Category Archives: General

Blessed to be a blessing

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Sometimes when a thing is over used it becomes less significant.
Sometimes when a saying is repeated too often it becomes pithy.

I have thought the latter about the saying above.  There was a time when it was reiterated so often that it lost its punch.  ”you are blessed to be a blessing.”  I didn’t resent it, but it did become diluted to the point of it meaning less.

The reality of it is still true.  When each of us walks in the blessing of the Lord, that blessing is not supposed to be bottled up and kept.  Instead, that blessing is to be shared with others.  And, not sparingly, but generously.  If we glory in our blessing and don’t share it, then it becomes an idol.  It can become a golden calf. We do things to worship the blessing and think it has everything to do with us and leave Father out of it.  This is not kingdom-thinking.

Instead, we need to recognize that EVERYTHING under the sun, including the sun, is a gift from Father.  All our strength, health, jobs, finances, gifts, talents, time, family, outpouring of love, prayers– everything emanates from the heart of Father.  Our kindness towards others is a reflection and seed in our hearts is from Him.  We have the choice to listen and obey or not.

I’d rather obey.  I’d rather not build a golden calf.  I’d rather have true riches.  Jesus said, “So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches” (Luke 16:11).

 

Two criminals with Jesus

In our travels through the book of Luke, we have made it to the Easter season 2014 at the same time we read and preach the last moments of Jesus life on the cross.

This past Sunday was Luke Part 123 in a series of sermons taking us all the way through the book of Luke.  This has taken five years, yet has been met with interludes along the way like Christmas, Easter, B90X, and other short book or series studies.

I don’t think this is by accident that we meet right now with a intersection of these ideas.

The thought I had this morning related both to the sermon last Sunday and the group of men I have the privilege of meeting with every Wednesday morning.  I don’t even begin to think that I have the all-inclusive, final answer to every section of scripture which I preach.  For this past Sunday, the Holy Spirit lead me to share some particular ideas relating to the four verses surrounding the two thieves crucified at the same time as Jesus.

The cool thing which happened this morning at coffee was how much more there is to the story than meets the eye.  Nearly all six of us which spoke up about it, had a little different take, inflection, or depth to the story than the others.  Granted we all had the same foundational view.  However, each of us brought a different light, perspective, or world-view to the passageScreen Shot 2014-04-09 at 9.05.26 AM.  It was mighty.

One of the things our time together this morning reminded me was how alive and living the Word of God is.  Taking the time to meditate on it can bring to light all sorts of things.  Rather than me thinking I have to have all the answers for everyone each and every Sunday, some ideas are spread around like the sower and his seed in Matt. 13, and those seeds fall on different kinds of hearts and lives and grow (or don’t grow) in all sorts of ways.

This was a really rich time for me.  Thank you Jim, Chris, Rick, Vince, Nathan, and Bill for sharing your hearts and thoughts on the Living Word of God.

Book Suggestion- “The Circle Maker” by Mark Batterson

The Circle MakerThere is a legendary figure named Honi who was known for his audacious prayers.  He would pray for rain and it would.  And not just a sprinkling, but torrents of water would fall in places not known for inundation.

Mark Batterson hits the nail on the head with a challenge for all of us to pray boldly, persistently, and for the long haul.  I am personally encouraged in my faith to alter my prayer form.  Rather than vaguely and singly, I am motivated and inspired to take my prayer life to a whole different level.  And not just for my own purposes, but for Gods.  I want my prayer life to honor all that he is in our lives on this planet in our generation.

So briefly, I make the bold suggestion for any and all of you– glean from a local pastor who has made his story available.  A pastor who the Lord has used to plant a church in one of the most influential cities on the planet.  We can imagine how much prayer is need there.

All you CRBCers– I so want you to read this book, that if you present the receipt to me, I will pay you for reading it.  Blessings.

Stats on Bible reading from YouVersion

biblesI am a bit old fashioned, in that, I still like my paper Bible.  As a church pastor, I occasionally ask folks to hold up their Bibles.  More and more folks are turning to electronic versions of their Bibles.  IPhones and Droids are becoming the tool of choice for Bible reading.

Because folks are accessing the web for Bible reading, this has allowed for keeping stats on which Bible books are read.  The number of hits on a book, chapter, or scripture are tracked and we are left with some really interesting data.  Interesting sociological points can be gleaned from this information.  However, that is not the point of this post.  Rather, I am just going to jot down a few of the highlights which interested me.

First, YouVersion has topped over 100 million members.  That is pretty cool.

Here are the books accessed most and the highest viewed scripture in each:

1. Psalms ( you could have guessed that one) 74,044,741  views and its most popular verse is Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord; and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

2. Matthew 44,986,813 views and its most popular verse is Matt 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

3. Proverbs 43,288,764 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.” Prov. 3:5

4. Romans 32,569,657 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” Romans 12:25

5. John 29,571,356 (any guesses here, I am not even going to write it out?!)

6. Luke 26,355,373  ”Give, and it will be given to you, Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap.  For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:38

7. Ephesians 22,736,846 “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Eph 4:32

8. 1Corinthians 20,392,129 “Love is patient, and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant.” 1 Cor 13:4

9. Isaiah 20,205,218 “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Is 40:31

10. Lastly, Genesis 19,055,482  ”Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Gen 2:24

Interesting stuff.  Can you interpret anything out of this?
How does this list compare to your most read books or favorite verses? Have you navigated away from a paper Bible to an electronic version? How has that helped you in your Bible study or scriptural acumen?

This is water.

Every once in a while a video comes up that demands the time to watch it and to ponder the implications to each of our lives.

this is waterThis particular graduation speech is eight years old. However may be one of the absolute best there ever was and will be. David Foster Wallace was the commencement speaker at Kenyon College in 2005. To give a fresh and original grad speech is not easy to do. With the thousands given every year, the themes and styles are ‘oh-so’ similar that merely changing the date and the face of speaker is all that is required.

This one however, is, not just a cut above, but, from a completely different paradigm, yet as close to the core of who we are, what makes us tick, and a solution to a truly joy-filled life.

The speech is about nine minutes long and provides keys to a wonderful life, not just for grads, but for folks of every age and education level.

Enjoy.