Thirst

Posted: March 4, 2010 in Uncategorized

Last Sunday, Tim spoke in the ‘Freedom” series from the book of Galatians and he asked a question that really struck me.  He started talking about if we measure our spirituality on how much prayer, studying, fasting, and other disciplines we are doing then the Pharisees win every time.  Sure, it shows at some level our spiritualitymost of the time, but it should not be the main judge of our spirituality.  Tim asked a question:  “Are you more thirsty today for Christ than you were a month ago?”   I began to really look at my life and ask that question.  Where am I in my spiritual life?  It’s a good question to ask occasionally so see how we are doing.  You see, I do a lot of things for the church.  I could create a list of things but I don’t want that to be the main topic of this post.  Let’s just say I do a lot.  The real question is though, what is going on beneath the surface?  I have done a lot of soul searching and realized that I don’t thirst for God like I really feel like I should.  I tend to try to run my life and not include God.  I tend to get wrapped up in my “church activities” and forget the big picture.  

One of my favorite movies is The American President.  Michael Douglas plays the president of the United States who is also a single father.  he lost his wife to cancer and he begins dating a lobbyist played by Annette Bening.  There’s a lot of political power at stake  and the media is going crazy with this story, and near the end, he’s about to lose her because he doesn’t want to stand up to his opponent who is bashing him and he has to make a decision about a bill he wants to pass or a bill his girlfriend has been fighting for.  In the end, he makes a statement that has stuck with me through the years.  He says: ” I was so busy doing my job, that I forgot to do my job.”  What he meant was that he forgot about what was most important. 

What is most important?  For me it is a relationship with God.  It is my daily walk with him.  Sometimes I allow myself to become dry, a spiritual dehydration if you will.  Luckily, God has the best Gatorade available to bring me back to where I want to be.  I want to be like the psalmist who says “As the deer pants for the water, so my soul longs after you.”  I want that type of thirst.  I long to be back in that type of spiritual walk with God.  And I can have it.  All I have to do is start drinking in the love of Christ.

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“You have chosen….poorly.”

Posted: January 2, 2010 in Uncategorized

I can hear it now.  The old knight from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade after the crazy bad guy drinks from the wrong cup and turns into a pile of dust:

“You have chosen…poorly.”

That’s what I keep thinking as I hit the refresh button on a Knoxville, Tennessee news website, waiting for an update on the situation, I still have trouble believing what I have heard today.  4 players on the University of Tennessee Basketball team were arrested Friday morning during a routine traffic stop after the officer found marijuana, open alcohol and 2 hand guns in the car!  One of the hand guns even had an altered serial number.  I just couldn’t believe it.  What bothered me even more was that 2 of the players were seniors, one of them being Tyler Smith, a probable All-American who opted out of the NBA draft last year to come play for one more season at The University of Tennessee.  One thought kept passing through my mind:  Why on earth would you make such a poor decision?  Why would you risk so much?  As they sat in jail, I’m sure that they began to think of all that was going to happen because of what they did.  Bruce Pearl, the basketball coach suspended them indefinitely.  Now, about 1/3 of our team is gone.  Our top scorer, top assist leader, and best player is gone.  almost half of our offense is gone.  Their basketball future is likely gone. 

I don’t know the whole story of what happened.  I would love to think that there was some misunderstanding and they did nothing wrong, but I sincerely doubt that will happen.  They are going to be punished, and yes I believe that they need to be kicked off the team, because the rest of the players need to know that this will not be tolerated.  I think the athletic department needs to put a lock down on all players and clean house.  Tennessee needs to recruit smarter players, players that have at least a little bit of character. 

I also think that there is a lesson from this that we can all learn from.  We have all made poor decisions in our lives.  We have all done things that have hurt others and ourselves.  When Tennessee plays on Wednesday night, their actions are going to have an effect on the rest of the team, as well as the fans, and the university as a whole.  We might even lose future recruits because of this.  What I am saying is that they did not think before they acted.  They did  not think about what would happen to them, their teammates, their friends and their family.  They only thought about what they wanted at that time. 

Tonight I am reminded that what I do with my life affects others around me.  I have a responsibility as a Christian to be a living example of Christ in all that I do.  I know that I have made some mistakes in my life, and that I will never be perfect.  I have been fortunate enough to feel the grace of God and the restoration that He gives each of us.  I know that I want to be a better Christian.  I want to be a better man, a better employee, and a better example.  I know that in order to do that I must, in the words of the cool old knight, “Choose wisely.”  I am reminded of a passage in Philippians 4:8-9

 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

If I do those things, then I can hear the old knight say like he did to Indiana Jones, “You have chosen…wisely.”   I pray that the players arrested today will learn from this and experience the grace of God, and that they can move on in their lives and be successful.

Childhood memories

Posted: December 28, 2009 in Uncategorized

This Christmas has been a very special Christmas.  It was my first Christmas in San Diego.  It was a lot of fun, especially since Lisa and Chris came down with the Grandkids.  It’s interesting to see my dad as he interacts and plays with his grandchildren.  A lot of it I remember from when I was a child.  He would play these games like trying to make me smile and I would try not to, or the tickle wars, or just the funny little sayings that he would say.  Sadly, when my parents divorced I lost a lot of that.  I had to grow up pretty quickly.  I was told that I needed to be the man of the house.  I didn’t get to spend as much time as I wanted to with my dad.  I missed a lot of special things because of that.  It’s sad to think that I missed so much of my life that most boys get to spend with their dads.  I didn’t get to do a lot of the stuff that fathers and sons get to do together, and what I did get to do was crammed into the occasional summer.  It hurts to know that I didn’t get to be around my father as much as I wanted to.  I often wonder if I would be a better man if I would have.  Don’t get me wrong, my mom did a fantastic job raising me and I am so happy for all that she did, but a young boy needs his father.  There are certain things a boy misses when a father is not around. 

Looking at the other side as well, I can’t even begin to wonder how my dad felt knowing that he missed so much of it as well.  I know that he wishes that I had the same opportunities with my dad that his grandchildren have with him.  I missed that.  There is a part of me that wishes I could go back and experience what I missed.  But alas, I cannot.  All I can do is enjoy what I have with my father now, which I would not give up for anything in the world.  I love being able to see my father pretty much whenever I want.  I love going to church with my dad and worshiping God with him on the praise team.  I love getting advice from him (most of the time, haha.)  But most importantly I love the fact that I now have my dad in my life, and that to me is the best Christmas present I could receive.

Mary Did You Know?

Posted: December 22, 2009 in Uncategorized

Tonight I’m watching “The Nativity Story.”   It really began to make me think about Jesus and His birth.  I thought of Mary and her faith in God.  I think of Joseph and how he trusted God even when he knew people would look at him differently.  I wonder what might have gone through their minds as they prepared to bring Jesus into the world.  Did Joseph wonder what kind of father he would be?  I mean, he is going to be raising Jesus, the Messiah!  I would have been scared out of my mind.  I would doubt my abilities.  I would wonder if there was even anything I would be able to teach Him.  I then begin to think about the night of His birth.  Here they are with the farm animals in a shelter that probably didn’t smell too well.  Then, Jesus is born.  He cries.  The son of God is crying and screaming and completely dependent on Mary and Joseph.  Then, as they lie in the stable, shepherds and wise men come to them.  That must have been a sight to see.  Can you imagine, Mary and Joseph laying there with their son and here come a bunch of guys who have traveled from far away just to see Him.  I wonder what must have been going through their minds as they showed up to worship their son.  Amazing.  That’s the wonder of this story.  God chose ordinary people in an ordinary place to do His greatest miracle.  He didn’t pick the best priest to raise Jesus.  He didn’t pick the smartest girl.  This night was extraordinary and ordinary at the same time. 

This story reminds me that God can use anyone to change the world.  If He can use a carpenter and a young woman to bring the Savior into the world, then I know that He has great plans for me to.  I just have to be willing to allow God to do His will in my life, just like Mary did.

Christmas Presents

Posted: December 16, 2009 in Uncategorized

The other day I was at Chipotle with some friends from church.  For all my Tennessee peeps Chipotle is a lot like Moe’s but way better, but no “WELCOME TO MOOOOOES!”  when you walk in…Oh well.  Anywho, I am sitting there and this adorable little child from the Winter Clan named Brooks comes up to me and asks, “If Christmas is Jesus’ birthday, how come we get all the presents?”  For being 3, or 4, or maybe 5, that was a brilliant question, and to be honest I didn’t have an answer.  But it really got me thinking about Jesus and Christmas.

Now, most scholars believe that Jesus was not in fact born on December 25, however, we take this time each year to sit back and remember His birth.  We take the time to think of Mary, and how she had enough faith to know that God was going to take care of her.  We think of Joseph, and how even with all the issues that happen when your soon to be virgin wife gets pregnant and it’s not yours, how he trusted God through that whole ordeal.  I think about the Jewish people and their hopeful anticipation of a savior.  And most importantly, I think of Baby Jesus; God himself as a weak and helpless child, who breaks into our world in a way that only He could.

Here’s my thought on Brooks question.  Jesus was the ultimate gift.  He is the most important gift that we can ever have.  This time of year is designed to help us see past ourselves and look toward others, which is what Jesus did when He came into this world.  He put aside His holiness, His throne, and even His immortality for us.  Why?  Now this is just my thought and I could be wrong, but I think that God thinks of each of us as a gift.  He sees us as priceless and incredible.  I think that when one of His children decide to follow Him and love Him then it’s like opening another present.  So my answer to the question is this.  God gave us the perfect gift, Jesus Christ, so that we might be given back to Him.

So, may you find Jesus this Christmas.  May you open that perfect gift and accept it.  May you see how much God loves you.  And may you give yourself back to God, because all He wants for Christmas is you.

Jesus says “I Love You.”

Posted: December 15, 2009 in Uncategorized

I was looking on Facebook today, all proud of my 1,000 friends, or “friends,” if you think like that, and I began to wonder:  How long would it take me to name them all?  Probably a while.  I bet I would probably forget many of them.  They even say that most people if they were asked to write down the names of every state in 30 minutes that most people would forget at least 1. 

When we think about our human brains and how much we can remember it’s interesting to think of what we don’t remember as well.  Most of us, like my dad, begin to forget things as we get older.  I think that is what amazes me about God.  A few weeks ago I was thinking about the crucifixion of Jesus and I began to wonder if Jesus at any time thought of me while He was on the cross.  In human terms it would have been impossible.  He wasn’t up there but for several hours.  How could he think about me, or my dad, or everyone for that matter?  I mean, there are 6 billion people on the earth, and there have been billions before us.  How could He think about each of us in that span of time?  You know what?  I think He did.  It’s not entirely scriptural, but if God knows every hair on my head than it is possible that Jesus thought of me as He was suffering on the cross.  I like to think that when it got really bad that He kept remembering why He was up there, and I bet in his powerful mind that knows no limits, He probably thought about me, and my dad, my mom, my brother; everybody. 

When I look at the cross like that, it makes it very personal for me.  And I think that with God it is personal.  God is described as a widow who loses her coin, a shepherd that loses a sheep, a father waiting for his son to come home.  I think God makes it personal for each of us, and when I begin to think like that it changes my perception of who I am.  To think that with every nail in his hand, thorn on his brow, and agonizing breath He took he was telling me He loved me.  God made it personal for each of us.  That’s the kind of God He is.  He is a God who is involved in our lives and cares deeply about each and every soul. 

My God loves me.  He loves me with a love that I don’t know and can’t explain.  He loves me not because I am perfect, or wealthy or handsome, but because He made me.  What an amazing thought:  A God who loved me and you so much that He came and died so that one day we can be with Him in heaven.  Now that’s personal.

Mighty to Save

Posted: December 12, 2009 in Uncategorized

When I am not at work, you can usually find me at the church building working on videos or music projects.  It’s almost a second job for me, a job that I love so much I do for free!  Last night was no different.  I spent my whole afternoon and up until the late evening there.  I enjoy it.  It helps me to decompress and puts a smile on my face. 

As I was walking through the building last night, I heard our Celebrate Recovery group worshiping in the auditorium.  I saw an older man, wearing ragged clothes, maybe even homeless, and he was leading them in the song “Mighty to Save.”  Our celebrate recovery group is a ministry that helps those who are dealing with addictions to recover.  Many of the people who come are homeless or were homeless and many were addicted to drugs and/or alcohol.  While I watched this man sing this song, it really had an impact on me.  And he sang the words:

“Savior, He can move the mountains,

My God is mighty to save

He is mighty to save

Forever, author of salvation

He came and conquered the grave

Jesus conquered the grave.”

 

His voice wasn’t perfect.  He didn’t have really nice clothes or even a nice haircut.  So what made it so special to me?  I could see his face while he was singing and he was worshiping God with everything he had.  It was beautiful.  I began to think of the life he had once lived, and where he was going to sleep that night.  I don’t know his story.  But here is a man who has probably been through hell and back.  He probably has seen horrible things in his lifetime.  And yet here he is, singing to God like the most blessed man in the world.   He realized that God is mighty to save…even him.

It reminds me of when Jesus is sitting at a table and a girl walks in and begins to cry at Jesus’ feet.  All the while the priests around him are thinking, “what is he doing with her?  Doesn’t he know who she is?”  She was probably a prostitute.  But Jesus heard their thoughts (I wish I could do that sometimes).  And He tells them a parable about 2 people in debt, and how one owed very little and the other owed a whole lot and both were cleared of their debts.  He then asks them which one they thought would be more thankful.  Of course the one who owed more would have been more thankful.

Sometimes I can get wrapped up in my little world of work and church and money and life, and I can sometimes put God and his grace on the back burner and forget about it for a while.  I can forget how blessed I am.  I can sometimes focus on the things that are wrong in my life rather than the fact that the God who made the heavens and the earth loves me enough to sacrifice His son for me. 

A man who just might live on the streets taught me an important message last night.  Gods grace is large enough to cover everything we have ever done, and if I can just focus on Him and his amazing love, then nothing else in this world would matter, because when it comes down to it, it’s all about God, not about me.