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Monday, December 23, 2013

The One Thing

            What’s your “One Thing” that is most important for you to accomplish in the coming year?  If you don’t have something, everybody around you certainly does.  The beauty of life is we get to make a lot of choices.  And those choices we make will shape our future.  We don’t always get our choices right but if we make enough in the right direction, good things begin to happen.
            Back to the “One Thing.”  What can you do in the coming year that will have the potential for the greatest positive impact on your life?  Let me make a suggestion – something you may not have thought of.  What if you started reading your Bible consistently, regularly, faithfully?
            Studies have been done over and over finding that one of the most important disciplines we can engage in is consistently reading the Bible.  This one discipline is often the determination between a stagnant, dying faith and a growing, vibrant faith.  We need the other spiritual practices of community, prayer, generosity and service as well for a deepening life with Jesus but reading the scriptures feeds these other disciplines.  Never before has the Bible been more available and more accessible than this time in history.  The Bible is available in most languages, it is instantly downloadable to your iPhone, iPad, Android or Kindle.  And, oh yeah, it is even available on paper!
            Here is my wish for you:  2014 would be the year you would discover the beauty, depth, wonder and mystery of God through his Word.
            On my “One Thing” list is to be more connected to God’s Word and I want to invite you to join me by reading with me.  Modern technology makes it so simple and accessible.
Here’s my invitation to you – join me in reading the Bible together this year through the Faithlife Study Bible.  It is a free app for iPhone, iPad, Android and Kindle.  Also, you can get it on your computer for free.
To find the apps for your smartphone or portable reader and to sign up on your computer, go to this link:  You’ll have to sign up for an account (really, it’s free!) and then you will need to join the “Cold Springs Community Church” group.  When you do, you’ll be connected to the various reading programs we will be doing together.
No matter what your “One Thing” is, here is the only way it is going to happen for you:  You have to be crystal clear on What, When and Where.
What do you want to do/accomplish specifically?  If you can clearly know if you have succeeded or failed you have it nailed.
When are you going to do it, specifically?  Times, days and dates make a difference.
Where are you going to do it, specifically?  This may seem a bit strange at first but think about it and try it. 
One of the choices we get to make is to not make a choice.  Then life just happens to us.  My prayer is you will make a choice for something and God will bless you deeply as you pursue him.
Grace and Peace,


Friday, December 13, 2013

Advent Conspiracy - Give More

My Life Group does a sermon-based study at 6AM on Tuesdays at Mel’s Diner.  (I call us the Crazy-Early-Mighty-Men-of-God-Group.)  A few weeks back we were discussing the sermon “Conflicted Compassion” and wrestling with how we give, why we give and the legacy we are leaving.  At the end of the study I challenged the guys to pay attention to the Holy Spirit’s promptings to be compassionate towards others and we would come back and tell stories of what happened.
            A couple of weeks ago someone came to our door to sell something – pretty unusual for the foothills.  As we got talking it came up that I’m a pastor and the guy began to tell me about his faith journey.  He had a heart for the poor, hungry and broken in the Sacramento area and formed a ministry to provide resources for those in need and a transitional shelter for families.

            In the middle of his story, the Holy Spirit whispered in my ear, “Give him the money in your pocket.”  I don’t often carry cash on me but that morning someone had given me a good amount of money and I had just stuck it in my pocket.  Now I’m being told to give it away.  So at the end of our conversation, I took the money from my pocket, handed it to him and told him to put it toward his ministry.
            In our conversation he had mentioned the website and Facebook page of his group.  Later, I went to look them up but couldn’t find the website and I began to wonder, “Did I just get ripped off?”  If it was my money, I guess I could go down that road but the truth is, it wasn’t my money I gave him – it was God’s.  I wasn’t responsible for what he did with it.  I was responsible for listening to God and obeying God.
            It is a constant battle for me to remember I ultimately own nothing.  God has made me the caretaker of a tremendous amount but it is not mine, it is his.  And God can do what he wants with it, when he wants to.  In Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth he says twice “You were bought with a price.” (1 Corinthians 6:20, 7:23)  I am not my own – I belong to him.  I needed to be ransomed from the life of death and destruction I was following.  I was the recipient of an amazing grace that I can never dream of repaying.  Therefore, all I am, all I have belong to God.
            There can be many motivations to give – guilt, a desire to do good, gratitude for what we have – but the deepest, most enduring motivation to give is because of grace.  Grace-giving is when we become a conduit of God’s generosity.  It isn’t about me or my agenda.  It is about God, his agenda and the abundance of his resources.
            This Advent season, I hope you will take the risk to be open to grace-giving.  Open yourself up to the whisper of the Holy Spirit to empty your pockets as a source of blessing to others.  Just obey and allow God to take care of the results.
Peace and grace,