Day 15 – 30 Days with Jesus

30 09 2008

Weeds. There are many words that bring pleasant thoughts – this is not one of them. Can you actually think of one time when the word “weeds” has a positive implication. “Go pull weeds.” “You are in the weeds.” “It may be pretty but it is just a weed.” A weed is basically something that is not wanted, appreciated or desired. In my life, weeds have a bad implication. I spent countless Saturday mornings pulling weeds in my dad’s garden or in our planters growing up. No matter how many times I pulled them, they came back. And my favorite statement – “If you don’t pull the roots, you are just trimming the top.” (Thanks Dad!)

As the Bible shows us today, we have weeds in our lives. Some self inflicted and some planted by the enemy. In honor of my father, let me give you a piece of advice. Go for the roots! Yes, you have to dig for it. Yes, you get dirtier, sweatier and more spent. But if you are going to go after a nemesis, a sin or something that is just slowing you down in your relationship with Christ – why not go for the problem and not the symptom? The effort is reflective of the prize. When we lightly address the sin or temptations in our lives, we get safe, easy solutions. Whereas they bring temporary relief or victory, we eventually succumb to the pull back to what causes us to stumble. Going after the roots often takes a sense of vulnerability before God to ask “what is the main cause of my struggle? Is it a previous relationship, fear or event that allowed the enemy to sow this into my life?” Then, you must allow God to show you how to deal with it. Finally, do something about it. Once and for all, allow the supernatural power of God to intervene in this area and nullify any seeds the enemy has sown. Sounds all “out there” but really it is not. Instead, it is talking with God, listening to his voice and surrendering those things in our lives that are weeds. Then, even as the bible story told of burning those weeds, asking God to “burn” them out of your life once and for all. When He burns them, he does it roots and all. He isn’t known for trimming the tops!

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Day 14 – 30 Days of Jesus

29 09 2008

I have a friend who works as the Art Director for Walt Disney World Hong Kong. Before he left to take his position, he graciously allowed some of our staff to spend the day with him. The day we met him in Hollywood studios was an amazing experience. We had some free time, so we were able to enjoy some of the rides and attractions. Pastor Dave on a roller coaster is worth the price of admission! When we were with my friend, he shared a number of philosophies that go into creating the theme park atmosphere. For Disney, it revolves around the power of story telling. If you walk down main street at Hollywood studios, they purposely created that street to look like a certain time frame, location and motif. Each building has a story board about its purpose, why it looks a certain way, colors and how it links with other buildings. Even the attractions have a story that they are trying to tell and it is communicated through the art, decoration, costumes the characters wear, and the rides themselves. It is one of the main reasons people love Disney – we all love a good story!

Jesus grasped the power of a good story, or what we called parables. Instead of justing hitting people with the truth every time, he shared stories that illustrated the principles of truth. In doing so, he created a readiness to receive God’s word. You might not know this, but you are a story teller. You might not think so – you might doubt your own creative abilities to share God’s word. So let me put you fears to rest. Your life is an amazing story. You need to tell it. You already lived it, so you have all the main ingredients – characters, emotions, feelings, conflict, resolution, failures and victories. The Bible story today talked about sharing the news of the kingdom of God. When you tell about an incident in your life, you are sharing the news of how Christ has transformed your life. You might even be convinced that you have too many failures or negative events in your life. The fact that God is with you now brings hope. And that, is a story worth hearing!





Day 13 – 30 Days with Jesus

28 09 2008

Like the devotion pointed out, the sense of gratitude that is conveyed in this story is amazing. For me, there is another aspect that I seem to be drawn to when I read or teach this story. Vs. 12 talks about how they stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice.

Distance.

For some reason, I am drawn to this group. Because of their skin condition, they had to live in a constant state of distance from everyone else. Distance is defined as “The fact or condition of being apart in space; remoteness.” It makes perfect sense and my pastoral heart breaks. These men would never sense the warmth of being close to someone, a loving hug or even what it means to be touched on an elbow while someone is telling a story. The word says it all – remoteness. They would always in a state of detachment from others. They wouldn’t have to connect socially, physically or even spiritually. They have created their own world of isolation.

I can do that at times. When I begin to focus on all that encompasses my life, I can begin to look at everything through the “me” lens. I find that the more I focus on me, the more I can look at others and find they are not meeting my expectations. When they aren’t matching up, I have a tendency to pull away. And in doing so, I lose relationship, accountability and warmth. Just like the ten lepers, distance becomes accepted and I am the biggest loser in the process.

The good news is that in bringing Jesus into the equation, for me and the lepers, there is potential for a HUGE turnaround. After interacting with Jesus, they were healed. When I give my problems to God, He can freely intervene in those situations. And here is the win for both me and the leper who returned:
1. A face to face encounter with God.
2. The opportunity to praise and honor Him genuinely.
3. The opportunity to acknowledge God’s intervention and show gratitude.
4. An opportunity to go in a new direction.

No longer distant yields to moving forward in unity and purpose! We call that a God Story!





Want to be Young Again?

27 09 2008

I am writing this after a whole day of removing counters, installing a sink and all of its plumbing, replacing a toilet apparatus and riding 42 miles on a bike. I feel old and tired. In fact, to top off my day yesterday, I fell asleep 20 minutes after the movie I started watching with Kristin.

But there is something in my life that makes me feel young again. Uprising. It is eight young adults who have made the commitment from September to May to intern at the church. We finished our third week on Friday and these kids are amazing. They workout, have an hour of devotion, take a class for an hour and a half and then serve in ministries for an hour all before noon four days a week. They serve at our Jr. High service, Sr. High service, Second Saturday outreach and Sunday morning services. These kids are bright, energetic, and fun to see in action. They have worked really hard the last three weeks. Along the way, they have found out the importance of being on time, responsibility and pushing themselves when it hasn’t been easy.

How does that make me feel young again? They have all this opportunity before them without all the baggage of life. And they are growing and challenging themselves. Keep going guys! I am so proud and humbled that I get to see what God is going to do with you today and in the future!





Day 12 – 30 Days with Jesus

26 09 2008

A story from my life…
I was about two years into my first job as Children’s Pastor in Orlando. I was learning a lot about pastoring and growing in my understanding of how that looks. The parents, kids and even the church leadership was pleased as I matured. (I was 22 when I took my first pastor’s job.) Then, I was hit with a moment that impacted me till today.
My mother in law was a volunteer at the hospital and would go to the NICU to hold babies. She had a patient called “Greenbean” who she would keep us up on. She told how he had all these problems, his mother wasn’t able to come see him frequently and all his medical ups and downs. One morning, she called and said, “they said that ‘Greenbean’ wouldn’t make it through the week. He was going to die.” I prayed with her and went to work. I got in my office and tears began to flow. In fact, for about an hour, I wept and sobbed. Then, I was scheduled to do a chapel for our school. I mentioned to the headmaster that I wanted to ask the kids to make cards for Greenbean so he could have something to look at out of his hospital bed. When I went up to address the children, I couldn’t talk and began sobbing again uncontrollably. The headmaster had to address the kids – I left the auditorium weeping. I went down to a break room and through the tears asked God – “What is wrong with me? How can I be this emotional? How can I be so distraught over a baby I have never even seen before? How can I feel so broken over a child I have never even held before?” The room was quiet for a few moments and I knew God was doing something. Then, I heard him speak as clearly as ever, “That is what I feel about him too.” God gave me a glimpse of his heart for children that day. All the emotion, the yearning, the pain, the sorrow, the desire for them to be loved…all came to bear in one amazing morning that day. It transformed my whole approach to children’s ministry and to this day, I will always have a special place in my heart for children.

Tears come in so many forms. I will end this with a question and a statement.

What makes you laugh and what makes you cry?

Most of the time, both are indicators of where your heart’s treasure truly is.





Day 11 – 30 Days with Jesus

26 09 2008

Spit is….spit. You really can’t do much to make this element in today’s story any prettier. Maybe if I gave you the Wikipedia explanation of saliva, it would help.

Saliva is produced in and secreted from the salivary glands. Human saliva is composed mostly of water, but also includes electrolytes, mucus, antibacterial compounds, and various enzymes. [1] As part of the initial process of food digestion, the enzymes in the saliva break down some of the starch and fat in the food at the molecular level. Saliva also breaks down food caught in the teeth, protecting them from bacteria that cause decay. Furthermore, saliva lubricates and protects the teeth, the tongue, and the tender tissues inside the mouth.

Yeah, I am not feeling it either. Spit is…spit. You can’t dress it up and get warm feelings about it. But here is a thought. In the Wikipedia explanation, it describes all the things that happen because saliva is there. In fact, you could even say it is a catalyst for change, growth and even, better health. It sure makes me glad I have saliva swishing around in my mouth.

I bet the boy who was blind is thinking along those lines. Instead of protesting the crudeness of his healing techniques, he just wanted to be healed. Can you remember being so hungry for God to do something that you were willing to go out of your comfort zone? Maybe that desire is like the saliva in the story today. It is the catalyst that puts you into a place for change and growth. God wants us to desire him and accept his will for us in all situations. Gives you something to think about next time you brush your teeth!





Day 10 – 30 Days with Jesus

24 09 2008

Today’s story is a movie maker’s dream. You have all the elements that will light up a screen. I can see it now: the waves are building over a mist that rolls over the buffeted waves. The boat is battered by rolling seas and the spray is soaking all the characters. Men are shouting to “tie this down” or “hold on!” The sound track builds as a figure makes his way into the scene. He is hazy at best and while he looks familiar, the elements are distort only what the characters hope they see. Finally, one calls out to this “thing” and finds out it is our story’s protagonist, fighting for all that is good. He wants to join up with our hero and so he is asked to do the impossible (Cue the Rocky music). He steps out into infamy as the second man (to our hero, of course) to walk on water. But wait, what stops this walk into history?

Simple. The wind.

I looked at a number of translations and some say, “seeing the wind,” “seeing the effects of the wind,” and “when he perceived and felt the strong wind.” You see, wind is nothing but a lot of hot air. (It was probably funnier when I thought it the first time) You cannot see it, taste it, touch it. All you can do with with is feel the effects of the wind. So wind in itself has no substance, all it has are special effects.

Think about your relationship with Christ. You have good times and bad times. Every relationship has its ups and down. You might even have an experience like Peter, which is totally amazing. What stops you? I know that list can be long but I will give you one to chew on for today.

Lies.

You cannot see them, touch them, taste them but boy do we feel them. The devil would love for us to believe the lies he spreads every day. “You are not smart enough,” “you will never amount to anything,” “I always fail,” “no one will ever find you attractive,” and “you are not going to make it.” All day long, God’s truth is telling us, “I am with you,” “I love you just like I made you,” “I have a plan for you,” and my favorite, “I will never, never leave you nor forsake you.”(Heb. 13:5) So, like Peter you have a choice. What are you going to believe? More importantly, are you going to keep walking on the water?