Sunday, June 29, 2008

What Do You Want to Hear?

Live from Maine. It appears that technology has come to the Maine woods. I give thanks to God for the ability to be in this place.

This morning I was reading through 2 Timothy 4 and I was drawn to Paul's words about the teachings that will come. It seems that when you take a look at the landscape of the Christian world there are plenty of people who are willing to tell people what they want to hear. There is great temptation to simply preach what people want to hear. If we only listen to what we want to hear, we are never challenged beyond where we are in our faith journey. I know in my life I need to be told things I do not want to hear. I might even be a little upset and annoyed by being challenged. Yet in the end I need to be challenged.

Each of us has a responsibility to allow ourselves to be challenged. Challenge the understandings of we have. Challenge what we have held as dear. Challenge what we understand to be true. Ask questions and seek God. This is the key to keeping our faith from becoming mediocre.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Joy of a New Song

Last night I got to do one of my favorite things, play music with my band, Lord if I Know . We are preparing for some up coming ministry opportunities, and learning some new music. It was great joy simply getting together with the guys and playing. I continue to be amazed at how God brings the 4 of us together, and quickly we are on the same beat and page.

Part of the experience was learning new music. For some people new music is threatening. There are folks who would rather always work with the songs which are already known. For me there is a great excitement around new songs. Whether they are new to me, or simply new. Songs that are brand new, still being written, I am awestruck at the way God works.

It is not just in songs which God is calling us to something new. God loves us right where we are at, yet refuses to leave us there. God wants to takes us to new places, possibly uncharted places. Will we whine for the "comfort of Egypt" or will we press ahead to the new place God is calling us? Will we dance to the new song, or mourn over the song which is no longer played?

An important note. I will be going to Maine for the next week on a mission trip. I am not sure what the Internet access will be, so I might be taking a week long break. I promise if I am gone for the week, I will be back as soon as possible.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


"Run from anything that stimulates youthful lust. Follow anything that makes you want to do right. Pursue faith and love and peace, and enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts." (2 Timothy 2:22 NLT emphasis mine)

As I read this verse this morning it jumped up off the page and grabbed me along with my attention. These words from Paul to Timothy are words of challenge and encouragement. They contain two of the three biggies which run throughout Paul's writing, Faith and Love, add hope and you have the big three.

To set the stage the challenge to pursue we are reminded there are things we must run away from. In our journey with Christ we do not do enough fleeing and running from the right things. There is enough fleeing and running happening, but our focus is misplaced. I have thought many times I can dabble in certain things because, well I am strong enough in Christ. WRONG, run, flee get away from anything which will spark a youthful lust. Follow those things which call us to God.

While running from the things that will spark youthful lust we are to run toward faith, love and justice. Now I cannot in the frame of this blog expand on those points now. Needless to say, I will anyway, there is much behind those words. We are also challenged not to pursue these things alone. Community matters. There is not such thing as an isolated faith. Our journey with God is always played out in the context of community. Our journey with God was never intended to be a private matter.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Unexamined and Untested

If find it amazing the number of times I realize that my faith has been unexamined and untested. There are certain beliefs which are carried from teachings of my past, which are not examined to the depth they should. I guess I was still functioning in the because I said so journey of faith. The trouble I am having now is coming to terms with the narrow nature, or sometimes flat out wrong conclusions of some of these beliefs. If I believe God to be the Originator of all truth, which I believe, and if i believe that there is an 'ultimate' truth or reality, which I believe, then what is the big deal with examination and testing of our faith.

An unexamined faith has many problems with it. One is we believe things which may not be sound Biblical understanding. Two, we trust more in the words of people than what God has given to us. Third, we participate in some of the great atrocities of human making , which have been justified with godly language.

I think it is time we started asking more questions. It is time we started to examine and test our faith understandings. The end result, if we are faithful to the process, will result not in our giving up on God, but on our finding God in deeper ways and places.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Struggle of Facing Yourself

As a pastor I get the opportunity to meet and be around people all the time. Some of the people who I am around are more challenging than others. When I first heard the phrase Extra Grace Required person, I was a little put off, but now understand it clearly. Yet no matter how many EGR people I work with there is always one person who gives me greater fits. The is always one person who cannot quite seem to get their head around things. There is always one person who seems slow to get the point. That person is me.

The Apostle Paul stated is this way, I do not do what I want to and I do what I do not. However, I think it is more than that. I so desperately want people to draw as earthly close to God as possible. I want the same for myself. Because I know when are as close as earthly possible to God, we are more easily lead by God. We hear the voice of God more clearly. Yet there is a bigger challenge, doing what God says.

After several years of seeking I am the most sure what God wants for me to do than I have ever been. While that is the case, I am having trouble following through because of what it will mean to follow that path. There is much uncertainty. There might be times when safety and comfort will be challenged. And the classic battle is under way.

At the end of the day I am left to face myself. Some days this is very easy, others not so much. It remains true, the greatest struggle is with myself.

Monday, June 23, 2008


Commitment is a funny thing. We all crave to have people make a commitment to us, but are we willing to make commitments to others? The fear of commitment is a classic discussion about young men facing the possibility of marriage. However, all of us struggle with commitment. Why?

I cannot even pretend to give a definitive answer, but I will offer a thought. I believe John Maxwell calls it destination disease. All of us are holding out for what could be next. There is a tendency to leave the options open, just in case something "better" comes along. Even more challenging is our tendency to want to do it all. So we sign up for things we know we cannot possibly do, or we make commitments we want to keep, but have no way of doing it.

So what are we to do? There are a few places in scripture where we are encouraged to make our yes be yes and our no be no. That is to say if we make a commitment we meet it, and do not make a commitment we know we cannot meet. There is also a possibility we might have to follow through in commitments even if there is a possibility of something better coming along. The grass is always greener on the other side, but as Erma Bombeck reminds us, it is because it can be where the septic tank is.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

If It Isn't Broken

As I make final preparations for the Sunday ministry day I continue to be overwhelmed by a thought which came to me during prayer last night. "If it isn't broken, then break us." Now I have to say I was not really excited to get this message. I am not a real big fan of being broken, whether it is physically or spiritually. But I think that being broken spiritually is the key to drawing near to God.

In reality it is not a matter of being broken, it is a matter of realizing that we are broken, and that we have broken our relationship with God. In all reality we must be broken further to fix what is already broken. All of a sudden I feel like Yogi Berra.

I guess I will keep this short, because actions are more needed than words. We must place our confidence in God, not in ourselves. We need to draw near to God, we need a broken and contrite heart. Pray to the Lord our God that He would break us.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

On a regular basis I am in one of the local public libraries. As I walk through the stacks of books, I find a large section of mystery novels and stories. Judging by the number of books in that section, there are many people who like mysteries. In most areas of our lives mystery is acceptable. We recognize that we ultimately won't be able to know everything.

Even with that knowledge we, I will focus on Westerners, have a desire to define and codify everything we can. Much like Paul encountered in Athens, we even codify those things we do not know as they had a shrine to the unknown god. There is great desire to get the details all together. When reading one of those mysteries, we would not be happy if by the end of the book all the questions were not answered. This understanding has made its way into our journey with God.

There is an expectation that all the things of God can be explained. It is thought that each Bible passage should be able to be explained with certainty. That each work of God would be explainable. The reality is there is much mystery in our journey with God. Not because God is withholding information. It is because we have a limited ability to understand.

I wonder what would happen if we said I don't know more. What would happen if instead of proclamations of truth, we went of mystery paths to discover what God is teaching?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Wrong Questions

I have been impressed lately at the way we in America respond to many things. I have been amazed to look at the ways we respond to suffering. In these good old United States of America most people view suffering as something to be avoided at all costs. It might be said that people can handle many of our societal concerns as long as they do not personally experience suffering.

When we do face suffering there is a tendency to blame someone else. Usually God bears the brunt of the rants of the people. We ask God how could a loving God let this happen to me? I have asked that very question many times. It is the wrong question. One, it might not be God who caused it to happen, it could be our fault. Two, does it really matter who caused it to happen? Sure we would want to repay evil for evil, and hurt for hurt, but I think there is a book which warns against such course of action. Third we want to know what the plan is to get us out of the suffering as soon as possible.

What would happen if we asked a different question? What if we asked what God is going to teach or show us through the suffering we are in? If we got away from the blame game, and looked to the Master Teacher, I wonder if we would see suffering through different eyes.

Now I know the scriptures teach us to work to alleviate the suffering of the widow and the orphan. To work at doing justice for the oppressed. There is however, no promise or mandate to avoid suffering. In fact is seems as though all those who follow deeply after God have suffering as a part of their journey. What is more, other than a few moments here and there, they do not focus on their suffering, but on what God is doing.

O Lord, I have so much to learn. There are so many ways I could walk more deeply with you. help me.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Casual Church

In yesterday's post I wrote about the challenge of mediocrity. Today I want to continue the same line of thinking, but more specific to the church. I will be the first to tell you the church and God are not the same. I will also be the first to tell you that attendance in church is not necessarily an indicator of one's walk with Christ. I will however, remind us all the church is the body of Christ. The church is the singular plan to reach the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The church is the tool God raised up in Christ to be the place disciples are formed, transforming and are transforming the world. Suffice to say I think the church is pretty important, and this really has nothing to do with me being a pastor. Long before I was a pastor the words spoken by many ring true, "The church is the hope of the world, and it rises and falls on leadership."

Having said the above, it is important to ask a follow up question. Why does the church repeatedly get the leftovers of peoples time? For most the church must yield on the schedule to everything else. Few are far between are people in the mainline/oldline churches who would actually even think about scheduling something around the church. No the church must adjust it's schedule to fit. I understand the pull in several directions, as I am often pulled by many good and important things. Still I find repeatedly the organization which is the embodiment of Christ in this world takes a back seat to nearly everything else.

I will confess the church has not ever been perfect. There are many things the church could improve. Yet that is hard to do is the commitment of the people of God is casual at best. Now there are people who pour their lives into serving God through the church, I say thank you, still there are too many where it is a matter of convenience and schedule availability. I am willing to say maybe I am missing the point. Maybe I don't understand it all well enough. Either way there is something very broken in the life of the church.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Are We Settleing

It has been said by many different people in many different ways throughout the centuries. The single greatest fear is not Christians who will turn their back on God, but those who will settle for a mediocre version of their faith. If I had to pin point the single greatest struggle in my faith journey and the lives of those who I journey with it would be the acceptance of the mediocre. This attitude breads, apathy, and apathy leads to dissatisfaction, dissatisfaction leads to complaining, complaining leads to entitlement and ultimately we get in the business of telling God how to be God.

Knowing a willingness to settle for the mediocre is the greatest challenge, I am presented with an opportunity to help not only myself, but an entire congregation move beyond. In the mode of confession, I am not sure how to make this happen. I know that it is not anything I can directly do, it is only done by an encounter with the Holy Spirit. Another age old saying is that you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.

At the core of the struggle against mediocrity is a grave problem. Here is America especially, many people inside and outside the church do not think they need God for anything. It is easy for all of us to lose site of our dependence on God for our daily life. For most who are reading this and for most who interact with the church I serve, daily living is not you greatest concern. What this produces in us is a spirit of self-reliance. This is not good. I don't care who and how many people tell you that we should be independent people and not rely on anyone but ourselves, it is a lie. Not once in the scriptures are we commanded to go it alone. Not once are we told to look out only for ourselves. Not once are we told to be self-reliant. We are told, repeatedly, to rely on God. To walk with each other. It is so true that no one is an island.

So why do we still do it? Why are we so determined to be self-reliant? It may take the rest of my life to answer that. This I do know my self-reliance causes me to think I do not need God as much, which in turn opens the door to a mediocre faith journey.

Monday, June 16, 2008


For most of my faith journey I have been instructed and molded to approach God in a certain way. I have always been taught to approach God with great humility. When we are addressing the creator of the universe, we want to recognize the greatness of God and our relative smallness. It is in fact important to approach God in a way that shows we remember the relationship between us and God. We must remember that God is God and we are not.

At the same time as I read through the scriptures, especially the Old Testament, I find the people who are walking most closely with God are often much more bold with God than I am comfortable. The recorded conversations with God leave me thinking, "You can't talk to God that way!" At least if you talk to God that way there is now way that God will respond. Yet, over and over it seems that God responds, and favorably, to the bold request.

Could it be that you and I are too passive in our conversations with God? Perhaps it is time to have a conversation with God where we cut out all the fluffy, religious language and lay bare our souls. Perhaps it is time to put away the prayers of Pharisees and re-capture the prayers of the prophets. It just might be time for the followers of Christ to get bold. Remembering always that our boldness should never cause us to think we are God. There is only One God, and we are not that God.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Curse of Almost

I have been grinding my way through Kings and Chronicles during my time with God each day. I do mean grind, this is probably my least favorite section to read through. Today was the recounting of King Asa. The kings did what was pleasing in the Lord's sight when he fist started. This was unusual. Most of the kings written about do not do what is pleasing in the Lord's sight. Asa on the other hand does. He restores religious order. He turns people back to God, and the land experiences peace. By all standards things are going well.

Asa was the first king in a long time who did what was pleasing to God. He almost was considered one of the greatest kings. What disqualified him? He, Asa, began to trust himself and foreign kings more than God. Greatness was within his grasp, but forever Asa will be an almost.

Almost is difficult place to be. You haven't necessarily been bad, but you have not really reached the full potential. When a major league hitter swings with all his might and the only sound is the thud-slap of the ball in the catchers mitt, that is an almost moment. That major league player is doing something that most people will never do, play Major League baseball. Until that player learns to out the ball in play more than it ends in the mitt, he will be an almost.

I guess I would rather never show much promise, than to be an almost. The key to not being an almost lies in perseverance. Fullness is never reached by not trying, it is though keeping at it even when it is hard. Or even more difficult, keeping at it even when you feel like you have it all under control.

How would it make you feel to hear someone say about you, they were almost a faithful, kind and loving person?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The New Gimick

As a pastor I get more than my share of junk mail. There are advertisements for the latest and greatest conferences. Often the front of the ad claims they have uncovered the secret to growing a large church attendance. I have been to many conferences and I will continue to go to many conferences. It is beyond important that I keep developing my skills, abilities and gifts. However, there is not a single conference that can provide what I really need in my life and ministry.

The more I am a student of the scriptures, the more I find the key to developing the Body of Christ is not found at a conference. ti is found in my relationship with God through Jesus Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit. The connection I have with God and my willingness to live that out is what God uses to develop churches. Likewise, the church must be an environment where an ever-increasing group of people are becoming more deeply connected with God.

There are many important business practices which are employed in the church. It is important to function with the utmost leadership excellence. However there is simply no substitute for people who will get serious about their relationship with God and live that out. It was not a marketing plan, a detailed ministry plan, or even a whiz-bang mission statement used by the Acts church. It was an unwavering faith, trust, belief and following of God.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Good or Great

I have just begun reading a book by Thom Rainer titled, Breakout Churches, The first chapter has been fascinating and I cannot wait to dive deeper. Once you get past all the introduction and groundwork stuff the first chapter begins with a chilling sentence. So chilling I put the book down and pondered the statement for a long while. Rainer writes, "It is a sin to be good if God has called us to be great." Yikes, that seems pretty harsh at first. Then we need to think about it. We are not given the good commission, we are not give the good commandment.

The possible opening out of this sentence is if God has called you to be great. Those who are not interested in really seeking after the fullness of God can look at that part of the sentence and this, well God has only called me to be average. To many the second have of the statement becomes a clarion call to mediocrity. God issues not such call! No where is scriptures do I see God saying do just enough to get by. I have yet to read a part of the Bible which tells me to settle for a lukewarm faith. In fact I believe there are some pretty harsh warnings against such thinking and actions.

Thom Rainer is focusing on the church in his book. but it all begins with individuals. From where I sit, it begins with me. As the pastor of the church if I am willing to settle for good enough, I am letting down the congregation, community and ultimately God. There is not such thing as a church, pastor, or congregation called to be good. We are all called to be great, not in our own eyes, in the eyes of God. Anything less than that, I am afraid Rainer might be right, is sin.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Tool Time

Through a conversation with my wife late last night I realized something I have been struggling to figure out for about two months. It is something that I am both excited and anxious about. It will involve much time, energy and effort. I will need to read, travel and synthesize. If I am diligent, the ministry God has given me will be forever impacted. So, what is it I finally figured out? I need to undergo a major re-tooling in my ministry practice and understanding.

I think we all go through this. In our professions, there are times when all the rules change. Or when all the equipment changes. New models are produced with new patterns of function and repair. As we walk with God, there are times when we need to re-tool for the work God has put before us. There are times when we need to walk through a new door into personally uncharted waters.

The exciting part of re-tooling is the forward moving aspect of it. Many of you know that I have a rather great annoyance for the status quo. Re-tooling gives me an opportunity to take myself and the ministry God has given me to a new and different place. The anxious part is the human factor. Not everyone is willing to move past the known and familiar. I have learned in my short time pastoring, during change there is always great risk of pain. Whenever there is change in the life of a church there are some who simply refuse to adapt, and move on to another place.

In the midst of all that, I struggle with some of the unknowns. I am not sure what God is calling me to learn at this moment, but that too will get revealed as I seek Him. Uncertainty rules my mind when I think about all the possibilities. In the end excitement wins the day. I cannot wait to see what God is going to unfold in the days to come.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Holding Back!?

Lately I have been confronted with the question what am I holding back from God. I am pretty sure that it is God who is presenting the question. So I have been pondering many hours about the ways in which I am holding back form God. I have found this to be so much more than a question of generosity. There is more to the story than Bible study and prayer. There is even more to the story than the actions I take based on the relationship I have with God through Jesus Christ. What it comes down to is, what areas of my life am I labeling off limits to God.

Perhaps you the reader of this rambling have a better hold on this than I do, but there are areas of my life which I am reluctant to give to God. The real challenge is found in the fact that it is not always the same area. This shifting of areas tells me that specific areas are not the problem, rather they are the symptom of a greater problem. So what is at the root? Where dose almost every struggle with God in my life begin? Control.

I want to have control of what happens in my life. I want to be the one who calls the shots. I want to be the one who makes things happen. The amazing thing is God says go right ahead. God allows us to take control, now often it leads to a struggle point, but God allows us to be in control of our lives. From time to time while in control I stumble upon what God would want for me, but more often than not I come across disappointment and discouragement. I usually end up going back to God, with tali between legs, and asking for God to take control.

When we are in control we are holding back from God. When we are holding back from God we are forgoing the fullness of life God longs to give us.

Monday, June 9, 2008

I have just finished reading Ecclesiastes as a part of my daily reading. Once again I was struck by the repeated claim that it is all meaningless. Understanding the wisest man to ever live was the originator of the information, adds to the confusion. But when the layers are peeled back we get another look which I think important for us today.

The things listed as meaningless appear to have great value. In fact in our day-to-day lives we ascribe great value to things which are classified as meaningless by Solomon. Most of the things we place value on, and therefore worry about, will simply pass away. That is an extremely humbling thought. The car I hope will last for 25 years, in the end will fail, the flat screen TV, which I am convinced will improve the quality of my life, will pass away. Everything save one will pass away. The constant which will not pass, God, the Creator.

Which leads to a dangerous question, do I value God more than any other thing in my life? In a world of making sound investments, wouldn't it make sense to invest in the only thing that will last. It might seem easier to put our investment in the stock market, oil futures are a good choice, or we might pout our trust in government, some will only trust themselves. In the end all of it will pass away. If we invest our lives in God, through Jesus Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit, we are investing in that which will not rust and decay.

Now this investment means work. We must stay connected with God (John 15), we must follow the lead of God, and we must trust God fully.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Faith of a Child

There have been pages written songs sung and sermons preached about having the faith of a child. I understand all the points being made, but over the past few days I have gained a new understanding.

My wife has been gone to the Women of Faith conference in Rochester, and I have been hanging out with the kids. I have been amazed by watching the kids interact and by the way they respond to my instruction. There have been many times when I know they have clearly heard and understood the given instructions. They simply were not going to do what I asked. This is nothing unusual for children.

At the same time, my kids trust me fully. They know I will be there for them, and that I have their best interest in mind every time. In a world of uncertain things, they know my wife and I can be trusted.

The faith of a child is what gives us complete trust in our heavenly father. The faith of a child is what also gives us the heart of willful disobedience. There is more than once in my life when I have heard God, and understood God, yet I was not going to do what I heard and understood. Many times I have claimed to not know or understand what God was leading me to do, and it has been true. There are an equal number of times when I have heard, understood and ignored, or I have used the holy sounding language of waiting for God's guidance. The reality is, I was simply being disobedient.

I think we know more of how God is directing us than we like to admit, only we don't want to do what we are being called to do. Just like I long to have my children do what I ask them to do, I am sure God longs to have us, His children, do what we are asked to do.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Of great value in America today is tolerance. More specifically celebration of diversity. I want to be clear, I am all for it. It is crucial to not only remember, but live in ways that honor the various ways God created human beings. i am working in my own life to be sure I am always looking to press my white, middle-class, conservative boundaries. At the same time there is a great caution in this area of diversity and tolerance.

I attended a seminary which claimed to have a place for every voice. The claim was one of great diversity. You know, true diversity is hard. The seminary I went to, and I have very different theological, political and life understandings. This was all well and good as long as after three years there my voice sounded like theirs.

Diversity and tolerance is not simply giving room for every voice. It is not even a matter of everyone having the same voice. Diversity means that we honor the differences we see between people. The great challenge is not excluding a voice. Being who I am brings with it many privileges, however, increasingly in our world and in the church folks such as myself are being pushed to the margins. Now, I do not think tolerance means white males once again claim center stages, but they should not be excluded because of being white males.

In the end there are two significant challenges which must be negotiated in the waters of diversity and tolerance. Making sure that each voice is truly heard and valued. That each person have equal opportunity to opportunity. Second is the issue of excellence. Often excellence is sacrificed for the sake of diversity. In Christ's church this is a horrible crime. God longs to have the absolute best we can offer, no matter what our make up is. When we sacrifice excellence for diversity, we are not honor God or people, only an ideology. This in turn is idolatry. We should walk very carefully.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A Good Person Whom Christ Approves

"Give my greetings to Apelles, a good man whom Christ approves." Romans 16:10b (NLT)

This section of Romans is filled with greetings and well wishes. As I read through it today, the above verse jumped off the page at me. There are many compliments we seek to garner in our lives, however, it seems as though there may be no higher compliment than what Paul is offering Apelles. How great would it be is I was know first and foremost as a good man who Christ approves.

Then I thought about it, what does it mean to be good, and what does it take for Christ to approve. The danger here is we enter into the difficult discussion of works and faith. Our relationship with Christ is not based on what actions we take, yet faith without works is dead (Thanks James). It is by grace through faith that we establish a salvation relationship with Jesus. Is that the only requirement to be a good person whom Christ approves?

In this passage, which looks simple at it's outset, we see a message telling us, it matters how we live our day-to-day lives. Rooted in Christ, we must live the life Christ showed us how to live. Being good is not measured in earthly standards, rather in against the teachings of God. Being approved by Christ, is not about the actions of our lives, it is about the condition of our hearts. I guess to sum it up the passage urges us that right actions and right motivation are what Christ approves, not just actions, not just words, and not just beliefs. It is our entire life working in concert with God. This constitutes a good person whom Christ approves.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Confronted By God

This morning as I read and prayed I kept feeling the same thing. The first few times I shrugged it off. As the feeling persisted, I realized that God was getting my attention. There was something God wanted to show me about my life. Whenever this happens I have two responses, first I am excited because God is ready to reveal more truth to me. Second, I get an uneasy feeling because I know I am about to be convicted about something.

So what did God show me this morning. That I have a grumbling heart. Lately I have found my mouth and mind filled with judgment more than praise, with critique more than celebration. It is not bad in and of itself for me to be making assessments about the different areas of my life. What is bad is when the grumbling begins to rule my thoughts. So what am I going to do about it.

Step one take an honest look at the situations I am grumbling about. Is what I am feeling a holy grumbling, or is it pride?

Step two, repent of pride, or any other sinful action or thoughts

Step three, change whatever needs to be changed

Step four, phone or get our of the booth. Work to bring about change in you life, and the situation, and stop grumbling.

I guess that is what it really comes to. Those who sit around and complain, but take no action are not helping anybody or thing. Those who seek to change what needs to be changed, without grumbling or complaining, are in a position to be used by God.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Where Are You Resting?

This last weekend, I kept coming back to a passage of scripture. Every time I opened a Bible I came to the same passage. Not being the sharpest, it took me a while, but I got there, God had a word for me. The passage is 1 Samuel 3:1-3, "Meanwhile the boy Samuel served the Lord by assisting Eli. Now in those days messages from the Lord were very rare, and visions were quite uncommon. One night Eli, who was almost blind by now, had gone to bed. the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was sleeping in the Tabernacle, near the Ark of God."

Now this passage is continues to one of those famous interchanges between God and humanity. God is calling Samuel and finally Sam responds by saying here I am Lord. That, however, is not what caught me. This passage also contains words for our time in that messages and visions were uncommon and rare, still there is another focus I would like to have.

Note where we find Samuel when the Lord calls to him. The text tells us that Sam is in the Tabernacle, near the Ark of God. So I guess this would mean that in order to have God speak to us we need to start sleeping at the church. In particular in the worship space of the church. Hopefully we all can see the foolishness of this idea. Yet there is something very significant. The Ark of God was the place where the people of Sam's day believed God was most present. So we find Sam as close to God as he could earthly get, and God spoke to him.

In my life I am constantly looking for messages and visions from God. I so long to hear from God and see what God wants me to see. I long to have God call my name so I can respond, here I am Lord. Plain and simple it does not happen as often as I would like. There are seasons of my life when messages and visions from God are very rare and quite uncommon. I ask God to reveal to me the truth. I ask God for direction. Yet I often feel lost and out of touch.

This 1 Samuel passages confronts me with a truth I wish not to be confronted with. God longs to bring a message and a vision to me and to you, only God cannot. Why? Because we are not sleeping in the Tabernacle near the Ark of God. I am not getting as close to God as earthly possible. My desire is to have God simply respond to my beck and call without doing the work of relationship and intimacy.

So if you want to come and sleep in the sanctuary of the church, come. More importantly, if you want to hear and see God, do what every it takes to get as close to God as earthly possible.