Monday, November 30, 2009

Follow Jesus in ALL Areas of Your Life

While Greg Rohlinger at Palm Valley Church will always be my favorite Pastor, Eagle Brooks' own Jason Anderson is rapidly cementing his place as my second favorite. So, you can imagine I was pretty happy to see Jason take the stage for last weekend's service, kicking off the Overcome series.

While Jason had a lot of great things to say, as always, the one bit that really hit me like a Mack truck was this comment:

Follow Jesus in all areas of your life.

Now, since I've heard this statement more times than I can count, it might seem odd that it would impact me so deeply this week. But, for those of you playing along at home, you know my November devotional was for guidance, and I'd yet to find a real answer for this query.

So, when Jason said those words, I had one of those "duh!" moments where the overly obvious slapped me upside the head and it got me thinking. If I really want guidance, then I need to follow Jesus in ALL areas of my life. In order to do that, however, I need to identify what "all areas of my life" really means.

So, Angie and I are going to make a list of every area of ours lives. For me, there's Husband and Father, to writer, to bread winner, to caretaker of my body, to son of the Father. And, we won't just stop there. Once we're through, we should have a solid grasp on where we really need guidance, not just a vague, generalized idea. And, once we have that, we're going to set live New Year's resolutions to follow Jesus in all those areas.

I encourage you to do the same.

Another thing about this that gets me pumped up is the impact it will have on the novel I'm currently laying the groundwork for: The Owners Manual for a Christian Life. But, that's merely a byproduct and not the real goal. The real goal: becoming the person Jesus designed us to be.

Now, time to get started.

Stay Tuned!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Tour Guide?

Angie & I recently started doing a devotional at the beginning of the month, focusing on an area we feel the need to grow in. For November, I chose guidance as the subject for mine.

When I embraced the role of spiritual leader for my family, one thing that came back to me from the leadership training I went through earlier in life is one simple point: You can't lead if you don't know where to go. I'm sure there's a joke in here somewhere about guys never asking for directions, but I've been asking and feel like I have yet to get a real answer.

I've spent a considerable amount of time over the last year trying to figure out where to go. Now, I don't mean just physically, but spiritually, and with every facet of my life. I've dug through the bible, spent hours reading articles and other devotionals on the subject and asked people close to me. While the answers I get all seem simple, the execution of those answers not so much.

"Pray for wisdom."

"Ask God to lead you."

"Do as Jesus asks."

I do all those things, yet still feel like I'm marching in the dark more often than not. Sure becoming a more Christ like person is key, but that seems like an oversimplification of a greatly diverse dilemma.

I'm sure a large part of it stems from never really feeling grounded my whole life. I've lived in over sixty places in the last forty-one years, which makes it hard to grow roots and feel connected to anything or anyone beyond my immediate family. And faced with the fact that we have to move again next summer, I turn to God for guidance, but I'm so unsure of the answers I think I'm getting I end up becoming unable to decide...

Are the answers to my queries just reflections of selfish desires? The voice of something much darker than a mere human? Or are they really the response from the Almighty?

I just don't know.

And a nearly a month in, I'm still no closer to grasping the divine guidance I sought earnestly in the aforementioned devotional.

So, my question for you on this fine Sunday morning: How do you know where God is leading you?

Any and all responses would be appreciated.

God bless,

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Road Signs

Ever have an older person in your life, maybe a Grandmother, or some other relation, who had a piece of scripture as artwork on their wall? When I think of this, dozens of examples flash through my memory of many a framed bit of the Word hanging in a living room, kitchen, bedroom, etc.

It used to be when I saw things like that, I thought the person who hung it put it there to illustrate their beliefs to anyone who came to visit. It was a declaration of faith, placed on the wall by a pious soul, in the one section of the world they could govern without anyone telling them otherwise.

Now, however, I think (in most cases at least) that's not true. The inside walls of our house reflect on us more than anyone else. Why decorate for the occasional visitor?

No matter how strong we could ever become in God's ways, we're still sinners at heart. And as such, we need these things to remind us daily of what we ought to be, not what try to force others to become.

With that in mind, we've taken to printing out bits of scripture and hanging them on our 'fridge. Mainly because we can't afford nice artwork anymore. But, does it really matter if the message is conveyed through a fine painting or a simple print out from a laser jet?

Right now, we have two on there, so that every time we go to the kitchen, we'll be reminded of these passages, ones we're striving to adhere to each and every day.

So, if you come by and see it, rest assured we're not trying to push you down a path, but guide ourselves down one. Of course, you're welcome to come along...

“…you must be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry.”
–James 1:19

“…the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”
– James 3:17

Friday, November 20, 2009

Free Lunch

Our new church, Eagle Brook Church, is currently going through another huge growth spurt and with that comes a new building campaign where the church is asking all of us to help shoulder the costs of two new campuses to reach the unsaved for Christ. It's a great goal. I wish we could give more than we are, but our current situation makes it really tough to spare anything significant. In fact, the thought had passed by us once or twice to stop tithing altogether. Thankfully, Angie and I both agreed that was unacceptable. However, it did get my mind rolling on the subject.

I remember when I was in the second grade, we had to pre-pay for our lunches at school every week on Monday. Well, one particular week, I forgot to take the money my mother had given me to school after leaving it on my dresser that morning. Feeling sorry for me, the lunch lady gave me a free lunch that day. My needs were met and I didn't give it a second thought. On the walk home from the bus stop, I remembered the money I left behind and got very excited. I ran the rest of the way home, grabbed the cash and raced off to the local convenience store, where I promptly bought a paper bag full of candy, a balsa wood airplane and one of those parachute army men. It was a great day to be me, I thought.

Feeling like I was on top of the world after spending the money my mother had given me on selfish stuff, it never once occurred to me that I owed it to anyone to do anything else with that money. Little did I realize at the time, that money was the only way me, or my brother, would get lunch for the rest of the week and now my mother would have to take money out of our grocery budget to make up for the shortfall my greed had created.

Needless to say, when my mother got home and found out what I had done, I was punished for it. Not so much because she was mad, but because she wanted me to learn a lesson.

I often wonder if that's the same lesson some of us need to learn as adults. God provides us with money he expects us to use to meet the needs of our "family" which includes everyone on Earth.

Instead, we spend the money on paper bags full of candy... well, more like nice cars, fancier houses than we really need, more clothes than we could possibly wear in a week and feeling on top of the world the whole time we do it. This is exactly what Angie and I did for years, and with every selfish penny spent, we dug ourselves into a deeper and deeper spiritual hole.

How many of us "forgot our lunch money" when collection time comes around at Church? How many people think God blesses us so we can bless ourselves? I know I did for a long time. How many of us figure that the lunch lady will pick up our slack by giving us a free lunch when tithing time comes? We did when we first started attending Palm Valley.

God blesses us so that we can be a blessing to others, even if all we have is a “mite” to give. So, with that in mind, Angie and I decided yesterday, we’ll give significantly to the new building campaign, even though from a worldly viewpoint, we have nothing to give.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Join me, won't you?

If you're reading this, chances are you know me, know I'm a writer and know I love Christ. You should also know, I consider you a good friend. Sorry if I fail to communicate that often enough.

Many of you also most likely know I've felt moved to use my writing to further God's Kingdom for a long time now, seeking professional opportunities to do so anywhere I can. Unfortunately, God hasn't seen fit to bless me with the ability to use the talent he gave me for that purpose in an occupational capacity, so I felt the need to do so just for the sake of doing it.

Which brings us here.

Since blogs are so easy to create/update/maintain, I thought "why not start one, invite like minded friends, leave it public and see if God can use it to bless anyone and everyone who lands here?"

To that end, I've invited all of you to join me. You can simply read along as I post various thoughts, articles, SOAPS or other mental meanderings. If you want to jump in, feel free to respond to my posts with comments/thoughts/questions or suggestions of your own. However, what I'd really like is for you to join in and post your own Godly commentary, sharing your faith with all of us, and the rest of the world wide web that finds their way here.

Ultimately, the goal, as the title suggests, is for fellowship to occur organically. With friends sharpening friends as we journey through this life on our way back home.

Thank you for joining me.