Saturday, August 19, 2017

Mirror, Mirror.

Once Jesus was asked what the most important commandment was -

“Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”” – Matthew 22:37-40 NIV

There are a couple of things that I want to draw attention to –

First Jesus says the second greatest command is ‘like’ the first. The original Greek word for ‘like’ means similar or resembling but it can also mean corresponding. Jesus was saying that loving your neighbor is connected to loving God. Of course He elaborated on this when he taught,

‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ – Matthew 25:40b NIV

The second point I want to make is that we are to, ‘love others as ourselves’. Here we find the foundation of the ‘Golden Rule’.

Here is where the problem lies. To truly love others as ourselves we must learn to genuinely love ourselves. Since the Fall the devil has been peddling his lies and offering a counterfeit to everything God has. Most people either have very little love for themselves or if they do it’s not the ‘agapao’ love spoken of in this verse.

The lie is that I/you/we are unlovable. That is simply not the case. You were created in God very image and so loved by Him that He traded His Son for you. I wish we could really get that to sink in to the core of our being. The lie robs us of our confidence and keeps us either isolated from others or trapped inside of destructive relational cycles. People who don’t value themselves frequently find themselves the victim of their own insecurity. True validation cannot come from an outward source, it can only come from an inward revelation of who we are in Christ.

The counterfeit to confidence is arrogance. Arrogance elevates oneself above all others seeing them as simply a means to an end - the end in this case being self. On the other end of the spectrum is false humility which whispers to us that we are less than everyone else. It may appear more ‘spiritual’ but is no less detrimental in the end. To see yourself as anything less than what God sees is to say that He made a mistake and doesn’t know what He is doing!

True confidence and humility brings everyone else up to our level as we begin to see ourselves and others as God sees us. It is from that place that we can begin to love others as Christ commanded -

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:34-35 NIV

How we see ourselves is THE most important opinion there is because that is the one we will become. Take time today to forgive yourself, to take care of yourself and to see yourself through God’s eyes. It may seem silly but for the next seven days I would like you to start your day by looking in the mirror and telling yourself, out loud, “I love you.” Say it like you mean it and keep saying it until you believe it!

P.S. Remember that God loves you and so do I!

Friday, August 11, 2017

When The Worship Train Came Off The Tracks.

Periodically I am blessed with the opportunity to help lead worship. It is something I enjoy very much and feel quite honored to do. I was playing the drums and the worship team and I practiced our transition from one song to the next several times before service. We wanted to make sure that we didn’t interrupt the ‘flow’ of worship and so we worked until we had it down.

Except that we didn’t. Things didn’t go as planned and honestly the song got off to a rocky start. At one point I was pretty certain that the worship train was so far off the tracks we were going to have to stop and start again. But the team pulled it together and by the chorus things were steaming ahead. As a matter of fact the presence of God showed up in a powerful way through that song.
Afterwards I commended our worship leader for pressing through. God showed up in spite of our hiccup and at the end of the day, or the set list, that is the goal. God’s ability to perform does not depend on our ability to perform. Worship isn’t a performance. Worship after all is first and foremost a matter of the heart.

The whole situation got me thinking about the difference between perfection and excellence. First let me say that there is only one who is perfect and it’s NOT me! Perfectionism is a cruel task master and I believe the enemy’s counterfeit to excellence. My definition of excellence is, ‘doing the very best we can with the resources and training we have currently available with a heart to grow better in the future’. That is attainable. Perfection is not. We didn’t go into worship half-hearted and unprepared. On the contrary, we were giving God our very best.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” – Colossians 3:23-24 NIV

See with perfection everything depends on us. With excellence we have left room for the Holy Spirit to move. God is worthy of our best in everything that we do. But excellence gives us room to grow, to mature and even to fail. Because excellence leaves room for His grace! And that is what we experienced that day. Maybe that is what the apostle Paul was talking about.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”” – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV

So be your very best but make sure to leave room for Him to be His very best!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Why I shaved my legs.

No I’m not trying to get in touch with my feminine side. The truth is I injured myself training for a race I ran last weekend. I’ve been pushing pretty hard building up my mileage to get ready for an 8+ mile obstacle course race. I didn’t warm up and stretch properly and pulled a muscle in my calf. I was about 100 yards into my run when it happened and instead of turning around I kept going… for 8 long miles. It wasn’t the best life choice I’ve ever made. It was painful to walk on and turned a cool rainbow of colors.

So I was nursing it and doing everything I could think of to hasten the healing process. Hence this story. I purchased some Kinesiology Tape hoping it would help. For those who are unaware this product is basically a next level ace bandage. Physical therapists swear by the stuff. Endurance athletes cover themselves with the neon strips like it is a badge of honor. I figured I’d give it a try. I went online to watch the ‘how to’ video and the first thing they say is to apply it to clean, dry skin. They went on to say for ‘best results’ you should ‘remove all hair from the affected area’ before using the product. Wait? What?! Now I’ve had some friends who were serious about cycling or swam competitively who shaved their legs. Now let me be clear. I HAVE MADE FUN OF EVERY SINGLE LAST ONE OF THEM!!!

But I was desperate. So much to the chagrin of my daughter I borrowed her razor and asked if she had any pointers. She said, ‘Try not to cut yourself.’ Gee thanks.

Here is my point. I was desperate. I had trained for almost a year for this race. I had spent real money registering for this event. So I was willing to go to take drastic actions to make this happen. And that is what it takes. We have to get to the point that we are so appalled with where we are at that we are willing to do whatever is necessary to move forward. Maybe it’s a recurring sin in our life. Maybe it’s a destructive behavior or addiction or even a toxic relationship. It’s time we got sick and tired of being so sick and tired. It’s time to break the pattern of being broke every month. It’s time to get so fed up that we are willing to swallow our pride, get the help that we need and make the changes that will finally set us FREE! Although hell stands ready to resist our efforts all of Heaven is cheering us on and God is on our side!

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” – John 10:10 NIV

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” - Romans 8: 31 NIV

““…no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the Lord.”- Isaiah 54:17 NIV

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” – Galatians 5:1 NIV

“…and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” – Matthew 16:18b NIV

By the way - my calf did great, I finished my race and now I'm ready to tackle the next challenge. 12-14 miles, 30-35 obstacles, November 4th. Who is with me?

God's Promises.

Earlier this week I was working on a log cabin I have for sale. As I was driving over to crawl back under the house for the 3rd day this is ...