulty. Yes, in daily life there are a lot of cause and effect circumstances, but when it comes to our understanding of good and evil, life doesn’t move in quite as predictable way.

We tend to forget the real and active presence of the evil one and his minions simply because we know that God is the Supreme Authority in the universe. In fact, there will be a time when evil will be done away with forever… but we are not there yet. The judgment of God is stayed until the very end because of his mercy in wanting “all to come to faith and trust in Jesus.”

Jesus tends to respond to our dismay over “tragedies”, by either challenging us to repent of our own unrighteous ways and then step into the “gaps” with mercy, compassion, and care. I’m convinced that “stuff” happens to get us engaged as the “hands and feet of Jesus.” This week, what is the Spirit asking you to do for the sake of others?

Week of March 18, 2019

Monday, March 18, 2019
 Blog for Week of March 18th

 

One of the side stories of the Lenten Season is not as dramatic as the major events of The Upper Room, Good Friday and Easter morning is the fact that the kingdom of heaven cannot be thwarted. In the conversation of Jesus in Luke 13, Jesus makes the point that he is going to continue to do what he does and Herod Antipas nor any other “authority” can keep him from it.

We often shrink back from what God has put in our hands to do for fear of the response of those around us or in authority over us. Jesus called Herod a fox. What then are the foxes in your life that want to steal the joy and blessing and life that comes from fulfilling your kingdom of God destiny?

We can see the dark clouds forming around us, but this is not the time to seek shelter. The truth of God is our hope, our strength and our assignment. I perceive that we have lost our power. We have given it up to fear. One of the great Lenten themes for us is servanthood born out of love. The Apostle John made a strong statement about that for us when he said, “Perfect love casts out all fear!” It is the season for us to claim our identity of love.

Week of March 11, 2019

Tuesday, March 12, 2019
 Blog for Week of March 11th

 

The cross was always a part if not the major part of Jesus’ story, so it is important that we begin the season with Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness to set the tone for Jesus’ life and ministry among us. Following the “mountaintop” of his baptism and filling of the Holy Spirit, Jesus is led into the desert where the battle begins. Henri Nouwen called Abba Antony’s desert, “the furnace of transformation.”

Jesus’ victory over temptation is our path to victory over temptation. The fullness of the Spirit and the power and authority of the Word were Jesus’ tools to resist. We battle with the narratives of our lives and we need the same tools; the fullness of the Spirit and the Word of God. It is in this Lenten Season that our own battle is brought into stark relief.

If you are intent with the Jesus Way, it is easy to recognize that the establishment of the kingdom of heaven on earth as the work that is placed before us. The difference between our work and Jesus’ work is that because of the resurrection the bonds of sin have been broken. Now our challenge is to walk with Him with the power that He provided for us to do the work He has called us to, servants of the restoration of the brokenness of the world.

Week of March 4, 2019

Monday, March 04, 2019
 Blog for Week of March 4th

 

Life’s rhythms are energizing in the variety and the dynamic that they create. The Church has rhythms that do the same thing. In order to tell the Gospel story in any experiential sense, the rhythms and season that have been created over time have become almost a necessity. We would be bounded by society and its commercialism at Christmas if we didn’t have the Advent Season to draw our attention away from Wall Street.

This week we begin another season and maybe the most important in the Church’s year – Lent. In preparation for Resurrection Sunday, we enter this season that is meant to cause us to reflect, to fast, and to open ourselves to the needs around us. In a way, this is the common life of the serious apprentice of Jesus. So, if nothing else, it behooves us to walk through the 40 days slowly, paying attention to the message of gratitude that can lead us deeply toward the Cross of Christ and the Resurrection of the Holy One.

Beginning on Wednesday this week, we are being beckoned to join other pilgrims on the journey that brought about our transformation. As noted theologian, N.T. Wright entitled his book on the crucifixion, The Day the Revolution Began this is a season to refresh our sense of the revolution that brought the invisible world into the visible. 

Week of February 25, 2019

Wednesday, February 27, 2019
 

Blog for Week of February 25th

 

By definition, self-control is showing restraint in regard to impulses, emotions, and desires. If ever there was a time that this way of the Holy Spirit would set people apart from one another, this would be that kind of time. We certainly live in an impulse, emotion, and desire driven time. The incidences of tragedy are a simple reflection that there is no certainty of self-control.

It is a distinctive among genuine apprentices of Jesus that we would live the way of the Holy Spirit as the Apostle taught the Galatian Church two millennia ago. I wonder if this revelation took place directly from God when Paul was ensconced in the Arabian desert for those three years, Gal. 1:17. Whatever the case, self-control that is the fruit of the Spirit’s work in us makes a great deal of difference in how we then live.

The wisdom of the Scriptures is replete with the urge to slow down and even stop before you speak. What if during this Lenten Season we are about to enter into, we were to make self-control the action we were to give ourselves to in respect for Christ. It is natural for personal reflection and prayer to be a part of the Season. How about if we were to pay special attention to our tongues

Week of February 18, 2019

Tuesday, February 19, 2019
 Blog for Week of February 18th

 

The character of the kingdom of God is rather tasteless in our loud, compulsive, self-centered world. But it makes up the precious stones that adorn the “city set on a hill.” If we give ourselves to our apprenticeship in Jesus’ way, truth and life, we will find a realm that has the power of a glacier to change and transform. Faithfulness is one of those characteristics.

Faithfulness is always tied at the hip with love in the scriptures, making faithfulness connected to the Person of God. Faithfulness is not simply human determination, but rather is a response to the love of God. We cannot see the substance of faithfulness apart from spiritual responsiveness. Faithfulness is always relational just as all other fruits of the Spirit.

As we learn faithfulness to God, it will always lead us to be faithful to others. Our vocational holiness raises faithfulness out of the storage room to shine the floors of grace and mercy. Our world is want of true faithfulness that connects the parts of God’s redemptive, restorative, reconciling purposes. The truth is we need some empty space to consider God’s call to faithfulness in the ordinary life of kingdom of heaven living

Week of February 11, 2019

Wednesday, February 13, 2019
 Blog for Week of February 11th

 

Philosopher, Dallas Willard was consistently famous for asking the question, “What makes a person a good person?” Actually, that is the core purpose of philosophy, to discern what makes a person good. The way around that discipline in our contemporary society is to skirt the issue by declaring “everyone is good” and capable of doing good things. Therefore, the substance of the discussion is made moot.

However, goodness that is a moral, ethical, holy reality demands a more serious consideration. Not only did Jesus die to make men free (Gal. 5:1), but he died to make men holy, that is, godly or like God in character. No wonder that goodness is fruit that is produced by the “vine” in us. It is God who is at work in us to accomplish his good.

I wonder if the good that humanity commonly does is because we were made in God’s image (Gen. 1:26)? But, the goodness that comes directly from God is a goodness that is redemptive, restorative, and reconciling. That goodness always has as its purpose to bring creation back into relationship with the Creator, Redeemer and Friend. There is a goodness that is higher than simple good. 

Week of February 4, 2019

Wednesday, February 06, 2019
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Everyone likes kindness offered to them, but few want to do the work to become kind people in themselves. Mother Teresa lays it on the line when she said, “Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting.” The subtle message in her statement is that kindness is a matter of our “being.”

What is it that you need to let go of that keeps you locked into a self-referenced way of looking at life. If everything must run through our self-centered lens, then we are miserable of all people. It is only when we are free from our self-addiction that we have a chance to become the person God created us to be.

Kindness operates from what Paul preceded his exhortation to become people who love, are full of joy (not happiness for that is always temporary), rooted in peace – the peace only Christ can bring, and patience or forbearance with people and circumstances. With that foundation, kindness has a chance.

Week of January 28, 2019

Monday, January 28, 2019
 Blog for Week of January 28th

 

Is it obvious to everyone that we live in a particularly impatient world!? If we are willing to choose the methods of God’s kingdom in heaven on earth as we often pray, the contrast in our world is stark. It reminds me of Robert Mulholland’s discussion in Deeper Journey of the “self-referenced life vs. the Christ-referenced life.” We will hardly ever develop the characteristic of patience without a different point of reference in living life.

The patience of job was patience built on his deep awareness of who God is. His circumstance did not change his view. If we live with a view of life that runs through the view that we are indeed the center of the universe, we will always struggle with patience. So much of life hinges on our knowledge of God.

Patience is the brother of peace. It is when we have resolved our significance and security in the environment of God’s love that patience makes perfect sense. It is out of a peaceful heart that we are able to wait on God. Patience with one another and patience with things find their strength in the work of the Holy Spirit in us, not just the presence, but the transformational work.

Week of January 21, 2019

Wednesday, January 23, 2019
 Blog for Week of January 21st

 

Peace is an illusive thing for most because it is viewed from an event-oriented perspective. Peace as the scriptures refer to it is a characteristic of life versus a commentary on the circumstances in which we live. Yes, we would like to live in a “peaceful society” that eschews violence of any kind, but if sin exists in the heart of humans that will hardly be the case.

Peace in one’s heart is a priority of God. The birth, life, and death of Jesus was to accomplish peace between we humans and our Creator, Sustainer, and Lord. There is a spiritual peace that was provided for all who would believe through the events of Holy Week. So, we can be at peace with God, but that doesn’t tell the whole story of peace.

One of the values of God’s kingdom is that we can become peacemakers. In fact, Jesus said that is how we become the sons and daughters of God…,” blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God.” Becoming people of peace is an inside/out transaction. Peace requires that we keep our focus on the Prince of Peace and learn to walk in his ways. It requires that we let go of much of our ego-driven ways and learn to lean on His presence.

Week of January 14, 2019

Wednesday, January 09, 2019
 Blog for Week of January 14th

 

Sometimes the scriptures call us to things that make no sense! “Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds….” How is that possible?! Maybe it is because we misunderstand joy. Maybe we make it an equivalent to happiness or pleasure. But, I reckon that joy is different that joy. Oswald Chambers gives us a clue to our misunderstanding when he says, “Happiness depends on what happens; joy does not.”

Joy comes through the activity of the Holy Spirit in us that keeps us aware that what happens is never the end of the story. To become a joy-filled person is not a matter of personality, but of awareness of the “whole story,” both present and future. Joy comes as we learn to know God for who he is and that whatever our circumstances, they cannot change God. God lives not in gloom, but in delight.

Joy does not mean that we are rescued from hardship, but we have a soul-peace that see Reality from God’s perspective. Joy removes the scaffolds that we use to prop ourselves up and lasers life on the good, loving, certain heart of God. Joy is meant to become the shape of our souls; a peace that smiles with assurance rooted and grounded in the love of God.

Week of December 24, 2018

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

 Blog for Week of December 24th

 

              What we most miss about Advent is the rhythm identified by the four themes for the four weeks.  I suppose it is because of the colorless way that we tend to think about spiritual truth.  But, I have been particularly conscious of the way God reveals himself through his creation this week.  Our theologians have a term for that called, general revelation.  This means that God reveals himself in ways other than the scriptures and Jesus.

              This week the sunrises and sunsets here in Colorado have stopped me in my tracks.  The beauty and glory of God through that which he has made has bowed my heart before him.  As real as the lessons of nature are the themes of Advent: hope, peace, joy and love.  This week raises our sensibilities of God’s immense love that showed itself in the humility of the manger.

              Lest we scrub the manger with a spiritual disinfectant, may we be shocked once and for all that the God of the universe, creator of heaven and earth allow himself to take on the fragility of a baby – who no doubt cried!  If you choose to embrace the day and resist distraction, let the love of God bend your knees to the ground

Weekof December 17, 2018

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Blog for Week of December 17th

 

              “I will bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.”  It is an easily recognizable sentence in this Advent Season and we have a Christmas carol to match the impetus to celebrate with joy.  There is joy that is attached to celebration and I suspect there was a sense of that for the shepherds on that cold hillside in Judea.

              We don’t know what it is like to live in anticipation of the Messiah like these characters in the Nativity story knew, so what is our joy in the story?  I suppose for most of us we look forward to the re-enactment of the Nativity for the sake of the children that are around us and their performances of their “part in the play” or the “cantata.”

              But, just maybe we can enter in again in the “joy” of the angels when we step back into the mystery of salvation.  I tend to think that gratitude is a major part of joy.  I suspect that given the life the shepherds led that the announcement of the coming of the Messiah was filled with the hope of change – that would be an experience of joy.  I wonder if our joy is like theirs in that the anticipation of change is the reason for joy.

Week of December 10, 2018

Monday, December 10, 2018
 Blog for Week of December 10th

 

Peace, the shalom of God! It is a hard message to comprehend in a world full of chaos and conflict. Yet, that is one of the beauties of the Advent Season. It is a time to stop and re-engage the message that Jesus was to bring to us as the Prince of Peace. Peace begins with “peace with God.” No matter what the circumstances, peace with God is the foundation of all other peace. As humankind attempts to accomplish peace in the world apart from God, the disastrous outcome seems to only increase the conflict rather than resolve it. I’m reminded of a statement Dallas Willard made when he said, “Human problems cannot be solved by human means.” This week our scripture of peace is the prophecy of John the Baptist when it was said of him, “He went about preaching the baptism of repentance that you might be forgiven from your sins.” Isaiah went on to say that his message was, “Prepare the Way of the Lord.” In the Spirit of the Prince of Peace then, what do you need to do to, “Prepare the Way of the Lord?”

Week of December 3, 2018

Tuesday, December 04, 2018
 Blog for Week of December 3rd

 

“Hope springs eternal” or so we know the expression to be, but what is that beyond wanting a certain outcome to take place. It is okay for spring training and a baseball team; but is this something we can actually live on. Is there anything historical or philosophical or any other substance such wishful thinking? Hope in this fashion -the most common fashion – is about one’s comfort and convenience.

As the Season of Advent begins, we speak of hope, but quite different than simply the human heart’s hope that things will “get better.” As followers of Jesus our hope is a living hope and is rooted in a real Person, Jesus the Christ. Our hope is in you, Lord! Hope that finds its meaning in the life and teaching of Jesus of Nazareth.

The way, truth, and life of Jesus has all the substance that we could ever desire. The is a solidarity with multitudes in history who have given themselves to walk with Him and pass down to us a living faith that is rooted in Christ who is our hope. The point of our earthly life is Jesus. Paul said it best, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain!”

Week of November 19, 2018

Wednesday, November 28, 2018
 

Blog for Week of November 19th

 

One wonders what was in Abraham Lincoln’s thinking when he set aside the fourth Thursday of November of each year as a national day of Thanksgiving. Given the day in which he lived I’m certain that he assumed that the Judeo/Christian image of God was in each American’s mind. My how things have changed. It is not unlike prayer today.

In the painful or fearful experiences of life most people are keen on the idea of prayer, but like the giving of thanks, who do we offer prayer to? I think in the extremes of life goodness and hardship are the moments when we just might have a sense that life is bigger than us. Wisdom is when we can live with a constant awareness of our own smallness and God’s largeness.

The other reality that can help us is when we realize that all of the universe that God created is personal, so when we made space to slow down and reflect Thanksgiving is a very personal holiday to enhance gratitude in our lives. I trust you will make space to reflect on gratitude, but not just for a national holiday.

Week of November 12, 2018

Wednesday, November 14, 2018
 Blog for Week of November 12th

 

As early winter sets in and the season of harvest covers the earth it is time as it always is to pause from the pace of life to give thanks to God for his goodness to each of us. No matter what circumstance we find ourselves in and as reluctant to be thankful as is too common, there is always goodness if we have eyes to see and ears to hear. I often wonder when we do give thanks or even if we pray, to whom are we giving thanks and to whom are we praying. Is there any genuine notion of God when I hear the ordinary person in my world thanking or praying? Just this week I had two people ask me to pray for them. Now I wonder why; what were they thinking?

In this season in our culture, I think there is enough cultural support for some sense of God and God’s existence. I think this is a good time to follow up the terser references to God. There is a spirit in our day in which I find people anxious. Maybe that anxiety is grounds to consider alternative approaches to life. Just maybe God has something to offer. In this case ancient truths are not irrelevant.

Week of November 5, 2018

Thursday, November 08, 2018
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Part of the Church has set aside a day to remember those who make up the “great cloud of witnesses” of Hebrews 12. None of us have gotten where we are in our spiritual journeys without the examples or help of others. Some are known to us and some are unknown. Many of us have been “prayed into faith” by someone who carried that mantle unbeknownst to us.

Remembering those, that is taking time to reflect on those who modeled, taught, or served, is always time well-spent. We have personal mentors, and literary mentors, and biblical characters that have all been used by God to move us forward into the Way of Christ (John 14:6).

I would like to encourage you to make space this week to prayerfully make a list of those that you can remember. You might even take time each day to journal about one person and what their contributions have been. I know we are not pen and paper people much anymore, so if you are not, why not type your story on seven pages and then make it the beginning of your own “Jesus Story.” 

Week of October 29, 2018

Thursday, November 08, 2018
 Blog for Week of October 29th

 

The “God-with-us” story that has stretched through the centuries has taken on both seasons and events that we have come to acknowledge if not celebrate. Reformation is one of them which we celebrated yesterday. We know it as a period of reforming the church from directions that had taken place that had added to the story taking away from what had originally given us.

The conflict arose over authority. Was the God-given authority resident in the organization of the Church or was it in the pages of the Scriptures inspired by the very Holy Spirit of God? That is the question! It seems that we might be facing the same struggle today though with different players. Does authority reside in the mind of modern man or does it remain in the revealed Word of God? Put another way do we “shape the Scriptures” or do the Scriptures shape us.

The Reformers did not deny authority as legitimate in our lives. The issue was under what authority are we to live life. The reforming need in the Church remains and in our present day, I suspect the reformation needed today is actually a return to sixteenth century reformation, by returning to the Word of God as the true authority for kingdom of God living.

Week of October 15, 2018

Wednesday, October 17, 2018
 Blog for Week of October 15th

 

We suffer from some of the consequences of the gaps that have formed in our society. There was a time in which in our homes that we were more concerned with “training up good citizens” than we were about producing children who were successes. It has been a subtle change, but one that has only taken a generation to change.

There was a time in which we valued the well-being of the whole above our individual successes. The fact is that any culture faces that dilemma, but we have a “higher” calling called the kingdom of heaven. If we will engage is the ways of Jesus above all other involvements, the fruit will be righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit – for everyone.

This is a hard sell in our hostile world, but it was a “hard sell” in Jesus’ world too. In the end, it is the only way that is truly sane. Jesus came to bring a reality that would save our souls and save our communities, and in the end save the world, but we get to choose. That is the hard part; sacrificing our self-referenced way for the Christ-referenced way. I hope we can embrace the only way that can bring salvation to our innate brokenness.

Week of October 8, 2018

Tuesday, October 09, 2018
 

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It feels like there should be some things that should have been settled like the authority of scripture and the revelation of God in Jesus, but it seems like every generation requires that the issue has to be revisited, studied, and concluded once again. Why is that necessary for the vitality of the Christian faith?

It seems that the reaffirmation of the tenets of the faith is always a part of shaping a new generation of believers. The confidence that is based on truth is necessary for a maturing society. The challenge lies in growing up from adolescent faith to mature adult faith. The nature of society is a factor in how willing people are to receive life and truth on God’s terms.

I suspect that authority that arises outside ourselves is always challenged by the youth of every generation, yet it seems that the self-referenced nature of humanity today lives on the extreme edge of narcissism. It is difficult to engage the modern mind in the pursuit of truth. I suspect that we are so inexperienced in our ability to reason or think through the issues logically, that the truth of God is profoundly foreign. It behooves us to return to the Scriptures and refresh our minds with the truth of God.

Week of September 17, 2018

Wednesday, September 19, 2018
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I’ve been thinking about our theology regarding love for God. Most any Christian, when asked would concur that they indeed “loved God.” But, I have been considering what that means. The scripture is replete with the equation, “if you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Based on that axiom, one would have to conclude that we are “only kidding ourselves.”

The usual retort to such a challenge is that “well, I’m only human.” God is fully aware of our humanity, but he stated the connection multiple times. Is there something that we are missing? I wonder if there is a clue in John’s Gospel when Jesus makes the connecting point being, “our remaining in him.” Maybe we can’t obey his commands without the practices that “flesh out” the remaining in him.

Maybe we can love him without living life in the Spirit. Maybe we are remaining dependent on our own fleshly, self-referenced efforts that really lead in a circle, back to ourselves. Maybe we need to revisit what it means to remain in him on a regular basis. I think remaining in him involves a vision for it, a commitment of intentional action, and the means to keep moving inward into oneness with him.

Week of September 3, 2018

Wednesday, September 05, 2018
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Perspective is part of the role of the scriptures. Is your perspective for life rooted in truth or gleaned perception? May I remind you that we have been given the scriptures to correct our self-referenced notion of things. Our self-referenced life is shaped by both our own distorted nature and the messages in which we are immersed in from the world around us.

As we are faced with the changing of seasons, summer to autumn, I would hope that along with that aspect of creation that you would endeavor to recognize what in your thinking is dead and the life has gone from it and then to be willing to let the scriptures re-form your understanding and way of thinking.

For many, autumn is a favorite time of the year because of the mild weather and beautiful fall colors. This is a great time to take the scriptures into our minds and hearts through memorization and meditation. In this way, autumn can be a season of change moving from death of our distorted thinking and birth of truth and life in its vibrancy.

Week of August 27, 2018

Tuesday, August 28, 2018
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I occurred to me this week that when we contemplate our heavenly destination, most of us consider heaven being a “place in which we can be rescued from the things we find most distasteful”, but I wonder if our view is less than biblical. It seems that Jesus gave us a clue when it was said of him, “… but for the joy that was set before him, he endured the cross…” It seems that joy is the destination.

If you will, it would seem that pure joy is the “pot at the end of the rainbow.” The hidden element seems to be joy. As servants of the Holy One, joy is our message! Every day we have the opportunity to bring the kingdom of God to bear on our circumstances. In the words of C. S. Lewis, “Joy is the serious business of heaven.” I think he has captured the essence of the presence of the Almighty.

It was for our joy that Jesus joined us from heaven when he left the glory that he had with the Father and took on the role of a servant – a servant of joy! If we are able to see the “invisible” Presence, then we can embrace the joy set before us and become servants of joy. 

Week of August 20, 2018

Tuesday, August 21, 2018
 Blog for Week of August 20th

 

This is a great time to remind ourselves of something very insightful, but rather old. “the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” With all the energy that seems to go on in individual’s lives and even society as a whole that is directed toward “happiness” brought about by personal comfort and convenience, we need to remember we are called to something higher.

We are called to joy; a life lived in the “Shadow of the Almighty” and with an eternal restorative focus. Joy is so much deeper than happiness. In the words of A. W. Tozer; happiness is about what happens, joy is not. Our joy has an honest story that began with the crucifixion and resurrection; continued through the ascension and is cap stoned by the Return. Joy is meant to lift us to life beyond the brokenness of our world.

We are called to engage the world as it is as messengers of joy, bringing life to the victims of corruption and injustice. If life is about what happens to us, we have nothing substantial to offer. May your joy be filled by the Presence of the Prince of Peace. 

Week of August 13, 2018

Monday, August 13, 2018
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Our breakneck speed society is bound and determined to break our necks unless we return to God’s word to us: “Remember the Sabbath day and keep it wholly, I mean holy.” We don’t seem to know holy much in today’s world, so maybe wholly is helpful to us. At least we know the synonym to wholly as completely or fully. The point is the Sabbath has both dimension and content and as such God has given us a gift from which we can draw on every week of our lives.

I suggest that one seventh of our day and one seventh of our week be devoted to activities of, in the words of Dan Allender, sensual glory, communal feast, holy time, and playing with God. We were made for sabbath rest as surely as we were given work to do. I wonder if we were more consistent with sabbath practices, if we would be able to move beyond our addiction to entertainment.

I encourage you to make true Sabbath a part of your life rhythm. Try it for the next 4 ½ months as an experiment and see if your life is not more peaceful and joyful. 

Week of July 30, 2018

Monday, July 30, 2018

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One of the psalms that we often sing goes a little like this, “Create in me a clean heart in me O Lord, renew a right spirit within me…” It seems that the psalmist knows that the heart is the core of who we are. Just how then, is the heart ordered? It would seem that it can easily be disordered, so re-ordering it is an on-going transaction.

The great American theologian, Jonathan Edwards talked profoundly about our “religious affections” and in fact was talking about our heart’s deepest desires. It would seem to me that we have a day before us in which the hearts are rather tepid and do not carry the depth that God created us for.

The wise Solomon once wrote, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Based on the truth of that statement, it seems like most of the problems in our day are heart problems. I guess my encouragement today to quote Dallas Willard, “Our most important task today is the care of our hearts.” It seems more space and effort might be given to the transforming work of the Spirit in our heart’s desires.  

Week of July 23, 2018

Wednesday, July 25, 2018
 

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Maturity and maturing are not terms that we spend much time with in our day and age as they are not exciting enough to garner our attention and yet they are the essence of beauty in the eyes of God. You see, maturity and maturing is the way of beauty in the hands of God. I wonder if the fact that maturing takes time and is a slow process; it is assumed to be meaningless. In our discard-oriented society I think things get “thrown away” far too soon. Especially, in the dynamic of living organisms, it takes time to reach full potential.

I was driving down the street just the other day and I was impressed with the beauty and cooling benefit that mature trees provide. It takes time to grow a tree into the image God created it to fulfill. Driving along a canopied street shaded by huge overarching trees provides a refreshing natural experience.

So, I ask you are you engaged intentionally with maturing? Do you ever make space to take a step back to notice what God is forming in you? When our heart’s desire becomes God’s heart’s desire, we take on a vibrancy that is like none other. Whatever the heart’s desire is it constitutes the reservoir of our lives from which we bless the world. I would encourage you to make regular space for the deepening and enriching of your heart with God.

Week of July 16, 2018

Thursday, July 19, 2018
 

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There is an old term that is as dynamic as it was in the 18th century. Jonathan Edwards and John Wesley were famous for describing what God has always been after in us with the term, religious affections. It’s meaning is about as far from typical religion as it could be. In a nutshell, they were referring to the “hearts desires.” They understood correct theological thinking wasn’t the path to the keenest of things that God has desired for us. To say it simply, he has always wanted our hearts. He found it in King David before he ever became king.

The truth is we have given up far too easily and settled for a spirituality that is far short of what Jesus died to accomplish. The Sermon on the Mount exposed heart’s desires that were the worst reflection of us as his created ones. For instance, he wants the adulterous heart changed so that it wants nothing to do with lust of the flesh, but honestly seeks the love of neighbor.

When usually considered, the response is that, that is impossible. But, like Jesus said to the disciples when faced with another impossible situation – with God all things are possible. It becomes a matter of surrender of one’s will to the love of God above all else. Above all else is above all else. That is the question, “Am I willing to seek the kingdom of God above all else?” That remains the standard.

Week of July 9, 2018

Wednesday, July 11, 2018
 

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Rootedness is an interesting phenomenon. In what soil do we find our roots? It seems that we live in time when rootedness is viewed as rigidity and a psycho-spiritual disease. Yet, isn’t it true as followers of Jesus that we are continually encouraged to root ourselves in Him? The prevalent attitude is that everything is negotiable, except what the “other” person is not willing to negotiate.

If we are called by God to be “salt and light”, then we are meant to radiate that which is common to no other Source. In fact, we are as ecclesia, the called-out ones, called to speak with a different voice than that which is predominant. We must however, be those whose voice is rooted in the Way of Jesus and we must learn to speak from what God has already spoken to us.

One of the challenges that we face is that we have been shaped by values and ethics that we often not directly or indirectly biblical. I think it behooves us to reconsider our reasoning to ascertain our biases and be sure that they are directly consistent with the pages through which the Holy One has already spoken to us. There is a higher standard for those who are called by His Name.

Week of July 2, 2018

Tuesday, July 03, 2018
 

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If we pay close attention to Jesus, one of his great mysteries was his ability to adjust. I think many of his excellencies were subtle to the naked eye. I am founding that the closer we pay attention to him the more we experience true amazement, not just in the broad strokes of living, but in the fine details in each of his circumstances.

When thinking about the nuances of our ordinary lives, are there not distinct opportunities in every encounter in our days? We are always presented with the need for the many shades of grace. There isn’t a person that we meet that doesn’t need a fresh touch of the love of God. In the quiet moments of most people’s life, is there not an aridness that describes the human experience?!

The metaphor I am thinking about is the wind of the Spirit. Much like what Jesus was talking to Nicodemus about that one night long ago. As we tend the tiller of our boat, slight adjustments are required to catch the full breeze with the sails of our faith. I’m thinking if we can learn the “adjusting” ways of Jesus, the movements of the Spirit can be fully experienced. Are you, am I so intent on the movements of Christ that we can sense when his power has been loosed into the “other?”

Week of June 25, 2018

Monday, June 25, 2018
 

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Continuing to learn to love is the measure of our lives. Most people think your simply love or you don’t as though it were a mystery of the universe. However, the love that Jesus calls his followers to has a great deal of substance and one must learn it to make it a way of life. To learn Jesus’ love is to learn patience, forbearance and forgiveness. Gordon Smith takes us through this journey in his book, Called to Be Saints.

Once again, we are faced with a world that is rampant with anger in desperate need of peace that is the fruit of love. In our little village we grieved another killing at the hands of anger and rage. It seems to me that we are constantly accosted by the lack of love for our fellow humans, yet so often the Source of our health and holiness is rejected as somehow impractical or irrelevant. What if we were to lead the way in the ordinary encounters of life, where the world could find peace and a love that respects the dignity of every person? What if we were to lead the way in love as much as we have expected that we were leading the way with truth? What if we were known for patience, forbearance and forgiveness? Could Jesus Way be experienced as revolutionary and it was when he walked the planet in flesh and blood? He set the standard, could we rise up and join him?

Week of June 11, 2018

Tuesday, June 12, 2018
 

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Learning to love as Jesus taught us to love is once again like entering the wardrobe and coming out in Narnia. We think we have a handle on it and find out that we know very little of what loving like Jesus called us to involves. As with everything with God, there is so much more to it.

It begins with “radical hospitality” in the words of Gordon Smith. Love is simply this: “to welcome the other as you would Jesus.” Usually we think of hospitality as serving food or drink to someone who has entered your home, but I think more accurately is the welcome you receive at the door – just as you would if Jesus came.

Hospitality requires that we get over ourselves and look out for the needs of the other (Phil. 2:3-4). That is the hard part; getting over ourselves. One of the ways we can best do that is to really listen to the other person without thinking about what we want to say in response. In this hospitality is learning to be fully present to the other person. It seems simple, but it is oh so difficult to learn that the encounter is about them, not you

Week of June 4, 2018

Monday, June 04, 2018
 

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The way of Jesus takes the disciple into unique territory. The path is beyond what is natural to human beings: love for family, romantic love, love for country, car, golf clubs or house. The path Jesus takes us on is love for the enemy, the different or irregular and for those who are not yet born.

It seemed simple when Jesus said it, “Love one another as I have loved you.” But, the revolutionary nature of that simple command was to radically change the individual and the society. It was to stand out within the human community as the most powerful social experiment yet under taken.

No one has fully come to grips with the breadth of such a charge. At best is has been a label devoid of reality. At worst, it has been treated as archaic and the mantra of the “loser.” In a world in which humankind tries to reason itself into inaction, Jesus’ refrain remains haunting to the true believer. As disciples, it is meant to be our brand, our identifying mark

Week of May 28, 2018

Wednesday, May 30, 2018
 

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What fills your mind and heart these days; finding “happiness”, being successful according to Wall Street, being comfortable? It is easy to be completely wooed by the kingdom of self. It will guarantee that we will fit in to the world around us that is driven by the same mantra.

But then, we can instead embrace our heritage, “thy kingdom come, they will be done.” This is a way that is radically different in almost every way. Living by the passion of my will not only focuses on another way, but also another destination than what God saved me for. Let’s get this straight, we were not redeemed by Christ for ourselves, but for his eternal purposes.

When we join the world, its ways and its values, we give up our birthright and the calling that was sacrificed greatly to accomplish. Our identity is that we are the ecclesia, the called out ones that have been sent back into the world to be its salt and light.

Week of May 14, 2018

Tuesday, May 15, 2018
 

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Spring is a joy to embrace, but it is also a time to prepare for the growing season called summer. We work at preparing our yard and “beds” for the growth that we anticipate. In some ways we can prune some plants still for growth, while we fertilize and soften the soil so that what has been planted or what has sprouted can maximize its growth. This is an ideal season for immersing ourselves in God’s way, so that our hearts are prepared to receive the work he is purposing to do in us. This is a great time to commit to memorizing scriptures, increasing our devotion to prayer, and immersing ourselves in one of the Gospels so that we can live and breathe in the atmosphere of Jesus.

The challenge before us is not a natural challenge. What God has for us requires that we listen for a different drumbeat, a different cadence. God’s way is never the “common” way. It is strictly uncommon. So let me encourage you to make this season a new season cultivating what God has set before us.

Week of May 7, 2018

Tuesday, May 08, 2018
 

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The signs of spring provide a beautiful commentary on change. The change in the season moving from winter to summer is the most colorful of the year. It tells us that the harsh conditions of winter are being left behind and growth is being reawakened.

What is it that needs to be reawakened in us? We can get lost in the dailyness of our lives and miss the fresh calling of change and growth. If we keep our heads down and not up, the beauty of opportunity escapes us.

I don’t think we were created to make every day the same. There are seasons in the year and there are stages in life. What is it that you need in this spring season and this stage of your life? All is meant to bring us to a greater maturity; a deeper love, a greater faith, and a more solid hope. Ask the Lord to show you and he will!

Week of April 30, 2018

Wednesday, May 02, 2018
 

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Spring at home is a time to aerate and fertilize the yard; aerate to improve the absorption of the spring rains and fertilize to poison the weeds and stimulate the growth of the weeds. It is common in our homes to clean and organize from the season just past. We know that will the change of seasons, certain activities are needed to the sake of the rhythm of a healthy life. It is hard for us to keep in mind the invisible world of Spirit, more real than all other expressions of life, yet less tangible. Therefore, may I suggest that we give thought to the needs of our “inner man” from which all other things gather their Source. Taking care of our “being” is our first work as all “doing” flows from the reservoir of Spirit. The question for us, “Can we give as much attention to the Temple of the Holy Spirit – our souls, as we do the earth property that we possess? Think about it; what needs to be extinguished or discarded to make space for new growth. What spiritual aeration and fertilizing needs to take place for the best growth in the season ahead? I have three practices that have always helped: scripture memory, devotion to prayer and immersion in the Gospels to learn Jesus’ Way.

Week of April 23, 2018

Wednesday, April 25, 2018
 

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Spring is a great season of beginnings to consider something to be added to make a more fruitful existence. May I suggest that this would be a great time to renew our commitment to being people of truthfulness. It’s as though our culture has lost its moorings regarding truthfulness. It seems that we have to become capable researchers to find the truth about something.

As followers of Jesus we have the opportunity to once again set things right in the world as it pertains to us. We have been given the clarion call to be people of Truth (Zechariah 8:16). It is the only way for a society to thrive, let alone survive. We have been told that truth will set us free (Jn. 8:32). And yet, the pillars upon which that is printed on the architecture of modern day, the university is hardly living up to the slogan.

We can complain about society or “others”, but we have a place of impact if we will but be people of truth individually, 2 Pet. 2:2!

Week of April 16, 2018

Monday, April 16, 2018
 

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Spring is a season for awakening! There is something within the natural world that awakens plant and animal; those that have been asleep. God ordains his creation to be that way. We daughters and sons of the Most High – for us it is a different story.

We get to choose! Life and breath is presented to us, but we have to choose to participate. We choose to wake up to the call of the Spirt or we don’t. The dailyness of life can woo us to slumber with the busyness of life when we think we are wide awake.

It is only when we make empty space that we can hear the whisper of God that awakens us to the sound of His Voice. The fact is that when our “beliefs” do not flesh themselves out in our own flesh and blood, we remain in a self-deceptive hibernation doing all kinds of “good” things that we have not been called to do. The metrics of our common culture is that significance is measured by busyness. What a sinister deception! Responding to the Voice rather than our “best thinking” is the difference between divine relationship and religion.

Week of April, 9 2018

Monday, April 09, 2018
                                                                                           Blog for Week of April 9th
Do you have any sense of pushing on in your faith? It seems to me that the daily way in which we live, we are inextricably drawn to status quo. It’s as though we scramble to find control which we have come to confuse with stability. Stability is a statement to describe the inner life, not one’s circumstances. Control is an external function. As a consequence, control feels like it is strength when it is in fact most vulnerable and rigid. Stability is a soulish function. If we are to “push on” in our faith, it is in reality pushing up that leads downward as in deepening one’s faith. To soar upward, is to descend downward. Seems like a contradiction, doesn’t it? The main thing is to shove off the bank so to speak and God will determine the direction and flow. We are left with these words of Jesus, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”