Getting Real About Life, about Love, and about God

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

New Casting Crowns

God has a a way of using music to speak to me.   I have always been a fan of Casting Crowns because their music helps me to think about what it means to live out my relationship with Jesus.  My wife got me their new CD and I seem to be listening to it whenever I can.  The song that God is using right now to talk to me, and convict me about how I live, is called "Jesus, Friend of Sinners".  I want to share it with you today.   The words are powerful and help us to think about how we live our lives can either draw people to Jesus or be a stumbling block.  I pray that I can be more like Jesus and that he would break my heart for the things that break his.

Love today.

In Christ's love of mine,
Doug




Jesus, friend of sinners, we have strayed so far away
We cut down people in your name but the sword was never ours to swing
Jesus, friend of sinners, the truth's become so hard to see
The world is on their way to You but they're tripping over me
Always looking around but never looking up I'm so double minded
A plank eyed saint with dirty hands and a heart divided

Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks yours

Yeah...

Jesus, friend of sinners, the one who's writing in the sand
Make the righteous turn away and the stones fall from their hands
Help us to remember we are all the least of thieves
Let the memory of Your mercy bring Your people to their knees
No one knows what we're for only against when we judge the wounded
What if we put down our signs crossed over the lines and loved like You did

Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks yours

You love every lost cause; you reach for the outcast
For the leper and the lame; they're the reason that You came
Lord I was that lost cause and I was the outcast
But you died for sinners just like me, a grateful leper at Your feet

'Cause You are good, You are good and Your love endures forever
You are good, You are good and Your love endures forever
You are good, You are good and Your love endures forever
You are good, You are good and Your love endures forever

Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks Yours

And I was the lost cause and I was the outcast
Yeah...
You died for sinners just like me, a grateful leper at Your feet

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Take a day off

Yesterday I did something that I had not done for a long time.  This is a confession moment for me.  I have not been taking a day off. I say that Monday's are my day off but each week it seemed that I found myself working on that day.  There were things that I felt had to be done.  There was ministry that I had to take care of.  What was happening to me however, as I failed to take the proper time away and time off, was I was being drained of energy.  I was beginning to take on the hurts and the pains of everyone that I was ministering with.  I was getting drained day after day and I was not stopping to be still and know that God was God. 

Someone told me that in the work of the Kingdom there are no days off.  But, I realized that if I didn't take a day off I was not going to be any good for the Kingdom.  I needed to unplug and reconnect to God and have Him do some Kingdom work in me.  God was making this very clear to me and so I made sure that yesterday I took my day off.  I turned off my phone.  It seems that some days all I do is go from phone call to phone call.  Many people complain that they cant reach me on my phone and it usually because I am on it. I avoided text messaging and email and opted for face to face communication.  I took my wife to lunch and I did something around the house I wanted to do for my children.  I rested in God's presence and that God was in control, not me.

Here is what happened my in box for my cell phone messages got full.  I got 67 emails. Life still happened.  Nothing fell apart.  The world did not stop because I did.  Somethings waited for today.  Somethings where fixed without me.  I did not stress or worry.  I felt the Spirit renewing me and gently humbling me to my place in the universe as a creation of the creator.

I am going to try to be much more disciplined about my day off and my Sabbath (this is topic of another post but these are two different things).  I have to be if I want to be any good for the work of the Kingdom.  I can't get caught up thinking that the world cant do without me.  The truth is they did before me and they will after me.  I need to connect with God so that I can make the most of the time that I have to do the work of the Kingdom.   If people need to reach you they will and they can.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Day

As I drove into town today I saw a lot of flags.  They decorated the court house.  They lined the drive at the school where they were serving a breakfast for veterans.   They decorated different businesses throughout the town. I listened on the radio as people called in to honor and thank people for their service to our country.

Today is more than a holiday.  It is more than just a day to close offices and take time off.  It is more than a day to decorate and feel patriotic.  Today is ultimately about showing gratitude towards those who serve and have served.  It is a day to pray and thank God for men and women who have served us by serving our country.  It is a time to pray and ask God to protect our service men and women who are serving right now as we read this.  It is a day to recognize and honor that we need to have a heart and care for one another.  That is what makes us great.  It reminds us that there is something noble and honorable about laying down our lives for each other.  Today is a reminder that we are greater when we care for each.

Today I thank God for all of the men and women who serve and have served in our military.   I pray that God would provide for and protect all of our veterans everywhere.  I pray that we all might learn from ore veterans valuable lessons that will make us better people of God.

If you are a veteran, I want you to know that I a grateful for your service.  I am praying and thanking God for you today and always.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Do we say, "That settles it!"

““Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” Isaiah 1:18 NIV

This morning as a I read these words it hit me that sin is something that is very unsettling to God.  However, it is not unsettling to God for the reasons that I would most often think.  You would think that it would disturb God because it is disobedience to him.  We would be unsettled because someone outright defied us.  Yet, it seems that what is most unsettling to God is that sin keeps us from Him.  Sin separates us for Christ and living for ever in a close relationship with the one who created us to love us.  So God is unsettled because he wants no separation in our relationship with him.

Jesus enters into the world to settle the matter.  We cant do anything to settle the sin problem but Jesus can.  Through the prophet Isaiah we hear the words of our Lord saying he is going to settle the matter.  There is some wonderful imagery that points to the works of Christ on the cross.  Our sin is like scarlet, red as crimson and the Lord is going to settle the matter and make us white as snow and the purest of wool.  Jesus scarlet, crimson red blood is shed so that you and I can be forgiven of sin and we can be made new.  Washed clean.  We don't have to be unsettled anymore.  Jesus has settled the matter.  We just need to come to Jesus and receive his forgiveness.  We need to stop trying to settle the matter on our own and through our own strength because we cant do.  We need to accept that Jesus has done it for us and that the work of Christ on the cross is enough.

We need to settle the matter be giving our lives to the one that has already settled the matter.  We need to live in, and live out, the relationship that Christ died and rose from the dead for us to live in.  We need to live like it is settled.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33 NIV

What am I looking for today?

This morning when I read this scripture.  I have to admit I went on autopilot.  I have read it before.  I can quote it.  I knew what it is saying.  The trouble is that it is an easier scripture to memorize than it is to live.  Today, each of us will seek after many things.  We are seeking people.  The questions is what will be the thing that I seek after first? What will be my priority today?  What is it that I seek after most?

Often times, it's the "things" that get first priority not God.  Often times, we put God seeking on auto pilot and seek after other things.  Often times, I don't give my relationship with God the time, attention, and careful search that is needed because I am busy seeking selfish, self centered things.

Matthew's gospel reminds us to seek the one and only thing that can really satisfy us and to seek it it as first priority above all other things.  This is a choice that we have to make each and every day.  Moment by moment.

What are you seeking today?

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Friday, September 23, 2011

Out There

I have been accused of being out there.

I am not sure what they mean by that.  I hope it means that I am a person who tries to live out there.  Outside of my self.  Live out my faith.  Live on the outside rather than live on the inside, isolated and alone.  I hope that they mean I am out there when it comes to my love for others.  Out there in terms of compassion and grace.

Jesus was out there.  Many thought he was out there because he healed the sick, caressed the leaper, and ate with sinners and outcasts.  Many thought Jesus was out there because he lived different than the world around him and he called his followers to build a new kind of community of love and grace.  Many people said Jesus was out there because he said I want you to love the ones you find hard to love and wont love you back in return.

I have decided that I want to follow the way of Jesus and live my life in relationship with him.  I want to be out there.  I want to take my faith outside of  my comfort zone.  Outside of my home and my church.  I want to be out there.  Because, out there is where Jesus is.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Friday, September 16, 2011

Not a re-verb

I was thinking about love and what real love is.  I have heard it said that love is a verb.  This is correct love, when it is true and real, has legs.  It motivates and moves us.  As I was pondering that aspect and reflecting on my own capacity to love it hit me that too often my actions are reactions.  I love because.  In the case of our relationship with Christ, our love is always a reactions because first loved us.  So, our love in that since is a re-verb.  However, God's love and the love that he calls us to with one another is not, and should never be, based upon the action of anything or anyone else.  It is a love that acts first.  A love that has no condition of action before or after.  It is a verb not a re-verb.  It is a love because.   Let's try this today.  Love without condition.  Love just because.  Let's love unconditionally because Christ's loves us unconditionally.  Love your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, strangers not because they have loved you are done something to warrant love.  Just love.  I bet it impacts our day.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Smile :)

Serve.
Minister to.
Inspire.
Love.
Everyone.

Have you shared a smile with anyone today.    It is amazing the power that a smile can have.  There are times that we can communicate with someone we are close to just by giving them a smile.  They know us and know what we are thinking in that moment.  A smile between friends and people we are close to is so valuable.  It communicates love.  It can sooth us when we are hurting.  It can calm our nerves.  It can inspire us for a moment, even days.

A warm smile from someone, even if we have never met them before, can have an impact on our day.  Smiles can be contagious.  They are a random act of kindness.   It is something that we can easily share.

Serve, minister to, inspire and love everyone today. :)

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Flower beds

I was able to spend my day off yesterday helping my mother and father in-law with some landscaping projects around their house.  It was a beautiful day to be outside.  Doing yard work can be a very meditative thing and being outside on such an awesome day really aided in reflecting on my relationship with God and the work that God wants to do in my life.

We planted flowers.  I hope they will grow.

It was a lot of hard work to plant these flowers.  We had to get the soil ready and then prepare the the bed with weed guard to keep the weeds out  and then plant the flower bundles.  My wife Nicole and I had a system I dug the holes and then she would place the bunch of flowers in the hole and pack them in.  This is work that you have to get your hands dirty in order to do it right.

After we planted the flowers we then had to spread river rock on the beds to cover the weed guard and make the beds look pretty.  I can't tell you how much we shoveled but it I do know I can feel it my muscles this morning.  It was a lot of hard work.  It was also fun and meditative.

In order for the flowers to grow it takes us getting our hands dirty and it takes hard work.  But, it also takes God sending the rain and shining the sunshine.

This is true of our spiritual  growth.   If we want to grow spiritually we have to be willing to get our hands dirty sometimes.  We have to be willing to do the hard work that it takes in order for us to grow.  Growth doesn't just happen.  We have to do those things that prepare the soil of our hearts and lives to be receptive for God's word to be at work in us.  We need to pray, worship, study, fellowship with other Christians, share our faith, and serve others.  We need to do the hard work. But, we cant do it with out God.  God makes us grow as we place our lives in his hands.  As we give to him our hurts, hangups, struggles, hopes, dreams, fears, insecurities and vulnerabilities he grows our trust and our love.  We have to get our hands dirty and work hard and he will bring about the growth.

I planted some flowers yesterday.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Friday, September 9, 2011

TGIF

It has been a while since I have done a "Thank God it's Friday" post.  Not that I have not been grateful or had things to give thanks for, I just haven't been making the posts.

It is funny how we can get in the rut of taking things for granted.  We can get in auto pilot and fail to recognize or remember that we have so much to be grateful for.  This is why I use to always make sure that Fridays where a post that would cause me to count my blessings.  The truth is that everyday I can and should be grateful.  Each day I can and should take time to thank God.  This is why I shifted away from the Friday thing because each day I should give thanks.  Each morning I wake up I can and should awake grateful.  Gratitude is a choice. It is my choice.  Each day I need to make that choice and express my gratitude.

I am stopping right now, I hope you will too, to say "thank you God!"

What are you thankful for today?

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Looking Back So We Can Move Forward

I was talking with a friend of mine the other day and we were talking about the tendency that we have to not want to have things change.  We like things to be the way that they were.  We remember the good old days and wish things could just be like they once were.

We know that God is always asking to grow and to step out in our faith but we are comfortable with the way things are so we just wish and hope and hang on to a past that is just that--past.  Yet, this tendency of ours keeps us from living the present and experiencing the power of God for our future.  It keeps us from receiving anything new and it never helps us to grow in our faith and trust in God.

In the scriptures every time that people were called to look back at their past it was not to glory in it but to encourage them to take the next step of faith.  They looked back at the past to  remind them of what they knew about God and to remind them of what God can do when they trust him and walk by faith. They looked back so that they could move forward.

God wants us to live today and to trust him with our future.  Maybe today you are in a place or a situation that has you out of you comfort zone?  Maybe you are in a situation that you don't see a way out and you just wish things could be like they once were?  Maybe you are in a struggle and it seems hopeless?  No matter what you are going through I encourage you to trust not in what you know about your situation, but what you know about your God.  It is time to take a step of faith.  It is time for you to grow Spiritually.  Look back at other times in your life that you have trusted God and remember God's faithfulness and that God got you though them.  Look back and remember that God is faithful and has never let you down.  Look back.  Not to hold on and wish you could go back or just stay, but to take the step of faith that is needed to move forward.  Look back to be encouraged.  Look back to be inspired.  Look back to reminded of the power of the God that is with you and leading you into what lies ahead for you.

Each time that we take a step of faith, trusting God, we are blessed.  Each time we grow.  Each time God is faithful to keep his promise.  Each time we are able to do what we could never do under our own power.  Each time we discover a future that we never even dreamed was possible.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Friday, September 2, 2011

More Inspiration from Music

I am currently wearing out a CD from Sidewalk Prophets.  Every moment that I spend in my car here lately seems to place them as the background music of my life.  I enjoy listening to their music because it makes me think and reflect on whether I am living for Jesus or I am living for myself/ playing church.  It is good to have something that constantly directs your thoughts in the direction of God.  Music does that for me.  So, I have been listening a lot lately and taking an inventory of my life, my motivations, and my actions.

The song that has really been speaking to me is called "You Can Have Me."  It begins by asking the question, "If Jesus was to walk up to me on the street right now and ask me to follow him would I really let go of my life and follow him?"

"Do I love him enough to let go?"

Is my love for Jesus the type of love that consumes me?  Is it all that I want?  Is he on my mind all the time?  Do I want to make him smile?  Since I met my wife and fell in love with her, my love for her consumes me.  I want to make her happy.  I want to spend my life with her.  I want to please her.  It is an all consuming that moves me to live out that love in my life as her husband.  The same is true for Jesus.  My love for Jesus should consume me.  Love is not really love if it doesn't consume us.   Jesus says love lays down it's life for the other.  Love is not really love if it doesn't move us to live in a new way, out of the love that we have.  Love moves us.

So, does our love for Jesus move and consume us?  I pray that mine does.  I pray each day that I become more consumed by my love for Jesus and surrender more fully to Him and the life he has for me.  He can have me!  It is worth it!  To give up my life for Christ's sake is to gain!  That is what the scripture says.   And that is what we discover when we let go and let him have our lives and our consumed by his love for us and our love for him.




Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Heritage

My 8th grade son has been given and assignment to trace his family linage. This school assignment has got us interested in finding out more about our heritage and the different people in our family tree. There are some parts of the family tree that we have been able to go back several generations. However there are other parts that we can only go back a few generations. We have discovered on one side of the family that the kids are related to James Wilson, one of our founding fathers who signed the Declaration of Independence. He was appointed by George Washington to serve as one of the original Supreme Court justices. My kids are heirs to a founding father. That is pretty cool and exciting for them.

I think that when we trace our history and search out the many branches of our family trees we always hope that we will be an heir to someone who is famous. We all hope that we will find a connection to someone from the past or in the present that is significant or at least well known. There is always the hope in tracing our history that we will be an heir to someone special.

"Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God." John 1 :12-13

"The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." Romans 8:16-17

You are an heir to someone special. You are an heir to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords! There is nobody more significant or special. This relationships makes all the difference in our lives and it comes with an inheritances to which nothing else can even compare. You are a child of God.

Love today.

In Christ's Love and mine,
Doug

Friday, August 26, 2011

In the path of the storm

Today Lord, I am standing in the gap for all of the people who are in the path of the storm. I woke this morning with a burden on my heart to just pray for those people in the Bahamas and the people on the east coast of the United States. I pray that you would protect them from the storm. I know that you are a God that cares for them and loves them and you stand with them in this storm. Just, as you stood with the boys in the fiery furnace I know that you are present with them in this storms. I lift them all to you and pray that they would be aware in a real way of your presence with them.
You know Lord, that there are also others in our world that are in the path of storms. The storms that they face may not be tropical, or weather related, but they are storms none the less. They are devastating and they are raging. I stand in the gap and pray for all everywhere who feel they are in a storm of life. Be with each of them and hold them in the palm of your hands. Raise up you followers everywhere to step in and stand with people in storms to be a tangible sign of your love and presence with people in the storms of life. I thank you that you are the God who loves and cares for your people. I thank you for being the God who speaks to the storms of life and says "Peace, be still!" I thank you for the calm that comes form knowing that you are a God who is with us always and leads us through the storms of life. I thank you for not staying far off but entering into the stuff of our lives. I thank you for the calm that we can have even in the path of a storm because we know you love us and are with us. I thank you that we can call upon you and you hear our cries. I pray all of this in the power of the Holy Spirit, in the name of Jesus Christ my Lord, Amen.

Love today.

In Christ love and mine,
Doug

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Love and the Cross

Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for sin. However, why Jesus dies on the cross is not sin. Jesus didn't give his life on the cross because of sin he gave his life on the cross because of love. He died for sin but he did it because he loves you and and me. He loves us so much that he is willing to do what is necessary for us to be in relationship with him. He loves us so much that he is willing to lay down his life so that we can have life.

I have a cross that hangs in my office that has a yellow scroll unrolled and nailed to it. The scroll reads, "When He was on the Cross, You were on His Mind."

First and foremost the cross is about love. "For God so loved..."(John 3:16)

Our response? Love.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Undefined

Why do we allow the wrong things to define who we are in life? There is only one thing that should define us in life and that is the creator and giver of our life. God is what should define us. However, it seems that we try to be defined by other things. We let the words of others define us rather than the word of God. But, I am/ YOU, are who God says we are. You are his precious child. You have been formed by God, just the way that you are in you mothers womb, and you are his beloved. God loves you because you are you and you are his. God will never stop loving you. God has a plan for you.

Here is the heartbreaking thing for me. Everyday I speak to people who think that are stuck in a definition that someone else has given them. A parent, a spouse, a past relationship, someone has come along and told them that they are something other than what God says they are and they have let that define them. Others have allowed past mistakes, or addictions, or behaviors to define who they are and they say, "this is me, I am my mistakes, my addictions, my behavior, or my diagnosis." It is not true. You are who God says you are. And God does not define us in those ways. Others give themselves a definition or seek to be defined by someone else or something else. They define themselves by their jobs or by their relationship.
God loves you as you and for who you are. God does need you to have a certain job or need you to be someones spouse or significant other. God loves you. You are his beloved. You are his handy work.

What is it that defines who you are? Are you letting the words of others, your job, a relationship or non-relationship, or your past define you? In what do you have your identity? That stuff and those things do not make you who you are. God does. You are who God says you are. If we will stop letting other things define us and allow God to define us we will become what God says we are. It is time for us to be really honest with ourselves and with God about letting him and Him alone define who we are. Today might be a day to get undefined by the other stuff and redefined by God.

You are loved by God and by me.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Friday, August 19, 2011

Maybe we should slow down

I think God might be telling me to slow down. He might be telling me to take time and see His handy work, smell the flowers, listen for him and hear the birds sing. There has not been an audible voice. There have been no flashing signs that say this. But, as I have been hurrying through my day to try to get things done I have gotten behind a truck that was not in the hurry that I was. When I got my son to the orthodontist we got to spend time waiting for the Dr. that we had hurried to be on time for. We got the new technician who is training at a slower pace than a seasoned pro. I am being giving all kinds of opportunity to slow down. I have a tendency (please don't judge) to allow these things to frustrate rather then hear them as God speaking to me. But, I think Gos has a few words for me today and those words are "slow down".

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Song Stuck in my Head

My soon to be three year old daughter has got a song stuck in my head. We had vacation bible school about three weeks ago and since then she has been singing.

"When your jumping, jumping up and down.
When your spinning, spinning round and round.
God's seeing everything you do
because God is watching, he is watching over you!

“God is watching, watching over you.
Twenty-four-seven, watching over you.
My life is in your hands, whoa!
He’s got great big plans ’cause He’s watching over you.”

This is an important truth to have stuck in our heads and written on our heart. God cares about us. He is watching over our lives and holds us in the palm of his hands. He has a plan. So, I invite you to sing along with the truth that my daughter is singing about. God is watching over you.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The last day of summer

My kids start back to school tomorrow. This means the it is time for us to get back into our family routine around the house. It means that we will have to be more scheduled about the time we get up and the time we go to bed. It means we have to be more scheduled about time for dinner and time to study. We will have to get into a routine that makes the whole family more productive and able to do all that we need to do with the new much more rigid school schedule.

Summer offered us more time in the day and more flexibility so that we could enjoy time together and time to have recreation. Now that summer break is over it is time to get back into the routine. It is time to establish a routine that still encourages time together and recreation. It is important that we make sure to keep the important things as part of our routine. It is necessary that we make the time in our now busier, more rigid schedule for those things that connect us to God and each other. We need to make sure that we take the time to connect to God through his word and through prayer. We need to make sure that our routine contains time for worship and time with our family (the family of God and our family of birth).

There is a statement that I always think of at times like these. "Too busy not to pray." The busier we get the more that we need to make sure and be intentional about our relationship with Christ.

Make time for your relationship with Jesus.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Friday, August 12, 2011

What would you do for another?

Jesus says, "Greater love has no one than this, that they lay down their lives for their friends." (see John 15:13) He also says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? (see Matthew 5)

It is easier to read God's word than it is to live it. It easier to talk about love than it is to love. Jesus calls his followers to love like no one else. He calls his followers to love like crazy. He calls us to follow him by loving everyone with the same radical, life changing love that he has for us. A love that says it is not about me it is about you. A love that says I will lay down my life for you.

He says what will make his followers different is that they will love everyone. No exceptions. Love everybody. Love like crazy. Love unconditionally. Love freely.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Friday, July 22, 2011

TGIF

Lord, thank you for loving me anyway. Thank you for loving me when I am not very loving. Thank you for loving me when I have done nothing to deserve it. Thank you for loving me when I don't love you in return. Thank you for always loving me. Help me to show my gratitude for your love by loving others as you love me. Amen.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Control

Luke 22:42
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

John 6:38
For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.

Can you imagine how different things would be if Jesus had been a control freak? What if Jesus would have said, "I want it my way!"? What if Jesus had wanted the control?

Jesus is our example. We must give up control. Let go and let God.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

All We...

Why is it that we tend to think that we are the only one who struggles? Why do we think that nobody else is going through or ever dealt with the stuff that we are going through and dealing with?

Somehow, we convince ourselves that everyone else has their stuff together. Everyone else is normal and we are abnormal. No one else understands. No one else can relate.

I think these thoughts are exactly what the devil wants us to think.

The truth is that none of us are normal. We all struggle. We all go through difficulties. Every one of us is flawed and imperfect.

The problem is a kind of a circular problem that feeds itself. If we think that we are the only ones with struggles, difficulties and problems than we try to pretend that we don't have them because we don't want people to know that we are different. This makes others think that we have it all together. So, they now think they are the only ones with problems and difficulties and struggles so they pretend they don't have them so that others don't think they are different. This just keeps perpetuating itself until we are all just pretending that we got it all together yet behind close doors and deep inside we wonder why we are the only ones with these difficulties and struggles.

What we all have in common is our brokenness. What we all have in common is our struggles and difficulties. We all are imperfect and abnormal.

I am convinced that what we need to do is stop hiding. Stop hiding for our sake and for Christ sake. We need to be honest about our struggles and difficulties because it frees us and others to see that we are all in the same boat. We are not alone. God is with us and cares about our struggles and difficulties. If we are real about our lives, our love and our relationship with God then wee can share how God has helped us through the difficulties of our lives . We need relationships in our lives that God can work through. Relationships where we can know and be known by others. Love and be loved. Relationships where we don't have to pretend and can support one another and carry one another s burdens.

You are not alone.
I struggle too.
We all do.

All we like sheep have gone astray. Not one of us has it all together.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Friday, July 15, 2011

Vacation Reflection Part 3

One of the places that we visited while on vacation was the US Olympic Training Center. This center is where Olympic athlete hopefuls train to be a part of the US Olympic team. It is an amazing place with top of the line, state of the art training facilities.

What was amazing about this place was the dedication, discipline, and commitment of the athletes themselves. They move to Colorado Springs and give their lives to training for their sport. They set aside everything else and make this pursuit their top priority. They are dedicated, committed and very disciplined. They spend day after day training themselves up. They follow strict diets and strict training schedule. They give up everything else to devote full time to being the best that they can be at their sport. They literally give their lives to their sport and live it 24/7 at this training facility.

It makes me reflect upon my discipline and my commitment as I give my life to Christ. To really give our lives to Christ (and not just play church) requires discipline and commitment. It is a 24/7 devotion that is needed. We need to continually nurture our relationship with God by doing spiritual disciplines of meditating on the Scriptures, prayer, fasting, worship, spending time with other Christians, Serving and sharing our faith with others so that we can be trained up and grow deeper and deeper in our love and relationship with Christ.

We, I, need the commitment, discipline, and dedication of these Olympic athletes in regards to my relationship with Christ. Then he can build me up into the person that he wants me to be.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Vacation Reflections Part 2


This was my first time in the Rocky Mountains. The only other time I have ever spent in any mountains is when I was in the Holy Lands a few years ago. I have noticed something about mountains that was even more apparent in the Rockies on this trip. As you drive up the nineteen mile trek to the summit of Pike's Peak you travel through a few different climates. At the start of the road where you pay your fee to climb to the summit you are 7000 feet above sea level. At this point the temperature is nice, maybe even a little warm. But, here the river is flowing the air is warm, plants and trees are growing there is life happening. As you make your way towards the mountaintop you pass through different regions. We went to a subarctic region and an arctic region. Passing through each region it seemed to get colder and what was able to grow in each region seemed to get less and less. The higher we climbed toward the mountaintop the less green stuff we saw and the rockier it got. We travel up above the tree line. Nothing was really growing in the altitude and the cold climate of the mountaintop. When we reached the summit it was cold and rocky. The summit at 14,110 ft above sea level provided us with a great of the journey that we had taken and it allowed us to see further than we had ever seen before. But, it was not a place that we could stay. The road closes at 7:00 and everyone must return to the valley. In fact, as breath taking and as wonderful as it was, we could never live there. Life cannot be sustained on the mountaintop. Nothing grows in that climate and at that altitude.

All of the growing happens in the valleys. Life takes place down in the valleys. We have those mountaintop moments in life that help us to see the journey we have come from a new perspective and to see further than we ever seen before. We have those mountaintop moment with Christ and they enable us to go into the valley and live and to journey to the next mountaintop. Our growth through the valleys leads us to mountaintops with Christ. New perspective. Richer fuller life. Streams of living water running through us. Deeper love. Deeper commitment.

Jesus took three of his disciples up on a mountaintop and there he was transfigured and they saw him in all his glory. They also saw there with Jesus on the mountaintop Moses and Elijah. Peter wanted to build tents and stay there but Jesus told them they needed to go back down the mountain because that is where live happens.

Don't get discouraged in the valleys of life because that is where growth happens. Keep journeying to the next mountaintop. Draw on the energy of your mountaintop experiences to lead you through the valleys and give you new perspective on the journey.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Vacation Reflections Part 1

I once used Pike's Peak in an illustration to help people think about where they are in their relationship with God. I said to imagine that the top of Pike's Peak represented that they where very close to God and that they where in constant communion with God and there life was fully committed to God. Pike's Peak represented, in this illustration, the closest that one felt they could be to God. At the other end was where we lived in Missouri. Our town was the beginning point on our journey to God.

If we where to map our relationship with God on a map from our home town to Pike's Peak, in terms of our growth and commitment to God, where would we be on that map?

That was the question that was derived from this illustration.

My family and I on our vacation this year made that drive. The actual drive from Trenton, Missouri to Pike's Peak in Colorado is a long trip. The distance between here and there is an impressive distance. It is a long drive across a flat Kansas (I am not knocking Kansas just stating a truth). It is a long drive across Missouri, Kansas and Colorado. In fact the final climb up to the peak of the mountain, while only being 19 miles total is a very long drive. But, the view is amazing and worth the climb. The journey itself is amazing. The journey I think made the destination all the more powerful.

Had Missouri and Kansas been filled with mountains I don't believe the Rockies would have taken my breath away. Had it been a quick and easy trip I don't think the memories would be as special and powerful. My guess is that I would have just taken everything for granted.

In our journey with God, sometimes we just focus on the destination and think it is all about the destination. We think is all about getting to heaven. It is about a life that we can have in the next life and we just let this life pass us by. Jesus wants to use this journey to transform us and to change the world around us. It is all about the journey.

Often times, even when we see the destination as a close relationship with God in this life time, we get focused in on that destination and the gap between where we would like to be and where we actually are. Let's be honest. We all want to be closer to God. At times on the journey, we get overwhelmed by the journey rather than seeing the journey as an important, necessary, and valuable for our relationship with God. It is about journeying with God. It is about allowing God to do a work in us and through us as we go through the ups and downs and the highs and lows. It is about understanding and living that God is with us and never leaves us. It is the joy of the journey as we day by day grow closer and deeper in our love and relationship with God.

So, no matter where we are in the map we can is at work drawing us closer to him. God is using the low places and the dry places to grow us and get us to the destination. Enjoy and take heart in the journey.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Friday, June 24, 2011

Cup Overflowed

I think it was the song writer & sausage mogul Jimmy Dean who said it best, "I am drinking from my saucer cause my up overflowed."

I am a saucer drinker.
Oh, sometimes I forget that. Sometimes I get focused on the wrong things. Sometimes I get to thinking, "poor little old me." But the truth is if I just will stop and look I will see that "I am drinking from my saucer because my cup is overflowed."

I have so much to be thankful for. I am blessed. I am too blessed to stress. God provides me with everything that I need. He gives me way more than I deserve. My cup is so full of things for me to be thankful for that it overflows.

I am a saucer drinker. I thank my God for that because he is the one who fills my cup to over flowing.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

DRINKING FROM MY SAUCER aka MY CUP RUNNETH OVER; DRINK FROM THE SAUCER
Jimmy Dean

never made a fortune and it's probably too late now
But I don't worry about that much, I'm happy anyhow
And as I go along life's journey, I'm reaping better than I sowed
I'm drinking from my saucer, cause my cup has overflowed.

I ain't got a lot of riches, and sometimes the goings tough
but I've got kids who love me and that makes me rich enough
I just thank God for his blessings and the mercies he's bestowed.
I'm drinking from my saucer, cause my cup has overflowed.

I remember times when things went wrong, and my faith got a little thin
but then all at once the dark clouds broke, and the sun peeked through again
so Lord help me not to gripe about the tough rows I hoed
I'm drinking from my saucer, cause my cup has overflowed.

And if God gives me strength and courage, when the way grows steep and rough
I'll not ask for another blessing, I'm already blessed enough
And may I never be too busy to help another bear his load
I'll keep drinking from my saucer, cause my cup has overflowed.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Love is HARD

The love that Christ calls is to is not easy.
He calls us to love unconditionally. Just like he does.
He calls us to love everyone. Just like he does.
He calls me to love my enemies. Just like he does.
He calls me to love those who are mean to me. Just like he does.
He calls me to love those who say hurtful things and do hurtful things to me and the people I love. Just like he does.
He calls me to love without expecting love in return. Just like he does.
He calls me to love with my actions. Just like he does.
He calls me to love always. Just like he does

He invited me to have my heart transformed to be like his by doing the hard work of love.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hanging Out

"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1 NIV

The Psalmist reminds us that we can find rest when we dwell in the shelter of God. The word dwell conjures up images for me that are more than just temporary moments with God or now and again thinking about God, but long term hanging out with God. Spending time in God's presence. Spending time with God. Spending my days and my night drawing near to and offering my life to God. It is not a one hour a week thing. It is not a when I am in trouble thing. It is when I hang out in the shelter of God that I will rest in him and find rest in him. It is when I hang out with God daily that I have a rest and a peace in the midst of the troubles that come my way. It is when I dwell with God I then see that he works in all things for good.

Life is about dwelling in the shelter of the most high. Each day we have the opportunity to hang out there or hang out some place else. The reality is that God is will us all the time and is there for us but we must choose to seek our shelter in him every day.

Choose today to find rest by hanging out with God.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Friday, June 17, 2011

God Morning

"God Morning"

This is not a typo. I did not mean to right good morning and forget an "o". I meant to say "God morning.

As I woke this morning I wanted more than anything for today to be a God day. I woke with what seemed to be an invitation from within my soul inviting me to have a God day. A day that I seek to be aware of God working all around and me and allow him to work in and through me. An invitation to live today for God and for no one else but God. An invitation to live by God's will and not by my will. An invitation to seek first God's kingdom and righteousness. An invitation to lay down my life for him.

This invitation is whispered by that still small voice every morning to each and every one of us. Too often we settle for just having and hoping for good mornings or good days rather than reaching and striving to have the day that God desires for us and that is truly good. My prayer for me and for you is that we will have a God Day! A day where we encounter and live in the presence and power of the living God. A day where we die to ourselves and live for God.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Aaron Brown

During our service on Sunday, I told you about a friend of mine, Aaron Brown, who lives in Joplin and is the pastor of St. Paul's United Methodist Church. Aaron brought the message at the community memorial service for the community of Joplin after the devastating tornado. As I mentioned on Sunday, his message is worth the time spent listening to it and I just wanted to share it with others. Please pray for the people of Joplin and all of those who have been effected by the spring storms. Pray also for God to reveal a way to come along side those that are need and to be a tangible visible sign that God is with them. If you would like to watch the video of Aaron's message please click the link below.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

click her for Arron's video

Friday, June 10, 2011

Thank God it's Friday!

God,
I thank you that you have made me. I am thankful that you are forming and shaping me into the person that you want me to be. I am thankful that you are a loving, caring and forgiving God. I am grateful that you are full of grace and mercy and that your grace is wider than I can even imagine. I thank you that you are a transforming God and that you are at work transforming my life. I am grateful that you are a generous God. I am awed to think that you care for me and humbled to to be called your child. Thank you that you are always with me and that your Spirit is working in me to make me more generous, more caring, more loving, more grace filled and merciful. More like you. Thank you that you never give up on me. Thank you for being with us through out all of life. Thank you for being with us in the storms and the troubles and thank you for leading us to places of peace and rest and joy. Thank you for your comfort. Thank you for taking our punishment for us. Thank you that death does not win but life does. Lord, my list can go on and on and on. I am overflowing with gratitude to know that you are with me and care for me. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Amen.

Tell God how much you are grateful today.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I think I am back

If you are a regular follower of my ramblings you have probably noticed that I have spent some time off from writing since Easter. This has been a season for me that I just felt that I needed to step back from daily posting and be recreated in other ways.

I have always felt that this blog was about me being intentional about my own personal relationship with God and about me continuing to do daily disciplines to connect deeper with God and think about what it means for me to follow Jesus and not play church. It is a blessing that people also receive some inspiration and may grow deeper in their own relationships with God through reading my (often times grammatically incorrect) writings. I have taken time away to make sure that I still am using this for the purpose that God has for me to use it. I do love the way that it connects me to others and that others do read it, but for me, it is important that I always stay true to using this forum to help me stay intentional about being real about my relationship with God. I am humbled to know that people have missed it while I have taken this break and I am grateful for anyway that God might work through me to connect others to Him.

I intend to be back writing on a regular basis for as long as this continues to be a means for me to practice spiritual disciplines in my everyday life.

It is important that from time to time we evaluate and re-evaluate our spiritual life to make sure that we have not moved from living in relationship with God to playing church. Have the things that we do just become empty ritual or are they still connecting us to God? Do we need a fresh start? Are we doing things out of habit or obligation or are we doing them as followers of Jesus? Are we growing? Is Christ bearing fruit in our lives? Are we going through the motions? Who are we lifting up? Who is being honored and praised by our practices? Am I being real about my love of God? Am I being real about myself? Am I being real about my love of others?

Take time to evaluate your relationship with God and what you are doing to invest your time and energy--- your life in that relationship.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Friday, May 13, 2011

Sidewalk Prophets

I have a new music group that God has been using to inspire me lately. I saw them at Winterjam in January and I am hoping to get a chance to see them when they come to Bethany, MO in June for the Lifelight concert. Anyway the lyrics to their songs have been a wonderful source of meditation about what it means for me to follow Jesus. They have a way of helping me to think about what it means to be real about our love for God and our love for others. Today I thought I would share a couple of those lyrics that have been continually rolling around in my mind.

The first is a line from their song "You can have me".

If I saw You on the street
And You said come and follow me
But I had to give up everything
All I once held dear and all of my dreams
Would I love You enough to let go
Or would my love run dry
When You asked for my life
When did love become unmoving?
When did love become unconsuming?
Forgetting what the world has told me
Father of love, You can have me.

Love should move us and consume us. Do I love enough to let go of everything else and be consumed and moved by my love of God?

The next is from their song "Show me How To Love".

Passed by you today
Why is there a war between us?
Are you not my brother?
Are you not my sister?
Something’s got to change
Stood by you today
Why is there a wall between us?
Are you not my sister?
Are you not my brother?
Well something’s got to change
I confess that I’ve been blind
Open up this heart of mine
Show me how to love
Farther than this world I know
Take me where You want me to go
Show me how to love

Our love of God is revealed in our love of our others. There should not be hostility, hate, and walls between brothers and sisters in Christ. Something has to change. Our hearts have to change. Our love has to change to be the love of Jesus.

Some things to meditate on from the Sidewalk Prophets.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I'm Back

I took a little time off after Easter from my daily posts. I felt like I needed to spend some devotional time with just me and God. Not that I mind sharing my personal devotions with whoever wants to read them on the world wide web, but I needed to just take a break from posting for a while and just be me and God. I hope you all understand. I did miss it.

Inspiration. I think that deep down inside each of us is a little voice that if we are quite enough and still enough we can hear crying out. That voice is saying"inspire me." We all want to be inspired. We want to be filled with a passion to do something bigger than ourselves. We want to be motivated to something that would seem impossible or to reach for something that seems unreachable.

This is why we seek out entertainment and why we read books and blogs. We all hope to catch some inspiration that changes us, moves us, motivates us, and compels us to experience life and and to live it abundantly. We want to be inspired. "Preacher give me a good word." "Coach tell me something powerful." Teacher blow my mind with something I don't know." "Inspire me."

The word inspire comes from the root word "in spirit." What we long for is to be filled with the Holy Spirit. We cry out to be filled with the Spirit in such a way that we are moved and motivated to do something that seems impossible on our own. We long to be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit to compel us and change us. We can cry out to people for this but they can not really inspire us because what we need can only come from the Spirit. It can only come from God. Only God can truly inspire us. The good news is that this is exactly what God does. He says he will put his Spirit in us. He promise to give us His Spirit to comfort us, lead us, fill us, change us, and inspire us. Cry out to God. Say, "God Inspire Me."

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug


Friday, April 22, 2011

Revelation

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” - Romans 1:20

If we want to see God's eternal power and divine nature all that we have to do is look around us at his creation. Everything that we see points to the divine creator of the universe. The sunrise, sunset, blooming flowers, budding trees, massive oceans, enormous mountains all display his power and beauty. The face of your neighbor, the laughter of a child, the air that we breath, the balance of the ecosystem, the beauty of plants, trees, flowers, animals and people all point to the beauty of the divine. The sound of the birds singing, the smell of a fresh rain, the awesome wonder of the human hand and the human mind all point to the truth of God.

Look around this doesn't happen by chance or accident. The perfect tilt of the earth axes, the sun to light the day and the moon to reflect the sun to give light to the night, the plants giving off oxygen and taking in carbon dioxide while human take in oxygen and give off carbon dioxide all tell us that this is no coincidence it is a GODcidence. This was all created by an amazing, powerful creator who desire us to know that he loves us and cares for us and wants nothing more than to spend every day in an intimate relationship with you and me.

WOW. That is all that I can say.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Thursday, April 21, 2011

God cares about you

“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”” - John 10:28-30

Do you ever feel like no one cares?
Do you ever feel unloved?

Don't be fooled by your feelings.

The God that created all things loves and cares for you.

The truth is God cares about you. God loves you. God wants to spend all of eternity with you. Each moment of every day for ever and ever God loves and cares about you. He shows his love in that he does for us what we can not do for ourselves. He shows his love by doing what only he can do by coming to earth as Jesus and dying on the cross so that we could live eternally with him. He wants us to place our lives in his hands. He desires that we would just rest in the palm of his hands and trust him with our lives. He cares. He wants what is best for us. He loves us. When in his hands no one can snatch us out of his hands he will protect us.

However, God's hands are not clenched fists holding us hostage unwillingly. Because he loves us and cares for us, the choice is our to rest safe and secure in his hands or to walk outside of his loving embrace. No one can snatch us from him. He will protect us from that ever happening when we place our lives in his hands but his arms and hands are always open so that we can know his love and care is real and we can choose it or reject it.

It does not make since to reject it, but we can and some do.

But, if you want to know that you are loved and cared for and that each and every moment of all eternity God wants nothing more than to love you and for you to be able to love him in return than rest in the palm of God's hand and the truth of God's promise that he will give you eternal life and you will not perish. Rest in knowing that he and he alone is capable if this and that he will not let anyone snatch you away from him. He loves you. He cares. He desires only the best for you.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Living

“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” - 1 Corinthians 15:20-22

Are you living?

My dad when he was diagnosed with cancer said a profound thing to me that has stuck with me to this day. He said, "I am going to spend he rest of my life living not dying."

That is an awesome statement.

Too often we go through life without living. We spend our days dying, or dead, rather than living each day to the fullest. In our spirits and spiritually speaking we stay stuck in Adam and in sin rather than living the new life that Jesus offers us. We live on thew other side of Easter rather than on this side of Easter. We spend each day as if it is only Fridays doom and gloom and death that reign. But, Christ is Risen! Christ has indeed been raised from the dead so you and I can truly live. We can spend the rest of our lives and all eternity living.

Love today.

In Christ love and mine,
Doug

Friday, April 15, 2011

Give what is owed

“This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” - Romans 13:6-7

I think that when we read the passage from Romans we get focused on the paying taxes part. Even though today is April 15 and tax day is approaching I want to look more deeply into what Paul is saying here.

Paul is just using taxes as an example for a deep truth that he is trying to convey. The scripture instructs us to give to everyone what is owed.

Do you owe someone respect? You should show them respect. Do you owe someone honor? than you should honor them. Is someone worthy of praise? You should praise them.

Today, everyday, it is time to give people what we owe them, because today is the time we are sure that we have. Do you need to tell someone thank you. Do it. Do you need to offer forgiveness? Do it. Do you need to tell someone you love them? Do it. Do you owe someone your respect? Do you owe someone your honor? Do it today. It is time to give what is owed to others. Respect, honor, love, and forgiveness. In this way we give God the glory, honor and praise that is due him.

Love today.

In Christ love and mine,
Doug

Thursday, April 14, 2011

What do you take your stand on?

“[The Resurrection of Christ] Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,” - 1 Corinthians 15:1, 3-4

I think it was a country song that had the words, "you've got to stand for something or you'll fall for anything." Paul says that the most important thing to take a stand on is Christ death, burial and resurrection. Paul is saying the one thing that I will not waver from, the one thing that is central and key to my life, the one thing that I am living for, and the one thing that I willing to die for is that Christ lived and died for my sin, was dead and buried and was raised on the third day. This is the gospel. This is the good news. Sin does not win. Jesus does. Death does not win. Jesus does. New life. Life everlasting. Jesus wins for me because he loves me. All he ask is that I love him in return.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

We are all in the same boat

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” - Romans 3:23-24

Romans 3 is pretty clear that each and every person, without exception, is in the same boat. All of us, the best and the worst, fall short of God's glory. All of us are sinners. We all are in the same boat and without Christ it is a sinking ship.

Every person that you lay eyes on today is just like you. You, me, everyone we see are sinners in need of Christ. Everyone that we lay eyes on today are also precious and loved by God. God has not played favorites. All of us, even the ones that we struggle to love, are loved by God. Each and every person that you will look at today is loved by God so much that Jesus died on a cross for them. It is helpful at times to be reminded of this truth.

Love today. (Because He loves each and every one of us.)

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Selfishness

“Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” - Luke 9:23-24

Quite possibly the biggest obstacle that we face to living in relationship with Jesus is our own selfishness. It is impossible to be selfish and follow Jesus at the time. Jesus says the the first thing that we have to do in order to follow him is stop being selfish. Stop being self centered. Stop caring only about ourselves and what is in it for us. First thing we must do is deny ourselves. As followers of Jesus we each and everyday, if we want to follow Jesus, we have to get ourselves out of the way.

It is not about us if we are following Jesus. Whenever we catch ourselves acting and living selfishly, with an "it's all about what I want and feel" mentality, we can be assured that we are not seeking after Jesus but ourselves. Followers of Jesus are not selfish people. Followers of Jesus lose their lives. They give up their lives daily to follow Jesus.

And Jesus tells us that this is when we begin to live.

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

Monday, April 11, 2011

Easter People

““He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”” - 1 Peter 2:24

"By his wounds you have been healed." This is what it says. Did you catch that? Did you happen to notice the tense of the statement. It does not say that we will be healed. It doesn't say that healing is coming. It says that what is necessary for us to be healed, our healing, has come. When Christ was wounded we were healed. Nothing more needs to happen. Sin has been put to death we no longer have to live in it. We are not stuck in sin. We can live for righteousness. It isn't coming--it has come. The healer, the one who has healed us has won the victory and overcome so that we can live for righteousness.

Yet, too often I/we live as if it is a future reality not a present one. When Lazarus was raised from the dead and given new life by the power of Christ we are told that Jesus told the people around him and Lazarus to take of his grave clothes. Lazarus had been healed by God and had walked out of the tomb but one more thing had to happen. He needed to take of the grave clothes. He needed to live in the new reality. The reality of his healing meant he no longer should be wearing grave clothes and he/we are responsible for taking off the grave clothes.

I think that too often we fail to recognize the truth of 1 Peter 2:24, that we "have been healed" because we fail to take off our grave clothes. We continue to be dressed in our old way. We don't live as if we have overcome sin, instead we keep wearing our old "sin clothes". We never clothe ourselves in righteousness. We live like healing is coming some day not that it has already come.

But here is the truth, you have been healed. All that is necessary has already happened. It happen on a cross just outside of Jerusalem over 2000 years ago. By his wounds we have been healed. It is time to live this reality. Take off your grave clothes. Stop living as those who are dying but live for righteousness. Live as Easter people. Christ has died. Christ is Risen!

Love today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug