Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A New Paradigm

I'm finishing up another seminar class. I believe this one has, by far, been the best one I have taken. The material is practical and relevant. It is helping me "put legs on" beliefs and views I have held for a while about church and religion.

I'll be sharing many of my thoughts with you (via this blog) over the next few weeks (or longer).

Dave

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Worry Poll

Well, the "worry" poll closed with all but one of you worrying most about your future (myself included).

The future is a funny thing when you think about it. We have very little control of what happens next year or even the next few minutes. Sure, we can make plans, but life has a way of throwing curve balls.

I guess the best advice I can think of is - plan for tomorrow, but don't miss today. Live in the moment.

I often catch myself thinking if I just get ___ or when ___ happens everything will be great or if ___ would just do ___ everything would be better. Yet, most of these things I really can't control and I miss today worrying about tomorrow.

A phrase I've become very fond of and remind myself often with is "enjoy the journey!" Don't miss out on all of the great things happening right now because you think something better is coming tomorrow. If better things come - great, but today can be pretty great, too.

Enjoy the journey!

There is a new poll question up now.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Loving People

How can I love people more?

This has been a constant question in my life for the past six months or so. I believe that my two main purposes in life are to love God and to love people. The God part is hard when things get messed up in my life, but it’s a whole lot easier than the “loving people” part.

I trust God, I don’t trust people (at least not the way I trust God).

But, do I have to trust people to love them? Not if I’m attempting to love them unconditionally.

I watch the movie Georgia Rule this week. My first thought after it was over was, “That didn’t do much for me.” But, then I started thinking about “Why?”. Without giving away the story line, the basis of the story is a family that’s dysfunctional and abusive. Thankfully, I did not have to deal with that growing up. But, it also means that I really don’t identify with people who have experienced this – because I’ve never taken the time to get to know them and to care about who they are.

All that has led me back to wondering how I can do a better job of loving the people around me. I think it really comes down to slowing down long enough to ask how they are doing and really wanting to hear the answer.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Who's Responsible

Okay, I want to know who’s responsible – someone has obviously mashed the fast forward button on life and it’s stuck there.

I truly have no idea where the days go. I have enjoyed my days recently – getting to catch up with some friends, doing some yard work and a little real work – but truthfully, time just seems to be moving much faster these days. I remember always hear “old people” talk like this – uh oh – this must mean…

Anyway, lots going on in my life, and here’s one thing I’ve spent a bunch of time thinking about lately. What’s love? Some say it’s an emotion, others say a feeling, still others say it’s choice. I think it's all of these things. I certainly feel love towards some and others I must choose to love.

The Bible’s main focus is love and 1 Corinthians 13 is the famous “love chapter.” I’ve done something I don’t often do and committed this entire chapter to memory (it’s not THAT long). And the reason I have is because I’m really trying to figure out how to fulfill what Jesus said was the most important thing in life – love God and love people. If I’m going to attempt this, I think it’s a good idea to know how God defines love. So, 1 Corinthians 13 is where I’ve been for a while now.

How about looking this up for yourself. Even if your not a religious person (which, by the way, I’m not either – put that’s a whole different blog), your life is impacted by this crazy little thing called love. So, check it out and let me know what you think!

Dave

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

1,000 Visitors

Wow! This blog site hits the 1,000 visitors mark today. Which means the six of you that actually read this have been here a lot :-).

Once again I find myself apologizing for not posting recently - time is flying by!!

I am reading a new book called unChristian. It's based on a three year study by the Barna Group and looks at how Christians and Christianity are viewed by our culture. The primary group studied are those ages 16 - 29, but it also provides information from older adults.

Whether you would consider yourself a Christian or not (BTW about 70% of you probably do), it's an honest look at the "Christian culture" which has a real image problem in the United States today.

I'll post more about this soon (and probably in video). Thanks for being patient during my "busy time" away from the blog!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Hello!

Hey All,

I have been on the road a lot for the past couple of weeks and finishing up another seminary class. Sorry I have not posted in a long time.

I'm still here and plan on getting back on schedule with at least weekly posts this week.

Dave

Thursday, September 27, 2007

USA Women's Soccer Team at World Cup

The USA Women's soccer team had not played there best in the tournament, but we're on a roll. In a tournament like the World Cup, teams usually come in nervous and just focus on improving as the tournament progresses. The USA Women's team was doing just that. They began with a 2-2 tie to N. Korea, and then posted three straight shut out games, with their quarter final game being a 3-0 win over England. Watch my video to find out what happened next...

video

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Saturday, September 15, 2007

New Poll, New Look

Those of you who know me know I like change (at least most of the time). So, a new look for the blog is here (we'll see how long it lasts :-) ).

I'm in the middle of a seminary class and tax extensions are due (I'm a pastor and a CPA - wierd combo, huh?), so things have been busy for me recently. I am trying to at least get a post up each week, but I do hope to pick up the pace a little in the next few weeks.

I've also posted a new poll and I'd like to get your response (all responses are anonymous). I'll probably blog on worry in the coming weeks, so I'd like to know what area you worry about the most. And if you don't like any of the choices, shoot me a comment about what you worry about (this can also be anonymous).

Dave

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Labor Day

Hope you all enjoy a fun and safe Labor Day weekend!!

Dave

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Dancing with Jesus

Wanted to share this video with all of you. It also sparked our new poll question (on the right side of the page).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyheJ480LYA&eurl

Dave

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

New Look - Same Blog

Hey there!

We've made some improvements to the blog.

One is the new poll feature on the right side of the page.

How about taking a few seconds to read the poll question and give me your honest answer.

Thanks!!

Dave

Friday, August 03, 2007

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Savin' Me

What does this song and video say to you?

I'll be back tomorrow with my thoughts.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Going Video

Hey all,

Sorry it's been a while since my last post - I seem to say that alot on this blog.

I'm going to start posting these blogs as videos, so check back soon to see what's new.

/D

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

I love Summer

Sorry, it's been a while since I've posted. I love Summer, but it does horrible things to my schedule. Actually, it does great things to my schedule - it gives me time to get out and do some different things.

Many of you know I am part of a new church start. This has been an adventure (and will be for a long while). We just reserved a shelter at a local park for five "Gatherings". I'm excited about it for two reasons: 1) I'm ready to start meeting new people and have a chance to build some new relationships, and 2) Because it's OUTSIDE!

For me, nature has a way of bringing me closer to God. Actually, more accurately, it helps me be more aware of God. The Bible assures me God is always with me - I'm just not always real focused on Him.

I don't know if you're a spiritual person or not, but for me, just looking at creation helps me to understand there must be a Creator. So, take some time this week (or, heck, all summer...all year) and take a look around you and see if you don't become more aware of a God who loves you.

/D

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Worship

Wow, it's been over a month since my last post. Sorry about that.

I've had a number of thoughts over the last month but haven't taken time to write about them. One that I intended to write on was Science and Faith. I still plan to write on this, but my last month has been full of a seminary class I'm in on Worship.

It's a great class - and I'll give you my primary "take away" so far. We are always worshipping! What or Who we worship varies greatly, but we are all always valuing somthing or someone and that's the essence of worship. A great book we read this class was Louie Giglio's The Air I Breathe. Whether you consider yourself religious or spiritual or not, I highly recommend it!

So, if we are always worshipping - the question is who or what are you worshipping? Even the athiest worships - it may be self, money, power - but we all worship.

This week, take some time to consider what or who it is you are worshipping most of the time. Then consider whether or not this person or thing is truly worthy of your worship.

If you want to consider God's value - let me pass on Louie's challenge from his book. Open a Bible to Psalms (it's almost the center of the Bible) and just start reading at Psalm 1 and look for the attributes of God. I found four just in Psalm 1. Then as you grow to understand who God is better, you can decide if He is worthy of your worship.


D.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Going Public

Many of you already know that our family and two others have been in the process of starting a church. Since the end of last Summer we have been meeting, planning and praying.

This coming Sunday (May 6th) we are hosting a picnic at a local park. It’s really our first public meeting and we’re not really sure what to expect. We are a very casual church and our vision is to return to doing church as it was done by the early church – a real focus on relationships. More about people, less about programs.

One thing we work hard NOT to do is to judge other churches or other ministries – but we are also clear about what we believe God wants us to do – or more accurately who God wants us to be. We want to be real! This means being open about our own struggles and building relationships with others so we can all help each other.

Our vision is to build life-changing relationships with God, each other and our community. While all three of these relationship areas will always be “works in progress,” our group has been focused on the first two for the better part of a year. We now look forward to being more proactive in building relationships with those in our community.

If you are in the Newport News, Hampton, York County or Williamsburg area and would like to join us on May 6th, please go to our website and let us know (www.RelevantCC.com).

Whether you would consider yourself a spiritual person or not, I think we would all agree that healthy relationships make life a lot more fun. So, wherever you are – take some time this week and focus your attention on the people around you – see if you can develop a more authentic relationship – you’ll be glad you did!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Thank You from a Hokie!

The response to the events at VT has been incredible. I believe the American spirit has shown up again as it did after 9/11.

While our loss as been enormous, our resolve to love those who have been the most effected continues to show that love is still able to triumph over evil.

The unity of colleges across our country has been inspiring. To see students that are normally rivals where our colors in support has brought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion. To see the many tributes from so many places has been inspiring.

I have already written about how proud I am to be a Hokie based on the response of the students and faculty at VT. I must also say how proud I am to be an American based on the way our country has embraced our University. While many would expect school unity – the unity of our entire nation is amazing -- and healing.

To all of you who have shown your love and support – THANK YOU!
/
/
/D

Friday, April 20, 2007

Proud to be a Hokie!


This has been a week that most of us would prefer to forget. The unthinkable attack has changed the landscape of my school, our country and the world.

Yet, as horrible as the act was – the overall response from students (young and old) and faculty have shown the human spirit at its best. None of us would want to have to relive these past few days, but I’ve often heard people say that when you’re under pressure the real “you” comes out. The “you” I’ve seen in the VT community and the Hokie Nation as a whole makes me more proud than ever to be a Hokie.

These events are the type that you never forget – they will last a lifetime. But, as with all things, time tends to dull the clarity. What will be remembered is what we choose to focus on. For me, I’ll let the acts of a madman fade, but I will never forget the courage and unity of my VT family.

To the students and faculty – thank you for being “you.” You have represented us all well beyond what my words can adequately express! God Bless!
/D

Thursday, April 19, 2007

More Thoughts on VT

As we all continue to go through the array of emotions that follow something like the shootings at VT, it's natural that we will be a different places emotionally.

Some of you are very angry;
Some are deeply grieved;
Some of you are still in shock;
Some of you are already beginning to tire of the news and move on.

And there are many many more places you may be emotionally. All of this is natural and normal.

But here's a thought: for a society who seems to continue to move further away from ideas such as - there is an absolute truth - we sure seem to all agree how horrible Cho's actions were. Maybe I should explain that a little more. We live in a world where many people have come to the conclusion there is no one truth. What works for you is fine for you, it may or may not work for me and that's okay.

But if this is true (or is there no such things as absolute truth - hmm), then why would we all agree that the actions of Cho are so wrong, so evil? My point is simply this - there is a right and wrong, there is good and evil, there is absolute truth. Therefore, as we continue to mourn and to slowly heal, will we recognize that there is such a thing as truth? And will we allow ourselves to think about the One who is Truth.

As we've seen across the country and the world - spirituality is alive and well. People who barely know each other gather together for prayer. It's times like these that we will either blame God or lean on God (sometimes both).

In my own personal life tragedies - I've found that while it's easy to blame God, the truth is God is love, God grieves over evil, and God is able to provide comfort far greater then we think is possible. I believe our natural emotions are God-given and therefore, we do not need to ignore them or supress them. At the same time, we can find peace that passes understanding in a God who truly cares.

Gather close to family and friends and let them know you love them. And draw close to God and He we draw close to you.

/D

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Virgina Tech Tragedy

As we have watched the events of the last two days unfold on our TV screens, we find ourselves caught between disbelief, anger and the question that always comes in times like these – why?

There are no easy answers, but the God’s Word reminds us that “these three remain faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13)

We gather together to acknowledge death, but more importantly to celebrate life.

None of us know how much time we will have here on earth – and times like these have a way of bringing to the forefront what is most important.

I graduated from VT in 1990. I was Resident Advisor (RA) in the AJ dorm where the first shooting took place. I attended classes in Norris. I often reflect on my days at Tech – and if I could go back and do it all over again I would! But, as with all things, time continues to move forward. We’re not meant to live in the past. I pray that each of us will reflect on how God has uniquely gifted each of us. And that we will take real steps towards becoming the person He desires for us to be – a person of faith, a person of hope and a person of love.

In the coming weeks, life will go on – another news event will dominate the media – our own busy schedules will move us further from this day. But I hope that – in some small or large way – the reminders of the events of this week will help us to refocus on what’s truly most important.

I hope that our communities will learn to love as Christ loves. We live in a broken world filled with broken people. I encounter so many hurting people – I too am a hurting person. We have been designed for relationship and love. While the actions of this young man are deplorable – my heart aches for the life he lived. He’s described as a “loner.” I know many I would describe that way – I myself prefer solitude to crowds - but we’ve been made for relationships.

People need people.

In the creation story there’s an interesting point where God looks at his creation and calls it “good.” He then creates man and calls it “very good.” Here is man – in perfect harmony with creation and the Creator. Then God makes this statement – “It is not good for man to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18)

While creation was “good” and the created man was “very good” – it was NOT good for him to be alone. And God created Eve – to which Adam in the original language said – WOW! I don’t know if Adam said that or not, but that’s what I would have said.

My point is that God recognized, from the beginning of creation, the need for all of us to be in relationship with Him and with each other.

Our society has come to idolize INDEPENDENCE – what we need is INTERDEPENDENCE.

So, may we, as Paul wrote in Hebrews, “look for ways to spur one another on to love and good deeds.” As we move forward – let’s allow God to increase our faith, increase our hope and increase our love.

To all in my VT family and to all who grieve – my prayers are with you.
/
/
D.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

God's Love

Wow - almost a month since my last post - sorry about that, gang.

There have been some things I wanted to blog on, but just haven't gotten to it - and I still plan to return to the "Questions Jesus Asked" theme.

One thought that has stayed with me was an article I read from Charles Stanley. He was talking about God's love and while the whole article was very good, I'll give you the cliffnote version.

His point was that while many people would consider themselves Christians - they would answer "yes" if asked if Jesus was their Lord and Savior - how many of us are really in love with God? Or more to the point - how many of us have received God's love?

We assume we've received God's love when we became Christians - and in many ways that is true. However, many of us have kept this at a spiritual level.

The way Charles Stanley realized he had not fully embraced God's love on an emotional level was when he was in a real "dry spell" spiritually. He just did not feel like he was close to God. So, he did a very smart thing and gathered some other people whose opinions and wisdom he respected. When they got together one of the men asked Charles to put his head down on the table and close his eyes. Then he told him I want you to allow yourself to "feel" yourself being held by your father.

Charles said he burst into tears - you see his father passed away when he was an infant and so he has no memory of being held by his dad.

The man allowed all of that emotion to flow out and then asked again - "what does it feel like?" Charles said that for the first time he felt the "arms" of God embrace him and hold him tightly.

Have you allowed God to love you this way? Not just the - save me from hell type of relationship, but a true emotional-level falling in love with God?

Some of you may push back from this idea. To you God is too big and too distant to wrap his arms around you - heck, He doesn't even really have arms - right?

But I'd ask you to take some time and think about this a little more deeply this week. After all, most of us have probably been seperated physically from another person, but still know what it feels like to be loved ("held") by them. So, maybe it's time for you to lay your head down on the table, close your eyes, and experience what it feels like to be held by your heavenly Father.

I think you'll discover a love and a peace that will inspire you to live - not simply exist, but live - with less worry and more joy. That's not to say this life will get easier, but your understanding of God will expand, and He will give you everything you need to get through the day.

Jesus himself said - Come to me all of you who are carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest. Why not find some rest in the arms of the One who knows you best and loves you the most?

\D

Monday, March 12, 2007

Glorify

Hello!

Sorry it's been a while since my last post - time is flying and tax season is in full swing.

I watched a Louie Giglio message last night/this morning and his point was as we experience fullfillment in Christ - God is glorified. So often Christians attempt to glorify God in some of the most superficial (dare I say phoney) ways. I don't think this is on purpose - at least not most of the time - but it's still true.

I find myself doing it, too. If I wear "Christian" t-shirts or put the "right" bumper stickers on my car. Or have a good "Christian" response to questions like "How are you?" (you know what I'm talking about - like when I answer "more blessed than I deserve") While there's nothing inherently wrong with all of this - and these things may all be accurate - aren't they just a bit...well...easy?

I don't have to go real deep into Jesus to do any of these things - how did that one commercial put it - image is everything.

Ponder Louie's thought with me - if we go deep into Jesus, the "Christian" in us will be obvious. Not based on t-shirts and cute answers, but based on a life that's been transformed by an all powerful, all knowing God who loved us way before we even gave Him a second thought. Our lives will begin to reflect a faith in God that doesn't change with our moods, that isn't shaken by things that used to put our day into a tailspin.

It is then - and only then - that those around us will KNOW something has changed. Not because of what they see on the outside, but what they see going on inside of us. It will be evident in our eyes. That is when God will truly be gorified by our lives.

What we put into our lives in an attempt to satisfy ourselves is what our lives naturally glorify.

If I think money will satisfy - I'll bring glory to a "succesful" business. If I think another person will satisfy me - I'll bring glory to that person. If I think possessions will satisfy me, I'll fill my life with the latest and greatest - and glorify those things. If it's recognition - I'll fill my shelves with honors and trophies.

Here's what David wrote in Psalm 63 - O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched a weary land where there is no water. Your unfailing love is better than life itself. You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise you with songs of joy.

Do you see it? He comes to the point and says - God you truly satisfy me and so I will naturally glorify you with my life!

What are you leaning on for satisfaction? Is it fulfilling?

\D

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Purpose of the "Law"

I know I have gotten away from my “Questions Jesus Asked,” I will get back to those in the future. Until then, you’re stuck with my random thoughts.

I am reminded again of how God wants us to treat each other. Throughout the Bible, God continuously points us to learn how to love each other. Now, you may ask, what about the Law. God gave us all these rules we are supposed to follow – that’s how we are a good person, right? Follow all the rules.

I hope this helps – NO! That’s not the purpose of the Law! The reality is we cannot keep all the rules – that was the point. If we could keep the rules we would not need Jesus. Well then, what did Jesus teach us about the Law?

Jesus was asked about the Law and He said this – Love God with everything you are and love others.

That’s it! Jesus said all of the Law and even everything we read about the Prophets are all summed up into those two things – actually, one thing – LOVE. Jesus demonstrated what that looked like when the women caught in the act of adultery was dragged out before Him. The Law said she and her partner should be stoned to death.

Jesus’ response? He said let the person who has never messed up throw the first stone. At least those people were honest enough to drop their stones and walk away.

What we tend to do is want to help everyone else live by the Law – we point out every “wrong” thing (at least in our opinion) they do – we pick up stones and hurl them.

If we really want to enjoy life, we need to learn to love – it starts with loving God and then moves to loving people as we allow God to transform our hearts.

Next time you find yourself standing with a stone in your hand – I hope you’ll drop it and walk away.

\D

Saturday, February 17, 2007

God's Fairness

I had lunch with a friend to today and part of our discussion was on the “trouble” in this world. Jesus told us “in this world you will have trouble.” There was no ambiguity in His statement. He didn’t say you “might” have trouble; He said you “will” have trouble. We live in a broken world.

That led to some discussion about examples of people who seemed to be in the ultimate trouble – like John the Baptist when he was thrown in jail and about to be executed. He asked a very honest question of Jesus, “Are you really the One, or should we be looking for someone else?” He was admitting that he though Jesus was the Messiah, but his circumstances didn’t appear to be proving that. In other words, he was saying, “Hey, Jesus, I’ve done everything I was supposed to do but now I’m sitting in jail about to be killed. Where are you? Why aren’t you getting me out of this ‘trouble’?”

Jesus did not show up and bail John out and John was executed. What happened? We’re tempted to say, that’s not fair, that’s not right. Were on the verge (or maybe past the verge) of saying, “God, You messed that one up!” But did He?

John had fulfilled his mission in this broken world. John had lived in the wilderness, dealt with strong opposition, and lived on a diet of locust and honey. And it was time for John to hear God say, “Well done good and faithful servant. Come enjoy your Master’s pleasure.” John got to trade in this imperfect broken world for perfect heaven. He left a world of wonder and doubt, to have his faith full realized and to enter into the presence of God. What’s unfair about that? Sound pretty darn good to me!

How about Moses? We look at Moses not being able to enter the Promised land and say, “Hey, God, that’s not right! Moses dealt with a bunch of stiff necked rebels for 40+ years and then You don’t let him go into the Promised land? What gives?”

But let’s take a closer look. What happened when the people entered the Promised land? Did they all grab a La-z-boy recliner, a cold drink and watch football (ladies fill in something that would appeal to you)? No! They had to fight battles (some they won and some they lost). Where does Moses get to go instead? Heaven! Into the presence of God, into a place of no more fighting, arguing or dealing with the brokenness of this world. Which would you prefer?

The Apostle Paul wrestled with this question. He openly wrote about his internal debate about staying here in this broken world and being able to go to heaven. His heart’s desire was obviously heaven, but he also recognized that if he was still on earth then there was still a mission to continue.

Here’s my point. If you’re a follower of Christ and you’re still here in this broken world – then God still has a mission for you to continue. If you know what that is, then continue to fight the good fight knowing that God isn’t through with you yet. If you don’t know why you’re still here…well...it’s time to figure it out. Spend as much time as you need reading the Bible, talking with God, and talking with other Christians until you know what God wants you to do now. Then get in the game, knowing full well when your mission is complete you to will enjoy the satisfaction of hearing God say to you, “Well done good and faithful servant. Come enjoy your Master’s pleasure.”

\

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

No TRUST-passing

My two girls love to draw, doodle and journal. Our house is filled with little notebooks and binders. Today there was one sitting on the floor in the family room. I was doing a little straightening (I was tempted to call it cleaning up, but I actually only picked up four things).

As I picked up the notebook, I opened it to the front to see who the proper owner was. Here’s what I read:

This Diary belongs to the one and only [my daughter’s name in all caps]
Do not open uness permetted
No TRUST-passing

It’s really cute. And as I thought about what she wrote it hit me. When Jesus taught us to pray He mentioned us asking God to forgive our trespasses and to help us forgive those who trespass against us. I think my daughter is on to something here – when we trespass the real issue is we have TRUST-passed. We’ve done or said something that breaks the other person’s ability to Trust us. When we go against God, we’ve broken Trust. When others trespass against us – they’ve broken our Trust.

So, how do we get back on track? We must rebuild Trust. This can be a lot more difficult then we may first realize. When I break a trust with a friend, it’s natural that when something else even seems a little off – well, they will wonder, “Can I really trust him?” This is why it’s so important to maintain trust in our relationships – because it’s so easy to lose, and when we lose it we seem to lose it all.

Yet, God’s way of dealing with things is a bit different. He tells us if we admit we’ve blown it He’s faithful to totally forgive us. Wow! But then He reminds us that this is how He wants us to treat others – to forgive them. One thing I have learned is that when I forgive someone I begin to let them rebuild the trust. Trust doesn’t come back all at once, but until we are willing to forgive, it can’t come back at all.

So, be careful with others – work hard at not TRUST-pass against them. And when others TRUST-pass against you, learn to forgive and begin rebuilding the trust. And, thank God that He is willing to fully forgive us every time we ask Him to!

\

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A Little Busy

Hello!

Yes, I'm still here. However, things are very busy with tax season kicking into gear. This week is my final week of seminary until after tax season, so I hope to get back to posting more regularly after this week!

Dave

Friday, February 02, 2007

Tipping

I’m going to step away from the Questions Jesus Asked this post, but we will continue with those in the future. This post comes from a conversation I had with some good friends today – it was about tipping at restaurants.

I understand some of the frustration people have with this subject. Here are some facts regarding tipping:

1. A standard tip used to be 10%, then it was 15%, now its 20%; and
2. The price of food has increased (so it’s 20% of a larger bill); and
3. In many places the food quality is the same (if not worse); and finally
4. The service in many places has decreased.

Sooooo… I understand the frustration…HOWEVER –

Let me attempt to provide a paradigm shift. The hourly rate for waitstaff is barely over $2 an hour. Many of those working these jobs are either young people trying to get started in life or people who need the flexible hours (such as single parents). I don’t know about you, but two bucks an hour won’t take you very far.

What if we looked at those serving us as people – people who are trying to get on track or back on track. People who may be working multiple jobs to support their family. People who are struggling with some real tough life issues. Is this all of them? No, but its many!

So, rather than view the tip as a you-do-a-good-job-and I’ll-reward-you, why not make someone’s day by giving them a generous tip? Maybe the service they provided you wasn’t so great, but just maybe your generosity will inspire them to serve the next table a little better. Maybe they’ll feel a little better about themselves. Maybe it’s just what they needed to keep going.

One last thought for those of you who consider yourselves Christians. Do you know that most waiters and waitresses hate working Sunday afternoons because Christians are notoriously horrible tippers? PLEASE, PLEASE do not leave a tract on the table as a tip!! God is NOT a tip! If you want to leave something for them, do it right next to the big fat tip!

BTW – I am not, nor have I ever been, a waiter (I was a busboy for a while during High School). I’d probably ruin more clothes by dropping stuff on people then I care to even think about. But I really do appreciate those who serve me – and I hope you will, too.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Questions Jesus Asked (3) – Worry & Faith

This next set of questions (found in Matthew 6) that Jesus asked are some of the most difficult for me. I know what He’s saying, but “doing” what He’s teaching is pretty tough. See for yourself…

Jesus asks a couple of questions about why do we worry about food and clothes, but the main question is verse 27 - Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

I don’t know about you, but I understand that worrying is like a rocking chair – it gives me something to do, but it doesn’t get me anywhere. I know that. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to stop worrying – it just comes to us so naturally… and I’m pretty good at it!

The reality is worry really doesn’t help anything. In fact, most of us would admit worry has a pretty negative affect on our lives. So, how do we stop worrying?

You may not like this answer, but I’ve found it’s the only one that works. The answer can be found in Jesus’ last question of chapter 6 – Why do you have so little faith?

See, even if you are a spiritual person – this question has a little sting to it – I mean if I do believe in God and the Bible and all that…well…I should have enough faith not to worry. But if you’re not a spiritual person – then – I guess you’re kinda stuck with your worry – I don’t have a “next best answer” for you.

But I do have some good news – you can become a spiritual person – and it really does help you move from worry to faith. Not all at once, and sometimes you’ll still get blindsided. But one thing I’m learning about my faith is that it’s still there when I get myself calmed back down - because my faith is not based on my efforts, but on the Person of Jesus (the guy asking all the tough questions here). You see, even when I “lose” faith, He remains faithful. If you want to more info. on how you can begin to find faith you can e-mail me at Dave@RedoingLife.com.

Well, let me wrap this up – how do I increase my faith and decrease my worry? I hop over several short books to the right in my Bible to Philippians 4:6-7 which says –

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

I don’t know about you, but when I want to worry about something what I’m really looking for is peace. And there’s no better peace than the peace God is able to give to us. Our worries come from our hearts and our minds, so when we take these worries to God that is what He promises to guard – our hearts and minds.

I wish I could tell you that I do this perfectly every time. I don’t! But when I do…well…I guess you’ll have to experience it for yourself – because the Bible’s right – I can’t really explain it – you just have to live it.

Peace!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Questions Jesus Asked (2) – Love & Kindness

We find Jesus’ next questions at the end of Matthew 5 in verses 46 and 47:

If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that?
If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else?


Okay, Jesus is going right to the “heart” of the matter here. One of the things that bothers me is the reputation the church has as being full of hypocrites. I think it bothers me because I know I’m in church – and I know I’m a hypocrite – so I know they’re right.

I’ve often used the reply – but there are hypocrites everywhere, so take a look in the mirror. But, I think this is the response that Jesus knew we “Christians” would have and He points out that we ARE SUPPOSED TO BE DIFFERENT!

Sure, I know that most Christians admit that we know we’re not perfect and we don’t attempt to take on the perfection label. But is that it? Does that make our hypocrisy okay?

Another typical Christian response is – well not all of the people in church are really Christians. I agree, but I’ve also spent enough time in churches to know that those I would strongly suspect are Christians are just as bad as the others. In fact, why do non-Christians at church continue to act like they have always acted? Because the “Christians” in the church continue to act like they’ve always acted.

Before I move into a full-on rant, let me express to all of you who maybe have the “been-there-done-that-don’t-need-that-anymore” view of church, I would like to say (and encourage you to consider) that churches are also filled with people who DO “get it” and who do truly care about others – not just their friends, but everyone with whom they come in contact. And, the truth is, the closer any one of us is willing to come to Christ the more we learn how to see others differently. To love and be kind to all people, not just our friends.

Do we do this perfectly? No, far from it, and we need to be willing to throw our hand up in their air and admit when we blow it. But if all of us would consider Jesus’ questions here at the end of Matthew, I think we would find a challenge worth taking. How do we learn to care about those we don’t click with? How do we find ourselves looking to put other’s needs before our own?

Well, it does not come easily. In fact, unless we are first willing to surrender our agendas over to Christ, I’m not sure this is really possible at all. But as we learn that we do not naturally care about others who are not close to us (and sometimes even those who are close to us), we can also discover that we have been created for relationships and that while it’s true there’s risk involved with loving – the alternative is to be love-less – and that’s just a miserable existence, not the life we were created to live!

So, why not take a look in the mirror. How do these questions from Jesus hit you? Can you find ways to see people differently? Can you learn to love … everyone?

I’ve got the paddle next to you in the same boat – but I always love a challenge :-).

Monday, January 22, 2007

Questions Jesus Asked (1) – Salt

As I begin this series of questions Jesus asked, I want to be clear that this does not make up the full teachings of Christ. However, I do think we can learn a lot from His questions & I’m really curious to see where this takes us.

I just started in Matthew – and the first questions Jesus asks is recorded in Matthew 5:13 where He asks – “What good is salt if it has lost its saltiness? Can you make it salty again?”

Okay, I could totally understand a, “Yeah, that’s helpful – what in the world is He talking about” thought to this question. And while I don’t want to make this a book – I think a little background would be real helpful.

A good starting point is to remember the culture and time frame in which Jesus was teaching – they did not have freezers and microwaves. They had not figured out how to stuff food with so many preservatives that their shelf life is longer than our average life span. So, one use for salt was to preserve foods. Part of what we can learn from this question is Jesus was talking to His followers saying, I want you to do good things and preserve goodness. I want you to be a positive influence on those around you.

Another use for salt was for cleaning. Have you ever rubbed salt in a wound? I don’t recommend it – but the truth is it will clean out a wound. So, another potential teaching here is – bring healing to those you come in contact with. While sometimes the truth stings a little, the cleansing is worth is and will bring healing – and that’s a good thing.

I’m sure there are more analogies we could make, but I’ll make just one more. Have you ever heard, “That guy or girl is worth their salt”? It’s kind of an old saying, but it came from the fact that soldiers use to be paid in salt. So, someone who was doing well was, “worth their salt.” Today, our society has changed, so a similar statement we may hear is, “That girl is worth her weight in gold.” Same idea. So, what could we learn from this aspect of being “salt”? I think its fair to say that Jesus would want His followers to make a positive difference. To have relationships that others say, “I’m glad you’re my friend. We don’t always see eye to eye, but your friendship is worth it.”

So, a couple of things from this first question that we can learn – Jesus wants us to be a positive influence, a healer, and be someone worth having a relationship with. Cool stuff! But if we really look at the way He asked the question – He’s saying if were not all of these things – what good are we?

I think I need to look at how I interact with those around me and make sure I’m “worth my salt.” How about you?

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Value of Questions

Awhile back I heard Andy Stanley talking about how the questions we ask reveal what we value most. For instance, if I constantly ask my kids, “Is your homework finished?” I’m communicating to them that I value homework. More specifically, I value them completing their homework.

But is that what is most important? Wouldn’t a better question be, “Do you understand what you’re learning?”

Or, if I always ask my wife, “Honey, what’s for dinner?” What does that communicate to her - that I value dinner. Again, more specifically, I value someone else making dinner for me.

Wouldn’t a better question be, “How’s your day been? What can I make you for dinner?”

[Sweetheart, when you read this, I love you, and you probably really don’t want me in the kitchen :-)]

You see the point? (See, what I really value is communicating in a way that you understand my perspective.)

Okay, here’s an even better point – if it’s true that we can see what’s important to a person by listening to the questions they ask – then I think it would be great to take a look at the questions Jesus asked people.

So, at least for a little while (read - unless my ADD kicks in), that will be the focus of most of my future blogs – looking at the questions Jesus asked and learning what He valued most.

Stay tuned…

Thursday, January 18, 2007

New Look - Same Blog

Hey all! Just made a few changes to the look - no changes to the doodles :-)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Christmas - In Review

How was your Christmas?

Really – how was your Christmas?

I just finished listening to a guy talking about what Christmas has become – and he was right on target.

He used an illustration of a For Sale Sign in a front yard that in big letters across the bottom said:

REDUCED!

He went on to describe how we really need to plant this sign in the “front yard” of our lives – REDUCED!

Less pace for more peace!

Was this Christmas a time of more peace or more pace? You see, it’s one or the other.

How about your life in January – post-Christmas? Peaceful?

If not, why not? What’s in your life that needs to be REDUCED?

Here’s my short list:

REDUCE my “busy-ness” --
o Don’t waste time on the unimportant (I really don’t have to figure out every detail);
o Some things really can be done tomorrow – go home and spend some time with my family;
o When it’s family time – BE THERE – too often I’m in the house, but I’ve made myself busy (like….right now).

My biggest problem is I’m a “doer.” If I’m not doing something I get nervous. I’m praying that I can get a handle on my “busy-ness addiction.” I truly am addicted to “doing.” I need to learn how to shut down – relax – enjoy people (especially my family).

How about you? Where do you need to post your REDUCED sign?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Sore Back...and Knee

Hey Gang! So, I “tweaked” my back Saturday. “Tweaked” is better than an all out pull – just a minor “ouch that hurts” – compared to “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”

Anyway, the back was sore but livable; however, as the days have gone by one of the muscles just above my knee has become very sore. If any of you have dealt with back pain you know what I mean when I describe how a little “tweak” of the back can cause all kinds of other problems as we do strange things to compensate for our outta-wack-back.

The same thing happens in our relationships. Many times what starts out as a “minor pain” creates all kinds of problems in a relationship. Why is this? Paul described the church as a body and talked about how when one part hurts, all the parts suffer (1 Corinthians 12). Well, this can be applied to all of our relationships. When one person is hurting, all involved feel the effects.

So, how do we heal “sore” relationships? Again, the Bible is very helpful as God teaches us to rejoice with those who rejoice and struggle with those who are struggling. Does this mean we become responsible for everyone else’s issues? Nope. We all have to take responsibility for our own decisions, but it does mean that when someone is hurting we learn to care about them and do what we can to help.

Are you hurting? I hope you have someone who can share your struggles – even if all they can do is lend a listening ear while you process. But, I also hope you celebrate with others when things are going well. I don’t think we do enough celebrating when were doing well!

So, maybe it’s time to throw that party and celebrate!!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

"Christian" vs. "Christ-follower"

I'm treading onto thin ice here - I know it - but I think it's a great conversation to have.

There has been a lot of talk - especially in the Western world - about the "Christian." The fact is many in the US would probably label themselves a Christian, but it's more by default than by their relationship with God. What I mean is people go through the religious lists and settle on Christian. The tought process is something like - well, I'm not Muslim, I'm not Mormon, I'm not Hindu, I'm not Jewish,... so, I must be a Christian.

Another way North Americans tend to look at this is by saying, well I live in a "Christian nation," so I must be a Christian.

A third way is to say well my whole family is Christian - so I am, too.

I can understand this way of thinking, but it's not really accurate. I don't make this observation to be critical, but simply to point out that the label of Christian has become very watered down - especially in our culture.

In an effort for clarity, many have begun using the title Christ-follower. It's a way of saying that I'm making the effort to live the way Christ teaches us to live in the Bible. It recognizes that this does not just happen by default, but takes intentional effort.

Now, this can go too far as well. Sometimes we can become so - well...judgmental - that we begin to feel the need to do some crazy things to prove to others that we are Christians.

The bottom line is it's not about all of our outward actions or labels as much is it is about our hearts and how we feel toward God. Do we acknowledge Him in our lives to the point of being willing to live for Him in everyday ordinary ways. Or is it a show. Or do we just do whatever we want and not really give God a second thought.

I know some may not see the humor in this video link, but I decided to share it anyway. I would also suggest you read all of the comments on this video. The best way is to click on the "View all 44 comments" (additional comments are not enabled)toward the bottom of the page after the comments that appear on the screen. This view shows them in the order posted and which ones are replying to previous posts. Here's the link...

I'm a Christ Follower

Living for Christ - from the inside out.

Comments, Comments, Comments

Hey guys & gals! I was talking with my favorite IT guy (and church planting buddy) Brian, and telling him I wish it were easier for people to post comments on this blog (not have to set-up an account, etc.).

Well - Brian took a look and made that possible (that's why we keep you around buddy!!). So, my hope is that you all will interact more with this site now that posting a comment is much easier.

By the way, your comments will not show up on the site until I approve them, so don't freak out if you post a comment and can't see it appear on the blog right away.

Enjoying the journey!!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Vision of Relevant Community Church

I wanted to take some time and post what’s been happening with the new church start where I serve as one of the Pastors. We have just completed our Vision Statement – that describes what we’re all about. I’d love to get your feedback on these thoughts.

Our Vision statement is – Building life-changing relationships with God, each other and our community.

We spent many hours praying, reading God’s Word and discussing the right words to convey what we believe God is calling us be as His church.

Building – acknowledges this does not just happen – we have to be intentional and it takes work to have healthy / life-changing relationship. (Some key verses: 1 Corinthians 3:10-17; Ephesians 4:11-12)

Life-changing – we have many relationships in this world, but few are “life-changing.” We recognize that truly biblical relationships with God and others will change our lives for the better. (Key verse: Colossians 1:6)

With God – until we can have healthy relationships with other people we must have a life-changing relationship with God. Only then are we able to begin to see others as God sees them – has His prized possession. Naturally we look at the outside – looks, personalities, etc., but God enables us to understand how He sees them. (1 Samuel 16:7)

To help people connect with God we will provide environments of large group, high impact Worship that includes inspiring music and dynamic biblical teaching.

With Each Other – once we have a life-changing relationship with God we begin to see each other differently and desire to have healthy relationships with other Christians (Christ-followers). (Key verse: The Great Commandment – Matthew 22:37-40)

We believe small group environments are critical for building healthy relationships with other believers.

With Our Community – We know God wants us to reach into our broken communities and point them towards health – which is found in life-changing relationships with God and each other. (Key verse: The Great Commission – Matthew 28:18-20)

We talked about the need to reach the world for Christ, but also realized that our main point of influence is within our community. As others come into a relationship with God we will help them discover their spiritual gifts and help them connect to ministry opportunities both in the church and with other ministries. This would include other mission ministries throughout the world.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

VT & Cowboys

Hey - wow this week went by fast.

Well, Virginia Tech looked good early but then you all must have stopped praying :-)

To make it worse I just watched my Cowboys blow a play-off game. Then again, it is just a game.

This year is off to a quick start. That whole deal about time moves faster as you get older - I don't know how that's possible - but it sure feels that way.

Well, I have to enter my period of mourning for my football teams.

Monday, January 01, 2007

New Year's Resolutions

Well, it’s January one and time for all of those resolutions. I couldn’t help but laugh (to myself of course) as I watched probably half a dozen…um…not so athletic…athletically challenged (for the politically correct crowd) people lumber past my house today in their so-new-they still-have the-tags sweats. I didn’t count the guy who looked like he was in pretty decent shape (running in an old t-shirt and shorts).

Now, in the name of full disclosure I have to tell you I was outside for less than two hours taking down the Christmas lights (the rest of the day I was horizontal in the recliner watching college football and writing this blog).

But I couldn’t help but think about the first day of the New Year’s Resolutions and wonder how many of those folks I’d ever see again “running” past the house.

I had the normal reaction – those resolutions will never last, but then I had another thought – at least those six people (and many others I did not see) made the effort to give it a shot (which, to this point, is more than I have done).

So, kudos to those of you who are willing to give it a try and attempt to make a change for the better in your life.

For me, having a relationship with God is kinda similar. I don’t deserve it. I know I won’t keep my end of the relationship up very well. And yet God says, “All I need for you to do is take the first step and trust me.” “Surrender your life to me and I will sustain you,” is what God tells us. In fact, it gets even better – God knows we won’t follow through perfectly – and yet our relationship with Him is secure – forever.

Want to make a change that will last? If you haven’t already asked Jesus to give you a new life (a fresh start), that’s the best New Year’s Resolution you will ever make – and the “keeping it going” is God’s part.

Have questions about what I’m talking about or just want to chat some personally – e-mail me at Dave@RedoingLife.com.

Happy New Year

I want to wish you all a blessed and happy New Year!

My prayer for each of us is that we would fall more in love with the Father who deeply loves us and who desires to bless us beyond measure.

May we all come to understand His mercy and grace in new and wonderful ways this year!

Happy New Year!!