Category Archives: Random Thoughts

Christmas Is The Birth Of Grace

Manger

If you ask most people why we celebrate Christmas to a man they will say it is to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  Even a staunch atheists has to relent that Christmas was established to celebrate the birth of Christ. They may not like it, but that’s the deal.  Now of course there are those out there that will argue that December 25th is not the exact date of His birth and that it’s actually in October and if you celebrate in December God will make you an umpa lumpa and will hate you forever.  I honestly don’t concern myself with that too much because it’s waste of energy.  Let’s face it, if for one day each year the world focuses their attention back to Christ (even if just for a second or half heartily) and because of that gets people to perhaps step into a church for the one time a year to hear of what Christ did then it’s worth it whatever day it landed on.  I mean, I highly doubt that when we get to heaven God is going to shake his finger at us, take away our grace card stained with Jesus’ blood, and tell us to stand in the corner because we were celebrating on the wrong date.  Just seems to be a little outside the character of God if you ask me.

I digress.

The disciple John has an interesting way of describing Christmas.

“And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” – John 1:14 (NIV)

When my children were born I got to see what a beautiful, developed human life looked like.  There were fingers, toes, hair (yes Hunt’s have hair at some point), and life was pouring out of them with each cry.  Yet I also saw other things born.  I saw joy, soul expansion, and a new level of love.  You see with a birth of a baby comes things we see the describable and the indescribable.

In that manager thousands of years ago that same beautifully developed human life was on display.  It was void of the beeping of monitors, doctors in scrubs, and over priced meals, but nonetheless a baby was born.  Those same indescribable side benefits of joy and love were felt too, but as Jesus was held in the arms of His mother out of him poured something that no other baby could offer.

Grace.

It was His grace that when fully developed would save the entire world.

John uses the Greek word “charis” which means “merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues.”  Found within that baby boy was the solution to the sin of the world.  It is grace that would pour out of his hands, feet, and sides.  It is grace that would drip down His face as He prayed for His father to take this cup from him (Luke 22:44, NIV).  It is grace that would look upon the faces of sinners and see them for who they were in the eyes of the Father and not in the eyes of the world.  It is grace that would forgive the prostitute, play with children, and heal the blind.  And it was not just a small amount of grace, but an uncontainable amount.

John tell us that, “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”  – John 1:16 (ESV)

It was grace upon grace that was born at Christmas.

So yes, we remember the manager and the cast of characters present at the birth of Christ, but may we also stare deeply into the eyes of this small boy and remember that found within Him was what would save the world.  That behind the frailty of this little body was the unstoppable gift of grace found in Him.  A grace that saved a wretch like me and that wipes my sins as white as snow.

So celebrate Him for His birth, but worship Him for His grace.

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3 Gifts Your Wife Doesn’t Need This Christmas

no-bad-gifts

Christmas is rapidly approaching and men all over the world are scrambling to get things for their wives. Last minute websites are being scoured and raiding of closets trying to find the right size of clothes without having to ask is taking place. Men are talking to other men with the same intense and painful topic of conversation being; “What are you getting your wife for Christmas?”In many desperate cases purchases will be made that are more expensive than originally planned just to throw a little bling at them and hopefully throw them off the scent of your procrastination. Others will go for quantity and wrap up as much stuff as they can, praying that the pile of presents will distract them from the mound of guilt that has piled up on the guy’s shoulders. It is madness I tell you!

After over a decade of marriage I’ve realized and given in to the fact that my wife LOVES to get her own presents so I’ve stopped even trying. Now I don’t recommend this technique to other men (only if you have a wife that is wired this way), unless you want to sleep on the couch in the garage until Easter. However, before you start Googling “Desperate Gifts For a Lazy Husband”consider some things that we give our wives all the time, but that they can do without.

#1 – Don’t Get Her the Gift of Laziness

At Christmas I see guys checkout for various reasons. Some will blame it on the weather, others on their wife’s need to have the perfect holiday, others on the fact that they feel they are just in the way most of the time. So what we decided is that we will give our wife the gift of space in the form of doing nothing. While space can be good, sitting on your “space saver”watching football while wiggling your toes in that annoying manner is not good. This Christmas consider giving your wife the gift of engagement. Ask her how you can help and then follow through. Ask her what is on her list and how you can take things off her plate. Ask her if you can take the kids for an afternoon so she can get to the things she needs to get done without distractions. Talk with your wife about how she is doing and find out where you can ease her load even just a little. A little less football will not kill you, but your wife may if you don’t get it in gear.

#2 – Don’t Get Her the Gift of Guilt

My fellow husbands, Christmas can be draining on our wives for so many reasons. Some are discussed above, but other times our wives are drained because they want things to be perfect for the family. This means that how things look, where things hang, when dinner happens, and the traditions that we do as a family are very important. This is not the time to mention that you feel neglected or that you never have time for each other. This is like wrapping up a smoldering pile of guilt and letting her open it every day. Instead of piling on guilt, find a way this year to understand more about WHY these things are important. It may have to do with her traditions and how important Christmas was to her. It may be because she had a crummy Christmas time growing up and she doesn’t want to repeat that pattern. Whatever the reason, maybe try to understand and sympathize. Sarcasm and guilt won’t make things better, but understanding and appreciation will help.

#3 – Don’t Get Her the Gift of Spiritual Responsibility

I’m going to let you in on a quick secret. Christmas is not really supposed to be about presents and bad smelling cologne that you pretend to like from your Aunt Georgina just to keep the peace. Christmas is about the birth of Jesus. The savior of the world. The King of Kings. The Lord of Lords come to save the world from sin. THAT Is what Christmas is all about. Men, when we leave the responsibility of keeping our families focused on that to our wives solely we are abdicating a major responsibility in the home. On top of that, we are strapping one more weight onto the spirits of our wives for them to carry around. Men, this Christmas step up and keep Christ in Christmas. (Ok, I went there, but it’s really true!) We need to be the ones that push pause before the ravenous kids unwrap their presents and reflect on why we are doing what we are doing. Take a few moments and read Luke 2 out loud. Before you eat dinner, pray with your family and thank God for Jesus this time of year. Decide which Christmas Eve service you are going to as a family (prior to the night before) instead of making your wife drag you to one. This year make the decision that the spiritual pulse of Christmas will start with you. Of course allowing your wife to be an integral part of it is crucial, but take the initiative to lead your family well this year and I guarantee you will see your wife light up.

So before you go out and buy your wife a bunch of stuff she really doesn’t want, consider the things that she really does need from you. Think about how you can let your wife enjoy Christmas this year instead of enduring it. Be a part of centering your family onto the real reason for all of this madness each year and I know she will not be in line on December 26th wanting to return it.

Merry Christmas men!

Now go be a great husband to your wife.

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True Confessions Of A First Time Dad: I’m Surviving Kindergarten..Kinda

school

There she went.

She marched right in the door, hung up her backpack, washed her hands and sat down to get to work.  No sign of a sniffle, no elongated hug, and not even a hint of leg clinging.  Part of me was proud and a bigger part of me was crushed that my sweet little girl was ok heading off into her next adventure.

My baby girl had entered the realm of big girl status as she became a kindergartener.

I nearly wet myself.

How did it happen?  This little miracle who was hooked up to oxygen and breathing machines as a newborn is now untethered and ready to tackle the world.  I sometimes don’t know what to think when I see her growing up.  I mean I know this is how the whole thing works and deep down I want her to grow up, but a big part of me also…doesn’t.

  • I want her to stay as my little Beeger and snuggle up with me when she wakes up in the morning.
  • I want her to have just a little trouble saying her “S’s”.
  • I want her to use big words she hears Cherie and I say and then ask later what they mean.
  • I want to be able to watch her sleep at night like I did when she was in the NICU so I can stroke her hair and tell her daddy loves her.
  • I want to help her tie her shoes so I feel like she still needs me.
  • I want lightning bugs to excite her and princesses to be cool.
  • I want her to ask me to dance with her and throw her up in the air again and again.
  • I want my little sweet girl to stay little….

But I know I can’t…I know she must grow…I know God has big plans for my little girl.

One day the world will know my little girl not because of who I am, but because of who God made her to be.  She will be a leader, a wife, a mother, but more importantly, I pray, that she loves Jesus.  My deepest desire is that she follows God’s grace-filled path all the days of her life and leans into the truth of His love.

Yet, there is something that has kicked me in the butt the past few days, weeks, and months.

What my baby girl knows about God starts with what she sees in me.

Does she see me say one thing on Sunday and act another way on Monday?  Is the Bible a book that gets dusted off once a year when grandma comes around or does she see me face down in it every morning when she wakes up?  Do we take her to church on Sunday so “mom and dad can have a break” or is church a place where she grows and learns about this God that loves her?  Does she see me living a kindergarten faith when I should have graduated into a higher level long ago?

To be honest it scares me to death, but I know that this is my greatest responsibility.  If I were to die with nothing to my name and with no one knowing me, but I raised children that loved Jesus then my life would be a success.  But if I were to live a life of worldly success and left with my children in the dark for their eternity I would be a failure.

Now, I’m not naive enough to think there won’t be bumps along the road as she gets older.  I know that she will not like me most days and that I will embarrass her.  I realize that she may want me to drop her off down the block so she won’t be seen with me.  I know that having a dad as a pastor won’t always be a “cool thing” to her, but without question she will know she is loved by me.  She will know that God loves her.  She will know that I can’t wait to see her grow into the woman of God she was destined to be.

I know God does the saving, but I need to be doing the exampling.

My prayer is simple yet powerful:

“God help my daughter see You in me today so that one day I might see You in her.” 

 

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Remembering The Day When Time Stood Still – September 11, 2001

Below is the invocation I gave at the Patriot’s Day Memorial Ceremony in Lockport, Illinois.  May we continue to persevere and bring God’s love into this world each and every day of our lives.

 

Dear Heavenly Father,

We stand here  on a gray and overcast day having to squint even to see the sun. Yet, it almost seems to be a fitting. Father as we stand in remembrance today our minds think back to another day of gray in our history. A day where we had to squint to see the sun through billows of smoke and uncertainty. All of us remember where we were that day and none of us will forget the feeling of anger, pain, and sorrow that welled up in our spirits.

Father God we stand here surrounded by heroes remembering heroes, loved ones remembering the fallen, and the living still effected by this day when gray covered our worlds. We look to a flag that represents our freedom and ask “How could this happen in a country built on freedom.”

But God amongst the doubt and confusion one thing still remains and that is You. You are the God of yesterday, today, and forever. You are the God of all things and Creator of all things and even in the midst of our gray You still reign. We are promised of this truth in Your word where in Psalm 121 we are assured of Your strength.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—

where does my help come from?

 
My help comes from the Lord,
    

the Maker of heaven and earth.
 

He will not let your foot slip—
    

he who watches over you will not slumber;
 

indeed, he who watches over Israel
    

will neither slumber nor sleep.
 

The Lord watches over you—
    

the Lord is your shade at your right hand;

the sun will not harm you by day,
    

nor the moon by night.
 

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
   

 he will watch over your life;
 

the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    

both now and forevermore.

-Psalm 121

 

So although Father we remember today a moment where time seemed to stand still and evil appeared to be winning. We are reminded that You are still on Your throne and You have won the ultimate victory. On Calvary’s hill your Son Jesus defeated death and tore the gray clouds of evil apart forever. So we as Your people vow to not stay stagnate in fear, but to move forward in confidence knowing You are with us.

The proof of that promise is in the breath that we breathe. That even as we stand under gray clouds, we breath in the breath of life that proves we are still alive. That we can still make a difference. That we can still bring Your love into this world.

May that promise rest on us now as we remember the dark day of September 11, 2001, but may we also remember that September 12, 2014 is there for the taking and by Your strength we can make a difference as we stand in Your power.

Father we ask that You meet us now and remain with us forever. For it is in the matchless name of Jesus that we find our strength and in whom we pray.

- Amen

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Little Boy On The Corner

boybeirutcurb

Sitting on the curb, just a normal concrete ledge

Two anxious little feet dangling over the edge

 

His backpack rests beside him filled with all that he should need

A blanket and some snacks for his stuffed friend Mr B.

 

With a cautious stare he looks, down an empty city block

Just praying he will see his daddy’s big black truck.

 

Mommy stands real close smoking a nervous cigarette

His deep blue eyes look up to ask, “Is he here yet?”

 

She’s been standing on this curb for far too many days

Ever since those papers came that parted both their ways.

 

He said this and she said that trying just to hurt each other

But what got up in the middle now sits on this small corner.

 

Little feet don’t care about who gets stuff and money

All they want is one house with a mommy and a daddy

 

Things get tough, feelings change, and the grass looks greener

But even through the rough times its worth if for your junior

 

Our actions speak greater than the size of all our words

Cuz those actions are what he follows as his begins to grow.

 

If this little voice could speak and say something that you’d hear

He’d ask you this small thing that might take away the tears.

 

In the moments when you feel like there’s nothing left to give

Did you open up my bedroom door and watch me sleeping there?

 

And if you did come in I have a question for you my father

Would you rather see me there than sitting on this corner?

 

Please don’t leave for things that are new or fresh or fun

Choose what’s never going to leave the love of me, your son.

 

Teach me how to live this life even when it’s rough.

Show me how to love my wife even if it’s tough.

 

I don’t want a weekend dad I see on every Tuesday

I want to see my dad each day I think that’s his duty.

 

So out there waits a boy just trying to grow stronger.

Will daddy sit down beside him or is he right around the corner?

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4 Summer “Musts” For Dads

So the summer has finally arrived and all my fellow dads are saying AMEN!  We start thinking of fishing, biking, golfing, grilling, and all things outdoors.  After the bone chilling winter all of us Chicago-ians experienced, we are ready to break out of the freeze and jump in the pool until we get nice and wrinkly.

But not so fast dads…

Before we check out and run off into the summer sunset, I think it’s vitally important that we don’t leave our family in the dust.  Sure some of those things I mentioned above can involve your family, but often we see those as our personal releases.  While I believe that is completely needed and warranted I also want to challenge you to spend time with your family too.

Here are 4 Summer “Musts” For Dads.

#1 – Don’t Take A Summer Break From God

I see it all the time.  When the thermostat goes up, church attendance goes down.  Now don’t get me wrong, heading out for a weekend trip is not a bad thing at all.  We do it too believe it or not!  The dangerous part is when you miss the whole summer.  As dads, our kids need to know that worshiping God isn’t seasonal.  We must lead in our commitment to come together to learn from God’s word and connecting with other people through service and community.  Stay connected with God by coming to church even if it means wearing your swimming trunks so you can jump right back in the pool.  Remember what the writer of Hebrews says:

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Just remember, a relationship with God is not a seasonal activity.

 

#2 – Date Your Wife

When church attendance dips it usually will mark a decline in the happiness in marriages too.  While you are staying committed to attending church make a point to attend to your wife’s needs too.  Warmer weather reduces the number of excuses you have for dating your wife.  Make a point to go on a date at least once a week this summer even if only for an hour while the kids play at the neighbors.  Swap out a couple hours here and there with friends so they can get some time away too!  Invest in the relationship with your wife with the same intensity you care for your lawn, car, or golf swing.  You’ll be amazed that the results in your marriage are far more rewarding.

 

#3 – Spend Time With Your Kids (bleachers don’t count)

I am realizing more and more how busy our kids are getting these days.  I really love seeing Aniston playing t-ball, gymnastics, and dance, but I also know that when I’m watching her through a glass window or sitting in a camping chair I’m not really spending time with her.  I’m spending time around her but not with her.  The fact that Easton is there and we get to hang out on the swings is awesome, but even then my attention is divided.  My challenge to myself and to you is to take this summer and spend time with your kids.  I’m not saying stop attending their activities, but I’m am saying make a point to hang out with them one-on-one.  Go for a bike ride, take them fishing, let them help you wash the car, or even grab a few sandwiches and have a picnic.  Don’t worry no one will revoke your man card.

Here are a few places to get ideas:

10 Things To Do With Your Teens by: All Pro Dads

10 Things To Do With Your Daughters  By: AskMen

5 Things To Do With Your Sons By: AskMen

 

#4 – Make A Difference In Your Community

I know that when summer hits we all find ways to get away and spend extra time doing stuff.  The relaxation factor is critical to recharging our batteries before the next winter blast hits, but that can only last so long.  All of us as men have a desire to fix things, go on a mission, or get our hands dirty.  My final challenge to you is to make a difference in your community with the extra time you have this summer.  Involve your family in this process as you teach them the value of giving back, taking care of those in need, and being selfless.  There are needs all around you so don’t make the excuse you don’t know where to start!  Ok, let me give you a list to jump off from:

  • Ask a local church for a list of the organizations they support and call one of them.
  • Find a soup kitchen for the homeless and volunteer.
  • If you kids are old enough, grab the lawn mowers and start mowing people’s yards for free.
  • Grab a bag and some gloves and pick up trash on the side of the road.
  • Set up a free car wash with no strings attached for the neighborhood.
  • E-mail me and come paint my house :)

Summer is great, but just like Christmas decorations the excitement fades after a few weeks.  Don’t get into a summer rut this year.  Be intentional about what you do with your individual free time, but also with the time you spend with you family.  Never lose sight that where you find your most joy and energy is in the family God has given you.  Spending time with them and working on your relationship with God will grow you more than you ever thought possible.  Get into this habit now and regardless of what the thermostat says you will always be warm inside.

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A Friday Prayer From Francis

Prayer HandsSometimes what we need  as the week ends is to begin in prayer.  I found this prayer from Sir Francis Drake and I thought it was a powerful reminder to us all.  I pray that we do find rest and enjoyment with our families as we break from our time of work.  However, may our weekends be filled with more than just entertainment and pleasure.  I pray that we allow God to disturb us out of our slumber and impact this world for Him.  Chew on these words and have a great weekend!

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.

We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

- Sir Francis Drake -1577

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Now What? – The Monday After Easter

day-after-easterSo what now?

What are we supposed to do the day after Easter?

Sure we hit snooze one more time than normal to try and shake off the Cadbury Egg induced coma we are in.  Yes, we will probably step on plastic eggs that the kids left out all over the living room floor as if to catch a would be candy bugler.  Without question your eyes will be a little blurry from all the pastel you had to look at the day before, but what about the bigger stuff?

What are we supposed to do now that we have celebrated that Jesus is alive?  What do we do with this hope that Jesus’ love for us has no limits and because of that our eternity is secure?

I don’t know about you, but when I have questions like these I look to see what Jesus did.  No, this isn’t a plug for the WWJD bracelets, but a plug to seek Scripture to see what Jesus did after His resurrection so that we can know what we should do.

After Jesus appeared to His disciples and encouraged them, the gospel writers give us interesting glimpses into what Jesus did next.

Matthew (written to a primarily a Jewish audience) indicates that Jesus took HIs disciples away commissioning them to the ministry by saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

Mark (a possible scribe for the words of Peter) notes that Jesus also places a challenge and urgency to the work lying ahead of the disciples. “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” (Mark 16:15)

Luke (a theologian/physician and detailed gospel writer) describes Jesus speaking with is disciples prior to His ascension as well.  Luke writes, “I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49)  However, we also see in the book of Acts (written by Luke also) that Jesus taught “until the day he was taken up to heaven” (Acts 1:2) and over the course of some forty days did “many convincing proofs that he was alive” (Acts 1:3)

John (the disciple closest to Jesus and entrusted with caring for His mother) describes one of Jesus’ miraculous signs when He went fishing with Peter.  After a long night of unsuccessful fishing, Peter and his men were coming in from sea, but Jesus was on the shore.  He shouted to them and told them to try throwing their nets on the other side of the boat.  When they did, they caught such a large catch “they were unable to haut the net because of the large number of fish.” (John 21:6)  After tying up the boats and sitting down to eat with Jesus, it is then that Jesus reinstates Peter to ministry from his earlier denial.  Peter’s three headed denial of Christ was covered by an equally powerful three headed command from Jesus to “take care of my sheep” which acted as a commissioning of Peter to his ministry. (John 21:16)

To me the answer to “what do we do now that Easter is over?” is clear.

We get up and start living our lives as Jesus called us to live.

There was an urgency and intentionality with what Jesus did with His time after the resurrection.  He taught, encouraged, ate meals, performed miracles, and made Himself available to hundreds of people so that they might see and believe.  His goal for this was not a farewell tour and “I told you so” type of attitude.  Rather, His reason was so that those He interacted with might go and tell others about what they saw.  That in fact what Jesus had been saying WAS true and that the Kingdom of God was coming.

Our jobs now is to take what we know and do something with it.  In our jobs, homes, hobbies, churches, wherever God has you take the Resurrection message with you and live your life accordingly.  Be the light in the darkness of this world by sharing the love of Jesus Christ and not just wait around until Jesus “beams us up” to heaven.  Take every moment that we have and leverage it for God’s glory sharing the love of Jesus with whomever and however we can.

Oh, and I’d act today if I were you because that chocolate bunny rush you have wears off pretty fast. :)

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Seeking Wisdom – Proverbs 25: God Want’s To Turn The Heat Up On Your Life!

Molten_1

 

 

“The right word at the right time

is like a custom-made piece of jewelry,”

Proverbs 25:11

 

 

 

At times I can be a bull in a China shop.  I rush into a situations without thinking and ready, fire, aim only to realize I was completely wrong.  I caused damage that didn’t need to happen and even burnt bridges as a result.  Then of course I’m faced with the dreaded dilemma of what to do then?  Do I swallow some pride and apologize or just play it off with an attitude of “if you don’t like it, deal with it” mentality?  We’d rather pretend the issue wasn’t there and live with the elephant in the room instead of tranquilizing him, dragging him outside, and cleaning up the mess he left.  However what we find is that we are missing out on an opportunity to grow in our walk with God.  Part of the process of spiritual formation (fancy words for growing in Christ) is taking the nicks and scrapes we have in life and using them to learn, grow, and teach others.

Tucked in the lines of Proverbs 25 is an interesting verse that Solomon writes.

“Remove the dross from the silver, and out comes material for the silversmith.” (Proverbs 25:4)

Now, maybe you reading this have a degree in fine metals so this is verse makes perfect sense, but for me I needed a little help.  I decided to reach out to a friend of mine Rich who is a Purdue graduate, great Christian man, and metallurgist which means his profession is working with metals.  I asked him to explain to me what taking the “dross from the silver” meant and his insight was very helpful.

Rich says, “Metals like silver are embedded in an ore.  Inside the ore, is a precious metal like silver, but there is also many other impurities around that precious metal.  So in order to refine the metal, most of the time you have to heat it up.  In the process of heating it up, things begin to separate.  Usually, the impurities float to the top in the process.  These are called dross and they are carefully skimmed off, making sure the precious metal is left.  Interestingly enough, the way to tell if a metal is truly pure is by looking into the bath, and if you can see your reflection, you know it’s pure and the dross is gone.”

When I heard this, this Proverb started to make perfect sense and my spiritual connection with God came into a much clearer focus.  In our lives, we are constantly covered in impurities that we either roll around in ourselves or have tossed on us by someone else.  In other words, the sin in our lives makes us impure and the precious metal that God designed for us is hid beneath layers and layers of muck.  Jesus came to take that sinful impurity away, but in order for that to happen, we must allow the silversmith to refine us to the precious metal we were meant to be.

This means that as we grow in Christ, God refines us by taking away the impurities in our life.  When this happens we begin to change and precious metal starts to surface and it’s seen as we lift people up with our words not tear them down (v 11), we choose not to be prideful (v 6), we choose to be patient (v 15), we honor our neighbor (v 9), we take care of our enemy (v 21), wives you honor your husbands (v 24), or we choose to have self-control (v 28).  However, all of these things are identified and purified through the fire of the refinery.  There is bit of discomfort that comes from breaking these sinful things away from ourselves but in the end we have a much deeper relationship with Christ.  Peter says when considering the testing of our faith and the refining of our lives it is for a clear purpose.

“These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” 1 Peter 1:7 (NLT)

My friend Rich again says it so well.  “So let God turn up the heat in your life – whatever that be so that the impurities can be skimmed off.  Then, as you look into the bath of your life and the impurities are taken away you can see a reflection.  No longer your reflection, but the reflection of Jesus.”

This is what God desperately desires.  He wants our life to reflect Jesus, the purest source of anything good, so that our lives begin to resemble Him.   That when we look at our lives start to see less and less of us and more and more of Him.

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Malaysia Flight #370 and You

Vacuum failureOn March 8, 2014 Malaysia Flight #370 with its 239 passengers disappeared from radar detection and has yet to be found.  A worldwide effort has been made to comb what seems like the entire ocean to find out what happened.  Satellites have been used to look for remnants of the plane. Planes from every nationality have scoured every small lead. Helicopters and boats have attempted to recover what was thought to be leads floating in the ocean, but as of today nothing has been seen. 

While the mystery of this plane’s disappearance has befuddled and frustrated the world, no one has been more affected than the loved ones of the 239 missing people.  Their hopes rise up like exposed nerve endings every time a press conference is held.  In their spirits they cling to a thread of possibility that their loved ones are somehow okay and have been found.  Sadly, with each passing day and each passing empty lead their thread of hope slowly frays causing them to slowly come to grips with the reality that their loved ones are gone.

My heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to all that are involved.  I pray that God comforts them in this most desperate of times and gives them a peace that surpasses understanding over time.  Yet through this tragedy I believe we can see a great deal about ourselves.

You see this plane was headed in the right direction and had done so hundreds, if not thousands, of times.  Because of someone’s terrible decision, or perhaps a mechanical error, this plane got dreadfully off course.  A course that led them further and further off track and further and further into the unknown.

Our lives are much the same when we stop and think about it.  I feel that it’s safe to say that no one plans on having a drug addiction.  No one plans on cheating on their husband after 30 years of marriage.  I’m not sure I’ve met anyone that wants to lose their house to gambling debt.  These are never things that are on the flight plan when our lives took off.  Our goals are far different, but as a result of our decisions and our sin we may find ourselves off course.  Now clearly, my analogy deviates away from the Malaysian flight as none of those people on the plane chose the new flight plan they were forced to take, but I think you see my connection.

In Proverbs 4:25-27 King Solomon say it best:

“Let your eyes look straight ahead,

fix your gaze directly before you.

Make level paths for your feet

and take only ways that are firm.

Do not swerve to the right or the left;

keep your foot from evil.”

Without question there are things in this life that were thrust upon us that we didn’t ask for that alter the course of our life.  We are often on the other end of someone’s poor decisions and are forced to pick up pieces of our life that we never dropped.  Yet even in the midst of cleaning up a life mess that someone else made we have a choice on how we react, deal, and redeem those moments.

However, we must realize that a greater part of our life is under our care and responsibility.  We choose far more of the trajectory of our life than others do.  It’s in these moments that we would be wise to flee from sin and run into the arms Jesus. Into His perfect and holy ways that will keep our feet on the solid path and into a life full of purpose, passion, and meaning.

Never let someone else take control of your life by making sinful and bad choices.  They will only lead you down roads you never intended to go and you end up asking yourself, “How did I get here?”  God’s road doesn’t leave you empty. In fact, it leaves you full but craving more!  You may actually say to yourself, “I can’t believe that I get to be here!”  His blessing and the life that is found in following Him are unmatched by what the world can offer.

Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and your flight plan will be smooth.

Stay focused my friends.

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