Friday, October 16, 2009

Nothing New...

In my preparation this morning for CCF's Board/Staff Vision Retreat this weekend, I ran across this news letter article I wrote in 2002. Interestingly enough, it still applies today. (The 'Big Rocks' idea is based on an illustration about putting/fitting big rocks, gravel, pebbles, sand and water into a container. If you don't put them in in that order, the 'Big Rocks' will never fit.)...

Well, we’re half way through the semester and if I had to describe the semester in one word, it would be HUNGER. So many students, and even myself, seem to be searching and expressing a desire for the “more and better”.

But let me beg a question, “Are our ‘Big Rocks’ in place?” I don’t mean do we have our priorities in line; most of the time we are well aware of what our priorities should be. But, what do our actions say about our priorities? We can say God is our #1 priority, but if we don’t spend time with Him daily, our actions have spoken something very differently. We can say outreach and being a witness to those around us are important, but if our life style doesn’t reflect the presence of Christ, we have spoken in vein of our Savior. What do we give our time to? Do our schedules and planners reflect what we say our priorities are? How do we live outside CCF, our church and our circle of Christian friends? Our words often express where we know we need to be, but our actions reflect where we truly are.

Are our ‘Big Rocks’ in place? As our lives reflect our ‘Big Rocks’ we will come closer and closer to knowing the “more and better”. We will come closer to our HUNGER being satisfied.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Chosen, Predestined, Adopted...Deposit Made

Although it is becoming harder and harder to realize I was once in the same place, it is becoming growingly more difficult for me to understand that a great number of people who call themselves Christians do not believe that Jesus is the ONLY way. Is this why some are hesitant to share their faith in Jesus, because they're not totally sure themselves? Let us remember, having faith in Jesus is something we choose. It is not forced or inflicted upon us. And not only do we choose to follow, we ourselves were chosen.

When we read Ephesians 1:3-14, we get a very clear picture of the fact that God chose us, humanity. Not only did he choose us, "he predestined us to be adopted as his sons [and daughters] through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will." Wow! Two things here... First, "PREDESTINED", a word many evangelical Christians are afraid of, thinking it will cause others to point, turn and run, screaming "Calvinist" or even "heretic". We get so freaked out that we miss this much more intense word for "chosen". And not just chosen, "chosen...before the creation of the world." Calm down, we still have our "free will", Paul even reminds us this status is "freely given".

Second, "ADOPTED", a word I am understanding more every day. When we adopted Tewodros, our family spent months praying, seeking prayer from others, filling out paperwork, waiting, preparing our home and our family, investing a great deal of money, and finally, traveling, going out of our way to bring home our newest son. It was nothing anyone forced us to do. We chose to go through the process. We chose to change our family. We chose to make the investment.

Kind of looks like what God did for those of us who follow Jesus "through Jesus Christ." He chose us, sent his Son to do the work for us, is preparing for us, went out of his way to come get us, and made the investment for us. Investment? It would be easy to say God invested the life of his Son, which he did, and which is vital to this whole adoption thing. However, the investment I'm referring to is the deposit Paul speaks of, "Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession."

God not only chose us to be adopted as his sons and daughters, "co-heirs with Christ", he put down a deposit, the Holy Spirit, so that we could be guaranteed that what we say we believe is true. A part of himself IN US!! A mark that we are his own. He's been choosing and marking his people from the beginning. It's all over the scriptures. He chose us first, but we MUST chose him, knowing that He is the ONLY way.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Solitude...out loud

So here's the idea. I've noticed that what I consider to be my best blog entries are based on scripture and the things God is teaching me. Much of this happens in some place of Solitude, like a tree perched alone on the rocky cliff of a mountain. The view of the world, God's creation, is amazing, but the intimacy with God is what stirs the heart.

However, my idea is that I will be sharing these thoughts, insights, meditations, pondering with you, those who choose to read. Therefore, Solitude...out loud. My hope is to add two or three posts a week, hopefully developing some sort of schedule very soon.

As you will see, I edited down my previous posts, but there are still a few older ones listed.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Life Changing Addendum

So, I felt like I needed to add an additional thought or two to yesterday's blog.

Basically it's this, when we begin to model our prayers after those of Jesus, we must be careful to realize what we are saying.

If we pray 'BE GLORIFIED in me', then we need to understand we are saying to God that we don't want to do things that don't bring him glory. In other words, we need to begin to make sure that the things we do, say, watch, listen to, and think about, are bringing glory to God. It also means we need to begin to remove things that don't bring glory to God from our lives. Also, we need to follow in the footsteps of John the Baptist and begin to DECREASE, so that Jesus may INCREASE (John 3:20). This also applies to praying to 'BE MADE HOLY'.

If we pray for 'PROTECTION from the evil one', NOT SAFETY, then we need to understand that God may begin to put us in places that aren't so safe. I mean we pray for safety in everything that we do, but what if God doesn't want us to be safe. What if he wants to put us on the front lines? What if he wants to PROTECT us because we are in unsafe places? Some say "the safest place you can be is in the center of God's will", but I have been taught that the center of God's will can be a very dangerous place.

If we pray for 'PERFECT UNITY' in truth and in love, then we need to understand that God desires us to be united with ALL followers of Jesus. This may mean people we don't totally agree with theologically. This means people of 'EVERY nation, EVERY tribe, and EVERY tongue.' This means people we may have thought don't deserve the same grace God offered all who follow him. This means we may have to swallow our pride and offer others forgiveness, for things we have considered unforgivable.

I just think we need to understand that we need to pray as Jesus did, but we need to understand what we are asking, what we are saying.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

4 Kingdom Prayer Points - John 17

So...For a while now I've been considering putting some of my personal notes up from my prep for teaching at Overflow. You know, a 'Cliffs Notes' version, including some of the insights that don't make it to final lesson.

Well, the sad part is, I had some good insights from John 17, but they got erased when my computer mysteriously decided to reboot in the middle of final presentation prep yesterday.

Anyway, here are what I see as the '4 Prayer Points' we can pull from Jesus' prayer. Notice, nothing personal. No please give me. No please help me. No please bless me. The only ME focus is that God, the Father, be glorified in ME. So read John 17, then check these out. Imagine what God WILL do, if we all start praying like Jesus did...
  • BE GLORIFIED in me (v. 1-5)
  • KNOWING YOU...Eternal Life
check out this definition of 'Eternal Life' in v. 3
"...that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent."
This means that if you KNOW, I mean really KNOW, Jesus, then Eternal Life is NOW!!!
  • KINGDOM EXPANSION/'Global Domination'
for those who aren't yet believers/followers (v. 20)
by prayer, not by force
  • COMPLETE UNITY among believers/followers (v. 23, follows theme throughout)
in truth
in love

And let's not forget PROTECTION, not safety, but protection from Satan's attacks (v. 11, 15).
And 'BEING MADE HOLY' (sanctification), 'sanctified' in v. 19.

This is what Jesus prayed. We would do well to follow his example. What could/would happen if we did? Why not try/start?

Monday, November 10, 2008

random thoughts... (part 2)

...thoughts about what I've been reading...

So the more I read God's Word, the more I realize this is my story.  I mean really, I'm not trying to be self-absorbed, every day, every page, more about me.  And the more I think about it, I hope you realize it's about you to.  It's my story, but it's your story too.

So I'm reading John chapter 9, the story of a man who was blind from birth.  Jesus does this really cool, while kind of repulsive, thing.  He spits in the dirt, takes what I imagine to be his finger to stir the dirt and saliva into mud, then pats it firmly into this guys eyes.  I wonder what the blind guy thought, and I wonder what he felt, and I wonder what he thought this man was putting on his face.  After the mud was set, Jesus sends they guy to a local pool to wash his face.  Hmm.  Anyway, the guy does it and for the first time in his life he is able to see.  Colors, light, everything before he could only feel, smell, hear, or imagine, he can SEE.  Then, get this, the man when asked who did this he answers, "The man they call Jesus."  He doesn't even know who gave him his sight.  Soon after he decides that Jesus must be, at least, a prophet.  He then determines Jesus must be sent from God.  In conclusion, he acknowledges Jesus as LORD!

But, that's my story!!  No, I've never physically been blind.  But before I knew Jesus, I was blind.  My eyes were closed to the world around me.  Sad to say, until the past few years I was blind to the world around me.  But Jesus opened my eyes.  But when I first knew Jesus, I didn't really know who he was, just some guy.  Then I learned, no, he is a very good teacher.  No, no, he must be associated with God.  Oh, wow, no, not at all, he is God in flesh, and he touched me.  He opened my eyes; he changed my life, my perspective.

Jesus goes on to have an encounter with the Pharisees.  While physically, they can see clearly, Jesus tells them they are blind.  Isn't that how we are, the more we think we know, and the closer we think we are to God, the more we realize that, YES, we have a visual perspective, but we really cannot SEE at all.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Coming Home

Last Tuesday, October 14 we finally mailed our application to Gladney, our adoption agency, as well as our CIS (Citizenship and Immigration Services) application, not to mention a series of checks that make me dizzy just thinking about.  What does this mean?  It means our son is coming home!!

I know this may be hard to comprehend, it is hard for me as well.  So, after months of prayer and waiting until God aligned all our hearts and minds, Suzanne and I have begun the process of international adoption for Ethiopia.  Suzanne has desired to have another child since she forgot the pain she went through delivering Eli.  Honestly, I've been selfishly content with our two beautiful children.  Then came the day that God began to challenge my thinking.  The next thing I know, I'm talking to Suzanne about adoption.  Not only that, adopting a child who doesn't even look like us, from somewhere else in the world.  Before I know it I'm sitting on my couch on April 16, just before wur*ship, asking Ashleigh and Eli if they would like to have a little brother or sister.  Over time we have chosen to adopt a boy between the ages of 2-3 1/2.

(I want to thank Pete Cocco, our Fall Retreat speaker from Encounter campus ministry at Illinois State University and adoptive parent of two kids from Ethiopia, for helping me understand this.)  So, if Ashleigh or Eli were taken away from Suzanne and I, and we learned that they had been dropped in the middle of another country, we would do whatever was necessary, or in our power, to get them home to us.  Well, that's exactly how it is now that God has called us to this.  Somewhere in the middle of Ethiopia, we have a son.  We don't know his name.  We don't even know what he looks like.  But he is no less our son than Ashleigh is our daughter, or Eli is our son.  He is alive, somewhere.  Now, we must do whatever we can to bring him home.

Please pray for our family as we go though this process of bringing __________ home.

(Oh yeah, sometimes I call him Tre', as in #3, just to be able to call him something.)

Also, check out Suzanne's blog Journey to Ethiopia to follow our adoption process at