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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Question for You - Please Respond

Hey - I'm going to do a teaching series on having a connected, meaningful marriage and family.  The series will start after Easter and I need some feedback about what it is that you are interested in hearing a Biblical perspective regarding marriage and family.  Pam is going to teach with me so you will get the guys and gals perspective.  Here are some of the issues that are on the radar:
  • communication
  • finances
  • sex
  • what guys need
  • what women need
  • the seasons of a marriage
  • the seasons of a family
  • growing together spiritually
  • roles
  • leaving baggage behind
What other things are you interested in being addressed?  What things are most relevant to you?

Just so you know, you can respond to this as "anonymous" and I won't have any idea who you are, if you so desire.  Comments are monitored by me before they are posted, as well.

Let me know what you think.

Too Lazy 4 Prayer

I didn't want to get up this morning to pray.  I really, really didn't feel like.  I hadn't slept well the previous two nights and I was sleeping really good when Jeremy Riddle started serenading me from my iPod alarm clock.  I have to be honest, I hit the snooze button.  And then I hit the off button.  So I gave myself an extra 30 minutes of horizontal time and 30 minutes less of face time with God.
In case you get the idea that I am a total slacker, I DID get up and spent some time with God, reading the Bible and journaling.  This amazing thing happened when I did - I discovered God was still waiting for me and was ready to speak to me when I finally took some time to listen.  I really like that about God.  He doesn't give up on me.  He is ready to meet me.
About nine times the Bible says something like this:  
"Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity." (Joel 2:13, NIV)   You get the idea that this is an important part of God's character that he wants us to understand.  Pay attention to these words:  gracious, compassionate, long-suffering, extravagantly loving.  Why wouldn't I want to spend time with someone like that?
When I finally got up and spent my more limited time with God, I was reminded again why I make the effort and saddened that I didn't make a better effort this morning.  It was good to be with God.
I think much of prayer is about two simple things:  First, what is my time to pray.  What time of day, what day of the week and how long am I going to pray.  Second, where am I going to spend my time of prayer.  What is the place that is conducive to me speaking to and hearing from God?  I know my time (5:10 AM) and I know my place (the desk in my bedroom).  I neglect them to my peril and to God's dismay.
Have you found your place and your time?  God's waiting for you.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Value of Mirrors

Looked in a mirror lately? Probably so. We have this habit of doing it pretty much every morning to start off our day. Even if we don't intend to, when we walk by a mirror we glance over to see how everything is looking. At restaurants you see ladies whip out their little compact mirrors to check for green stuff hanging from their teeth and that the lipstick is OK. Guys stare at their visages while they wash their hands at the sink, mostly thinking to themselves "Man, is my wife/girlfriend lucky to be hanging out with someone as handsome as me!"

Some mornings I get up, look in the mirror and groan. I think "Dude, you got to lay off the chocolate and start moving around a little more. There is more of you to love but it ain't pretty." Other mornings I look in that mirror and think "Hey...looking good this morning! What a beautiful day!" (Yeah, so, I'm vain. As if you aren't too.)

But what about this scenario. You go through your day, just like any other day and then you see that reflection in the mirror and you say to yourself "Yikes! How many people have I been around today and nobody bothered to tell me that I have this very unfashionable rooster tail sticking out of my hair!" You really don't look all that good but nobody told you. Or you stay away from the mirror so long that you have forgotten who you are and, perhaps you are pleasantly surprised when reminded.

OK - here's the point. Mirrors remind us who we are, what we look like, what is good, what is bad. Mirrors don't lie, they just reflect reality. Mirrors are pretty important.

Here is the Spiritual Point: Being with other followers of Jesus where we are worshipping and learning together (commonly referred to as "Church") is our spiritual mirror. When we participate in community we get reminded about the good, bad and ugly in our lives. We get reminded of just how important we are to God and his tremendous love for us. We get reminded of how, in Christ, we are new people and not controlled by our passions but by God's Holy Spirit. We are also reminded of the blemishes and imperfections that need the touch of God in our lives. We get convicted of our sin (yeah, no one likes the word but it is reality) and hopefully, we get motivated to pursue God more fully.

The sad reality of not looking in a mirror is that we can get pretty ugly pretty fast and not even realize it. When we stay away from church we lose our awareness of reality. Just because we don't like what we see is no reason to not look in the mirror. In fact, it is all the more reason to stare intently in that mirror and ask the God who loves you so deeply to bring the needed change to make you beautiful.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Importance of Little Things

Last week a big storm came through the Northwest.  A lot of people lost power, trees fell down, people ran into each other in their cars, snow made driving difficult and, for some, impossible.  The thing that really contributed to making life difficult was the wind.  Air moving with velocity can cause problems.  You can't even see it but you see its impact.

The wind played havoc with CSCC's Sunday services.  It blew over a satellite dish that knocked over the propane pipe that leads to the church.  The pipe broke and $1500 worth of gas dissipated though the air.  No gas, no heat.  No heat, people get cold.  People get cold, they get cranky.

It got me thinking about how little things can make a big difference in our lives.  We have an expectation that things will stay the way we like them or, at the least, the way that we have gotten used to.  But then little things happen and it throws us off our game.

Too often we overlook the little things as insignificant events in our life.  We should instead view them as the training grounds of faith.  The little things are not irritants, they are opportunities to turn our face toward God and pay attention.  I must confess, I find it much easier to get irritated than I do to intentionally listen to God.

If I believe the Bible, I'm compelled to believe that God is in the little things, they matter, I matter and the fingerprint of God can be seen in these little things.  

"In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will..."

Paul wrote these words to the Ephesians.  It was a reminder of God's purpose in our salvation but it is also a reminder that God has a purpose, it can't be thwarted and the little things are important.  

Pay attention to the little things.