Saturday, June 27, 2009

French Press Coffee & More

How do you like your coffee? I like my coffee early in the morning on the front porch. I like my coffee in the mountains during the fall of the year at the Red Rocker Inn. I like my coffee sitting with my wife at our favorite little coffee shop - The Daily Grind. I miss coffee with my Dad after a duck hunt. I remember having my first cup of coffee with my parents before I went to school. Good times!! Back then I fixed my coffee with plenty of milk and sugar. In college & seminary I drank my coffee black. At this point, I can drink any way I can find it but I prefer a little milk and honey. I found my favorite way to make it - French Press. It is a little more work, but the taste is staggering. The coffee is full bodied and bold as you might expect. The coffee seems to taste a little better and natural. It may be just in my head, but french press coffee is now the coffee bliss my taste-buds long for. It is unfiltered joy. What you see is what you get. I think this is what Jesus intended for us to get out of following Him. I need Jesus unfiltered. He is real and raw but I think this is what we need... yep this is what our world needs. The furious love of God - unfiltered love. The amazing grace of God - unfiltered grace. The mysterious mercy of God - unfiltered mercy.
I need it... You need it... We all need it! and we can!!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Two Thoughts

I am up early on this Monday morning. I could not sleep past 4am... go figure. So I got up to do a little around the house. I had a couple of thoughts...

Why is humility so elusive? I am not sure, but I know that it is in short supply in many areas of our society. Yet, this is the quality that shines out in the person of Jesus. It seems that among His followers humility is not highly regarded. I know I need more in my life. Lord take me to a place where humility is formed... for I know I will not take myself.

What does it mean to be a missionary in your own zip-code? A friend of mine posed this question the other day. Got me thinking. Maybe it will get you thinking. We need to think more like a missionary as we go throughout our days. May we see our streets like Jesus sees them. May we see people like Jesus sees them. Then life may change for us!!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Taste and See

Scripture tells us to "taste and see that the Lord is good." God tastes good! His followers should too! Why is that people who follow Jesus often don't look very much like Him? This has always been interesting to me. We must live authentically Christian lives! Lives that live for the glory of our Lord.
John Stott remarks, "We recite the creed in church, sing hymns expressive of devotion to Christ. We even exercise a variety of ministries in his name. But he is not impressed by our pious and orthodox words. He still asks for evidence of our sincerity in good works of obedience."
How does your life taste to those around you?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Fruitfulness

This won't be long, but my sermon tomorrow kind of got me thinking. What is the fruit of my life? The reality is our lives have an impact whether we like or not. We all leave a lasting impact in this life.
So, what is the mark that your life is leaving on this world? It seems that we must deal with this reality daily. If you and I neglect this truth our lives will very surely not be what God intended. I know that the presence of Christ enables us to leave a stamp on this life that far out weighs anything we can do in our own power.
May we all stay attentive to the fruit we are producing. I love good fruit. I am not sure what my favorite fruit is, but the mangos in Africa were quite amazing! I want others to enjoy the fruit of my life. I believe that God wants each of us to be a blessing as we live out our days on this earth.
Is the fruit of my life Chirst centerd or self centered? I needed this reality check! Maybe you did too?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Africa Part 3: Need Crutches?

I came back from Africa and realized that we here in our comfortable brand of Christianity depend way too much on various crutches. We often lean on money, buildings, and notoriety, just to name a few, to get our work done. The people that we served in Guinea truly depended on the hand of God to do His work. On more than one occasion I heard our lead missionary mention that the work they are a part of was not "their" work but "God's" work. I was impressed because I am often tempted to think of the work "I am doing" for God. I am selfish and these loving people were selfless. Their lives were alive with God and often I think we are simply dead men walking. I saw evidence of the Spirit at work in one of the most challenging places and often we claim that God is at work here in our context(and I know He is), but after being in the presence of God's work in Guinea I am beginning to revisit how I consider God's work in our world. Do we do our plans and stamp God on it? Do we figure out how to do what we want and then suddenly give God credit to look appropriately religious? I don't fully know the answers to these questions and I am not sure how this shakes out in our context, but I must say God spoke to me about leaning on Him and not just the "stuff" that I am used to propping myself up with.
So let me ask one final question. What are you praying for? What am I praying for? This past week I was challenged by this and I am not sure what the answer is for you, but I know that my prayers are often selfish and small. Our friends in Guinea are praying for a whole tribe of people to experience the Grace of God. They are praying that the Kingdom of God would advance - and it is - in an area of the World that many people consider untouched. But let me tell you the Kingdom of God is advancing here an around the world and we can either get on board or miss out. Let's pray big prayers that lean on the power of God and not just our ability. Let's believe that God can and wants to do something great in our day as He has in days past. Amen and Amen!!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Africa Part 2: African Adventure

video

Graduation - Grace Does Abound



Grace is truly amazing. God really is good to us and His love and faithfulness last a lifetime. I continue to be amazed at how God brings various blessings into our lives. Julie and I are blessed far more than we deserve. I am so grateful for the love that we share in our marriage. We are also blessed with a great heritage of family. Our families have always loved and supported us and for this we are a better couple. Our church family has also provided the needed the encouragement for us as a couple to minister in this community. All of this created a wonderful foundation for me to stand on as I began my doctoral work. I loved each step of the way and I am a better man because of it. I recieved a peace of paper saying that I had earned a degree but I must say that I was graced with much more during the past three years. God has truly done a work of grace. I am a different person. My marriage is stronger. I feel healthier and more equipped to do the work God has called me to be a part of. In short, Grace gifts abound in my life.

Psalm 117 puts it so well:

Praise the Lord, all you nations;
extol him, all you peoples.
For great is his love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.
Praise the Lord.