Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bambinos or Bamboos?

Oh, the joys of raising kids -- a "hair-raising" experience, don't you think? It's kind of like riding one of those really bad roller-coasters, like the Texas Cyclone. I've mustered the courage to get on that particular roller-coaster a couple of times in my adult life, and I came off reeling from the experience -- "What was that? What did I just do? That was insane!"

That's pretty much the way it is while you're raising your kids. When you're in the middle of it -- there is simply no end in sight. It seems it will last forever, that you're making no headway and that your instruction and guidance goes completely unheeded. But finally the end does come -- you get your feet back on the ground -- the kids aren't complete imbeciles and you realize that you survived the whole ordeal (some people actually get back in line to do it all again, if you know what I mean)!

The terrible two's and the atrocious teens will nearly suck the life out of a person if you don't understand that all your efforts will one day pay off. Sometime it feels like you're dropping handfuls of quarters into a piggy bank with no bottom. Frustrating, trying, nerve-wracking, dreadful, revolting -- words are simply inadequate to describe the feelings we sometimes experience as parents. But our efforts do pay off!

In the Far East the people plant a tree called the Chinese bamboo. During the first four years they water and fertilize the plant with seemingly little or no results. Then the fifth year they again apply water and fertilizer – and in five weeks’ time the tree grows ninety feet in height! The obvious question is: did the Chinese bamboo tree grow ninety feet in five weeks, or did it grow ninety feet in five years? The answer is: it grew ninety feet in five years. Because if at any time during those five years the people had stopped watering and fertilizing the tree, it would have died!

Keep feeding your bambinos and keep watering your bamboos! Ultimately, all your efforts will pay off!

P.S. Click the link below and take a look at the Texas Cyclone!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Got a Need for Speed?

I've got a friend who is a speed-addict! I mean, he's got this need for speed that is off the charts -- at least when compared to anyone else I know! All week long he flies a private jet around the country -- hauling execs where ever they need to go. What's a lear jet do, maybe 600 mph? Then for personal recreation, he rides a crotch rocket! His personal admission proves his addiction. He has taken that flimsy piece of machinery -- up to speeds of 170 mph. Blows my mind. I've never ridden with him in his truck, but I don't believe I want to. You blame me?

In a lot of ways, we've all got a "need for speed." We're in a constant rush -- no time for family, no time for friends and sadly, often we've no time for God. I've asked myself the question so many times -- "What's the big rush?" In the words of the country artist, You gotta stop and smell the roses. In the words of so many instructors -- You've got to prioritize your life! Pinpoint the non-negotiables in your life. Build a fortress around them. Don't allow the screams and the cries of the urgent to rob you of the most important and necessary things in your life.

I think we'd all agree that our communion with Christ must be on a plane above the fray. Neglect in this arena means the undoing of everything else that matters. Our relationship with God is the glue that makes life joyful and worthwhile. Without that, family relationships struggle -- friendships disintegrate. Ultimately we become unraveled!

Here's a question for us all. What are the absolute most important things in life and what are we doing to protect them? Paul instructs us in Romans 12:2 "...don't let the world squeeze you into it's mold!" (Phillips). Put the brakes on and nail down a time and place for daily communion with the Lord!

Monday, July 20, 2009

You've Got to "Keep it!"

Relationships are tricky, aren't they? I mean, as long as you are "dis-connected" there can never be any assaults against a relationship that simply doesn't' exist. But the moment you begin to make real and valid connections -- the moment a relationship has begun, there are a myriad of attempts to destroy the ties. Many come from outside influences -- some from circumstances beyond our control, still others come from simple misunderstandings that could have easily been avoided. But perhaps the biggest deterrent to strong and lasting relationships is the deadly poison of complacency.

For a relationship to remain strong and viable, we must be intentional. A one-time encounter will never be sufficient to forever secure a lasting, fruitful friendship. No matter how great the original attraction -- whatever might have first initiated the bond, be assured of this; a complacent attitude will be the undoing of any relationship.

Friendships cannot thrive where complacency exists. In a marriage, in a group or fraternity of any kind, a haphazard response to a friend will mean the death of the relationship.

The obvious truth is before us. Our ongoing fruitful relationship with Jesus Christ necessitates -- demands that there be more than a one time encounter -- more than a momentary "feel-good" experience with God. We cannot be "bump and run" Christians if we anticipate a deep and abiding -- in tact connection with the Lord.

Back burner relationships always grow cold and stale. What relationships in your life need attention today? If you want to keep it -- you've got to "Keep" it! You've got to tend it, nourish it, give great attention to it! Now that you've been reminded -- go do it!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

What's Number One?

“But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Dr. Richard Swenson wrote a book entitled Margins, in which he exposed the epidemic of overload in our contemporary lifestyles. The premise was that when you read a book or your bible, there are purposeful margin areas where there is no print whatsoever. Even though the use of margins is not the most economical use of space and paper (if you eliminated them, you could get more words on a page and save printing costs), margin-less pages would be very bothersome to read. Your eyes and brain would scream out for some kind of reprieve—some white spaces without any ink. And yet it is often true in our personal lives, that we eliminate the margins, filling our schedules from top to bottom and side to side. The result is an active but exhausted life—busy, but lacking productivity. Time for fellowship with God and family are routinely squeezed out so that we may crowd in more of the less important.

Poor Martha! She deleted the margins of her life—scurrying about to do something when what was needed was margin time so that she could be something! There is no sin in rest and repose. Even in this frantic, frenzied, full speed ahead world in which we live, the concept of scripture applies . . . “You shall labor six days and rest on the seventh.” How much better life would be if we would make it a practice of our Christian lives to find some time every day to just sit at Jesus’ feet. There are certainly times that call for us to get up and do something, but they never come before our being refreshed and renewed at the feet of Jesus! Our #1 priority must be time with God (TWG). Be a Mary first—a Martha second. Being is always a pre-requisite of doing!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

But, I Like It Like That!

We are such creatures of habit. It seems as if we have a natural bent to settle in to familiar places and just be satisfied. Status-quo is the enemy of forward progress -- in your career, your relationship arena, your financial condition -- your marriage -- you name it. The most dangerous place of all to become happy with "good" is in your spiritual health and maturity.

Your relationship with God can easily become like your favorite chair -- well-worn and comfy! It may not be the most beautiful piece of furniture in the house -- stuffing hanging out from under the bottom -- a huge tear in the seat cushion -- stains on the armrest -- but you like it like that! It's just too comfortable to mess with!

So, is often the case with our walk with Christ. We resist the challenge to increase our spiritual aptitude -- we are good with the scripture reading we get on Sundays -- we hang out with other Christians most of the time -- I mean -- I pray every time I eat -- what more can you ask for? And so goes our mediocre, passion-less spiritual existence. And I do mean, existence. That's about all it is.

Why is this true? One reason and one reason only. You're getting ahead of me -- you already know, don't you? You're right -- Cause I like it like that! At this point we have to ask ourselves the really tough questions. Am I in love with Jesus Christ or do I just enjoy His friendship? Has a nominal Christian life become comfortable to me? Do I bristle at the idea of throwing that old familiar chair out in exchange for a new one? If so, God wants to revitalize your life with a fresh wind of His Spirit. Open your heart to newness -- freshness -- LIFE, and you'll not be disappointed!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Progress! Progress!

It's happening! I've got some fresh pics for you.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

I Love Seven-Eleven!

I used to love the 7-11 store that was about a half a block from our house on Warren Drive-- it's now swallowed up by Johnny's Pizza. I can't tell you how many Icee's I drank from that store when I was a kid. They had Jolly Ranchers gallore -- in every flavor and I can remember the little brown paper sack that I'd carry my stash home in. I didn't think so much about it when they closed all the 7-11's around here in lieu of the more modern Fil-A-Saks or Jump-'n-Runs -- whatever you wanna call 'em. I always liked 7-11! Sometimes when I'm travelling out of town -- I see a 7-11 and those wonderful memories of childhood come rushing back to me. I just have to stop and get an Icee or something! A bit of nostalgia happening this morning. Thanks for indulging me.

In my early private devotion today, I read a number of Psalms and came to Psalm 90 where the sub-heading in my bible says The Eternity of God, and Man's Frailty. Verse one begins with this -- "LORD, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God." Then it continues to enumerate the awesomeness of God and the shallowness of humanity. Finally, the psalm concludes with these words in verse seventeen; "And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; Yes, establish the work of our hands." What an intriguing thought! To have such a relationship with God, our Father that we can call on Him to beautify us with His presence. I was moved by those words and stayed there for a while -- praying over and meditating on that one statement -- "And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us!" Then it says, "and establish the work of our hands for us;" What an amazing thought, that our Eternal God, Who by His sheer and unbridled power has formed the universe and all that is in it and to imagine that He has opened the door to such an appeal . . . "Come and establish the work of our hands!" I had to ask myself the question, maybe you need to do the same; "What are you expecting from God today?" Judgment and condemnation -- misery, emptiness, loneliness and frustration? Why not believe God for the good? Construct every day on the seven-eleven principle -- Matthew 7:11, that is! Why not spend every moment looking for the goodness of God in your life. Get your eyes off what you can do and trust God for what He can and will do! "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" Mt. 7:11 NIV. A couple of other scriptures to direct your thoughts: Romans 8:32; Philippians 4:6-9. I just love 7-11's don't you!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

100 Times What Was Planted!

Men's Group this morning was especially probing and thought provoking. We've been doing The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. One of the truths discussed this morning was the fact that Knowing Your Purpose Prepares You for Eternity. We were all confronted with the FACT that we aren't born into the human family to pursue our own interests -- or to be remembered for some great deed done. We were put here to prepare for eternity. One of these days we will stand before our Maker as He audits the books of our life -- as Rick puts it gives us "our final exam!" Paul writes "Remember, each of us will stand personally before the judgment seat of God... Yes, each of us will have to give a personal account to God." Romans 14:10b, 12 (NLT). It's good to remember that God's heart is for us! We are His inheritance and He wants us to come through with flying colors -- so He's given us an "open book" test -- and insight to the questions that He might pose at judgment. From the Word of God we can be sure of perhaps the two most important questions he will ask:

First, "What did you do with Jesus, the Son of God?" We might have anticipated that God would ask about our denominational affiliation or about the preservation of our particularly favorite doctrines. But the Only thing that will matter then is -- "what did you do about Jesus? Did you trust Him and believe in Him for your salvation?"

Second, and this question seems to join effortlessly with the first -- "What did you do with what I gave you?" Since we've begun the "Parables" series, it rings loud and clear in my spiritual ears--"What did you do with what I gave you? What about your marriage, your family, your children? How about your job, your influence, your testimony? What did you do with your time and resources?" There's a couple of biggies! Huh?

Jesus said "Some seed fell on good ground. That is the man or woman who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown." Mt. 13:23b (NIV). Well, how are we faring? Is the seed scattered in your live taking root and will it produce a harvest for the Kingdom of God? I have to ask myself that question over and over again, allowing the Holy Spirit to re-direct my efforts, my time allotment and most importantly my heart! If I don't miss my guess -- there are a whole bunch of "100 's" out there in cyber-space!

Friday, March 6, 2009

"With Every Passing Day"

I've posted some pics of the construction progress below. I was making a walk-through this morning and I thought of the change that every day brings. It's wonderful to see something new -- to see the project moving toward completion with every passing day! As I reflected on it all, I thought about our own personal progress in our life for Christ. Thank God, He doesn't leave us alone but always prods us toward a greater degree of Christlikeness. How about you? Are you on an upward path to completion? Are you being built up into a spiritual house of worship to the King? (1 Pet. 2:5).

It's definitely a process that requires faithful obedience to the Word of God. Maturity comes with living out the teachings of God's word and by constantly applying biblical principles to every facet of our lives. As we continue in them (1 Tim. 4:16) we will see wonderful progress in our spiritual house with every passing day.

I love you all!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Water For The Thirsty

I'm baaack! Hope you missed me -- just a little bit anyway. I was doing some reading and thinking about these troubled times in light of the scriptures. And as I read, I came to a favorite passage in Isaiah 44 where the Lord says "I will pour water on him who is thirsty and floods on the dry ground;" Just reading that verse seemed to inspire me. Faith comes through receiving the Word -- and new faith gripped my spirit! The faithfulness of God never ceases to amaze me, even when your troubles are staring you in the face. I am so thankful that God continues to meet the needs of His people. He's got a great track record of coming through in spite of adverse circumstances; Israel at the brink of the Red Sea -- David facing Goliath -- Gideon's 300. There are tons of other instances that help us to redirect our faith that has been mis-placed in things that can never sustain us. While Pharaoh's Egypt had complete, even tangible darkness during the plagues sent by God -- Israel had perfect light! It reminds me of the old song "I've Got Sunshine on a Cloudy Day!" While everyone on the planet is screaming "recession" there's a voice in my spirit that shouts "progression!"

"I will pour water on the thirsty!" You don't have to think about that for very long to understand that God has promised to supply the needs of His people. Thankfully He doesn't stop there but He continues with this: "I will pour My Spirit on your descendants." In those eight words, God has made the promise of promises. Can there be anything more sustaining -- any presence more calming -- is there anything we need more of than the Spirit of the Living God? Whatever your station in life, open your heart to God's promise -- get ready for the pour as we allow faith to dominate every smacking of fear in our hearts and lives! You can trust Him!