Monday, June 23, 2008

A Life-Stabilizing Worldview

Wow! Revisiting the life of Job is humbling. By the time I finish the first chapter my head hangs in shame. Talk about a bad day! Four people showed up to announce bad news. One guy told Job all his oxen and donkeys were gone. Another came to announce that he had lost all his sheep and shepherds. A third came to say that all his camels and servants were gone. The final messenger brought the worst news. He said that all Job's children were at his oldest son's house and the structure collapsed, killing everyone.

If one person shows up at my office with bad news, like, "your computer can't be fixed", it rocks my world.

Job wasn't without feeling. He tore his clothes, fell to the ground and felt all the grief, pain and sorrow that life had thrown at him. What he demonstrated was a life-stabilizing, biblical worldview about himself, stuff and our existence. Check it out:

“I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!”

Later, he set his wife straight by asking her if we should only accept good things from the Lord and never anything bad. It is recorded that he did not blame God and did not do anything wrong as a result of his horrible circumstances.

Behind the scenes the Devil and God were taking notes. The Devil claimed that Job worshipped God because God made his life easy. God said Job would worship Him no matter what his life looked like. Ouch!

How tough is your world right now? Are you able to worship God with the same integrity as when things are going good?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

No Matter What Happens, Do This

There is a lot of stuff going on around us. Some of it is good. Some of it is bad (at least from the way we see it at this time.) Some of it is painful. Some of it is confusing. All of it calls for our engagement or reaction.

In my time with the Lord this morning this one passage leaped off the page as though it was a neon sign: "Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ." Philippians 1:27

Paul was in prison. Christianity was under attack. Divisions were evident. The future was unpredictable. Paul moves to the bottom line. . . God has redeemed us from the curse of the fall, come to indwell us and companion with us while we are on earth, given us His Word as a comfort and guide and sealed our eternal state with Him in glory.

So what was that problem again? God's people should come off like the kid who found the candy, the gal who got the engagement ring, the lost child who was reunited with his parents in the mall, the guy who won the lottery. No matter what is happening, live in the context of what God has done through Christ on your behalf. It might even raise some kingdom questions!

No matter what happens today, kick up your heels a little. You have reason to rejoice, and again I say, rejoice.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

God Does Want Your Ear

I was spending some time in Nehemiah this morning and licking wounds over some sniper damage I received this weekend. It was good to see that Nehemiah faced snipers, too. I then did my blog reading. This morning, Perry Noble shared how God used a trip to Chic Fil A with his toddler daughter to speak to him.

I don't know if you read the comments to your favorite blogs, but I like to go there. God seems to speak in the strangest places and many times through people we may never personally meet. (Snipers save your bullet. I am not talking about extra-Biblical revelation.)

This morning I reviewed the comments to Troy Grambling's post from Monday. Stephen Guschov, a guy I'll probably never meet, reminded me of a quote I read years ago. It was a blessing to be reminded of this great reality about snipers and critics:

"It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again (but) ... who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat."THEODORE ROOSEVELT, 1910

Are you listening for God to speak to you today?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Who Do You Count On?

What an interesting day. I have been working at a voting poll all day. It is amazing to me how we put our future hopes in who is going to hold a political office. I am not against voting. It is an opportunity to have some influence on our culture, but I really am somewhat cynical when it comes to putting any hope in politicians.

The future is in the hands of the Lord. History has shown that He is the One who raises up nations and puts down kings. Check out Hannah's prayer!

Counting on the Lord takes all the anxiety of watching and participating in the American democratic system.

Who are you counting on?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Milestone Days

Today is one of those "milestone" days in our family. Our youngest son is graduating from high school. We spread out child rearing over a thirty year span. We had two boys and then eight years later had a daughter and then another son. Our oldest is 30 and our youngest is 18.

When Matt was born, I remember thinking that I would be on a cane by the time he graduated. It is amazing how time passes and how different our future is once we arrive there.

Matt is at a new stage in his life and Joan and I are entering a new stage, too. I took my last drive to the school yesterday. Our schedule will no longer revolve around a school schedule. August and September will be weird this year. Time marches on.

Today is one of those days that cause me to be amazed at life in general, and how God is at work in the midst of it all. I like to mark milestones. They represent both completion and new beginnings. Tonight marks a Commencement for Matt and for his parents.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Lost Book

In 2 Chronicles 34 God has given us a record of King Josiah's life. The kid became King when he was only eight years old!! It was said that he was straight up with the Lord and his didn't waver to the right or the left in his walk.

When he was 16 he began to really seek the Lord and four years later he started tearing down the places of idolatry in Judah. This guy was radical!!

He also ordered that the temple be repaired. While they were cleaning up, they found the "book of the law of the Lord given by Moses." The place must have been like my daughter's bedroom gets. You'll always find something that was "lost" when she periodically cleans.

In verse 19 it says that when the king heard the words of the law, he tore his clothes. God's Word really rocked his world. Check out verse 27. His reaction to God's Word moved God to bless him in spite of the condition of the world and others around him.

It seems that Josiah was a great God follower who was all about doing the right things but the real dynamic in his life came from personal interfacing with the Word of God.

Man, what a difference between the first half of this chapter and the second half. The first half is all about a great God follower doing great religious stuff. The second half, after finding God's Word, is all about a righteous servant of God who is intimately engaged in a relationship with the God of the Bible. In the first half, Josiah had an influence on Judah. In the second half, he rocked their world with God. The difference was "the Book."

My world sometimes gets so cluttered with deadlines, projects, pressures and great ministry stuff that I neglect personal quality time in the Book with God. I'm always in the Bible to do ministry but sometimes I fail to be in the Bible for me. It's a sad thing when the Bible becomes "the lost book", especially when you are a church leader.

Just Thinking.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Blogging is Mental Jogging

Well, I almost ran out of time today, but just as in other disciplines, I had to make time for this blog.

I hear people, especially non-bloggers, saying, "Why?" Well, I am a communicator and a strategist. My mind is what I use to serve the Lord. The discipline of attempting to contribute something of worth to the blog world is vital to my continuing development.

I got up this morning and knew that this was my bike riding morning. Not my favorite exercise, especially when it is foggy and damp. I made myself get on the bike and start peddling. There was a satisfaction in the discipline and there are long-term rewards for the exercise.

In the same way, I want to experience the exercise and discipline of blogging five days a week. I am curious. Why do you blog (or take the time to read blogs)?

Monday, June 2, 2008

Frustrated but Growing

Man!! I can't believe how hard it is to commit to this blog! This is my second relapse this year. It seems like the tyranny of the urgent, the slave master of circumstance, and the demons of demands are holding me captive.

I have been successful in establishing a great morning discipline routine. I have lost weight, lowered my blood pressure (doc took me off the meds), lowered my colesterol (took me off those meds too), and found time to be quiet before the Lord. This was a challenge in the beginning, but now it is something I look forward to. I missed a couple days last week while recovering from food poisoning and couldn't wait to get back.

My problem now lies in navigating the active terrain of daytime demands. In the morning, everyone is sleeping. I have no human pressure requesting my time or questioning my priorities. By God's grace, I have conquered a great area of my life and am certain God will enable me to grow in my daytime disciplines also.

Here is what He brought my way today as I once again ran out of hours before projects: "If everything is important, then nothing is." OUCH!!

This week I have to determine what is important and say no to all the rest. Urgent does not equal important. Circumstances do not determine what is important. And demands are not what makes something important. I want to commit to five blogs a week. How hard can it be to chissel out thirty minutes a day to exercise my mind and discipline my agenda?

Is blogging important? We'll deal with that tomorrow.