Friday, May 28, 2010

At My Best

On Wednesday, I went to a conference designed for all the clergy in this area who are moving to another church.  We had a time of worship, then two different presentations, the first on leaving well and the second on starting well.

The last thing the presenter had us do at the end of the starting well presentation was to write "at my best..." in the middle of a note card.  Then she asked us to think about times when we have been at our best and to think about what made us at our best.  Then we were to write down short sentences that describe a thought, feeling or behavior during those times.

Here are a couple of mine, at my best...
-I laugh, play and pray
-I create healthy boundaries
-I resist temptation
-I work hard
-I trust the voice God has given me
-I realize my self-worth is in God and no one or nothing else
-I have balance
-I am rested

How about you, what short descriptions would be a part of your "at my best" list.  The whole point is to try to recreate those thoughts, feelings and behaviors on a more regular basis so that we can be more consistently who God wants us to be.

May you more often be "at your best" not for yourself, but for the kingdom of God.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

House for Sale

Its weird to think about...our house is for sale.

Its weird to think about someone else mowing my lawn.

Its weird to think about someone else watching TV in my living room.

Its weird to think about someone else using my bathroom.

Its weird to think about someone else cooking in my kitchen.

Its weird to think about someone else sleeping in my bedroom.

The move has reminded me of the truth that nothing is actually mine anyway, and even if it was, when I die, it won't be mine in heaven.

The deeper reality is that its not my lawn, its not my living room, its not my get the picture.

The internal question this raises for me is why am I so possessive?  Why is it so important to me for something to be "mine?"

I'm not sure of the complete answer to those questions, but I think perspective and priority are important in the discussion.  My perspective should be that its temporarily in my care so I should take care of my stuff.  My priority should not be to gain more stuff or to be consumed by the stuff I already have, but to be the master over my stuff by understanding its place in my life.  Its when I lose perspective and have my priorities out of order that I dishonor God with the things He's blessed me with.

May you have the right perspective and right priorities.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Johari and Jesus

This is the Johari Window.  Its a tool used in psychology to help people in their self-awareness.  The person  is given a list of adjectives and they choose the five or six that describe them.  Their peers are then given the same list and they choose five or six that describe the person as well.  Then, all the adjectives are placed in one of the quadrants you see in the diagram above. 

Adjectives that are selected by both the participant and his or her peers are placed into the Open quadrant. This quadrant represents traits of the participant of which both they and their peers are aware.

Adjectives selected only by the participant, but not by any of their peers, are placed into the Hidden quadrant, representing information about the participant of which their peers are unaware.

Adjectives that are not selected by the participant but only by their peers are placed into the Blind Spot quadrant. These represent information of which the participant is not aware, but others are, and they can decide whether and how to inform the individual about these "blind spots".

Adjectives which were not selected by either the participant or their peers remain in the Unknown quadrant, representing the participant's behaviors or motives which were not recognized by anyone participating.

Its just interesting to think about.  I'm most curious about the blind spots.  What is it that I don't know about myself but others seem to recognize? I'm reminded of several instances in scripture where Jesus pointed out a blind spot in someone that challenged them on the deepest level:  The rich young man he told to sell everything he had.  The conversation with Nicodemus.  The paralytic lowered from the roof in Luke 5:17-26 and the paralytic in Mathew 9:17...both were forgiven of their sins even though the presenting issues was physical.  The woman at the well in John 4.  There's many other examples.

Jesus often exposes people's blind spots to correct their understanding of God.  Jesus' primary purpose while on earth was to reunite people to a right understanding and right relationship with God.  To do that, he had to challenge people's view of themselves and of God.  I believe He's still doing that.

We don't know what we don't which means we have to ask God to reveal what we don't know about Him to us.  I believe God is more than willing to continually reveal Himself to us, if we would just surrender.

May you have the courage to ask God to show you what you don't know about yourself and about Him.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Backpack God

The backpack god is the god we can carry around with us.  He's the god we get out when we need him.  Aunt Martha is sick and in the hospital, we break out backpack god and say "alright, its your time, heal Aunt Martha."  We have a court date and it could determine our future "alright backpack god, you're up."  We have a big decision to make "alright backpack god, I'm going to unzip the bag so you can help me on this one."

That god is not the God of the Bible, its the god of our selfishness.  Backpack god only exists in our heads, not in our hearts.  Its amazing how we treat the true God as backpack god by only inviting Him into our lives when we need Him, when it serves our purposes.  Then, when something doesn't turn out our way, we blame God, which is silly, because we only want Him to be part of the areas of our lives that we invite Him into.

We don't want Him mingling in our financial affairs, then we couldn't justify the gossip we spread to get that promotion over our rival.  We don't want Him in our marriage, because then, we couldn't be selfish and blame everything on our spouse.  We don't want Him challenging our sexual beliefs, because then we would be convicted of our actions.  We only want Him when we need Him, but God is not going to pander to our selfish desires.  God is going to be God and we either surrender to Him and choose to live with His presence in every area of our lives, or take the chance of living without His presence for eternity.

Doesn't it make sense to let Him be involved in every area of our lives, because if we let Him, He will relate to us with ultimate wisdom, unwavering faithfulness, extravagant love and unconditional grace.  That God is so much more real and engaging than backpack God.  May you throw away backpack god and embrace the true God who happens to be pursuing you in every area of your life.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Move

I can officially go public.  I am transitioning from being an associate at Good Shepherd to being the lead pastor at another church.  We are moving at the end of June.  It wasn't until this last Sunday that we could officially go public with it.

My wife and I are excited about it and I've felt so encouraged and supported by the people of Good Shepherd ever since the e-mail went out to the Good Shepherd Congregation.  Their words have lifted my spirits and made me even more excited than I already was.

We will have a lot to miss:
-The people of Good Shepherd
-The music at Good Shepherd
-The messages at Good Shepherd
-The montessori school Mikayla is in
-Our house in Rock Hill
-A couple of our neighbors
-Being close to my wife's work (she will commute to Rock Hill two days a week)
-Being close to an Earth Fare

We have a lot to look forward to as well, but I think its important to grieve what we are leaving behind in order to move ahead.  There are times in life when all of us have to grieve the past in order to move forward.  Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end.  I began at Good Shepherd in March of 2006 and now that beginning is coming to an end.  My last Sunday at GS is June 20th and I start at the other church on July 4th.

We are expecting God to do great things!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


As soon as you get comfortable in your faith, you've stopped growing in your faith.  As soon as you've gotten stagnant in your relationship with Jesus, you've stopped growing in your love for him.

Its easy to get comfortable.  Its easy to lose purpose.  Its easy to forget about vision.  Its easy to live life just wandering around aimless and purposeless.

But is that the life Jesus calls us to?  Didn't Jesus talk about taking up our cross?  Didn't Jesus challenge a rich man to sell everything he had?  Didn't Jesus tell Jewish believers that to be his disciples they should continue in His teachings?

Donald Miller says that a good story involves what a character wants and how much conflict they are willing to endure to get it. 

If your life were a movie, what would the summary of the movie be on the back of the DVD cover?  Would it be something like this:  Rich wakes up most mornings and gets ready for work.  Then Rich goes to work.  Rich has a family.  On most Saturdays, Rich spends time with his family.  Rich likes to play tennis and video games.  Immerse yourself in the life of Rich in this motion picture about Rich.

Ugh, it hurts just writing that.  I hope to do more with my life.  I'm working on it.  How about you?  What is the movie summary of your life?  If its anything like mine you probably need to work on the script.  May you figure out how God wants to use you and endure the conflict necessary to pursue it...and may the reward be of eternal significance.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Favorite Verse

One of my favorite passages of scripture is Hebrews 4:16: "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."  I use these words several times a week when I'm visiting people and praying for people.  I find such comfort and hope in them. 

Its a great reminder that we can approach God in prayer knowing that He hears us and is willing to act on our behalf.  It's also interesting that the promise is not deliverance from whatever is happening, but the offer of mercy and grace to help us during our time of need.  God never promises to deliver us from our circumstances (even though sometimes He does) but he does promise to deliver us through our circumstances.

May you pray with conviction that God sits on His throne of grace to act on your behalf.