Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Rare Treat

I had the unique and rare privilege of taking my wife to a concert last Friday. It was unique because it was one of our very favorite artists, Mark Schultz, and rare because the number of concerts we've attended together in over 25 years could be counted on one hand!

If you know anything about Mark Schultz, he has a remarkable gift from God which he displays, more often than not, by writing what I'll call "story songs" - songs which tell a poignant story in usually 5 minutes or less, and nearly always leave you with tears in your eyes (or streaming down your face).

As he sang, shared and ministered, there were a dozen things I could have taken away from that night, but the one that stood out most came from a friend of his who had heard one of Mark's newest songs for the first time. His friend's remark went something like this: "I knew if you stayed around here this would happen - YOU would stop writing songs and GOD would start writing them."

Now, most of us would give about anything to have the kind of gifts and talents that Mark Schultz possesses, but it occurs to me that, no matter what kind of abilities we've been given, the same potential, the same possibility exists for each of us. Think about it; couldn't you take most anything you do and put it into this sentence: "I knew this would happen - if you'll stop _________, God will start _________."
  • If you'll stop impressing people with you, God will start impressing people with Himself.
  • If you'll stop trying to win all the time, God will start giving you real victories.
  • If you'll stop taking care of you first, God will start taking care of you best.
  • If you'll stop worrying about tomorrow, God will start improving today.
  • If you'll stop living primarily for yourself, God will start showing you the joy in others.
  • If you'll stop carrying the hurts of the past, God will start revealing your great future.

See, you have the same potential to touch lives that Mark Schultz does, in your own, God-given ways. Don't underestimate what He wants to...what He can do with you if you'll just let Him.

Friday, May 21, 2010


Every once in a while, an "older" idea resurfaces in my life, and such was the case earlier this week. This "old" idea (relatively speaking) had to do with Worship - what it is and what it is meant to look like in the life of a Christian. If you are an attender of North English Christian Church, you might even remember us talking about this before.

I think that the reason it came up again was a growing awareness of my own inadequacy at it, and a nudge from God's Spirit that I haven't been doing near enough of it. I'm sure that if I saw what is available to me from God and compared it to what I actually utilize, I would be quite embarrassed that far too often, I settle for far too little; not with what I attain, but in what I seek...what I dare to ask of God (and expect). Worship is no different!

This little acronym has helped me in times past, and I am committed to praying it...to living it...more than ever, lest I settle for "crumbs from under the table" when God has prepared for me a "banquet" beyond imagination! Here goes the acronmyn:

W - Wondering at God's majesty & the beautiful intricacies of His plan
O - Offering myself to Him to be filled, corrected & used
R - Removing the obstacles to my relationship with Him (past, present & future)
S - Submitting myself to Him = beyond offering, to actually yielding any resistance
H - Hearing His voice so that I may maintain direction & purpose in my life
I - Inviting His wisdom so that I do not succumb to "common sense"
P - Proclaiming His name so that there is never a doubt as to Who gets the credit or in Whom salvation lies (not me!)

Not the only definition of Worship on the market, but a clarion call as to what my life should consist of...what it must consist of...if I am going to "glorify God and enjoy Him forever" (Westminster Catechism).

When's the last time you worshipped like this? When you were a worshipper like this? If it's been a while, why not take care of that issue right now - He's waiting for you...for me...like always!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Living & Life

As you might expect, we had a great celebration of Mothers at our service last Sunday, and in some respects, of all women who are seeking to be "The Greatest Woman of All" (at least in God's eyes). It was beautiful and hopefully, every woman there left feeling affirmed and encouraged - if not by their present, at least with their future!

As we looked at what God says makes a great Mom (and woman), it struck me that it really could be summed up in this simple statement: People who focus on making a LIVING end up being remembered with only a headstone; people who focus on making a LIFE end up being remembered with a legacy and don't even need a headstone!

Great moms are classic in this arena: they are not bound by their past, they put their families first, they serve humbly and foster a godly heritage. My mom never focused on making a living and consequently, contributed greatly to making a life - not only for her family then, but for my family now.

In a very real sense, when you focus on making a life, the people around you and those who come after you are your headstone, for they become a legacy that will be around for untold generations, impacting infinitely more people than any headstone ever will!

The Apostle Paul grasped this when, in 2 Corinthians, he stated: "You are our letter, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts." This only happens when we focus on making a life and not a living. So which one are you giving yourself to? Thanks, Mom, for choosing to make a life!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


I have a confession to make: I am a weather nut! Yes it's true - I am one of those people who has enabled The Weather Channel to gain its unprecedented fan base, and am more than a little embarrassed to tell you how many of their weather reporter's names I actually know! Worse yet, I have successfully passed my ideosyncrasy onto my only son. If you ever want to know the forecast for the next 7 days, no matter where you live, just ask him and he can probably tell you!

This preoccupation with the weather hasn't been all bad, though, and recently, as I was observing a gathering storm on the horizon, I made a rather profound observation (at least to me) that you probably had figured out a long time ago: storm clouds are deceptive. Not just with their wind, direction and intensity, but in their very appearance.

Haven't you ever noticed how black a cloud can look when gathering, but how gray it can become when you're in the midst of it? Just what causes this phenomenon? It all lies in whether or not the sun is shining on the cloud. Short version? Only when the sun is shining on the storm cloud can you see how black it really is; apart from the sunshine, even the blackest cloud becomes merely gray (and not nearly so threatening in appearance).

And then God gave me His nearly routine "ah-ha" moment when I realized how much this is like sin in our lives. Take your pick of a growing list of things that are sinful and you'll find that apart from the Light which Christ brings, most of them usually don't look that bad. Gray and questionable maybe, but never black!

But take that same sin and expose it to the Light of Christ and you will instantly see it for what it is: black, dangerous and destructive. So what do we tend to do? A brief glance of the culture around us...even the Christian culture...and it is readily apparent that the easiest thing to do is to surround the black clouds with other black clouds as we attempt to convince ourselves and others that our "cloud" really isn't that bad.

What should we do? Take that black cloud (which by this time is barely gray and certainly not dangerous) and expose it to the Light of Christ. Then see what it looks like! His light will always show it for what it is, and hopefully, with a clear view of our "cloud," we will realize the danger it contains and the importance of getting as far away from it as possible.

Yes, storm clouds can be very deceptive, but only we can be deceived. 2 Corinthians 2 closes with these words, "...for we are not ignorant of his (Satan's) schemes." Don't be fooled by the appearance of those storm clouds. Stay in the Light and you never will be!