It all boils down to one thing…

We are entering a season where people are more apt to care more about germs, colds, and the flu than at any other time of the year.  Anyone of us has the potential to carry any one of these and spread it to someone else.  In a sense, we are, potentially, couriers picking up sickness and delivering it to others.

If you think about it, we all have the potential to be “couriers” of so much more than the common cold and flu.  Individually, we all have ideas, thoughts, goals, dream, and aspirations that we carry with us each day.  Some of these will be accomplished and lived out because of the internal drive that exists that will push it into being.

I keep thinking about all the ways God can or could use me for His purposes.  Some of the ways that come to the surface the most are in the realm of writing and pastoring.  I meditate on His Word and think on those things.  I know he has gifted me.  No matter the vehicle He uses through me – it all boils down to one thing…. love.  We are all to be couriers of His love to the world we live in.  No matter the arena – love is the central theme He wants to share with those in which we come in contact.

I’m reminded of a time when I was a courier for FedEx.  It was Christmas Eve and there had been a lot of snow in key locations around the country.  This meant late deliveries and in many cases no deliveries.  It was late in the afternoon.  I was sick and it was very cold that day.  We were all messaged that there was a late plane landing in Atlanta and packages would be shuttled out to us for afternoon delivery.  Despite how I felt I was excited to be able to help spread a little Christmas cheer with a few more deliveries.  I just had no idea how one delivery was going to impact my life.

It was literally the last delivery of the day.  I pulled up to the front of the house and I could see two children peering through the curtain in the window.  As I put my truck in park, I could see them begin to jump and down with excitement.  I retrieved the package from the back of the truck as I wiped a little moisture from my eye – I was moved by the excitement I could see.  The children, along with their dad, greeted me halfway in between their house and my FedEx truck.  I handed the dad my clip board for him to sign for the package.  He told me that it was a package from their grandparents and they had been waiting all day for this box.

Some 10 years later, I still recall that moment as a courier for FedEx.  Why?  Why recall a delivery to a family whose name I can’t recall?  Why, get a little misty-eyed over this delivery?  I believe we are all couriers with the potential to impact the lives of others for the glory of God.  What I delivered was a box that contained items that have probably long been forgotten.  More than the contents of that package I couldn’t see – I realized I was really a courier delivering love from grandparents to their grandchildren for Christmas.  I am glad to have had the pleasure of being the one to have that experience that day.  For a moment, I had the opportunity to forget about “the job” or the fact that I was cold and sick.  In that moment, being a courier had great meaning and purpose.

How much more the joy we are to share the love of our heavenly Father with those He loves so much.  “For God so loved the world, he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal live.”  (John 3:16, NIV).

How is it God has gifted you to carry His Message of love? Who is it that needs to hear this Message of love from you today?  Go and deliver it in a manner He has gifted you!

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Lost Dogs in Dallas, GA

Tonight the Lost Dogs were playing at Area 251/Real Life Church in Dallas, GA.  This was the 14th show on their tour.  What an amazingly talented group of guys!!  If you have the opportunity to go and see one of their shows I highly encourage it.  IMG_2001

The Lost Dogs are made up of Mike Roe, Terry Taylor, Derri Daugherty, and Steve Hindalong.  I have followed these guys since the 80’s.  Roe with the 77’s, Taylor with Daniel Amos, and Daugherty/Hindalong with The Choir.  I first heard of the 77’s and Daniel Amos on what used to be “96 Rock” in Atlanta.  They would play “Christian” music early on Sunday mornings.  As a new Christian, I would get up with my cassette player and record the hour long show “Higher Frequency”.

Tonight was a great reminder for me…  To look back at some of my roots in following Jesus.  Music is a powerful thing and when connected with the Holy Spirit it can be totally life changing!!  I’m thankful tonight God has set my feet upon the rock and made my foot steps firm.

If you are unfamiliar with this band check out their website.  There you can discover more about them and check out the latest music.

A final plug for Area 251/Real Life Church… a great hometown church located in Dallas, GA.  If you live in the area by all means check them out if you are looking for a place to connect with God.  Mark Blackburn of Jacob’s Trouble is the Pastor who is a gifted teacher and worship leader.

His blessings are beautiful…

Last Sunday I sat on the deck early for prayer and coffee.  I began to read over one of the passages I was going to use in the message I was speaking at church.  As I read, Matthew 6:25-34, I could hear all of the birds in the trees throughout my backyard.  The incredible sound began to overtake my attention.  For a few moments all I could think about were all of those birds.  Jesus said,

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

God takes care of the needs of those birds I could hear singing.  He cares for our needs as well.  I say “His blessings are beautiful…” because God deeply cares for all of our needs.  Lent this year was such a powerful time.  One of the great blessings that came my way when I wasn’t looking was my pastor and Expedition Church.  This all came about shortly after the beginning of Lent.  We ran into each other at a restaurant on a Friday night.  I visited on Sunday…  3 months later, give or take a few days, I am speaking on a Sunday morning.  I know more opportunities will arise and God will continue to pour into me so I can in turn give to others.  That’s what is so beautiful about serving God.  He gives to His people – His people have a choice to do with what He has given.  To hold on to it or to share it.  It’s when we share what God has given us with others that our lives really are fulfilled.

Do you want to experience the power of the Holy Spirit in your life?  I encourage you to seek the Kingdom of God first and His righteousness.  Trust Him.  As you trust Him, be obedient to the words of Jesus in the Book of Matthew,

  19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Seek Him first in your season

What season do you find yourself in today? Would you characterize your life as being in the Spring, Summer, Fall, or Winter?

I know where I live the season seems a bit messed up. It’s May and I’m writing on the back deck of our home wearing a sweatshirt. The Fall-like weather feels great but it’s a little unusual. I’ve read today where there are still major snowstorms going on. It seems crazy not being able to predict what to wear from day to day. It’s as if we are in the midst of a climate shift.

Just as the seasons change our lives change and go through different seasons of cold, dryness, warmth, and growth. During the springtime of life, growth happens almost flawlessly. If you are a Christian, in the springtime, the Word of God is alive and sharp in your life. The Holy Spirit seems to be speaking at every turn. There is a great sense of excitement in the air. I know during these moments of intense growth it is easy to become complacent and begin to expect this to be the “norm”. If you find yourself today in the midst of a spiritual growth spurt be alert to the unpredicted shifts in the climate. Don’t look at it as a set back – rather understand God is going to use this time to bring about more growth.

Maybe your life is characterized by being in the “dead of winter.” Don’t lose hope. Know that Spring is near. Draw close to God and don’t worry. No matter how cold your winter may feel – He is with you and He will sustain you. Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness!

We aren’t to worry about what tomorrow may bring. Jesus said,

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. (Matthew 6:34, The Message).

I know there have been several mornings in recent days I have been surprised by the frosty-like weather. As I walked to the car with my son several mornings ago, we talked about how Fall-like it was. It reminded me of what Oswald Chambers has to say about uncertainty,

We are uncertain of the next step, but we are certain of God. As soon as we abandon ourselves to God and do the task He has placed closest to us, He begins to fill our lives with surprises. When we become simply a promoter or a defender of a particular belief, something within us dies. That is not believing God—it is only believing our belief about Him. (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, April 29).

Do you trust God and believe in Him with your entire life? Or are you holding on to what you believe about Him? As Chambers points out, there is a difference in believing in God and believing in your belief about Him. I think a lot of times we throw up a prayer of hope without faith in Him. We pray hoping what we believe about Him is true. Then when things don’t turn out the way we hoped then we get mad at Him. I think that’s one reason why Jesus teaches us to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. Seeking Him first removes our agendas and puts our focus where it needs to be.

Are you ready… Are you prepared for what tomorrow may bring? I believe you are ready if your focus today is on what God is doing right now. Pray and seek Him first.

Overwhelmed with the presence of God

It has been awhile since I have posted here.  I realize that it is a technical mistake to not continually post – especially if one wants to keep those following as a follower.  I appreciate those who have messaged me or spoke with me in some way that I needed to write.  That’s always so encouraging… thank you!

So, why have I not been writing? It began at the start of Lent.  After reading, Wonderstruck, about Margaret Feinberg‘s experience around Lent, I decided that this year I would take those days leading up to Easter to focus.  And focus is what I did! I sat down to write several times but each time I felt like my focus was being divided.

Matthew 6:33 was the basis for my focus.  I began praying around these words of Jesus, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.”  I researched the Bible and prayed with the focus of God’s Kingdom and His righteousness.  As I began praying, I realized how self-centered my prayer life had become.  My praying over the years had become about the later part of Matthew 6:33, “…and all these things will be given to you as well.”  I realized I had been seeking “things” rather than seeking God.  My relationship had become about the physical over the spiritual-love-life that God so desires to have with His people.

“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied withgetting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. (Matthew 6:30-33, The Message).

At the beginning of Lent, there was a lot of things that came up against me and my family.  I was beginning to wonder if what I had began to do was the right thing or not.  I pressed on!  With each obstacle, I spoke to God and prayed with His Kingdom and His righteousness as my focus.  I did not ever pray about the specific issues that came up.  I trusted the words of Jesus to seek first His Kingdom.

I write in a journal most days.  That journal at times becomes a list of stuff I am wanting God to bless me with.  I begin praying about those things and neglect intimately seeking God.  Think with me for a moment about your best friend.  Do you have them in mind? OK, now imagine every time you see them instead of talking with them you ask them for something.  Not ever once inquiring about their life or thinking about their needs, etc.  All you want out of them is something they can give you.  How long do you think you are going to have that relationship if it is only based on you asking them of something?  It’s not going to be much of a relationship is it?

If all we have are lists of things we are praying about – where is the relationship with God? 

During Lent, I came to realize my past “comfort” was found in praying over my problems rather than finding real comfort from the Holy Spirit.  Because the Holy Spirit is at work around us, all of the time, God knows what we need.  We don’t have to “worry” our prayers before God over those things.  He truly desires for us to live in freedom rather than fear.  I found freedom this year in knowing God.  I am so thankful for the work of the Holy Spirit in my life.  I am thankful for this time of Lent.  I am thankful for a renewed passion for love I have for God.  I am thankful for all the Holy Spirit has done in the past couple of months.  I am amazed and so blessed.  I can honestly say with great passion and grace I have been Wonderstruck by God.

I will pursue You

Give my lifeToday is Ash Wednesday and marks the beginning of Lent.  It is a time that many Christians take to prepare themselves leading up to the celebration of Easter.  I have heard of those who are giving up things like chocolate, Facebook, Coke, or some other daily habit during this time.

Lent is not something my church tradition has observed.  But I have grown increasingly curious to look at it more the past couple of years.  After reading Margaret Feinberg‘s book, Wonderstruck, I have decided to take the next 40 days as a time to focus my prayer life.

Margaret writes about how she fell in love with this time of Lent.  She talks about God leading her to give up prayer… at least prayer in the form that she had grown accustomed – lengthy prayers.  God had instructed her to shorten her prayers to three words.  Imagine that!  Condensing every prayer down to three words.  I don’t know if my brain has the vocabulary or creativity to accomplish that kind of prayer.

During Lent, I’m not going to cut my prayers down to three words but I am going to cut out praying for my personal needs over the next 40 days.  Jesus says in Matthew 6:33, “Seek first God’s kingdom and what God wants. Then all your other needs will be met as well.” (New Century Version).  I’ve been noticing how much my praying is focused on me… my needs… my wants… I have made prayer about me and not about Jesus.Your presence

Jesus says if we will seek God’s kingdom first – what He wants – THEN our other needs will be met.  It seems like I have had my prayer life backward.  Praying for my needs and not necessarily seeking first God’s kingdom.  Over the next 40 days I want to grow closer to God and I want to get to know Him on a deeper level in the power of His Holy Spirit through prayer.

Oswald Chambers states,

The goal of my spiritual life is such close identification with Jesus Christ that I will always hear God and know that God always hears me (see John 11:41). If I am united with Jesus Christ, I hear God all the time through the devotion of hearing. A flower, a tree, or a servant of God may convey God’s message to me. What hinders me from hearing is my attention to other things. It is not that I don’t want to hear God, but I am not devoted in the right areas of my life. I am devoted to things and even to service and my own convictions. (My Utmost for His Highest, February 13).

Over the next 40 days I want my life to be marked by being devoted to the right things.  To the pursuit of walking in His presence.  How are you going to spend these days leading up to the celebration of Easter?

Are you prepared?

Photo by James WhiteThere were two farmers who were both praying for rain.  But only one of them prepared his field.  Which farmer do you think was praying with faith? (Facing the Giants, The Movie)

Do you take a trip or plan your vacation without first counting the cost and consulting a map to determine how you are going to get to your destination?  I know the way to my mother’s house.  But each time I make the trip I consult the map, calculate the cost, and determine how long it is going to take to get there.

John the Baptist came preaching a message of baptism.  He came to prepare the way for people to receive the message Jesus would bring.

“That explains it,” said Paul. “John preached a baptism of radical life-change so that people would be ready to receive the One coming after him, who turned out to be Jesus. If you’ve been baptized in John’s baptism, you’re ready now for the real thing, for Jesus.” (Acts 19:4, The Message).

Maybe you have been made ready and you have begun following Jesus.  Now the question is, “What is it he is preparing you for?”  I believe we are always being prepared for something.  God takes all of our experiences in life and puts them together for His purposes and His glory.  He isn’t going to waste anything.  The hinderance to our moving forward tends to come in at a time of failure.  How we respond to that “failure” is crucial to our moving forward.

In Matthew 4, Jesus calls Peter to follow and immediately Peter follows.  Peter spends the next three years with Jesus being prepared for a future that he had not come to a complete understanding of.  Leading up to the time when Jesus was to be crucified – Jesus prepared Peter and the other disciples for what was to come.  In John 21, after the resurrection, Jesus prepares Peter once again for what is still to come.  John tells us Jesus was telling Peter to, “feed his sheep.”  Jesus also hinted to Peter at the kind of death he would suffer.  Once again Jesus says to Peter, “Follow me.”

Peter’s life is an example of the growth we each experience as we follow Jesus.  As we read the Gospels, we see all of the life-lessons each of the disciples experienced as they followed Jesus.  There were a lot of great moments as they followed and trusted him.  But there were also moments of failure… even denial as we read concerning Peter.  Jesus doesn’t give up on the man.  He continues to love, forgive, and prepare.

Maybe you are at a place in life where you have failed in some way.  I hope this is a reminder to you that Jesus loves you.  Jesus forgives you.  And that Jesus is still preparing you for your destiny.  Have you been praying for “rain”? Then prepare your field and get ready for the rain.

Photo by: James White