Getting Real About Life, about Love, and about God

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Resolutions

It is hard to believe but another year is about to come to an end.
Tomorrow it will be 2009.

This means, for many of us, it is time to set some goals, dream some dreams, and look ahead. The new year offers us an opportunity to make things new. It offers us a chance to set a new course for a new year. Many people will set New Years Resolutions and resolve to do things different in the year ahead. Some of the resolutions will be lofty goals. Some will be smaller. Some might resolve to eat less or exercise more. Others may resolve to read the bible more, spend more time in prayer, or to get involved in a small group. While still others may resolve to get out of debt, earn more money, or find a fulfilling career.

The list of resolutions is as long and as many as their are people.

I have learned one thing about myself from my past resolutions. What I have learned is that "I" can't keep them. By January 15th "I" usually have failed at keeping my resolutions. Even the ones that are good and "I" want to keep, "I" somehow fall short of. "I" am just no good at making the changes necessary to keep the resolutions that "I" have made.

I discovered that it is an "I" problem. I can't really change myself, only God can change us. We need to make God a part of our resolution making and keeping. This year I have been praying about what God would want to make new in me in 2009. I have been seeking God's direction for my life in the year ahead and sought to see his plan and desire. I am resolving to give 2009 to God. I am resolving to have God bring about the real change that is needed in my life. I am resolving to live a life of fun and of joy in relationship with God. I am resolving to allow God to grow me in my capacity to love. I am praying for a passion to know Jesus and a compassion for all of God's people.

As you think about the year ahead and your resolutions just remember that God's word tells us that apart from Jesus we can do nothing. But in Christ, all things are possible. Make God apart of your resolution making and keeping. Have a fun and safe New Year's Eve.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Smiling Jesus

I don't know why, but it seems that God is talking to me a lot about how a real relationship with God is meant to be fun.

My first thought is that I must not be having enough fun or I am taking myself to seriously. There is probably some truth to that and I am going to work on it. But, it seems to be a theme as I think about the coming year and what God desires for all us. Following Jesus can and should be fun. Being apart of a community of people who take the teaching of Jesus seriously and live out real lives in a real relationship with God should be fun.

Here is another picture of Jesus that I really like it is called "Smiling Jesus" and it shows Jesus with a wide grin from ear to ear, happy, joyful, having fun with life.

Please don't confuse what I am saying, I am not saying that as Christians we need to "act happy" or "put on a smile" like Jesus in the picture. This is not what I am saying. I am saying that following Jesus can and should be fun. I am talking about real fun and real joy that expresses itself in our lives because we are living in relationship with God and one another.

We don't need to feel guilty if we are having fun. God wants us to enjoy life.
Just because it is fun does not make it unchristian or not appropriate for the church. Fun and church can go hand in hand. God want us to have fun together.

Living lives of grace, compassion, mercy, and love for one another will produce fruit. It will bring a smile to our faces that we can not hold back. It will bring tears, but it will also bring joy, laughter and fun. Have fun following Jesus.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Monday, December 29, 2008

Laughing Jesus

Over the past couple of days (while taking a rest from blogging) I have been reflecting on fun. I have been having a lot of fun with family and friends over Christmas and it has caused me to think about how following Jesus is meant to be fun. I am going to write that again, in bold letters, so that we don't miss it.

Following Jesus is meant to be fun.

Jesus is not a fun hater. He didn't come as a wet towel to damp out fun. Jesus wants us to have fun and following Jesus should be full of fun. Too often, we Christians make following Jesus seem like a bummer, a downer, a list of don't dos, and a "funless" (I may have made this word up) way of life.

I have to admit that there was a time in my ministry that a good friend came to me and told me "I had lost my funny." Sadly, she was right. I had started taking myself too seriously. I had started focusing on "ministry" more than following Jesus. I don't like to say it, but she was right, I had lost sight of the joy and fun of following Jesus. This is not the way God intends our life in Christ to be.

Following Jesus is fun, it is an adventure, and it is full of excitement. Jesus wants to be a vital and important part of our whole lives. This includes fun, recreation (re-creation), laughter and joy. Jesus is the author and creator of this stuff. We can and should have fun following Jesus. Church can and should be fun. As followers of Jesus we need to live lives that reflect to others the Jesus that we follow.

The picture that I posted with this blog is one of my favorite pictures of Jesus. It is called laughing Jesus. I love this picture because it illustrates Jesus having fun and laughing exuberantly. I want my life to express Jesus in this way. A life that reflects the fun and exuberant laughter of following Jesus.

Love today. Have fun today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Friday, December 26, 2008

Thank God it's Friday!!!

Today, I want to thank God for fun. I thank God for the ability to laugh, play, and to just have fun.

Have you had any fun lately?
When was the last time that you just laughed uncontrollably?

I think God wants and desires us to have fun. Living in relationship with God is meant to be fun. I thank God today for the moments that I get to just have fun. Fun with my family playing games. Fun with others as we laugh and tell jokes. Fun with friends as we share our lives together.

Have some fun today and give God thanks for it.
Laugh until you cry. Play a kids game. Play with kids. Do something that you just love doing. Have fun with family and friends. Be silly. Tell a joke. Smile. Have fun and thank God for it.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Thursday, December 25, 2008

My 50th Post!!! Happy Birthday Jesus!!!

Merry Christmas to all. I can't believe that I have now made post number five-o! To top it off it just so happens to be the birthday of Jesus. Isn't God awesome!

Happy Birthday Jesus. Last night we had wonderful Christmas Eve service as we all came to kneel at the manger and worship Jesus. Communion at the manger is always an experience for me. What a meaningful way to celebrate.

Today our challenge is to look for signs that Christ has come. Look for Jesus. Look for the signs that God is with us. Look past the hurry from house to house, and place to place, that some of us will be doing and see that Jesus is present with us. Look beyond the gifts under the tree and see the gift of God's presence. See God in our families. See God in our gatherings. See God in the quite moments and in the moments filled with noise. See God today. Celebrate Jesus. Live, laugh and love for today we claim and celebrate the promise that Jesus is alive and is with us.

Happy Birthday Jesus!

I am sure that others would love to hear about how you see Jesus. I know I would. Leave a comment telling us about how you saw that Christ has been born and is present in your life.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Childlike Anticipation

Today is Christmas Eve. Man our my kids excited.
They can't wait for Christmas. I am sure that it will be hard to get them to go to sleep this evening and I am sure that they will be up early in the morning. They are so excited for Christmas and they have our whole house buzzing with anticipation.

How about you? As I listen to my kids and see the joy and excitement on their faces I wonder if I am as eager for Christ's coming as they are? They are giddy. They can't contain themselves. They are bouncing off the walls because Christmas is almost here.

It is the gifts, right? Yes. They are excited about receiving the gifts and they should be.

Shouldn't we get excited about the gifts that come at Christmas. The greatest gift of all comes to us on Christmas. God comes to us. We receive Christ's love, Christ's peace, Christ's Joy, and Christ's hope. We get to live in, experience, and share the love of Jesus at Christmas and everyday of our lives because the real God comes into our lives on Christmas.

It is worth be excited about. Christ is worth our eager anticipation. I think that I can learn something from my kids as I get ready and prepare for Christmas. Something about anticipation and eagerness. Something about excitement that Christmas is coming. Something about hope, love, joy and peace.

They know something great is about to happen. They expect it. How about you? As you go about your Christmas Eve and Christmas festivities expect God to show up. Expect something great is going to happen. "For unto us a child is born, a son his given. He is Christ the Lord."

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Just a few more days

I woke up this morning with another one of Casting Crowns songs running through my head. I think God likes to use music to get me thinking. It is a Christmas song that Mark Hall wrote after thinking about the how in the song "O little town of Bethlehem" Jesus comes into the world in silence while the town is asleep. Many people missed Jesus coming that first Christmas morning.

This song gives us something to think about as we prepare for Christmas.



Love Today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Monday, December 22, 2008

What God Wants for Christmas

Lots of people have asked me what I want for Christmas.
My kids have made lists.
Have you thought about what God wants for Christmas? It is the birthday of Jesus.

Go look in the mirror. Did you see it? That is what God wants for Christmas.
God doesn't want your money.
God doesn't want a new tie or the latest gaming system.
What God wants is you.

You would think that God has everything. After all he is God. But God doesn't have you unless you give yourself to him. And what God wants for Christmas is you. He cant have your time unless you give it to him. God cant have your love unless you give it to him. God doesn't have your attention unless you give it to him. Give him your time. Give him your love. Give him your attention. Give God you.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Peace


Today we lit the candle of peace.

The truth is that there were a lot of candles lit at church today. There were about a hundred of them. We lit the traditional advent candles of advent and at the close of worship service people were invited to lite candles in memory of loved ones or of other losses. We lit candles to represent the things that we wanted to give to God so that we could experience Christmas this year. The candles were little lights that shined as symbols of light in the midst of the darkness of everyday life. All of these lights were the light of peace.

Yes, today we lit many candles of peace.

God is a real life God. He comes to us in our real lives so that we might no real peace.

Grace and peace to you. May Christ light of peace shine in your life today.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Friday, December 19, 2008

Thank God it's Friday

As Christmas gets closer and as I think about what I am thankful for today I am thankful that God loves you and me so much that he enters into our lives.

Christmas is about God coming to us and entering into our real lives in real ways. God is real. God works in real life. I am thankful for that.

I thank God that when I feel alone -- I am not, all I have to do is look to him. God never leaves us or forsakes us. God comes into our lives. God enters and breaks into our loneliness.

I thank God that when I am weak and when I feel overwhelmed he comes and provides me the strength I need. God enters my weakness and his strength is revealed in my weakness.

I thank God today for being real and working in my real life in real ways.

Love today!

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Preparing For Love

I love you!

I grew up watching "Happy Days." I remember that Fonzie always had trouble saying those words. "I Wuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuv OOOO," or some other sound, would come as he struggled to say those three words. It seems that at times we are a lot like Fonzie.

Sometimes these three words are the hardest for us to say. We know we should. We think about it. Yet, often times we fail to say them. Today I am going to try to say them to as many as I can.

I love you!

It is even harder still for us to act out our love. To show others that we love them. Christmas is a time for us to make tangible expressions of our love and to say to others that we love them. It is a time to begin to make saying and expressing love a part of our lives. This is a season to prepare us for love. Preparing us to receive the love of God and to share it.

I was thinking that probably the most valuable thing that we can do to be ready for Christ is love. We need to tell people that we love them and more than anything we need to express our love to one another. When we do that, when love becomes real than God can breaks into real life and becomes real to us. God is made real as we love one another as Christ loves us. We are being prepared for love. Get ready to love more and more and more...and more.

Today, tell someone, tell everyone, that you love them.
Today, go out of your way to show your love for somebody.
Today, love someone that you usually would not.
Today, express love to somebody who is hurting.
Today, show love to a stranger.
Today, see others as Christ sees them.

Love today!

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Pageant

Tonight is the Christmas pageant at church. I am Joseph. Nicole is Mary. Darbey is playing the part of baby Jesus. Delaney is one of the angels. Tucker is King Herod's helper and Tanner is a shepherd. The whole family is playing a part in this recreation of the Christmas story. Many people are involved in making this pageant a great moment for God to work through and help all of us prepare our hearts and minds for Christmas. I hope that if you are in the area you can come out tonight and celebrate with us.

The pageant got me thinking about how the story of the first Christmas is really our story. Each of us have a role in the story. I am not talking about acting, or reenacting, I am talking about how everyday is a day that Christ is entering into our lives and our world. And each day we are called to live out this story. The story of Christ coming into our world. As you read the story of Christmas, and as you hear it read, where are you in the story as it relates to your life and your receptivity to Christ. As you watch the children and adults that play parts in the Christmas story. Who are you in the story? Which character(s) do you see yourself in? Who do you most relate to?

(Before anyone tells me that I am the donkey, I will just say it!)

Everyday is Christmas. Today is a day to be in the story of Christmas that God is still writing. It is not a reenactment, but an ongoing real life drama that we live. Find yourself in God's story today. Celebrate, worship, repent, tell others, make room, announce, and proclaim Jesus has come into our world.

Love Today!

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Out My Window

Looking out my window this morning I can see the snow coming down. It is beautiful! Driving in the snow, to take the kids to school-- well that was another story. But to look out my window as the snow falls it is beautiful.

I can see our bird feeder and it is full of birds. The snow is coming down (they say we may get 3-6 inches, I will be returning to get the kids before noon.) but the birds are singing and they are gathering up the seed. There is a beautiful cardinal at our squirrel feeder. In this storm the birds seem to be without worry, they are getting there needs filled, they are being provided for. And they are singing. Not worrying about the storm or what is ahead just singing and receiving what God has provided for them.

Jesus said that we could learn something by looking at the birds. This morning I think that I get what he was saying even deeper. You see Nicole and I have had these feeders full for several weeks now. We hung them up late and I thought that maybe the birds didn't know that they were here because we hadn't had any birds at the feeder. Until this morning. The ear of corn on the squirrel feeder had not been touch the whole time it had been out. But this morning there are birds. Birds singing and gathering seed, birds who found what God had provided for them. Today was the day they needed the seed and they found it, they came, they can sing in the storm because they have been provided for. Today, they have what they need, they are not worrying about how much snow is coming they are singing. I can hear them (Yes, Jeff I can hear them).

We can have a tendency in our lives to allow worry to take over. Sometimes it can consume us. Jesus says, we don't need to worry because God loves us. The birds don't have to worry about where they will eat or what they will wear. God provides for them. There is a new feeder and seed for today. God loves us even more than those birds Jesus says. We don't need to worry and allow the storm to overtake us. Just look for the new feeder and the seed that God gives us for today. We don't have to worry today instead we can sing about our God who provides for us and gives us what we need for today.

Today, let's look for the new feeder and the seed that God has provided. Let's sing instead of worry. Let's try to want less and be thankful for what we have more. Let's try to live in today rather than in the past or the future. Don't worry about what you did yesterday that you can't change and don't worry about what is coming tomorrow that today you have no control over. Just live today and allow God to be your provider. Look what he is doing for the birds.

Love today!

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Monday, December 15, 2008

Only 9 More Preparation Days till Christmas

I heard them talking about the number of shopping days till Christmas on the radio this morning. I am sure that you have heard people counting down and fretting about how short the time is getting between now and Christmas. Maybe you are beginning to wonder if you are going to get everything done in time.

I was thinking that it is just a few more days to make sure that I have prepared my heart, my mind, and my life for Christmas. I want Christmas to be real this year. I want it to be a time that I grow deeper in love with God and with others. There is only a few more days left to make sure that this Christmas is all that it can be.

I was also thinking about the hope, love, joy, and peace of Christmas and how I am not only to experience and receive Christ hope, love, peace, and joy at Christmas but I am to be and share it.

There are nine days to be prepared to be and share Christ hope with others. Nine days to make sure that I am open to love as Christ loves this Christmas. Nine days to be made ready to share Christ peace and work for reconciliation in the world. Nine days left to prepare to live in the Joy of Christ and to share it with others.

As we prepare to receive the gift that comes to us at Christmas we also need to prepare to give the gift to others. God has a gift of hope, love, peace and joy for us this Christmas. The gift is given freely to us to receive. As freely as we receive we should freely give.

"For unto us a child is born"

Love today.

In Christ love and mine,
Doug

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Bumping into God

This weekend was an awesome weekend.
It was busy, but I kept reminding myself of my post earlier in the week about slowing down and not getting hurried. (Don't you love it when things you say come back to you)
We had a great Christmas party in St. Joe with other clergy families in the district. We got to meet up with old friends and worship like it was Christmas together. We shared in communion and then we headed back home for our Lord's Banquet.

All that I can say about the Lord's banquet is Yeah God! This was one of the neatest church dinner experiences that I have ever been a part of. It was a sacred meal. There were people from all walks of life gathered together to share in a meal that expressed the love of Christ. Dockery was challenged to go out and invite people to come, as our guest to a meal especially for them, free of charge no strings attached. The people of Dockery did a wonderful job of inviting and showing radical hospitality and extravagant generosity. I am so blessed to be part of such a beautiful, loving, caring, compassionate, and generous church family that seeks to live out their relationship with God in real and tangible ways. It was such a blessing to be at the Lord's banquet.

Sunday was filled with worship as we celebrated the joy that comes to us as we live in relationship with God. We then had a great fellowship meal and spent the rest of the afternoon caroling to our friends and neighbors. What a blessing.

I share this, not to give a list of the weekend events, but to say that in these ordinary moments of this weekend I saw Jesus. I kept bumping into God as I gathering with friends and colleagues in ministry, shared in communion, shared in a chicken noodle dinner with all the "fixins", during church worship, and caroling in peoples homes. This was a weekend that when I just opened my eyes and looked I could see Jesus and encounter God in my life.

Have you bumped into Jesus lately?
How did you see God this past weekend.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Thank God it's Friday!!!

As I cleared the ice from my windshield this morning I began thinking...

Thank you God for the seasons. Thank you for the sun and the heat of summer. Thank you for the hope and the beauty of spring. Thank you for the cool and the harvest of fall. Thank you God for the chill and the cold of winter. I thank you Lord that we have the seasons of life that remind us that there is a flow to our lives. The seasons remind us that there is a rhythm in our lives and that this to is temporary. The snow is only here for a time, the heat of summer is only here for a time. The winter will be followed by the hope and the new blossoms of spring. Spring will bring fourth summer and the heat of the summer will bear much fruit in the harvest of fall. Our lives go through seasons as well, Lord. Your word tells as that for everything there is a season. Season of laughter, seasons of crying, season of dancing, and seasons of morning. You tell us that you are with us in every season of our life, bringing us through the seasons of life. Thank you God for the seasons of life and for the rhythm found in you. In this season of Advent prepare my heart, my mind, and my life for you. Amen

What are you thankful for today?

Give God thanks!

Love today.

In Christ's Love and mine,
Doug

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Slowing Down in the Hurry

Why is it that we are always in a hurry?
I wish that I new the answer to that question for me. It seems like there is an expectation of hurry built into our lives. I don't think it is suppose to be this way.
I don't think that God wants me to always be in a hurry. I don't think that life is something that we are suppose to rush through. Life is to be savored and enjoyed. Yet, it seems that there is an expectation built into our society, and our thinking sometimes, of hurry.

We expect everything to happen right now. We want things immediately. Faster Internet access, faster lines in the stores, we have speed dial, and they tell me there is something called speed dating. We have convenience stores on every corner, drive up restaurants, ATM's and 2 in 1 shampoos, all so that we can do things in more of a hurry. Conveniences like these we think are time savers but only keep us doing life in a hurry.

Christmas time can be a time that we get in a hurry. We have pageants, programs, office parties, and family get together that we try to fit into our already hurried lives.

I don't think that it is suppose to be this way. I don't think that God wants me to do Christmas in a hurry. I am not saying that God is against the pageants, programs, office parties, and family get together. I think that God wants me to slow down and enjoy them.

You see Christmas is about relationships. It is about God loving us and wanting to be in relationship with us, so much, that He comes to us as the child born on Christmas Day.

We can't build relationships in a hurry.
We can't love in a hurry.
We need to slow down if we are going to love.
We need to slow down if we are going to build relationship with others.
We need to slow down and encounter God in the midst of our busy schedules.

We can be busy but we shouldn't do life in a hurry. Take some time during this season of preparation, and in the midst of your busy schedule, to slow down and love. Make sure that as you go through the season and attend all the events that you build up your relationships with God and others. Do the things that can't be done in a hurry.

Love today!

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Keep On Keeping On

I have been talking about habits, or practices, that we can make part of our everyday life that help us encounter Jesus. More than just talk about them, I have been trying to make them a part of the post and of my everyday life. I hope that you have too.

I hope that the posts, as you have read them, have been helpful in allowing you to make scripture meditation a part of your day. I hope that they have encouraged you to pray throughout your day and to worship as you read each day. They have certainly helped me to do that more regularly. More than anything, I pray that as you have been doing more of these habits and making them a part of everyday, you are encountering God in your life. That is the reason to do them. I pray that as you and I encounter God through these habits we continually grow in our love of God and others.

What I started thinking about today is that I am not always going to be posting about these habits. Having to write a post on the specific habit has encouraged that practiced in my own life. Focusing on making them a habit has been helpful in being sure that I do them. However, I (we) still need to do them even when they are not the focus of a blog. We need to make reading the Bible, worship, prayer, and Christian interaction a part of our lives. I do hope that this blog will always encourage us to do these things but it will not always be so intentionally focused.

However, we need to always be intentional about doing those things that help us to encounter God. If we are not intentional other things may take priority over them. I pray that even after the blog changes focus we remain focused on the main thing and that is growing in our relationship with God and these habits, I believe, help us to encounter God and grow.

There are two more practices that we can add to the list. They are telling others about what God is doing our lives and what God can do for them, (this is faith-sharing) and service. These are things that we can do in our ordinary everyday lives.

As we share our faith with others and as we serve God by giving of our gifts, time, and talents, for the benefit of his Kingdom we experience God in our lives. We encounter the power of God, the strength of God, the love of God. I think that it is in faith-sharing and service that God can stretch us out of our comfort zone into a place where we experience God deeper and more fully. We are able to do things that on our own seem impossible. Sharing our faith and service is making our faith and our trust of God visible. When we do that, I believe, God becomes real. To us and to the world.

In the days, weeks, months, and years ahead arrange your live around these practices. They can help us to encounter God and become the people that we are called to be.

As they use to say "keep on keeping on." Keep on reading God's word, keep on praying, keeping worshiping, keep on spending time with other Christians, keep on sharing your faith, and keep on serving. Be intentional about it.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

You are Special

God has created each of us with unique personalities, temperments, gifts, talents, and quirks. Like snowflakes there are no two of us that are alike. It is important, at times, to remember that God has created each of us as individuals and God has created each of us the way we are because that is the way that God desires us to be. You are you and that what God loves about you. God created you that way. You are Special to God.

The cool thing is that God also calls all of us unique and different individuals to unite together as one. To be one community. To live together, to work together, to laugh together, to bring about the Kingdom of God-- together.

We are to be one. One in Christ. This does not mean that we all think the same, act the same, look the same, have the same personalities, temperments, and gifts. That would be no fun at all. And it would not reflect the love of God or the community that we are called to be. It means that I am who God created me to be and you are who God created you to be and we live together in Christ, in Christian love and community, becoming more of who God created us to be as individuals and as community.

You are special and God created you that way for a purpose. Together we can become more fully who God created each of us to be.

This helps me to remember that I am not suppose to "change people." Change is God's buisness. I am to love and live with people and be the person that God wants me to be and created me to be. We don't have to become someone else. We are to be who we are and allow Christ to make the people that we are more like him.

You are special! God created you! God loves you for your unique characteristics and qualities and he will use you to build his kingdom here on earth.

Love today! Worship today!

In Christ Love and Mine,
Doug

Monday, December 8, 2008

Friends

Today I want to talk about friends. We need friends. We need to spend time with other people who are connecting to God and growing in their relationship with God and who will love us and do life with us and help us to grow in relationship with Christ too.

There are a lot of "ands" in that last sentence because there is a lot to being friends the way Christ calls us to be friends to one another. The type of friends that the bible talks about us being are friends that are Christ centered. Friends who put others first. Friends who help each other encounter God in our lives and who will be "Jesus with skin on" to us.

Another habit that we can make part of our ordinary day and that we need in our lives is the habit of spending time with Christian friends growing together. I call this Christian interaction, some call it fellowship, it is being in relationships where Christ is central and working in the relationships.

We are not meant to go through life alone. God does not want us to be lone rangers on our spiritual journeys. God created us for community to be in relationship with him and with others.

Who do you spend regular time with that is helping you to encounter God and grow in realtionship with God?

Who are you helping to encounter and grow in thier relationship with God?
What relationship do you have where you can talk about your relationship with God?

Let's do life together. Let's grow together, love together, serve together, laugh together, cry together, encounter God together.

In Christ love and mine,
Your friend
Doug

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A Song of David's

The Psalms are great songs for us to learn about living lives of worship. This is a psalm that David wrote while in the Desert of Judah. Listen to how David worships as a way of life.

O God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,

my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;

with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,

I sing in the shadow of your wings.
My soul clings to you;

your right hand upholds me.
They who seek my life will be destroyed;

they will go down to the depths of the earth.
They will be given over to the sword and become food for jackals.

But the king will rejoice in God;
all who swear by God's name will praise him,
while the mouths of liars will be silenced.
Psalm 63

Worship Today!

In Christ Love and mine,

Doug



Friday, December 5, 2008

Thank God it's Friday!!!

I thank God for music today. I thank God that I have ears to hear and can listen to music. I thank him for the way that music can help me to connect with him and express words and feelings that I sometimes struggle to come up with. I am thankful that music can help me to worship God and turn my attention to God. I am thankful for the old hymns and for the praise and worship music that points us to God. I am thankful for the people who share of their God given gifts and talents to write and play worship music.

Thank God for music that leads us and helps us to worship God more passionately!

Happy Day! Today is a day to worship God.



Have fun and Worship Today!

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Sing!

Here is another song to help us think about living a life of worship and what we have to praise God for today. Enjoy!



Worship today! God is with you!

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Honest Worship

I was thinking this morning about the old hymn, "It is well with my Soul."
The story of this hymn is amazing. I am sure if you want all the details you can do a search and find out more but as I can recall it was written by lawyer named Horatio Spafford. Spafford wrote this hymn after he had lost his son, lost a lot of his money, and lost his four daughters. His son had died young, he lost money that he had invested in developments in Chicago due to the Chicago fires and his daughters and wife were traveling on a ship to Great Britain that was sunk. Only his wife survived his four daughter did not.

The story is, I believe, that Horatio wrote this hymn while traveling on a ship through the place that he had lost his four daughters to reconnect with his surviving wife. In the midst of his grief and great tragedy he penned these amazings words.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
It is well, with my soul,It is well, with my soul,

It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blessed assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
It is well, with my soul,It is well, with my soul,

It is well, it is well, with my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,Is nailed to the cross,
and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

It is well, with my soul,It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
It is well, with my soul,It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.



These words are worship in the midst of the stuff of life.
Honest, real, worship.

Yesterday, I went to the funeral of friend's mother and I spent some time with some friends who had just heard scarry reports from doctors about a grandchild. This is real life and it's in the midst of this God cares for and comforts us. That God is God. In these times we can, as Horatio did and helps us to do, praise God because he is faithful to us and cares for us in the storms of life.

Last year Nicole, the kids, and I went through the biggest storm of our lives. During that time I was sent a card from a friend. It was a music card (they are so cool) and it had the song "Praise You in the Storm." My friend reminded me that God was with me in the storm and that I could and should praise him in the midst of it because God was faithful to keep his promise.

If you are going through a difficult time right now let me encourage you to focus on God and to know that he his faithful to you and he will not abandon you, leave you, or forsake in this time. Praise God for who God is. Praise God in the Storm.

Here is the song, It is Casting Crowns again!




In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Extra Worship Stuff

I came across this as I was getting the heart of worship clip. It gives us something to think about when we think about real worship in our lives.

In Christ's love and mine,

Doug

Worship day 2

I decided that I would try something this week. Music helps me worship and connect to God, so, I am going to try to use some worship music to help me think about what it means to worship God.
Could it be possible that I can learn about true worship from music designed for worship?
Let's just see about that.

The song yesterday talked about how worship is something that we do with our lives-- that our lives are a song of praise to God.

Today, I want to share a song that is called, "The Heart of Worship." It speaks to me about what worship is all about and who worship is all about. It also speaks to me about how worship is more than singing, or being in church. True worship is about our hearts, because that is what God is looking at.

Here are the lyrics:

When the music fades
All is stripped away
And I simply come
Longing just to bring
Something that's of worth
That will bless Your heart

I'll bring You more than a song
For a song in itself
Is not what You have required
You search much deeper within
Through the way things appear
You're looking into my heart

Chorus:
I'm coming back to the heart of worship
And it's all about You,
It's all about You, Jesus
I'm sorry, Lord, for the thing I've made it
When it's all about You,
It's all about You, Jesus

King of endless worth
No one could express
How much You deserve
Though I'm weak and poor
All I have is Yours
Every single breath

I'll bring You more than a song
For a song in itself
Is not what You have required
You search much deeper within
Through the way things appear
You're looking into my heart

Chorus:

Here is a video if you want to download and hear the song.


Any thoughts?

Worship today!

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Monday, December 1, 2008

Living a Life of Worship

Another habit that I think is helpful for me and my relationship with God is the habit of worship.

What do you think of when you think of worship?

What would it mean to make worship a habit in our lives?

Is it possible to live lives of worship?

As I think of worship I think about lots of things. I think about community worship, where we gather together and sing songs, pray, and hear and respond to God's word. I think about what we do on Sundays at Dockery Chapel and people do each week all across our world.

It is important that we regularly gather together for worship. I know, for me, when I miss going to church and worshiping with others my week is just not the same. In fact, if feel weak throughout the week. The habit of regular community worship is important for me and my relationship with God. It is in a group of people gathered together in Christ's name that God promises us he will be and we can encounter him.

However, I think that worship is something that God wants me to do more than just one day a week for an hour or two. Worship is about offering my life to God as praise to God. Worship is something that I can do as a live. It hits me as a write this that worship is something that I do as I live. The way that I live, speaks of how I offer my life to God. The way that I live sings a song to God, the question is what song am I singing with my life? Who is praised by that song?

There is the scripture passage (Col. 3:17) that says, "whatever you do whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thank to God the Father through him."

That is a life of worship.

How can we do this? How can we make worship such a habit that we recognize that everything we do and say can be offered to God to say that we love him?
What would happen if we started living like everything we did and said was an offering in the name of Jesus as a way of giving thanks to God?

Let me know your thoughts on worship.

Here is a great song about living a life of worship if you want to listen to it-- click it.


In Christ's Love and Mine,
Doug

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Saturday Evening Post

Today, I am getting around to a posting kind of late. I almost just skipped today but after the day that I have had I just wanted to stop and reflect on the way that I have felt God's presence and to just say how great the hanging of the greens time at church was for me.

We sat up the manger in the snow. The plywood cutouts that we set up, I learned later in the evening from Freddie Key, where made fifty years ago and each of the members of the church had a hand in painting them. At the time he said there was just a few members, 12 or 14. It is amazing to think that these plywood figures of the Baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the wise men, Shepherd, and animals are older than our building! Every year Dockery Chapel has placed this same scene out for everyone to look at as they drive by and know that "for unto us a child is born, a Savior is given." For fifty years they have held up through the snow, rain, and cold. It was a blessing to be a part of setting them out again.

The time that we spent making crafts, the singing of carols ,and Richard telling the story to all of us kids was a wonderful way to begin this season. Tonight, it just felt like I got to be a part of a family tradition that was bigger than the family that gathered for it. It was a wonderful blessing to hang the greens. Next year if you get the chance don't miss it.

In Christ's Love and mine,
Doug

Friday, November 28, 2008

TGIF

Today is a traveling day for the Franklins and for many others who went away for the holiday. Please pray for all of us who are traveling today. Today is Friday...give God Thanks!

I am thankful that there are others who pray for me and with me.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Did any of you watch the Macy's parade this morning?
I catch a little bit of it every year.
How is the house smelling?
As I type this the house is beginning to smell amazing!
Happy Thanksgiving!

As I think about what I have to be thankful for it seems that the list just continues to grow. It seems that I can always think of one more thing. How about you are you thinking of what you are thankful for today? Can you think of something more? To whom are you thankful?

I am thankful to God for all of it because he has given it all to me as a gift. Everything that I have is a gift from God.

This morning I want to say a special prayer of thanksgiving for you. You are my gift from God. Each of you who read this blog, I give God thanks for.

Thank you God for this blog that helps me to daily turn my focus and attention toward you. Thank you God for those that read it and comment words of encouragement. Thank you God for those those that tell me they read it everyday but never comment. Thank you for those that read it that I don't even know. Thank you God for all the people that read these words today.

Today I thank God for you-- for all of you! Let's continue to grow together in our relationship with God and with each other. Please know that I am always here for you, in a real way, not just as some post. I would love to get to know each of you more fully. If we can get together for coffee or a Dr. Pepper and talk that would be great and I would love to do that. Just give me a call or send me an email and we can get together soon.

I thank God for all of you today. As you give God thanks, on this thanksgiving day, please know that you are part of my thanksgiving and that you are in my prayers today.

Happy Thanksgiving!

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Prayer for the Day

Gracious, loving God,
Thank you for today and for the opportunity to live today in your presence. Help me in my day to recognize you are here with me as I do the things that I do. Give me the awareness that you are riding with me in my car, setting with me in my home, working with me, playing with me and want me to share my day with you. Help me to turn to you and tell you what just happens like I would a friend. Help me to carry on a conversation with you throughout my day and to offer all the conversations that I have with other to you. Most importantly, help me to listen for you and to see you today. Help me to be quicker to listen to you than I am to ask things of you. Lord, I love you and I want to spend this day with you and live this day in your name.
In Christ's name, Amen.

Enjoy your day with God as with others! Have a great thanksgiving!

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tension's Good Side Prayer

I want to share with you a prayer that has been very significant for me. This prayer helped me come to know Christ and to see that Christ was real and working in my life everyday. I believe that the prayer is called "tension's good side prayer." I came across this prayer while doing a study called "Untapped Miracles for Tapped-out Christians." The basic understanding is that we use the stress and tensions of our day to trigger us to focus on God. Whenever there is tension or stress we pray a simple prayer giving that stress and tensions to God.

Gracious God,
I know that you love me and that you care for me. I know that you want what is best for me and that you say to come to you and I can receive rest. Right now, I have this stress or tension (name you stress of tension) and I give it to you recognizing that I need you in my life and that you can give me rest. Take this form me and help me to see that you are alive and working in this situation. In Jesus name I pray, Amen

Give this prayer a try. If you are like me I think that you will discover yourself praying a lot more. Also, I think that you will discover that God cares about you and your ordinary everyday life and He wants to live it with you.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Monday, November 24, 2008

Talking and Listening to God

Have you talked to God today? Have you been listening?

Prayer is another one of those habits that we can make a part of our ordinary lives that can help us to encounter God in our day. For me, prayer is essential. Prayer connects me to my life source and into the power of God. Prayer enables me to change my focus from me, and my problems, to God. It helps me to stay focused on God and to offer my life, my relationships, my conversations-- all that I do, over to God.

We really can pray throughout our day. We can pray as we wake and as we go to sleep. We can pray as we work and relate with others. We really can pray without ceasing as the Bible directs us to do. However, it is not easy. Certainly, I focus on me and the stuff of my day way more than I focus on God throughout my day. Certainly, I do things without even thinking about talking to God about it or listening for his guidance and direction. However, I know that it does not have to be this way. God desires that we lift our whole lives at all times to him in prayer. God desires that we live in constant communion and communication with Him. That is cool! God want to have conversation with me and be a part of my everyday life. I just need to include God in it. Prayer is how we intentionally make God a part of what we are doing and allow him to lead us.

Dear Lord,
Throughout my day today help me to be mindful that you are here with me. Thank you that you are here for me to talk to and that you are here for me to listen to. I want to give to you all that I do today and do it all with you. I love you and want to live in communion and communication with you. I want you to be central to all that I do. Help me to pray unceasingly today. In Jesus name. Amen

In Christ's love and Mine,
Doug

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Psalm 100

"Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations."
Psalm 100 (NIV)

Happy Sunday! This scripture seems to say it all for me today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Daily

"Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self ? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels." Luke 9:24-26

This is some very important teaching about being real in following Jesus. It tells us that for us to live we need to lose our lives for Jesus. If we want to be save our lives than we need to die to our lives and live for Jesus. This is tough teaching and probably the toughest part of this teaching, and the most important, is that Jesus says that following him is something that we have to do daily. It requires us intentionally giving everyday to Jesus. Everyday denying our way, our love, our selfishness for God's way, God's love and Christ-centerdness. Just because we did it yesterday does not make it true for today. Jesus said that following him is a daily practice and a daily discipline.

May we take the teachings of Jesus to heart today and make the most of the day that God has given us. Tomorrow may we do it all over again.

Any thoughts?

In Christ's Love and mine,
Doug

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thank God it's Friday!

Throughout this week I have really focused on encountering God in the Word. This is a habit that I need to have in my life daily if I want my relationship with God to be real. Since it is Friday, (and we have this tradition)I want to thank God for his Word. I also want to share a scripture.

"So, you see, it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that there is a God and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him."
Hebrews 11:6

I am thankful that I can seek him and find him in the pages of the Bible. I am thankful that God is a God that reveals himself to me in the midst of my everyday life as I meditate on the scriptures. I am thankful for how I get just the right word at the right time. I am thankful that passages of scripture can speak to me differently at different times of my life.

I am thankful that when I seek-- earnestly, sincerely and with all my heart, his word does not leave me empty. I am thankful for the promises that I read in the scriptures which are made real in my relationship with Christ. I am thankful for the hunger that God gives me to read the word and seek his face.

What are you thankful for today? Is there a way that God has been made real, or spoken to you, through the word that you are thankful for? In this past week have you felt closer to God as you meditated on the scriptures? Have you earnestly sought and felt the reward that is promised?

I don't know how many of you have heard this yet or not, but this week I was blessed with an opportunity to travel to the Holy Land in January of 2009. This is a chance of a lifetime and an opportunity to see the very places that we read about in God's word. It is a chance to walk where Jesus walked and encounter God. I am thankful for this opportunity and for the loving people of Dockery Chapel who are making this possible. I couldn't post on a "Thank God it's Friday" post without thanking God for this opportunity and for all of you.

What else are you thankful for today? Go ahead and give God thanks!

In Christ's Love and Mine,
Doug

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Psalm 20

Good morning!
I want to share a scripture with you that I read this morning. It has become my prayer for each of us today and my praise to God for his faithfulness. The spaces I have added to help me to slow down and think about what the Lord is saying to me in each of the lines.

May the Lord answer you when you are in distress;
may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.

May he send you help from the sanctuary

and grant you support from Zion.

May he remember all your sacrifices
and accept your burnt offerings.

May he give you the desire of your heart
and make all your plans succeed.

We will shout for joy when you are victorious

and will lift up our banners in the name of our God.

May the Lord grant all your requests.

Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed;
he answers him from his holy heaven with the saving power of his right hand.

Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

They are brought to their knees and fall,
but we rise up and stand firm.

O Lord, save the king! Answer us when we call!
Psalm 20 (NIV)

Today, may we stand firm in the promise and the hope of the Lord.

In Christ's love and Mine,
Doug

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Transformation: An Encounter with God in the Word

I read a passage of scripture this morning that I had read before. In fact, it is a passage of scripture that I think God used to speak to me when I first began to wrestle with this idea of giving my life to Jesus. It is a passage that promises transformation, promises that we can love in a new way, and promises that we can live a new life.

"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws." Ezekiel 36:26-27

"I the LORD have spoken, and I will do it." Ezekiel 36:36b

I first read this scripture at a time that I was struggling with problems of my past. I was stuck, and felt like I was going to continue to be stuck in the the things and the stuff that I had been doing. Through this verse I began to hear God saying to me, to all of us, "you are not stuck." "You are not your past, you are not what you are doing, I will not leave you where you are and where you have been." God promises to change us. To really change us! Not some surface change or superficial change, but real change. "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh."

WOW! This is God's promise. Our love can be changed, our lives can be changed-- a new heart and a new Spirit. The Holy Spirit to lead us and shape us in our lives. WOW!

What does this mean for our lives, our love, and for our relationship with God?

In Christ's Love and Mine,
Doug

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

All the Way Through You

I think John Ortberg said it, "The goal is not that you get all the way through the scriptures but, that the scriptures get all the way through you."

This post is a followup to a comment on yesterdays post that I received from Tammyb. I think that she asks a pretty common question that most everyone can relate to. (To get the full effect you may want to read her comment yesterday.)

I think Ortberg's quote is a helpful understanding when it comes to creating a habit of daily meditating on God's word. The goal is not that you read it from beginning to end, although that can be a plan for reading it. The important thing is that your read it. Remember, the reason for reading it is that it is a living and active word that we can encounter God in. The what is not as important as the why.

The best plan is that you open it. You can read a little or a lot. I personally prefer to meditate on short pieces of scripture. (Probably because it is easier for me to think about and remember throughout my day.) Also, I like to read the Psalms. I will just take the date (today is the 18th, I will read the 18th Psalm and the 118 psalm) and use it as way to guide my reading of the Psalms. The other important thing is that when we close the bible we don't close our heart and mind to what the scripture is saying. It is alive and active so don't stop at just reading it, let God speak to you. You don't have to fully understand, God will bring you the meaning that you need.

I don't want to tell you a specific plan because the plan that works for you is going to be the plan for you. The plan that helps you open and read is the right plan. Make it a priority. Make sure that each day you open your life up to God's word.

Think about this today.

"He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live by bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord." Deuteronomy 8:3

What do you think?

In Christ's love and Mine,
Doug

Monday, November 17, 2008

Encountering God

One of the habits that we can incorporate into our ordinary, everyday lives to help us encounter God is reading and meditating on scripture. Everyday, we can take some time to read scripture and allow it to work in us throughout our day. As we reflect upon it we allow the Spirit to write it on our hearts.

Hebrews 4:12a says "For the word of God is living and active." To me, this scripture is saying that we can encounter God as we allow his word to be a part of our day and meditate on the scriptures. As we do that it is active in us, because it is alive, the Spirit does a work in our hearts and in our minds. This is why it is important for us to make the scriptures a part of our ordinary day. They can help us to encounter God, they will help us to be real about living in relationship with God and real about our love.

As you reflect upon this scripture what does it say or mean to you today? (Live with this passage and think about it --this would be meditating on scripture)

What is a scripture that God is using to speak to you right now? What is a scripture that has been significant in your relationship with God and helps you in your life? How do you make God's word a part of your everyday life? They say that it takes 21 days to make a habit, how can you over the next 21 days make meditating on the scriptures a part of each and every day?

In Christ's love and Mine,
Doug

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Happy Sunday!

Church was wonderful today! It is so great to worship together as a community.

Today, I am thinking about how wonderful it is to have everyone together and in one place. (This is what happens at Pentecost when the church is launched in the power of the Holy Spirit.) There can be great power in our coming together. This afternoon, I am thinking about the ones who weren't there. I miss them. From time to time we miss church because of things going on in our lives, maybe we are at another church, or maybe we just miss that day. I want you to know that when you are not here you are missed. I want you to know that I love and care about you and if there is something going on that is keeping you from worship that I can help with pleas let me know.

For those of us that were in church take some time this week to contact someone that you noticed was not with us today. Let them know that you missed them and that they are loved

It is a good, joyful and powerful thing for us to be together and in one place to worship. I am already looking forward to the next time we do it. Thank you for all that you do for the purposes of Christ.

When we are apart from each other please know that you are missed.

In Christ's love and Mine,
Doug

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Spiritual Growth Gauge

How do we measure are spiritual growth? How do we know if we are growing in our relationship with God?

Next week I am going to be posting about spiritual habits that I think are important for my life and my relationship with God. However, before I do this I want to make it clear that doing these types of things don't make me spiritual or mean that I am any closer to God. They will help us though. The spiritual habits are practices that help me to encounter God in the midst of my ordinary life. The habits that we are going to look at are practices that God promises us that we can encounter Him in. Practices like prayer, worship, meditation on God's word, service, Christian interaction, and sharing our faith are helpful and necessary for us if we are going to live out our relationship with God in a real way. But, they cannot be mistaken for our relationship with God. We can't use them as a checklist and say I did all these things so I must be growing.

So today, I want us to think about what the true gauge of our spiritual life is. Here is a hint for my Dockery family. We have been talking about it at church for the past three weeks. In fact, I hope we talk about it every week. The only gauge that there is to measure are growth in our relationship with God or not-- is our love. Love is the only measure. You see the promise of the scripture is that we will grow in our love of God and our love of others as we live in Christ and allow him to live in us. The promise is that we will continually become more loving.

If we want to know if we are living in relationship with God all we have to do is look at our love. Do we love God more today than we did yesterday, or last week, or last year? Do we love others more? That is the only measure that there is. We can read our bibles, go to church, hang out with Christians, share our faith, serve, and pray but If we don't grow in our love than they are just empty rituals. The Good News is that God has promised to meet us in these types of practices and God has promised that when we encounter him in our lives we are never the same. He will change us to have a heart like his.

How are you doing at love today?

In Christ's love and Mine,
Doug

Friday, November 14, 2008

Thank God it's Friday!

Today is Friday and following tradition (this is the second Friday) I want to talk about what I am thankful for today.

I have a friend named Sandy that would always say that she thanked God "for indoor plumbing."

That always makes me think about how we need to give God thanks for those things in our life that we sometimes take for granted, like indoor plumbing, that are such a blessing and make life so much better. Today I am mindful of those types of things. I thank God for the ability to live where I have many things like clean water, plumbing, food, clothing, and shelter. Things, that at times, I assume everyone has because I am fortunate enough to live in a part of the world that these things seem common. I thank God that I live where I live. I thank God for the air that I breathe and the beauty that God paints in sunrises and sunsets. I thank God for laughter and for all the emotions that I feel. I thank God that I can feel. I thank God for allowing me to have another day to love and grow.

I pray today that I might not take God, and the Gifts of God, for granted. I pray that God would make me mindful that I am blessed and have blessed to be a blessing.

What are the things that you are grateful for today? What are the things that you have a tendency to take for granted? Let's thank God today and everyday.

In Christ's love and Mine,
Doug

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Hey, Aren't You...

This is a song that I heard this morning. I think I have heard it before but this morning I finally heard it. The words are awesome and I think this is really the goal for our lives

It reminds me of a story that I heard once about a missionary who was a missionary to a small tribal village in a undeveloped area of the world. The story is told that because he was bad at paperwork he lost his job as a missionary. Several years later, there was another group of missionaries who came to that same village where the poor paperwork missionary had been sent. As they begin to tell the local people about Jesus, about how Jesus loves them and cares for them, they said, "Oh yes! We know him!" As the missionaries shared stories of how Jesus healed the sick, about the teachings of Jesus, and about Jesus laying down his life for his friends, they said, "Oh yes ! We know him! He lives in the hut right over there!" They pointed to a hut in the village and the person that lived in that hut was the man who had come there as a missionary and lost his job because he could not do the paperwork. When the people heard Jesus described they thought surely they must have been talking about their friend in the village. He and loved them and cared for them like Jesus. He had taught and spoken to them like Jesus. He had cared for the sick and he had laid down his life for them. They had mistaken him for Jesus. Wow!

That is the goal. That you and I would live out our faith in such away that others would see Jesus. That our friends, our family, that everyone that we encounter might encounter the Jesus in us.

Love today, you may be the only Bible some people will read today. Love today, the Jesus that people encounter could be the Jesus in you.

In Christ's love and mine,

Doug

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Real Early

Today it is an early morning I am up early to go to the Get Motivated event in KC with my friends Dub and Jan. I am up early but God has already beat me into the day. God is already working in my day. It was cool as I woke up this morning I was already thinking about what God would have me blog today! My mind was on what God was doing as I got out of bed really early.

The scriptures tell us that God goes before us and prepares a way for us. That is quite a promise for each and every one of our days, and it is God's promise for us today!

While we sleep God is working. God is already at work in our day. God has prepared a way for you today. Look for God today. "This is a day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it."

In Christ love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Freedom

Today is Veterans Day. Thank you to all of those who have served and fought for freedom. Thank you to all of those that at this very moment in are in parts of our world working for freedom. Thank you for all that you do. May God bless you all.

I woke up this morning thanking about freedom. I think that it is a common thought on veterans day as we remember and give thanks for the men and women who have made sacrifices for the many freedoms that we now have today. As I thought about freedom I thought about the passage in the scriptures that says "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8:36)

What does it mean for us to be set free by the Jesus? What are the freedoms that we receive in Christ? What are we freed from?

This passage, as I reflect on it this morning, seems to say that true freedom-- to be free indeed, happens when it is Christ that sets us free. So, what is this freedom and what does it mean for our lives today. The scriptures tell us that this freedom is not is not freedom to just do whatever but it is truly freedom. Galatians 5 says that we shouldn't use our freedom to indulge. 1 Peter says that our freedom should not be used as a cover-up. So what does it mean to be set free by the Son? What does it mean to be free indeed?

A few words come to my mind as I think about what we are freed from in Christ. In Christ we are no longer a captive of imprisoned by:

Sin. That is the promise! We are freed from sin. In Christ we can overcome sin. We do not have to sin. We do, but in Christ we are set free to sin no more. We can't just say, "well, we are human so we will always sin." I am not trying to say this is easy, or that I am sinless, but the promise of freedom in Christ is that we are free from sin. We need to proclaim this promise, over the power of sin. This is what it means to be free indeed.

Here are some more words that come to mind as I think about what Christ frees me from in my live that makes for true freedom. Not that I don't sometimes allow these things to weigh me down and imprison me. The promise is that I am free if I will just lean into, and on, Jesus.

Free from past mistakes.
Free from guilt.
Free from shame.
Free from worry.
Free from stress.
Free from fear.
Free from resentment.
Free from hate.
Free from loneliness.
Free from pettiness.
Free from self-centerdness.

Free to love!

When the Son sets us free we are free indeed! What are the freedoms that you have in Christ that mean true freedom to you? What has christ freed you from? What has he freed you to do? Live today as one who has been set free indeed. Thank God for the many freedoms that we have in our world and for those that have sacrificed to give us those freedoms. Thank God for the sacrifice that made so that you and I, so that the whole world, could live free indeed.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Monday, November 10, 2008

Realationships

Yes, I am aware that this is not how you spell relationship. However, it seems that lately every time I type this word I make the same mistake. The "a" keeps getting ahead of the "l" and I type real. I know that it is probably coming from all of this talk about real but I think that this typo has an interesting insight into getting real about our lives, our love, and God.

We all need relationships that are real. We need "realationships" in our life. Relationships where we can share our hurts, our struggles, our joys, our celebrations--our lives. Relationships that can can help us to grow in our realtionship with God and encourage us and inspire us in our life with God. We need to be people, and have people in our lives, that help us to be who God calls us to be. Realationships are relationships that are life giving and life enriching.

Relationships like this don't happen by accident. We have to put time and energy into building these types of relationship. It takes time. It takes an investment of our time to do life with others. It takes our hearts. We have to give of our hearts to love one another, to laugh, to cry, to inspire and encourage. It takes an investment of our hearts to share our joys, our hurts, our struggles and our dreams. It takes Christ. We need Jesus to be the center of our relationships.

I am thankful for the relationship that I have in my life that I consider to be "realationships." I pray that we all could be people, and be in relationship with people, who will give of our time and our energy and our hearts to build relationship that are real. We need each other. We were not created to be alone.

What can you do today to give our your time and your heart to invest in relationship?

In Christ's love and Mine,
Doug

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Happy Sunday!

I had a great time at church today! Cathie's "Bridge over Troubled Waters" on the piano during the offering was moving. It had me tapping my toes and it made me cry. It was a God moment for me. It was a wonderful time of worship. Then I had a great SS class with our teenagers and a great fellowship dinner. Then I got to hear about Anna and Reuben's people to people trip to Australia.

I came home with the song "Have you seen Jesus my Lord" in my head. The chorus of this song goes like this:

Have you seen Jesus my Lord
He's here in plain view
Take a look open your eyes
He'll show love to you

The song talks about how God can be seen everywhere when we look for him. It has a verse about seeing God in the sunset and another about seeing God in an ocean view. It has one verse that says:

Have you ever stood in the family
with the Lord there in your midst
seen the face of Christ on each other
then I'd say you've seen Jesus my Lord.

As I left church I felt like I had stood in the family with the Lord there in my midst and I had seen Jesus. I just love Sundays!

Take a look open your eyes he'll show love to you!

In Christ's love and Mine,
Doug

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Love, Life, and Football

Today is a much anticipated day in the Franklin household. Well, at least it is for Tucker, our oldest. Today is the day that he gets to go to his first Missouri Tiger Football Game. He has been counting the days for over a month since we recieved the tickets to go to the game. It will be a great day to watch Tucker and experince the game through his excitment. We are also going to be able to have a father and son from church go with us to the game. It should be a great day. So today is a day about football for us as Tucker continues to count down,the now hours, till we need to leave.

So what can we draw from footbal that might help us live and love as Christ? As I was thinking about the day of football I thought that there will probably several coaches today all across this nation telling the student athletes at their respective schools to "leave it all on the field, today." Meaning to give there all, do everything they can, do there very best, don't give less then 100% to playing the game. "Leave it all out there!"

When it comes to our lives and our love we need to,"leave it all out there." We need to give everything that we have within us, everyday to our relationship with God and to our love of others. As we go out there today, as we live our lives, as we love our family, our friends, our neighbors, and the stranger, lets leave it all out there. When it gets hard to love, go ahead and leave it all out there today. Do everthing you can to love. At the end of the day will you have done everything you can, will you have given 100%, will you have loved and lived to the fullest? "Leave it all out there on the field of life today!"

In Christ's love and Mine,
Doug

Friday, November 7, 2008

Thank God it's Friday

One of the nice things about starting something new is you get to start your own traditions. This morning I decided that I wanted to start a tradition on the blog that I think is beneficial for living out my relationship with God. Each Friday (Thank Gods it's Friday!) will focus on being thankful and all that I have to be thankful for.
Sometimes, we (I) take many things for granted, and fail to stop and just say, "thank you" to God. So, each Friday I will consciously, whether it is a good day or a bad one, focus on what I am thankful for. (Editors note: Thanks to my friend Jeff and his blog for the idea he is spending every day in November writing about something he is thankful for.)

I thank God for my family. My wife Nicole is the most wonderful person, she is an excellent wife and mother who is beautiful on the inside and out. I am so blessed to share my life with her and I thank God every day for her. I thank God for my children who make me want to be a better me and who show me that I can love in ways that I never thought were possible. I am also thankful for a loving caring extended family-- great parents and in-laws, brothers and sisters.

I am thankful for my church family, Dockery Chapel. I am the luckiest pastor that I know. I thank God that I get to serve him alongside the people of Dockery. You are loving, caring, and compassionate. You inspire me, challenge me, encourage me. You let me be me and you love me. I would not want to trade places with any pastor I know. I am thakful for my church and this community.

I am thankful for the many friends that I have who pray for me, love me, support me, laugh with me, cry with me (although sometimes you say I do this too easily) and just plain do life with me.

This is just the beggining of the list that I can compile of things that I am thankful for today. I just want to stop and say "Thank you, God!" It seems as I think about these things it is apparrent that I have truly been blessed. As my friend Jeff says, "I have won the the Lottery!" when it comes to my wife, my children, my family, my church, and my friends.

What do you have to be thankful for today? Take some time today to say "Thank you" to God. Count your blessing. After all, it is Friday. Let's see what a little thaksgiving may do for our ordinary day.

In Christ's love and Mine,
Doug

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Morning Prayer


Loving God,

Today is your day. Thank you for giving me today. Lord, throughout this day I am going to need your help and there are going to be times that I try to do it all on my own. I know that I can't be the person that you want me to be and that I want to be if my focus is on me. Help me to keep my focus on you in everything that I do. And forgive me when I don't. Help me to love today. Help me to forgive. Help me to be a grace giver. Help me to recognise your image in everyone that I encounter. Help me to fan the flame of your Spirit rather than be a wet towel that smothers out your flame. Lord I pray that today I might glorify you in my relationships, in my encounters with others, in all that I say and do.

Lord, you know my needs today. When I am stressed, when I am frustrated, when I fall short of my prayer today, let these emotions be triggers for me to focus on you. Help me to turn these moment into a time for me to recognise my need for you. Thank you for today Lord! I Love you! In Christ name I pray, Amen

Have a Great Day!
In Christ's Love and Mine,
Doug

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

One day at a time

Well, I have made it to my second post. As I said this was going to be a discipline for me. If I am going to this is is going to take me doing it one day at a time.

Our relationship with God is the same way. As I woke up this morning I had the verse from Colossians rolling around in my head.

"And Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Colossians 3:17

I then went about my day with this passage running through my head.
I got ready.
I talked to Nicole and the kids.
I took the kids to school.
The kids I prayed.
I waved at folks from my car.
I greeted people at the school.
I listened to the radio.
I stopped back by the house to talk to Nicole again, talked to Darbey.
I came over to the church office.
Checked email
Read comments to the previous post.
Started this post.

This is real life. This has just been the start of my day. Boring to some I am sure. The passage form Colossians seems to say something to me about real life and how everything that I do, all of it, is an opportunity for me to do it the name of Jesus. Jesus is with me in every moment. Everything that I do whether it is getting out of bed, reading email, responding to others comments, talking to my wife and children, greeting people as they pass by, or listening to the radio, the scriptures say, can be done in the name of Jesus giving thanks to God the father through him.

How do we live our real lives in the name of Jesus. How do we get up in Christ presence giving God thanks. How can we talk to others around us in the name of Jesus giving thanks to God. What might change about the way that I do the ordinary stuff of my day if I consciously was aware that everything was an opportunity for me to love like Jesus and express Christ character. All that I did in word or deed I did in the name of Jesus giving thanks to God.

Today is the only day that I have to practice this and to work on it. I can't get caught up in the missed opportunities of yesterday and I can't worry about whether I will make the most of tomorrow's opportunities or not. We only have today to do whatever we do in the name of Jesus giving thanks to God the father through him.

In Christ's love and Mine,
Doug

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

What's with this blog?

Today I am going to begin this blog as my own spiritual discipline. I am not doing this thinking that I have something special to say (or to write) that others need to read. I am beginning this blog as way for me to develop a daily discipline of noticing, focusing, and being intentional about my relationship with God and what it means to live each day with Jesus.

I pray that this can be a place where I can think deeply about what it means for me to live out my relationship with God and this blog would be a dialogue with other folks that want to stop pretending, stop hiding, and stop playing church. I pray that this will be a place that I and others can wrestle with the teachings of Jesus and the implications that they have for our lives if we are going to be the church and not play church. I don't want to just talk about following Jesus but I want to follow Jesus and share stories about the crazy stuff that following Jesus gets me into.

I pray that this blog will help me, and others, get real about who we are and who's we are. I pray that this blog will help me, and those who read it, get real about our love of God and our love of all God's people. I pray that this blog helps me and you connect to a real God and live out a real relationship with Christ.

You might ask, "Why I refuse to play church? Why get real?"

Over the past couple of years it seems that God has been speaking to me through multiple outlets about this notion of getting real. When I read the Bible and the account of creation and the fall it seems that when sin enters into the picture what us humans do is-- we hide. Adam and Eve take leaves and make clothes, they hide in the garden hoping that God won't see them on his morning walk. And ever since that time we continue to hide. We put on masks, we pretend that we are something that we are not. We wear smiles when we are hurting on the inside. We act like we have it all together when everything is falling apart. We try to be better than we are, smarter than we are, holier than we are. What it seems God is saying is stop hiding, stop pretending, just be who you are-- I love you! I believe that God want to make a difference in this live and not just in a live to come. I believe that as we come out of hiding, and get real about our lives our love and God it will transform our lives and the world. When we stop playing church and be the church than the teaching of Jesus impact our lives and the lives of others around us. I want to be real, and refusing to play church is drawing a line in the sand and saying "I am not going to pretend anymore, I refuse to hear the word and not allow it to impact the way that I live my life."

I don't know all the answers. I may not know any. But I want to intentionally seek out answers and I want to do that with a community of folks who are committed to living out their relationship with God in real and tangible ways. I certainly have not arrived yet. I am certainly still in the shadows, I still have my own masks, my own stuff that I try to hide, but I am yearning, I am seeking and I pray that daily I am growing. This blog is an invitation to walk with me, to walk together as we move from the darkness into the light as we all allow God to live in us and through us.

Keep it real.
Doug