Sunday, January 25, 2015

USING THE RIGHT LIMBS

TRUTH IS I’M AFRAID OF HIGH PLACES or maybe it’s a fear of falling. I suppose in reality it’s a combination of the two. I’ve not been one for crossing suspension bridges, climbing ladders, or sitting on the edge of a roof, not even very crazy about roller coasters, though I do love the Giant Dipper at the Boardwalk.

A number of years ago, while attending a Family Camp at Mount Hermon, a good friend of mine, Steve Karney, was working the climbing wall. He assured me that he could get me to the top safely, and given the fact that I trusted Steve immensely and that he was as strong as an ox, I decided to give the wall a go.

Steve harnessed me in, pointed out a relatively easy route and then set the ropes and up I went, ever so slowly. When I was about eight feet up my legs started to shake and my arms were too weak to pull any of my bulk up the face of the wall. All of a sudden from what seemed miles below me (eight feet is miles to those fearful of heights) I heard Steve’s voice encouraging me, “Use your legs, they’re the strongest muscle you’ve got!” You see I had been endeavoring to pull myself from hand hold to foothold and could go no further, when once again Steve’s simple direction came, “Stand-up.”

So, I did, and yes, you guessed it I reached the next peg and then the next until I reached the top! Climbing El Capitan it wasn’t, but it was a victory nonetheless.

That day I learned an important lesson in climbing the rock wall; use the right limbs. It’s the old adage, “the right tool for the right job.”


Too often the same is true for the journey of following Jesus. We rely on our weaker muscles, rather than the Holy Spirit’s stronger ones. God, in Christ, has supplied us that which will get us up the wall. We just need to learn how to climb better. Rather than shaking with fear, we just need to stand up in Christ, our firm foundation.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

FREEWAY DRIVING

RECENTLY, I WAS RACING DOWN THE 101 in Los Angeles, well, maybe racing is not the operative word, as I was not going over 15mph! While slowly progressing in the “fast lane” I began to watch the cars approaching at a high rate of speed on the opposite side of the K-rail. I was struck by a couple of thoughts. First, am thankful for the people who designed those concrete barriers lovingly referred to as K-rails. Second I realized that there was absolutely no way to communicate with those driving on the other side.  Even if I needed to warn them of oncoming danger we were both moving too fast, and well, stopping on the freeway to chat is not smiled upon by the local CHP.
It got me thinking about our journey through life, especially our spiritual journey. If we desire to interact with people along the way, even those going the opposite direction, we need to get off the freeway and onto the well-beaten path. Sure, it’s a lot slower going, but it can be the path to interacting with God, His creation and with others along the path.
Our culture drives us to move quickly along the roads of life, encouraged even to drive faster than the speed limit. I would like to encourage us to pull over and choose the path that demands a slower pace; a pace which allows for interaction and a pace that allows for peace and rest. I would call it to travel at the pace of prayer.
Personally, I am seeking this year to linger longer with the Lord. I may not be covering a lot of ground at a high rate of speed, but I do sense it is the speed to which the Lord calls us.  I encourage you to linger longer with the Lord this year as well.
God bless you on the journey.

Monday, January 12, 2015

MIRROR, MIRROR, ON THE WALL

A COUPLE MONTHS BACK I joined Toadal Fitness, still not quite sure about the name, but it’s a nice place to work up a sweat. I’m hoping (or should that be hopping?) to lose a few unwanted pounds and keep myself healthy. But my progress is not the theme of this little tome.

I just want to know what is it with gyms and gigantic mirrors? For those of us not in the best shape the last thing we really want to see is MORE of ourselves, and give other people more angles to look at our out-of-shape-ness. For those who are in shape they really don’t need to look at themselves; that’s rather narcissistic in my book.

There’s even this huge mirror in the dressing room. I can understand a mirror over a sink so you can see if your part is straight (not a problem for me!) or if your tie is tied nicely (that is a problem for me!), but this mirror must be 8 feet by 8 feet! And it’s right where everybody gets dressed!  You get the picture? Sorry, T.M.I.!!

So, here’s my point, I think I’m troubled by these huge mirrors because of what they reflect back to me and those around me. There’s no hiding. Our lives are like mirrors, thus, the question is, “What does my life reflect when it comes to my relationship with God and my life as a Christian?”

Most of us are afraid of what people will think or say . . . “He’s not in very good shape!”, and so we just keep covered up. But what we need to realize is, it’s ok for people to see us how we are, in fact most people would rather see the “regular guy” than the one so puffed-up with muscles that he can’t even bend over to tie his shoes.

Don’t worry about what other people think, just keep showing up at God’s Gym and work out your salvation with fear and trembling and let the mirror tell the story.  It’s better than sitting on the couch at home eating bon-bons!


Tuesday, January 06, 2015

THE SHORTEST ROUTE TO SPIRITUAL MATURITY

BECOMING SPIRITUALLY MATURE, is a long, a life-long process. It is the journey of spiritual formation. For many of us, at least those who desire to become spiritually mature, we want to get there as quick as possible.

The Apostle Paul, in Romans 8:29, reminds us that one of the goals of the Christian life is to become conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.  I would say that this is a call to return to our original purpose, implanted in us in creation, in the Garden of Eden.  It is there that we were created in the Image of God, to be His Image bearers in the world He created.

The work of conformation entials the work of renewal and transformation, as once again the Apostle Paul commends us to in Romans 12:1-2. It is in this renewal and transformation by the Spirit of God of our hearts and minds that we can once again return to the purpose for which we were created; to be God worshiping image bearers for the LORD's glory and for His Kingdom.

The frustrating part for many of us is we want the shortest distance of spiritual formation to spiritual maturity. But the greater truth is the shortest way is not the best way.  We cannot rush through spiritual formation and if we try to we shall miss the true beauty God has for us.

I watched this TED Talk and was drawn to it's truth and application to the journey of spiritual formation.  I pray it will be an encouragement to you on your journey.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

RUBBING YOUR EYES

I DON’T KNOW IF IT’S UNIVERSAL, but I have noticed that you don’t have to teach an infant to rub their eyes when they’re getting tired and sleepy.  They just seem to get it naturally.  I can’t offer an explanation why, but I can offer that we rub our eyes at different times to express different things.

As I see it there a few different reasons we rub our eyes, besides when we are sleepy. Consider:

  • when we’re waking up,
  •  when we’re crying,
  •  when they’re irritated,
  •  when we’re in unbelief and it’s close cousin,
  •  when we’re in awe.

 I would like to suggest that as we begin this new year we seek to rub our eyes in wonder at the things God has done and that He continues to do. Spiritually, I believe we are too often moving toward slumber than toward the sublime. We tend to rub our eyes as if life has left us exhausted, and maybe it has, but we can choose to keep our eyes peeled for the works of God in creation, in His Word, in His church, and in the people around us.

It’s difficult to see those things if we are fatigued, worn-out, and otherwise pooped and that it is in God’s wisdom that He has given us the call to Sabbath. It’s not a command to make our life difficult, rather a grace to give us the blessed rest we need so we can be more observant of the blessings which the LORD has lavished upon us.

Therefore, in 2015, let us renew the covenant of Sabbath. Let us rest and linger longer with the Lord, so that we will be able to perceive the presence of the Lord in our very midst and rub our eyes in wonder at the greatness of our God

Sunday, December 28, 2014

E. T. PHONE HOME

Spielberg admitted this scene triggered specul...
Spielberg admitted this scene triggered speculation as to whether the film was a spiritual parable. Judith Crist (1984). "Take 22: Moviemakers on Moviemaking". Viking . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
WAY BACK IN 1982 the film, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial was released and became the highest grossing film until Jurassic Park was released in 1993. That Stephen Spielberg guy knows how to make films!

One of the key themes in the film was E.T.’s desire to get back to his home planet, thus his desire to phone home. I guess it doesn’t matter if you’re an earthling or an extra-terrestrial, there is a drive in us to get back home. Sadly, for many in our world that prospect both physically and emotionally is not that easy.  Consider the thousands of refugees in Africa and the Middle-East that have been forced to flee their homes and not live in border town refugee camps. Consider the thousands that have been streaming across our southern borders seeking a new place to call home. And consider all those who may find themselves in fine houses surrounded by the luxuries of life, but still long for a place to truly call home.

I believe that there is a “homing device” built into each one of us that draws us to that place we can be ourselves, let our hair down, be accepted and loved and safe.  These things are one of the reasons we have chosen for our church’s Vision Statement that we would be a Place to Call Home. We desire to create a place where we can each be loved, accepted and safe and even more to be a place where we can grow in all aspects of our lives.

Saint Augustine in his Confessions wrote, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”  We could say until we find our home in Christ. This is what we are working to be, a place where we can all be at home, at rest, at peace with God, our Savior.

If you’re looking for A Place to Call Home, I invite you to come be part of our God’s family. If you’re already a part of the family, my challenge for you is to help us make this a place where all feel at home and experience the hope, peace, joy and love of God, our heavenly Father.

Welcome home!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

SEEING BEYOND THE PRESENTS

THERE IS A CHRISTMAS I REMEMBER, when our two oldest were still quite young.  It was Christmas Eve, and they were tucked into bed waiting with eager anticipation for the first morning light and the opportunity to open the gifts that lay beneath the tree.

Therein, for me at least, was the problem. Both sets of grandparents had descended upon our home and you could not see the whole of the living room floor due to the over abundance of gifts. (Okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but not by much.)  I remember sitting on the couch at one end of the living room and gazing over the sea of gifts brought by grandparents set to outdo each other. I recall tears in my eyes for I knew that that this is not what I desired my Christmas to be, a room littered with wrapping paper and toys and clothes and more!

I was saddened, maybe even a little mad, at the over-expenditure and over-doing that was before me. I knew that it missed the point of the giving of gifts.  Presents at Christmas time are to remind us of God’s great gift in His only Son (John 3:16-17), but though as extravagant as the heavenly Father’s Gift was, it was also a simply-wrapped Gift of Love. A Gift not without glory, but a glory hidden; to be revealed as the Gift walked among us.

This Gift of God was more than a present from a gracious God, it was His very Presence among us. The Gift, Immanuel, God with us, and who is with us this very day.

The gifts that covered my living room floor decades ago are long gone, the wrappings decomposing in some landfill, and the presents long forgotten. There is no need to feel despondent. It’s that way with earthly, material presents. This should make us all the more grateful for God’s eternal Presence that does not decay nor diminish over time, but grows ever greater with each passing day.

This Advent may your living room and your heart be filled with the Presence of the LORD!