Monday, October 31, 2011

sweet day!

Well it's Halloween and so it's appropriate that I give some insights to one of my best spiritual gifts....eating candy! For those of you who think Halloween is a bad I just always looked at it as one of the most hospitable and giving times of the year. When else do you walk around and get stuff from your neighbors for free? and did I mention candy...very sweet...and there is sweetness in the Bible as well, so here is my Halloween tribute to the best candy there is (My top five) with corresponding scriptures.
1. Almond Joy...the greatest candy known to man. Almonds were part of the produce in the Promised Land and Joy is named as fruit of the Spirit. Need I say more? Psalm 55:13-14 mentions fellowship being sweet, especially as we come to worship God.
2. English Toffee - you know the kind that they sell at fancy candy it. Plus Toffee rhymes with coffee which this candy pairs beautifully with. Psalm 119:103 says that God's word is sweet. If we would crave God's word like toffee....
3. Charleston Chew - went old school on this one. Two things make it awesome...chocolate and it's huge...super size before there was a such thing. If you're old school you'll remember these. Ecclesiastes 5:12 tells us that the sleep of a laborer is sweet. There is something good and tasty about working hard and then resting.
4. Snickers - Let's face it...this is a great candy bar. I recommend putting bite size ones in the freezer...awesome. Don't know where they got the name, but I think because it tastes so sweet it makes you snicker! Proverbs 16:24 says that pleasant words are sweet. Have you made someone snicker with your words today.
5. M&M's - Because you eat them in bunches (otherwise they would be call M) and that's what's great about them (plus the chocolate and the peanuts - yeah I prefer the yellow bag and I hope I have leftover candy tonight from trick or treaters at my house). Proverbs 24:14 says that wisdom is sweet.

Here's my suggestion, grab a candy bar from your kids haul tonight and eat it while reading these verses...a very spiritual and taste bud friendly spiritual act of worship.

Monday, October 24, 2011

occupy here

Disclaimer: Just to make sure you know my commentary below is not meant to represent either wall street or those opposed to it...really I don't care...I have bigger things in mind than our eternal life and that kind of thing.

There have been lots of headlines about the Occupy Wall Street movement where people are going to wall street to protest rich people. Like I said yesterday, I'm sure most of the people there have no idea why they are there...they just have nothing better to do with their lives. As a rule I'm not a protest kind of guy, I just don't think these things usually make a difference. I get it people are looking for a cause and this is one. I guess it's because I have a cause that I don't get excited about this stuff. My advice for all of us would-be activists? Occupy Here.

You know it seems we are always tempted to want to start a worldwide movement somewhere else. Why don't we start with where we are. Instead of occupy somewhere else (where I'll likely get some t.v. coverage), why not just occupy where you are. It seems that often I am tempted to be somewhere and not really be there. I wonder if I would just focus on making my "here" the best "here" I can make it and everyone else would do the same if we wouldn't just change the world. Here's what I mean...

At home with your family - are you really there - Do you occupy your home...change begins here
At work - are you really there - Do you occupy your occupation...change begins here
At play - are you really there - Do you occupy your friendships...change begins here
At your community - are you really there - Do you occupy your neighborhood...change begins here
At your church - are you really there - Do you occupy your faith...change really begins here

Don't occupy some other place, no matter how noble the cause...for me, today, the best thing I can possibly do is to be fully here..where God has me...try it...occupy here (or there where you are as the case may be)

Monday, October 17, 2011

candle flame

Just choked down a micro-waved bowl of soup in between staff prayer time and my next meeting (I've got about half and hour - Campbell's Chunky Chicken Gumbo if you care). In staff prayer time today I took an idea I read about somewhere and implemented it. This guy (the really important one, whose name I can't recall) said that every time he met with someone, he lit a candle in their presence to remind them that God is in their midst, part of the conversation. So today after I shared a devotion, we turned off the lights and lit one candle in the middle of the room. The challenge was to keep your eyes open the entire prayer time - recognizing both the presence of God and the community of faith in which we were conversing. It was cool.

Amazingly the little flickering light helps you focus, and is a great meditation aid. The flame draws you in. The illumination reminds you of how God permeates every part of our living and praying and being together. The constancy of the flame reminded us that God is constant. Not always flashy explosions and never extinguished...the candle is a reminder that God is consistent, behind it all, making it all happen, if we'll just slow down and notice. I thought how it might be a good idea to light a candle in a lot of my everyday life experiences as a reminder that God is present. Like when I'm reading or having supper with my family or hanging out with friends, while listening to music, or while on the computer. The flame of the candle is not of course the presence of God, nor is it necessarily holy (a fire can destroy as well as sooth and warm), but it can serve as a reminder that this intangible, unseen, God is very much present in our every moment. I encourage you today...light a candle as representation of God's presence and let the Spirit lead you from there.

Monday, October 10, 2011

road trip

Well, I'm headed back from Dallas where I celebrated (and performed) the wedding of my nephew Drew and his new wife, Karen. Had a great time with them. Crazy how fast you get reconnected and have joy with family even though you don't see them often. It was good to catch up....and here's to hoping it's not another four or five years before we see each other again.

Sara and I worshiped and prayed yesterday on the six and a half hour trip to Memphis. prayed for Tyler and our family at Eastview and prayed for Caleb as he preached in KY. I know you'll probably get tired of this...but more news from Caleb and Pansy Christian. They had a homecoming yesterday and they had 60 in attendance! Awesome Sunday and they put his name on the sign. He's doing well. Sara and I had a good time last night relaxing in Memphis. This whole trip she has done most of the driving while i write and study. She's a real trooper, but honestly she loves to drive and I've gotten a bunch done. But when we got to Beale street, I made a pact to not study or write, just relax. So we found a place with a big screen and watched some football and talked. We walked up and down this birthplace of blues (It's surprisingly small if you've never been) watching people and taking in the sounds. Bright neon signs and music fill the three or four block area. For supper we went to a restaurant called the Majestic on main that used to be a theatre where they showed silent movies back in the day.

This morning we hit the Starbucks by the hotel and hit the road home. Thanks to my I pad and wireless set up, I can do most of the work I usually do on Monday mornings in the office. I've even started looking at the sermon for Sunday. Loved Dallas, Memphis and all spots in between with my favorite loved one and wife....ready to be back to Norma.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Get small

It's one of those deep spiritual lessons that I know, but that God keeps reminding me of: In order to do great things for God, you must do small things for God! Thinking on this started this weekend with our EQUIP conference - a day of encouraging and training our small group leaders. So I'll start there. One of the reasons that Eastview is growing is that we have dedicated ourselves to being small. We take the people that come on the weekend and put them in small groups for a proper environment for growing. The result is that as people grow in this small setting, they begin to reach out, to share their faith, to talk to others about what God is doing in their lives....and the church gets bigger. But it gets bigger by getting small.

Smaller yet, spending a morning focusing on each small group leader, encourages them, equips them with tools to help others grow, and recalibrates their engines for leadership. We had over 200 leaders there and the individual attention we gave each was one of the biggest things we've done in a while. We have bigger crowds, but there was nothing bigger than our small gathering of small group leaders.

Here are some other things going on for me personally:

Been lifting weights again...used to all the time...I like's raw. You know how to get big muscles? Well, being 18 years old helps,but if you can't do that, you start small. Exercises with less weight leads to building muscles that are stronger. One exercise at a time!

Working on another book for a spring release. You know how to write a book? Get small!. You have to start with a thought and then start writing a chapter...and then the next one, etc... No one except Mark Twain writes a book in a week. It's a long process, but I'm 3/4 of the way done.

You know how to grow your faith? Get small. It's the beginning of holy habits like prayer, Bible intake, service, etc... that helps us grow. But you have to start small. You don't start by praying three hours a start with five undistracted minutes...then you mature from there.

You want to change the world? Get in focus on the small things in the world you live in. As God helps you make daily decisions of change and conviction based on your faith, God may open greater doors to change a bigger part of the world...but mostly you start with the small part that you have.