The Power Of Affection

If anyone could have been excused for being too busy to build relationships or for using people to accomplish a greater goal, Paul surely qualified.

After all, who has time for people when you have to write for God? Or establish churches across the Roman empire. Or work to support yourself and others on top of all that. Plus, people disappoint. they act immaturely (Corinthians), they desert you (Mark), and even cause great harm (Demas).

Yet with all this, Paul not only developed relationships with those he met, he calls both Timothy and Titus “my true son.” Epenetus, Ampliatus, and Stachys are his “dear friends.” Rufus’ mom is a “mother to him.” Paul shows a deep care, concern, and affection for many in his writings and in his “chance” interactions with them (think Philippian jailer).

It’s not simply a business relationship or even a mutually beneficial partnership to a common goal, Paul allows them into his heart. Possibly the most driven, type A, goal oriented man who ever lived allows others to touch him, to express love, kindness, and tenderness toward them. I want to do the same.

How would our homes, work places, communities, the church, and the world be changed if this were true of all of us? What do you think?

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Week 3 Of Prayer – Wisdom

If anyone prayed this in Hawaii this past week, the answer surely came in an unexpected way. For those who may have missed it, imagine waking up to the following text message from the Hawaii Civil Defense:

“BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”

20 minutes to contemplate life and what really matters before everything as you know it drastically changes. The truth of the matter is, none of us really knows how much time we have left. It may or may not come with some type of warning. But when it comes, will we have lived life to the full? To say we have faithfully carried out all God has given us?

Perhaps we haven’t lived that way to the present, but we can certainly do so moving forward.

So Father, teach me to realize the brevity of life, so that I may grow in wisdom. (Psalm 90:12, paraphrase)

When Evil Rises

What do you do when evil people oppress and purposefully cause pain, stress, and hardship? What would you advise your child when they go through that? When every part of you wants to defend and cry out for justice, what does God say?

The psalmist gives some perspective and wisdom in Psalm 94. When there’s nothing you can do (and perhaps, sometimes even when there is), view the oppression as temporary discipline. Not necessarily discipline as a result of doing something wrong, but discipline that develops and strengthens us.

On the other hand, those inflicting injustice, evil, and wickedness will be punished, will experience the vengeance of the Lord. The only reason they don’t experience it now is the Lord is slow to anger and does not want anyone to perish.

In the meantime, God’s unfailing love and comfort will support us through the outside circumstances and the internal doubt. So take heart and remember, “The LORD will not reject his people; he will not abandon his special possession…the LORD is my fortress; my God is the mighty rock where I hide.” (Psalm 94:14,22 NLT)

Week 2 Of Prayer – Love

Each Monday I’m posting my prayer for the week. Each day of the week I use this prayer as a starting point in my conversation with God and see where He takes me from there.

Out of Romans 5:5, “For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” (NLT), comes this prayer:

Father, you have sent your Holy Spirit to fill my heart with love, let me experience your love in greater measure today, let the capacity of my heart expand so I can carry more of your love inside of me to those around me.

Love is a challenge for me. Receiving it, expressing it, living it. I know love as a concept. I can tell you the difference between eros, phileo, and agape. I can quote John 3:16 and tell you about love from 1 Corinthians 13. I know God loves me. I know love is more than a feeling and is real whether I feel it or not. And yet…

I have a picture, a thought, that love is more than logical, more than simply a choice. I believe there is more. God is love, he chooses to love me, yes, but he overflows with love for me as well.

And so he sends his Holy Spirit to fill my heart with love. That’s the love I want to experience, that I want coursing through me and coming out of every fiber of my being and touching those around me. This is my desire as I pray.

The Lost Art Of Story Telling

In a digital age, we communicate by relying so much on technology, that we’ve (mostly) lost the art of story telling and of using our imaginations. When we combine the spoken word with the imagination of the listener, and we hear the stories again and again, we capture in our hearts and minds events we may not even have personally experienced.

Such was the case of Asaph as recorded in Psalm 77. In the midst of feeling abandoned, rejected, and unloved, he remembers the stories of times past. Events he was not present at, but experienced, as he heard them vividly portrayed time and again. And it encouraged him in his present trials.

We make real in our memory those events we’ve heard and captured our imaginations. And nowhere is this more important than in those things God has done, both in our lives and so long ago.

There will be times when it feels like He is not there, doing nothing, and doesn’t care. And in those times we must know, through the stories we’ve told, the stories we’ve heard, how big God was and is in the toughest situations, and how much He has and always loves us.

Who can you share with and make real what God has done?

Prayer For Influence

As I mentioned in my previous post, I want 2018 to be known for me as a Year of Prayer. To that end, I want to share a scripture based prayer each week.

May you add many years to my life here on earth and, may I reach and influence not only my generation, but future generations as well.

Inspired by Psalm 61:6, NLT

So much is changing so quickly in our world. And it seems that those of us who are older may not seem to have much of relevance to add to the conversation of our current culture or where we are heading (after all, what can someone who can’t even operate a remote know about life?).

Yet this is my prayer. Not that I would be famous and important enough to have my writing and thoughts preserved throughout the decades, but to be faithful to those God has placed around me. To love them as He does, to let them know they matter to God, to help them to grow in all God has called them to be.

Thanks to all who have been reading and commenting this past year. Though I have not met most of you, my heart is filled with appreciation for all your encouragement. Have a blessed and wonderful new year!

The Work Of Prayer

I want to grow in my prayer life next year. I want 2018 to be known (for me) as a year of prayer. Honestly, my prayer life has been up and down throughout my life.

Sometimes I’m inspired and filled with great faith, and, at others, I’m wondering, “What’s the point?” God is going to do what He’s going to do anyway right?

One thought that struck me recently though, comes from the account of the paralytic and his four friends.

We don’t know much about the paralytic, what he thought or where he was at. It’s quite possible he had resigned himself to his paralysis (even after hearing about Jesus and all He was doing). It’s possible he had given up hope and saw nothing but more of the same ahead for him.

Do you know anyone like that? Someone who has cried out to the Lord with nothing to show? Perhaps we’ve all been there at one time or another. During those times, wouldn’t it be great if you had some friends who would stand in the gap for you? Those who would be willing to carry you on their faith, those willing to break through any obstacles to bring you to the feet of Jesus?

I need those people and, I want to be one of those people. To make 2018 a year of faith carrying breakthrough prayer.

What will 2018 be known as for you?

Why Christmas Matters

As a child, I’d be so excited at Christmas. Not just the day itself, but everything leading up to it: decorating the tree, putting up the stockings, setting up the “countdown” calendar, watching Rudolph, Frosty, Santa, and the Peanuts gang as they made their annual appearance on TV.

I loved the lights, the music, the food, and dreaming of a white Christmas (Could it snow? It feels pretty cold, it’s 62 degrees! Ok, I lived in Hawaii, what do you expect?). Christmas felt like a magical time.

I knew the Christmas story of course, the reason for the season – celebrating Jesus’ birth. And should I forget, Linus was always there to remind us what Christmas was really all about.

But as I’ve grown older, I can’t say I’m so excited anymore. In fact, the expectations of Christmas (family, warmth, love, and feelings of goodwill) detached from the significance of Christmas can bring a sense of emptiness and despair.

Yet as I recently read the account of the first Christmas long ago, a verse struck me that I never paid attention to before. It’s why Christmas matters. At Christmas we are reminded, “the word of God will never fail.” (Luke 1:37, NLT).

His word that:

  • He created us and loves us deeply. 
  • He is with us always and has not abandoned us, no matter what we feel. 
  • He has redeemed us from our sin. 
  • He makes all things new. 
  • He has prepared a place for us.

When the “magic” of Christmas fails to materialize, the Word of Christmas will never fail.

And like Mary, if we receive His word, He can radically transform our experience of Him and in Him.

May we remember today and everyday, the Word who became flesh and lived among us, how through his birth, so long ago, we can know with all certainty, that the word of the Lord will never fail.

The Birth Of The King

In an age of turmoil and uncertainty, keep the main thing the main thing.

God led the wise men on the first Christmas in the midst of a hostile political climate. No matter what situation we find ourselves in, God will lead and direct our steps as we seek Jesus and worship Him.

For thousands of years, rulers and authorities have felt threatened by Jesus and his followers, literally imprisoning them and killing them off.

Yet Jesus and his 12 disciples never sought to overthrow them or seize power. Instead, they brought the presence of a different Kingdom to those around them.

Was there a wanton disregard for human life in the laws of the Roman empire? Yes. Was there allowance and even promotion of sexual immorality? Seems so. Was there corruption and sin within the government structures and leadership? Pretty clearly so, and yet, it did nothing to contain or hinder the good news spreading.

We should oppose unjust laws and value human life highly. Righteousness is good for a nation. And yet, we live in a fallen world. Those who live in it, and according to it, will not always live righteously or make righteous choices (nor will we).

Yet this has never stopped God’s purpose and plan to gather together those willing to worship, willing to enter into life, willing to be redeemed.

Jesus, this Christmas, we bow down and worship you. For though you came as a baby, you are King of kings and Lord of lords and worthy of praise.

The Quick Fix

I’ve never been one to play the lottery. From a mathematical standpoint, I know it makes no sense. Plus, I’m not a big fan of how it tends to hurt the poor who can least afford to “play.”

Still, when I drive by the big board on the way to work and see the jackpot climbing into the hundreds of millions, it’s hard not to wonder/wish for the the opportunity to come into a large sum of cash suddenly.

And it makes me think how we (or at least I) would like God to drop provision from the sky when I’m most in need. And sometimes He does.

But often, it’s through the process of the rain, and the harvest that comes, that God provides. For in that process He develops what truly matters and will last, a life of godly character, diligence, love, discipline, gratefulness, and grace. A life worth living and sharing and shining.

Don’t miss out on what God is doing in the process as we pine for the quick fix.