Back To Africa

I can’t believe it’s been one year since I’ve went to Africa.  It seems like yesterday Cherie and I landed at the Nairobi Airport got off the plane and stood in line at the customs “desk” to enter the country.  I remember it hitting me very quickly that it’s possible to sweat just standing in a line.  This was only a hint at the amount of perspiration that was to come though…believe me.

Well this I’m so excited and blessed that I get to return to Africa and the wonderful men, women, and children of Joska this year!  In fact the Thanksgiving meal I’m about to destroy in a few hours will barely be digested by the time I load the plane it’s that soon.  It will be tougher to leave home since BG and Cherie will be staying behind, but I know that God will protect and keep them healthy while I’m gone.

It seems fitting that as the last bit of Western American thanks is wiped off my mouth I will soon touch down in a country that seems to have little to be thankful for.  For some it’s hard to imagine these oppressed people finding gratitude in the rubble and chaos of the world around them.  However, you only need to talk to them for a nanosecond to realize they are thankful for things we don’t even put on our back-up thankful list.

Their short list consists of:

  • Food of any kind
  • Shelter of any form
  • Clean water
  • Life for another day
  • A day without rape
  • A child born without AIDS

However, they praise God for these things with such sincerity in their souls that it makes you realize there are genuinely thankful for every little bit they have.    I love the distilled joy these people demonstrate.   A joy rid of any of the sediments of our materialistic world and filtered down to the essence of love and contentment.  They are able to get to the heart of thanksgiving and the heart of God faster than we ever will.

So yes I am leaving on a plane and leaving my family behind for 10 days, but when I return I will be filled with more clarity and love for life and God then I could ever have imagined.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am very grateful for all that God has blessed me with in my life.

I am grateful for the church that supports me on these missions’ trips.  I’m grateful for the family that loves me enough to let me leave even if it hurts.  I’m thankful for the friends and family that will be praying for me as I travel.  I’m thankful for the people I will meet and the love I will be shown when I arrive.

However I am most thankful for the love of Christ that propels me to go on these trips will also be the Love that is reflected back to me in the lives of these children.

To close, I think it’s only fitting to be reminded of the greatest moments of thanks in all of the World.

 19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”   20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.  - Luke 22:19-20

 

May we be constantly brought back to the sacrifice of Jesus and the underserved Grace we receive through Him. Thank you Jesus for all you have done for us.  May this be the Grace that is taught and shown to these children that we are able to minister to.

Well, Happy Thanksgiving everyone and be praying for me.   I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

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911: Cannonball Run

Well it finally came!  Sunday at the Parkview Campuses was the final weekend of our Cannonball Capitol Campaign series and it was an awesome day.  Over the past 5 weeks Pastor Tim has cast a vision of the future of Parkview Christian Church and encouraged us increase the generosity in our lives knowing that we can “never out give God”.

Now I’ve been a part of several campaigns like this in the past.  I was honored to be a leader of a campaign and as a participant, but never have I been the leader of a church during one.  I must admit it was exhilarating to see God at work.

Over the course of the series I’ve seen hearts clutching their “stuff” slowly release their grip on the here and now for the future hope.  I’ve seen people who would have never considered tithing, step out in faith and begin to trust God with their finances.  I saw little kids now look at Christmas and giving differently after seeing pictures of children their own age in Africa waiting to get into a school for food and education.  And I’ve seen the Lockport Campus God has called me to lead now see their community not just as a place they live, but a place they have been CALLED to live.

However, I’ve also seen this be a time Satan prowls around a little more loudly and Sunday was no different.

As our youth choir was singing their souls out and Kevin West directed our congregation to come forward and place their Cannonball commitment cards into a glowing jar the fire alarms went off.  Yep.  You read that correctly.  Full on fire alarms!  It turns out it was because of the fog we used to enhance the lights, but that was not the cause if you ask me.

We’ve used that fogger countless times in the past 3.5 years and never have we had an alarm even whimper.  However, I think Satan thought what better time to interrupt a Spirit directed moment than with a little visit from the fire department.

So we evacuated the kids and ushered the adults outside until the Lockport Fire Department gave us the “all clear”.

Then you know what we did?

We opened some doors, cleared out the fog, and held the 2nd service right on time.  We worship, we took communion, and we stepped up and committed to being generous regardless of what kind of roar Satan mustered.  You see you can try to distract the work of God, but you can never shake it.  His work always moves forward like an unstoppable force.

I read 2 Timothy 1:7 to both services this past Sunday and I believe it to be even more true now.  Paul tells his young student Timothy, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self discipline.”

Never forget that we have been created with a Spirit of power that cannot and will not be stopped regardless of Satan’s weak attempts.  He’s a knocked down defeated enemy of the living God and we do not fear him as followers of Christ.  We need to remember that…I need to remember that as we make Cannonball splashes these next two years.

For me I may just think back to the 911 Cannonball Run on November 20, 2011 as my reminder that God cannot and will not be stopped.  Maybe you have something different, but make sure you have a reminder in your spirit of the power of our God and how good He is to us every single day.

So go dive in and don’t worry about the whitewater becomes sometimes that were the best waves are at!

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Joy Suckers

I’ve always been motivated by a good kick in the pants from time to time.  Whether it’s a stern encouragement from a coach, a less than favorable grade from a teacher, or just “that look” from my mom I used these things for motivation to do better.

From time to time in my spiritual life I need a good kick in the pants from God too and the Apostle Paul is usually there to oblige.

Here is my most recent upper cut to the face.

 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.

I plead with you, brothers, become like me, for I became like you. You have done me no wrong. As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you. Even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself. What has happened to all your joy? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me.  Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?”  - Galatians 4:8-16

This hit me so hard lately because I’ve been in a bit of a spiritual funk.  Not a huge one where I’m doubting all that I know, but just a spiritual fatigue that has zapped a bit of my zeal for God.  I guess you could say some of my joy is missing.

In his letter to the church at Galatia, Paul was asking where was all their joy?  They had started to forget what Paul had taught them about the Gospel and instead had begun listening to a group called the Judaizers.  In short, this group believed that believing in Jesus alone for salvation was not enough.  They taught it was Jesus + other things that saved you which hacked Paul of something fierce.  The reason this was so frustrating to Paul was not that they were not listening to him, but that they were not listening to God’s design for salvation and as a result, their joy was being sucked out of them.

He says in verse 12 how is that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles?” which basically means, “What the heck are you doing?  You are turning back to all this garbage that sucked the life out of you after I told you Jesus is all you need!”  I had to ask myself this same question.

What are the areas that I crawl back to in my life that are nothing more than joy suckers?

What are the things that I have left behind by being made new in Christ, but yet find myself coming back to in moments of weakness?

It didn’t take long to get my answer.

I quickly realized, I had allowed my joy to be taken by my pride, my fear, my fatigue, my doubt, and my stubbornness.  It shouldn’t be shocking that my spiritual funk was directly related to my joy tank being syphoned out by my sinful nature creeping back in.  I realized that I needed to refocus myself back to the truth of the real Gospel of Jesus and find my strength and joy in Him.

I needed my spirit to be renewed knowing I am a new creation in Christ and the old Brian is dead.  That my purpose and meaning come from being known as a child of God and that true happiness is found in my pursuit of holiness.   I needed to remember that Jesus was enough and I didn’t need to add anything to Him to be more accepted or loved by Him.

When I did that my world seemed to tilt back to the way it should be.  Not a world void of tough times or challenging moments, but a world that is refocused on Jesus alone.

Now, it’d be great if God equipped us with a joy gauge we could look at from time to time to see how our joy level was doing, but sadly I haven’t found it.  However, he did leave us with His word, prayer, and a community of believers to live life amongst.  I pray you and I can lean into these more and prevent having our joy robbed.

A kick in the pants is a good thing, but it’s better when it comes from those that love us and have concern for us.  If we aren’t careful, we can find ourselves kicking our self out of a spirit of guilt and shame and those are two things God never designed for us to feel as Christians.

Take a moment now and ask God to search your heart for the areas you’ve let joy leak out. Ask Him to forgive you for those areas of sin you’ve returned to, but then to strengthen you with his Love of grace as you pursue thing differently.  Remind yourself that He alone is worthy of our praise and He alone is to receive our worship because He is all we will ever need.   Then move on with your day refreshed by the renewing power of Christ working in your life.

Boy I needed that today…how about you?

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A God Note In My Lunch

When I was in elementary school my mom would make my lunch almost every day.  It was awesome and most everyone in the lunch room was jealous because they had to sit and eat their crappy school lunch ham and cheese.  But in addition to the scrumptious lunch she would make mom also gave another personal touch.

A note.

Every day my mom would put a small note in my lunch just to say she “loved me” or she was “proud of me” or to remind me of something.  At the time you don’t appreciate that stuff, but now looking back it was pretty awesome.

Let’s face it, who doesn’t like to be encouraged?  I don’t meet too many people who are pumped up to get chewed out by their boss or that are chomping at the bit to have their wife scream at them the moment they walk in the door.  Just like a Cubs World Championship, it just doesn’t happen.

I meet Christians all the time that think of God as the Big Angry Boss in the sky Who’s primary function is to yell at them for every little thing they do.  To steal a line from Bruce Almighty, we think “God is a giant kid in the sky with a magnifying glass waiting to burn off our feelers!”

Well maybe I can be the first to tell you that God’s deepest desire isn’t to burn our feelers off.  In fact laced throughout the Bible are little notes about how God really feels about us.

 

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you.” – Psalm 143:8

“The king is enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord.”  - Psalm 45:11

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. – Psalm 139:13-14

 

But He saved the best for last…

 

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8

So the next you get the sense your head is a little hot from the magnifying glass, maybe you should just look up.   It might just be God trying to get your attention so He can tell you He loves ya.

Now that should make you feel all warm and fuzzy, just like a note from mom.

Love you mom! :)

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How To Be A Zoo Keeper For Dummies

Recently there was a man in Ohio whose personal zoo got out of control.  Over 50 wild animals were let loose onto a remote Ohio town causing mass hysteria and panic.  If you want to read more about this loony tune click here, but it really doesn’t matter all that much any more.  In short the guy flung open the cages to the 56 animals he housed and then killed himself leaving Noah’s ark to be unleashed on this small town.

As a result the town closed roads, schools, and businesses for days as these animals were either captured or killed.  Serious damage could have been done to so many people, but luckily only the owner of this makeshift zoo was injured.

What just blows me away is that this guy thought that he could play zookeeper with some of the most intense wild animals on the face of the planet!  I mean really, don’t you think the electrical wires, iron bars, acres of land for habitats, and animal trainers wearing Tasers for protection at the REAL zoo should have given you a clue that this was not for the average Joe with an aquarium at his house to mess around with?

As I thought about it, we shouldn’t be to loud with our criticism because we play zookeeper every day too.  Except in our case we are caging up the sin in our life thinking we can tame it somehow like these wild animals.  Sadly, this can be just as destructive in the long run as a hungry wild grizzly bear chasing you down.

We all think that if we keep our sin buried deep inside us and only let it out at home or when no one is watching that we can manage it.  That we can keep it at bay well enough that we don’t really need help from anyone.  What we don’t realize is that at some point the cage is going to break and we won’t be able to do anything because it will be right on top of us.  There in that moment your sin will be looking at you eye to eye drooling as it begins to devour you.

1 Peter 5:8 tells us “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

John 10:10a tells us “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…”

All that’s true…if…we don’t know Jesus.

“For he (Jesus) has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”       – Colossians 1:13-14 (emphasis mine)

However, for us to receive the full freedom found in Christ we must be vigilant in not trying to manage our sin.  We must kill it, destroy it, and avoid it at all cost.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. – Colossians 3:1-6 (emphasis mine)

The sooner we stop fooling ourselves that we can somehow manage the sin in our life and start taking it out behind the barn and disposing of it the right way the sooner we will feel Christ’s true freedom in our life.  Until then we are left looking over our shoulder at the sin cages we keep in our life hoping that lock we have on the door will hold.

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Kirby Puckett and Jesus

I remember when I was in college and a group of professional baseball players from the Minnesota Twins came through on a speaking tour to our college.  It just so happened that I was in the batting cage next to the basketball court they were playing on, when one of them came over to the cage.  The player was Kirby Puckett an All-Star for the Minnesota Twins, and needless to say, I was a bit nervous.

Kirby stood right by the cage as I hit for about 10 minutes.  When I got done with my round and began picking up the baseballs in the cage, I sheepishly looked up and he said “not bad son, you’ve got what it takes.”  He sauntered off and went back to his game, but for me I felt like the game just began.

Man that did something to me that day.  To have someone of his caliber tell me that I have what it takes was pretty amazing to me.

There was a man in the Bible that amazed Jesus you know, and it wasn’t a disciple or Moses or Joseph or anyone else like that.  In fact it was someone that barely even knew Him.

In Luke 7 we enter into a story about a Centurion in the Roman Army and his servant who was gravely ill.  The man, Scripture says, had “heard of Jesus” and sent a few Jewish elders to meet him and ask Christ to come heal his servant.  As Jesus came closer to the home of the Centurion it says that the man sent a few of his friends to meet Christ and to tell Him these words:

Lord don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof.  That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you.  But say the word, and my servant will be healed.  For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me.  I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes.  I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” – Luke 7:6b-8

This powerful man, who was in charge of nearly 100 men and was able to command them to do whatever he wanted whenever he wanted, asks a homeless Rabbi that traveled with a mismatched group of 12 men to help him.  Why?

Because he knew that although he had the power to command men to do whatever he wished he had no power over death, but he knew that Jesus did and He had faith that Jesus could heal his servant.

Wow, what on earth would Jesus say to that?

When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, ‘I tell you the truth, I have not found such great faith even in Israel’.

Jesus Christ…the One who become flesh, Creator God, Alpha and Omega, Beginning and End, the second member of the Trinity, the One who helped fashion wings on butterflies, designed water molecules to freeze at a certain temperature and boil at another, the architect of the Universe, the One who walks on water, Who will tell the storms to calm, the One who wrestled with Jacob, the One who entered the furnace with Shadrach, Meshach, and Obednigo, the One who calmed the lions with Daniel, the One who parts seas, the One born to a virgin teen and a poor carpenter, the One who makes the lame walk, the deaf hear, and the blind see, the One that will be crucified for the sins of man, the One who will come back on a white horse wearing a robe dipped in blood and a tattoo down His thigh…that Jesus…was amazed!!!

Not by his resume, his stature, his house, his car, his really cool job, his power…no…none of that.  He was amazed by his faith.

A faith that was based not on seeing Jesus doing miracles, but by hearing and believing that He had power over all things to heal his servant. A faith that humbled itself to the Highest of all authority and didn’t let pride or selfishness get in the way of saving someone lesser than him.

It was his Faith that amazed Jesus.

So if Jesus was standing by the batting cage that is your life watching your faith in action would He be amazed?  Would He walk away saying…’yep he has what it takes’?

He desperately wants to be amazed by you…especially by your Faith.  Now it may be as small as a mustard seed, but it could have the impact of a freight train.  It starts by humbling yourself to Christ as your authority, laying your old self down and starting a new life with Him, and walking forward toward Him not because of what you’ve seen but what you haven’t seen.

Make an effort right now to stop and pray to Christ and ask Him for the strength to make your Faith amazing to Him.  Ask Him for His strength to sustain you and for His mercy to cover you and for His grace to abound in your life.

Then open your eyes and start doing some amazing stuff in His name.

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True Confessions Of A First Time Dad: Thank You Daddy

From the very beginning Cherie and I have taught Aniston to say “please”, “thank you”, and “I’m sorry”.  We both grew up in homes where manners and being polite were not an option they were mandatory.  For some reason I see less and less of that being a priority in our society and we don’t want to fall into that cultural trap.

Aniston gets it.  She says “thank you” for her milk, her food, and whenever else we teach her it’s appropriate.  However recently she threw in a “thank you” that I wasn’t expecting.

We had just finished our princess bedtime story and said our prayers.  I let her turn off the light and get into bed to prepare for “snug a bug a rug” time.  This means we basically  tuck her in so she looks like a Chipotle burrito but she LOVES it!

After “snug a bug”-ing her I gave her a final hug and kiss and was about to walk out the door when I heard this little innocent voice say “Thank You Daddy”.  I about lost it.  It was so sweet and so loving that I wanted to grab her out of her bed, give her a hug, and take her for ice cream at 10:00 at night.

My heart was saying, “you don’t need to say thank you sweetie!  I’d do that for you no matter what and it’s one of my favorite things in the world to do”, but it wasn’t about me at that moment.  She wasn’t trying to make me feel guilty to get another drink of water.  She wasn’t emotionally damaged in some way that she felt she had to do it or I would be mad at her.

No, she did it because she loves her daddy and wanted to just say thank you.  No strings attached just loving appreciation.

When was the last time you did that to God?  When was the last time you genuinely thanked God for the simple, taken for granted things in your life?

So often our prayer life is centered on asking God for things as if He were a giant piñata in the sky.  Don’t get me wrong, He doesn’t mind our requests, but he loves our gratitude too.

Listen to the heart of the writers of these Psalms.

“You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” – Psalm 16:2

“I love you, O Lord, my strength.”Psalm 18:1

“We give thanks to you, O God, we give thanks, for your Name is near; men tell of your wonderful deeds.”Psalm 75:1

“Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness.”Psalm 150:2

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.  His love endures forever.” – Psalm 136:1

Sometimes we need to slow ourselves down enough to come to the throne of God without an agenda.  To leave our list of wants on the kitchen table and simply thank God for who He is, what He’s done, and what He’s doing we don’t even see.

Pause right now and pray this:

“Heavenly Father I just want to say “thank you”.  Thank you for the life you’ve given me and all that you’ve given to me is a blessing.  Thank you for the breath I breathe at this very moment, which I’m not promised, but You give me.  Thank you for the gift of Grace found in Jesus that I don’t deserve but that You give me freely. I praise You for all that you do in my life that I see and I don’t see and promise to use every breath you allow me to follow you in all that I do.”  – Amen

Enjoy the fact that you have a Heavenly Father that loves you and blesses you out of goodness and not guilt.  When you think of it that way it become easy to say

“Thanks Daddy!”

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More Than Just Words: Until Death Pauses Our Life

“Until Death Do Us Part”

I heard a pastor friend say once that he’d “much rather do funerals than weddings”.  His reason is that funerals celebrate better than anything else the life of someone and, for the Christian, to speak of the reward of heaven for a life lived well.

On the other hand, to him weddings  have so much glitz and glamour to them.  So much so that most people don’t remember the ceremony let alone the pastor’s message.  I guess to him there is too much idealism and optimism in the way of the truth of what’s in store.  But in death, a reality hits you that is stronger than any force I’ve ever experienced.

Death makes you think.  Death makes you reconsider.  Death makes you sober up.  Death makes you look in the mirror and face the stark realties of life.

Death can cause a grown man to cry and families’ oceans apart reunite.  I’ve seen funerals be the moment a mother and son reconcile and grandkids see their grandparents for the first time.

But the death of a spouse is a one of the most crushing things I’ve ever experienced.  Especially when it happens too early by our human standards.  However, a marriage that is able to see it through all the way to death is one of the most staggering examples of God’s hand at work I’ve ever seen.

This is the reality that until “death do us part” screams for when you promise it to your spouse.  It means that you promise to be with them to the very end of this life.  It might mean hospital beds, nursing homes, car crashes, or heart attacks, but it means to the very end.

However, for the Christian, this good-bye is really only like pushing the pause button on our time with our spouse.  As a Christ follower the best days, months, years, eternity is yet to come.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. – 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Don’t kid yourself.  There is more than this life.  Eternity is real.

On the other side of all the pain and garbage we have gone through, that stuff will not even register in our memory after about 7 seconds in the presence of Christ.

But don’t get ahead of yourself.  Cherish and enjoy the gifts that God has given us on this side of Heaven and the most important of them being your spouse.  Realize that saying “until death do we part” is a gift that we are given by the other person that literally lasts a lifetime.

Another pastor I follow says that one of his goals in life is to be able to live long enough to preach his wife’s funeral.  He says it would be one of the greatest honors to be able to have said he care for and celebrated her well all the way to the very end.  I want to be that kind of husband…that kind of man…that kind of Christ follower.

Be the kind of people that want that for each other too.  Love each other so well that not even thought of death can keep you from breaking the vows you promised each other.

 

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I’m Lazy And My Armrest Agrees

As I got into my truck the other morning I noticed something in my backseat.  It was gray, leather, had a post sticking out of it one side, and I’m pretty sure had about 1” of dust on it.  It was the armrest to the passenger seat and after a quick calculation I realized it had been there about 2 years.

You see two years ago my truck “only” had 200,000 miles on it, but the leather on the armrest had worn out so I got it repaired.  However, at the time the person who repaired it didn’t have a pin that was needed to reattach it to the seat.  So, he was kind enough to give me a card for a business near me that could reattach it.  I told him thank you and then put the business card in the drink holder of my truck.

Soon the card got in the way of my coffee so I moved it to my change holder right by it.  Then I had nowhere for my wallet so I moved it to the inside of my center console.  Then it fell into the recesses of that console to never be seen again and to join all the lost socks, toys, and buttons in the world that seem to have fallen into the same mysterious vortex.

So when I look at my armrest flopping around in the backseat, I could easily blame it on the card for not reminding me.  I mean that was it’s job right!?  It was supposed to spur me on and force me to call that person on the other side of the number, but now it has abandoned me to shuffle through life with passengers uncomfortable and without rest for their arms.

Let me take a second to wipe the sarcasm off your screen before I continue.  There.  Better.

Of course that is a bunch of garbage.  The reason the seat isn’t fixed is because I flat out didn’t call the guy.  It’s not fixed because I gave every excuse possible for not driving over there and making an appointment.

It’s not fixed because I am lazy!

(At this point my wife will be standing up from the computer and yelling “AMEN!” I’m sure.)

I wish I could say that my laziness was confined to this annoying seat malfunction, but I can’t.  This sloth like behavior seeps into a lot of my world and even into my spiritual walk.  I don’t pray like I should, memorize verses well, and I don’t always feel joyful when I give.  In fact some times I’m a down right cranky giver!

Can anyone relate our there?

Are you lazy sometimes in your spiritual walk?

  • Do you find yourself saying “No” to God and “Yes” to everything else because everything else seems easier?
  • Have you been putting off really following Christ because it looks like too much work?
  • Are your kids more spiritually fed right now than you because you justify it by saying “I want them to know God” when in reality you are too lazy to work at it yourself?

I know I can answer yes to some of these and I’m pretty sure you can too.

The encouragement that we have is that Jesus isn’t lazy.

Jesus is in a never-ending pursuit of us and is able to point to the cross as His proof.  An empty tomb shows us His work isn’t finished and, as the writer of Hebrews tells us we should  “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:3

We should never grow tired or weary or lazy in our pursuit of Christ because when we do WE miss out.  It is OUR loss when we stop running the race God has set for us and as a result miss out on the life God intended for us.

So as we look in the back seat of our life and see that “spiritual arm rest” flopping around back there perfectly ready to get locked into place, I encourage you and me to stop what we are doing and get reconnected with God.

Trust me, more than your arm will thank you!

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More Than Just Words: Cherish – The Varnish of Love

“To Love and To Cherish”

It seems that love gets a lot of stage times at weddings.  Heck, you could say that love gets most the repetitions in our vocabulary as a whole.  We love all kinds of stuff.

  • We love our favorite football team
  • We love our car
  • We love our dog
  • We love our haircuts
  • We love music
  • We love our kids
  • We love a good steak

Don’t get me wrong love is great!  Even Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13 that if you had to choose between hope, love, and faith…love should be #1 so I’m all about some love.  But what do you cherish?

To a guy, this sounds like such an effeminate term.  Cherish.

What, are we going to go shopping for Precious Moments figurines after we get done reading this?  Come on man!

But when it comes right down to it cherishing something is what separates our “love” for our golf clubs and the love for our kids.  Cherish is what makes us want the doctors to do all they can to save him.  Cherish is what makes us stay up until 2:00 am to make sure they are safe even if we’re mad.  Cherish is what tells you to stay even if the job falls through and the bills are coming due.

Cherish is the varnish we put on top of our love for one another that helps to protect it from the elements of life. 

The only way to fully grasp what it means to cherish someone requires gaining wisdom into the person.   Wisdom is the key to the lock on the heart of your spouse that once open will show you how and what you cherish about them the most.  However, in order to know someone that well it will cost you dearly.  The writer of Proverbs tells us that “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Cherish her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. 
She will give you a garland to grace your head and present you with a glorious crown. “ (Proverbs 4:7-9)

Marriage requires effort and every part of you committed to making it work.

If you want a marriage, then when you look the person you are vowing to spend the rest of your life with in the eyes and promise to “love and to cherish” them you are taking on an amazing task.

You are telling them that you are in constant pursuit of they heart.  You are promising to them that you are protecting this love above any other human love.

It’s this intense commitment that marriage demands that causes Paul to warn those considering marriage to not do it unless you really know what you are getting into.  In fact he goes so far in 1 Corinthians as to tell people NOT to get married because of the potential effects it could have on a person’s relationship with God!

But once you have decided and once you have vowed to love your spouse with a love that only God himself could have created it is amazing.

I truly believe there is nothing more powerful in our world today than a strong, committed, loving, and Christ-following married couple.  The power of two people loving each other with this intense love that can only be measured in the heavenly realm is epic to our culture.

A marriage of this caliber can only serve to shine such an intense light into a dark world filled with broken marriages, broken promise, and broken hearts that anyone that looks at it can’t help but be effected.

When you look in each other’s eyes, vow to be that type of marriage.  A marriage flied with cherished love in high amounts and a willingness to draw on wisdom from God to unlock the heart of the person you love.

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