Getting Real About Life, about Love, and about God

Monday, November 30, 2009

Giving my life to Christ

I was asked this question yesterday. "How did you know that you really gave your life to Christ?" This is a question we all want to know the answer to. (not about me, but for ourselves.) The person asking the question went on to talk about how several times they had desired to give themselves to Christ and asked to be saved but it seemed that maybe they had not done it right or they just have never "felt" like they had done it.

It is not that we gave our lives to Christ. It is that we are giving our lives to Christ. You see everyday we have the choice to live for God or to live for ourselves. Each and everyday we need to give our lives to Christ. At every opportunity that we have to be self seeking or Christ seeking we are either giving our lives to Christ or taking them for ourselves. It is important that we have those moments when we understand that Christ comes to save us and we accept the free gift of his grace but the scripture also talk about salvation as a process.

Acts 2:47 "And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved."

1 Corinthians 1:18 "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."

2 Corinthians 2:15 "For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing."

We are saved and we are being saved. John Wesley talked about salvation as an event and a process. There is the moment that we receive God's grace to save us and accept it and then we are being saved as we live new lives in Christ. It isn't that we once gave, it is that we are constantly giving our lives to Jesus.

This morning when I woke up I had a choice, and so did you, to give my life to Jesus or to live for myself. Throughout my day, probably more times than I even noticed, I was given the opportunity to choose to give my life to Jesus or to give it to something else. Until our words become actions they are merely words. Until our faith or belief becomes action than it is just words.

The question is am I giving my life to Christ? Not, did I give? The question is am accepting the gift of God to save me and am I being saved? Not, have I been saved? Saved by Grace through faith. Faith is a lived belief. Live as those who are being saved. Giving our lives to Jesus every moment of every day.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving with the family

Happy Thanksgiving!

"I thank my God for all of you and in my prayers I remember you always."
The family connection. It is amazing how you can go a year, or more, without seeing some of your relatives yet when you see each other it is as if you have been together all along. There is a "connection" that just seems to keep us in tune with each other.
Have you ever met someone who you did not know before and there seemed to be some sort of instant connection? Something that draws you together? As part of Christ family we have someone, the Spirit, that connects us together as the family of God. The Spirit draws us together as family. The Spirit in you and the Spirit in me connect as if we have known each other all along or as if there has been no passage of time since we where last together.

I am thankful for the family connection. I am thankful for family and friends and a place in Christ family. I am thankful for the Spirit. Have a blessed and happy Thanksgiving. Make room at the table for Jesus.

Love table.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pre-Thanksgiving

I am spending time in Indiana with my Mom, sister and the rest of the family for Thanksgiving. We have seen a movie and last night we continued the tradition of Tanner and I winning at Pictionary. It is almost uncanny how we think alike and can understand what each of us is thinking and drawing. I an very grateful for this time with family and for the traditions that we have.

Today is Wednesday but it is never too early to stop and give thanks. In those moments this weekend stop and give thanks. When you see friends and family stop and thank God for them. Have a blessed and happy Thanksgiving! When you get the chance sing.



Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Writting Theologically

I am a believer that all people are theologians. All of us thinks about, talk about, and study God. Each and everyone of us are theologians. This week along with Thanksgiving and preparing for the Advent season I am also finishing up my ordination paperwork. This means I have to write theologically. Although, I say we are all theologians and I also believe that we all think, talk, and study God. I have difficulty writing this type of paperwork. I feel a pressure to write using the big words of my scholarship (I am talking about the stuff I learned in seminary). I feel pressure to be deep and thought provoking, with proper sentence structure and a weighty words.

This is not like my normal writing or my normal talking about God. I almost need to put on a different hat, a scholarly hat, rather than the one I wear most days. I wonder if this is wrong? I wonder if the hat I wear everyday should be the scholarly one? I don't think that it is. I do study God everyday and I do think about and talk about God everyday. My study has given me knowledge and the words to shape my experiences and encounters with God. My study has given me knowledge and understanding to take that which is deep and profound, the stuff of God, and understand it, and what it means, in my daily walking around life. It enables me to see God and know God in a down to earth way.

Soteriology, eschatology, atonemment, incarnation, depravity and many other large words that I have learned impact me daily and I need to be able to speak about them in a practical way. As I write these theological papers I understand more fully the need to be able to speak about God in everyday language and in our everyday lives. God desire is that we know him, not just about him. What we learn and say about God should speak toward knowing him more fully and deeply.

So, I apologize if some of the big words slip in this week, I am thinking about their meaning as I write my ordination paperwork. I also apologize to the folks that will read my ordination paperwork for those times that mt earthy language and writing sound less than scholarly. I also am thankful that God comes to earth. I am thankful that we encounter Almighty, all-knowing, all-powerful God in the stuff of our daily lives. I am thankful that God desired that we know him so much that he became like us. Talked like we talk, lived like we live, suffered like we suffer...all so that we could know that the God who created everything wants to live in relationship with us everyday.

Something to think about.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Friday, November 20, 2009

Thank God it's Friday

Thanksgiving is less than a week away. It may be hard to recognize that because many places that we go we already see signs of Christmas. This year retailers are trying to boost there profits by starting the Christmas shopping season early. It is important to understand that the reason we are seeing Christmas ads on TV is that they are trying to get people to buy stuff. It is not an early run at celebrating Christ's birth.

I am grateful today, as we are being enticed to jump ahead to the buying and consumerism of the modern capitalistic Christmas, that there are those things that remind us that we still need to be thankful. Thanksgiving is still coming before Christmas.

I am also thankful for the season of Advent. Advent is a reminder to us us that we don't just jump into Christmas. Christmas needs our preparation. Christmas needs our hearts and our lives to be prepared for Christ's coming. I am thankful that this season, which begins after Thanksgiving, is focused on the reason for the celebration of Christmas and not just on buy, buy, buy. There will be competing carols over the next several weeks. One will urge us to buy. One will urge us to stress and to worry. One will urge us to think we can't do without something. One will urge us to to skip ahead and miss what God wants. And one will urge us to prepare for Christ to come into our lives. It will urge us to focus on Christ at Christmas. It will urge us to be thankful. It will urge us to love and receive love. It will urge us to make a place for Jesus.

I am thankful that this carol can not be drowned out by black Friday, early sales, or stimulus marketing. I am thankful that that carol is being sung by Christ's followers. Take time and give thanks. Enjoy thanksgiving and get ready to prepare your heart and your life for Christmas.

Give thanks!

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Thursday, November 19, 2009

We need it

I am not sure how you got to this page or even why you are looking at this blog. But, just stop and take a deep breath. Stop and try to slow down and relax.

Too often we are going too fast. We are in a hurry to get things done and get on to the next thing. As I started to blog I found myself thinking about hurrying and getting this done so that I could move on to the next thing on my "to do" list for the day.

Maybe the most important "to do" for us in our day is stop and focus on God. To stop doing and just be. Be a child of God. Be in love with God. Be in God's presence. Stop and breathe and think about the one who gives us breath and breathes life into us.

Maybe you, were just going to look at what Doug had to say today real fast before you moved on to the next thing. I want to encourage you to slow down and focus on you and God for minute. Stop and breathe. Stop and be.

Try to clear your mind. Try and give the stress of your day to God. Stop and give your worries to God. Stop and unload by just recognizing that you are God's child. God loves you. God is with you. We don't need any words. We don't need to know the right thing to say or do. We just need God. Just be.

Take a time out to be with God. Breathe. Let Go. Breathe. Let Go. This could be the most productive thing that you will do today.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Devils Playground-- Independence

The Devil is real. I am not saying this to terrify or shock you. I am not saying it because it is a "religious" thing to say. But, the Devil is real and is a work in our world to keep us from following Jesus.

This being said, I think it is important that we don't give the devil more credit, or more power, than he deserves. The devil is not God. The devil is not like God. The devil is not all-powerful, all-knowing and in all places at all times. The devil is powerless toward God. The way that the devil gets to us is he messes with our thoughts. He gets in our heads and then we do the rest. The devil is a tempter. He works in thoughts. He gets us to doubt. He gets us to think opposing thoughts to following Jesus. He gets us to justify. He gets us to minimize. He gets us to thinking we are right. And the devil is sneaky and crafty in doing this.

I was thinking this morning about our need for one another. I was thinking about how we are created to be in community and how the more that we are connected to each other and love one another the more we reflect God. Then it hit me that the idea of independence is the devils playground.

We think that we can worship God alone in nature. "I can worship God in my tree stand." "I can worship God while I harvest." " I can worship God at home on a quite Sunday morning." "I can worship God with the TV evangelist." "I can do this all by myself I don't need the church." Then, we justify it because we can worship God by ourselves. We can pray during these times and we can read our bibles, we can think about God. We can sing songs if we want. We can do, all by ourselves, the things that we will do at church, or with the people of the church. So, we justify it and say what we are doing is right. It begins as a thought-- a thought of independence. And there we are independent. Solo Christians. Playing in the devils playground.

God did not create us to be alone. We shouldn't worship God just as individuals, even if we can, we where not created to do it that way. We shouldn't pray just as individuals, even if we can, God's design was for us to live in community. Here is the thing we can not love as individuals. We can not serve as individuals. We can not grow in our relationship with God as individuals. To become more like God means we will become more communal. It means that we will become more for the other and less for ourselves.

Remember how I said the devil is sneaky and crafty? He packages this independence in lots of ways. They are always thoughts that divide us and not bring us together. The thoughts are really infinite. The list could go on and on. They are thoughts like, "that church isn't perfect, i will have to find another one that better fits me." The truth is no church is perfect. The devil has you playing in his playground though.

How about these independent thought? "I am too messed up, I am going through some things that I don't want others to know about, my life is too complicated, people will judge me."

What we need is people who will listen to us. Who will pray with us, worship with us, love us, and serve us. What we need is to love others, serve others, pray with others and worship with others. What we need is people to show us grace and mercy. What we need is other people to help us through the tough times and to help us to understand God's love for us. We need to see lives that are touched and transformed by God.

But instead, our thoughts, keeps us playing in the devils playground-- independent, right, justified. Oh, that us what we keep telling ourselves. And the devil wins. All he had to do was get us to think about ourselves and that we could do it all on our own. All he had to do was get us to think that we could be independent. We do the rest.

The devil has no power over God and he has no power over you. Don't go playing in the devils playground of independence. Although it might be tempting or alluring, it is empty. Independence wont get you to where you want to go. We need each other. Don't let anyone or any thought tell you other wise. When thoughts of isolation, division, separation, independence, "I don't need others", and "I can do this on my on", enter into your mind don't give the devil a foothold.

Love today. It will get us off the playground.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Just Do it

I hate to play on our consumer culture but this morning I am borrowing a line from Nike advertising. I am not saying just do it like they do and implying that you deserve to do whatever you want or what ever feels good. I am not talking about entitlement. These words are speaking to me today in another way.

What would you do if you knew this was your last day on earth? What would you say to people? How would you treat the people in your family? What would you say to your co-workers? How would you treat the stranger you meet on the street? If you knew today was your last day on earth would you live differently?

If the answer is yes, and I think for all of us it is, then just do it! Life is full of uncertainties. Tomorrow is uncertain. Today is all that we are sure that we have. Death is certain. The death rate is still 100%.

What would you do differently if you knew that today was all you have? Just do it! Do it today. Treat people like it is the last moment you have with them. Love like there is no tomorrow. Live what is important. Don't wait to do the thing that is important because the day you are waiting for may not come. Just do it today.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Monday, November 16, 2009

It is raining today.

I am sitting in my car waiting to pick up the kids from school. I got into the car line early and it gave me the opportunity to think and to post a blog.

Rain is used a lot in music and poetry to describe down times. Rain is often the image used to describe the times that are stormy in life. "When it rains it pours."

There is a song by the group Counting Crows called, "Rain King" that is really a story about someone who has a lot of bad things happen. Rain is often used to set a depressing or omminous mood. Rain really gets a bad rap.

However, we need rain. Without rain nothing would grow. Without rain things would just dry up and die. Rain is an important part of living.

I don't like having to admit that when I am talking about all those things that artist use the image of rain to discribe, but I think it is true. That rain helps us grow. That rain often brings a deeper meaning to life and love. This rain often connects us more to God and others. The "rain" of life can be nourishing and enriching.

Just like the rain that I see on my windshield as I wait for the kids will soon pass. So will the rains of life. And what will come as a result will be life. Look for God in the rain. Today and everyday. Live. Love. Grow.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Friday, November 13, 2009

Thanksliving -- TGIF

Life is a response to God.

God creates us and our lives are a response to being created by God. We sometimes respond by saying "thanks for creating me, now I will take it from here." Sometimes we respond by forgetting about the gift of life altogether. Sometimes we fail to even see our lives as a gift. Sometimes we live as if there is no God and life is just, well, it... it just is. Life is not just is.

What if we saw life as a gift that has been given to us? What if we saw each day as an opportunity given to us to live in response to a God who loves us so much that he gave us this day? What if we saw each sunrise and each sunset as a precious gift. What if we saw each breath that we breathed as a wonderful present? What if we viewed each relationship and each encounter with others in our day as a sacred offering to us? What if we viewed every moment as a moment to encounter God in the midst of this gift called life? If we viewed life as a response to God would we be thanksliving?

Today is a day that God has given you. Will you respond to the gift and live for God today? Will you respond to the gift by recognizing the giver? Our response is really to give our lives back to God, to say thank you by offering the day to God. Offering our relationship, each moment, ( good or bad) to God knowing that he will continue to work in our lives if we let him. Our response is to give it all to him. This is thanksliving.

Thank God today. Love today.

In Christ love and mine,
Doug

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Draw Me Close to You

Lord,
There are moments that I can feel you. There are moments that I am just overcome with a flood of emotions. My tears tell me you are there. There are moments that I am just lost in you. You are all that I can think about and you are all that I want. There are moments that I am afraid to move or say anything because it might disturb the peace of the moment and I will no longer see or feel you. There are those moments. And there are those moments that I struggle to see you. There are moments that I feel far away from you. There are moments that I search for you and fail to see you. There are moments that I want to hear you speak but can't hear you. There are also moments that I try to ignore you. Each of these moments remind me of how much I long to be near you. You are with me in each of these moments. You promise that. You are a God of your word. In every moment draw me close to you. Draw me close to you today. Fill my moments with an understanding that you are there. Draw me so close to you that your love for me will flow through me to others today. Draw me so close to you that even in the moments that I fail to see you or turn from you I am acutely aware that you are there. Draw me so close that I don't need to feel you to know you are there. Draw me so close to you. I love you. Amen.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Just for Fun

Have you ever wondered about that delicious white cheese at Mexican resturants?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Chasing

Today is a song day. Listen and enjoy. Allow it to speak to you about what you chase after in your life.




"The only time we are winning is when we are chasing Him."

Today is also Veteran's day. Thank you to all the men and women who serve and have served. Take some time and thank a veteran today.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Full Surrender

There is a line in the song,"In the middle" that says, "how close can I get to my surrender without losing all control?"

That is the question isn't it. We want to surrender our lives to God and give all to him, but we struggle with giving up control. We want to trust God, but we want to do it on our terms. We want to follow him as long as he goes where we want to go. We want to surrender, but not to the extent that we don't have control anymore.

I mean, if we gave up control than what would happen? If we didn't manage everything who would? If we surrender everything to God and just followed than what if..? What if it gets out of control? What if something happens that I hadn't anticipated? What if we discovered that we were really never in control at all?

I think we will discover freedom. God will do something that we could never do. God will do something amazing. God will do something miraculous. God will show us that he has always been in control. We will see God. God will change our heats. God will change our minds. God will change us from the inside out. God will overcome the obstacles that we have been tripping over. God will tear down the walls that we have been banging our heads into. All we need to do is surrender fully.

Too often when we get close to that full surrender place with God our need for control tells us to retreat. The devil creeps onto our shoulder and tells us that we "need to be in control" or "we are weak if we surrender. " Or the devil is even more sneaky, "he tells us that we are not hearing it right", "we know better", or "it is someone else who need to surrender not us." There are lots of ways and excuses that we come up with to maintain our control and not fully surrender. All the while we miss out on fully experiencing the grace and power of God because we want to call the shots. We want to surrender but not surrender control.

God really does know what is best for us. God really is love. Why not let him have full control. God is better qualified to lead us than we are.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Friday, November 6, 2009

Thank God...it's Friday

This month is Thanksgiving month. Last year at this time was when I decided that each week I would devote at least one day of this blog to giving thanks to God. the idea was that all of life should be thanksgiving. What prompted me was that far too often, even though I know I should be thankful and I know that God deserves the thanks, I fail to be thankful and say to God thank you.

Worst yet, I take the credit. I say that this happen because I am so good or because I worked so hard. The reality is all good and perfect things come from God. Apart from God I can do nothing. God is the one who needs thanked.

Thanks is due everyday. Not just on Friday. Not just when I can see all the good. Not just when I fell good. God deserves our gratitude.

Find something today that you are grateful for and give God thanks. Tomorrow do it again. Begin to live a life of thanksgiving. Recognize the source of life. Recognize the giver.

Please share what you are thankful in a comment.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Laughter

I searched for something that could just bring a smile and a good chuckle to each of us today. I thought I would post a funny video or something to brighten our day. I didn't find the right thing. I thought I needed something that reminded us not to take ourselves too seriously. I wanted something that poked some fun at the way we are sometimes but was not too critical or judgmental. Again I didn't find anything. So, I guess what I want to say today-- I am just going to say.

Laugh.
Laugh at yourself.
Don't take yourself too serious.
Have a good chuckle.
A belly laugh.
It will be good for us.
Don't be critical or judgmental.
Have fun being you and not knowing it all.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Time for a song

This morning I want to share a song that talks about how God is with each of and helps us to get through the trials, temptations, and difficulties of our lives. It illustrates how if you and I will just fall into Jesus he will carry us through.

The key is we have to let go and fall into Jesus. There is an image that I have of my children as toddlers when I would pick them up and they didn't want to be picked up. They would kick, twist, turn and scream until I finally put them down just so I didn't drop them. We are like that in the arms of God sometimes. He wants to carry us but we do everything we can to keep him from carrying us. We kick, twist, turn and scream. God won't force us to stay in his arms but he will carry us if we will let him. Is it time to stop kicking, twisting, turning and screaming? Let God carry you.



Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Disageeable

We will not always agree with one another. There are times when brothers and sisters in Christ's, people who are sincere in their efforts to follow Jesus, will disagree. We are all different and unique. We are not clones. We are not meant to be identical. God has designed us to be diverse. Diversity in unity. What unites us is love of God and desire to follow him. What unites us is that we are all children of God created by God.

We can disagree about things and each of us still be Christians. To often I hear people attack someones sincerity of following Jesus because they disagree with us. This is becoming disagreeable. If we are going to be faithful to loving as Christ loves us than we can't become disagreeable when we disagree.

It is helpful to me when I find points of disagreement with others to remember that this is not an us and them thing it is a "we" thing. We are brothers and sister in Christ. We are each created by God and we need each other. We can each seek God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, and still disagree about something. I cannot become judgmental. I can't become condemning. I must be loving, especially when I disagree. It is easy to love when everyone agrees with me. It is easy to love when others are loving. It is in those moments of disagreement that we may have a chance to love most like Jesus.

Disagree but don't become disagreeable. Tear down the wall between us and them. Build a bridge to we.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Monday, November 2, 2009

Bridge building people

(Attention please: this post has a strong use of metaphor)

Jesus is a bridge builder. Jesus is not a wall builder. We are most like Jesus when we are connecting to one another and bringing people together. We are not a good advertisement for Christianity when we build walls. Love doesn't build walls, love builds bridges. Love tears down walls.
That is what Jesus did. He welcomed and dined with those that everyone else wrote off, cast out, left behind. He built bridges to the marginalized and tore down the walls that separate all of us from God. Jesus is in need of bridge builders. Jesus needs you and me too deconstruct some walls.

When was the last time you built a bridge?
Have you built any walls?
Is it time to tear down some walls?
Where might you build a bridge?

What if each of us tried to build a bridge and tear down a wall today? What might happen? What might happen in our homes? Our workplaces? Our communities? Our churches?

In some way today each if us will be an advertisement for our faith and our trust in Jesus. Will the ad be about bridges or walls?

Love today.

In Christ's Love and mine,
Doug