Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Time

Posted: January 13, 2009 in Uncategorized

Four letters that make up the word ‘time’. A pretty small word with pretty big implications. I guess the word time has hit me this morning due to circumstances. I woke up with no real schedule today, no giant to-do list, having some goals for today and in a different city. I’m writing this sitting in a Starbucks in Vestavia Hills, Alabama after taking a cool journey down memory lane last night with a good friend of mine here in Birmingham.

It is perplexing to me, yet refreshing at the same time. I had some great time in the Word this morning continuing looking at the life of Job – which by the way, I had an awesome opportunity to preach on in church on Sunday. If you’re interested in hearing what God put on my heart, click here: http://www.wildwoodpca.org/230444.ihtml

The title of my sermon was “Comfortable Suffering” an oxymoron I guess. Yet so much of what my heart desires when I think suffering. Remember God brought me on this journey after reading the words of Paul in Philippians 3, “I once thought all these things were so very important, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I may have Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own goodness or my ability to obey God’s law, but I trust Christ to save me. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. As a result, I can really know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I can learn what it means to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that, somehow, I can experience the resurrection from the dead! I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be.”

I must say it is pretty difficult for me to get away from this concept of suffering when you look at the life of Christ, his followers, early church fathers and really the rest of the world (outside America) where authentic Christianity is lived out. God is still teaching me and speaking to me through this passage, but more on that later.

Back to time. I really believe God called me to get away this week. I do have some things to do… I’m taking a class on the Westminster Confession back at Beeson with Dr. Bray. I’m using this week to study for my ordination exams. UGH. But I really believe it will (and already has been) more than that.

God’s been calling me to some unhurried, uninterrupted (as you could imagine is pretty difficult in the life of student ministry and even at home with 2 boys and another on the way) with Him. Jesus journeyed into the wilderness for some intense time of prayer and fasting with His Father. He often retreated to the mountain for times of reflection and prayer. Retreat. Renewal. Refuge. And then this ‘t’ word… Time.

I must say that this journey has been difficult so far, but very refreshing to my soul. I’ve seen God sustain me in ways I haven’t in awhile. I’ve heard Him speak to my heart more clearly. His Word has come alive to me in so many ways. Ultimately I’ve rediscovered my need for Him and to be with Him. And I say rediscovered because it’s not like I didn’t know that before, but you know how that goes.

My prayer today is that “we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Advertisements

The Journey

Posted: January 5, 2009 in Uncategorized


God has called me to follow Him a journey this New Year. Not that I haven’t always been on a journey with Him, but I guess to travel down a new path. I’ve been sensing the calling and restless for a little while now, but in my true, typical nature… trying to out-think and maneuver things on my own. But God even this morning confirmed that He wants me to go. I don’t know much beyond that, but am excited about what He is calling me to and hope to be able to share more as the journey continues.

This New Year, God put before me Paul’s words in Philippians 3:10-11, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” I haven’t been able to move from the thoughts of what it means to really know Christ and can’t even really get my mind around the idea of sharing in His sufferings. I think that is in part to being an American Christ-follower.

And I’ve had to face the natural trepidations that come with the idea of going on this journey knowing the word “suffering” is potentially on the path. Then in doing a little more exploring God led me to an earlier passage in Paul’s same letter where he said, I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. (1:20-24).

Ah, much more comforting… moving from suffering to simply facing death. I read passages and statements in Scripture like these and sometimes have to wonder if the modern church, average Christian or closer to home – even myself can even grasp what it means to follow Christ. I almost said to follow Christ at that level, but realized for Paul it was just following Christ they way Jesus intended and even modeled for us Himself in His relationship with the Father.

But the journey starts with the first step… so, off I go.

The Pursuit

Posted: November 17, 2008 in Uncategorized

Everyone wants to be a hero… to make their life count… to do something with their life. I’m no different. I tend to dwell on this theme of significance, as does this generation that I’m tasked to minister to. There is something God-given and God-inspired at our very core that desires to matter.

Sadly we search for significance by pursing pleasures in this world, gathering ‘toys’, seeking prestige, positioning for power and the list goes on and on. We miss that our significance is found in Christ alone – in a person, but I would argue in our pursuit of Him as well.

In 1 Timothy 4:10 Paul writes “For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.”

That verse is incredibly challenging to me in my journey. My pursuit of Christ will not be easy! Living a life that matters will be filled with toil and strive. Why do I do the things that I do? Why do I want my life to matter?

I continue on in the pursuit because in it is this unbearable weight of His presence. This overwhelming thought of being found in Christ and made like Christ makes me want to smile, cry, rejoice, feel crushed, rejoice and mourn all at the same time.

The thing that is disturbing to me about making our goal = significance is that our very attempts to matter and achieve oftentimes fight against the very simple truth that Christ simply wants us to pursue Him. Period. Be found in Him. Period. I’m learning that it isn’t that He doesn’t care about the results or the goal, but that He is the result and the goal!

A lot of our heroes of the faith that loved our great God and King and were obedient beyond the norm didn’t quite get the goal they were probably hoping for:

* Moses spends his whole life with grumbling, whiners and dies without getting to walk into the promise land.
* Samson suicide bombs the Philistines and when the dust settles he is dead and the Philistines still rule over Israel.
* David’s son rapes his sister and leads a rebellion against David, dethroning him for a season.
* Jeremiah ends up in exile with the rest of the country after repeatedly getting beaten for preaching what God commanded him to preach.
* John the Baptist is beheaded by a pervert who gives his head to a 15-year-old stripper.
* Peter is killed, reportedly crucified upside down.
* Paul is killed in Rome but only after he spends his life (with thorn intact) being beaten, rejected, lost at sea, and consistently dealing with people coming in behind him and destroying what he built.

I read it this way recently, “If your hope is set on anything other than Him, how do you survive when it goes bad? If He is the goal, the treasure, the pursuit, then those things are fuel that presses you into His goodness and grace all that much more. I am not saying they are pleasant or enjoyable but only that if He is your goal you will find your faith sustained.”

My I be found obedient and passionate in the pursuit of a God who is more faithful in pursuing me than I ever could be in pursuing Him! Soli Deo Gloria!

God Change Things? God Change Me!

Posted: September 24, 2008 in Uncategorized

I had the awesome opportunity to preach at Cru (Campus Crusade @ FSU) tonight. I am always grateful for the chance to preach the Word, but I’m always encouraged speaking to this generation of college students. Most that are following Christ, are doing so with a hunger to be different and make an impact and desire for God’s name and renown to go to the ends of the earth.

God has really been challenging me with the notion of desiring God to change things rather than changing me. Too often I’m looking at circumstances, pain, temptation and my surroundings and looking for those to change rather than asking God to change me through them. Too often I think we are always looking to God for answers rather than just knowing and resting in the fact that He is the answer. I’ve been challenged to start praying God change me instead of God change things.

I have a desire to be consumed and thus satisfied with Christ. He is my sufficiency and portion forever. It must become less about what He offers or even where He is taking me and just more about Him.

A story I read this week really hit home. It is the story of Dr. John Kavanaugh’s visit to Mother Teresa’s “house for the dying” in Calcutta, India. Kavanauh had traveled half way around the world seeking a clear answer on the direction his life should take. He met Mother Teresa, and she asked what she could do for him. He asked her to pray for him that he might have clarity. Mother Teresa responded firmly, “No, I will not do that”. Surprised by her quick denial, he asked her why. “Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and must let go of,” she said. Kavanaugh looked at her and responded that she always seemed to have clarity about her purpose and mission. Mother Teresa laughed and said, “I never had clarity; what I have always had is trust. So I will pray that you trust God!”

If you choose to walk with God, you may not find the clarity that you seek about your future, your dreams, or even any decisions you need to make… and you don’t get to be in control either! But what He offers is a relationship with His Son and our Savior. A life changing relationship where He is at work molding us and shaping us into His image. I pray my heart would find satisfaction in no other and my life would be consumed in knowing Him, loving Him and making Him known. Soli Deo Gloria!

the power of denial

Posted: June 12, 2008 in Uncategorized

Peter. The Rock. He was a guy in Scripture that got a great name change. He’s one of my favorities when it comes to character studies. This guy lived petal to the medal, all out, full-on with reckless abandon for Christ. Yet when Peter would fall – he would fall hard. But Peter had a unique way of bouncing back after hard falls.
I’m thinking specifically of the time when Peter (who probably thought he was at the top of his game) denied Christ. Not just a brick shot at the hoop, but a total air ball. No net, backboard, iron – no nothing.

That must have been devastating. But instead of sitting the second half out – Peter wants back in the game. His next step was to surrender to God’s strength. He realized he was operating out of his own abilities and what he thought was strength. It looked great from the outside – on fire, speak what’s on my mind, going all the way, I’ll never deny you attitude… but what his mind and heart desired, couldn’t be sustained by his strength alone.

Lesson learned. For Peter that is. For me… well… still learning. Jesus said it this way, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Jesus says deny your own strength, abilities and talents and let me support your passion and desires.

This is so opposite from what we hear in the world around us. I was raised here in the do it yourself, pull yourself up by your bootstraps, if you want to be it – believe it culture of “success”. Yet as true to form, the Kingdom operates quite opposite of culture. Every day of my life, I must come to the place where I fall on my face and say, “God I can’t do this on my own. I give up.” The power of denial.
That’s where it must all begin… it must begin at the end of ourselves.

God bring me to the end of myself – the place where I rest in your strength alone.

busy pastor

Posted: June 6, 2008 in Uncategorized

I was recently captivated and challenged by a quote from Eugene Peterson in his book The Contemplative Pastor, where he says that the adjective ‘busy’ describing ‘pastor’ ought to sound to us as jarring as ‘adulterous’ and ‘husband’ or ’embezzling’ and ‘banker’.

Here are some more quotes from Peterson’s book and really have implications to any profession (beyond pastors) and simply in how we live our lives and structure our days.

“I (and most pastors, I believe) become busy for two reasons; both are ignoble.

“I am busy because I am vain.

“I want to appear important. Significant. What better way than to be busy?… I live in a society in which crowded schedules and harassed conditions are evidence of importance, so I develop a crowded schedule and harassed conditions. When others notice, they acknowledge my significance, and my vanity is fed.

“I am busy because I am lazy.

“I indolently let others decide what I will do instead of resolutely deciding myself. Let people who do not understand the work of the pastor write the agenda for my day’s work because I am too slipshod to write it myself…. It was a favorite theme of C. S. Lewis that only lazy people work hard. By lazily abdicating the essential work of deciding and directing, establishing values and setting goals, other people do it for us; then we find ourselves frantically at the last minute, trying to satisfy a half dozen different demands on our time, none of which I essential to our vocation, to stave off the disaster of disappointing someone….”

I don’t know if my life fits these descriptions or just simply “I’m busy because I don’t know how to operate otherwise!” Meaning I can’t get everything done that is asked of me and haven’t learned how to prioritize or say “No”.

All I can say is that I’m really challenged by this. I desire to focus on what is important to God. I want to invest in the Kingdom and eternal things. I’ve taken some words of Paul from Philippians 3 to speak into this area of my life, “As a result, I can really know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I can learn what it means to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that, somehow, I can experience the resurrection from the dead!

Basically, can I know Christ is such a way to overcome busyness? Can I be raised to new life and experience the power that allowed Him to minister out of the overflow of His connection with His Father? Can I keep the main thing the main thing and invest like Jesus did in what matters?

Relational Struggles

Posted: May 22, 2008 in Uncategorized


I wrapped up a series with the students last night that I called 30 Days to Live, based on the book 1 Month to Live, by Chris & Kerry Shook (great read by the way). Last night we focused on “Fighting for Peace” in our relationships. The main focus was that life is too short to live with broken relationships, bitterness or relational pain.

God has divinely wired us to long for relationships. It was part of His creative design in forming us in His image. God exists in relationship, created us for relationships with each other and longs to have the broken relationship with all of us (humanity) restored through His Son. Yet relationships are difficult, messy and just plain hard!

After I finished last night, I could sense that God had really done a work and communicated His message to the hearts present. The relational pain was even evident on some faces in the room. I was encouraged when I was able to field some good questions and hear some of our students’ stories on Facebook last night. It seems that there is no such “innocence of youth” when it comes to broken, strained or even dysfunctional relationships. It affects all of us. No one is exempt. Life in a fallen world.

Yet what often causes us the most pain, God challenges us to push into in even greater depth and to actually fight for peace, reconciliation and to love deeply. We’re called to be people that are irrational forgivers – to forgive when we are hurt and wounded in the fashion of Christ calling out on the cross “Father, forgive the very ones who put me here. Forgive the ones who have caused me so much pain.”

My heart’s desire is that God would impress on my heart exactly what David prayed in Psalm 93: “LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered, and that my life is fleeing away. My life is no longer than the width of my hand. An entire lifetime is just a moment to you; human existence is but a breath.”