Saturday, December 30, 2006

Virginia Tech

As a graduate of Virginia Tech all of my attention is on tonight's Bowl Game against Georgia. So, I want you all to be praying that Tech wins!

Does that seem a bit crazy to you? Should we really pray for our team to win a game? Are there no Christians associated with the other team? And, if there are, whose prayer should God answer - theirs or ours?

The Bible says God does not show favorites, but it also says pray without ceasing and to pray about everything.

Here are my thoughts - I don't think God really cares about who wins the game tonight - but He still loves for us to invite Him to join us as we cheer. Prayer is not a way we manipulate God, it's the way we enjoy a relationship with our Father.

Honestly, whether Tech wins or loses won't really affect my life one way or the other - but the relationship I enjoy with God has eternal benefits.

So, should we pray for our team to win? Sure, but it's about loving God and making Him part of your day. And our team’s winning or losing is not a reflection of God's love for us - it's just a game. But, the relationship we build will reveal His love for us in incredible ways throughout this life and the next.

Go Tech...and Go God!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

I Promise To Tell The Whole Truth

We’ve all heard that before – “I promise to tell the whole truth…” I’ve said, “If it’s not the whole truth, it’s not the truth.” Now, I have a question – Is this always true?

This Christmas has been one of a couple of “surprise” gifts. I love being a part of surprising people with good things that make them happy. However, the whole nature of a “surprise” is that it must remain a secret until the time comes for it to be revealed. This leads to… well… many “almost” the truth, but not the whole truth, type of conversations.

Is that wrong?

Somehow I think there is a danger of legalism here in that we cannot ever have fun and surprise people based on the need for always telling the entire truth. But, certainly there are many other times where there is no surprise involved, we simply don’t want to deal with the whole truth.

I guess it depends – some may call this “situational ethics,” but I do not believe that’s a fair label for this situation. In the end, the half truth is for the other person’s benefit (a fun surprise) not trying to save our own tail because the whole truth would reveal wrongdoing on our part.

So, have fun! Surprise others and make them smile. Don’t be legalistic and miss the spirit of the principle. The truth is – we know when we need to tell the whole truth and when we can keep a secret for the benefit of a surprise.

I hope some of you had some great surprises this Christmas!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

I hope you all have had a wonderful Christmas Day!

Be safe and have a great night.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Reality Check

This is actually three days ago as our internet has been down...

Okay, so I’m feeling pretty good about getting more involved with my community this Christmas Season. Helping people I haven’t helped before – being more aware of the less fortunate around me and thanking God for using me in this way this year. And, if I’m honest, feeling a bit proud of myself.

I’m headed out to an appointment this morning, feeling a bit hurried, facing a 45 minute drive to a client’s office. I merge into an open lane and the car in front of me merge’s over into the same lane – and then proceeds to hit his breaks slowing way down. I hit my brakes so as not to totally ruin my day and I figure he’s going to change lanes. Nope, he hits the brakes again. My thought process was, “Oh, they must be lost – poor people – I’ll patiently wait for them to decide what they want to do.” Yeah, right. No, I’m thinking, “What’s this idiot doing!” So, I pull around them on the passenger side and raise my hand with that look that says, “Hey buddy, what’s your deal.” And hit the gas.

It’s at that point that I recognize the passenger as one of my friends who is working with the new church start. Wait it gets better. Remember I just hit the gas. I turn to see the light turning yellow and then red as I speed through the intersection.

Now I’m wondering – who was driving the car my friend is in. Probably a co-worker who he’s been telling all about this great church we’re starting, right? I can hear him explaining – “Oh, yeah, well that’s Dave – he’s one of our Pastors – he’s a real nice guy. Just ignore everything you just saw.”

REALITY CHECK!

Thankfully, the driver was his son who I’m sure will have a great time retelling this story – I used to be his Youth Pastor – uggg. I’m really glad I didn’t give him the “#1 driver” sign (I haven't used that in probably 15 years and I'm really glad I didn't start then).

By the way, my cell phone rang a few seconds later. Of course it was my friend just letting me know how proud he is of me for running the light.

Actually, I’m grateful it was them. I think God was using them to show me how quickly I can become self-centered again. It was His way of saying, “Dave, I’m glad you’re starting to see what I want you to do with your life, but there’s still some rough edges we need to work on.”

Another great lesson on the road of life.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

When You Hit Rock Bottom and the Bottom Falls Out

I had a wonderfully horrible experience this week. I know that’s an oxymoron, but here’s what’s happened…

I met a guy while I was pumping gas. I was heading to lunch with a friend at a restaurant across the street, so I invited him to join us. We shared lunch and conversation for about 2 hours. I learned so much about him and we shared our own life highs and lows. In the end we prayed together and said goodbye. My new friend picked up his bag, got up off the curb (where we shared lunch together) and headed back into the woods…

That’s where he lives.

You see my new friend has been homeless for about four months. He’s struggling with a lot of life issues, emotional issues and spiritual issues (aren’t we all). The really hard part is he’s a really smart guy. He has a family (broken, like many, but a family). Yet, as we head into the coldest months of the year, he chooses to live in the woods. I asked him why – I’ve become a pretty direct person. He said he’s too embarrassed and ashamed to get help. I did my best to explain how there are places close by that WANT to help (he’s been to some of them already), but he simply won’t go.

I think the really sad part is he’s made so many bad decisions in his life he feels like that’s all he will ever do – continue to make bad decisions – he told me so. The truth is, he may be right, and only he can determine if that will come to pass.

The day we met was pretty warm, but it was soon to get very cold. That evening I took him some more water and a sleeping bag and a small book that I prayed he would read and God would reveal the truth to him. I’ve seen him a couple times since then and he’s using the sleeping bag, but it just doesn’t compare to real shelter.

My heart breaks for him, but I cannot make any decisions for him.

What I’ve tried to tell him (but he doesn’t believe) is how much his life has helped me. You see, for some reason I decided to care about this guy I’d never met. Honestly, it’s not me (I explained the real me in my last post – self-centered), but I’ve recently read a book by Rick McKinley called This Beautiful Mess and Rick has helped me put into practice some of the things that until now have just been head knowledge. What I mean is - I’ve known for a long time that God cares about the poor and the widowed and the homeless. I’ve known that my heart should break for the things that break God’s heart. But knowing about things and feeling them take place in your heart are two very different things.

I cannot tell you why I decided to get to know a man I normally would have been friendly towards, but quickly moved away from – accept to say I believe God’s transforming my heart to break for the things that break His heart. I’ll never fully get there. And it is painful – this man has been on my mind almost constantly as I wrestle with what I can do for him without enabling his poor decisions. But then God never said loving people would always be easy – yet He desires for us to love anyway.

I read a quote a while back that said, “You only love Jesus as much as the one you love the least.” I also just read an article (in a pastor’s magazine) that essentially said, “We need to worry less about gaining more knowledge and learn more about how to love people.” Both of these are filled with rich truth about what it means to truly be a Christ-follower.

Where will my friend end up? I really don’t know.

Does it hurt to see him huddled under a sleeping bag in the morning after a very cold night? More than I can explain.

Can I save him? Can I fix him? No – but I can love him; I can choose to see him as God sees him – one made in His own image – truly loved.

I know God wants so much more for my friend, but He never forces us. God allows us to make our own decisions. So, if God respects his decisions, so must I.

I’m beginning to see the world differently now – I’m beginning to be willing to acknowledge all of the brokenness (the Mess), but along with that comes the realization that God wants to break into people’s lives, and reveal His love for them (through us) and when that happens, it’s Beautiful. This world truly is a Beautiful Mess.

Christian Faith - Part 2

So, here’s how I see it – a lot of people I talk with say that life has them feeling…

…tired
…weary
…hurt
…confused

Yet, Jesus said He came to give us life – real life – abundant life. He said His burden was light and that He came to give us rest. He’s called the Prince of Peace.

So, what’s the deal?

Could it be we’ve really lost sight of what matters most? Here’s what I see when I take the time to be honest with myself. I won’t say this is you – I may have never even met you – but I know me pretty well. As for me, I like what I like (profound, you’re thinking, but stick with me). Therefore, I typically do what I like to do. I go where I like to go. I eat what I like to eat. I act the way I like to act.

As you read that did any of you begin to count the “I”s? I focus most of my attention on ME. But that’s kinda ridiculous because I cannot promise myself life, or rest, or peace. If I could I’d have all that – but I can’t – hence I don’t have it – when I’m all about me.

How about you? If you had to account for everything you do, how much of what you do, say, think, etc. is about YOU and what you like?

Here’s the deal – if Jesus is the One who promised life and rest and peace (and many other great things) it only makes sense that if we want that in our lives we need to have Jesus in our lives. To have Jesus in our lives requires that we take the focus off of ourselves and put our focus on Him.

The 64 million dollar question – how do we do that – focus on Jesus?

This is the really unbelievable part – Jesus was happy to teach us how to focus on Him and how to receive these things in our lives – in fact, He wrote it all down for us. That book (actually group of books) we know as the Bible. The Bible isn’t here for us to try and make it all work on our own. The Bible is here for us to discover all that God has already done for us and how we can get credit for all of His work. Seems too good to be true – but why not check it out? What have you really got to lose…your weariness? Your hurt? Your confusion?

One final thought - Jesus’ teachings are the only “religious” teachings that show us that we do NOT have to earn what He has to offer. Every other world religion teaches you have to do something to earn God’s favor – talk about tiring, not to mention impossible. That’s why no other world religion will say you can know for sure that you have received God’s favor – tragic!

Here’s the difficult truth – we must swallow our pride (the thing inside us that says I have to earn it) and surrender to Jesus and then allow Him to transform us – and give us life, and rest, and peace.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Christmas Cheer / Pain

As many of you know, my family and two other families are in the midst of starting a new church. We also have a whole crew of people who have committed to pray for us as we take this journey.

I send periodic updates and prayer requests. After re-reading an update I sent out last night, I decided this was something some of you may benefit from as well. So, I know this isn't part of the Christian Faith discussion, but in many ways it is. Here's a portion of the e-mail I sent:

This week we made a list of all of the things we are currently working on and need to start working on in the near future. While there’s some overlap, the bottom line is there are about 35 “items” we are doing regarding developing Relevant Community Church. Please be in prayer that God will help us prioritize and be efficient in (but not rush through) each of these areas.

As were in the middle of this incredible time of year – remembering our Savior’s birth, I also pray that all of us...will take the time to SLOW DOWN and truly thank God for the indescribable gift of His Son.

I know this can also be a difficult time for many – my own family shares great grief from past losses during this time of year – but we have made the decision to not let the difficulties of this world overcome the majesty and sovereignty of God. We still feel the pain – that’s normal and natural, but we don’t allow it to overcome us.

If this time of year is typically difficult for you – I pray that the God of all comfort would truly bring you the peace that only He can give and that His peace will allow you to refocus on God’s love and mercy.


If any of you have a specific prayer request you would like for me to be praying for, you can e-mail me at Dave@RedoingLife.com. I'll keep your request confidential unless you ask me to share it with others.

Merry (even if sometimes painful) Christmas!

Christian Faith???

There are so many questions and so many answers regarding Christian Faith. What is it? How do you get it? How can you keep it? How do you live by it? On and on. I'm sure at some point I'll comment on all of those, but I want to go back to the quote from my last post - "The Christian faith is NOT an attractive set of ideas or a nice avenue to follow."

I believe many have this view of Christianity - that if I can just do enough "right" things, then I'm "good to go" [as the pre-Ecoli restaurant commercial said]. But the author of this commentary makes the point that - doing the right thing isn't the main point. It's not that doing good things is bad - obviously they wouldn't be called "good" things. It's just that that is not the be all and end all of the Chritian faith. The "good" we do as Christians should be the by-product of something much more significant - our relationship with Christ.

If you're not a follower of Christ, I have no intention of trying to alienate you or make you feel bad - not at all - in fact the opposite is true! I simply want to point out that a vast majority of the people who live in the USA consider themselves Christians - but is that based on having a relationship with Christ or because they generally view themselves as "good"? The difference is critical - and if you would consider yourself in the latter (good person) group this insight may bring you a ton of relief.

I find myself doing it both ways - living out of my relationship with Jesus some days, and other days I fall victim to trying to "live right" in my own strength. So, when I say I know how hard it is to try and always "do the right thing" I have plenty of experience. Do you find it hard to always "do the right thing"? It's really tough! Now here's something interesting - Jesus said [rough paraphrase] "Come to me all of you who are tired and worn out and I will give you rest." Yea, Jesus said He wants to give us "REST" and who couldn't use some of that!?

He also said His burden is light. What does that mean?

Well, I think this post is long enough, so ponder those thoughts and we'll pick it up from here next time!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Jack Frost & Ephesians

I love Jack Frost's hair in Santa Cluase 3. I'm not sure why - I just want hair like that.

What got me thinking about ole Jack was the fact that this week I've been partially sidelined by a cold. By the way, have I mentioned how much I hate winter.

Anyway, the cold has given me some time to slow down (by default) and think. Currently, I'm still medicated and tired so this will be short - but more to come.

For a while I've been drawn to the Letter of Ephesians in the Bible. It's one of those real practical books and talks a lot about how the Christians and the church should behave. Since I'm in the middle of starting a new church, you can see why this would be so interesting to me.

Anyway, here's a quote from a commentary I'm reading: "The Christian faith is NOT an attractive set of ideas or a nice avenue to follow. Rather, it is so deep an engagement with Christ, so deep a union with our Lord, that Paul [the man God used to write the letter] can only describe it as living in Christ."

I know there some Christianeze in there, but that is a very powerful thought!

I'll have more on this in future posts. For now, ponder that thought and see what you think it really means.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Real LIFE

Hello All! I have a war raging within me today. No not emotional or mental (okay maybe I've always got a mental war - but that's a subject for another day). This one is physical - the healthy thingies are fighting with the unhealthy thingies... I've gotta cold. So, if this post makes no sense at all, I'll blame the drugs :-).

What's real life?

I believe there's a huge difference between existing and living! So many times we seem to choose the former over the later - to just "get by." Now, I know we all have our off days - but that's not what I'm talking about. I see so many who day after day seem to settle for just getting through another day.

I know this world can throw some pretty rough stuff our way. Yet, I see examples of people (almost weekly) who face far tougher situations then I do and yet they have learned how to truly live. They have made the choice that regardless of what life gives them - they are going to live life to the full.

Jesus talked about this kind of life (it's one of my favorite Bible verses - John 10:10). He said one of the reasons He came to earth was so that we could have real life. So, what does that look like? Well, people have written entire books on this subject, but let me boil it down to four words (I don't claim that I've summed up the meaning of life with these four words, but it's a start):

L ove
I ntegrity
F orgive
E ternal

Love is a decision more than an emotion. When we learn to truly love others, we will build relationships that will see us through the good and the bad days of life.

Integrity is also a decision. It's choosing to do the right thing and let the chips fall where they may. This gets at being authentic - admiting when we're wrong, when we need help, when we need forgiveness.

Learning to forgive others is incredible freeing for you. So many people walk around with the smoothering weight of unforgiveness against others who don't even know there's an issue. Our unforgiveness "kills" us and has little to no affect on the other person. Learning to forgive removes our burden.

The best life I could imagine is one without all of the garbage of this world, and goes on forever - eternal life. The only way I know to have this is through a peronal relationship with Jesus. Here again, there's so many things I could say to try and convince you of this truth, but that's not really my point. You'll either believe this part or you won't. I'm just sharing how I've discovered real life and since I believe this is all true it would be rude of me not to share this with you.

There you have it - at least a starting point towards having a real life!

Want to see an example of guy who could have let the "trials" of life get him down, but instead choose to have a real life? Check out the videos from Nick Vujicic...

http://www.lifewithoutlimbs.org/media.htm

Sunday, December 10, 2006

More on Motives

Jeri posted a comment about how when we judge someone else's motive it really allows us to react the way we want to react. There's a lot of truth to that statement. The reason I doubt someone else's motives is based on my feelings towards them.

Often times what appears to have taken place may simply be a misunderstanding. I know we could all come up with examples of people who really are just mean, but a vast majority of the time we seem to get hurt by those we thought were friends (which is why it hurts so much).

The reality is, we may simply have misunderstood them. The antidote to this disease is communication. When we preceive someone has done something to hurt us our first reaction should be - "Wait a minute, that doesn't seem like something they would do or say, I need to give them a call (or visit)." Too many of us get most of our exercise by "jumping to conclusions."

I'm the first to admit that I do not always communicate clearly, so there's a pretty good chance I don't always hear clearly. One of the best ways to avoid needing to attempt to judge someone else's motives is to reduce the amount of conflict to begin with by giving them the benefit of the doubt until you have a chance to make sure you really understand the situation (and that understanding comes from talking to them directly - not someone else).

By the way, if it seems like everybody is out to get you, maybe you need to evaluate your own motives and ability to communicate well. The real problem maybe staring back at you in the mirror. I don't mean this as a cut - I mean it to help you see the truth and make things better. And the reason I know this could be true, is beacuse I'm sometimes the guy in the mirror.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Judging Motives

This is one of those ideas I have thought about often and I believe it to be true, but difficult to do. The principle is that we simply cannot judge other people’s motives – and we shouldn’t try. Obviously, this usually only surfaces as an issue when someone we do not trust attempts to do something good or nice for us.

When this happens to me my initial reaction is pretty much always a question – what’s the catch? In other words, I don’t trust you, what are you up to?

I do believe that it is normal and healthy to have this reaction, but here’s the problem. As a Christ follower I know God expects me to forgive others – after all He has completely forgiven me. However, I’m certainly not God and so I find that standard hard to live up to. Yet, that’s still what I know is the right thing to do.

How can others seek peace with me if I don’t give them a chance?

Again, let me be very clear, I do NOT have this one all figured out and do NOT practice what I’m “preaching” as often as I want to. But it is still true – if I want to heal relationships with those who have done me wrong in the past I must allow them a chance to do the right thing (you can see how this ties in with my post earlier this week).

BUT – what if they mistreat me again? What if I’m right and their motives are wrong?

This is the hard part of this idea – because too often their motives are still out of whack. I believe we need to approach these situations with caution – I do not believe we are called to be “doormats” for people to continue to hurt us. This is why we must have another relationship that we know is always solid. And the only One I know who always has my best in mind… is God. It is the security of that relationship that allows me to be willing to risk being hurt by others, because my sense of self-worth does not come from my relationship with other people – it comes from knowing who I am in God’s eyes – lived out in a daily relationship with Him.

My guess is some of you (maybe all of you) – regardless of your current relationship with God find this post a bit challenging to buy. Will you at least take some time to think about it? Consider it a Christmas present to me (and to yourself), to consider how you may be able to restore some old relationships that went bad for some reason or another. If we could all work on treating others better and giving more second (and third and fourth…) chances, what a much more merry Christmas would be.

If you know you’re the one on the end of this deal that “did someone else wrong,” go back and read “It’s Never to Late to Do the Right Thing” post from earlier this week.

Okay, that’s enough for one post. I’d love to get your feedback – so leave me your comments.

Here's one of the best songs I know that talks about who I am because of my relationship with God through Jesus...


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Strength

ESPN has started using a song I recognized from way back to advertise their Monday Night Football. They only play three lines from the chorus which are:

Give me love
Give me hope
Give me strength

I remembered the rest of the chorus goes:

Give me someone to live for
I need it now
I need it now

I was able to find the song and the band – it was The Alarm and the song is called Strength.

I can’t say for sure what the band was trying to say, but what I think they're saying is –

Give me a reason to live – actually they come right out and say give me “someone” to live for. Sounds like they are really searching.

Other parts of the song say, “I need someone I can depend on,” “I don’t know if I’m living or dying,” “I can’t control what I’m going through now, will you light the fire that I need to survive.”

They also talk about the pain of this life.

Which brings me to why I am so glad I’ve found Someone to live for. In fact, we’ll celebrate His birthday in a couple of weeks. Can you relate to this song – the searching – the needing – the desire to have a real purpose for living.

Maybe this Christmas, for the first time, you can truly celebrate the miracle of this Season – God becoming a man to bring us… well… love, hope and strength. If you could use some of these things this Christmas (and for the rest of your life) why not consider finding Someone to live for? Why not come to really know the Christ of CHRISTmas.

If you want to talk more about this you can e-mail me at dave@RedoingLife.com.

Here's another song about searching...

Monday, December 04, 2006

It's Never Too Late To Do The Right Thing

This is a principle I heard some time ago – unfortunately, I do not remember who said it.

It’s so true – It’s never too late to do the right thing!

I have my fair share (probably more than my fair share) of things I wish I had not done – poor decisions, poor timing, poor comments, poor thoughts, poor actions. And, there usually comes that time when you realize that what you have said or done was not the right thing to say or do. The question is – How do I respond when I realize I’ve messed up?

Usually, I want to make it right – I want to fix it. Okay, then why, more often than not, do I NOT fix it?

I believe we deceive ourselves into thinking it’s too late to fix it. You know all of the clich├ęs: The horse has left the barn; the water’s gone under the bridge…

But is that really true? I admit, the hurt cannot be erased, the consequences for poor decisions still must be dealt with, and it will take time to rebuild relationships…but is it ever too late to do the right thing?

Let, me dig a little deeper. Do we ever make it too late for someone else to correct what they have done to us?

Is there a point in our relationships with others where we would hold up the stop sign and say, “Sorry – it’s too late for you to make this right”?

What I realize is that as bad as I am in correcting my mistakes with others, I’m probably worse at drawing the line with others and saying – you’re too late.

I read recently that the only way we are able to maintain a perspective that allows others to come to us and find forgiveness and healing from us is when we keep in mind the ultimate forgiveness and healing we’ve received from God through Jesus Christ. Even with this relationship in my life, I sometimes find it a tough sell to allow others to “make it right” with me.

I guess what it boils down to is the reality that we will (probably more often than we like) find ourselves on both sides of this deal. Sometimes we need to go and make it right, and sometimes we need to allow others to make it right with us. If we remember that Golden Rule from pre-school – we’ll find our relationships will improve considerably. Sure, we’ll still blow it…and so will the guy or gal next to us…but I’m finding the more I practice this principle (from both sides) the better my relationships get and the LESS I need to practice this principle.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Tired

Hello all - sorry I have not posted much this week. This has been a busy week with seminary and work. I'm pretty beat right now, so I'll simply wish all of you Happy December. Yep - it's already December - wow!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

This Week's Video

A little Mercy Me for your viewing and listening pleasure!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Me No Like Winter

Okay, this is one of those "NOT so deep thoughts" blogs.

I don't like winter. Acually it's not winter, it's just cold air I could do without.

Snow and 80 degrees would be awesome!

But, alas, winter is here again. Last year I tried the whole positive mental attitude - you know, look at all of the good things about winter - fires in the fireplace (I think we had maybe 2 last year), snow (I remember a lot of very cold RAIN), etc., etc.

This year, I'm going with the open and honest approach... I hate winter (sorry, cold air).

My quote of the day (don't expect these every day): Cold air belongs on the fridge.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

HAPPY THANKSIGIVING!

I believe that after last week I'm reminded just how many things I do have for which to be thankfull. Often it's the trials of life that help put things back into proper perspective. So, happy Thanksgiving to you all!

My prayer for us:

Father God, thank You for the difficult times that help us embrace and recognize all of the good things You have provided.

Holy Spirit, Comfort those who are struggling today. Help them to be able to remember all the good as well.

Jesus, we thank You for what You have done so that we may have a true and lasting relationship with God... [video below]

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

New Day - New Dreams

I have to admit, the past few days (okay, the last week) has been a rough one. Life situations and circumstances have created many questions I have asked before, but still very few answers.

Once again I must ask myself, "Is God really God or not?"

Becuase of His faithfulness so many times, I do know the answer to this question - He is truly God.

So, today I set out anew - new dreams, new challenges, new questions, new relationships. It's time to get on with life and its time to risk to love again.

The choices is this - don't take any risks by not forming new friendships (this reduces the chance of significant pain when we lose them) or take the chance (this allows me to experience what I was created for - relationships with people and with God). So, empty and safe or risky and full?

It's time for risky and full!

Of course, we will never forget those we have to be apart from, but we must continue to develop new relationships and continue to experience life - ups and downs, good and bad, in sickness and in health, richer and poorer - hey, those sound familiar - that's what real life is all about!

Go live today for all it's worthy!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Worshipping Through the Pain (and tears)

Today was Danny's funeral (as I type those words I still struggle with the reality of it all).

It was a wonderful celebration of his life. A praise band made up of all former students of his youth group led worship and did a great job. Through all of the worship I was crying like a baby and it was really hard. I kept thinking about how there are times where we simply have to worship God and wait for our heart to catch up.

My heart did catch up and I know that God is still on His throne.

I also was reminded just how precious and delicate life is - will you join me to live life to the fullest. It's times like this that I am reminded that tomorrow is not guaranteed (here on earth) and we shouldn't waste a single moment.

Call that friend you've been thinking about recently - just to say "Hi."

Pout less and laugh more.

Fear less and risk more.

Fight less and love more.

Doubt less and live by faith more.

Work less and play more.

Think less about yourself and more about others.

Take less and serve more.

Steal that kiss, hug a little tighter and longer, write a love note.

Live!! I mean really live - don't just exist - live!!

And share your life with those around you - you won't be sorry if you do!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Thank You

Just a quick thank you to all of you who have called to see how I'm doing and for those of you who have prayed for Danny's family and all of us who have been deeply saddened by his passing.

For the past few days I've spent a lot of time outside just contemplating life and God and all of those questions that seem to go unanswered.

I always come back to the fact that if I could figure God out, then He wouldn't be much of a God (I'm really not all that smart :-) ).

The truth is I really do not understand many of the things about God, but I cannot escape the reality that He has changed my life. That in Christ I do find purpose for living. Without Christ this world would be a mostly cold and heartless place.

Friend, if you simply know about Christ, but have never experienced a personal relationship with Him, I'd love for you to share this incredible, life-changing experience. E-mail me at dave@redoinglife.com and I'll share personally with you my experiences and how you too can find real meaning for living.

In one of the sections of the book I'm working on I talk about how so many view religion as being a crutch - because it is. But it's a crutch that helps us get to where we need to go. If you had a broken leg, you could sit on the couch all day and feel sorry for yourself, OR you could get a crutch, get off the couch and get going. Spiritually, religion is the same thing. It helps you get off your spiritual couch and get going. The important question is where does your religion take you? If it leads you to a personal relationship with the living God, then it's a crutch worth leaning on.

Now for a statement that you may (especially if your religious) need to take some time and think about - what happens to the crutch after your broken leg heals? Do you need it anymore? No, you don't. Religion is the same way - once you've begun a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, you no longer need religion.

In all the descriptions of heaven in the Bible, I see no mention of religion - it's all about relationship with God.

Am I advocating abandoning church? No! But I'm advocating that church be soooo much more than religion. If church for you is just about religion, your missing the true purpose for church - you're missing the most critical part - you're missing the relationship with God!

If you're a church leader, let me challenge you - are you leading people toward religion or a relationship? The difference is critical!

More on this in future posts!

Love 'em like Jesus!!

This week's Video -- For Danny's Family

Mercy Me - Homesick

This video is for Danny's family and all of us who look forward to the day we will see him again.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Gut Check

A few posts ago I wrote about Life & Death and being thankful that when a brother or sister in Christ passes from this world it's only "see you later" and not "goodbye."

Today my faith is tested once again on this issue as a friend of mine went home last night. He leaves behind a wife and three young children and I cannot begin to explain why God would allow this to happen.

I also received an e-mail devotional today that said it better than I can...

Who can know what the Lord is thinking?
by John Fischer

“Oh, what a wonderful God we have! How great are his riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his methods! For who can know what the Lord is thinking? Who knows enough to be his counselor? And who could ever give to him so much that he would have to pay it back? For everything comes from him; everything exists by his power and is intended for his glory. To him be glory evermore. Amen.” (Romans 11:33-36)

I have loved these verses for a long time – ever since I did a detailed study of the book of Romans as a young man. When you come upon this statement of praise in context, you realize Paul wrote this after three chapters of trying to explain God’s plan for the salvation of all people – how God picked the Jews to be his chosen people, how the Jews rebelled and God turned to the Gentiles, and how the Jews will once again share in God’s mercy. Salted and peppered throughout are statements of God’s predestination and man’s responsibility that have baffled us ever since and eluded the theologians’ attempts to explain. In fact, our attempts to grasp contradictory concepts like free will and predestination have driven Christians into warring camps and divided the church for centuries. It is precisely why Paul blasts off into worship here, to show us that when our minds can’t go any further, we need to stop acting like we know everything – admit we don’t know anything – and worship God.

“Oh, what a wonderful God we have!” exclaims Paul, and in essence goes on to say, He’s way past my being able to explain everything. This is as far as my little mind can take me. Don’t ask any more from it, because I’ve already taxed the poor thing too much already!

Sometimes you just have to throw up your hands and revel in the wisdom and glory of God. Sometimes you just have to humble yourself and admit what you don’t know – might never know. I’m not suggesting this is an excuse for being dumb. Nor does it condone poor scholarship. We need to study, and think, and research, and do the background work necessary to build our confidence in the Word of God and what it says to us. God gave us a mind to use and not waste, but that mind can only go so far. Worship is what happens when the mind runs out of reasons.

Is there something you don’t understand, whether an intellectual question or a question about your life – what God is thinking? Go back to the verses at the top of this devotional and read them in light of your questions, and worship. Sometimes that’s all you can do.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Sad Day

Our family had to say goodbye to our family dog of 13+ years today.

It's pretty crazy how much our pets really do become part of the family. The most difficult part for me is watching my family struggle with the grief - I feel pretty helpless.

I've already posted some thoughts about this when we first got the news that her time was short with us - so I'll leave this post short and just ask that you say a prayer for us as we adjust to life without Skeeter.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Doctor Visit

I just returned from my annual medical check-up (yeah, I'm at the age they want to see if I'm still breathing every year).

I got to see my regular doctor. That may not seem like a big deal, but last year I saw a different doctor. They both do a good job of running the right test and doing the proper physical exam, but there's a major difference between the two of them.

My regular doctor remembers my family history, he remembers the things I like to do for exercise. He spent the first 15-20 minutes just sitting and talking with me about how I am feeling. We talked about all the little things that you forget to ask about when you finally get to the doctor (especially if you have the 2-3 minute doctor visit).

Here's the difference between last year's check up and this year's. My regular doctor actually cares about how I am doing - not just the obvious things, but in all the little ways. He takes the time to "dig" a little. Why? Because if he can spot a problem while it's still little, he can keep it from becoming a big problem.

Our relationships are the same way. Do you have 2-3 minute relationships? The type where if something is obviously wrong you'll notice, but otherwise you're pretty clueless to how the other person is doing. Or are you developing the kind of relationships where you "dig" a little to make sure they are really doing well?

I wish I could say my relationships fall into the second category, but they often are more like the 2-3 minute type.

Let's see, we need a name for the deeper (and better) relationships... how about - "loving." That's what Jesus talked about - loving God and loving others. To really do that takes more than 2-3 minutes.

I want to develop more "loving" relationships - how about you?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

New Vid for the Week

A Brief Interview with Casting Crowns & their song Glory

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Life & Death

Our household is in the midst of a sad time. Our family dog of the last 13+ years has been diagnosed with cancer and the vet has told us she will probably live only another 2-4 weeks. We've decided that if she shows any signs of being in pain we will have to put her to sleep.

It's times like this that the reality of death is apparent to all of us. For me, the most difficult time is watching my wife and girls struggle with the sadness of this situation - knowing I cannot do anything about it.

As difficult as these times are with our pets, it's so much more difficult when it is a loved one. One thing that makes saying goodbye to those we love easier is if we know it's really not "goodbye," but "see you later."

You see the Bible talks about how when we bury loved ones we will be in one of two situations - one is we will truly have to say "goodbye." The other choice is we can know that it's only "see you later." What's the difference? It's where we are with God - and each one of us has to make our own decision.

The Bible says some must grieve the loss of a loved without any hope of seeing them again. Others are able to grieve a little easier - knowing we will see them again.

I sometimes feel a little weird at funerals. When I know the person we are burying had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, it's difficult for me to get too bummed out, because I know I too have that same relationship with God and I will see this person again in a place of no more sickness, pain or death. So, while it's natural to miss someone, it's truly not the end of the world.

Here's what concerns me most, though, for us in America. So many believe they are Christians, but they come to that belief by default (I'm not Jewish or Muslim or Buddhist, etc., so I must be a Christian). Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. The Bible teaches us that we have to accept Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, only THEN do we become a member of God's eternal family.

If you're not sure where you stand with God and you want to talk about this privately, you can e-mail me at dave@relevantcc.com.

As for me and my immediate family, it's comforting for me to know that if I go first - my family can rest assured that they will see me again and vice versa.

Do you have this same hope?

Monday, November 06, 2006

The Book Bug

The book bug has bitten me! There are so many great things God has done in my life and in the life of my family that I want to share with others. My hopes are that others would also trust God to bring good from their difficult times.

I know all of us have faced difficulties (many of us are facing them right now). So, if an encouraging word would help turn things around, I'd love to be that voice.

Anyway, over the past couple of days I've spent numerous hours at this keyboard and we'll just have to wait and see what develops. I have a bunch of random thoughts and stories - I'm just not sure how it will all fit together.

If nothing else it's been a good exercise for me to reflect on God grace and mercy - and that's never a bad thing!

One last thought tonight. As I've been taking the time to reflect, it has reminded me how many people have been a vital part of my life. Although I think about these people from time to time, I rarely take the time to thank them with a little note, e-mail, phone call or a lunch together. I want to be better about connecting (or reconnecting) with my friends.

How about you? Are there a few people that come to your mind as you read this that haven't heard from you in a while? Why not jot them and note or pick up the phone and give them a call. I bet they'd love to hear from you!!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Writing a Book???

I've always (even when I was 6 months old :-) ) thought about writing a book, but I never really had the energy to figure out HOW to do that. I mean the writing part I get, but all those numbers and stuff on the copyright page - that's just scary.

So, yesterday I was meeting with a lady who I had done some accounting work for in the past. She wanted some information on starting a business. Of course, my first question is always, "What type of business are you starting?" She said, "I'm a publisher." ;-0

Yeah, so anyway, we talked a little about record keeping and all that really boring stuff and then we talked a lot about publishing. Well, she's encouraging me to write a book. The cynic in me says, of course, I think the publisher gets paid whether a single book is sold or not. But the that's-so-crazy-it-just-might-work part of me says - go for it!

So, yeah, I'm thinking about writing a book. I just wish I had something worthwhile to say :-)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Disciples Car

I know this will drive (pun intended) some of you crazy if I don't give you my thoughts - I kinda feel like Rush Limbaugh here.

The disciples obviously drove a Honda...

... Scripture tells us that the were often "in one accord."

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Question

Okay, that last blog was too...uh...deep to just leave it at that for today. So, I have a question that's been bugging me and maybe you all can help.

What kind of car did the disciples drive?

First Comment + How's Your Home Life?

Hey, I'm so proud. Someone read my blog and even posted a comment...


...thanks, mom.

Okay, so the only other people reading is my mom and dad - I don't know if that's good or bad :-0

But I am thankful for parents who care about me and are involved in my life - I'm not sucking-up here - I do have a point to make. Okay I'm sucking-up a little, but I still have a point.

I meet so many people (especially in my work with youth) who's parents are not really involved. Sometimes they have split up, sometimes they are just too busy. Whatever the reason, the results are devastating. [I'm not sure I spelled that right, but if not, my mom will let me know :-)]. That's a humor break because of a very deep subject.

The truth is there are times I almost feel guilty about having a healthy home life when I was growing up (and still today). But here's the important part - there is One who knows everything about you. There's One who made it to all your games, or plays, or recitals. There's One that truly does love you unconditionally. Here's the problem - you cannot really see Him. Of course I'm talking about God, the One who wants to be your heavenly Father, but it can be so difficult to have a relationship with an unseen God. Oh, and by the way, God thought about this, too. That's why He sent His Son, Jesus.

Now, you still may say, but Jesus left this earth almost 2,000 years ago - and you're right, but we have a recorded history of who He was and what He taught and how He feels about us - the Bible.

Now, I won't get into all the proofs of the validitiy [mom, is that spelled right?] of the Bible - at least not today (comment if you have specific questions on this). The truth is we can know God and we can sense His presence in our lives if we are just willing to open our hearts to Him. The Bible talks about the wind - we cannot see the wind either, but we can see the effects of the wind and we can know that it is there. The same is true for God.

Why not give Him a chance? Whether your home life was/is good or bad - He cares about you and wants to have a relationship with you.

Vid of the Week - Let's Get This Party Started

Hit the play arrow below to start the video...

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween - Part 2

As I write this I have to keep getting up and going to the door. The doorbell just keeps ringing and ringing. Of course it’s just a little after 7 pm… and it’s Halloween.

The funny thing is while I probably know some of the people who have come to my door tonight – I don’t recognize many of them. I think it has something to do with all of the masks they are wearing. Now, those of you who know me know where I am going with this one…we all like to wear masks…everyday! As I talk with people what I find is that very few are really themselves most of the day. I mean they are themselves…inside, but to the rest of the world they are mostly who they think others want them to be. We wear the “right” clothes. We drive the “right” car…or truck…or SUV. We live in the “right” neighborhood. We hang out with the “right” people. But for all we are doing to be “right” could we have it all wrong?

I’ve been working on some writing about TRANSPARENCY, and while this has a ways to go, the basic thought is – if I don’t have any secrets then there’s not much anyone could say that would hurt me. If people know my hurts and hang-ups then there’s nothing they could say to someone else that I wouldn’t be willing to tell them myself – there’s nothing to hide, so there’s nothing to be afraid of. Well, there’s a lot more to say on this idea, but I’ll let you chew on that one a little – and I’d love to get your comments on that idea.

Happy UNmasking!

Halloween - Part 1

This is one of those holidays where I struggle. As a believer, I’m not terribly fond of a holiday that celebrates death, evil and fear. Those just are not real uplifting themes to me.

Yet, aren’t these things just as real as life, joy and peace? Maybe it’s my natural reaction to not want to think of myself as mortal. I don’t really want to dwell on how short life is and how quickly it’s over. But the truth is – death and evil and fear are very much alive (no pun intended) in our world today.

So, what a good time to reflect on what’s my life about. What’s really important to me? Our next holiday is thanksgiving (which I like a lot more than Halloween), but the truth is without the bad there wouldn’t be much reason to celebrate the good. So, what am I thankful for and what am I doing with my life? Great questions!

A few friends and I are in the very first stages of starting a new church. What a great time! And yet, it so easy to start worrying about all of the things that could go wrong… a little fear comes into view. And what about the one who does not want us to succeed… feels like evil is close by. And what if this whole thing falls apart…what if the dream…dies? You see even in the good things there are the not-so-good things. So what does all this mean? I don’t know – at least not fully. But I do know that I want to live life to the full. This reminds me of my favorite verse – John 10:10 – Jesus says, “The thief's (talking about the Devil) purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My (Jesus) purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”

I guess this means the choice is ours – we can either take whatever life (and the Devil) throw at us, or we can seek to live for Jesus and find true life – in fact, eternal life.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Is today just another day?

A question that often comes to mind for me - Is today just another day?

As my life begins to accelerate towards the big four-o, I find myself asking this question more often. I really do not want today to be just another day. I want to make a difference in someone else's life. I want to do something - even if it's just step one - towards making this world a better place to live.

The problem - what I think will make this world better seems to change as often as the seasons.

So, today, I once again wonder - is today just another day? My spiritual life tells me today is a gift from God, my Bible tells me today is another day meant to be lived to its fullest. My heart tells me, God has a perfect plan and His timing is not always (in fact, is rarely) my timing. So, today, my desire is to look for ways to bring joy to someone else - just to make them smile (if only for the moment). And pray that God would work through me to fulfill His dreams for me and for those I come in contact with today.

Hey God... thanks for another day - help me to live it "maxed-out" for You!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Maiden Voyage

Hello All! Only time will tell if I maintain this blog, but my intentions are to simply journal my thoughts. As a pastor and a church planter, a good number (maybe all) will relate to life and God - as that is what I think about most often. Maybe more specifically, what kind of life does God want for me and how do I get it.

Check back every once in a while and see how my journey is going.