Getting Real About Life, about Love, and about God

Friday, July 31, 2009

TGIF

Have you ever had that feeling of being energized even though you are totally exhausted?
How about working really hard but enjoying every minute as if it was no work at all?

I think this is what happens when we are working at what God wants us to do. I think of it as working in God's "sweet spot." The illustration is taken from hitting a baseball. When you hit the ball with the "sweet spot" on the bat you don't feel the contact.

When we are doing what God created us to do, at the right time, even though the work is hard it energizes us. Our spirits are lifted and our souls are nourished even though we might phisically be exhausted.

This is what I want to thank God for today. What are you thankful for?

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

When the shoe fits

Vacation Bible school is going on this week at Dockery. As I have watched the kids and adult volunteers having so much fun I have been reminded again of a truth. There is just nothing like someone using the gifts and talents God has given them to serve God. People see Jesus and we are all built up and grow in the image of God.

What are the skills and talents that God has given you? Are you using them to serve him and others? How can you use those gifts to build up others?

You and your talents, gifts, and skills are needed in the body of Christ. When we use them for God we are blessed and grow. Find your shoe and wear it. Find a place for you to serve as God has created you to serve.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Monday, July 27, 2009

Let the Children Come...

This week is VBS week for us at Dockery. We set a goal to reach 45+ kids this year. Today was day two and we reached our goal. Yay God!

This means I will be getting slimed on Thursday.

I thank God for each of the kids that come to VBS this week and that I will be "slimed."

Invitation is a powerful thing. Who knows what difference will be made in the lives of these children because someone invited them to VBS. They hear about Jesus and how much they are loved by God. Maybe one of the songs sticks in their mind and at a given time they will remember and surrender their lives to Jesus. It all begins with an invitation. Someone cared enough to invite them.

Who can you invite, and what can you invite them to, so they can encounter Christ in their lives?

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Friday, July 24, 2009

Thank God it's Friday!

This week is pre-VBS week. That means that I have been going 100 miles an hour getting sets made and decorating for VBS along with the usually ministry things to do. Needless to say my blogging has been interrupted. Pardon the interruption, please.

No matter how long or how busy the week gets there is never not enough time to give thanks. I am thankful for an opportunity for our church to have an impact on our community and on the kids of the area through vacation Bible school. I am thankful for the people who put in the long hours and the hard work because they want love others in this way. Next week is going to be a great week!

All week I have been thanking God for grace. Grace that forgives. Grace that heals. Grace that makes whole. Grace that loves when it is hard to love. Grace that holds us when we are unsteady. Grace that picks us up when we fall. Grace that strengthens us when we are week. Grace that is sufficient for all of our needs.

Thank you God!

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Living Together

I have had this ongoing thought about being the church that keeps hounding me. I am going to try to write about it today just to try to begin to formulate this vision or idea that continues to hang there in my mind and work on my. Maybe writing about it will help to bring it more into the light and you can tell me what you think.

It is the idea or understanding of the church as people doing life together.
Often time our understanding of being the church is when we do "churchy" stuff. If we are doing things like Bible studies, or Sunday school, or worship, or mission work it is in those moments that we are being the church. We go to church like church is something that we go to. This then implies that church is something that we leave or go away from. What this leads to is compartmentalizing our lives into church stuff and non-church stuff. Secular and spiritual.

This nagging thought is about de-compartmentalizing. This nagging thought is about making all of life spiritual. It is about removing labels that say this is church and this isn't. It is about becoming the church rather than going to church. It is about being a community that is radically committed to Christ and his teaching and irrationally devoted to one another. It is about loving like crazy. It is the thought that we would do life together and share our lives with each other.

This thought is a community of people that does everything together. They laugh together, cry together, pray together, worship together, serve one another, and enjoy one another.

Do you you have a community of people that you do life with? Do you have a group of people that you get together with to have fun, eat, laugh, and worship with? Do you have a group of people that you get together with to play, relax, celebrate and serve with? Do you have a group of people that you hang out with and find support and encouragement?

Play and pray. Connect with others and connect with God. Serve and be served. Everything is Spiritual. Everything we do, wherever we are, whatever we do Christ is at the center of it. Christ is with us.

A small group might be a sports team, or a group that likes to watch movies or a TV show together. Maybe they enjoy eating exotic foods. It might be a group that gets together around a common interest. Around something that they enjoy doing and God is invited to be a part. We do the things that we love doing, the things that make up our lives, with one another and with God. For one another and for God. Being the church not doing church or going to church.

Life together. Life with God. Sharing our lives, the highs the lows--everything with God and with one another.

This is just the tip of the iceberg that is this nagging thought. I am sure that there will be more. It is about our whole lives. It is about living in community. It is Acts 2 stuff. It is real stuff. It is incarnational. (Christ being made real in our world.) It is more than can be described in this post. It is about love for God and love for one another.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Monday, July 20, 2009

Prayer

Gracious, loving God, thank you. Thank you for a day to seek you with all my heart, all my soul and all my strength. There will be times today that I will seek other things. Help me to be aware of those moments. Help me to turn to you. Help me to love and to live in Jesus name today.
Amen.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Friday, July 17, 2009

TGIF Experiment

Let's try something today. Today I need all of your help to write this thank God it's Friday post. I am grateful for community and the connection that we have to one another. So, today I need you to help write this post.

This post is about what you are thankful for. Please post a comment to share with everyone else what you are thanking God for today.

To be continued (in the comments)...

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Thursday, July 16, 2009

WHEW!

Well, I have made it home from vacation. I did not go into hibernation, get lost or run off. I just got back home and got very busy. I am sorry that I was unable to get online and make a post. But all is good.

God is good all the time and all the time God is good.

Today is my birthday and I am going to just thank God for life. I am also reminded today of my birth in Christ and give thanks for that. I thank God that as I grow older I might also grow up in Him.

The questions to ponder: Am I more Christ like in my actions, character, and love today than I was last year? Am I growing in Christ or just growing old?

The promise is that the work God begins in us he will bring to completion. The promise is fulfilled as we allow Christ to live in us and work in us. Daily we need to be born anew as we die to self and live for Jesus.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Friday, July 10, 2009

Surprise Gift

Our camping vacation continues to be filled with blessing, fun, joy, and relaxation. Yesterday we had our friends Andy, Wendy and their kids join us from Marshall as well as Rex and Joanna from Dockery. Here at Truman Lake we have slowed down and are treading the fine line between camping and doing absolutely nothing. We are loving it.

We have been doing a lot of biking, which is necessary because we have been doing a lot of eating as well. Tanner, our 9 year old that gets all of our 11 year old's hand me downs, was trying to keep up on our bike rides on a bike that was way too small for him. While we were on a trip to Wally World to restock on the necessities he noticed a new bigger bike that he thought would be perfect for him. We had not been planning on getting a new bike on the trip and Tanner didn't ask but that night Nicole and I decided that I would get up early the next morning and get that bike for Tanner so that he could enjoy the rest of the camping trip on a new bike. Surprise!



Boy was he surprised. And Nicole and I were filled with joy that we made our kids day. He threw his arm around us and said "Thank you! Thank you!" You can imagine that he has spent most of the time he has had available on the bike.

"If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." Matthew 7:11-12

Hmmm.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Living by Grace

I have been thinking about grace.
Not the prayer that is said before a meal or the woman named Grace. But GRACE. God's grace. Grace is sometimes difficult to grasp because we live in a world that tells us you have to earn things like love, merit, and favor. The world we live in tells us that we get what we deserve and that nothing is free.

But God's love is freely given to everyone. God's work of salvation, the gift of Christ atonement (at - one - ment) is freely extended to all. We don't have to do something to earn it-- we could never do enough to earn it. We don't have to pay for it. We don't deserve God's love and salvation but he loves us anyway. We only have to receive God's love and salvation.

This is what is so amazing about grace. God loves you and me and God gives us what we don't deserve but he also does't give us what we do deserve.

What I have been thinking about today is that being saved by grace should lead to living by grace. The same grace that I receive from God I should extend to others. I should show this amazing grace to my wife, children, family, friends, enemies and strangers. I need to love regardless. People should not have to earn my love, merit, or favor. My love and forgiveness should not be based on people earning it or deserving it.

Living in and living by grace. Grace is a hard concept to grasp but I think we know it when we see it. I pray that grace can be made visiable in and through me. I am saved by grace, may I live by grace, and share grace.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The thought for today

It was John the baptist who said it. They asked him if he was the Christ that was to come. John told them about Jesus and then he said a powerful statement. John said, "He must become more and I must become less."

Jesus must become greater and we must become less. This is what the progression of my life should be like. Jesus becoming more and Doug becoming less.

Day by day I should become more like Jesus in my love, my character, my thoughts, my speech, and my actions. Day by day I hope I am less self-centered and more Christ centered.

What am I doing to make Jesus more and me less?

"He must become more I must become less."

I think this is more than just a thought. It is a goal for life.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Monday, July 6, 2009

Love Them Like Jesus

Thirteen years ago today Nicole and I were married. As we celebrated our anniversary today and I spent time with the kids I could not help but think about how too often it is the ones closest to us that get us at our worst. I am sorry for this.

I think that the place for us to begin to love like Jesus loves is right at home. We need to love our kids, our spouses, our moms, our dads, our family like Jesus has loved us. Began at home. Home is a mission field. Home is the place that we need to offer forgiveness, show grace, love unconditionally, and serve. Home, with our family and those closest to us, is not where I should be at my worst, it is the place that I should begin to be my best.

How can you love your family and those closest to you like Jesus? Live out your faith and your relationship with Jesus in a real way with those you are with everyday. Love them like Jesus.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Saturday, July 4, 2009

What if?

Independence Day.

I woke on this July 4th morning thinking about our need for God and for one another. What if Independence is one of those fake rabits that we chase after in life? What if Independence leads us further from God and from what is really living?

I have become convinced that independence is not what I should be declaring if I want to live out and live in relationship with Jesus. It is dependence. The secret to Kingdom living is dependence on God and not on ourselves. When we understand our need for God and for each other; when we help others and give what we have so that those that don't have can have as well, than real freedom comes.

When we let go of control and depend on God this is when I experience the freedom of Christ.

Dependence. What if God's plan for freedom in our world, to end world hunger, to end war, to end all the "isms", is for us to stop declaring our independence and recognize and profess our dependence. To declare our common "needyness" What if?

Have a safe and joyful 4th!

Declare your Dependence!

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Friday, July 3, 2009

Seeing God

I was reminded today about a class that I had in seminary. The class was on the Holy Spirit. What I remember about the class was our main assignment, if we chose to accept it, was to end each day by reflecting on how we saw the Spirit at work in our day. Dr. Chung told us that if we did this we would not have to take the final.

This is a good assignment for life.

How have you experienced God today? How was the Spirit at work in your day?

While on vacation I have tried to really look for God and open myself up to allow God to work in me. I have been experiencing the Spirit through my family and my friends. I have experienced God through the quite moments in nature and in the joy of our family fun.

Look for God. At the end of the day stop and reflect on how God was made real.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Relationships

I know that I have said this before. It is about the relationships. It is not about religion it is about a relationship with Jesus.

You and I are created to be in relationship with God and with one another. I have been reminded of how true this all is while on this vacation. We have had the great opportunity on this trip to see many old friends. Each day it seems that we reconnect with someone else.

Often on vacations the highlights are the things that you see. This trip so far has really about the people that we have seen. We are doing lots of fun things but we are experiencing God's grace and love through these old friends.

It is about the relationships. A week or so I got an email, I don't remember all the details but I remember one thing. It talked about how we get thinks backward at times because we fall in love with things and we use people.

It is all about the relationships. Things are to be used. People are to be loved.

Invest in your relationships. Take someone to lunch or for a cup of coffee.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug