Getting Real About Life, about Love, and about God

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Be Still

Stop. Slow down. Be still. Listen.

No, really!

Stop. Slow down. Be still. Listen.

Take a deep breath. Notice your breathing in and out. Be still for just a minute. Try to clear your mind of the clutter. Clear your mind of the worry, the stress, the countless list of things to do. Clear your mind for just a minute. Slow down and breathe.

Be still. Listen.

Life is going on all around us. God is whispering your name. Listen. Be still for just a moment an let God have you. Give God your attention and listen. Don't talk. Don't think. Relax and fall into God's presence for this moment of your day.

Breathe.
Be still.

"The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still." Exodus 14:14

"The Levites calmed all the people, saying, "Be still, for this is a sacred day. Do not grieve." Nehemiah 8:11

"Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes." Psalm 37:7

"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress." Psalm 46:10-11

Really do it. You can afford the time. You can't afford not to.

Stop. Slow down. Listen. Be still.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Monday, March 30, 2009

What a friend we have in Jesus

One of my favorite tunes is "What a friend we have in Jesus". It is not the tune that draws me to this song. It is not the words either. I think what draws me to this song is the idea or understanding that Jesus is my friend.

Do you know that you have a friend in Jesus? I know it sounds good and it is the "christian" way of talking about our relationship with God. But, do we really cultivate our relationship with Jesus like we do a friendship? Do we see Jesus as our close friend that we can call at all hours of the day. A friend that we can count on when everything is falling apart. Do we treat Jesus as a friend that we just hangout with, watch the game with, or a movie with. (Yes, Jesus is there when we are hanging out, doing these things). Jesus is our friend that wants to do life with us. Jesus is with us ever moment of every day. Every moment is a moment to cultivate and work on our friendship with Jesus.

What a friend we have in Jesus!

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Friday, March 27, 2009

Thank God it's Friday!

Give thanks today.
Stop.
Take a minute and just thank God.
Thank God it's Friday.

"And now, friends, we ask you to honor those leaders who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience. Overwhelm them with appreciation and love!
Get along among yourselves, each of you doing your part. Our counsel is that you warn the freeloaders to get a move on. Gently encourage the stragglers, and reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet. Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs. And be careful that when you get on each other's nerves you don't snap at each other. Look for the best in each other, and always do your best to bring it out.
Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live. Don't suppress the Spirit, and don't stifle those who have a word from the Master. On the other hand, don't be gullible. Check out everything, and keep only what's good. Throw out anything tainted with evil."
1 Thessalonians 5:12-22 (The Message)

"In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NASB)



Love Today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Wants

The wants. We all have them. If we are honest we when we wake up each morning the wants begin and they sometimes don't end when we fall asleep. We dream about things that we want. The problem can be that we become consumed by our wants. The "want monster" takes over and we are consumed by all that we don't have rather than thankful for what we do have.

The 23 Psalm says, "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want." The Lord is all that we need. What combats the want monster is Jesus. The thing that fills the whole that we are trying to fill with all the things that we want, is Jesus. C.S. Lewis describes it as "a God sized whole." This is why we still feel empty and the wants continue even after we get the thing we thought we want. The whole can only be filled with God. The want that we ultimately want is Jesus.




Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What do the hands of God look like?

I am reading a book by Jeniffer Rothschild called "Touched by the Unseen Hand". In this book she writes about seeing the unseen hand of God and recognizing God's hand in our life. One of the points that is made in this book is that we miss seeing God's hand touching our lives because it comes in ways we are not looking for it to come. The package that God uses to touch us is often different than we anticipate. Sometimes it is too ordinary. A phone call from a friend. A chance encounter with a stranger. The hug of a child. A near miss. Sometimes it comes when and how we least expect it. The reality is that God is always reaching out to you and me because he loves us. God is always reaching out to touch us and to impact our lives. To inspire us, encourage us, build us up and to grow us. We need to become more aware of the ways that he touches our lives through ordinary everyday means and all circumstance and situations. We need to look for "Godcidences" rather than coincidences.

Another point that comes form this book it that God's hands look like the ones that are at the end of your arms. Your hands, God wants to use to touch the lives of other. Sometimes that touch will be flesh on flesh. A hug, a pat on the back, or a shoulder to lean on but the touch that God most want us to make with us, and with him, is heart to heart. Look for ways that Gd can use you to be his hands to touch the lives of others. Be open to the Spirits leading in your life. Do you fell like you need to give someone a call? Do it. Do you think you should write a note, send a gift, or take someone to lunch? Do it. Have you wanted to do something for someone or have you felt you should tell somebody an encouraging word? Do it. God just might touch someone else through you and more of us might see and feel his unseen hand in our lives.

This is not a spoiler for this book read it sometime when you can.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Re:creation

Last night we got some much needed rain in our area. I haven't heard how much yet, but by the looks of the puddles we got quite a bit. This time of the year is a beautiful time of the year. After this rain the grass is getting really green. On the hill in the front of the parsonage there are daffodils starting to bloom in the shape of a cross. You can see the signs of flower coming up around the church. All of this is reminders to me of God's on going creation. God's continual creating and recreating.

Do you you ever think that God is continually wanting to be recreated in you? Do you think about God creation, of you, as ongoing and continual. I think that God desires to be continual at work in us, creating us, into the people that he wants us to be. It is a process that is carried out as we live our lives in him and allow him to live in us.

It is a process like the seasons. Things die off and new things bloom. Things like guilt, shame, anger, judgement, hopelessness, sinful behavior, and selfishness die off as we allow God to reign in us. As his Holy Spirit is poured into our lives new life of love, hope, peace, joy, gratitude, grace and forgiveness sprout forth. The image of God in us, that we are created in, grows in us. A continually creation process.

What are you doing for recreation in your life? Is it allow God to be re:created in you?
Do you see signs of new life? Are there things dieing off that need to die off?

Take God up on the offer of new life and the promise of Easter. Allow God to continually be a work in you recreating you into the image of God.

Love today. Grow today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Friday, March 20, 2009

Thank God it's Friday!

There is always so much to be thankful for if I will just stop and think. The hardest part of doing my Friday "TGIF" post is trying to just think of one thing.

Here is the thing for today. Life.

I take it for granted so much but, I shouldn't it is a gift from God. I woke up this morning and or for this I am thankful. God has given me today to spend in relationship with Him. He has given me today to grow in this relationship. He has given me life so that I might have life with and in Him.

Today is a gift from God! It is a gift that God wants us to enjoy and be grateful for. Thank you God for giving me life and giving me this day to enjoy in relationship with you. Help me to make the most of today and to live it with grace and gratitude.

What are you thankful for today. Make sure that you stop and give God thanks.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Random Acts of Kindness Challenge

Who would like a challenge? I know some you might be thinking, "not another challenge life is too challenging as it is".

Here is the challenge---
Do something kind today.

Intentionally be kind to others. Randomly do kind acts so that people might see Jesus in you. Intentionally encourage someone. Intentionally show love in real and tangible ways to someone who is not expecting it. Buy someone lunch. Call someone and tell them that you love them. Hold a door for a stranger. Share a kind word. Build people up. Show kindness. Love.

Be creative in doing random acts of kindness.

Join me in this challenge and lets see how God shows up and transforms our day, our lives and our world. If you get a chance share your experience with the rest of us.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

March Madness

If you are a college basketball fan or just a casual observer of the sport you might be aware that we are in the portion of the season that is known as "March Madness". It is tournament time. The conference tournaments have finished and now it is time for the national tournaments and deciding who will be the number one team in the nation.

I first want to say go Mizzou! To my Alma Mater Central Missouri who is in the elite 8- Go Mules!

I am not sure why it is called march madness but it might be because people get a little crazy when it comes to rooting for their teams. It might be called march madness because there is so many games played in such a little span of time. It could be called march madness because people who are not interested in basketball all year long will suddenly pick a team in an office pool and try to cheer them on to victory. Maybe it is called march madness because people who have no interest in basketball and have no knowledge of the sport will pick game winners based on the colors of their uniforms (and they will win!).

What if we were just as fanatical and "mad" about our relationship with God as we can get about sports and other forms of entertainment. What if we just went "mad" about Jesus. He was all we could talk about, we invited everyone at work to take part in worshiping him. What if we became such devoted fans of God that we read up on him and studied his moves and became like him and dreamed of one day winning it all with Him. What if we chose to be fanatical followers of Jesus? Hmm.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!


I will admit to you right off the bat that I am not an expert on the history of St. Patrick's Day or St. Patrick. In fact, this morning I did a little research to help me understand the significance of this day and who St. Patrick is.

What I discovered was that St. Patrick may not have driven the snakes out of Ireland or used a three leaf clover to teach about the Trinity. I even learned that St. Patrick was not born in Ireland. He was from Britain and was a slave in Ireland.

I learned that Patrick was a missionary to Ireland. After he had been enslaved in that country he was called to return there to tell the people about his Jesus. Patrick felt as if he had been hand picked by God to take the gospel to the people of Ireland and to that end of the world. Ireland was his place that God had sent him to share the good news. Patrick followed God into the land that he had been enslaved in and he allowed God so that the people of Ireland could come to know a life transforming relationship with Jesus.

What is the world that God calls you into to share Jesus? Is it your work place? Is it your home? Is it you neighborhood? What is the end of the world that God is calling you to spread the good news in? Who are the people? Your family? Friends? Co-workers? The people you encounter throughout your day?

Each of us has a sphere of influence and a place on this world that we are being called to live out our relationship with Jesus and to follow him so that others can see Jesus. Most likely we don't have to leave our country and go to another to do this. That place is where God has put you right now. The people are the people that you interact with and encounter everyday. Spread the good news, show people Jesus, and share his love in your "Ireland" today.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Monday, March 16, 2009

What we say can be deadly poisen

The Sr. Sunday School class that I have the pleasure to be a part of on Sunday mornings has started studying the book of James. This morning I was reading ahead in James and I was
reminded again by the words of scripture about the power that the words that we say have on others.

"Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.
When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be."
James 3:1-10

Your words, my words, carry great power with them. The old playground saying "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me" is a LIE! It is not true. Words, as James puts it so clearly, are explosive. What we say to one another powerfully effects us.

Positive words can mean so much and do so much for a persons soul and negative words can destroy a person and crush there self-esteem.

Here is the thing that I have the most difficulty with; I think that we all understand this. We have all felt the effect of positive encouragement from someone and we all know, all to well, what unkind and mean words have done to us. We know the power of words for good and for bad.

If we know this than why do we continue to tear each other apart with the things that we say. Why don't we, who want to follow Jesus with our lives, choice to build up and encourage with our words rather than tear down and destroy. We need to constantly remember that the words that we say have a great power. We need to remember that our tongue and what we say reveals ultimately our heart. Praises and curses can't come from the same place. If we are tearing people up with our words, dropping bombs and throwing daggers, than it reflects something about us and our need for God. The tongue is powerful. We need to constantly strive to use it for good-- for God.

I pray that you all have a blessed and wonderful day. God loves you and so do I.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Friday, March 13, 2009

TGIF

Did you get to see the sunrise this morning. God gave us the most beautiful sunrise over Trenton, MO today. Bright oranges and reds, deep golds, it was awe inspiring. Beautiful.

Thank you God for the beauty of your creation.

What are you thanking God for today?
Have you seen something that only God can be responsible for?
Have you noticed any beauty in his creation?

Give God thanks. Find something to be thankful for today.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Thursday, March 12, 2009

God is Good all the Time & All the Time God is Good.

Last night we had a wonderful start to a new marriage enrichment class based on the movie Fireproof. There are over thirty people in this class learning about the biblical understanding of love and how our relationships can have a love like Christ loves us.

What a blessing to have all these folks in this class. I am confident that relationship and marriages will be blessed by this study and I thank God for this response to the course.

God is good all the time and all the time God is good!

This is quite a statement of our faith. God is good all the time and all the time God is good. I realize that I say this as I share the blessing of a great marriage enrichment class, but this statement is true of every situation. Had no one shown up for the class. had there been no class, God is still good.

In the moments of life that seem to be filled with bad we can be confident that God is still good and that the goodness and the grace of God is there to be found. God is there. God is here for us us to see and to lean on. All the time God is good. We need to look for the good. Look for God. In the midst of darkness there is a light shinning and the darkness cannot overtake the light because God is good all the time, and all the time, God is good!

Thank you God!

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Change

I hope you don't mind but I decided to make some visual changes to the blog just to symbolize the change that I pray is taking place in me and others throughout this season of Lent. I wanted more green and less brown. Because when we are green we are growing.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

PS> read on to read today's post.

Check Please.

We are now 2 weeks into Lent and I just want to ask the question, "How is it going?"

How are things going with your relationship with God?
How are things going with directing your thoughts and your time toward Jesus?
How are you doing with the spring cleaning?
How are you doing with opening your heart and your life to God so that it can be transformed and changed?
How is it going with you and Jesus?
How is your soul?

Please, don't hear these questions as nosy, or judgmental because they are not intended in that way. These are the questions I am asking myself this morning. They are my way of checking up on myself. I am 2 weeks into this season of Lent where I am trying to be more intentional about my relationship with Jesus and I don't want to get through Lent and Easter and then suddenly realize that I had all this desire, hopes, and dreams for Lent, but then I got busy and lost focus. Today is a day to check up. To make sure that I am matching my actions with my intentions this season. Am I seeking God? Am I allowing God to seek me? Am I allowing my relationship with God to change me?

You know something--this is growth for me. Accountability, trying to match actions and intentions, checking up before it is too late, these are all signs of growth.

Join me today in just checking up on how your lent is going. If there are places that you have fallen short of your desire don't beat yourself up, or feel guilty--- lean into the grace of Jesus. If there are places that you can see change taken place give God the glory. Recommit yourself to focusing on God and growing in your relationship with Him. Be encouraged and look for Jesus in your day. Easter is coming!

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Passion

Music has an amazing way of really getting to me. I think that God uses music at times to get my attention and turn my thoughts toward God. Music has the ability to quickly connect me to God. This is one of the reasons why I try to listen to Christian music throughout my day. God uses it to keep me focused and it helps me to worship God. This might be true of you as well?

This morning as I was getting ready for my day and then taking the kids to school I kept sing one line of a song by Matthew West over and over. The line that I kept singing was, "I don't want to go through the motion's. I don't want to spend one more day without your all consuming passion inside of me."

Now, I know what many of you who read this blog regularly are probably thinking, "here he goes again on this being real and not pretending. Here comes yet another post about not going through the motions." Well that is not what I think Gods is laying on my heart this morning. Although it is definitely a part of the message of the song "Motions."

What is really speaking to me this morning is this idea of having the passion of Christ inside of me. Passion. I think this could be something that we lack greatly in our world. And I know at times I lack it in my own life. To many times we are a people without passion. We are neither hot or cold. We are passionless. Sometimes my passion, when I have any, it is misdirected or misguided. I am passionate about a sports team or a hobby.

I want the passion of Christ in me. I want the all consuming passion of Christ in me. A passion to be in God's presence. A passion to learn more about God. A passion to love God. A passion to love the things that God loves. A passion to tell people about my Jesus. A passion to what Jesus invites me to do. A passion to risk it all for the sake of Jesus. A passion that makes me hungry and excited for God and the things of God. A passion that consumes me with God.

Are you passionate about anything? Do you long to have the passion of Christ in you. Do you long to be filled with the passion that led Jesus to the "Passion"? Are you seeking that kind of love in your life? Do you long for this kind of passions for others and for God? Are you opening your life in this time of lent so that you can become more passionate about God. Pray for God's Spirit to fill you with this passion. "I don't want to go through the motions. I don't want to spend one more day," passionless. I want to be filled with passion of Christ.

Be passionate today. Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Here is a video of the Matthew West song "Motions" if you would like to hear it. Enjoy.

Monday, March 9, 2009

This is cool!

During Lent we have been talking about seeking to see the face of Jesus and settling for nothing less than that. I received this in my email and thought I would share it with you today. It is very cool.



Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Friday, March 6, 2009

Thank God it's Friday!


What are you grateful for today?

No, really what are you thanking God for today? I would love to hear from you today and hear what all of you are thankful for. If you get a chance let others know what you are thankful for. Tell me about it so I can share in the thanksgiving with you.

I am thankful for the sunshine! And I am thankful for the Son shine in my life!!!

Give God the thanks that God deserves today. Enjoy the day that he has given you.

Love today.
In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Lent Day 8 -- A Prayer

Father God,
I am grateful for today. I am grateful for the sunshine and the warm that I woke up to. I am grateful that you call me your child. I am thankful for the opportunity that this day brings for me to open up my life to you.

Today, I invite you in to my heart and my life in a fresh new way. I invite you to search me and to know me, to stretch and teach me. I invite you to make a home in me. Change me today God. Make me more like you. Make me more loving, more caring, and more compassionate. Change me so that I care more about you and about others. Make me hungry. Make me hungry for you. Make me hungry to serve you and to love you with all that I say and do.

This is the desire of my heart today Lord and I am now going to venture out into the world. Keep me mindful of the desire that I have as I go through my day. In those moments that I fall short, when I forget my desire, and when I make mistakes gently remind me of my desire. Forgive me. Let me see you and let feel and know your grace so that I might extend it to others. Come inside this heart of mine today and make it your home. In Jesus name, Amen.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Make a Home for Jesus

I woke up this morning with a song going through my mind that I want to share with you today. It is about making our hearts a home for Jesus. I have pasted the lyrics for those of us who like to read them and also I have a video of the song by Shaun Groves.

Take, me, make me
All You want me to be
That's all I'm asking, all I'm asking


Welcome to this heart of mine
I've buried under prideful vines
Grown to hide the mess I've made
Inside of me

Come decorate, Lord

Open up the creaking door
And walk upon the dusty floor
Scrape away the guilty stains
Until no sin or shame remain


Spread Your love upon the walls
And occupy the empty halls
Until the man I am has faded
No more doors are barricaded

Chorus:

Come inside this heart of mine
It's not my own
Make it home
Come and take this heart and make it
All Your own
Welcome home

Take a seat, pull up a chair
Forgive me for the disrepair
And the souvenirs from floor to ceiling
Gathered on my search for meaning
Every closet's filled with clutter
Messes yet to be discovered
I'm overwhelmed, I understand
I can't make this place all that You can


I took the space that You placed in me
Redecorated in shades of greed
And I made sure every door stayed locked
Every window blocked, and still You knocked


Take me, make me
All You want me to be
That's all I'm asking, all I'm asking



"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)

Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I'm about; See for yourself whether I've done anything wrong—then guide me on the road to eternal life. Psalm 139:23-24 (The Message)

Make a home for Jesus.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Spring Cleaning

I have heard Lent described as a a time of spring cleaning for the church and for followers of Jesus. It is a time for us to clear out the cobwebs, clear out the clutter, and remove the dust from the corners and areas of our life that maybe we have not given the attention that they deserve. Lent is time to reorganize and to sort through our priorities and make room for God to grow in us and to grow us as people.

I have to admit I don't like cleaning very much. It is not very much fun for me. When I lived at home with my parents, every Saturday morning we would get up and before we watched any cartoons (remember how cartoons where only on Saturday mornings and before and after school for an hour or so? Now they have there own channels and are on nonstop.) we would have to clean the house. Now you need to understand that we kept a very clean house so each Saturday was not just pick up and straighten up, it was cleaning time. Sweep, dust, mop, organize, vacuum, wash, rinse and repeat. Get the cobwebs, get the corners, and remove the dust. This might be why I don't like cleaning very much.

However, it helps me understand this image of Lent and to understand what this season of lent is about. Also it helps me appreciate what the outcome is. You see I still can remember the way our home smelt growing up. It was clean. I was never embarrassed to bring a friend over to the house. It was always clean. There was no frantic running about trying to hide things or quickly put the trash behind a closed door when people came to the house. We had done the cleaning on Saturday to make the house ready for the week.

Lent is the time for us do some cleaning. It is a time for us to give attention to some pieces of our life that maybe we have neglected. It is time to reorganize and prioritize what is meaningful in your life. I think it can be fun, I can remember moments when cleaning on Saturday mornings that as a family we just had fun. I remember my Dad trying to make us all laugh and enjoy ourselves. I can here him singing "whistle why you work." More than anything I know that it is worth it. If we will but the work into it-- great is the reward!

This cleaning will bring all of us closer to God and closer to the people that we really long to be. This cleaning can change our lives and the lives of people around us. This cleaning can free us to live.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Monday, March 2, 2009

Spring is Coming

I have to admit it I have cabin fever. I am ready for spring to be here. March is here and the weather is in that kind of crazy pattern of swinging back and forth from good to bad weather. I think the reason I have such cabin fever this year is that February did the same thing. We have a few good days to get me excited about spring coming and then there is snow.

This weekend we got lucky and missed the snow but it did get cold. However, they are calling for 76 by Thursday! Spring is coming. It will be here. The storms, the snow, the ice--only temporary. Spring is coming. Stick around the weather is going to change. The sun will come out and warm things. New life will spring up. What seems cold and dead will come to life. Stick around, persevere Easter is coming!

Maybe there is a lesson we can learn form the change of seasons?

Love today.

In Christ love and mine,
Doug