I have two questions for you.

  1. Do you have a safe place?
    A judgement-free zone.  A place where you can feel free to share what’s on your mind without worrying that people will be so scandalized they’ll never talk to you again.
  2. Do you have a stretching place that challenges you?
    A mediocrity-free zone. A place that inspires you and motivates you to be better.

We need both. We need a place where we can be accepted as we are AND a place where we can be challenged to be more than we ever thought we could be. We need a place that can handle the worst in us AND a place that brings out the best in us.

We call it “a safe place” or “a stretching place”, but really the “place” is secondary to the relationships that happen there. The people are what makes the place scary or safe–discouraging or encouraging.

BigStockPhoto.com 65273749 Leungchopan

BigStockPhoto.com 65273749 Leungchopan

A Great Example

As Christ-followers, we have the greatest example of this concept.  God saved us by grace while we were still in sin and had nothing to offer him.  He knew who we were and that we were incapable of pleasing him in our own strength.  But he choose to love, save and even adopt us into his family.  We were accepted and adopted as we were.  THEN, God sets out to help build us into a new creation to display his glory to the world.  Consider these three examples. Continue Reading…

This is what the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel says: I am Yahweh your God, who teaches you for your benefit, who leads you in the way you should go.

Sunday Verse: Isaiah 48:17 (HCSB)

So, on Monday, I shared how much I enjoyed Easter Sunday.  What I didn’t mention was that I was a little surprised.  You see, I can be one of those people who tend to think we shouldn’t need a “special day” every year to celebrate something that we should be celebrating every day.  Do we really have to wait till Thanksgiving Day to be grateful?  Do we have to wait for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc to show our favorite people how much we care about them?  Shouldn’t we be mindful every day of the amazing fact that God, the Son left His place in heaven to take the human form–even a newborn infant, a suffering servant, a crucified sin-bearer, and a risen savior?

But, then I get a day like this past Sunday.  Even though I do try to be mindful of all we have because of Jesus, somehow it all came into an even sharper focus this past Easter.

Photo Credit:  http://www.bigstockphoto.com/image-1444495 by McIninch

Photo Credit: http://www.bigstockphoto.com/image-1444495 by McIninch

On the family and fun side, two of my kids were able to come home for Easter dinner and brought a good friend from Gordon College.  I even made a quick dash to the local CVS to pick up the usual bunnies and chocolate eggs.  Even at my ripe old age, I can still remember waking up in my single-digit years and seeing the kitchen table filled with goodies.  OK, so I do realize we are talking about a spiritual holiday, but family fun is good, too.

On the spiritual side, I began to ponder anew on the wonders of the resurrection and what that can mean and should mean in my daily life. Continue Reading…

I really enjoyed yesterday.  It was Easter Sunday–a day that can embody all the best of faith and family. Plus, the weather was great. Two of my three kids were able to come back home and enjoy a great dinner together with an extra friend.  It was just a really good day.   Church was very nice.  Somehow songs about the resurrection took on a whole new significance.

He didn't stay on the cross.  Because He Lives, I can...

istockphoto.com 9332062

The pastor referred to Dr. Tony Campolo and his, now classic, sermon.  My daughter wasn’t aware of the message so it gave me an excuse to look it up so I could send her a link.  It is truly a great message. Toward the end, Tony shared his memories of preaching at a “preach off” at an African-American church.  One of the preachers did a 90 minutes focused on one phrase.  He would describe the followers of Christ in various stages of despair seeing Jesus on the cross.  Then the pastor would say, but they didn’t know.  “It’s Friday but Sunday’s a comin'”.

It also made me remember the opening line of a sermon I heard about this time over thirty years ago.  “The problem with many Christians is that they are living on the wrong side of Easter.”

You see, before the resurrection, it’s a little easier to understand how some people can tend to give up hope. I can’t really imagine what that first Good Friday must have felt like.  Not knowing what would occur in two short days, it’s understandable that they would feel that all was lost.

However, the sadder truth, is that so often knowing what already did happen on the first Resurrection Day, we can fall into old patterns of despair and disillusionment or just distraction and drifting through life.

I woke up this morning thinking about both of those older sermons and reminded myself that even though it is Monday, Sunday’s not coming.  It already came.  I don’t need to wait for the power of the resurrection in my life, I need to live in it. Continue Reading…

HeIsRisen

 

Photo:  Rick Short.  Find more of Rick’s work at https://www.lightstock.com/users/rick-short

Thank you for serving.

November 11, 2013 — 3 Comments

In the United States, this is the day we set aside to remember the valor, the courage and the sacrifice of those who have served to protect and preserve the freedoms that we enjoy this day.

In this blog, I try to instill and to celebrate courage in everyday life, ministry and relationships.  When I think of courage, one of my role models is the serving men and women in the armed forces.  Whether they begin their service in a time of peace or war, they always know that putting on a uniform means they might be called upon to give their life so that others may live free.  To those who have served in spite of their own fears, we salute you!

Thank you for serving!.

Remembering those who have served.

Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die. —G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Friday Quote: G.K. Chesterton on Courage

So often, we attend church services all scrubbed up and looking our best.  On the outside, we probably look like we have it all together and life is just one giant juicy peach.  For some of us, that might represent reality for the moment.  For so many others, that perception is just a thin veneer covering over a myriad of hurts, struggles, challenges, confusion and doubts. Not that we are deliberately hiding things. We may not want to bother others with our problems.  We may just enjoy a break from dwelling on them.  Regardless of how together people might seem, most likely, they still need some word of encouragement because walking by faith is challenging and increasingly challenged.

 

Classic image of a boy with his angellic self on one shoulder and his demonic self on the other shoulder.

Walking by Faith

The Christ-follower lives by faith.  “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists… (Hebrews 11:6 NIV)”  The Apostle John wrote his Gospel so we would believe. Paul tells us, “The path we walk is charted by faith, not by what we see with our eyes.” (2 Corinthians 5:7 VOICE)

We place our confidence, our faith, in an unseen Creator God whose ways and very nature amaze and confound the wisest among us.  However, by his grace, he has revealed enough about himself for us to trust him for the aspects we don’t yet understand.  That is the very essence of walking by faith.  It is not a blind faith that hopes (with fingers crossed) that we have made a good choice.  Based on the evidence and experiences we have already evaluated, we make a conscious choice to trust God for the rest.  Faith is central to our walk, but so often…

Walking by Faith is Challenging

Even John the Baptist had second thoughts about Jesus–whom he had baptized and declared Continue Reading…

“I love You, O LORD, my strength.”
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer…
I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised,
And I am saved from my enemies.

Sunday Verse: Psalms 18:1, 2a, 3 (NASB)

28 Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard?

The Eternal, the Everlasting God,

The Creator of the whole world, never gets tired or weary.

His wisdom is beyond understanding.

29 God strengthens the weary   Continue Reading…

Sunday Verse: Isaiah 40:28-31