Archive for the ‘BLOGSTUFF’ Category
Have you ever wondered where lint in the dryer comes from?
I mean, really! How many tons of the stuff have come off your clothes over the years? It’s almost like lint multiplies while in the dryer. You see, lint in the drier is just one of those crazy realities of life: no matter how much you have cleaned out the lint screen, you know with the next round of clothes, the lint is going to multiply in that thing and have another batch of the fuzzy stuff waiting for you in that screen!
Little annoying habits are a lot the same way. They’re so easy to pick up. Even when we are not trying, we can slip into them. We often don’t even notice them. Whatcha bet our spouses know them? Thankfully, he or she just ignores them most of the time. It’s part of the grace of love — we overlook each other’s “bad lint” — those irritating habits that come with the person we love!
Years ago, when Donna and I were engaged, I learned that it drove her crazy when her room mates in college whacked their tooth brushes on the sink to get the water out of them after they finished brushing. She never knew that I spent three months trying to get rid of this lifelong habit until years later. She heard me use it in a sermon illustration. She had never known I had done that. Let’s just say that it scored me a bunch of unexpected brownie points! And that’s not even why I did it. I did it because I was so in love with her that I didn’t want to do anything that might drive her crazy with me!
Now let’s be clear, whether you are whacker of the toothbrush like I was before making my quiet correction, or a flicker (running your thumb nail over the brush to get the water out), a sucker (you suck the water out at the end of brushing — yes people really do this), or a rinse-and-dripper isn’t the issue. The issue is very simple: there are jillion things we do that drive our spouse nuts! Most of them aren’t a big deal. Yet over time, a lot of those little things can make a big thing. After awhile, the lint adds up! And just like in the drier, when you don’t clint out the lint filter, sooner or later the drier is gonna break or catch on fire!
So the good news is this: giving up an annoying habit for Lent, or just for love’s sake for that matter, is not really a sacrifice. It may not even be noticed. However, it will do one very vital thing in your heart: it will remind you that annoying habits are easier to break when done out of love rather than out of conflict! And, whether noticed or not, your heart can feel glad for doing something out of love for the one you love! After all, how many gracious and loving things has the Lord done for you lately that you may have never noticed? Since the Father delights in giving good gifts to his children, so shouldn’t we find delight in getting rid of a little of that “annoying habit,” that relationship “lint,” whether we do it simply for love or as a commitment for Lent?
The Father’s fingerprints are on me. They are also on you. In fact, despite what you may have been told, your DNA was not based on a random fertilization of your mother’s egg and your dad’s sperm. Behind their love and passion, here was a holy conspiracy to get you here! Listen to how David wrote it for us to say with the hundreds of generations who have said this Psalm as a part of their shared worship:
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:13-15 NLT).
But sometimes some things are better seen than just said, so be blessed by this!
If you cannot see the video, go to Worship House Media and check it out here:
Life is Sacred
Two things strike me as absolutely hilarious and a bit sad about the the YouTube video below.
First, wow, what a different world we live in today than just a few decades ago.
Second, sex sells. Always has and advertisers will always use it. The sad thing is how much more “sexploitation” it takes to sell today.
So go ahead, amaze your friends and drag out one of these old phones and see if the instructions still work for you … or better yet, just laugh and remember when … if you can.
OK, so I saw the elimination deal on “American Idol” the other night. You know, the one with Carrie Underwood singing the new song with the crazy-weird wind tunnel effects. Not impressed — but I admit, I don’t watch “Idol” very carefully, usually doing something else and listening on a lousy sound system.
BUT, then I heard the song and listened to the words more carefully on headphones. Wow! Deeply moving, and it reminds me of the line in “Forest Gump” when Jenny has thrown rocks at the old house where she had been abused as she grew up and Forest said, “Sometimes, I guess, there just aren’t enough rocks.”
Eventually, Forest bulldozes down the house so all those memories can be bulldozed away.
“Blown Away” is a song that’s really a prayer by a daughter who has been abused by her drunken “father” — her mother is “an angel in the ground.” She’s praying that a tornado that’s coming on the storm will blow away the old sin-filled full-of-bad-whiskeyed-memories in that house, along with her dad asleep in a drunken stupor on the couch. The haunting lines that stick with me are these:
There’s not enough rain in Oklahoma to wash the sins out of that house.
There’s not enough wind in Oklahoma to lift the nails out of the past.
I contrast this to an old Amy Grant song, “If These Walls Could Speak.”
Such a difference, and all built on how we’ve experienced family and home so often tied to a place — a house, an apartment, a neighborhood, or a city.
So what are we doing to redeem this mess of a broken world? What am I doing to ensure that hurts of those bad houses are blown away and the blessings the latter help the walls of grace to speak of God’s love?
How is church, how are we personally and collectively, going to be more than buildings and programs and performances, and more a place for healing, redemption, and restored family?
You and me, well let’s be honest, we can’t change a lot, but we can redeem something … someone … kids and families, close and faraway. And isn’t that what’s all about? And if we join together, can’t the Holy Spirit do a whole lot to change a whole lot more than we can ask or imagine?
So here, God, take the rest of what my life has to offer and please use it to make a difference … to my own precious kids … to my foster grandchildren … to precious “daughters” in Asia … to Peruvian orphans … to Compassion kids … and more. Please make your House, your Family, your People, and me, places and people of blessing, healing, comfort, and hope so hurts can be blown away and grace can speak more clearly into the hearts of the broken, alone, and lost. I ask this humbly in the healing name of Jesus. Amen.
I love it when I stumble over a little phrase in my Bible reading and the Holy Spirit sort of thumps me on the head and says, “Hey Phil, notice this. It’s important for you!”
Tucked away in the book of Numbers, as Moses is apportioning the land of Promise to the twelve tribes of Israel is a little phrase that caught my attention — granted, I had to have the thump on the head, but after that I really noticed it.
You will not enter and occupy the land I swore to give you. The only exceptions will be Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. … for they have wholeheartedly followed the LORD.”(Numbers 14:30; 32:12 nlt)
We all like to think we are exceptional at something. We all want special treatment and to be granted an exception to the normal rules. But God is talking about a different kind of exception in this case. All of one whole generation died in the wilderness because of their lack of faith. The only exceptions were Joshua and Caleb, who risked their lives because of their trust in the LORD and his great promises. They stood against ten other spies who didn’t feel God’s people could possess the land the LORD had promised to give them.
I want to be this kind of exception. Someone who believes God and stands against the flood of faithlessness and doubt. Someone who is strong enough in personal conviction to go God’s way even if everyone else goes the direction of culture and popular opinion. And amazingly, Joshua and Caleb managed to do this without totally alienating the people who went the other way — initially the people were ready to “string them up” but gradually accepted them and recognized their own faithlessness. For forty years, Joshua and Caleb walked beside their own generation of doubters, they did what God asked them to do as they wandered in the desert, they supported God’s leader Moses in every way possible, and they went God’s direction at God’s pace even though they had to wait for four decades to receive God’s promise because of everyone else’s doubt and faithlessness.
I pray that when the chapter of history for my generation is written, we leave behind a legacy of faith and a new generation ready to receive God’s promises. And for that to happen, more of us — and at this point the Holy Spirit is directly thumping my head and reminding me this means me — have to be willing to be one of only two exceptions!
So what’s the essence of leadership?
I’m sure I can get about as many answers to that question as people who respond. We all have our own ideas of what genuine leadership is all about. Yesterday, in a strange collision of outside reading, the Lord really challenged me to think through this whole idea of the essence of leadership.
Like many churches, our congregation and leadership is wrestling through some important ideas about worship, singing, and mission. My concern is that we not get ourselves into a tug-of-war over positions and miss the primary call of our mission — we can so easily forget why God put us where we are, with the people we have, with the community we touch, with the lost folks we are currently reaching while surrounded by the lost folks we are not currently reaching.
Earlier this week, I was researching tug-of-war. I wasn’t so concerned about the origin and the official rules of the game, but I wanted to know about outcomes. So here is what I have found.
In a tug of war there are these notable outcomes:
- One side wins and the other side loses.
- The contest goes on so long with no clear winner, they call it a draw and both feel like losers.
- The rope breaks and numerous injuries occur — this was more common that I thought possible.
- No matter the official outcome, many injuries, some of them quite serious, are inflicted on “winners” and “losers” in the contest
In a family of faith (church, small group, cell church, house church, faith community, fellowship or whatever tag you want to apply), do you see any options in this list that are desirable?
So the nagging question that has been haunting me is this one: How do we go from WON to ONE? Yeah, I almost didn’t use that image because it’s almost too cute, but after thinking about it, this question seemed to capture my heart. In fact, I think I would chart it this way using Jesus’ prayer of John 17:
Moving from WON to One so that we can be ONE to Win others.
Isn’t that the issue? Are we trying to get everyone on the same page without winners and losers? Don’t we want to avoid injuries, serious and non-serious, that are unnecessary? Don’t we want to keep our focus on our mission to the lost and broken world and not on our own preferences, comfortabilities, and personal dogmas?
Timothy Archer put out a blog post on approaches to Scripture — Normative and Regulative — that was thought provoking. One of our Shepherds, Steve Ridgell, had pointed us to this post. I thought it was instructive and helpful. One of Tim’s first commenters shared these remarks, that I personally found quite insightful:
I especially appreciated the specificity of this line:
“… doing what God commands in Scripture, not doing what God forbids in Scripture …”
We spend so much time on the comma symbolized in the sentence.
As good friend, Grady King, once said, “I have never met a church person whose knowledge of Scripture did not exceed his obedience of Scripture.” Yes, we often spend more time and get more upset on the “comma” than we do the two very important calls to obedience on either side. This is especially true of HOW we behave and treat each other in the processes of deciding an issue as an a group.
My daily reading in The Chronological Bible had me reading about Moses not entering the promised land. In the give and take of the previous discussion, the Holy Spirit seemed to be giving me more than a gentle nudge to pay attention to these words of judgement against Moses by God:
“When the people of Israel rebelled, you failed to demonstrate my holiness to them …” (Numbers 27:14 nlt emphasis added).
Somewhere in the challenges of leading, leaders must demonstrate the holiness of God to the people they lead. That’s pretty hard in the mayhem of a tug-of-war! So shouldn’t we worry less about outcomes (“my outcome” or “their outcome”) and focus on process.
How are we going to demonstrate the holiness of God in this process of deciding? How are we going to demonstrate the holiness of God in …
… how we decide it?
… how we treat each other in the deciding of it?
… how we honor Scripture in trying to decide it?
… how we honor the people we lead as we decide it?
… how we honor the folks who don’t know Jesus around us as we decide it?
I guess the longer I’m around and the more church tug-of-wars I’ve witnessed, the more I’m convinced that the essence of leadership is to help God’s people avoid war, declared wars or tug-of-wars, where there are winners and losers and lots of injuries. Even more, I am convicted that the process of deciding has to be a time where God’s leaders demonstrate the holiness of God in the way they lead, decide, nurture, instruct, and reach out.
For me, the Holy Spirit nailed it in Hebrews 13:7-8:
Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Let’s not fail to demonstrate the holiness of God in what we do, decide, and how we treat each other as we seek God’s will for those we lead and those we need to reach with the grace of heaven!