Getting Real About Life, about Love, and about God

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Day

"Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
Praise him all creatures here below.
Praise him above ye heavenly host.
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost." Amen

Wouldn't it be odd to go through a day called thanksgiving, which is all about showing our gratitude, and not stop and say thank you to the one who is the source of all our blessings? It just doesn't seem right to express thanks for family and friends and not say thank you to our heavenly Father who is always there for us and never will forsake us. It just wouldn't be right to be grateful for the day of rest and not be thankful for the one in whom we find our rest and refuge. It would be wrong to be grateful for the savings at the checkout lines and not be thankful for the one who saves us. It would be odd indeed.

Give thanks.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Enough Said

I want you to hear these words today.
I didn't write the words but that are words that speak my heart.

When there's no where else to turn
All your bridges have been burned
Feels like you've hit rock bottom..
Don't give up it's not the end
Open up your heart again
When you feel like no one understands
Where you are...

Someone loves you
Even when you don't think so
Don't you know
You got me and Jesus
By your side
Through the fight
You will never be alone
On your own
You got me and Jesus

After all that we've been through
By now you know I've doubted to
But every time my head was in my hands
You said to me...

Someone loves you
Even when you don't think so
Don't you know
You got me and Jesus
By your side
Through the fight
You will never be alone
On your own
You got me and Jesus

Hold on to what we got
This is worth any cost
So make the most of life that's borrowed
Love like there's no tomorrow

Someone loves you
Even when you don't think so
Don't you know
You got me and Jesus
By your side
Through the fight
You will never be alone
On your own
You got me and Jesus

Even when you don't think so
Don't know you
You got me and Jesus
By your side
Through the fight
You will never be alone
On your own
You got me and Jesus

You will never be alone...
You got me and Jesus

This is a song by Stellar Kart called "Me and Jesus" I heard it today and thought of you.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

School is always in session

Life is a lesson. What you are going through, the relationships that we are in and the situations we find ourselves in are all things that God is working in to help us to learn and to grow to be more like Him. We need to look at life like it is our training ground. It is school.

The secret first is to recognize that school is always in session. God is working all the time. God is working in all things. (Romans 8;28) When we recognize that then we need to be on the look out for the lesson. We need to be seeking where God is and what God would have us learn.

Whatever we are going through we need to look for God and what he is teaching us. Too often, when we get into situations that are frustrating or difficult we ask God to teach somebody else a lesson so that it might be easier but, we need to look for what we can learn from it. What can we learn about ourselves and about God. Maybe, God is teaching us something about patience or trust. Maybe, God can use the situation to teach us about some ugliness that we have within us, or sin, that is keeping us from being the people that he is calling us to be. Maybe, God is teaching us to love.

This is not just true in situations that are frustrating or difficult. God is also teaching in the good stuff. He uses trial and temptations to teach us but there are lesson that we need to look for in good times as well. When everything is going we still need to look for what we can learn in the situation about God and about ourselves.

I am grateful for a God that never gives up on me. I am grateful that he continues to teach me and use the things of everyday life to help me to have a heart, mind and character like His. I am grateful that he is at work in all things for good. I am grateful that God uses my children, my wife, my friends and family, people that I work with and the things that I do everyday to speak to me about who he is and how I can grow to be more like Him.

School is in session.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Monday, November 15, 2010

Does my cup overflow?

This month I have been reflecting on how my life expresses my gratitude for God. I have been thinking about my life as a cup and how full is it in regards to grace, gratitude and generosity. The 23rd Psalm says, "thou anoints my head with oil, my cup runnith over." Is my life running over with grace, gratitude and generosity? That is the question.

How full is your cup?

Grace, gratitude, and generosity are the fruits of living in relationship with Christ. God desires to fill our lives with grace, gratitude and generosity until they overflow from us. The truth is, that as I reflect on my life, these things do not overflow very often. At times my cup seems to be empty. The good news is that God wants to fill us up. We need to turn to God with our empty cups and asked to be filled to overflowing. We need to ask to have our hearts changed to be more like his. We need to ask to see others as he sees them. We need to focus on the good and the pure.

I want my life to overflow with grace, gratitude and generosity. I want others to experience grace when they have an encounter with me. I want my family, my wife and my children to know what grace is because they experience it through me. I want to be grateful in all situations. I want to be as generous in my giving as God is in his.

I want my cup to overflow. How about you?

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Being Christian

I have had this thought percolating in my spirit lately. It has to do with doing Christian things vs. being Christian. We can do Christian things, or things that Christians do, without being Christian. We can do good things without them being motivated by love, without them being the fruits of a heart transformed by the grace and love of God. We can get confused sometimes and think our doing is what it means to be a Christian but, there is a difference between doing things that Christians do and being a Christian.

We are not called by Jesus to do Christian things we are called to follow him. To be like him. To be Christ-like in our thoughts and actions. To be Christ-like in our character. To live our lives in him and to allow him to be in us and live through us. We are called to be Christian. To have hearts and minds that are being transformed and renewed as we offer ourselves,our lives, to Him as worship. Being in his presence each and every moment of every day.

Doing Christian things is not the answer. Doing Christian things is not what we long for or what God longs for us. Being in relationship with Him. Being in him. Being his child. Being a part of the body of Christ. This is the answer. Being forgiven. Being Loved. Being filled with grace. Being Grateful. Being a follower of Jesus. Being fully devoted to him. Being a Christian. This is the answer.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Lanes

The track at my local fitness center has three lanes. Two of the lanes are walking lanes and the third lane is a running lane. Every few feet painted on each of the lanes is "walking lane only" or "running lane only" depending on which lane it is. Runners are suppose to stay in the outside lane and walkers in the inside two lanes. This does not mean that it is impossible to run in the inside lanes that are for walkers or impossible to walk in the one that is labeled for runners, it is just organized this way to keep people from colliding into each other and allow runners and walkers to share the track.

Whenever I am running there are usually people who are walking at the same time. Sometimes there are people who walk in the running lane and when they hear me coming they move over to the walking lanes. The outside lane requires one less lap to make a mile so I think people who are walking use it when there is no one running to cut out that extra lap. There are also times that people walk in the running lane and runners have to switch lanes, to the walking lanes, to pass them. So, why am I telling you this?

This morning as I was running there were two sets of walkers walking on the track with me. As I began running neither of the groups saw me on the track. Each group had two people walking one in the running lane and the other in the center walking lane. When I ran up to them on my first lap I moved over to the first walking lane and passed both groups of walkers. On the next lap I noticed that the first set of people moved over to the walking lanes allowing me to stay and run in the running lane. However, the second group of walkers remained walking in the running lane and I moved into the walking lane to passed them. This went on for over three miles. I ran two laps to every one lap that was walked. Sixty six times I ran passed the group walking in the lane that was for runners only. It got me thinking.

I am not on here to complain about the walkers in the running lane at the gym. They helped me to understand something about myself and about how we behave in the church at times. I am not mad at them. They didn't upset me they illustrated for me how we play church and how we sometimes are unnecessary obstacles to people running with God in the church.

The lanes at the gym are clearly mark and runners and walkers are free to be in whatever lane they choose. We can choose to follow the markings and live in harmony or we can choose to be an obstacle that others to have to deal with.

I see too often in the church, people walking or even standing, in the running lanes. They hold there ground and refuse to allow others to pass. They refuse to move aside so that others can participate in the life of the church. They stand in the way of change and new ideas. The become obstacles to creativity and others serving and leading. They talk bad about the new things and the new people. They do everything that they can so that no else can have the way but them. It is their lane and as long as they are in the lane things are going to be done their way. They just refuse to allow anything to have the lane but them because they have taken control of the lane. It doesn't matter what is said or how often they can be told that the lane is for others and there are lanes designated for them they refuse to budge. They choose to be an obstacle to those that are trying to run.

In this metaphor, which I believe God showed me this morning as I ran with Him, the runners are people who are trying to follow Jesus and live out the mission of the church. They are people who are dreaming dreams and seeking God's plan for the church. They are people who are willing to try new ideas and believe that all things are possible in Christ. They are people who want to serve and try new things. They are people who want to grow deeper in their love and commitment to God. They are people who want to walk by faith and not by sight. They are people who believe that God's greatest days for the church are ahead of us and not behind us.

The walkers are those people who are unwilling to change and fight any new things that happen. They are people who wont allow new people in leadership or tell someone new in leadership that they are not doing it right. They are people who try to control and micromanage everything and everyone. They are the people that say "we have never done it that way before." They are the people that say "the church has always done it this way." They are the people that talk bad about the church and talk behind peoples backs. They are people who just hold onto the past and complain about anything going on in the present. They are people who try to make everything into an issue. They are stumbling blocks and obstacles to anything happening that they are not in control of.

We are either walkers or runners. The church has both and just like the fitness center we can all coexist if we will choose the right lanes. We cant get in the way of others. Because we just get in the way of God.

What I learned this morning as I was running is that I just have to keep running. If you are a runner in the church, don't stop running even if there are a lot of walkers to maneuver around--keep running! Eventually, they stopped walking in the running lane. I persevered and outlasted the walkers. Also, some people did move aside and made a way. But, I also could have said, "this lane is for runners only. Get out of my lane." I did not do that, I just worked around them each time. I did not let them get to me. I did not let them anger me. I was willing to run a different path. Eventually, I was able to run whole laps in the running lane obstacle free.

Something for us to think about.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I Voted

I got a little sticker today. It says, "I Voted." I read in the paper as I was getting my morning diet DP that it is the coolest sticker that someone could wear today. I must admit I do not feel any cooler with this sticker on my shirt. But, I did vote and that is important.. I have never felt compelled to tell people how they should vote and have always been a little uneasy about preachers and churches that do. However, I do think that followers of Jesus should vote and we should vote as followers of Jesus. We should not abandon our faith and separate it from our civic responsibility. We should not vote a certain way because we have been told "that is how Christians vote." We should allow our faith to inform our decisions. We should prayerfully consider issues and allow God to be our compass for deciding what direction to go.

Go get yourself a sticker today.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug