Monday, November 29, 2010

The Beginning of Advent

Throughout history, various cultures and people have chosen to set aside a season designed especially to recapture the anticipation of the arrival of the Christ-Child.  This season is called Advent.  Advent is the Latin word that means, “a coming or arrival”. It’s a time where Christians (as families and community gatherings) prepare themselves in reflection and anticipation for the coming of Christ.

Over the next four weeks there will be some family devotional ideas to help guide you and your family together through a time of remembering. There will also be activity ideas that can be done together as a family to foster further conversation and fun. One of these ideas will be to create an Advent wreath and use it to symbolical represent a central idea for each week. You may want to select a specific day(s) to gather as a family for this purpose.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Lost in Translation

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them… When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken…. we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” (Acts 2:6 & 11)

It was the Holy Spirit that enabled the apostles to be understood in their own language and to be ‘cut to the heart.’

So it is with us today! While many may speak the ‘same’ language, so much seems to get lost in translation. From a meeting behind closed doors to a message preached from the stage, all too often people only seem to hear what’s being said through several filters. At times this can cause conflict, disagreement or even hardness of heart, all because it never made it to “their own language.”

Sometimes this happens, because we’ve been conditioned to only hear what we want to hear. At other times, we never listen in the first place. We’re too busy reloading what we’ll say next. This often becomes apparent as soon as one speaks, rather than seeking clarity, understanding or to see things from the speakers perspective, we assume we know where they’re coming from, derail, and begin crafting a response (often totally unrelated to what was just said). Sometimes, we don’t even wait for them to finish talking to interrupt. We take the liberty and begin talking over the person, even while they’re still talking. This is always a dead give away that we weren’t listening to start with. Much of this could be remedied as we learn and engage other humans with love, respect and dignity, but ultimately we each need the enabling power of the Holy Spirit to empower us to speak in such a way that others hear us in “their own language,” and as others speak for us to understand them as well.

God fill me with Your Spirit. May I speak and communicate in such a way as to be understood by all, in their own language and situation and may Your Spirit cut to the very core of the heart…

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Greatest Compliment

Who doesn't like a good compliment? 

 We all like a little affirmation here and there, it doesn't matter who you are. Unfortunately, it's easy to fall into the trap of living for the compliment or into the head-spin of asking yourself, what was wrong when you don't get your quota. But let's not kid ourselves, compliments, can at times be like Christmas presents to distant family members, it's just something we do.

There are, however, compliments that push beyond the veneer of superficiality and obligated courtesy. Recently, I recieved such a compliment. Two days after last week's teaching, Drawing a Prayer to God, I was visiting my sons school and was approached by a fourth-grade teacher. She begin to communicate:
I'm always looking for ways to engage my students in new and creative ways. Constantly, I'm asking God for ways to help my students engage God in real and authentic ways. Yesterday, I retaught your whole teaching on prayer from Wednesday night. Then I handed out paper and markers and instructed them to begin drawing a prayer to God. I was amazed at what transpired. Students were fully engaged in what they were doing. Some were actually weeping as they drew. Others, that I've not seen engage outwardly in prayer or worship, became some of the most focused in the room...
This is one of the greatest compliments, I think, that a communicator/teacher/preacher can receive. "I listened, was influenced, practiced myself, then went and taught another and actually lead them to engage it as well..."

Pass on what you heard from me--
the whole congregation saying Amen!-
to reliable leaders who are competent to teach others.
2 Timothy 2:2 MSG

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Expectant Waiting & Extravagant Longing

(This morning I found myself reading, reflecting and praying through Acts chapter one. The following are some thoughts that are challenging me from the text) 

Jesus told the early disciples to “wait” for “the promise of the Father.” (Acts 1:4)

This wasn’t some hopeless waiting, for they had seen the Son risen with many “convincing proofs.” Now, the reality of what they had observed was about to take residence within - and permeate their whole being and existence. What a stark difference this was to be than the disciples perspective just a few weeks earlier as they walked on the road to Emmaus saying, “but we were hoping...”
  • How often do I lived with hopeful expectancy? 
  • Have I lost the posture of perpetual waiting on the Promise of the Father? 
  • Have I become cordial in my asking and domesticated in my longings?
God reawaken a fiery-untame-uncontainable passion, love, romance and expectant waiting-longing for you!

They demonstrate extravagant expectancy in their question to him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6) Misguided as this question and image of restoration may have initially been, it nonetheless, illustrates great faith and expectancy that things could actually begin to change here and now.

How often, we look at the world around us and the situations thereof, only to cast off restraint out of pessimistic doubt that the world could actually be changed. As the song goes, we’re just waiting on the world to change, but by the hands of someone else, for it seems out of our own grasp. But, the disciples believed that if the Lord could conquer death, surely He could also conquer the living.

  • Have I lost the art of asking big, praying large with extravagant expectancy?

Friday, November 05, 2010

The Hand Brings Understanding...

"The LORD made me understand in writing,
by His hand upon me, all the details of these plans.”
~1 Chronicles 28:19
Over the years, time and time again, I have found this to be true. That as I write, my thoughts and feelings have a way of becoming disentangled. Clarity emerges. Perspective settles in. And, perhaps most importantly, there's a sense of divine connectedness and nearness, not to mention, as my mind slows down to the speed of the pen, I am often able to become aware and perceive that which God is saying to me. It's a time to write first, filter later. Journaling has been very directive, corrective and clarifying for me.

I have a leather journal that goes with me most places. At the same time, I've found there are times/things that I am able to better process through typing. Typing is a bit faster, not to mention the chance of me actually being able to read it later are significantly higher :-)

I also use a program called journler, that is helpful in capturing and organizing thoughts.  Another online journal-type feature that I've found useful for prayer of examines and scripture reflections is

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Praying in Color :: Images of Prayer

When it comes to prayer, many of us can find ourselves word-weary or easily distracted. There's the struggle with a short attention span or a restless body. I'm looking forward to our new series on prayer called Praying in Color. In it, we're going be exploring some creative and engaging ways to connect with God in prayer.  The life of prayer, may never be the same again.

Tonight, I'm introducing the idea of praying beyond words. Here's a snapshot of my thoughts...

Monday, November 01, 2010

Free Audio Book :: Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper

Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper is available as a free ebook download at through the month of November.

Millions of people are wasting their lives pursuing dreams of happiness that don't rise above a good marriage, nice kids, a successful career, a nice car, fun vacations, nice friends, a fun retirement, a painless death, and (hopefully) no hell. John Piper calls this a tragedy in the making. He argues that we were created for joy. We were designed to have one life-encompassing passion.

In this book he describes his own journey in discovering this great, single passion. And He pleads that at all costs we pursue our joy in the crucified Christ, who is the glory of God. The cost is great. But the joy is worth any cost. Don’t buy seductive, tragic promises of worldly joy. Don’t waste your life.