Getting Real About Life, about Love, and about God

Thursday, February 25, 2010

God's Family

I took a friend from church to the hospital to have an eye surgery this morning. As he was being taken back to surgery I heard the nurse ask him about me. She asked, "is he family." I did not hear my friends answer but I hoped that he had said yes. It is funny when I take him places many people ask if I am his son he usually smiles and says no he is my pastor.

This morning when I heard her ask the question I just felt that the answer should be, "yes, he's my pastor." The promise of God is that when we become his child we become part of God's family. We are blessed with brothers and sister in Christ. We have family members everywhere, we are related to each other because God has adopted us into the family.
"Yes, we are related he is my brother."
"Yes, we are related she is my sister."
"Yes, we are related we go to church together."
"Yes, we are related we have the same Father."
"Yes, we are related the Spirit that lives in me lives in them."
"Yes, we are related we are children of God."

"I tell you the truth," Jesus replied, "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first."
Mark 10:29-31

You and I have family everywhere it is time to start saying "yes, we are related." It is time to start living, caring, and loving one another like the family that we are.

Look out for your family. Do what you cant to bring and keep the family together.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fill up

Does your spiritual tank ever get empty? It would be nice if we had a gauge like our car does? It would be great if lights would flash and bells would ding. However, we are not that lucky. The fact is our spiritual tanks can get drained and too often it is too late and we either stall out or are on fumes before we recognizer the condition of our souls.

How is your soul? That is a question we need to ask during lent. Lent is a time to check the tank. Are you empty? God wishes to continually pour out his Spirit into our lives but what happens is we get unconnected from the source. We get our tanks full and then speed off. We go through life and as the stuff of life happens we start leaking Spirit. We struggle with issues at work and a little Spirit leaks out. We struggle with stuff at home and a little leaks out. We help a friend through a rough patch and we share a little of our Spirit with them. Are children cause us to worry and a little more leaks out. Winter drags on and a little more leaks out. Before long, if we are not returning to the source to be filled up again it all leaks out. The Spirit that you received when you gave your life to Christ is not all that you get. Jesus told a women one time that the water that he gives will be like a spring of water that wells up within us and will never run dry. It flows through us. We are to be rivers not ponds.

So, what are you doing this Lent to connect you to the source and get your tank filled? Are you thirsty? Dry? Empty? Get to Jesus. Consider this your bell and flashing light. The Lord wants to fill you with His Spirit just go to Him. Pray. Worship. Give thanks. Meditate on His Word. Spend time with friends who inspire you and point you to Jesus. Love.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Thank God it's Tuesday

This year I have not been having my traditional TGIF post's where each Friday I right about what I am thankful for. I did not intentionally stop doing these post this year it just seems that I have posted and then realized it was Friday when my post where finished.

I wish that I would have had a better reason but "I forgot it was Friday" is really what has happened. It seems that most weeks I have been to involved in what was going on to notice that as I was reflecting on God that it was Friday. There are a couple of things that my own slip up has made me think about. They are not profound, in fact, they are simple. But, important none the less to remind myself of from time to time.

1) Everyday is a day to be thankful to God. Tuesdays are days of thanksgiving just like Friday (and Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday). Each day is a day the Lord has made for me to rejoice and be glad. Today I am thankful for God's subtle reminders of the simple things that we can too easily forget or let slip away.

2)Although life gets busy, it is never too busy not to pray and give thanks. The busier we get the more we need to take time to give thanks and focus on God. I may not go back to the tradition of Thanksgiving posts on Friday but I cannot stop thanking God.

What are you thankful for today? Stop and give God thanks. Thank God it's Tuesday!

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Friday, February 19, 2010

Faith

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1

It may be in those moments that God seems most distant and far off that we are given the opportunity to be faithful followers of Jesus. It may be that it is not in the moments that we are at church, or reading our bible, our praying, or worshiping God that we are most faithful, it is in the moments when we are not able to see God when God seems distant and far off and we say I am going to trust that what I hope for is sure. I am sure that God is with me. I am sure that God is working. This is what faith is. "I am sure and certain even though I do not see God that God is here and working in my life and in this situation." That is the moment that we exercise our faith.

Jesus said it is easy to love when the people are lovable. I want you to love the ones that are hard to love and wont love you in return. Anyone can love the ones that love them back. But, my love, real love, loves when love can't be seen. Following Jesus begins in the moments that we cant see what lies ahead and we grab a hold of the certainty that Jesus is guiding us and is with us. Faith begins when we are sure and certain about Christ and his love in the midst of uncertainty. Faith happens when we trust in that which we can not see and live knowing it is certain and sure. God is with you right now. I am sure of that. It is not based on feeling or seeing it is based upon the promise that God will never leave us. God is at work right now. I know this not because of feeling or seeing but because he has said he always is working for good for those that love him and are called according to his purposes. I am sure and certain of this. How about you? Faith.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Winter takes a toll

Today the sun is shining.

Over the past few weeks and months we have been experiencing winter. Here in Missouri we are probably experiencing the most snow that we have had in several years. I was thinking the other day that it is probably the most snow in one winter that my kids have ever had in their lives. My oldest is 11 years old and I can't think of a year in his life that has been quite like this one.

But, today the sun is shining.

This means that things are melting. The ground that once was hard and frozen is now soft and mushy. As I walked over to the church I felt relief from the sun but also could not help but notice the toll that winter had taken on my yard and my drive. There is still snow everywhere, the gravel that was on the drive has been relocated to other parts of the yard and is now part of snow drifts made by friendly neighbors who have plowed my drive numerous times after each and every snowfall. The drive way is now mostly mud that I walked gently through. The grass and the trees have become dormant from the cold winter chill. Winter takes a toll.

Those with seasonal depression can understand this. Winter does take it's toll. The short days, the lack of sunshine, the cold temperatures, and the isolation of being shut in takes a toll on us emotionally and physically. As the season drags on we seem as worn out as my drive way and yard. We long for spring.

In the church, winter has taken it's toll. It seems like every major snowstorm has come on Saturday evening. Church attendance has been one of the tolls taken by the winter. But more than attendance numbers, the winter storms that keep us from gathering for church on Sunday, are taking us out of the flow and rhythm of our lives in Christ. It takes us away from worshiping God with others and sharing our lives with others. It takes us out of the community. This takes an emotional and spiritual toll on us. Joy gets harder to find. We find ourself wanting to kick the dog for no reason. We feel distant from God and others. We go hours, days, weeks, without turning our thoughts to God. We go hours, days, weeks without thanking God, or praying, or reading our bibles. We get out of the rhythm. Winter's toll sneaks up on us. We think that when the weather turns then we will get back into the swing of things. But winter keeps dragging on. More snow falls and we find our self emptier this week than we were the week before except this week we don't have as much desire as we did the week before. We began to wonder if people even notice that we have been gone or if people even care.

Winter is taking it's toll.

As I think about the way that this winter has sort of drug on longer than most I worry about our spirits. I worry about the toll that winter is taking. I pray for those that are experiencing some of the stuff that I have written about above and I want you to know that people do care. I care. I miss you and cant wait to see you again. I also want to encourage you. You are not alone, even if you feel alone. God can not be taken from you by the cold and chill of winter.

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday. This means that we are beginning the season of Lent. Lent is a time for us to get back into the rhythm of our life in Christ. It also is signal to us that Spring is right around the corner. The toll that winter has taken on us, on the grass, my drive, our spirits is going to be transformed and changed. Easter is coming! The sun is shinning today and will continue to shine a little more as spring approaches. The Son is always shinning and can transform even the darkest cold. It is time for us to get ready for Easter!

Pray for those that are struggling this winter. Pray for those that winter has taken a toll on.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Friday, February 12, 2010

Love Note part 4

"How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He's the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth's foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son."
Ephesians 1:3 (MSG)

It wasn't so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn't know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It's a wonder God didn't lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.
Ephesians 2:1 (MSG)

Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.
Ephesians 5:1 (MSG)






Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Love Note part 3

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
John 3:16

"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers."
1 John 3:16

"Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
Romans 5:7-8

"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."
John 15:13

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Love Note part 2

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
"For your sake we face death all day long;we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Romans 8:28-39

There is nothing that you have done.
There is nothing you will ever do.
There is nothing that keeps God from loving you.
NOTHING.
NO Thing.

God loves us and there nothing we can do about it.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Love Note part 1

"God wasn't attracted to you and didn't choose you because you were big and important—the fact is, there was almost nothing to you. He did it out of sheer love, keeping the promise he made to your ancestors. God stepped in and mightily bought you back out of that world of slavery, freed you from the iron grip of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know this: God, your God, is God indeed, a God you can depend upon. He keeps his covenant of loyal love with those who love him and observe his commandments for a thousand generations."

Deuteronomy 7:7-9

God loves you because you are you. God is crazy about you.

Love today.

In Christ Love and mine,
Doug

Friday, February 5, 2010

Crowns





Last night's Casting Crowns concert was a wonderful experience. The bands lead singer, Mark Hall, is a youth pastor and one of those people that I would love to have dinner with. I would love to to set and pick his mind and talk about what it means for us to get real about our relationship with Jesus. I would enjoy listening to stories about how God's love has been and is being made real in his life.

The concert was much more worship than it was watching a band perform. They led us to think about how God can use ordinary people like us to make a difference in the world and how we should not settle for a "church Jesus", "concert Jesus", "religious Jesus", or an "event Jesus." What was meant by this is that Jesus wants to be a part of our everyday lives not something that we go to. The important thing is not that we go to a concert or church and have a experience with Jesus and then leave and go live our lives. The important thing is that we live our lives in relationship with Jesus. We are to live with Jesus. We are to offer our everyday, ordinary selves to Jesus and live each day for Christ and Christ purposes.

Let God use you today. Let God love through you. Let God have you-- not just some spiritual part of you, but all of you. Don't just give God Sunday-- give God everyday. Give God you.


Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Invest in Relationships

Today, Nicole and I are getting away for some time without children. Thanks to the love and generosity of others, we are getting to go to see Casting Crowns in concert and spend the night in the city.

Did I say that it was going to be a time for Nicole and I too be together without our four lovely kids.

This time is about investing in our relationship. It is important to do this. It is important to invest in those things that matter in life and will last. Our relationship with God and our relationships with others.

Thank you to the dear friends who gave us the tickets. Thanks for the dear friends who got us the night away and to the ones who are keeping our children. You have helped us invest in our relationship with each other and with God.

Take some time to invest in relationships.

Maybe, we could find ways to help others invest in theirs.

The concert is about to begin. I am sure you will hear about it tomorrow.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

300th Post

I am not sure what I find most amazing about the fact that this is my 300th post. Maybe it is that I have written 300 posts, but it is probably that others have read them. I am grateful that this blog has helped me to focus on God. I am grateful that this blog has helped me to journal what God is laying on my heart and speaking to me about. I am thankful that God has used the words in this blog to touch others. I am grateful that God uses you. And me.

I continue to be awed by what God does. God is an awesome God. AWESOME. I am amazed at how God works through the ordinary to do the extraordinary. I am grateful that God chooses to work in and through ordinary people.

I am grateful that God chooses to make himself known in real ways through real people. I am grateful for his love. I am grateful that he works on my heart to make it more like his. I am grateful and in awe of his grace and mercy.

I am rambling a little as I think about my 300th post. I am just so grateful. My mind just races from one thing to the next that I am grateful for.

Today must be about gratitude. The truth is, I could probably let my mind race to other places. I could find stuff that I could worry about. Stew about. Obsess over. Let drag me down. There is good and bad always. It comes with the territory. But, and this is a big but, God is good all the time and all the time God is good!

Maybe today you are seeing more of the bad. Look for where the good is-- look for God. All the time God is good. Don't let the bad consume you. Don't let the bad rob you of the good that is there. Take some time to love and be loved. Take some time to let God awe you with the stuff God does. Tale some time and let your mind race to the good stuff and be thankful.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

ps. I hope you enjoy the new look.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Yay! God!

By the way, yesterday was my interviews for ordination. I am grateful for all the prayers and support that I received from all off you. I am grateful that the Board of Ordained ministry has approved me and I will be voted on for full membership and ordained this June!

Thank you God!

Groundhog Day

Let me make sure I got this right.

A groundhog comes out of a hole, no, is taken from a wooden box, in Pennsylvania and if the groundhog sees his shadow there is six more weeks of winter. TV crews gather to record the moment and to broadcast it live. Lights, camera, action--weather forecasting at it's finest. I always wonder if all the lights and stuff from the TV crews can play tricks on this "fool proof" shadow casting method of meteorology.

I will admit I am skeptical about the validity of this ritual. But, I will admit that every year I look to see what the groundhog saw. Today he saw a shadow.

I know that there are folks that are skeptical about some of the claims of Christianity. I know there are people who will argue the validity of the Bible. There are people that look at Christians like I do the groundhog. They look with an eye of skepticism yet they are still looking.

Here is what it got me thinking about today. We may be the only bible people read. Very cliche, I know. But, it is true. They might argue the theology but they can not argue what they see in the life of Christians. The might dispute stories of the Bible but they can not argue with your story. They can not deny love. Real love cannot be denied. Real love in the name of Christ is the greatest proof if the reality of Jesus.

I think a lot of skepticism comes from the fact that the Christian faith talks about love but often what is seen is judgement and hurt. We talk about grace but we don't offer it to others.

When we claim to be followers of Jesus the best that we can do is cast a shadow of Jesus on others. They see the effect of the Son shining on us. Our actions cast that shadow. Here is the tough part, if we say we are followers of Jesus than our actions represent Christ to others that are looking whether we intend for them to or not. This is why they say Christians are the best and the worst advertisement for Christ. This is why we need to make love real and not just talk about it. This is why we need to be real about who we are and who God is. This is why we need to be real about our love of God and our love of others.

People see the shadow we cast and they will attribute it to Christ. You and I represent Christ to others. I don't think that people are looking for perfection from us. I think they are looking to see if it is real. Deep inside all of us is a desire that it be real. We want to know there really is a God who loves and cares for us. We want to know there is a purpose and a meaning to all of this. We want to know that something is real.

The most important thing is not the shadow-- it is the light that shines on us. If we allow Christ to shine on us than the shadow will be his shadow. If Christ's love flows through us than people will see the love of Christ. If God's grace flows through us than they will see God's grace.

So are you letting the light shine on you? What is the shadow that you want others to see.

The answer is love. No one will argue with love.

Love today. In real ways

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Monday, February 1, 2010

I Missed You

Last week I took some time off from posting. I have to admit there was a piece of me that wondered if anyone had noiced. Thankfully, my friend Mary sent me an email making sure I was ok. It made me fill good to know that someone noticed. Someone is reading even when I get no comments. I made me feel loved to know that I was missed.

Today I am interviewing for full connection in the Missouri Conference and to be ordained. This is an important interview.

As I traveled to the interviews, in the back of my mind was the story of three Isrealite boys in the old testament that were going to thrown into a firey furnace for not worshiping the idol of the king. They chose to trust God to get them through the furnace and even if God didn't rescue them they were still going to praise God and not the idol of the king.

I am not saying that I am entering a furnace today but no matter what the outcome I am still going to praise my God. I trust that God is with me and that God will get me through it.

How about you? What is you furnace today?

No matter what trust and praise God.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug