Posts Tagged ‘God’

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Sleepwalking

August 13, 2010

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to get through an entire day, week, month (life?) without ever really thinking? Processing? Engaging?

I don’t know about you, but, if I’m not intentional about those things, my Mondays just blend right into my Wednesdays, which become my Fridays and, before I know it, weeks or months have passed, been lost.  I can just cast aside the effort it requires to think/process/engage, do what needs to get done … sleepwalk right through.

I see things … I hear things … I do things  – and often, very well … but they’re thoughtless objects, sounds and tasks.  I’m present … but, I’m not really there.

Whether it’s the hills on my commute that I never really see, the co-worker that I talk to for hours a day, but never really hear … It’s amazing.  And, what ends up happening, I believe – and this is dangerous – is that I am affecting/influencing those I know, work with and love, without giving any thought as to how.   Whether I know/like it or not, my thoughts (or thoughtlessness), actions (or inactivity) and words (or the lack of them) influence everything and everyone in my life.  And, if that’s going to be the case, don’t I owe it to them – and most importantly, to God – to give those thoughts, actions and words some thought? To be intentional about them? To have/be the type of influence He wants me to have/be?

Anyhow … I’m figuring out that if people would just stop for three seconds, and ask themselves a few questions, they’d realize that they probably are – as I so often am – sleepwalking through life … or at least, portions of it.  Those questions – at least for me – are:

1. What just happened? or, What is about to happen?

2. What do I really think about it? Not having an opinion is not an option.  What do I really think about it?

3. Where is God in it … ? and how would He have me process it/react to it?

There are so many things that God is doing in our lives, so many opportunities He’s presenting us with … and, if we’re not awake … not LOOKING for them … we’ll miss them.  It’s just so easy to listen to the radio, surf the net, watch TV, read a book, have meaningless and shallow conversations and pass things off or not give them the benefit of a few minutes of real thought.  At least for me.  What about you?

Are you awake?

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Pretty Slick, God

July 30, 2010

I was reading through Billy Coffey’s always terrific blog recently and he’d written about finding beauty in the world.  It’s there, he says … we just have to look for it.   And,  I couldn’t agree more.  I think that if you’re seeking God … if you want to find Him in the world … If you really want to see Him, you will.  Because, He’s there.  I think, in fact, that He reveals Himself to us every day.  In conversations with friends.  In a particular song on the radio.  In a look from a loved one, a breeze when you’re roasting or a co-worker surprising you with lunch when you’re flat broke, hungry and keeping it all to yourself.  Bottom line is, I think it’s up to us to pay attention … to notice.

God is pretty slick sometimes.

Now, it may seem a little bit silly to you, but I took this picture several months ago as I walked through the parking lot at church.  I wondered how long it’d been there and how many people had walked right by it and never noticed (have you, yet?).  I wondered how many times I’d done it myself.  (I’m convinced that just a few years ago, I’d have never noticed it)

And since I took it, it’s served as the desktop background on my phone … a reminder of exactly what Billy wrote about.   A reminder that, if I’ll just slow down and pay attention … if I’ll just let go of whatever’s eating at me, whatever’s consuming me, whatever’s got me preoccupied and aggravated and worried and busy … whatever it is that day that has blinded me to the beauty and life He’s surrounded me with, I’ll see Him.  Because He’s there.

Heck, it’s those days I need to look for Him the most … those days when I’ve blown a gasket and made a mess of something …

Have you noticed Him around you in the mundane?  In the day-to-day?  In the monotony? In the midst of your grime? Where?

Love to hear your stories.

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Can Santa Claus Come to Town … Every Day?

December 26, 2009

Santa: "I hope this isn't that dreaded 'New' Coke"

I love Christmas morning (which, if you know me, is really saying something …  I’m not a morning person … never have been.  In fact, you have to practically stick your foot in my back and kick me out of the bed.  But on Christmas morning, no matter the time, I never give getting up a second thought.  In fact, I look forward to it … maybe as much as my kids).

This morning, my oldest boy, Jack (6), came around the corner and the smile on his face, the tone of his voice, the excitement and the happiness …. absolute joy in its purest form.  “He came!  He came! Oh my gosh! He came!” There wasn’t an ounce of his 50 pounds that wasn’t blissful.  Which, of course, caused me to ponder a couple of really important things.

1) It reminded me what real, true joy looks, feels and sounds like. And made me question the joy I feel in my relationship with Christ.  Am I THAT joyous? And, if not, why? Shouldn’t I be? Was His gift not the equivalent of a set of $12.00 walkie-talkies?

2)  It made me fall even further in love with my boys – which I didn’t know was possible.  Making them this happy should be my objective more often than once or twice a year.

3) It reminded me, perhaps for the first time since last Christmas, how immensely gratifying and fulfilling it is to make someone else really, really happy.

It made me so happy and fulfilled me in such a way, in fact, that I sat several hours later, missing it already … wishing things didn’t have to go back to normal, to hum-drum, to enduring … wishing I could do it all again (well, all of it except the getting up before sunrise and the gift-wrapping).

Then, I realized … I could.  That there was nothing stopping me. I could be Santa every day, if I wanted to.  And, I should.  It wouldn’t have to cost me an arm and a leg, require the in-laws to sleep over or that I provide a receipt.

I could give.  Every day.  To someone.

Whether that requires me going a mile out of my way, or just a cup of coffee, a hot meal, an encouraging word or a few minutes of my time, I could give more than I do.

So, that said, I’m gonna try to recapture that Christmas morning feeling more often this year.

I’m gonna resolve myself to give more than ever.

Much, I know, has been given to me.

(After all He came!  He came! …. right?)

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Fruitcake: The Greatest Gift of All

December 18, 2009

I sat down recently to write a letter, vouching for the character of someone I love.  Trying as best I could to explain to a complete and total stranger what a wonderful person she is.  And, it was difficult.  Not because she’s not one of the kindest and sweetest people I know, because she is … but because … well, where’s the proof?  What has she done? What are the works, sacrifices, offerings, etc. that would serve as testimonies to the goodness of her heart?

It doesn’t do much good to offer “she just is … trust me, I know her” as an explanation.   This man is looking for proof of her goodness – and a great many people testifying to it is a statement and a bit of proof in and of itself, I suppose.  That said, I hope a sackful the size of Santa’s shows up on this stranger’s doorstep.  He’s a very, very important person in her life right now, after all … and will have a profound impact on her future very, very soon.

In the meantime, all she can hope for is that she’s made a profound enough impact on the lives of enough people that that bag full of letters shows up.  That, within them, are stories and memories that are convincing.  That show more than a lifetime of the best intentions.   And, I think it will.

All of this brought me to this question … what if it was me?  What if I were dependent upon all of those I count as friends and family to write a letter, vouching for my character? Explaining who it is I am?

Would I, in good conscience, even be  able to ask them for one?  Would I really want to know who they thought I was? Would they have to search their souls, calendars or picture books for hours to recall an example of love and/or goodness? Would they be able to fill a page with anything convincing?

And, to take that one step further, if you’re someone who claims to love Christ, have your actions reflected that love?  That commitment? What kind of sacrifices have you made on His behalf, for others? What kind of things have you done that have had a profound impact on the lives of others?

In Christ’s court, a list of works/deeds – proof of your love, if you will – won’t be required.  He knows your heart.

A stranger on the other hand … ? Well, he doesn’t.  And the only tangible proof of its goodness is what its produced … its fruit (or, this being the holiday season, fruitcake, of course).

Would others have any on hand to send along on your behalf?

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The Science of God

June 30, 2009

Like alot of you, I’d seen the last of these Louie Giglio clips before.   But, never the entire sermon.  And, I know these have been around the block a time or two.  So, forgive me for perhaps being a bit late to the game.  But, after seeing this in its entirety last week, I just had to post each of the five segments here together.   They’re worth watching again, even if you have seen them.  And, for those of you who haven’t, turn up the volume on your computer a bit, sit back and prepare for your mind to be blown.   I’m tellin’ ya – if you start watching this, you won’t stop.

And, when you’re done, tell me … how big do you feel? How big do your worries feel? And, how absolutely UNBELIEVABLE is our God?  Do ya think, just maybe, that a God that can do all of this, can hold you together? 

 

 

 

 

 

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How big are YOUR stones?

May 5, 2009

david-and-goliath-2Still trying to re-engage after my latest withdrawal into myself (despite my own best advice … you remember it, right? Talk? Engage? Share? Do as I say, not as I do, eh?),  I was about 50 pages into another good book from Gordon Dalbey (No Small Snakes – A Journey Into Spiritual Warfare) when I ran across something pretty powerful.  And, I wanted to share it, as it relates to the combat (spiritual warfare) that we, as believers, are called to engage in every day.

But, let me preface it with this – I agree with alot of what John Eldredge says about men.  Particularly, that we all desperately need to believe that we have what it takes (and that most of us don’t believe that).  That we are, indeed, men, in the strongest sense of the word.  That we (and pardon the connotation) have, you know … stones.

And, this passage has got to be as powerful an example of that as exists.

Reading from 1 Samuel 17:45-47:   “You are coming against me with sword, spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the Israelite armies, which you have defiled.  This very day the Lord will put you in my power; I will defeat you and cut off your head.  And I will give the bodies of the Philistine soldiers to the birds and animals to eat.  Then, the whole world will know that Israel has a God – and everyone here will see that the Lord does not need swords or spears to save His people.  He is victorious in battle, and He will put all of you in our power.”

This rather, well, bold proclamation – i.e. “you’re twice my size, three times as strong, have a spear, a sword, a javelin and an enormous army at your side … but, I’m not only gonna whip you right here in front of God and everybody (despite what many across the South may believe, this HAS to be the most appropriate use of that saying of all time, no?), I’m gonna take your head off.  And then, I’m gonna feed your army to the birds” – was made by  a young shepherd boy to Goliath – a giant of a Philistine soldier … a man of enormous size and strength and unparalleled combat skill.  A killing machine.

david-goliathIt’s nearly incomprehensible to most of us … to stand in front of such a seemingly impossible challenge.  Much less, to do it with such bravado.  But, then again, David had those stones … and, more importantly, an immovable faith in his God.  There was absolutely nothing that could stand in his way with God at his side.

So, imagine if you can, standing there, as David.

And then, tell me, why we can’t stand up to an envelope that comes in the mail.  To our boss.  To our circumstances.   Tell me why, when we have the same God at our side that David had on that day, we can’t swallow our pride?  Save our marriages? Reclaim our hearts? Defeat our giants?

But, you know what? That David strode into battle proclaiming victory wasn’t what hit me between the eyes.  It was what came next.  What came after David told Goliath just how far he was about to fall.

Continuing in 1 Samuel 17:48:   So it was, when the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, that David hurried and ran toward the army to meet him.

He ran toward the army to meet him.  He didn’t play 18 holes, go fishing, or turn on the game.  He didn’t ignore his wife. He didn’t toss the bill on the counter or in the trash.

He ran.

Towards an army.

Towards a giant.

He had what it takes.

… He had GOD.

Big lesson to be learned in that … no?

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Number of Christians in America Continues to Shrink

March 9, 2009

And we just can’t seem to understand why our country slips further and further into darkness …  Really?  It seems fairly obvious to me, though, I’m what is commonly referred to these days as one of those “right-wing, evangelical, conservative wackos”, so what do I know, right? 

atheist-ghost-buster_thumbnail2The further we get from God – and the priciples upon which this country was founded – the bleaker and more frightening things become.  I really don’t see the correlation between our nation’s (moral) decline and the growth in Godlessness as coincidence … and, as those numbers have mirrored each other for the better part of 60 years now, I’m not sure how anyone else can, either.  Can anyone argue that this country is a much more frightening place to live than it was even 20 years ago?

Anyhow, as we venture deeper and deeper into what may be  – at least potentially – one of the darkest periods in our nation’s history … a time when more and more people are entrusting their lives to the government than to God, we read the following:

 

More Americans Say They Have No Religion

Monday, March 09, 2009

A wide-ranging study on American religious life found that the Roman Catholic population has been shifting out of the Northeast to the Southwest, the percentage of Christians in the nation has declined and more people say they have no religion at all.

Fifteen percent of respondents said they had no religion, an increase from 14.2 percent in 2001 and 8.2 percent in 1990, according to the American Religious Identification Survey.

Northern New England surpassed the Pacific Northwest as the least religious region, with Vermont reporting the highest share of those claiming no religion, at 34 percent. Still, the study found that the numbers of Americans with no religion rose in every state.

“No other religious bloc has kept such a pace in every state,” the study’s authors said.

In the Northeast, self-identified Catholics made up 36 percent of adults last year, down from 43 percent in 1990. At the same time, however, Catholics grew to about one-third of the adult population in California and Texas, and one-quarter of Floridians, largely due to Latino immigration, according to the research.

Nationally, Catholics remain the largest religious group, with 57 million people saying they belong to the church. The tradition gained 11 million followers since 1990, but its share of the population fell by about a percentage point to 25 percent.

Christians who aren’t Catholic also are a declining segment of the country.

In 2008, Christians comprised 76 percent of U.S. adults, compared to about 77 percent in 2001 and about 86 percent in 1990. Researchers said the dwindling ranks of mainline Protestants, including Methodists, Lutherans and Episcopalians, largely explains the shift. Over the last seven years, mainline Protestants dropped from just over 17 percent to 12.9 percent of the population.

The report from The Program on Public Values at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., surveyed 54,461 adults in English or Spanish from February through November of last year. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 0.5 percentage points. The findings are part of a series of studies on American religion by the program that will later look more closely at reasons behind the trends.

The current survey, being released Monday, found traditional organized religion playing less of a role in many lives. Thirty percent of married couples did not have a religious wedding ceremony and 27 percent of respondents said they did not want a religious funeral.

About 12 percent of Americans believe in a higher power but not the personal God at the core of monotheistic faiths. And, since 1990, a slightly greater share of respondents — 1.2 percent — said they were part of new religious movements, including Scientology, Wicca and Santeria.

The study also found signs of a growing influence of churches that either don’t belong to a denomination or play down their membership in a religious group.

Respondents who called themselves “non-denominational Christian” grew from 0.1 percent in 1990 to 3.5 percent last year. Congregations that most often use the term are megachurches considered “seeker sensitive.” They use rock style music and less structured prayer to attract people who don’t usually attend church. Researchers also found a small increase in those who prefer being called evangelical or born-again, rather than claim membership in a denomination.

 

Evangelical or born-again Americans make up 34 percent of all American adults and 45 percent of all Christians and Catholics, the study found. Researchers found that 18 percent of Catholics consider themselves born-again or evangelical, and nearly 39 percent of mainline Protestants prefer those labels. Many mainline Protestant groups are riven by conflict over how they should interpret what the Bible says about gay relationships, salvation and other issues.

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