Showing posts from March, 2015

The Unsought Treasure

"The knowledge of God is the most glorious treasure anyone could possess, yet in most civilized countries there is but one institution engaged in promoting that knowledge, and even that institution is not working very hard at it."  -- A. W. Tozer

Everything is Love in the Overflow

"I walked out over Boston Common before breakfast, weeping for joy and praising God. Oh, how I loved! In that hour I knew Jesus, and I loved Him till it seemed my heart would break with love. I was filled with love for all His creatures. I heard the little sparrows chattering; I loved them. I saw a little worm wriggling across my path; I stepped over it; I didn’t want to hurt any living thing. I loved the dogs, I loved the horses, I loved the little urchins on the street, I loved the strangers who hurried past me, I loved the heathen, I loved the whole world."    --  Samuel Brengle, Salvation Army leader and evangelist, sharing about his personal immersion in Holy Love

Face Your Fear

Fear is a terrorist, lurking in the shadows of our hearts -- waiting to attack at any moment. 

Fear keeps us from achieving success. It destroys our dreams. It dashes our hopes. Immeasurable damage is caused by this small four-letter word.  As we run the race of life, fear is a rope that tangles itself around our legs, causing us to stumble, to falter, and to fail.

Theologian, Paul Tillich, stated that our fears put frightening masks over people and things. They appear to be more dreadful than they really are. When we remove the mask, the terror disappears.

Strangers are not so terrible when we view them as fellow human beings. The future is not nearly so fearful when we see it as it is -- realizing that life will go on.

"There is nothing to fear," quoted Franklin D. Roosevelt, 'but fear itself." It is the greatest enemy of courage, progress, and enthusiasm.  As Pogo said, "We have met the enemy -- and he is us!"

So, how do we attack fear head on, rather than w…

Praying the Seven Last Words of Christ

It is significant that Jesus prayed from the cross. While experiencing the worst torture a human being could endure  – he prayed.
Most of us, in such moments of anguish, would succumb to the suffering. Our prayers would be diminished to one word: “Help!”  Reflecting on the worst moments of my life, I must admit “Help!” is the most sincere prayer I’ve ever uttered.
Yet, Jesus went beyond a prayer for help at Golgotha. His prayers from the cross reveal the intensity of his pain – yet, a deep love pouring from his heart. Instead of being consumed with himself, he turned his focus to God and others.
The old adage states, “We all have our cross to bear.” In our moments of anguish, we can look to Jesus, and see how he responded in his darkest valley. A review of Good Friday events shows that Jesus did three things:
1)He pressed into prayer. 2)He poured out love.
3)He surrendered all to God.

What an example for us! In deep sorrow and suffering, we, too, can press into prayer, po…

Prayer of Thomas Merton

"My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow if death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone." 
 -- Thomas Merton

The Purpose of Theology is Doxology

"We should never forget that the purpose of theology is doxology; we study in order to praise.  The truest expression of trust in God will always be worship to praise God for being greater than we know." --  Geneva Study Bible note

Six Steps to the Throne

My sermon this morning, "Six Steps to the Throne", was inspired by a chapter fromIn The Day of Thy Power, by Arthur Wallis.

In 2 Chronicles 9:18 we read that there were six steps to the throne of King Solomon.  And in our prayer life, there are six steps to the throne of God:  The King of Kings.

Step 1:  Abiding in Christ

John 15:5-7
I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
This means being connected to Christ -- living in Christ - being at home with him.  There is a huge difference between saying prayers and being a person of prayer.
Two ways we become disconnected:  Disobedience (Ps, 66:18) and Neglect.  Is Jesus your spare tire or your steering wheel?

Drink from the Stream Along the Way

Recently, I found great refreshment from this poem by Susan Coolidge, based on Psalm 110:7, "He shall drink from the brook along the way."   It was in an old 19th Century volume in my collection,  Guests of the Heart, by Adam Craig:

The way is hot, the way is long, 'Tis weary hours to even-song, And we must travel though we tire; But all the time beside the road Trickle the small rills of God, At hand for our desire.
Quick mercies, small amenities, Brief moments of repose and ease, We stoop, and drink, and so fare on, Unpausing, but re-nerved in strength From hour to hour, until at length, Night falleth, and the day is done.
The birds sip of the wayside rill, And raise their heads in praises, still Upborne upon their flashing wings: So drinking thus along the way, Our little meed of thanks we pay To Him who fills the water spring.
And deals with equal tenderness The larger mercies and the less: "O Lord, of good the fountain free, Close by our hard day's journeying Be thou the all-suff…

Be a Witness, Not a Judge

An excerpt from my book, Purple Fish: A Heart for Sharing Jesus:

Some church folks, as Marshall Shelley observed, are “well intentioned dragons. Their earnest desire for setting things (and people) right comes off wrong. “Nothing has done greater damage to our Christian testimony,” said Watchman Nee, “than our trying to be right and demanding right of others.”

A Barna group survey conducted a few years ago found that 90 percent of non-Christian young people between the ages of sixteen and twenty-nine view Christians as judgmental. Perhaps one reason for this is because we have assumed the wrong role in the courthouse. We play the part of judge, jury, or prosecuting attorney, rather than witness.

It’s tempting to assume the role of judge, especially when so many evils abound. But if you find yourself pounding the gavel, you’d better step off the bench. Jesus warned us not to judge or we will be judged (Matt. 7:1). God alone is the judge—not us. That’s quite a relief. Who in the…

A Funny St. Patrick Story

In the middle of the fifth century, the Irish King Aengus was baptized by St. Patrick. Sometime during the ceremony, Patrick leaned on his crozier, a sharp-pointed staff and inadvertently stabbed the poor king's foot.

After the baptism was over, St. Patrick looked down, saw all the blood, and realized what he had done.
"I'm terribly sorry!" he exclaimed. "Please forgive me, your majesty! Why did you suffer this pain in silence?"
The king replied, "I thought it was part of the ritual."

The Old Walnut Tree

Near the barnyard, by the fence, old soldier stands with gnarled hands, saluting all the passersby who happen by his shade.

Deep rooted kindness, with a furrowed brow, crusty outside, yet velvet within,  calling all the children in as he's done down through the ages "Come! Climb! Swing!"

And the old backyard centurion one summer day invited me, again, to childish play. But, laden with responsibility, I turned away.

You see, I've grown up now -- so much to do, and hurried humans hardly take the time to do such things. Yes, with a heavy hearted sighing, I turned and walked away.

But, even in the turning, my boyish heart was yearning for another swing -- impulsive, foolish thing!
My grown up soul had somehow met its match.

Old soldier may be past his prime, with knotted, brittle hands, yet deep inside I fully understand
that he can still catch me!

So, in joyous liberation, I dropped my briefcase on the ground and as a little child from grown up heart unbound, ran caref…

10 Questions to Discern God's Will

Dr. Jim "Umfundisi" Lo, recently suggested the following questions to consider when attempting to discern God's will regarding a decision:

1. Will it honour God?
2. Is it consistent with Scripture?
3. Is it the “best” thing that could be done? Is there something “better” to do?
4. Is it my heart’s desire? Is this something I really have a passion for?
5. Does it fit who I am as a child of God? Does it fit my skills, gifts, resources, abilities, capabilities, limitations, etc.?
6. Does it fit God’s overall plan for my life? Has everything He’s brought me through readied me for this opportunity, this purpose, this adventure?
7. Are there, or has there been, any providential leadings toward this course of action?
8. Am I willing to submit this decision to God’s will?
9. Is there, or has there been, an inner conviction and compulsion to undertake this course of action? Has it been confirmed through another person? Through the Holy Spirit? Through His Word?
10. Do I have lasting peace …

Enthusiasm and Brains

Some people have brains, but no enthusiasm. Others have enthusiasm, but no brains. It's best to possess both.

Fred Smith, the CEO and founder of FedEx first developed the idea for his company while he was a student at Yale. The professor didn't think it was such a great idea, and gave Fred a "C" for the project. Fortunately, Fred did not heed the "intelligent" professor's advice. Instead he went out and enthusiastically developed the world's largest express transportation company.

Sometimes "conventional wisdom" is the enemy of innovation and progress.

Unenthusiastic intelligence results in half-hearted living. It is, as Voltaire describes, "like a warming oven - always heating, but never cooking anything."

Enthusiastic people aren't necessarily shallow thinkers (despite what some folks might believe.) Peter Marshall said, "Enthusiasm is not contrary to reason. It is reason - on fire!

Enthusiasm is a positive, forceful energy…

The Greatest Drama Ever Staged

Worship re-enacts the greatest drama of human history.  There should never be a boring worship service.  As Dorothy Sayers noted,  "The Christian faith is the most exciting drama that ever staggered the imagination of man—and the dogma is the drama." "That drama is summarised quite clearly in the creeds of the Church, and if we think it dull it is because we either have never really read those amazing documents, or have recited them so often and so mechanically as to have lost all sense of their meaning. The plot pivots upon a single character, and the whole action is the answer to a single central problem: What think ye of Christ? "

Navigating the Leadership Load

"A leader is a person who must take special responsibility for what's going on inside of himself or herself. . . lest the act of leadership creates more harm than good." --  Parker Palmer

A Silly Song to Make You Laugh

I wrote this goofy little song about getting a shot at the doctor's office many years ago -- and recorded it in a brief moment of insanity.  I hope you laugh.  Laughter is the best medicine, after all.

The Doctor's Office Song


Today is a Brand New Day -- Don't Waste It

Today is a brand new day – a delightful opportunity to begin again.
I will not be held hostage by yesterday’s pain. If my heart remains open, and my spirit is right, yesterday’s pain becomes today’s gain. I will grow into a better person through the sufferings.
Today is a brand new day – and it needs to stand on it’s own.
I will not allow myself to be seduced by yesterday’s success, nor frustrated by yesterday’s failures. I shall fulfill my duty this day, and never look backwards for an excuse.
Today is a brand new day – and it’s the only one I have.

I refuse to let tomorrow’s concerns steal today’s joy. If tomorrow is going to be bad – why should it destroy the day I have? That would mean two bad days instead of just one. I want to make the best of what has been given to me.
Today is a brand new day – God’s gift for life investment. It is not to be squandered by worry or regret.
Consider the moments. Moments are the stuff life is made of. They march by us briskly in an unceasing pa…