Friday, February 29, 2008

What Really Matters

What is it that we measure in our lives? Do we look to our bank account? Do we look at the number of friendship and relationships we have? Do we look at the garage for our car? How do we define the quality of our life?

In my life I have a tendency to use the wrong measures. The best measure is the relationships in my life, but all too often I default to things easier to measure. In a world where I can be more perfect, my measure would be the depth to which my relationship with God gets lived out in the relationships with humanity, the end.

What are you measuring?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Spread of Discouragement

I always enjoy reading through the section of Numbers when the spies are sent by Moses into the land which God has promised them. Upon return from the land there is great discussion about the land. It is plain to see that it is a good land, need I mention the cluster of grapes so large they need to carry it on a pole between two people. Most of the report from the spies was good information, and told of a place where people would want to live. Yet, they see that it will not be easy to claim this land using human power. A majority of the spies see they won't be able to simply walk in and claim the space. The people who currently live in the land are big and look dangerous. So, the conclusion is that they should not go and try to claim the land. Caleb is the voice who says, we must go. God has given us this land, and we are certain to have it as our own.

The other spies, quickly passed off the possibility of the God given future, but they did not stop there. As soon as they answered Caleb, the smear campaign began. They did not discredit Caleb, no, they discredited the land that God had set aside for them. The NLT says that they spread discouraging reports among the camp. As we see later in Numbers, the discouraging report wins the day and the people wander in the wilderness for years more. Few, maybe 5 people on record, believed in the report of Caleb. A majority of the people chose to be discouraged and do nothing to change their situation. I wonder if there is a modern connection here?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

At The Direction of God

Once the people of God built the Tabernacle the began to build their live around the direction fo God. The most visible mention of this is their response to the cloud and fire. Wherever the pillar went, the people followed, even if the lillar was there only for a day, or overnight. In our mobile society we don't see the complexity of this. Each time the people of God broke camp and packed up the Tabernacle it was amajor undertaking, Rememebr that there were most likely more than 2 million people. Additionally the Tabernacle was not something that went up quick and easy. Yet, they followed where God directed.

When we turn the pages of our bible to the book of Acts we see the people of God following God yet again. This time it is not through a pillar of clouds or fire, it is by the Holy Spirit. Peter and Paul are probably the most identified in their obedience to the direction of God. Peter went to Cornelius, and Paul ended up in Macidonia. Because the wisdom of the Spirit was trusted more than the wisdom of God. For Paul most of his ministry was met with mixed reactions. There were very few places he followed God's direction that he did not face struggle. Usually within a short period of time in one place, the Jewish leaders would stir up trouble against Paul.

One of the last accounts we have of Paul's life is found in Acts 28. After trials, shipwrecks and snakebites, Paul ends up in Rome. While in Rome Paul continues to preach and teach about the Good News of Jesus Christ. But for the first time we read these words in the New Living Translation, "He welcomed all who visited him, proclaiming the Kingdom of God with all boldness and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ. And no one tried to stop him." (Acts 28:31 Emphasis mine).

I expect obedience to God's direction to produce immediate easy and benefit for my life. However, I must consider all that Paul went through on his road to his time in Rome. It was obedience over the long haul that brought Paul to the place where no one tried to stop him. I am ashamed to say that often it only takes one person saying no to side track me from what I know God is calling me to do.

Lord, help me. I know that I miss so much of what you hope for me. Take away my pride and need for the acceptance of humans. Help me this day and everyday to trust in you more than myself. May I consider it pure joy Lord, when I am told no when I am following you. Watch over me Lord, and draw close all your children, In Jesus name...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Are You Available

It could be said that I read too much, I am not sure that it is possible, and this morning proved to me why I read so much. I ahve been studying through the book A Beautiful Fight by Gary Thomas. On page 215 this paragraph means so much to me right now,
"Even with God's power, we can be pathetic. even with God's authority, we can be fearful, dim-witted, and stupid. And yet in the midst of our failures and spectacular limitations, God still sends us out and still allows his power to break through and accomplish something through us that we could never do on our own."

I don't even like to talk about issues of adequacy, mainly because I feel so completely and utter inadequate to accomplish what God has put before me. I spend a good ahre of my time just waiting for the whole thing to fall apart. There are so many times in my life where I feel like a fraud. I am no perfect person, and I am do not have any glaring sin in my life, but I know that I am so unable to do what it is I am called to do. It is frightening to think that God could use me for anything of significance. Then I must wrestle with the quote above. I can be pathetic, fearful, dim-witted, and stupid. I can fail and disply my limitations, and God is still going to use me. And God will use all who are willing to be available.

Caution!! being avaiable to God may cause some adverse affects on your life. You may no longer just get by. You may no longer accept injustice. You may no longer dabble in a life with God. If you are willing to make yourself increasingly available to God, transforamtion is what is ahead.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Breaking With The Past

I am always amazed at the ways our past seems to hold us hostage. Whether it was someting done to us, or someting we did to ourselves, the events of our past seem to take hold of our lives and be very unwilling to let go. Usually what it takes is an agressive and radical move on our parts. In Acts 19, Paul delivers a message that convicts the hearts of the people. These were people who had spent their entire life practicing magic, and other dark arts. They make a radical break with the past, they burn their speelbooks and anything linking them to the past.

Now I am not advocating for burning books, and I am not advocating for burning all the things that our past holds. I am not endorsing that we should simply walk away from a relationship that is difficult or negative. Now if you are in a relationship that is abusive physically, emotionally, spiritually or sexually, that is a different story. What we are called to do is live a new life centered in Christ.

This new life is one where the things of our past are just that... past. Those things have shaped the way we interact with people and the world. Our past colors the way we think and respond. However, the work of Christ in our lives seeks not just to change that, but to transform us for the glory of God.

I wonder, is it time to ask God to transform your past, instead of letting it hold you?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Dreams Deferred

All my life I have been a dreamer. Many times this has come in handy, other times it has made life difficult. The life of a dreamer is one where there is a insane pull toward what could be. this pull get so strong it becomes difficult to stay in the moment God has presented. Prehaps it is because I am a dreamer, that I like ot hink of God as a dreamer. God looks at each of our lives, and the community of believers and dreams about what could be. I guess it could be said that it is not as much a dream for God, but a picture of a preffered reality. Yet often we as human beings make decisions that prolong the achievement of the dream. We, humanity, does not have the ability to derail the dreams of God, only defer them. I guess the same is true for all of us. The dream is always there. The only time I think a dream truly dies is when we die. A dream may got so deferred that we think it is gone, but I think it gnaws at us for the rest of our lives.

There are a few dreams that I have, which will have to wait a little bit, but I still hold tight to those dreams. First, I dream of someday starting a church from scratch. Second, I dream of seeing God use the band Lord If I Know for great kingdom work. Third, I dream of seeing God use me to teach those who will teach others about the amazing God who we serve.

There are many other dreams, but those are the biggies. I have no doubt that God will work those dreams in my life. For now however, I am learning how to remain in the place that I am at, the place I am convinced God wants me to be. I get to serve a church with a great future, and great people following the Lord, and most important, even more important that the dreams, I ahve a wife and family that will let me try whatever it is God is calling me toward.

I guess to sum it up, I want to encourage all of us to dream big dreams, just rememeber whos idea this whole dreaming thing was anyway. And once the door opens to realize the dream, GO!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Cloud of God

I have always been facinated with the idea of the Tabernacle. Some of that comes from the deeply rooted feeling that too much ofthe churches resources are spent on a building, not mission. The tabernacle was the tent of God, and not a place set in stone. Where the cloud of God, or the fire of God rested the people went there. I am amazed at how we humans have the audacity to think that God should exclusively come to where we are, rather than us following after where God is. Far too frequently, I like to call the shots in my faith journey, and that is a very backwards formula. My goal is to fashion a life where I respond to the call of God. A life where I only move when God moves, and remain where God remains.

Along with my facination of the idea of tabernacle is the dedication of the tent of God in the end of Exodus. The building of the tablernacle was a significant time of obedience for the people of Israel. In the misdst of their journey from Egypt to the promised land there are not many moments of shining obedience, the tabernacle construction is one of them. Moses and all the people follow God's commands exactly, and in the end they are allowed to see the glory of God. As Moses lead the people in worship dedicating the tabernacle, and Aaron with his family as preists, the glory of the Lord fell on the tabernacle in the form of a cloud. In fact the cloud was so think that Moses and the people could not be in the tabernacle. i wonder if it is time for the cloud of God to drive us out of our house of worship, and into radical obedience with him.