Archive for November, 2014



pyrotechinics

What we do in order to draw people to us is what we end up doing in order to keep people coming to us.

I once had a friend tell me this. It made sense when he told me that and it makes sense now. There are many parallels to this statement but the recurring truth is simple, profound, and applicable: the means, shows, glamour, glitz, flash, money … whatever … that we use to draw people to us, to our churches, to our homes, to our stores, etc. are the recurring ‘cards’ that will have to be played in order to keep those people coming again and again.

I’m pretty sure that each of us can relate to this statement.

Maybe we drew friends close to us by the way that we spent money on them. Maybe we attracted hundreds and thousands to our shows by the features we continually blitzed past them. Maybe we attracted masses to our restaurants by the service and consistent quality of food we presented to them. (And by the way, that’s NOT a bad thing at all.) Maybe as musicians, we continually presented the listeners with punch and ‘tight’ music in a way that habitually explored new horizons. Or maybe we built our churches by being on the edge, trying new things, and bringing in big name speakers,

What I’m saying to these and other approaches, is that this things you used in order to draw people to you ARE THE SAME THINGS you are going to have to use in order to keep them coming.

Please note, this IS NOT necessarily a judgment call (but by the same token, if you feel judged or convicted … then maybe it IS such a call … to you.) One of my favorite music bands is a group known simply as ‘The Rippingtons.’ They began 28 years ago as a guitarist assembled around him a group of hot, experienced, and talented musicians who were very tight in their sound and who were explorers of new traditions of music. After all these years, they continue in this same vein. They are often criticized, mind you, because they never stay the same but continue to explore and branch out in their various arts. The truth, however, is that the way they started is the way they have maintained and sustained.

And churches who begin as centers of the loud, the glowing, and the famous have sometimes failed because they could not effectively continue to keep up the hype that surrounded their initial, gathering stages.

Certainly, you and I can both find exceptions to this concept but, overall, this is the rule: the way you bring them in is the way you’ll have to maintain them.

What we do in the sowing is rewarded in the reaping.

 

A Biblical mandate is found in Galatians 6:7-10 sowing-and-reaping[6]

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (NLT)

It is a known and proven fact that we cannot plant a seed of corn and expect from that kernel a plant of green beans to grow. This is called the law or principle of sowing and reaping.

We must respect and acknowledge that, in the natural realm,  whatever we put into something is indicative of what we will attain from that effort/deed. Granted, there have been moments when we may have mistakenly put great efforts into something that we deemed as worthy … only to see that particular something founder and fail. But generally, the things we pay attention to, the things we put efforts into, the things that we spend time and perhaps, money, on … these are the things that will grow and prosper.

If we as parents will spend more time with our children (and make THAT time both quantity and quality time), the better those children’s future will be.

If we as husbands/wives will pay the needed attention to our mates … through listening, adoring, and just BEING with them, the greater and more beautiful benefits we will receive from that attention spent. Our marriages will be better. And our appreciation for one another will soar.

If we as Christians will take the time to pray, to read God’s Word, to spend time in community with His saints, the more seemingly efforts our attempts at service/ministry will seem This will happen because our service then becomes an outgrowth or over-flowing of the relationship we have with Him and He with us.

What we sow we will reap

What we do in life echoes in eternity

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And finally, as a culmination of all these previously mentioned things, eternity will be positioned, altered, and perhaps, enhanced because of the life that we have each lived.

It is been suggested that the tiniest of drops of water in the deep, blue sea affect the remainder of that sea in a ripple effect.

The falling of one leaf in the forest affects the entirety of the forest because of  its presence … whether that presence covers something needing shelter, presents itself as food to the various creatures of the forest, or simply becomes fuel to the garden compost of the earth.

So each life affects eternity.

You and I are making a heritage … whether good, bad, or seemingly non-influential. Someone is watching us. Someone will read about us or hear about us through a story.

Our families are greatly influenced by us.

We are important.

The musical group Kansas once sang a song, ‘Dust in the Wind.’ While some have interpreted this song to mean that our lives are short and meaningless, others have (correctly … I think) understood the song to mean that although life may be short, and that each of us will return to the dust from which we have come, our future lies outside of ourselves and more importantly, in the hands of a Savior.

It IS important that we acknowledge that we are a part of something greater than us … and that something greater is a future.

That future is dictated by the responses we make to the ‘cards’ we have been dealt.

That future is positioned by the investments we make (or not).

That future is granted based upon the decisions we make in this brief life.

And that future is sealed by the ultimate decision we make concerning Jesus Christ.

Let’s all consider our present … with an eye for the future … not for the purpose of worrying about that future, but for the purpose of intentionally assuring a good future.


As I pull my keys out of my pocket right now, I find that I have 10 keys on this particular key ring (plus, I keep another key ring in the car that holds about 15-20 other keys.) It is interesting that some of these keys are very different from the others. And other keys seem very similar to yet others in the group. Still, no two of these keys will open the same lock.

KeysIn fact, on my key ring, I have four Schlage keys. Even though these look the same and, in fact, will “fit” into the same locksets, they will not open the same locksets. They are intentionally cut differently, though they may have some similarities.

On a similar note, have you ever gone to fill in those “blanks” on on-line credit card submissions, only to find that the month (or some other piece of information) was not going in as it should? In other words, your submission was being rejected … continuously.

I get this a lot! My birth month is August, meaning that in some circumstances, I enter “08” and others, I enter “Aug” or “August.” What is interesting is the fact that it is not Fill in the blanksan “either/or” situation; it is one or the other and the improper choice will just not fit.

Now “what is this all about?” you may ask. I am always fascinated by individuals that are continually trying to fit things, stuff, people, deeds, etc. into an area of life where only one thing fits and works. The great philosopher and mathematician, Blaise Pascal once said,

What else does this craving and this helplessness proclaim but that there was once in a man a true happiness of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him … though none can help since this infinite abyss can only be filled … by God Himself.1

St. Augustine of Hippo made a similar declaration: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”2

GodShapedHoleWe have often attempted to accumulate items in our lives as a means to attain happiness, and just as often, have been met with disappointment, loss, or failure.

Many have attempted to surround themselves with friends and popular individuals in order to satisfy some inner urge to gain happiness that way; instead, they have often been met with dissatisfaction, disillusionment, and regret.

And yet others have attempted the path of the performance of great deeds, distribution of massive amounts of money to worthy causes, and others, even to the enactment of holy and self-sacrificial living, all for the purpose of gaining some amount of favor with God.

Jesus Himself addressed such quests with these words

Then someone called from the crowd, “Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father’s estate with me.”

Jesus replied, “Friend, who made me a judge over you to decide such things as that?” Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.”

Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods.  And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’

“Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.” (Luke 12: 13-21 NLT)

The truth is this: God wants a relationship with us. And all of the stuff, friends, money, and deeds that we have or do … do not influence Him one bit. We can attempt to insert “August” in the slot that will only accept “08” all that we want but there is still only one thing that will fit in that particular box.

We can attempt to insert any key … or a key that “looks” like a good way (i.e. a different religion or philosophy … or even the performance of good works) and we will continue to find that it is only God and His grace that fit the slot, that fit the lockset, that fill the vacuum in each of our lives.

I want to encourage each one today to know that Jesus Christ is our ONLY answer and that the application of His grace in our lives is the ONLY way to true relationship with God.

While other things MAY have a place, it is ultimately … and ONLY Jesus that makes the real difference in our lives.

So as you wander on this journey of life, appreciate the gifts, appreciate the things, appreciate the friends, and appreciate the opportunities.

BUT don’t waste time on the religions. Don’t waste time on the philosophies. Don’t waste time on the “feel good” side-ventures of self-help and positive thinking.

Instead, fill in the proper blanks with the corresponding proper answers. Instead, use the ONLY right key. Instead, rely on, know, explore, and love the ONE TRUE ANSWER: Jesus.Empty tomb

 

1http://www.silverbirchchurch.com/new-to-church/that-god-shaped-hole/. Accessed November 11, 2014

2https://trustingortripping.wordpress.com/tag/god-shaped-hole/. Accessed November 11, 2014

The Journey


So many times we find ourselves in a place or a situation that causes us frustration or pain.

It is in these times that we find ourselves crying out to God (or sometimes, just crying.)

dead end Is there a better way to handle these times?

Is there something different that we can do?

Certainly prayer is a necessary and beneficial step … but is there something else we can do?

I believe that a personal change of mind and attitude needs to take place.

What would happen if we stopped looking at these situations as destinations, ends, end results, drastic events, pains, etc. … and in turn, began looking at them as markers along the journey?

You see, we ARE on a journey with God.

None of us have stopped along the way yet.

None of us have reached our final destination.

We have ALL gotten from yesterday to today.

Oh, I know you may be thinking that it seems that you may have stopped along the path BUT … as long as we are breathing, there is still a part of the journey within us.

As we transition our thinking to see things as markers along the journey, we can more easily see that things WILL NOT remain as they are, that change can and will happen, and that we WILL get through this until we get to the next stage of life.

Paul, in fact, defined such circumstances as this:  Rough road

… for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11b-13 NLT)

When we determine to let God be Lord in our lives, and we learn, through the process, to trust in Him and His control, we are able to go through the journey.

And as we learn to walk through the journey, our situations may not change, but our attitudes in those situations will definitely change.

I encourage you today to begin the process of trusting Him for a change in your attitudes … to the point that you can see the events NOT as ends and destinations; instead that they appears as markers along the journey.

And in doing so, watch yourself more and more becoming content where you are … in any season and circumstance of life.

Again, that doesn’t mean that we no longer face the circumstances of life; we do, however, see them as markers along the journey.

… and our life is made better and more stable.

… and our trust in Him is increased.

… and we live for another day

… and we see Him magnified.

Enjoy the journey!journey