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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Just breathe

I was in the middle of some kind of "half moon prayer twist" (or something like that) last night. The guy on the DVD was leading us through our yoga workout--which I have still not gotten used to though I am getting better at it. As I sweated and huffed, the dude on the screen said for the 20th time, "Don't forget to breathe."

That struck me as really funny. Aside from the fact that I was huffing and puffing at an alarming rate, the idea that he had to tell us to remember to breathe was comical. In my head, I pictured thousands of people all over the country passing out while they worked out because they "forgot" to breathe. I mean, isn't that natural? I was always taught that this was something you didn't have to train someone to do; it's something you just know.

But it got me thinking about that word...breathe. In Scripture, the Holy Spirit is described with words such as wind and breath. God started this whole thing off by breathing life into man and He has been longing to breath new life into us ever since. Without breath, we struggle to live...or worse, we die.

Without God, our lives are remarkably the same way. This is why, all around us, we see lives that are struggling and straining to truly live--not just make it--really thrive. In fact, many of them are like me last night...huffing and puffing to catch our breath, gasping for that next flow of life-giving air. Spiritually and emotionally, He is our sustenance--it His breath (I'm talking Holy Spirit here), breathed into us, that gives us abundant life. So, as you go through your day...your week...don't forget to breathe.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Choose your foreman carefully

Last Saturday, our church was involved in a service project locally. It was a lot of hands-on construction and remodeling stuff. Soon after our arrival, David (a friend of mine) and I found ourselves in the attic of a new home that was being built for a family. Actually, "attic" is a loose term because the assignment given to us was to put down decking in the rafters to create some attic storage for the family.

Now, David and I both had a clear idea of what needed to happen. We both knew a lot more than just the basics of measuring, cutting and hammering. We understood that we were preparing for other things to follow and that, if we messed up, the "other things" could get a little ugly because of our mistake. So, throughout the morning, we'd do a bit of work here and there and, then, call the foreman in to ask a question or get a quick evaluation. Sometimes, we would get to a point where we just weren't comfortable with our knowledge and, rather than making it up, we'd get the "expert" to show us how.

I thought back to Saturday morning as I read the verse below:
Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Psalm 127:1

This may be shocking to you but, when it comes to parenting, to marriage, to pastoring or to life, I don't have all the answers. Even more shocking to you may be this reality...you don't either. So, there comes a point in every life where we must consult the "expert"--the One who knows all the ins and outs of building. If you're like me, there's no doubt you know more than the basics. You can make it so far with what you've learned in life...but only so far. Then, there comes a point where we all must realize, we aren't building just for us. We are building for things to follow. And if we don't get this part right, the things to follow could get just a bit ugly. So why not let the Lord build? Why not let Him guide your thoughts, govern your decisions and make your labors fruitful rather than "in vain?" When it comes to my kids, Lisa, my church and my personal legacy, I want to emerge knowing that what I did was done the best it could be.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday morning reflections

I love every chance I get to worship with my fellow Ridgies at RCC. I have said for months that I believe God is up to something in our Ridgeview family. I believe with all my heart it is because of people who have partnered with Lisa and me in praying for a revival. So, after an amazing day yesterday, here are a few thoughts on a GREAT DAY at Ridgeview

  • I am pumped about your response to God's message yesterday. It's been far too long since we had someone step across the line of faith and decide to follow Christ. Join me in praying that this Sunday stops that streak!
  • Evangelism is NOT an option for the church…it is a command! (See Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15,Luke 24:48, John 20:21, Acts 1:8, Romans 10:14, Romans 10:17 and II Corinthians 5:17-21 for starters!) We have said for years that your willingness to love your friends to Christ is Plan A with God...and there is no Plan B.
  • People who truly know Christ have a desire for others to meet Christ! You can't be a follower of Christ and not care about the lost.
  • There is not ONE example in the New Testament of a church that gathered to talk about themselves or to impress each other and or to see ZERO life change!
  • When a church begins to do church for the “already convinced”–evangelism always takes a back seat!
  • The world will NOT BE CHANGED by what we believe but rather how we behave!!! (got those last two thoughts from an amazing pastor in South Carolina).
  • I am NOT praying for merely an amazing church service next week…but rather an AWAKENING that forever changes Williamson County! Our problem is not that God can't bring it...it's that we doubt it can't happen in us.
  • According to a 2008 survey, 80% of the 172,000 plus people in Williamson County do not attend church anywhere on a regular basis. They are lost! That’s a TOTAL of 137,600 people who are NOT in church, who NEED Jesus!
  • Take a look at that line above again…EVERY SINGLE one of those people have a SOUL…THEY MATTER TO GOD and therefore SHOULD matter to us!
  • Our goal should be to reduce that number to zero...that's right, not one lost person should go without our touch.
  • JESUS changes people…we do not! It is not our job to change someone…but rather to get them to a place where they can meet Jesus and HE MAKES THE DIFFERENCE!
  • Ridgies…let’s join together and pray like crazy and work as hard as we can to do our part to get people to church this Sunday. Then, let’s trust HIM to do His part.
Let me just close by giving you some examples of stuff that has happened since yesterday morning that prove you have this passion and you're getting on board with God's desire for the lost. A young teen has invited his friends to be a part of our camp this summer and asked his church staff to pray with him that they will be open. A young man texted me yesterday to give me the name of a customer that he is praying for and witnessing to. He wants me to join him in praying. Last night, my LIFE group was asked to mention one name in prayer that they wanted to talk to this week about worshipping with us on Sunday. The problem wasn't getting them to say a name; it was limiting them to just one (some of them cheated a little. I like that a lot!). Finally, a young lady in our church who has been praying for a lost family member for a long time called last night to say that this person is coming to Ridgeview on Sunday with their spouse. God is up to something, people. Pray and pray hard. God is good!!


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Another year gone

It's a big day in the Barron family. Abby (or Abigail as she is preferring these days) has turned twelve. It really doesn't seem possible. I know every parent says this as they watch their children grow up...but it really doesn't. I've joked with her since she was about six years old that she was breaking her daddy's heart every time she had a birthday and that she couldn't get any older. Like most kids, she'd just roll her eyes and say, "Daddy" in that "I know your kidding but let's get serious" kind of voice.

She did it again last night as I tucked her in.

Which got me wondering, how much longer will she let me do that? Or, for that matter, how much longer will she let me do a lot of the things that daddy's love to do for their daughters?

I won't complain though. I am so thankful for every precious moment that God gives me with her. After all that she (and we) have been through, I am thankful for the beautiful young lady I see appearing before my eyes. I am thankful for every minute of life that courses through her body. I am thankful that others see in her all the incredible things that I see--her sweet heart, her precious laugh, her warm personality and her growing love of God. She is what every daddy wants their little girl to be. (How much longer can I call her "little?")

So, today, I am celebrating Abby...twelve years of laughter, hugs, eye rolls, tears, games and kisses. I pray that I am daily modeling the kinds of things she will some day look for in a man (some day way off in the future...like 2030) and that she has a short memory about the times that I let her down. And I pray there is never a day--no, never a minute--that passes in her life where she doesn't know the love of her daddy and the love of her Father. I guess along as she has both of those, I'll let her grow up now.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

For your kid's sake

What are you doing this weekend? Specifically, what are you doing this Sunday? I just got this from my Next Generations Pastor here at Ridgeview. I thought it was worth reading and passing on.

In an article by Neil MacQueen entitled “Too Good to Be True,” he offers the following: “What if I told you there was a well-researched and statistically proven program that can:
  • Increase the average life expectancy of your children by 8 years.
  • Significantly reduce their use and risk from Alcohol, Tobacco and Drugs.
  • Dramatically reduce their risk for committing a crime.
  • Improve their attitude at school and increase their school participation.
  • Reduce their risk of rebelliousness.
  • Reduce the likelihood that they would binge drink in college.
  • Improve their odds for a “happy”” life.
  • Provide them with a lifelong moral compass.
  • Get them to wear their seat-belts more often.
Is there such a program? Yes, there is. And it is supported by research from Duke University, Indiana University, The University of Michigan, the Center for Disease Control, Barna Research Group, and the National Institute for Healthcare Research. What if I told you it was free, and only took about 2 hours a week. It’s not a dream. The program is called ‘active church participation.’”

Now let’s discover where we are in our generation when it comes to church attendance. Only 41% of Americans attend church services on a typical weekend. Each new generation becomes increasingly unchurched. Parents of kids under eighteen were the most likely to say they were too busy for church. “Adults who attended church regularly as a child are nearly three times as likely to be attending today as are their peers who avoided the church during childhood.” Further, Barna shows the probability of accepting Christ, segmented by age. “Children between the ages of 5 and 13 have a 32% probability of accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior. The probability of accepting Christ drops to 4% for those who are between the ages of 14 and 18. Those older then 18 have a 6% probability of accepting Christ as their Savior.” You could readily see the importance of taking a child to church.


Excerpt from 'The Jesus Habits'

So, let me ask you again, what are you doing this weekend? Because I'd be willing to bet that it's going to cost you more, contribute to your child and your family's well-being less and not give you nearly the long-lasting return on your time. Are you willing to bet your child's future on it?

Monday, March 22, 2010

They are all around us

I'm talking about the opportunities that you and I have to be like Christ. I got to the office just after 8 this morning (it's almost 2 now). I've had some of my standard meetings with my guys to evaluate the weekend and make plans for the weeks ahead, especially Easter (have you invited someone to Easter at RCC yet?)

But in the midst of all that has been this swarm of...let's call them "Jesus moments"...those chances to reach and to touch and to be the body of Christ to the world that's hurting. We've got people who have lost jobs, lost marriages, have hurting kids, have birthed new ones, who are changing careers, changing homes, changing their mind on some issue in their life and changing their mind about Christ. And it's only Monday!

But here is the really cool thing. In just about every one of the stories, I'm hearing about the church being the church to these people. In phone call after phone call and email after email, I'm hearing about how our Ridgies are being Christ to these people. That makes a pastor really proud. I can only imagine what it makes the Father feel like.

So, open your eyes. Better yet, pray that God will open them for you. Look around at your co-workers, your neighbors, and your family. Our economy is struggling. Our culture is decaying. Our families are under attack. Our kids are screaming for love. And you and I--the Christ followers--hold in our hearts the one answer for all the needs of the world. Let Jesus interrupt your schedule today and take a chance to meet those needs. You'll be amazed at what it will do for you.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Columbia

I'm sitting in the Columbia, SC Metro Airport (which, up until a month ago, I didn't even know existed). Just wrapped up this year's South Carolina Symposium on Quality Care. Now I've got two hours to kill in a very nice but very dead airport. I'll probably make my way over to the restaurant for a sandwich and some March madness in just a bit.

Right now, I had to sit and decompress. I think, after five years of making these trips and giving these talks, I've realized how tiring they are and how lonely they make me. Don't get me wrong, it's not because I don't have amazing family and friends. It's just that, when you're sitting all alone in a strange airport, they are so far away and you appreciate them so much. Giving this talk is kind of like ripping old scabs off. It hurts but it gives me great healing as well. I get strength from knowing that Josh's story is touching somebody and bringing some positive change.

I'm still tired though--mentally, not physically--from thinking these thoughts, feeling these emotions and telling this story. Can't wait to get back home to my kids and snuggle next to Lisa on the couch. It's God's way of reminding me how completely He heals...and how good He is at it.

That sandwich is calling my name now. Better get a little food before the mad rush at the gate (that's a joke). Probably another 20 seater airplane. At least I know it's taking me home.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Healing Power of Forgiveness

I get it. Forgiveness is a central theme of the Bible. The apostle Paul wrote about it, it is what God desires for us and it is what Jesus died for. And it's really amazing to watch what it can do to some one's heart when they experience it. I saw it again this week.

Lisa was carrying a burden. I won't go into great detail for privacy sake but Lisa had been falsely accused by someone in our community several years back. It was a hurtful accusation particularly because it questioned Lisa's integrity. Shortly after we got married, she had asked my wisdom about how to handle it. Should she confront the person and try to re-establish her standing or let it go? After prayer and discussion, we agreed to claim the promise of Exodus 14:14:

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to stand still.

This past week, that misunderstanding was cleared up. Out of the blue, this woman emailed Lisa to say that she had been wrong, that she had not understood the depth of Lisa's character nor had she known about Lisa's deep faith in God. Here's the really cool thing. The woman discovered these things after God had led her to Lisa's blog (www.lisadbarron.blogspot.com). After reading a few entries, she was led to issue her apology and ask for forgiveness which Lisa readily granted.

I watched and listened as this event unfolded. I saw the tears of my wife as she realized how well God had "gone to bat" for her--not only upholding her character but strengthening the relationship with this woman who had previously been only an acquaintance. As Lisa shared the story, I could hear the relief of forgiveness in the "voice" of the woman who had wrongly accused her.

There is no doubt that forgiveness--both the giving and receiving--have amazing healing powers. Maybe there is someone you need to contact today. They may not even know that you hold anything against them. But the power of forgiveness knows no time limit and what you receive will be far greater than what you give.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32 NIV

Monday, March 15, 2010

Just for fun

I've been playing sports since I was old enough to hold a Nerf ball. Whether it was baseball, basketball or football, I was pretty much involved in competition year round until I graduated from college. I learned early on that one of the first questions you ask when you are about to play is, "Are we playing just for fun?" More often than not, the answer was "no." This meant we were playing for a trophy, a reward or some title at the end of the game or season. And this inevitably meant that the competition was turned up a notch (or two or three). It moved beyond just good-spirited fun to giving it your best effort and a leave-it-all-on-the-field mentality.


On the other hand, "just for fun" signaled a bending of the rules, a focus on fun more than the outcome and, sometimes, the swapping of teams to keep it from getting to serious.


The difference was all determined by what you hoped to gain at the end of the game.


This morning, I was reading and listening to some worship music as part of my time with God. My thoughts were directed to this passage in Colossians:


...since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:24 NIV


The reward for this life is significant. Far from any trophy or plaque, Scripture teaches us that we live for an inheritance that "will not rust or fade"--an eternal one. This is a competition to pale all others, a race that must be run with all diligence. So, why do so many Christ followers live as if they are in this "just for fun?" For many of us, it seems as if we do not understand the seriousness of this journey. We are more worried about how fun it will be than we are about the outcome--for us and for those God has placed within our influence.


Make no mistake, this contest is real. It's a battle. Sadly, for those who are in this "just for fun," they will find that this was never really an option. There is an award for those who run this race well but each of us must choose to give it our all. We'll find that it was worth every ounce of our lives that we put into living a life of purity and holiness. Game on!


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Faithful

I was laughing as I rode down the road to Nashville earlier today. There was a country song playing (little known fact about Ridley...he really likes good country music. This song did, however, did not fall into that category). It was talking about his faithful truck as opposed to his unfaithful girl. I guess he was more interested in getting a reliable crank rather than living with one (not funny, I know, but it's been a long week). Faithfulness is a character trait we like to see in ourselves. It's one we respect and desire from others as well. But what does it really mean when the Bible talks about God being faithful?

The dictionary uses some really cool words to define it, words like loyal, constant and steadfast. On the other hand, there are words like traitorous and unreliable used as antonyms for this word. So, as I was reading this morning, I came across this verse:

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands. Deuteronomy 7:9

Without much thought, this phrase came to mind as I thought about that word--"without a doubt." That's what I think of when it comes to God. When it comes to his end of the deal, you can move forward "without a doubt." You can trust that he will always keep his end of the bargain. And you can underline, boldface, italicize and highlight that word. He will, without a doubt, do his part.

But what about me? I'd like to believe that I'm like the truck in the song. I'd like to know that God sees me as one of the reliable ones...kind of like Job or David. And ultimately, that's my choice. No one else "makes" me faithful. No one else chooses for me. It comes down to my willingness to be what God has asked me to be. For me? Without a doubt, I want to be found faithful.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A good question

I had an interesting conversation with Scott, our worship pastor, last evening. He's in the middle of writing a new worship song with some friends and had included a phrase that's pretty familiar to a lot of us--"I am found in you." He sang a few of the lines for me and then asked, "What does that phrase mean to you? I mean, do you think most people really understand what it means to be 'found' in Christ?"

Interesting question. I'm not sure that most really do. For me, the phrase means that everything about us--our worth, our meaning, our value, our future, our present, everything--is found in the person of Jesus Christ. While that's a very hard place to come to in our lives, it's absolutely essential if we are ever going to know the peace that God has promised us. You see, being found in Christ means that we no longer depend on the world to determine our value. Their opinions of us will not determine our worth. It means knowing that the future we have is in His control and that nothing short of our own desires can take that away from Him. It also means that when life gets difficult, we can rest comfortably in the knowledge that God will carry us through.

It's a phrase we sing and speak often but my fear is that it's a reality that most of us never know fully. Schedules and pressures, stress and circumstances can quickly relocate our lives away from Christ and back in our own hands. We become frazzled, desperate in an attempt to stay above water. Usually, it's only after we reach a place of desperation that we come back to the reality that our lives are best left in His hands. Yet, the next event will come and we are right back in control. It's a place that we'd really rather never be but spend far too much of our lives.

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. John 15:4


Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Change isn't easy

I think I said this on here a few weeks ago. Everybody loves change; you go first. Change is seldom easy. In fact, it's downright hard. There are old habits to break and new ones to develop. And the old habits just don't die easily.

For instance, for the first time since college (which was more than just a few months ago for those keeping tabs) I'm typing on a Macbook. I trained on Apples when I was a senior in high school. I worked and trained others on Apples when I was in college. So it's not like I've never made this change before. But when I finished grad school, I was told to put away my Apple and purchase a PC. Now, I have given into the urging of my staff.

The point of all that is this...it's not easy. I'm still putting my fingers in the wrong places and pushing wrong buttons. The shortcuts are a little different and the keyboard feels slightly strange. But I'm hoping the change, in the long run, will be a good one.

I've made similar changes with my health. Believe me, these changes were far harder than the shift from a PC to a Mac. Doing away with certain foods and stuff that just aren't good for me. Exercising six times a week (I haven't done that since high school) all in the name of better health. But it matters to me. It's extremely important. I watched my dad struggle with his health all the way to the end of his life. I've seen others I know battle with health conditions. All I know is that I want to be able to see my kids grow old, watch their children be born, and spend the end of my life with Lisa enjoying it as much as I have the first three years. So, I make the changes I know I need to make...no matter how hard they may be.

It's that way with anything worth doing. It will require change. It will require some discomfort as the old is done away with and the new comes. But the key is deciding that you really want to be different. That's why many church goers are not willing to change. They don't mind the trips to church and the occasional uncomfortable sermon but they never get to the place where they decide that the change is "worth it." They just don't really desire it. So they settle. They become complacent. They live with apathy. And they miss the greatest journey one could ever experience, an adventure that goes far beyond just going to church...the adventure that is following Christ.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Houston

Lisa and I had a great time with the people from GHSHRM last week (I think I got those initials right). They were a wonderful bunch of folks and the conference was awesome. I particularly enjoyed hearing my good friend, Dr. Wayne Marchant, speak. For those of you who don't know who Wayne is, he is the Vice President for Risk Management at Savannah's Memorial Hospital--the place where my son Joshua died.

What is amazing to me is the growing friendship that God has brought from that situation. I love and respect Wayne for the integrity with which he dealt with Josh's death. I appreciate him even more for what he continues to do in light of that awful experience. Thanks, Wayne. You are greatly respected.

To Debbie, one of the conference attenders (and maybe some others out there), thank you for your very kind words in response to my presentation. We do have a DVD of the presentation that is available for institutional use. However, we do not have anything for personal viewing. You can find out more by contacting us via this e-mail address (keith@mhslawfirm.com).

Also, one really cool update. We've had a web presence in a very simple form for about a year now for Ridley Barron Ministries. In the next couple of weeks, we will be going "live" with a new, more expanded site that reflects the growing ministries of RBM and the opportunities that are available there. You can check it out at www.ridleybarron.com (hard to forget that one, huh?) As I said, right now it's very simple and limited. However, by next week, the new site will be operating.

Thanks for all the great comments from last week in Houston. Next week, I'm in Columbia, SC for another conference. Looking forward to meeting some new faces and continuing to watch as God uses these events to bring about some cool stuff.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Traveling

Lisa and I are sitting in the Houstonian Hotel in Houston, TX this morning. I'm getting ready for a presentation to the Greater Houston Society for Healthcare Risk Management. Boy, that's a mouthful. I'm praying over the words that God would give to me and how he can use those words to impact health care in general and the specific providers.

....and missing my kids. I love that God has given me this opportunity to use our story for good. I even like the traveling a bit, though the airport security can get old. But I always miss being home with my family. They are so much a part of who I am. I wish I could take them on the road with me and let them see and experience the great places I get to go. I guess it makes going home that much sweeter. You know, the whole "absence makes the heart grow fonder" deal.

It's a big day tomorrow (Saturday). My oldest is turning 18. Wow! I know she's excited. Me? I have mixed feelings. I'm excited she's having the big day and that she is daily showing how God is transforming her and making her into the young woman I have been praying for. I just hate that we are rushing up to the day she leaves for Samford--it's getting really close--and I've only had this little bit of time with her. It just goes too fast. And the time we do have is split between school, work, church and a very intelligent young man she has fallen for (he's intelligent because he's dating my beautiful daughter). But you might expect a dad to say that.

I know she doesn't read this but I thought I'd say it anyway. Happy birthday, Morgan. I love you and am very proud of you.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Completely overwhelmed

That's the answer I seem to get from a lot of people lately when I ask how they are feeling. For most, it is the constant dreary news we hear from our economy that has them burdened. For others, it's some combination of poor health, crazy schedules, high demands or consequences from poor choices. The great tragedy with all this is that it's nowhere near what God wanted us to experience in our lives. Don't get me wrong, the Bible is clear that God knew we would have troubles in this world. But I don't think that God intended us to live out the "Eeyore" principle while we walked this earth. You know, "Woe is me, nobody likes the donkey"...the miserable, yet lovable, creature from the Winnie-the-Pooh stories by A.A. Milne.

God's word tells us over and over again that He wants something much better for us.

I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10

...for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 1 John 5:4

More than just a promise of something fantastic that awaits us in Heaven, I think God wants us to taste that "full life" now as He guides us through difficulty and allows us to experience His constant presence. No, you won't live a carefree life. But God does promise that we can bring our anxieties to him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).

Our problem is that we know the obvious things we must do, we just choose not to do them. We know that God's Word transforms us but most of us never take the time to read it. We know that prayer is a direct conversation with our Creator but our times with Him are infrequent at best. We know the good things to choose and we know the selfish things that tempt us. For most of us, though, our pursuits are about us and our comfort rather than the good that God would have us pursue. Yet, we are surprised when life gets overwhelming or despair seems to consume us.

Rather than give in to the status quo of the day, we must choose to embrace the promises of God that help us rise above gloomy economic news, ward off the high demands of our culture and make the wise choices that honor God. That is the lifestyle that brings us the freedom that God desires for us.

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age. Titus 2:11-12

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

He is watching

He knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. Job 23:10

At first glance, the verse above can make you a little nervous...and by all rights it should. Just to know that every step of our journey is laid out before God can be unnerving. There is no place I have gone nor any thought that I have held in my head that He is not aware of. Even the deepest desires of my soul are known to Him.

I started taking a closer look at the second half of that verse this morning. It's an obvious reference to the process that gold goes through as it is refined. This process, with tremendous heat and stress, causes the gold to come out in a purer form. It's the end result that makes the process worth while.

But it's a comfort to me to know that I am in the hands of an expert. You see, any time you and I are willing to let God test or refine us, He has promised not only to bring us through that fire but to guarantee that the end result is a purer "product." My tests and trials are God's way of knocking the "me" out of me and revealing His presence in my life. God is an expert at such matters. He knows what I can handle; He knows the limits that I can withstand. That's why the story of Job is such a fascinating one. If you haven't read it in a while, do so. You'll be reminded that God is always up to something in our lives, even if it appears to be behind the scenes. I don't usually like church signs very much...at least as far as the theology behind them is concerned. But this one I saw last week made pretty good sense:

When Satan tries us, he attempts to bring out the worst in us. When God tries us, He attempts to bring out the best.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Hello...again

It's been a few days. Lisa and I took a couple of days away last week for our annual prayer retreat so I'm just getting back into the groove of things after being out of pocket. We had an amazing time talking, dreaming, writing and catching up on some reading. (We even squeezed a few workouts while we were away).

I know I've said this a lot lately but I've really enjoyed this message series--History--over the last few weeks. Coming back to these first books of the Old Testament is like hooking up with an old friend again and catching up on lapsed time. It is a fascinating story of this journey that man has been on with God for thousands of years. For me, it's been an incredible "God-hunt" to trace God's behind-the-scenes activity as the events of world history unfolded.

I was challenged by yesterday's message on the Ten Commandments. Like many of you, I've always seen these "regulations for life" as a rule book on how to get it right. However, the closer I look at the story, I realize that it's more about God's grace and love. God was saying to us, "I love you deeply and I'm not going anywhere. This is a level of holiness that you cannot possibly attain without me and my promise is to be right here with you as your God." Think about the significance of that statement, the personal level of love that God extends to you and me.

His grace has always been present...from the minute Adam and Eve first sinned to right now when you and I fail to make good choices.