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Can you imagine standing before God?  I get nervous just thinking about it.  I mean, it’s God, right?  Well, it’s going to happen and so I best be prepared.

In 1 John 3:18-22, John was thinking about standing before God as well.  He was relating it to how we need to go beyond saying we love people and actually live it out.  By doing this, we show what is the truth.  (So, truth is not knowledge alone?  Hmmm.)  Look at what John writes: “Our actions will show that we bleong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God” (v.19).  It is our actions on earth that will give us confidence before God.  If this is the case, then each time I love someone I should be more confident, right?

Well, I think I’ll still be shaking in my boots.  I mean, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to love enough to stand before Him with confidence.  And I John understood this.  Look what he says in the next verse.  “Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and He knows everything” (v20).  This is what I needed to hear!  My feelings of inadequacy aren’t the issue here; truth is.  And since truth is connected to action, I need to be asking myself… What are my actions?  Am I loving God and others?  Since God already knows everything, what is the truth about my life?

Lord, please help me to truly love You and others.  May my life as a follower of Christ truthfully emulate the way Christ lives.  And God, may my confidence be from You when I stand before You.  Amen.

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Kara’s Meal at Carrabba’s Restaurant

Kara’s parents came today.  They’re visiting for five days and everyone’s excited they are here.  I couldn’t think of a better way to begin the visit than a trip to Carrabba’s restaurant.  And I must say, it was awesome!  I had the Chicken Parmesean.  Kara had the Mr. & Mrs. C’s Favorite (pictured above).  On a scale of 5… it was a 10+!!  (Of course this is going to affect my ability to rank things in the future, isn’t it?)

You know how you try not to talk something up for fear of other people being disappointed?  I’m not sure that could happen with Carrabba’s.  If you like Italian food and are willing to spend about $15.00 an entree, you’ve got to give Carrabba’s a try.  It’s that good!

Barking Cartoon

“I believed in God, so I spoke” (2 Corinthians 4:13). I can’t get past this. Why? Because I believe in God, yet I often keep my mouth shut. You see, it’s easy to share about God as my job/ministry, but when I go home and hang out with my children in the cul-de-sac the words no longer roll off my tongue. Oh sure, I’m still the nice Christian, but I don’t bring it up unless there’s something obvious. Why am I this way?

In his book A Cry for Mercy Henri Nouwen asks these questions… “Why do I keep relating to you as one of my many relationships, instead of my only relationship, in which all other ones are grounded? Why, Lord, is it so hard for me to make you the only one? Why do I keep hesitating to surrender myself totally to you?” And later he answers… “I need your loving grace to travel on this hard road that leads to the death of my old self and to a new life in and from you.”

Oh Lord, please help me (and all of us) to trust in you.

Vampire Coffin

The old body must die.  Honestly, it’s a sad thought.  I’m not super interested in dying, are you?  It’s not that I’m scared; I know I will spend eternity with God.  It’s that I love the life I live.  I love my family and friends.  I love what I do.  But, there is a yearning in me to be with God more than I am now.  I feel like there ought to be more.  In 2 Corinthians 5:1-10, it appears that Paul is pointing us toward this while focusing in on two things.  One, our spirit lives on.  This is why we have a confidence of what life after this life holds.  And God’s Spirit affirms this in us (v.5).  This is why we sense that there is more to this life then what is currently happening.  And two, whether we are in this life on earth or in heaven, our goal doesn’t change:  to please God (v.9).  So, while I am on earth, I seek to please God and, by God’s grace, be used by Him for His purposes.

Epiphany Manual Book Cover

I just finished reading “Epiphany Manual” by Muto and van Kaam.  It’s a good blend of theory and practice regarding small groups.  If you’re looking for a good read, this may not be your cup of tea, but if you’re tired of small groups that focus on information instead of formation, it might be worth checking out.

I give it three stars (out of five).  It’s a five for content, but a three for readability.

I watched a video called Humor Prescription:  Care for the Care Giver(http://www.rctm.com/Products/industryspecific/healthcare/6762.htm).  It was excellent!  Although it’s an older movie (and about $500.00) the amount of laughing I did (some even out loud) and the “take-away” made it well worth my time.  Here’s the synopsis, without the humor:

Three Characteristics of Long-Lived Healthy People

1.  Altruism – Having a concern for others.

2.  Humor – Keeps one flexible and enhances creativity.

3.  Community – Experiencing the above in relationships that help us even in difficult times.

If you get the chance to watch it, please do.  More importantly, if you get a chance to evaluate your life, definitely do it.  Take care.

C. W. Metcalf.  The Laughter Guy

No. Not from me.  That would be called, “No Wisdom.”  One of my favorite e-mail’s I receive is from:  http://www.quickwisdom.com/.  Bobb Biehl (Yes, there are three “B’s” in Bobb) offers very short tidbits filled with great leadership advice.  The one I just received was…

Root Cause:   Focus on cause elimination, not sympton reduction.  What is the root cause of your current problem?

Brilliant, huh?  Sign up if you’d like.  There’s no charge.

When you read the Bible do you ever ask God to help you put it into practice that day?  Yeah, me neither.  But God showed me something this morning that became very evident at work.  We met with a coach/leadership guru as a team (the whole conference staff) to work on skills that would make our work environment better.  Some issues of conflict and truth-telling came up and there were people who were obviously keeping their mouth shut.  (Although, irritation was obvious on their faces.)  God directed me back to our devotional time in John 10:1-18. 

Verse 13 states:  “The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep.”  I began to wonder if this also relates to the managing or avoiding of conflict.  those who are invested will put forth effort during trying times, even if it’s difficult.  And I think this principle moves beyond work.  Imagine the impact it would have on our lives if we invested in our marriages (only one spouse, please) and relationships because we acutally care about the other (“the sheep”) and not ourselves (“working only for the money”).

Lord, help me to be completely invest in You and the relationships You’ve blessed me with.  Help me to not give up and be committed to them for the long haul.  Amen.

Hands Praying

I just finished a brief study on the Hebrew word “yada.”  It is commonly translated “to know,” but I’m finding that there is much more to these silly things we call words.  Think about it… you can “know” a fact (I know 2+2=4), you can “know” something in relationship (“I know my friend Joe.”), you can possess a secret (I am in the know) and you can even “know” someone through intercourse (I know my wife, if you know what I mean).

Okay, I’m rambling.  What did I learn?  Context is everything.  For example, in Deuteronomy 7:9 and Judges 3:2, to “know” means to understand God’s commandments given through God’s covenant AND TO DO THEM!  When you relate this to Judges 2:10 (“…and another generation grew up after them, who did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel.”), it might not be that they didn’t realize who God is, but that they chose to not live for God.  Knowing isn’t just head knowledge here.  If we don’t do what God expects, we don’t really know God.  Pretty amazing, huh?  I thought it was something worth knowing.

There is so much going on here.  People are responding when the Gospel is shared.  (I’m not sure I need to add a guilt trip here, do I?)  Some Christians are concerned that groups different from their own seem to be responding to the Gospel.  So, what do we do when this happens?  Oh, I don’t know… maybe go and check it out?!?  That’s what the early church did.  And when they did, they confirmed that God was moving in their midst as well. 

I confess that I sometimes catch myself questioning what other people are doing without even going and finding out what’s happening.  Don’t we believe God can do anything?  Then why can’t God work outside our understanding of how ministry is done?  (Rhetorical.  Don’t try to answer it.) 

Lord, please help me to see You in others.  And help me to be Your voice wherever I go.