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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanks for being You

Dear God, thank you for being You! Thank you for being such a stickler for detail as I look at a leaf under a microscope. Thank you for your beauty as I take in a stunning sunset. Thank you that you are so strong and mighty when I see an aerial shot of Niagra Falls or the Rocky Mountains from 40 miles away.

Thank you for your ability to know all--all the time. You can listen to everybody on the planet (over 6 billion) at the same time. Personally. Without missing any details. And remember it. And you can do that for every day throughout all of history and the future--at the same time. Because you are outside of time. Wow God.

Thank you for your creativity when see my 7 & 9 year old girls pictures or talk to them as they stall going to bed. I thank you for your incredible size as I look at the stars at night and realize that there are billions--and you know them by name; that you hold the universe in your hand like a mustard seed.

Thank you for loving me first. When I was so unlovable. Hateful, actually. Rebellious. Self-centered and self-absorbed. Arrogant and ignorant.

Thank you for your mercy as I realize that I don't even deserve to live a difficult life--much less a great, comfortable life like I enjoy. I actually deserve the results of my sin. Guilt. Distress. Death. But because you made a way for me to get back to you through the cross of Jesus Christ, I thank you for being the God who saves his people from their sin. I thank you for your son Jesus.

Thank you so much.

May the rest of my life be a living "Thank you" card from me to You. Thanks for being You.

"But God demonstrates His love in this; that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." ---Apostle Paul, Romans 5:8

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Home Cookin'

I remember January of '96 when I was with about 40 other seminary students from SEBTS on a mission trip to Mexico. We were in a village with our mission coordinator waiting for our next move when writing messages and sermons came up. A student proudly shared with us that he had all of his daddy's sermons from way back in his files. All he had to do was pull one out and brush it up. Inside this didn't seem right to me but I kept my mouth shut.

It was at this point in our discussion that our missionary guide piped up. He asked us, in the presence of this proud student, "Do you like canned food or homemade better?" No one really responded. He said, "I like homemade best. Made from scratch is just better. Somehow, I just think our sermons ought to be the same way."

I've never forgotten those words. They dovetail nicely with what Ruth Barton shared in her article (see below) when she wrote,

"Spiritual leadership flows from the leader seeking after God through spiritual disciplines. Solitude and silence are two such disciplines that enable us to experience a place of authenticity and invite God to meet us. In them, we are rescued from relentless human striving so that we can experience the life of the Spirit. We give up control and allow God to be God in our lives rather than being a thought in our heads or an illustration in a sermon." http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2006/003/14.75.html

I guess this hits home in my heart because for over 10 years I've struggled with the extremes of this point of view. Wanting to deliver a clever and profound word from God so badly that I would use content from other authors or preachers to make my own messages seem more...clever. As a result, I was just feeding my ego instead of leading people to the waters of community and intimacy with God through his word. In affect, I was relying more on the clever skills of my peers than on the Spirit of the living God.

The Apostle Paul wrote, "I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power."
1 Cor. 2: 3-5 (NIV)

Barton's words serve as a challenge to all of us who would settle and let the words of others replace the words of God in our messages. May we repent from spiritual arrogance and meet God needy and humble in the closet where he waits ready to speak to us words that nourish the parched and famished soul.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Spiritual Leadership

As one who leads, preaches and teaches weekly, I found this quote challenging:

"There can be no compromise. Those who look to us for leadership need us to be spiritual seekers. They need us to keep searching for the bread of life that feeds our souls so that we can guide them to places of sustenance. Rather than offering the cold stone of past devotionals, regurgitated apologetics, or someone else's musings, we must offer bread that is warm from the oven of our own intimacy with God." Is My Leadership Spiritual? by Ruth Haley Barton

Believe me, it is easy to get caught up in the urgent and forsake the important "baking time," if you will, of reading, praying and studying God's word. Pray for your pastor, youth pastor, elders, deacons, SS teachers, small group leaders, etc. that they wouldn't get trapped into just "preparing a lesson" but that they would truly seek intimacy with God.

For full article, click here: http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2006/003/14.75.html

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Ted Haggard

I just read a piece by Gordan McDonald on Ted Haggard's moral failure. I include the link here for your convenience.

http://blog.christianitytoday.com/outofur/archives/2006/11/the_haggard_tru.html

It grieves me whenever leaders fail morally. We have such a great responsibility. So many are hurt by it. The name of Christ is drug through the mud.

I guess what's so scary is that we are all capable of such atrocious sins. So I hope we won't climb onto our high horse and start denouncing his actions self-righteously. I hope we'll pray for him and the hundreds of other leaders who are tempted in the same way each week. They need our prayers. Lord have mercy on us, your children.