Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Distance Between Me and God

"God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’" (Acts 17:27-28)

These words ring in my ears, “he is not far from any one of us.” What is the distance between you and God? Not far. So many of us have been told there is chasm between Holy God and sinful man, and I’m sure that’s true in some respect. Yet Paul spoke these words to people who did not care whether Paul’s God was real or not. He spoke to pagans who had no regard for the holiness of the God of Israel or his son, Jesus. He told them that God was behind the events and identities of their lives and working in everyday situations in order to encourage them to turn his direction.

What is the distance between you and God?  

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Monday, October 8, 2012

Meditation: The Right Time is . . . When?

After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. "The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!" ~ Mark 1: 14–15
Who can live in the timing of God? It’s one thing to agree with God’s viewpoint intellectually; it’s quite another to express our agreement in concrete action. Jesus modeled agreement with the Father by doing God’s will in perilous times. In simple, direct language Mark’s gospel reveals that Jesus launched his ministry at the very time that the Kingdom message could get you thrown into jail.
In an atmosphere of resistance and oppression Jesus decided that the time was right to proclaim good news. Herod, a puppet-king of the powerful Roman Empire, had jailed John the Baptist because John’s preaching had threatened the status quo. Human wisdom would have suggested that Jesus keep things on the down-low until passions had cooled. You can almost hear the counsel of the worldly-wise in Jesus’ day: “Wait just a little while,” they might advise. “Let the rich and powerful turn their attention away from preachers in the countryside.”
Instead, Jesus modeled a ministry directed by the Spirit. In a world overrun by a pagan power, in a world rife with political scheming and considerations, in a world where caution was the order of the day, Jesus boldly declared that good news, the best news, was within reach. What kind of person tells suffering, mourning captives that freedom is within their reach? The source of his good news had nothing to do with the powers of the age and everything to do with the in-breaking of God’s time into their time.
It’s only natural to look for the “best time” to engage in ministry: wait until the economy is stronger; until the political climate is warmer; until the streets are safer, until your children are older, until your savings account is fatter. Wait. Jesus had a different schedule. He said simply, “The time has come.” He took into consideration only one factor: God’s Kingdom was at hand. The Kingdom of God does not wait on the future because the Kingdom is breaking into the present. God’s Kingdom was beginning to invade the kingdoms of the earth, and if God was on the move, how could Jesus remain still? It's still true today, and we are called to imitate his example. If God is on the move, how can we remain still?
Jesus is serving the best wine now because he dwells in the now. “The time has come” each day. Since Jesus inaugurated the in-breaking of the Kingdom, every day with God presents opportunities to announce and demonstrate the Kingdom of God. The only important question is whether we know what time it is.

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Beyond Rest and Peace

God has a greater vision for what is possible in our lives than we have for ourselves. Many of us would be thrilled to simply attain the promise Jesus offered: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11: 28 – 30)

It’s true: there is a practical harmony capable of generating the rest and peace he promises. I suspect that for most of us this would be enough, but what if this wonderful invitation represented the starting point of our life in Christ? What if Jesus has something more in mind for us?

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

"Make Every Effort" ~ How We Respond to God's Grace

Perhaps you’re like me: from time to time I catch myself thinking, “If only I had a little more faith I could be a better disciple.” Actually, we could substitute nearly any other quality for the word faith, “if only I had a little more teaching, time, energy . . .” Most of us are keenly aware of the qualities we lack as followers of Jesus. We possess the assurance of our weakness instead of the assurance of his faithfulness.

Let me share with you a passage from Peter’s second letter that changed my life forever:
"His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort . . ." ~ 2 Peter 1: 3 - 5

When I read this passage several years ago it flashed like lightning across my heart, and the thunder still rattles my everyday life.

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Meditation: What to Expect When You're Expecting New Life in Christ

In 1984 a young woman, expecting her first child, couldn’t find information on what a normal pregnancy looked and felt like, so she began to write her own handbook on pregnancy--while she was pregnant. Just hours before delivering her daughter, Emma, she sent off the book proposal for What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Nearly thirty years (and seventeen million books) later it's the standard for what is normal during pregnancy. Publisher’s weekly reports that 97% of women who buy a book on pregnancy buy this book.

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Why I wrote "The Impossible Mentor" and why I think it will change your life:

If publishing a blog is an act of vanity, writing and publishing a book is megalomania. I am guilty on both counts. Saturday saw the release of my spiritual-formation book, The Impossible Mentor: Finding Courage to Follow Jesus. I want to tell you why I wrote it, and why I’m foolish enough to think you need to read it.

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Give Thanks: Give Your Best ©

Matilda found a fancy dress in the dumpster and wore it to communion. The dress was torn along the zipper in the back, and had the odor of Chinese carry-out, which must have been somewhere nearby in the dumpster, but it was the only dress Matilda could afford. Out of gratitude to Jesus she wanted to look her best.

Everyone in our little church had watched the odd-looking Bag Lady who walked the streets undergo an amazing transformation from societal cast-away to daughter of the Most High. We needed to repent because Matilda was a non-person we saw everyday.

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