Category Archives: Our Journey

Finding Our Way

The Areopagus as seen from the Acropolis – modern day

“And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’;* as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’*

(Acts 17:25–27 ESV)

Oh wow.  There is so much in this verse.  Paul is on the Aeropagus in Athens which was the main hangout for the religious and ruling class of Athens.  He had an opportunity to speak to a highly influential group so his words had to have meaning and power.

In this place where there were statues of gods and other deities that the city worshipped Paul saw something which told him exactly where these people where.  The wanted to cover all of the religious bases.  They wanted to find something, like all of us, on which to base their lives.

Paul understood this.  So he explained his God in the most simple way.

1. God made everything : “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth”

2. He is in control of everyones life : “having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place”

3. He goal is to point people to himself : “that they should seek God”

4. He desires for everyone to seek him : “in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him”

5. He is waiting and ready for your to find him : “Yet he is actually not far from each one of us”

Isn’t that simple and clear?  He followed these words up with a very clear definition of being a true follower of God, ‘In him we live and move and have our being’

So at this most amazing opportunity to share his God with a huge influential group in a huge influential location he said these words and then gave the simplest definition.  Because of who the true God is, because of what he has done, and because he is waiting for us to seek him by living, moving and having our being in him!

Being Weak

9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

I’ve always felt like less.  For a long time I struggled with this and about 9 years ago God changed me!  He showed me through the love of those around me (especially Stacy) that there is healing and forgiveness in God’s plan for us.  I was drastically changed.

For as much as the last 9 years life has been different than before, I have still struggled with self doubt and sometimes a real feeling of worthlessness.    It’s been difficult to hide this and it has continued to affect every aspect of my life.  But God continues to show me that he is a God of healing.

The question for me has become “Isn’t there a point where we can or should say – “God can take all of those feelings and I can let him because in my weakness God will make me stronger.”  After all, for a lot of us, our feelings are about the past but they hold us captive in the present.   Maybe exchanging our hurt feelings with trusting God with our self worth is the only way we can deal with the past in order to see God’s plans for us in the present.

That’s not at all easy but God’s desire is for our dependance on him.  We’ve got to stop looking for strength or pain in what people say or seem to feel about us.  Then we’ve got to allow ourselves to be weak enough to draw close to God.

With events of the past few months I have had that old struggle again.  It’s so easy to blame others or justify feelings of anger or hurt.  It’s also easy to slip into the role of victim.  But God’s grace and his allowing of these struggles to come is rewarded with the realization of growing peace and healing.

When Joseph was sold into slavery by his very own brothers who simply wanted to rule over him, I’m sure he felt very much the victim.  When he was wrongly accused by Potifer’s wife, he must have asked “why me?”. But after years of prison and pain he saw God’s reasons in the end.  Joseph felt compassion on his brothers when they came to Egypt during the famine:

20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. Genesis 50:20

I’m thankful for the path of my life and discovering God’s healing not once but twice in my life! Being weak can become the source of an incredible life which allows us to release the burdens of the past.

Let’s Walk Together

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. ”

(Philippians 2:14–17 ESV)

I really like this verse.   It is an incredibly hard verse for me – a type A, often argumentative, quick to speak – slow to listen sort of guy.  But this verse helps me.

It reminds me our purpose as disciples of Jesus is to follow his lead.  We should be known by our love (all people) and for our love for one another (other disciples). (John 13:34-35)

It’s hard to do this if we are grumbling or disputing with each other.  I like the idea  Jesus put it in our hands to love one another.  He even went so far as to say  we would be known by our love for each other.  That means people will look at us and wither say ” They love each other so well – I like that”  or “They can’t seem to get along – yuck”.

So what should we do to make sure we’re following Jesus’ lead.

  1. We must trust other believers.
  2. We must talk clearly, honestly and with love.
  3. We must walk together hand in hand and walk towards the world to make disciples(followers of Jesus).
  4. We must speak kind words to each other.
  5. We must forgive because we are forgive.
  6. We must hold close to God’s word – not just read it.
  7. We must be willing to not abandon each other when we struggle.

I have a long, long way to go on these. Lord, please change me!

Soli Deo gloria

The End of a Dream

local_12_1_temp-1324023393-4eeafe61-620x348Often life has unexpected turns which can occur from out of, what seems like, nowhere.  A parent gets sick, a spouse gives surprising news or a job suddenly ends.   Its in these times of change we are forced to face ourselves in some way and possibly re-discover who we really are.   When the direction of your life is affected you can find yourself questioning things that you thought you had a pretty good idea about.

Recently I have faced such a situation – the death of a dream.  The road seemed clear and the direction seemed right but an unexpected turn came and I found myself wondering if I had been on the wrong road.  During this I have felt an unraveling of who I am.  I have had to lead my family from a place of comfort through a place of pain, questioning and their own lose of identity.  We still are going through it and I think have a ways to go before we see the other side.

I now am trying to understand myself without the same responsibilities and a lose of trust in others that inevitably comes with some unexpected turns.   But I am already sensing the closeness of God and his promise of strength when there are few landmarks left in view.  I heard it described this past week as a leveling.  In my mind it has been a realignment of my faith and my relationship with a Heavenly Father that is never surprised and shaken by anything.  His peace has come in scripture, in tears, in quite moments, in sitting with my family and talking, in tense prayer, and surprisingly in throwing up my hands because they were suddenly empty.

The most difficult thing is not just seeing my dream die but realizing that there were still people with us that had the dream that was Hub Church.   They still had the vision of loving the 8 Houses around them, of staying and growing together to understand our faults and our strengths together, and of living the incredible idea of the great commands of loving God and loving others.  This dream had spread to them. They had seen God doing something but now they are also trying to understand this unexpected turn.

Through this I am learning if God is God on the good days he is still God on the bad days.   I go back to Romans 8 more so than ever because the reality that we have to embrace when we unravel is the true reality that is found in the love (grace) that God has for us:

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31-32,35,37-39

For me I think one day I will see this dream was not a wrong road but that it came to an intersection.  It’s time to open my hands and let God lead on this new road.  Its time to also let him draw me close to him as he builds the next dream.

Nothing worth doing comes without some pain and nothing without God is worth the pain.

I Have No Idea What I’m Doing!

It’s true and I’m kinda glad.  When the prodigal son came home to his father he was at the end of himself.  (Luke 15) He had tried all of his ideas, followed all his plans, lived the way that he wanted and he was truly at the end of his rope.

Now I haven’t been a prodigal in that I went into another country and lived like the prodigal- wine, women and the wild life.  But it is easy to have a lot of plans, a lot of ideas, and an expectation that things will go exactly like I planned.

Jesus said that we lose our lives to follow Him. (Luke 9)  To me that means that we lose our plans and our expectations too.  Jesus that we do this to see the Kingdom of God.

This takes away any idea that our performance is what it takes achieve what God requires from us.  The prodigal son had completely messed up his life and simply returned to his father.  There was NO worthiness or ability on his part to heal the bond or to rescue himself from his failure.

Many of us may not be prodigals in the same way but we may be when it comes to our seeking to be something or someone in order to reach God’s “standard”.  The father in the story didn’t send the son out to the servants quarters nor did he tell the son that he would have to earn his way back.  He opened his arms and welcomed the son back.

So as we embark on our next plans, our next goal or our next destination we must realize that we are the same as the prodigal. It isn’t about our performance; instead, it is about our proximity to our Father that matters.

Or for those of us that may be the prodigal – we’ve been far from God or we’ve completely ignored him the answer is the same but even better.  No matter what we have done God opens His arms to us not based on our worthiness or based on our ability to undo our sin.  He opens his arms based on his desire to see His sons and daughters come home.

Champions

The past few weeks of the Olympics have been amazing.  I’ve watched more of this year’s Olympics than I have in previous years.   First, because the fact that it was in the UK, which I hope that to visit one day.  Second, because I have realized that I love to watch champions.

The Olympics are unique in that the goal is to take the best and purest examples of a champion and put all of them together to create a level of competition that can very rarely be found.   Between all of the rules for competition, drug testing, methods to insure the most chalenging events in the world and through the mircle of television we can see true world champions compete.

We love a champion.  Isn’t it awesome to watch someone in the best shape of their lives with the sharpest skills in the world perform amazing mental and physical feats?

I think, though, the best part are the stories.  The very human stories that we get exposed to are a picture into the making of a champion.  The stories of struggle, teamwork, and sacrifice

that the indivudal athelets, teams and countries tell are my favorite part.

Among the champions at this years olympics there were men and women, young (13) and not so young (71), different countries, different races, and different sports represented.  Being a champion has nothing to do with these things.

So what then makes an Olympic champion?  Here is a very simple and short list:

  1. Champions are made.  Natural skills are an incredible platform to build on but every champions practices, prepares, and pushes themselves past the extreme.
  2. Champions are motivated  They have pushed and motivated themselves to succeed.  Their confidence is purchased by their sacrifices.
  3. Champions are poetry in motion.  There is something magical about seeing it all come together for them. There is a beauty in their motion and their success.

I want to be a champion.

Ok, I will not be an Olympic champion but champions exist in all aspects of life not just sports.  Our lives can be lived past the extremes.  We can be champions.

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. 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 yo” (Philippians 3:12–16 ESV)

Do you want to be a champion?

 

New Beginnings

It’s funny how we sometimes look at life.

When I was a kid I saw that last week of school as like a new adventure.  I saw myself on the precipice of something new.  Days of no homework, playing outside, and unhindered goofing off.  Normally by the second week or the second day of summer break I was bored.  There was nothing to do and it seemed like I was waiting for vacation (that was a month away) or a day that we would go somewhere and do something!

It was really my perspective that caused the boredom.  That last week of school I was ready for a change and by the second day of Summer Break I was ready for something to happen that would fulfill my anticipation of Summer!

My family and I are at the precipice now.  We just moved to Goose Creek, SC.  We have been waiting with anticipation for this move.  Everything for the last few months has been in anticipation of this move.  It seems like it would never happen and suddenly (quite suddenly) it has!

Now what?

  • Well, first of all I am still working for the company where I have worked for the last 4 years.  I’m excited about working from South Carolina and am already seeing better productivity.   A new surrounding and a new brightly lit home office seems to be energizing me!
  • Secondly, we are going to plant a church!  I’ll be a bi-vocational pastor for a while I think. We are willing for growth to be at God’s pace even if it is slow. Our goal is to meet people and become a part of our community.  We hope to start a community coffee-house (God willing) and to serve our community.  Our hope is that a church will blossom from that.    Our intention is to plant a church but our goal is to make disciples by moving into our community. (John1)
  • Lastly, we are going to live focused on our Heavenly Father more than we ever have before.

That is the thing about perspective.  For us this is a new beginning.  We’re the same people with much of the same calling and goals but this is a new place with new priorities.

For Stacy and I, it is the beginning of the second part of our lives.  We are in our early 40s and are beginning something completely  different.  It is a true new beginning.

For me it is a chance to:

  1. Live with more intention
  2. Be a better worker, father, husband and most of all a better disciple
  3. Forget past problems or failures.  I am ready to sing a new song.  (Psalm 98)

My perspective is changed and I am ready!

Our perspective can be a hindrance or a blessing.  It is up to us to recognize a great God who is in control of the outcomes.

The Word of God

We (Christians) talk about drawing close to God a lot, but often times it remains a mystery as to what this really means.  I found an amazing example that really stirred up in me deep feelings for my Heavenly Father and the work of Jesus.  It is an amazing video of a pastor reciting the entire book of Hebrews from memory.  As I listened to his amazing presentation of the words I couldn’t help but feel moved by the words I think more so than I would have by simply reading.

We see this explained in Hebrews:

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

We also see it’s effect – an effect that we desire:

I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.
I suggest that you watch the entire video:

[Via The Strasbourg Inn]

Is Church our Idol?

This are a really hard question!  Simply put – Do we want to see our church grow more than anything or do we want to lead everyone to Christ?

It seems that many of the fallen pastors of our day always seem to have the story that includes the words “you know, I just got lost in it all”.

Don’t get me wrong large “successful” churches are not evil, but it is really hard for them to constantly purse the heart of God because of the struggle to keep things going!  To be honest though it is difficult for any individual to constantly purse the heart of God.

God has the best stuff – he has the best plans, the best options for life, the best success, the best of everything.  He simply asks us to pursue him about all other things.

So how do we stay away from idols?  Pursue God – not the church – not your brand –  not your good name – nothing else but God.

How do you pursue God?