Category Archives: Uncategorized

I Need You

Being a parent has taught me more about God than anything that I have ever experienced in my life. The fact that the Bible says we can call God, Abba Father – Romans 8:15 and Galatians 4:6, means that we should see parallels between us and God and us and our children.

When my daughter, Bonnie, was little when she wanted me or my wife really badly she would say, “I need you!” . She said it in her most gentle and loving voice with just a hint of a pout. And it made my heart melt. She would cling really close and put here face close into my neck. Ok, maybe she was a little spoiled but who could resist. She was so sincere and so much needed my attention and love.

Of course my boys did it a little differently as little boys. My oldest would say that he wanted us to spend more family time together. (He still does that) My youngest son would get up in my lap and sit with me. (We still sit together a lot) They all needed me.

I’ve been thinking about that lately. I don’t often enough come to God, my Father, and simply say, “I need you!” I don’t bury my face in Him and cling to Him, and I know that he wants that.

I challenge us all today to take some time and sit with God to say “I need you!”.  Then sit with him for a while and talk to him.

He is waiting!

What is Your EndGame?

A major question we should consider is “What is our endgame?”.  In other words, where do we want the choices that we are currently making to take us in the future ?

Stephen Covey put it brilliantly in his book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People – “Begin with the end in mind”.  In other words, if I could re-do what I am about to do how would I do it?

If we developed the ability to look ahead and make our choices not based on what we see right in front of us but instead make our choices based on how we want the choices to play out in the future then we could begin to possibly see results in our lives that work toward something greater.  It is the realization of consequences.

Our ability to make choices is God given.  The ability to choose is what makes us unique among God’s creation above the animals.  So it stands to reason that the blessing of choice should be looked at as a critical part of renewing our sin affected lives.  I’m not talking about the struggle to not sin but the potential of the decisions that we choose to make.

An important key to this is the ability to know ourselves.  Thank God that we can look at ourselves without fear because God looks at us without condemnation.   Followers of Jesus know God looks at us based on forgiveness and his desire for our peace and his glory.

Knowing ourselves gives us the ability to accept who we are and then begin to look at who God wants us to be.  It’s about giving up on what we see and making choices that will lead to chosen destinations.  For example, I know that when I am 75 I want my children to look at their father and say that he lived wisely and made good financial choices.  (I, of course, want them to see me having done more than that but for our example lets go with finances!)  If I spend the next 20 years never saving or managing my money then how will financial success possibly unless by accident.    I don’t want to rely on chance and hoping for the best!  I have to decide now long before then to look at where I am financially, to make decisions not based on what money I need right now but instead to make decisions based on what money I will need for the next 20 years.

This same principle can be applied to every part our lives. We must look at our lives and ask the question “Based on my choices will I ever become the person that God desires me to become?”  What would you do if you could redo your next choice?

So here’s the verse:

But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.

(Philippians 3:13–15 ESV)

Love – it’s not as easy as it sounds!

At Hub, we’re in the middle of an 8 part series called Christian.  We’re exploring the idea of what the term Christian means.  We’ve learned that while the term Christian is only used 3 times in the Bible and not at all defined in the New Testament that the term disciple is defined and used almost exclusively for followers of Jesus. Being a disciple is well defined and in a lot of ways scary because the Bible is so specific about the meaning.

I have come to realize the most powerful and most specific description of a follower of Jesus com-s from the very direct command he gave in John 13:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (John 13:34 ESV)

If you just look at it you might say, “Yeah love.  I get it.  Sounds good.”  But if you really think about it and understand the ramifications of this command it will change your life.

First notice he says love one another (twice actually).  Who is he talking to?  The 12 disciples less Judas (he had already left to betray Jesus which was not very loving) specifically and to all his disciples generally.  What is he referring to?  How disciples are to love other disciples.

The second thing to notice and I think the hardest words to understand is “just as I have loved you”!  So how did he love them?  That is a big question with some very obvious answers (that is if you read the New Testament, especially the first 4 books).  He said that he loved them as friends even as brothers.  He shared life with them in some really dramatic ways  – think about all the parties, teaching them about life, healing people, answering their often stupid questions,  and never giving up on them (even after stupid questions).  He even said he would even die for them and he did by the way.

So right before he is about to die here in this room where has gathered his best friends – people he shared three years of his life with and later his very life for – he tells them to love each other like I have loved you – yikes!  I dunno if I want to go as far as he did!  I do want other people love me that way but  it do that myself may be really difficult.

What really is scary to me is what he says next?  And before I share it I need to say it’s not because I fear how other followers of Jesus will act upon it.  It has more to do with how I will act upon it and what people will think of me based on it.

He says other people will know about me and him and God and about “Christians” based on how I love other followers of Jesus.

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”” (John 13:35 ESV)

Ok, I want to be very honest and clear here. I stink at this!  I’m not just saying this for shock value or to seem all humble and stuff.  I really stink at this.  I want to treat you based on how you treat me or based on how other people like you or not like you treated me earlier in life.   I want to do the old eye-for-an-eye thing.  If people are going to look at me to see what being a follower is about then I want to go into hiding or stand there and point at the guy beside me. It’s too much to ask.

And I won’t be able to fake it, at least not forever and for the big stuff. My pride just won’t let me. That’s why this is so scary when we read it.  It means I actually am going to have to honestly love people.  People with whom I may disagree how they act and people who may believe differently than I do and people who maybe haven’t read this verse!  Because Jesus made it a command, not a suggestion, and he said it would be our calling card.  When we went out and people looked at us (disciples, followers or whatever we call ourselves) we would be defined by how we treated other disciples, followers or whatever.

He knew we would be changed by this.  With this simple command we would have to evaluate our entire understanding of love, pride and being a Christian! I think must have been the point.  Love, true love, changes us and the people around us. What if people saw Christians acting this way?

If we read in a letter that Paul wrote to a church in Corinth then we know that “love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” (1Cor 13:4-8)

A Little Kindness Can Go A Long Way

Try-Kindness-Button-0921

12 years ago I had some drastic changes happen in my life.  It started when I connected with a group of people who were part of a new church plant in Greer, SC.  I struggled with a lot of hurt and confusion about life, but they accepted me with all my hangups and issues.  They were patient and gave me time to find healing.  Their kindness changed me and allowed me time to change.  I went from being a bitter, frustrated wanderer into a different person. One who no longer insulted or belittled people. Their kindness showed me about kindness. It gave me a different template to base my actions and reactions on. To be honest, I still make insulting comments and sometimes belittle people.  I still have the same humor about me but I also share the kindness that they gave to me. My friend’s kindnesses went a long way!

It’s funny how life sometimes works.  We seem to have lost the ability to be kind it seems. The most confused around us can’t even see that kindness might win better friendships or relationships.   We cover our own hurt by attempting to hurt others with slicing comments and actions.   We either think that if we have been treat badly that we should treat others badly or we treat others badly to make ourselves feel slightly superior.   It’s like we think that if we inflict pain then our pain will be lessened.  What a lie!

The moment that we begin to open our minds to the power of kindness we can begin to overcome our own hurts.  Take any situation and act in kindness to the other people involved and things will instantly get a little better.  Feel your anger rising? Then be abnormal and let kindness be your response.

Cowards act in anger, turn away their feelings and just bash everything around them.  Revolutionary thinkers know that kindness is one of the most powerful, life changing emotions and actions that we have.

LIVE above the ordinary – let kindness be your answer!

Book Review: In Constant Prayer

I’m not the type of person who gets caught up in formality.  I tend to want life to be straightforward and simple when possible. I try not to make simple things complex and I look at my faith simply. I believe that faith is simple at its core.  When you believe in something to the point that you base your life on it you had better know what you believe and why and if it isn’t simple then you run the risk of your faith loosing its purpose in the business of life.

For me I support my faith my several simple practices:  I spend time talking to God, I spend time listening to God, and I spend time expressing to others what I believe.  I believe that if something is important to us that we will connect ourselves to it and want to know more about it and want to share it.

You can name the topic and find someone that is passionate about it. The people that are really passionate about Pro-Football, for example, know the players names, the stats, the game times, the owners names, the coaches names, and about anything that you want to know about their last game.  It’s funny no matter how much they may stink up the field they know their team and support them.

As a Jesus follower I have developed several ways that work for me to know the stats and know my team, and definitely know the team owner and coach.  Prayer is a perfect way to get familiar with God.

In Constant Prayer by Robert Benson is a really good book that has stretched me a little more about prayer and an interesting way to pray.  It really has to do with daily prayer and the praying from prayer books or prayer journals and including scripture.  Now to be honest this is not how I was raised to pray.  It has always been about talking to God normally to let him know my struggles and needs and to throw in a few needs from people I know or family.  Its pretty selfish most of the time.

Robert Benson talks about praying the Daily Office.  I know it sounds pretty fancy but to be honest it is designed to make certain times a day that we pray and to direct our prayers to be more about God, our relationship with him, and the reshaping of our selfish needs into knowing that God is in control and our faith in him is key.

He talks about  praying as the early Christians did.  He encourage the reader to try praying during a fixed-hour prayer.  It is simply a structure where we can live in continuous awareness of God’s presence and reality.

He encourages us to learn what the apostle Paul meant when he encouraged the Thessalonian church to “pray without ceasing, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

The Ancient Practices is a new eight-book series from Thomas Nelson Publishers that covers the seven essential spiritual disciplines. I highly encourage you to read this book and think about making your prayer life more than just a few seconds of prayer before drifting off to sleep each night.

What is Church?

This is  a somewhat controversial question.    It does mean different things to different people of different faiths.   I adhere to a Christian faith which for those reading who are non-christian may disqualify me from the discussion.

I am currently reading a book by Hugh Halter and  Matt Smay called The Tangible Kingdom: Creating Incarnational Community.  It is the story of Hugh Halter’s journey to attempting to discover how scripture describes church.

I have been taken by many statements in the book but one statement in particular concerning the revolutionary change in the christian church that was brought on by the Emperor Constantine has me thinking:  “The church was no longer defined as ‘a people who’ but rather ‘a place where’. Before Constantine the church was known as a group of people who lived a certain way and treated others in ways that reflected this belief in Jesus Christ.  They lived this way so profoundly and loudly that they were persecuted and even killed for their actions and beliefs.

Now in reality the statement reflects a lot of history and much of it positive.  Constantine took a small-ish religion and brought it to the forefront of the people of the time.  But the long lasting repercusions may be causing a need to change the paradym of church somewhat.

Many will say this requires us to move back to a simpler less institutionalized model.    I think to do so would alienate a generate of church attenders.    Some would say that it just means they need to get on board with this change or get left behind. I think this is troubling since this would in affect create reverse discrimination to those who attend church.

I think that it comes down to something that I heard Andy Stanley say today from the stage at North Point Community Church.  As followers of Christ we must represent  the true nature of our God instead of the humanly interpreted system of church (I am paraphrasing fairly I think).  Andy was simply echoing the words of Jesus when he said to love others.  (John 13)

Easy to say, s0 extremely easy. But my question with Church, religion and faith has always been, “But what does it really mean – right here, right now?”

It seems to mean that just like Jesus we go into the neighborhood.  In the Message version of scripture John 1:14 says: “The Word (meaning Jesus who is often called the Word) became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.”

I believe that until people see the glory with their own eyes and the work and generosity of God’s people that Church will not happen.

We need to step out of the building and into the street and begin to wake up each day saying what will God’s love require of me today.

Also check out The Tangible Kingdom on Amazon as well as the North Point Online services at http://northpoint.tv/messages/nponline.  These are great resources to discover or re-discover Church for yourself.

 

 

Help Launch Our Church

We’re in the process of planting a church in Goose Creek, SC, which is just outside of Charleston!  We’ve got a lot of plans and dreams at this point but very little money to make it happen.  The truth is that we need donors!

We need people that want to be a part of our church by partnering with us.  This means donating to the work of our Heavenly Father!!  It is an incredible opportunity to see God at work in a new way!  His desire is to be known to those who need him!

We’re focused on our community in Goose Creek because God has called us there.  We are making trips and trying to build contacts but most importantly we want to be on the ground there being a part of the community.  Our goals are long-range and slowly focused on the community.  We want to start a coffee house and a Community Development Center.  We want to make a difference in the everyday lives of the people there, not just on Sunday!  We want to be a vital part of the community by loving people where they are and not asking them to come to us.  We want to lead people to their Heavenly Father so that he can change them and change their lives.  We know this happens best through friendship and time.  We will love that community!

But we need your help! We have wonderful, amazing friends that we have known through the years and we’re asking you to partner with us!  It’s going to take financial support to get this going!  We have a budget, we have our plans, we have our calling and we have experience.  We’re putting more financially ourselves into this than we have ever in our lives because we see God’s hand on it.  He continues to open doors and we keep walking through them.

Would you be willing to support us monthly for 1 year? Your support will be worth it!

You can go out to our Donation page on the SouthEast EFCA district website.  We are listed on the page as Journey Fellowship (Charleston, SC).

If you want more information about the church please go to http://journeyfc.org or you can email me at sidemory (at) gmail dot com.

Life is a journey and we’re meant to live it together!

Starting a Journey

For past few months I have been in the process of starting a new journey – that is Journey Fellowship Church. Stacy and I have dreamed about this for a long time and we know that this is the next adventure for our lives. I’ve been blogging over at Wonderingfellow.com since 2003. I haven’t blogged there consistently for a while while I was in Seminary. Just not enough time. But blogging for me is a great way to record my memories to go back and look at later, to let my friends and family know what’s going on with me, but more importantly to share my journey.

My first blog on Wonderingfellow included a passage that I still believe and that I think is interesting given the name of the church and even my comments here. I went back and was surprised to find this part of the entry:

I don’t have it figured out! I wish I did!! I’m OK. I love my life, which is more than I used to be able to say. I’m on a journey – not a journey of self-discovery or a journey of perfectionist baloney. Let’s just say I’m on a journey.

I’m a lot farther along in my journey. I have found healing, new lifelong friendships, great love and great strength to share my journey since I first wrote those words. But I’m still on a journey – one that I love and one that I want to share!

That is what Journey Fellowship is about – our journey.

So I’m going to talk about my journey here as we launch this church sometime in 2012. I hope that you’ll join me here and find what I share to be interesting and at times, hopefully, inspiring to think about and encourage your own journey.