Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The One Who Sits on the Throne

I do not post, comment or like anything political.  And this will not be a political statement either, but rather an observation.

My observation is this... I do not like what politics does to people.  Regardless of what side, person, agenda you want to follow, we are all still human beings.  I have observed people on both sides post or say extremely hateful things.  I have observed people on both sides who are Christians but who react to things in such a way that it is not Christ-like, and I have observed how the world is watching people tearing each other apart.

Regardless of who wins this election, if things continue along the same path, the only person who is truly winning is Satan.  He is sitting back watching as Christians on both sides continue to tear each other apart rather than remembering our leader is not of this world.  He is sitting back watching as people say and do things and post things that are not becoming of a Christian.  He is sitting back watching as the world continues to focus on candidates rather than on Christ.

Social media, and media in general, have become the devil's playground.  Words are said that should not be said and cannot be taken back, darkness is taking a stronghold in people's hearts and people are forgetting that regardless of what happens with this election, there is still only one King on the throne.

Each person has to do what they filled called to do and be willing to let others do the same without judgement.  And regardless of which candidate ultimate wins, God can still use them.  God used prostitutes and murderers, he can surely use democrats and republicans.  God has always used people we might not deem worthy to do amazing things.  This time is no different.

Chris ran across this picture today of a painting from the artist, Heather Theurer.  I love the imagery in this painting.  It reminds me that no matter what evil or darkness might be lurking around, their is still sanctuary in Christ.  There are so many other, useful things that all of this political energy could be spent on.  Things that would glorify God, rather than make us an easy target for Satan.  My prayer is that we all remember Whose we are!

"Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth 
and on the sea, and all that is in them saying:
To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power,
forever and ever!"   Revelation 5:13


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Whose Painting Your Picture?

A quote popped up on my news feed today from my friend Jeremy Miller who is an artist.  I have not been able to stop thinking about it.

The quote is by Henry Ward Beecher.... "Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures."

While this is true about every artist, I could not help but think of "The Artist, The Creator".  Scripture tells us that we are made in the image of God.  But this quote.... it literally paints a picture in my mind.

To think of being created in God's own image is sometimes hard to fathom, but how incredible is it to think of God dipping His own brush into His own soul, to paint and create His own nature which is You!  For me that word picture is just amazing.  I imagine God painting and creating every one us to look like Him, but at the same time creating all of us to be uniquely us.

Even when an artist repaints a picture he has already created, it is never exactly the same as the original.  So it is with God.  We are created in His image, but we can never be exactly the same as God, only Jesus can do that.  But I love that as an artist, God created each of us in his own image, but created each us in ways that are unique.  Ways that give each of us unique gifts and ways to reach others.  Each of us has been through something that has made us unique.  That uniqueness is how God uses us to reach everyone.  One of us cannot reach everyone, but each of us through our uniqueness has gifts to share with people who may find themselves walking a path similar to ours.  And through our differences we become One in Him and that's what allows us to reach everyone.

Celebrate your uniqueness.... because God painted you by dipping His brush into His own soul to create you!  And then, keep your eyes open... because God will put people in your path that only "your painting" can reach.

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well"  Psalm 139:14 


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Are You Willing to Sacrifice?

I haven't written in a while.  But today I read an article written by my son-in-law, Warren Gray, that was published for Mavs Moneyball.  As I'm sure you know, I love all sports!  MAVS included! So of course, I read the article. (I would have any because it was written by Warren!) If you are a MAVS fan, check out Warren's article here.  

Not only do Warren and I have a love for sports in common, we also have a love for the Lord, a love for His church and a love for His people in common.  Warren's article talks about a "what if" situation where as a fan would you not watch the MAVS for an entire season, including playoffs, if it meant they would win The Finals.  As I read his article, I could not help but relate it to how we as people sometimes see the church.  As people in church we always want things to be going "what we call well" or maybe "our way".  We want to always be on top or at least what we think it means for the church to be on top.  Which typically means we want things to be going our way or done or way.

But just like in sports, we don't always have things going our way... because there is someone else in charge.  For the MAVS, it's Mark Cuban... for the church it's God.  Sometimes when we think things are not going the way we think they should be, our first instinct is to bail.  Kind of like how people's first instinct is to bail on their favorite sports team if they start losing.  But if you bail, you don't get to be a part of all of the good things that might happen "at the end of that particular season".  You don't get to see the end game.  No matter what we may think of any given situation, God is always in control... even in and especially in, our churches.  And if we want to see where God is taking us, we have to stick around and be a part of the valleys if we ultimately want to see what is happening up on the mountaintop.

No doubt, sometimes the valleys are hard and sometimes they are long, but isn't it worth it to stick together through the valleys so that you can be a part of the mountaintop? God's word is full of times of difficulty that culminate in mountaintop experiences.  But you always have to go through the valley on the way to the mountaintop.  To me... the mountaintop is worth the wait and the sacrifice it requires.

I ran across a quote from Patrick Mead this week... And it has been fitting for more than one occasion this week.  (I love the way God works like that!)  

"God doesn't take the broken pieces of our lives and put them back together again; He rearranges them into a new mosaic, a stained glass window thru which His Son can shine."  

He does the same thing through the broken pieces of our churches.  And what are the broken pieces of our church.... we are.  The church is not a building.  The church is the people that are inside of it.  The church is you.  And if we commit to sticking together and sticking around until the mountaintop, we will be part of a beautiful masterpiece that His son can shine through out into the world.


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Rest = Restore

We have a new sermon series beginning next week entitled "Restore" in which we will be going through Luke 10.  At Highland Oaks we have graphics to highlight each sermon series and various events.  In the graphic for "Restore" the word Rest in Restore is highlighted.  It was like the word Rest was jumping off the page at me.  I started thinking about restoring my spirit and thought in order to do that I need to first "rest".  Not only to rest physically and mentally (which I need), but I also need to rest with God.  It's only in "rest" that I can be restored.

A couple of songs also came to mind immediately when I saw the word restore.

Restore My Soul
The song Create in Me a Clean Heart has in one of the verses "Restore unto me the joy of my salvation"

It really made me start thinking that in order to be "restored" I must first "rest".  I looked up the definitions of 3 words and listed a few of the definitions I saw for each.

relief or freedom, especially from anything that wearies, troubles, or disturbs
a period or interval of inactivity, repose, solitude, or tranquility  
mental or spiritual calm; tranquility
to be quiet or still
to bring back to a state of health, soundness, or vigor
to bring back to a former, original, or normal condition
to reproduce or reconstruct
to give back; make return or restitution of (anything taken away or lost)
to restore or replenish
to revive; reestablish
to restore to a former state; make new or as if new again
to begin again; recommence
To me, all 3 of the words connect to each other in some way.  And for me, "rest" is at the beginning of each one.  If I want to bring myself back to a former state of health, (restore) sometimes I have to "rest" first.  If I want to renew my spirit, I have to "rest"... physically, mentally and spiritually.  If I want to reconnect with God because times have been stressful and crazy, I first have to "rest" with Him.  Rest is such an important part of ours lives.  It's required for a sound mind, it's required for a sound body and it's required in order for us to make a connection with the Almighty.
To be restored, I must first rest. And restored may not mean restored to my former self, it most likely means restored to the person that God is calling me to be.  It may mean restored to see through His eyes; it may mean restored to act upon His visions; it may be restored think more like Him.  In fact, one of the definitions of restore is to give back.  God has given us so much.  It's time for us to rest, be restored, and give back to others what God has so freely given to us.
May we all find rest in Him; and may be we restored to think, smell, act, see and love like Jesus.  
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, 
and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” 
Matthew 11:28-30

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Radiating With Joy

As I was searching for the perfect verse for a friend today I decided to see what it said in different translations.  The verse was Numbers 6:24-26... "May the Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace."  This translation is from the NIV which is what most of us know.  As I was searching the other translations I found the one that was perfect for her.  It is from the Living Bible translation which says... "May the Lord bless and protect you; may the Lord’s face radiate with joy because of You; may He be gracious to you, show you His favor, and give you His peace."

What caught my attention was "may the Lord’s face radiate with joy because of You".  How awesome is it to think of the Lord's face radiating because of You!  But to read that verse causes some soul searching.  Do my actions, do my words, does my life cause the Lord's face to radiate with joy?  It's easy to get caught up in the world around you and to forget what, better yet who, you are really living for.

This time of year it's a little easier to be more Christlike because the world is generally more Christlike.  Around Thanksgiving and Christmas it seems like most everyone is, for the most part, more kind, more compassionate, more caring, more giving, the list goes on and on. But what about when the holidays are over.  Some may even say that during this time of the year it's not as noticeable who is living for the world and who is living for Christ.  But what happens after the holidays?  What happens when the world goes back to living like the world?  Will our life look any different than the world?  Or will our life cause "the Lord's face to radiate with joy because of us"?

"To radiate with joy because of you" makes me think of my granddaughter.  Just being around her makes me happy, joyful, excited, giddy, it just makes me overwhelmed with a love I cannot describe.  I've even had people tell me, "you can just see the love and pure joy radiating from your face".  That's how I want my actions to make God feel.  I want Him to be filled with love and joy being around me so much so that "His face radiates with joy because of Me!"

I wonder what the world would look like if we all lived our lives in a way that "made the Lord's face radiate with joy because of us".  My guess is the "world" would look a whole lot more like "Him"!

May the Lord's joy radiate through you and may His face radiate with joy because of you!


Monday, July 21, 2014

Do We Show Mercy Well....

In our Bible class yesterday we were looking at James 2 and talking about how "mercy triumphs over judgement".  It has made me think about the word mercy and the different definitions it has.

By definition the word mercy can mean the following...
"An act of kindness, compassion, or favor"
"The disposition to be compassionate or forbearing"
"Something that gives evidence of divine favor; blessing"
"The discretionary power of a judge to pardon someone or to mitigate punishement"
"Compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one's power; compassion, pity, or benevolence"

These are all things I freely give in any situation.  But what about times that mercy might not fall into one of these categories.  What about when that guy on the freeway cuts me off because he didn't get over in time to exit?  What about that person in front of me in the express line that has 30 items instead of the 15 they are supposed to have?  What about the person who walked into a door in front of me and lets it slam into me?  What about the person who comes and gets at the front of the line when you have been standing in line waiting for 30 minutes... or longer?  What about, you fill in the blank....  There are probably hundreds of other scenarios you have been in, in which mercy was the last thing on your mind.

But what has hit me hard is that I'm not only called to show mercy to those I know are in need but also those who may seem harsh or just down right rude.  I admit, the worse time for me is when I'm behind the wheel of a car.  Let's face it, it just seems like some people are horrible drivers and just don't care who they cut off or almost sideswipe.  We've all been there.  But I also know there have times when I myself have been "the other driver".  The one who probably cut you off by accident.  I may have been the one that was preoccupied and let the door slam on you without thinking about it.  And in thinking about those times, sometimes it's not because I am intentionally not paying attention, it because something heavy is on my mind.

Could it be that when I am frustrated with someone else because I think they are not paying attention that maybe they have something weighing them down as well?  Maybe that guy that just cut me off on the freeway just got a call about an emergency in their family.  Maybe that person in the express line with too many items is a single mom who has been working all day and is trying to get some food for her kids before she is late to pick them up at day care and charged extra fees.  Maybe that person who let the door slam on me is someone who just got some horrible news and they are paralyzed with what they've found out.  It could be any number of reasons.

We've all been in these frustrating situations.  I know it's frustrating even maddening when things happen especially when you are driving.  But my goal for this week is to try and extend mercy in every situation... including those that happen on the freeway, in a grocery line, through a closing door, etc.  And if I can do it this week, then it can become a pattern.  I need to remember that while there are some rude people out there, most people are not intentionally rude.  And you know what, even those who are rude may be that way because they have never been shown mercy. 

We cry out to God asking him for His mercy on a regular basis.  We cry out to God knowing that He is there and will grant us mercy... regardless of our situation.  We cry out to God asking Him for His mercy to protect us.  We cry out to God when we are in agony asking and begging Him for His mercy.  Are we as willing to extend mercy as often as we are asking God for His mercy?  My goal, is to try and show mercy always...  because Mercy Always Triumphs Judgement! 

Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 
because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. 
Mercy triumphs over judgment.  James 2:12,13


Sunday, April 06, 2014

Through the Eyes of a Child...

This past week has been a week that is heavy on my heart.  Some friends of ours lost their 9 year old son, his twin sister lost her brother and a part of her, and their other son lost his brother.  Grandparents have lost their grandchild and wounds of other friends who have lost children have been reopened.  There are no words to describe what I feel or the heaviness of my heart.  I cannot even imagine the pain, loss and gut wrenching agony of these families.  No matter what their age, parents should not lose their children.

Yesterday, Highland Oaks partnered with a school in our neighborhood to host an egg hunt.  They were already having Saturday school so they wanted us to have the egg hunt before Easter weekend as an incentive to get their kids to participate in Saturday school.  It worked!  Their attendance more than doubled!  But that was not the best part of this day.  The best part of this day was the blessing of getting to serve others; the blessing of see children with full bellies.  Because it's only in serving others that we realize how truly rich we are.  Most of the kids in this school do not have much.  They do not have things we take for granted... like more than one meal a day. We served the kids at the school breakfast before school and then lunch at noon when they were finished. The utter surprise and joy on these kids faces when they realized they could eat as much as they wanted was overwhelming.

We had one child at breakfast who kept saying he wasn't hungry and didn't want to come and get a plate.  Once I finally coaxed him over, he came back 5 times to get more with the biggest smile on his face.  When they were heading to class, some of the kids would ask if they could have a sausage biscuit to save for later.  At lunch we served pizza and one of the kids came and ask me if he could have another plate.  I thought he wanted another plate of pizza, but he wanted another plate so he cover his plate with pizza to save it for later.  You see, what we have learned in serving this school is that some of these kids only get one meal a day.  They are not used to having enough food to eat, they are used to try to space out and save the food they have.  I told him to go and eat his pizza and we would give him more and that we would even give him some he could take home.  He still had a hard time eating his pizza and not saving it.  It broke my heart.

Children of any age should not die to childhood type illnesses.  Parents should not outlive their children and children should not go hungry.  But all of these things happen.  I do not understand it, I cannot comprehend it, and I have no words to try and explain any of it.  But what I do know is that in all of it, God is present.  God is near to the brokenhearted and God is near to those who are hungry.  And I know that God expects us in our abundance to help when we can.  He expects us to be there to show others that He is truly present by the compassion and love He shows through us.

We may not be able to do much, but we can always show people we care.  We can tell people that their is a God who understands and who is near.  We can be Jesus with skin on to the hurting and hungry around us.

It can sometimes be so easy for us to ignore the hurting and hunger that goes on around us.  But when you see things happening to a child, it makes you take notice.  May God be ever present with these families and with these children. May He comfort those experiencing any loss as only He can.  May He give them legs to stand on when they cannot stand and air to breathe when they cannot breathe.  May God be present with these children who wonder where their next meal will come from.  May He give them strength and endurance and exactly what they need for every minute of every day.  May the children we see always be a reminder to see everyone around us, not just the children, through the eyes of Jesus.  Because He died and rose again for every one of us... and none of us deserved it... no matter how much we might want to think we did.  Praise God that He sees us through the blood of Christ and does not see us as we truly are.  Praise God that He is God and we are not.

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
    he delivers them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
The righteous person may have many troubles,
    but the Lord delivers him from them all;
Psalm 34:17-19

The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the exiles of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.
Psalm 147:2-4 

People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
Mark 10:13-15

He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them,
“Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”
Mark 9:36-38