Monday, July 27, 2009

A Purpose and a Goal

"Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us." 1 Peter 2: 12

The Tour de France is over and to the delight of some and the disappointment of others, Lance Armstrong did not win. But he did finish 3rd, trailing the leader by just over five minutes. In a race in which the top riders logged more than 88 hours on a bicycle, the 5-minute margin is still quite impressive considering he's been retired for 3+ years.

Have you seen this ad for Nike?

Lance brings up all the criticisms that have been spoken and echoed since before he became a household name. I'm not much of a cycling fan, but I'll admit I'm a homer and I will root for someone from my home state.

At the end of the commercial Lance says, "They can say whatever they want. I'm not back on my bike for them." Obviously, there is an unspoken end to that thought- he rides to inspire those that need inspiration and hope.

This made me wonder about why I do the things I do- do I seek approval from others, praise for my works? Or do I seek to glorify God in all that I do? Opinions will be plentiful, critics will come and go, but the person that works for the glory of God and the good of God's people will find peace.

Why are you on your "bike"? Who are you working for? There is a world full of people in need of inspiration, grasping for some morsel of hope... how is what you will do today going to bring hope to someone?

Monday, July 20, 2009

A righteous challenge

"Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God." Romans 15: 17

It's easy to get caught in the current of the times- to constantly seek contentment in the things made by man. But true happiness comes from serving God and serving God's people. It is when we serve God and God's people that we truly glorify God by loving others as God loves us.

Have you been feeling empty lately? Felt like things that used to bring you joy are less than fulfulling? Maybe it's time for a dose of service and time of seeking good. Now, I'm not saying that doing things to improve your own lifestyle is evil, but I am saying that I've experienced the empty feeling of compiling things that bring only temporary happiness. I wonder where God is and why I'm not feeling God's presence... And then I take the time to serve someone and I am reminded of the sense of accomplishment that comes with something as simple as helping someone in need.

This week, do not seek happiness in the things you do for yourself, but serve others to the glory of God.

Monday, July 13, 2009


Do you ever feel worn out, beat down, discouraged, or even confused about where this is going and what's the point? I think to some extent this is perfectly natural. A buzzword most of us are familiar with is "progress." We like to see progress, and when we don't it can be easy to experience a mixture if not all of the forementioned feelings.

The one solution that I've found for this problem is to refresh- get away for a while. Go somewhere or do something that refreshes you by allowing you to "recharge." Maybe it's a vacation, maybe it's a day off, ... for me it's being around people that offer encouragement, are enjoyable to be around, and share my interests and many of my goals.

This week I have the privilege of being at church camp. Some might be confused as to why I consider it a privilege- it's not that I particuarly enjoy eating camp food, being outside in the heat of the day, or sleeping on a sub-par mattress.... it's that there are people here that share my goal to see youth grow in their faith, they love to laugh, they love to just enjoy the company of other believers.

How long has it been since you allowed yourself to be refreshed by being in the presence of those that renew you? Seek them out this week, spend some time in their presence and be encouraged.

"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Hebrews 10: 24-25

Saturday, July 11, 2009

New Growth

There's a plant that's been on my office desk for at least two years. I've never claimed to have a green thumb, in fact I think I remember telling the person who gave it to me, "If you want it to die that's a great place for it," as it was placed on my desk.

However, despite my inability to keep plants alive, this one has persevered and even grown a little bit. But my friend did observe that the plant has very little new growth since it was placed in my care. I blame the lack of sunlight- my office has no exterior windows. Other theories include the occasional week or two without water....The point is that most plants require water, the right temperature, sunlight, and fertile soil to grow...maybe some other things- like I said, I'm not a gardening expert.

Growing faith is much the same. We need more than one avenue to help grow our faith: individual prayer time, reflection, corporate worship, personal devotional, Bible study... all of these help us grow our knowledge and faith. Unfortunately, our culture doesn't usually lend itself to spending hours and hours focused on God. Truthfully, it's very hard to devote even an hour to any kind or combination of disciplines in our society.

Sometimes I get frustrated when I feel I'm stuck in a rut of some sort with my faith. I wonder if I've made any progress at all in the past year? In these times, it's easy to lash out and blame God for "not being there when I needed You." But, usually I have to face the truth and admit that I've let life get between myself and my God. Sure I go to church, and maybe even to the weekly Bible study, but I haven't truly sought God on a personal level. Or maybe when I showed up at church, I was more concerned with the people than the worship....

So maybe I wasn't preparing the soil or getting any sunlight- that would explain the lack of growth. Today, seek God and ask that your faith be increased. See if you don't notice a difference.

"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." Hebrews 11: 6

Friday, July 10, 2009

Dressing up

"Its very first words are Our Father. Do you see what those words mean? They mean quite frankly, that you are putting yourself in the place of a son of God. To put it bluntly, you are dressing up as Christ. If you like, you are pretending... you are a bundle of self-centered fears hopes, greeds, jealousies, and self-conceit, all doomed to death. So that, in a way, this is dressing up as Christ is a piece of outrageous cheek. But the odd thing is that He has ordered us to do it."
-C. S. Lewis Mere Christianity

Mere Christianity is one of my favorite books. Lewis creates such wonderful ways of illustrating what it means to have faith and exercise that faith. In this section, Lewis is explaining how we become more like Christ- through practice. He likens our prayers (specifically The Lord's Prayer) and how we mimic the way Jesus addressed God...thus making us sons and daughters of God.

Lewis then goes on to describe how humorous it must seem for such flawed people to put on such a front... claiming to be children of God. However, he then draws a parallel to young children playing house: they are essentially practicing roles and what it means to be an adult- so it is as much an exercise as it is play. Sooner than you think, Lewis explains, that pretend will become reality... and our front will become more of our real being.

Today, practice being a child of God. Compose yourself as Jesus would (I know that's bordering on a cliche from the mid 90s), but maybe try to pretend a little today and maybe it will rub off on your "true" self so that you become more like Christ.

"He destined us for adoption as His children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of His will," Ephesians 1: 5

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


"Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." Luke 23: 34

Lately I've been on a kick of watching documentaries. I'd wanted to see two for quite a while and finally sat down to watch them... "The King of Kong" and "Confessions of a Superhero"

I would give both of them 4 of 5 stars, but I wanted to share a quote from the latter.

"It's only the bad people that I get mad at. Everybody else has no problem with me." -Maxwell Allen on "Confessions of a Superhero"

The film follows four people that dress up as superheros and take pictures with tourists on Los Angeles' Hollywood Boulevard. Each individual shares their story - how they got to Hollywood and why they do what they do. During many of his interviews, Batman (aka Maxwell Allen), talks about his dark past and the fact that he has a temper...even admitting to seriously people.

The quote is interesting because it's a self-fulfilling prophecy: I get mad at people because they're bad, and they're bad because they make me mad... When he said those words, he was obviously struggling to express himself and explain why he lashes out.

The other thing that it reminded me of was the fact that pain breeds pain. Maxwell had many painful memories and couldn't seem to get past them- guilt and frustration added to his anger, which caused others pain. It's a sad trickle-down effect that seems to have no end. Unless...

We learn to forgive. Forgive others. Forgive ourselves. Forgive and move on. Be the end of that cycle of pain.

That is the question

This passage was recently brought to my attention. I found it interesting and wanted to share.

"Here a great number of disabled people used to lie - the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, 'Do you want to get well?' " John 5:3-5 (NIV)

It seems like an odd question, doesn't it? Why wouldn't someone in this man's condition want to "get well." Greeting card companies have made money from our desire for others to 'get well soon.' And our complaint when we're sick is usually something to the effect of 'I am just ready to get out of this room/house/hospital.'

I cannot imagine having an affliction for 38 years...but it could be that one would forget how to live without it... forget what it would be like to live a "normal" life. So maybe the question isn't so bizzare afterall. Jesus had the ability to heal the man with or without his permission, but Christ wanted to know if the man desired a change in his life- because things were about to change for the man and Jesus wanted to make sure he was prepared for that change.

We all have afflictions - things that keep us from living the life we are called to live. And if you're like me, you ask over and over for them to be removed. But I wonder, am I really ready to leave that affliction behind? Am I prepared to "get well"? Or do I still want to have that reason for not living like I should?

Next time you feel like addressing a problem in your life, ask yourself Jesus' question, "Do you want to get well?"

Just passing through

I recently returned from an amazing mission trip to Alaska with 28 other youth and adults. I don't recall ever having seen so much beauty in creation. We flew into Anchorage, drove to Fairbanks, and boared a boat in Seward... at any given moment there were incredible sights to see.

However, I noticed that much of our group slept through or found some other way of entertaining themselves as we passed by scenic view after scenic view. Now I don't fault them too much because we were all tired, and riding in cars and planes gets old pretty fast, but I wonder what this says about the way we live our lives.

How often do I "just get through" certain parts of life? I feel like if that is ever the case, then it is far too often. Each daily experience holds some beauty in it...and when I just try to get through to the next day, I'm missing out on what the day has to offer. Perhaps approaching every day with renewed enthusiasm about that specific day is truly what it means to "Carpe diem," or 'sieze the day.'

On the flight home I found myself watching a movie shortly after takeoff. Being in a window seat, I wanted to be sure to watch the sunset (something we hadn't seen during our stay because it doesn't get dark in Alaska during this time of year), so when I noticed the light becoming an orange tint, I pulled up the window shade and stared in awe as the sun set over the clouds and snow covered mountains. During most of our red-eye flight, I watched the window as dusk gave way to darkness and stars appeared...and shortly before we landed I was treated to sunrise over a Texas sky.

Are you in one of those "in between" stages in life? Are you just trying to "get through" today so that you can reach your destination/goal? Instead of waiting it out, what if you tried to glean something from your time of waiting? Look up and open your eyes, maybe with a little effort you can discover something awesome about today.

"God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning - the sixth day." Genesis 1: 31 (NIV)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Full week of devos coming

I apologize for the lack of devotionals the past two weeks- I've been gone on a mission trip. But I'll make it up to you: every day this week I'll post something new. So check back daily this week for devotionals and I'll do my best not to let many more Mondays pass without sharing something.