Miracle

Eric and I playing a Concert

I was a witness to a miracle a few years ago. Let me tell you the story: I used to play in a Christian worship band that recorded a couple of CDs and traveled around to play a few gigs. We played for church services, youth camps, and in coffeehouses, etc. Anyway, one night after rehearsal I was talking with my buddy Eric as we tore down the equipment. I packed my stuff up and took it out to my car and then headed back in to turn out the lights and lock up. I met Eric in the building as he was getting his stuff packed up. (He played electric guitar and carried around a lot of equipment.) We continued talking and carried his equipment out to his truck to load it up.

There it was!!! Did you catch it?? The miracle I witnessed that night was incredible!!

OK….maybe it wasn’t the parting of the Red Sea or anything, but it was still a miracle! Let me explain: I absolutely HATE loading and unloading music equipment. I’ve done it for years and it’s the worst part of being a musician. But that night as I talked to Eric, I served him by helping him carry his stuff out. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but here’s why it’s so significant. I never actually thought about it. I never made the decision to help him or to carry his stuff. As I talked to him, I just naturally picked it up without even thinking about it. Because of my friendship with him, I served him without any thought. Service just came naturally. It was almost an accident. It was out of the overflow of our friendship and my love for my friend that I ended up serving him.

I think God intended for us to serve this way too. Christians are great at making decisions to serve. They decide to go on a mission trip or to volunteer as a Sunday School teacher or VBS helper, etc. Those are great decisions and I believe we should make them as often as possible. But I also wonder: If we had a closer friendship with God, do you think we might serve Him without thinking about it? Could we end up serving God by accident? What would it take for service to be a reflex instead of a decision?? Have you ever told somebody about God without thinking about it? Does the name of Jesus come out of your mouth out of the overflow of your heart? Have you ever helped someone just ‘cause you loved them so much?

Ephesians 2:4-5a “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ.”

God’s love is what motivated Him to send Jesus to the world. His love should motivate us to serve Him. (Check out John 14:15 too.)

Prayer: Lord, invade my life in such a powerful way that I’d be able to serve you without thinking about it. Let service & love become a reflex in my life and not only a decision. Mold me into a man who reflects You in everything I do – not just when I make conscious decisions, but also in my everyday quick reactions and interactions with people. Teach me to love others like You love them and cause that love to overflow out of me in simple everyday acts of service. AMEN!

PS: Eric, if you’re out there and reading this, I miss you. Wish I we lived closer and I had the opportunity to carry your stuff to your truck again. Those were good times. I’ll say a prayer for you and your family tonight.

Primal – A Book Review

PrimalInspired by a trip down a staircase which descended into ancient catacombs, Mark Batterson encourages Christians to be great at the Great Commandment! There, beneath the layers of 2000 years of Christianity and tradition, he imagined the ancient primal form of the Christian faith. In Primal, he takes the reader back in time and reminds him/her of the essentials of the faith. Centering on the Great Commandment (Mk 12:30), Batterson acts as a tour guide exploring the depths of genuine compassion, infinite wonder, insatiable curiosity, and boundless energy – the very ideas that sparked the first-century movement and exploded into the modern Christian faith. Hidden by 2000 years of tradition, Batterson leads the reader to rediscover and reclaim the power within them. Primal uncovers the greatness of the Great Commandment and calls the reader to join the primal force which is revealed by it’s convictions.

Primal is a very interesting read. Batterson has become a great writer and is a master at weaving together personal stories, Scriptural examples, psychological research, and scientific evidence. He also knows how to turn a phrase. Here are some of my favorites:

We’re not great at the Great Commandment.

It’s much easier to act like a Christian than it is to react like one.

You can give without loving, but you can not love without giving.

The mind is educated with facts, but the soul is educated with beauty and mystery. And the curriculum is creation.

Conclusion: I would recommend this book to anyone interested in reclaiming the Christian faith and pursuing with abandon the Great Commandment. Primal is absolutely the first book you should read in 2010.

More info: www.theprimalmovement.com


PS: Reading Mark Batterson‘s book “In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day” was truly a life-changing moment for me. Therefore, it’s an incredible joy and honor to have been selected to be a part of his blog tour for this book. I was sent a pre-released copy and asked to post a book review.

Frogs

frogEph 2:6 “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus”

Among all of creation, Christians are uniquely a part of two worlds: the physical and the spiritual realms all at the same time. To explain that concept, C.S. Lewis called us “amphibians.” I’d say that makes us frogs – God’s frogs. Just a thought I had today. (I’m sure my friend Joe will love this one. He went to TCU and truly celebrates the horned frogs.)

Torah and Mitzvah

Torah ScrollsI learned a little Hebrew today. Thought it was worth sharing.

Torah” = “Law” in Christian Bibles, but in a Jewish bible it’s almost always translated “teaching.” As Christians, we typically talk about the Old Testament law as the means by which God showed us, how much we needed a Savior. (“Cause we couldn’t live up to everything the “Law” required.) Therefore, we think of the “Law” as a condemning sort of thing. If we could think of it more like Jesus did, like our Jewish friend do, I think we’d be thinking more accurately.It may be subtle, but it makes a difference. Let me show you:

Psalm 1:2 – “His delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night.”

but if we read it the way our Jewish friends do, it’d say:

Psalm 1:2 – “The teaching of the Lord is His delight, and he studies that teaching day and night.”

Our Jewish friends, think of the “Law” well the “Torah” very differently. The Torah is a blessing – not a condemnation. It’s God “teaching” which helps us to live life more fully. Their attitude toward “Torah” is much more in line with it’s intent, and therefore more in line with God.

In much the same way, “Mitzvah” is translated “commandment.” We hear that word as burdensome – as something which comes from a domineering authority figure. But our Jewish friends hear it differently – in a positive way. They say things like “I had the opportunity to do a mitzvah today when my neighbor needed some help.” It’s not a burden, but an opportunity to honor God in a special way.

Bottom line: I think our Jewish friends have it right. If we could learn to think of these terms like they do, I think much of the weight of our faith would be lifted and we could live in freedom by rejoicing in His “Torah” (teaching) and looking for opportunities to perform a “Mitzvah” (commandment).

Christian Parenting Statistics

stetzerCheck out this article from Ed Stetzer’s blog. It describes some pretty interesting research on the state of affairs for most Christian parents today. What does it mean when less than 10% of Christian parents think that “being Godly” or “having faith” is one of the marks of parental success? That means that over 90% of “Christians” believe they can be successful parents without passing on their faith to their own children – those whom they love more than anyone else. Huh?

The research also shows that 83% of parents believe that they are the main spiritual influences on their children, but 48% (almost half) of them don’t consider their own faith as an important influence in their parenting. This means they recognize their influence, but don’t see their faith as a priority in parenting.

All this stuff got me to thinking. I’m gonna sit down with Miranda see if together we can write up a “basic” list of the things we want to instill in our children – I’m sure there will be more, but if we want to be successful, and we want to be intentional about what we consider to be the marks of a good parent, then writing it down certainly can’t hurt. Even if it’s an incomplete list, it’ll be better than nothing.

Anyway, what do you guys think?

Penn and Teller on Evangelism

A friend of mine from high school posted this video on facebook and I thought it was worth sharing.

Penn, an avowed atheist, has quite a bit to say to us on evangelism. Ultimately, it’s more about who we are than what we say. Of course we’ve gotta say “The Gospel” but before that, we’ve gotta earn the right to speak. Anyway, check out this video. It’s good.

Meridian

Our youth group just got back from one of my favorite places in the world – Meridian State Park. We spent 4 days just lounging around the shelters down by the lake and hanging out up on Bee’s Ledge at night. We had some amazing times up there, and it’s always a joy to share the story about how I became a Christian in the “group camping area.” We took a hike around the lake and a few of our youth got poisen ivy – Oops, but all in all, it was great! One of our students, Katie Walzel has been studying Astronomy, and she was able to tell us all about the stars/formations we were looking at – cool stuff. It was also really cool to be able to take my son, Kasen, there for the first time. I plan on taking him back over and over throughout his lifetime, but this was his first trip – unless you count when he went last year inside Miranda’s tummy.

Here’s some pics of us on Bee’s Ledge one night and another of Kasen’s first watermelon experience.

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Conflict & Reconciliation

Matthew 18:15-20 – If someone sins against you, then you are responsible for going to them to explain how they’ve hurt you and seek reconciliation.

Matthew 5:23 – If you have sinned against someone, then you are responsible for going to them seeking reconciliation.

I can’t help but notice that we are personally responsible for all of our relationships – even if someone has wronged us. No matter who has sinned – we are personally responsible. If we as Christians would practice this, we’d have both parties coming to each other simultaneously seeking reconciliation. Does that ever happen? I’d say it’s pretty rare – most of the time at least one of the parties wants to hold a grudge or be bitter about it all. Have you ever heard anyone say that so and so didn’t handle this or that biblically ’cause they didn’t come to me about it. According to these Scriptures, the person saying that is just as much in the wrong. The one instance I’m not sure about is this – what if you know someone has a problem with you – there is broken relationship, and they are accusing you falsely. If they don’t come to us (which doesn’t happen very often) then are we responsible to go to them? When we haven’t sinned?

Romans 14 talks about this stuff too. Verse 13 says, “Don’t put any stumbling block in your brothers way.” It’s critical to realize that this is talking about “stumbling” in regards to their relationship with Christ. It doesn’t apply to someone being offended that you wore jeans to church. In issues of preference, we are to accept one another without passing judgment (14:1) and yet still lovingly defend our own position (14:16) – always remembering to “make every effort to do what leads to peace.” (14:19)

It’s interesting to me that we are each responsible for maintaining good relationships in regards to sin and hurting one another (which has to do with division in the body), but in other areas we are instructed to live lovingly an humbly in  the tension of different viewpoints and preferences. It makes complete sense really – it’s all about priorities and keeping the main thing the main thing.

Tightrope Walking

There’s a classic story about a tightrope walker who rolls a wheelbarrow across the wire. When he asks if people believe he can do it again, they all say, “Yes!” but when he challenges them to get in the wheelbarrow and prove their belief. . .well, I guess it reveals their true belief. If we don’t step out in faith every once in a while, does that reveal our faith too? When we live our lives always always making the “smart” or “safe” choice, or we go after the goal that we’re sure to achieve, what does it reveal about our relationship with Christ? Do people look at our lives and wonder, “Is that all their God has called them to? Is this really all there is to being a Christian?”

What would it be like to have someone look at your life and say the opposite. . .”Whoa! He’s got this insatiable desire to change the world! He’s crazy to attempt that! What is it in a man that compels him to be that way?”

Could it be that our “Christian” lives are lacking the intensity and risky nature that God requires from a people who have been given faith? Is it a lack of exercising the faith we’ve been given or do we blame God and say He didn’t give us enough faith?

Warren Bennis quotes Karl Wallenda saying, “Walking the tightwire is living; everything else is waiting.”


Prayer:
Lord, may my life be that of a tightrope artist. I want to honor You with a life of not only walking the wire, but one of enjoying the trip and dancing through the process with You by my side.


PS – My first set of wheels – Here’s a pic of me @ 9 months. (June 1970 – I look like a girl.) As a kid, I had really good balance. Mom said I was walking at an early age. I can remember that learning to ride a bike, skate, walk on stilts, etc. came pretty easily to me. I wonder how good my balance is these days? Of course the “balance” I need now is a little different.

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