Getting Real About Life, about Love, and about God

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Baby Steps

My baby, Darbey, started walking this week. She finally, took that first step that led to a second, and then a third, and now she is walking.

It has been amazing to watch her. She walked later than our other kids. She is more cautious. She made sure that she could stand and balance before she ever tried to take a step on her own. Darbey made sure that she understood how to step while holding onto something before she ever ventured off on her own. There were small steps from the table to the couch to get her confidence up and then she finally took that first step and then added another to it.

As I have watch Darbey God has caused me to think about my walk with him. I think about how cautious I am at times. How afraid I am to take the step, or to risk, because I fear I might fall or worse fail. I think about how the real growth happens when I finally take that step. I think about how when I do fall, God helps me back up.

Darbey, has learned this, when you fall you get up and take another step. At times she needs help up, but she has gotten up on her own. In our walk with Jesus, failure is never getting up and taking another step. Failure is to not risk at all. Failure is to stay so cautious that we never move toward Jesus. We will fall. It is how we respond to the fall that makes it failure or not.

We may learn the most when we fall. We may grow the deepest through falling and getting up again. We also have others who will help us get up. We have fellow baby steppers in this thing called life that will reach out a hand and pull us up. They will clap and celebrate when they see us walking closer to Jesus. These are our friends in Christ.

Finally, I have noticed a new since of joy in Darbey. This can be translated to our walking with Jesus as well I think. There is no joy like the joy that comes with walking with Jesus. There is a new since of joy with each step that we take in faith.

This is a process. Following Jesus and growing to be more like him is a process of walking in faith. Taking one baby step and than another. It is a process of getting up and moving forward. It is learning, it is risking, it is not allowing fear to win. It is joyful.

Take your next step.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Life Changing God

God is a God of life change and he wants to take the mess that we make of our lives and turn them into a message. God desires to change our lives and He will do it if we will just trust him with our lives. He will give each of us a testimony to share that points to his life changing power. A friend of mine shared this video with me on Facebook. He played it at church during their worship service. I wanted to share it with you today so that you might be inspired but, more importantly you might think about the message that you have to share. And the message that you long to share.



How has God changed your life? In what ways are you needing to experience God's life changing power. What is the mess that you long to be turned into a message that points to the life changing power of God?

I know that God is a life changing God. I have experienced it first hand. I am a life that has been changed. I am a broken a vessel in the hands of God. My sign said depression, addiction, hopeless and loveless. It now reads follower of Jesus. Pastor for 11 years. Lover.

I also want to just remind us us that these cardboard testimonies get there start among the homeless in our society. People who long to know life change and transformation. What might we do to help them turn their signs over to reveal life change and transformation.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Monday, September 28, 2009

Service vs. Servanthood

Yesterday at church I talked about how I thought that what I see God calling us to is servanthood rather than service. The way that I see it, service is a task. Service is something that I do. Servanthood on the other hand is a way of life. Servanthood is a lifestyle of giving it all away for the other.

The example that Jesus gives us, and invites us to, is servanthood. Giving our lives away in service to God. Giving our time, or talents, our gifts and our resources for the benefit of others in service to God.

Servanthood, submission, humility, sacrifice. These are not 21st century words. They are counter to our culture. Yet, they are words that would describe the way of life for those that want to follow Jesus.

How can we move from service to servanthood?

Love today?

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Friday, September 25, 2009

Thank God it's Friday!

God loves you and there is nothing you can do about it. From time to time, I will have us say this to each other at church. It is a truth that we/I need to be reminded of on a regular bases. For multiple reasons, (maybe it is not what other tell us, or the world send a different message, or we don't fell loved, or the church told us different or acted different... the list could go on and on) we forget this truth.

But here is the truth, and it is worth our thanks,-- GOD LOVES YOU! NO MATTER WHAT! GOD LOVES YOU AND THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT. YOU CAN'T GET GOD TO STOP LOVING YOU. GOD LOVES YOU!

That thing you did. The stuff you got into. What you are about to do. None of that. Nothing you will do will make God stop loving you. No matter what people tell you. No matter what your feelings tell you. You are loved.

Give God thanks today. Tell God that you love him too!

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Friendly Reminder

There is no need to worry today. God knows what we need and his grace is sufficient for all of our needs. You don't have to stress out. You don't have to have all the answers. You don't have to be perfect. You don't have to get uptight. The more we try to be in control the more out of control things will be. The great theologian Bobby McFerron said it best, "Don't worry be happy."

Jesus said, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."


Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bright Son Shinning

I as drove east into Trenton this morning, I could hardly see because the sun was shinning. The sun was so bright.

As I drove and prayed for the start of a new day I thought about how bright will I shine today?

I prayed that today, I would shine brightly with the Son. That I would reflect the light of Christ into the world.

Shine today for Jesus.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Monday, September 21, 2009

Better late than Never

It is late in the evening as I finally get a chance to write a few words for today. My thought as I turn to the blog is "better late than never." For me, it is better to take this time and write late in the day than not take the time at all. I need this discipline.

This makes me think about how perfect God's timing is. God's timing is always perfect. No matter what, we can trust that God will always be right on time. We may want God to work sooner. We may think that God should do something now, or yesterday, or at a certain time but, God wll be right on time. Trust that. God is never too late and God is never too early. God is always right on time.

Whatever you are going through trust in God's perfect timing.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Friday, September 18, 2009

TGIF: 1 Chronicles 16:8-36

8 Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name;
make known among the nations what he has done.

9 Sing to him, sing praise to him;
tell of all his wonderful acts.

10 Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.

11 Look to the LORD and his strength;
seek his face always.

12 Remember the wonders he has done,
his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced,

13 O descendants of Israel his servant,
O sons of Jacob, his chosen ones.

14 He is the LORD our God;
his judgments are in all the earth.

15 He remembers his covenant forever,
the word he commanded, for a thousand generations,

16 the covenant he made with Abraham,
the oath he swore to Isaac.

17 He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree,
to Israel as an everlasting covenant:

18 "To you I will give the land of Canaan
as the portion you will inherit."

19 When they were but few in number,
few indeed, and strangers in it,

20 they wandered from nation to nation,
from one kingdom to another.

21 He allowed no man to oppress them;
for their sake he rebuked kings:

22 "Do not touch my anointed ones;
do my prophets no harm."

23 Sing to the LORD, all the earth;
proclaim his salvation day after day.

24 Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous deeds among all peoples.

25 For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;
he is to be feared above all gods.

26 For all the gods of the nations are idols,
but the LORD made the heavens.

27 Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and joy in his dwelling place.

28 Ascribe to the LORD, O families of nations,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength,

29 ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name.
Bring an offering and come before him;
worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.

30 Tremble before him, all the earth!
The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved.

31 Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let them say among the nations, "The LORD reigns!"

32 Let the sea resound, and all that is in it;
let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them!

33 Then the trees of the forest will sing,
they will sing for joy before the LORD,
for he comes to judge the earth.

34 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever.

35 Cry out, "Save us, O God our Savior;
gather us and deliver us from the nations,
that we may give thanks to your holy name,
that we may glory in your praise."

36 Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.
Then all the people said "Amen" and "Praise the LORD."

Thank God it's Friday! Tell God what you are thankful for.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Practical Trust Volume 2

The other day I wrote about trusting God and how it is easier to say sometimes than it is to do. My thought on that since then has been that each day gives us practical ways to show our trust of God. When events of life become worrisome and stressful they our practical moments to trust God or not. In a way I think that was what Jesus was saying when he talked about worry. He said we have no need to worry because we can trust God. He didn't say we wouldn't worry. He knows us too well, he just said we can trust God rather than worry?

Maybe worry and stress are indicators of the degree to which we are trusting God or trusting something else? Maybe worry and stress can be used as triggers to remind us that we can trust God and to turn to him? What do you do when when worry and stress build up? What do we put our trust in in those moments

What do you do when things don't go your way? Do you trust that God is still at work? Do you trust that God is big enough to help you with your feelings of disappointment? Do we trust that we need God more than we need to have things are way? Practical faith. Practical trust.

My other thought on this is that God is not an impractical God. The way in we we show our trust is always going to be in practical ways. In lived out ways. Not by our thinking or saying, but by our doing.

What are other practical ways that we can show our trust of God in our ordinary everyday lives?

God is more than enough.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Prayer Warriors

Prayer warrior is kind of a powerful image. I have been thinking about this image and pondering what is meant by it. Warrior evokes kind of a battle or fighting image that I sometimes struggle with. I mean I am a peace and love guy so that kind of stuff is hard sometimes. But the image that I see is of someone who is standing in the gap, like in the book of Ezekiel. God ask is there is anyone who would stand in the gap and pray for his children that had turned away. God is looking for prayer warriors who will pray. Who will battle on there knees, hand to hand, lifting each other up to Jesus through prayer. Pray warriors are people who will place their lives and the lives of others into God's hands and seek God's will to be done.

One thing that I have learned is that every time God does a powerful thing in a life, in a family, in a community, or in a church it has been under girded by prayer. Prayer warriors stood in the gap and prayed for God's will. Not that prayer changed the mind and the heart of God. It is that prayer changes us to live and to see God's will. Prayer enables us to connect to the power source and to become what God desires. Prayer is not just important it is necessary if we want to follow Jesus with our lives.

I wonder if we (Dockery) couldn't get more intentional about tapping into God's power through prayer. I would love to see a prayer group come together just to pray and to seek God's will and to pray for our community and it's leaders. I also think it would revive us to have a group of people who prayed with me before our worship times and folks who prayed through our service. Maybe, God has laid it on your heart to be a part of a prayer group like this. Maybe, you have never thought of doing it but would consider standing in the gap for Dockery Chapel in this way. If you would be interested in forming or being apart of a prayer group lets talk and get them going. If you want to enhance your prayer life and grow deeper in you faith I would encourage you to take part in an intentional prayer group and in October we are going to have a class on Wednesday evenings on prayer that you might find enriching.

Powerful and miraculous things happen when God's people pray.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Trusting God

It is easy to say that we trust God. Easy to "say". I mean it rolls of the tongue and the words are not difficult to pronounce. I say it all time.

In practice it is not so easy. In practice it is a struggle. To let go of the control and trust God with, and for, the stuff of life is hard.

We live in a world that has conditioned us to not trust anything. We have trouble trusting relationships, leadership and ourselves. So, who do we trust? Our world seems out of control so who do we let be in control?

At the heart of following Jesus is trust. Trusting Jesus with our lives. Trusting that when we let go of control that God is in control. Trusting that God will do what God says he will do. Trusting that God is all I need. Trusting that God will never leave me or forsake me. Trusting that with God all things are possible.

What I have learned in my life is that I can trust God. When I let go and let God have it, God is always faithful to me. God never has left me even when others have. God has never let me down even in the times I have let myself down. God cares for me and provides me everything I need. I can even trust that he knows my needs better than me. God has always provided.

So, now I sit in a waiting room while Delaney has a minor oral surgery. Did I say how easy it is to say "trust God"? It is time to practice it. I am giving up control because I trust God.

What practical way are you trusting God today? You can trust God. He is big enough and his grace is sufficient.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Friday, September 11, 2009

Thank God it's Friday

This morning as I road into town to take the kids to school there were men placing flags around the courthouse. I could see the big flag on the flagpole at the center of town half way up the pole just hanging there. It then hit me that today was September 11th. Before 2001 this was just an normal day. It was a day that people celebrated birthdays and anniversaries. (Happy Birthday MR. A.!). It was a day just like other days, people work, people play, people celebrate and people mourn. It was just normal September 11th. But since 2001 this day can't be lived without remembering and thinking about what happened in New York, Pennsylvanian and Washington.

As we remember we can still give thanks. We need to give thanks. We need to thank God today. As I think about the events of 8 years ago and all that has happened since I thank God for being a God who never leaves us or forsakes us. I am thankful that God was there on that day with the people who lost lives. I am thankful God is always with us in the good and the bad, the tragedy and the triumph. I am thankful that God wipes the tears of all those who mourn. I am thankful that God is with those today that are hurting because of their losses. I am thankful that God is a God of hope and of healing. Not fear and hate.

I am thankful today for people who give their lives everyday so that others might live. I am thankful for men and women who serve in the military, work in law enforcement, and serve as fire and rescue workers. I am thankful for EMT's, doctors & nurses. I am thank God for ordinary everyday heroes. One area that God has called me into as I try to follow him is to serve as the chaplain for our volunteer Fire Department in Grundy County. Getting to know these men and women, and serving along side them, is a great blessing to me. Thank you God for each and every one of them.

I am thankful that today there is still some normalcy. All though, this day will always be remembered for the events of 2001 there are still reasons to celebrate. Birthdays and Anniversaries. There is still joy. There is still healing. Hope is alive. Fear has not won. There are still reasons to give thanks. God is with us.

Take a moment today and give God thanks. Remember those who are hurting. Remember the everyday heroes. Remember God never leaves you and is there for you no matter what you go through. Give thanks.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Thursday, September 10, 2009

People of the Way

One time Jesus, in trying to help us understand who he was, described himself as "the way". In the New Testament, we hear that the early followers of Jesus were described as people of the way. They lived lives that where marked by a radical commitment to Jesus' teaching and an irrational devotion to one another. They lived a different way. They lived following the way.

It is a beautiful way to think about how I (we) live are lives. What marks our lives? Is there any way that my life looks like a differnet way of life because I follow Jesus? Does anyone see my love for God and others as radical or irrational? Is my love, in any way, different because I am a person of the way? Am I living as a person of the way or am I just in the way? What is in the way and keeping me from following Jesus with my life?

Be different today. Live differently as a follower of the way. Show others the love of Jesus.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What type are you?

I am blessed with a wife and kids that are for the most part spiritual energy building people. It seems that this morning I have encountered a lot of people that have just really lifted me spiritual.

Have you ever noticed that there are some people that when you are around them they lift your spirits? They bring laughter and joy. Your relationship is energizing. How about the opposite? Have you noticed that there are some people that are just draining to your spirit? They are negative. They drag you down. You get done spending time with them and your angry or depressed.

It is good for us to have people that fill us up because there are those that can drain us. If we don't spend time around the filling folks then I think we can become so drained that we become the type of people that drain others spiritual tanks.

How is your tank today? Do you need to fill someone up or do you need to be filled. Who are the people that you are spending time with? Do they fill your spirit or are they draining you? What type of person are you?

The scriptures talk about how we need to spur one another on toward love and good deeds. We need to inspire one another. Lift one another up. Build each other up.

Be a spiritually uplifting person today. Say kind words. Encourage. Be the type of person that you want to spend your time with. Make a date to spend some time with someone who is feeling low. Send a note. Make the phone call. Fill peoples spiritual tanks with the overflow from your tank.

If your feeling low today, guard yourself against negative people. Find a tank filler to hang out with and draw off the overflow of their spirit. Be filled today by (and fill) the company that you keep.

Love today.

In Christ love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Grumpy Ol' Me

I woke up grumpy today. I started my day this way. I don't know why, but I was just a grump. I tried to figure out why I was this way but I could not find a good excuse. I could come up with excuses for my mood but none were any good. None warrented a pity party or a grouchy attitude. This being said, I was still grumpy.

So, as I walked this morning I prayed. I talked to God about my attitude. I didn't seek answers for why I was this way. I just prayed to see past me. I knew that the day was too short and my time spent with others is too precious. Lord, get me over and past grumpy ol' me. Value the gift of today. Value others.

I got in the car after my walk and talking to God about the way I woke up and there was a song called "I know your there" playing. the song is about knowing that God is real and that God is with us always. Even when I am grumpy. The song talks about how if I only had one breath, or the power to tell everyone one thing it would be that God is real and with us always.

Why waste our breath on being mean or grumpy? Why waste a moment with someone in anger or grumpiness? what if we lived like the next breath could be our last one. Like the song, I want to spend my last breath to praise God. I don't want to spend any more time as grumpy ol' me.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Friday, September 4, 2009

TGIF

Thank God it's Friday!

Nicole and I started a new routine with the start of school for our kids. Each morning after we drop off Tucker, Tanner and Delaney at school Nicole, Darbey and I walk on the walking trail in town. This is a great time for Nicole and I. Some days we are joined by friends (this morning Tina walked with us! Thanks Tina! Some days it is Crystal. Thanks Crystal. If you want to join us we start just before 8.) We have gotten to know other people along the walk that we pass by each morning. This is a great way to start each day. The exercise is good for me. The time with Nicole is great for our relationship. It is a great way to focus my day and my attention on God and others. Thank you God for this time.

Thanks for my relationship with Nicole. Thank you for the friends that walk with us. Thank you for the friends that we are making along the walk. Thank you for the fresh air. Thank you God!

What are you thankful for today? What is one of the simple things in life that God uses to connect you to him and to others? Give God thanks for it!

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Thursday, September 3, 2009

More thoughts on Growth

I think it is John Ortberg who talks about the difference between training and trying. He says that if we were asked to run a marathon we could not do it just by trying. I could try as hard as I could but if I do not train I could never run a marathon. Trying hard just wont do it.

We can understand this difference, and it makes sense, when we are talking about running a marathon or mastering some other skill. If you want to do something than you train for it. Yet, when it comes to dealing with the troubles of life, with temptation, with sin, and the numerous other things that try to draw us away from our relationship with Jesus we seem to think if we just try hard enough than we will be ok and we will somehow grow spiritually.

If we want to grow in our relationship with Jesus and grow in our capacity to love God and others than we need to train ourselves. Reading our bibles, praying, serving, worship, spending time with other followers, and sharing our faith are training for life. Doing these things on a regular bases help us to encounter God and grow.

The question is: "Are we training or just trying when it comes to our relationship with God?"

I can't run a marathon if I don't train for it. I can't be more loving, more patient, more kind, more generous just by trying harder. Have you ever tried to be more patient? How did that go? It never works for me. It is training season.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Green


This thought has been floating around in my mind again lately.

"When you are green you are growing."

We need to be green. Green happens to be my favorite color. It goes well with my eyes I am told. But, what I have been thinking about is that when things are growing they are green. The tomatoes when they are growing are green. The corn and the beans around my house are green when they are growing. This past month, the greening has stopped and everything has started dying. It seems that things are either green and growing or they are dying. Look around what do you see? When things stop growing they start dying.

"When you are green you are growing."

As people we don't like to be considered "green." It means we are new, or immature, that we are still growing. We want to be mature. We want to be grown up. Yet, I think this principle of when we are green we are growing and when we stop growing we start dying is true for us as well. We need to constantly be growing in our relationship with God. Constantly working on growing deeper in love with God and God's people. We need to be continually green because the alternative is to begin to die. When we neglect our spirits and to do the things that help us top grow spiritually our spirit starts to die. It gets drained.

The good news is that God is in the business of bringing life to the dead. Our spirits can be revived and renewed. We can become green again and we can grow. It is popular language today to talk about "going green." I want to invite you to "go green" to do things that help you to grow in your love of God and others. Pray, worship, serve, read the bible, spend time with other followers of Jesus and tell people about what God is doing in your life. Go green! Because when your green you are growing. The alternative is no good at all.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

More on Prayer

I great lady by the name of Charlotte Dennis was in a Sunday School class with me about 10 years ago. We were talking in this class about a concern that someone had and I told them that they could pray. Charlotte wanted to make sure the emphasis was placed properly in that sentence. She spoke up and said. We CAN pray. Charlotte was one of those quite people that when they did talk it was usually something deep and profound. She wanted us to make sure that we understood the power that is ours when we pray and how fortunate that we are to pray. Prayer is not something that we do when nothing else works. Prayer is the most powerful thing that we can do. To pray for someone and with someone is awesome and powerful. It is a gift that is ours. We CAN pray. We are able to place our lives and the lives of others into the hands of God. We CAN pray. We are able to talk and listen to God; to share our lives with God and God hears us and cares about us. We can pray. We have access to the power that raised Lazarus from the dead and formed the earth and everything in it. We CAN pray.

A few years ago, I was at a Casting Crowns concert in St. Louis, MO. During there concert they played all of the songs on their newest album except for one. The name of the song they did not sing was "Prayer for a Friend."

For several weeks before this concert I had been praying about how I could sacrifice some things in my life so that I could give to a project that was happening in the church. As I prayed, I felt that God was telling me that I should quit chewing tobacco and the money that was saved there could go to the project at the church. Now, I had tried to quit several times before and every time I had been unsuccessful. I had been chewing most of my life, about 23 years. I knew that the reason I could never quit before was because I just could not let go. I was not sure that I could do it this time for the same reason. So, I didn't tell anyone that this was what I was thinking. I didn't tell Nicole, my wife, because I was sure if I told her that I was even thinking about it she would really push me to do it. But God was working on me as I continued to pray about this opportunity to give to this project.

So back to the concert and that song. They didn't sing the song but at one time in the concert they stopped and each of the band members pulled stools up to the center of the stage and they sat down. They than began to just have a prayer time. One by one each of the members of the band prayed for people. They prayed for men, women, children, and youth. They prayed for couples and marriages. They prayed for people who were sick and peoples needs. At one point a member of the band prayed for people with addictions. And he prayed that they would "just let go." I have had lots of addictions in my life that God has gotten me through. In this moment I realized that This guy was praying for me. I was who he was talking about. It was my life that he was placing before God. I was the one addicted I needed to just let go. I was able to let go that day. In that moment I experienced the power of prayer in my life once again. This time, as a someone I didn't know lifted me up in prayer. I was thankful that they didn't sing the song that night and instead did what the song is talking about.

We CAN pray.


Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug