Getting Real About Life, about Love, and about God

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

For You

You are not a mistake. God does not make mistakes. You are a loved and precious child of God. Each moment God looks upon you with loving eyes. God is gazing at you right now pleased that you are his creation. He loves you. He adores you. He has made you so that you could know that today. He wants you to know his love for you. He is watching your every move because he doesn't want to miss a moment with you. You mean that much to God. Live today in the overflow of God's love for you.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Psalm 139

1 O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.

2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.

3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.

4 Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD.

5 You hem me in—behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?

8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, a]" style="font-size: 0.75em; line-height: 0.5em; ">[a] you are there.

9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,

10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"

12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

17 How precious to b]" style="font-size: 0.75em; line-height: 0.5em; ">[b] me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!

18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake,
I am still with you

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Change Me

I heard a statement about a week or so ago that I just cant stop thinking about.
"Change isn't change until you change." What does this mean? Why am I so drawn to this statement? As I continue to live with these words and wrestle with their meaning, I think I am understanding why they are attracting me.

Change is not change until we change. You see the change that is important is the change in us. I use to say that people, that I, could never really change. I could change some habits. I could change some behavior but I would not change. However, the core promise of the Gospel is that when we live our live in Jesus, as his follower, we will be changed. Changed to be like Jesus. Our hearts changed to be like His. Our minds and our character, changed to be like His. The purpose of our changed behavior and changed habits, as Christ followers, is so that we are changed as people.

The change is not change until we are changed. If we change some habits or behavior but we are still the same then there has been no change. If we do new things but just complain about the new thing then there is no change. If we allow patterns and practices to change but we don't embrace them and change ourselves than the change never takes place. If we don't allow change to happen in our practices, behaviors, habits, and thinking then change doesn't happen.

"Change isn't change until you change."

Are you changing to be more like Jesus?

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Big 400!

It is hard to believe it, but this marks my 400th post to my blog. The Big 400!

I am reminded of a story that I heard about Karl Barth. Barth was a Swiss theologian and a great thinker for the church that some have called one of the greatest theologians in the church. Barth died in the late 60's. The story that I heard was that he was speaking to seminary students and answering their questions. One student asked Barth what he felt was his greatest theological discovery. After pausing for a moment, this great theologian who had written many books and could argue theories and doctrine stated, "Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so."

Of all the words that could be written and heard by any of us these are the most precious, "Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so."

Do you know that Jesus loves you.

You are loved today and everyday.
In the moments you are feeling unloved. Your feelings are deceiving you. Jesus Loves You.
In the moments that you are unlovable you are still loved by God.

The sooner we discover this truth the brighter our lives will be. We can trust this statement to always be true no matter what. "Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so!"

Live as one who is loved.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Thursday, September 23, 2010

This is the day

This is that day that you have made and given to me, Lord. Thank you for today. Help me to stay focused on you today. Help me to recognize that you are with me and you are working in my day. Help me to see the good in everything and everyone. Keep me focused on the positive. Let me have eyes to see the Son shine even if it gets cloudy. Give me ears to hear you speak to me. Give me the words so that I might speak your grace and love to all that I speak to today. Give me the strength, courage, and compassion that I will act as you would toward everyone I encounter.
This is the day! Today, I choose to live for you. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

Love today.

In Christ Love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Focus

Life has a way of keeping us from staying focused. I am not sure what it is but it seems that it is so hard to stay focused on one thing, or more importantly, the main thing of our lives. It seems that we are in a world of shifting focus. We try to juggle our busy lives so we juggle what we focus on. We struggle to focus on our relationship with God with the same intensity all the time. Instead, we shift our focus like we shift the seasons. Sometimes this is intentional, however, most of the time our focus shifts away from God onto ourselves, our worries, our struggles, our family, our problems, our issues, our blah, blah, blah... fill in the blank; without us even noticing it.

One day, if we notice, we are no longer focusing on God and the truth be told we have not been focused on God stuff for quite some time. No one said anything. God didn't send lightning bolt. Our focused shifted. We stopped doing the things that we want to do and we are doing things that we don't want to do.

We need to stay focused on the main thing. If we read John chapter 15, we are told that the main thing is the "remain thing." Jesus says if we ,"If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." The main thing, the thing that deserves our constant focus, is our relationship with Jesus.

So, why is it that we so often mistake other things for the main thing? Why is it that we lose our focus? The problem is that we have manual focus rather than auto focus. We have to adjust our own focus. Everything and everyone else will try to draw our focus away from God and we are the ones who choice what we focus on. And the real hard part is we have this tendency to focus on ourselves.

It is time to focus on the main thing.

Do you need to readjust your focus?

It is time to focus on the remain thing.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Friday, September 17, 2010

Thank God It's Friday

You are loved.
Nothing you do or say will change that.
God loves you no matter what.
He created you so that he could love you.
You are loved.

Thank God for that!

It has been a while since I have done TGIF posts. I want you to help me with this one. It has been a long time since I have got any feedback from anyone. What are you thankful for today? Tell others. Tell God. I would love to hear from you. So would God.

Give thanks.
Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Renew The Mind

"So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you."
(Romans 12:1-2; The Message Translation)

The NIV version translates this passage to say,"Be transformed by the renewing of your mind." I like to read the Message because it helps me to think about passages in new ways at times. I have been thinking a lot lately about our thought lives and about the type of conversation and people that we are around and how that effects us. Here. Paul is saying that we can get sucked in by the culture around us to the point of becoming like it and not even thinking anything of it. We become bitter, angry, and negative and don't even realize we have become the culture around us. His remedy for this-- Fix your attention on God. Think about God things. Put God things into your mind. Listen to God music. Read God's Word. Talk to others about God things. Hang out with Godly people. Fix your attention on God. This stuff renews our mind. And we are transformed by it. Changed. For the better.

What do you have your attention fixed on? Fix your attention on God.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Whatcha Thinkin?

What do you find yourself thinking about most of the time?
What do you spend most of you thought time on?

It seems that our minds never shut down. They seem to be constantly churning, stirring and spinning. We think even when we sleep, and these whirling minds of ours dream up some amazing things. That being said, have you ever thought about what consumes your thought life? Try to be aware today of what you are spending the majority of your time thinking about. What we think about effects how we live and how we feel. If we spend the majority of our time worrying and thinking negative thoughts about our day and the things that we are involved in it will have a negative effect us and our day. Now, this is not a "power of positive thinking" thing although, there is power to thinking positive. I am not saying if things are bad and things are not working out for you than you just have to think positive thoughts. What I am getting at is that the way we think will eventually manifest itself in the way that we live and the people that we are.

Negative people spend the majority of their thought life in the negative. They set in silence and and stew about the negative, they worry, they think about how they have been wronged and they think about how they are gonna get back at those that have done them wrong. They spend their thoughts meditating on the past mistakes and wrong doings. They play tapes of negative words and negative experiences over and over in their head. The result of this thought life is a negative life that tears others down and has a negative impact on others.

We need to guard our thought lives. Positive people spend their time thinking about positive things. This is what Philippians 4:8-9 are talking about.

"Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies." (The Message Translation)

"Whatcha Thinkin?"

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Bread Alone

I saw a church sign the other day that said, "Are you trying to life by bread alone?"

They are referring to the passage in Matthew that says we "shall not live by bread alone but every word that comes from the mouth of God." As I drove past and read the sign my thought was "why do we so often try to live by bread alone?" We know that we can't live by bread alone but we still try. We will go days without listening to God or leaning on his word. We will trust ourselves but never trust in God. We know that we should live by every word that comes from the mouth of God but we settle for just bread.

Are you living by bread alone? When we do that we are still hungry and empty. Maybe it is time to lean on Jesus? Maybe it is time to live by every word that comes from the mouth of God?

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug


Friday, September 10, 2010

Never Forget

This past July, Nicole and I went to New York City for our anniversary. While we where in New York we visited ground zero, the site where the World Trade Center towers once stood. They are currently building a tower on that site called the Freedom tower as way of remembering and honoring all the people who lost their lives and the survivors of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

One of the things that I always struggle with is how we remember and honor these people on September 11th and everyday each year. I don't think that we need to go back to the pain and the hurt of that day. I don't think we need to see the pictures and the video again. I don't think we need to seek retribution or revenge either. I don't think we honor anyone or remember what we need to remember if we generate more pain, hurt or hate.

Honoring and remembering should help us with our hurt and pain. Honoring and remembering should ease our grief and move us forward not backward. We should never forget the 3000 children of God that lost their lives that day. We should never forget the people who continue to struggle with the loss of loved ones and who struggle to move forward from September 11, 2001. We need to honor all as we remember. We need to never forget the love that was expressed and shared by strangers. We need to never forget the way neighbors helped neighbors and the way ordinary people loved in extraordinary ways. We need to never forget that God did not abandon us or do this to us but God was there in the midst of the tragedy experiencing the pain and grieving with us. God was there in the love that was expressed. God was there in the courage that was shown. God was there leading through the valley of the shadow of death. And continues to be here for us. We need to remember and never forget the way that we came together as a country around a common love for one another.

Sunday at church we are going to remember 9/11 by celebrating our everyday heroes. One of the things that came out of the events of September 11, 2001 is that we recognized that we had ordinary heroes around us everyday. People who are willing to lay down their lives, who dedicate their lives, to serving and helping other. We saw on September 11th that there were people who risked, and some who gave, their lives to help others. Firefighters, police officers, Medical personnel and members of the armed services all selflessly give of themselves to serve us everyday. As we never forget we are going to honor and celebrate our everyday heroes.

As I remember today, I want to thank God for all those people who are the unsung heroes among us. I want to thank God for giving us the eyes to see him even in the midst of one of our nations biggest tragedies. I thank God for his healing and for his leading us and guiding us forward. I thank God that he wipes our tears. I thank God that he has overcome this world so that we too can overcome. I thank God that he works through people, ordinary people like you and me. I thank God for doctors, nurses, EMS workers, police officers, firefighters, and our service men and women who serve our communities everyday. I hope that you will never forget and that you would celebrate and remember the good and the God that we are more aware of because of September 11, 2001. I hope you can make your way to a place of worship this weekend to remember, honor, and celebrate. Please, pray for those that continue to hurt. If you don't have a church home and you are near Trenton, MO, I invite you to come and celebrate with us. All are welcome.

Take some time to intentionally love your neighbors.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Living the love of Jesus

I am amazed and in awe when I think about the love of Jesus. Jesus' love is not like human love. Jesus love for me and for you is unlike any other love that we have and will ever experience. Jesus love for you and me compelled him to step down out of the comfort of heaven and enter into this world. Jesus love compelled him to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. Jesus love compelled him to dine with sinners, offer his forgiveness freely, heal the sick, touch the leper and be associated with people that others would have nothing to do with. Jesus love compelled him to take on sin and death. His love compelled him to lay down his life for all humanity. His love compelled him to reach out to the thief on the cross next to him.

The love of Jesus cried out "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." The love of Jesus cried out, "let he who is without sin cast the first stone." The love of Jesus cries out, "fear not for I am with you." Jesus love is not a love that holds grudges or requires retribution. Jesus love does not require a love you in return. Jesus just loves you and me. And he said the way that others will know that we are his followers are by our love. By God's grace, as we follow Jesus, our love should become more like his. Our love for others, our forgiveness, our willingness to lay down our lives for others grows because that is what the love of Jesus does.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Naomi or Mara follow up

Two Sundays ago in church we talked about the story of Naomi and Ruth from the book of Ruth in the Old Testament. What caught me in the story was how Naomi in the beginning was wanting everyone to call her Mara instead of Naomi. She was choosing to no longer be called Naomi, which means pleasant, but rather wanted to be called Mara, which means bitter.

Being pleasant or being bitter is an option that we have. We choice to focus on the good and the pleasant or to focus on the negative and be bitter. As followers of Jesus we need to focus on the good. We need to constantly look to where God is and what God is doing. As followers of Jesus we need to be pleasant people who inspire and encourage not people who conspire against and discourage others. Bitter people make life hard on everyone. Complainers don't do any good.

Complaining is just another way of taking the focus off of the good and trying to invite others to our pity party. Complaining is just inviting other to be bitter with us. It is not trying to build up and make better it is just a way to say, "on this issue I am choosing to be Mara, not Naomi. Are there any other who want to be Mara with me?" This doesn't mean that there won't be things that Christians disagree on or that we we all get our way all the time. It just means that we need to choice to be pleasant in those situations rather than bitter and complaining.

As followers of Jesus we need to close the complaint department. We need to not get sidetracked by others complaining. We need to guard ourselves against becoming complainers. Focus on the good.

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

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Flu Bug

This week we had the flu bug spread through our house and 5 out of six Franklins agree it was not pleasant. It started with our two girls and then it moved to our oldest son and then to Mom and Dad. We all got sick but Tanner. Maybe it is because he is the quite, keep to him self one in the family or maybe he has a super immune system, but none the less he so far has escaped catching the bug.

I wish our faith was this contagious.

Faith is contagious and at times it spreads just as fast. The question fir us is our faith, the way we are living, worth catching or do people want to avoid it like the flu bug. Faith is spread form one person to another because they see an authentic and real life that they want. People see a difference that Christ makes in our lives and they say I want that difference in my life.

When we live a real relationship with Christ that lives the love of Jesus than faith becomes contagious and spreads.

How contagious are you?
Do people want to catch what you have?

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Friends in High Places

In the book of James, we are told that whatever is going on in life we should pray. We should pray for each other and lift each other up with prayer. Prayer is our way of placing one another in the hands of God. Prayer is the way that we enter into the presence of God and lay our lives before him. I am grateful that I have friends who hang out in such a high place. I am grateful that I have friends that pray for me. Thank you for praying for me. Thank you for the trusting me to pray for you.

Prayer is powerful and effective. When we spend time in the presence of God honestly laying our lives and the lives of others in the hands of God powerful things happen. Nothing is too big or too small to pray about. In all things we need to pray non stop. I am praying for you. Thank you for hanging out in high places.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug