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Focus.

May 4, 2011

_Proverbs 4: 23, 25-27

Verses on Focus are very important for me right now, with camp season upon us, business being busy, and additional travel considerations…I have a hard time focusing on anything but the tyranny of the urgent.  Lord, please focus me as a finely tuned instrument.  I choose to turn to YOU today for guidance for my next step.
The Message version says, “Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions.”  Things of evil are certainly sideshow distractions – but how about things that are “good”?  Sure.  There are many good things that are an enemy of “best”.  Jesus, give me Your wisdom here.  Earlier in Prov 4:7 it says, “The beginning of wisdom is; ACQUIRE WISDOM; and with all your acquiring, get understanding.  I like the NIV translation…”and though it cost all you have, get understanding.”  The Amplified version says it a little differently:
7The beginning of Wisdom is: get Wisdom (skillful and godly Wisdom)! [For skillful and godly Wisdom is the principal thing.] And with all you have gotten, get understanding (discernment, comprehension, and interpretation).

Lord,
These things – wisdom & discernment – only come from one Source – YOU.  I need to hear from You.  I want to pursue You.  I want to ignore all of the sideshow distractions and follow hard after You.  I want to take my direction from You only.  Please give me ears to hear and eyes to see what you are doing today.  Otherwise, I will miss it completely.  I am also desperate for Your steely eyed focus.  Without it, I’m just flitting about.  I have serious ADD right now with all that is on my plate.  Give me the courage to say NO to the things that will take me off the focus.  Give me supernatural abilities to sift, sort, delegate and take on only what I need to take on right now.  Create time for me to do what I need to do as I focus on You.  Admittedly, I’ve not known where to start with You as of late, and so, that indecision breeds ignorance (and the act of ignoring you).  The enemy is placing all sorts of “shiny objects” around me that are taking my eye off the ball.  It is mind numbing.  Too much incoming traffic….  I need & thirst for Your still small voice – either turn up the volume please Lord or give me the ability to hear you above the din.  Draw me into the alcove.  Give me the ability to see the “burning bushes” around – things that You are speaking through.
I love You Lord.  Thank You for Your acceptance and Your grace.  Please give me favor among men today.

He is Risen! http://ow.ly/4FQA6 Your Gif

April 24, 2011

He is Risen! http://ow.ly/4FQA6 Your Gift has been paid for, but when does that Gift become yours? When you open it. http://ow.ly/4FQAH

Tough but true! “Our kids are on loan..

April 12, 2011

Tough but true! “Our kids are on loan…don’t forget that the loan expires. Don’t lose the opportunities to appreciate the gift of your children.” » THE FATHER LIFE: http://ow.ly/4yhmE

“Amen” or “OUCH!”? ~ Thoughts on “The Cleansing” – Andrew Murray

April 4, 2011
“Some tree needs occasional pruning; others bear perfect fruit without any: the vine must have it. And so our Lord tells us, here at the very outset of the parable, that the one work the Father does to the branch that bears fruit is: He cleanseth it, that it may bear more fruit.  Consider a moment what this pruning or cleansing is. It is not the removal of weeds or thorns, or anything from without that may hinder the growth. No; it is the cutting off of the long shoots of the previous year, the removal of something that comes from within, that has been produced by the life of the vine itself. It is the removal of something that is a proof of the vigor of its life; the more vigorous the growth has been, the greater the need for the pruning. It is the honest, healthy wood of the vine that has to be cut away. And why? Because it would consume too much of the sap to fill all the long shoots of last year’s growth: the sap must be saved up and used for fruit alone.

“It is not to sin only that the cleansing of the Husbandman here refers. It is to our own religious activity, as it is developed in the very act of bearing fruit. It is this that must be cut down and cleansed away. We have, in working for God, to use our natural gifts of wisdom, or eloquence, or influence, or zeal. And yet they are ever in danger of being unduly developed, and then trusted in. And so, after each season of work, God has to bring us to the end of ourselves, to the consciousness of the helplessness and the danger of all that is of man, to feel that we are nothing. All that is to be left of us is just enough to receive the power of the life-giving sap of the Holy Spirit. What is of man must be reduced to its very lowest measure. All that is inconsistent with the most entire devotion to Christ’s service must be removed. The more perfect the cleansing and cutting away of all that is of self, the less of surface over which the Holy Spirit is to be spread, so much the more intense can be the concentration of our whole being, to be entirely at the disposal of the Spirit.” ~ Andrew Murray

What an uncomfortable lesson – or is it?  To know and really TRUST in the Lord and His plan for me is what is uncomfortable.  I have my own definitions of what being a fruitful branch looks like and it doesn’t include a need for pruning!  But upon reflecting on this more, I get it…I think.  At least in this moment.  When I’m being pruned, I may very well not understand it or comprehend what is really going on, but at the end of the day this equals DEATH TO SELF.  We are called to die to self, but in some instances – since this is an un-natural act to be sure – the pruning may be used as a catalyst for death to self.  It is then only uncomfortable to the degree that I cling to the piece being cut off to produce more of His fruit!  I pray that God would use me in a mighty way and that He would shine more brightly through me.  Do I know what I’m praying for really?  Death to self.  That can go hard or easy I suppose.  If I’m open to His definition of what that may look like, it can go easier.  If I cling to my definition of what fruit-bearing means…I’m toast.  Maybe not right away.  I certainly run the risk of the shoots of my branch to get too big and then potentially become my focus instead of The Vine.  The Vine is what produces the fruit, not the branch.  To “have His life shine more brightly through me”, is having less of me in the way to obscure His glory.  This can be painful, but it is a necessary part of the relationship – Husbandman/Vine/Branch relationship.  I do trust in the Husbandman – Lord, please help my distrust.  “For momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,” (2 Corinthians 4:17).  His power is made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).  If I cling to The Vine instead of to my definition of bearing fruit, His glory shines through more brightly and produces more fruit for His glory.  The Husbandman will not share His glory.

On Being a Fruitful Branch – Andrew Murray

April 3, 2011

Loving this study by Andrew Murray. Today’s “The Fruit” entry, says this: “The one object of my being a branch, the one mark of my being a true branch, the one condition of my abiding and growing strong, is that I bear the fruit of the heavenly Vine for dying men to eat and live. And the one thing of which I can have the most perfect assurance is that, with Christ as my Vine, and the Father as my Husbandman, I can indeed be a fruitful branch.” True Vine: Meditations for a Month on John 15:1-16 | Christian Classics Ethereal Library – http://ow.ly/4s58P

Doing What I’m Created For; Empowered (now) by Holy Spirit To Do – John 14:12-13

March 20, 2011

John 14:12-13

I’ve wondered what the heck Jesus means by this over the years…like, how can He say that? But more recently, I can now see (I think) that He means that we’ll do greater things b/c He goes to the Father…which will usher in the Holy Spirit who will indwell us, giving us (His) power – but to glorify the Father, not ourselves. Thoughts?

Then verse 13 still kinds of puzzles me. Would love your take.

I am created to glorify God the Father. As a Jesus follower, I am now empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit – Jesus sent Him when He ascended – to do even greater things to glorify the Father.

How am I doing that?

Here is a good friend of mine’s blog post on this from a few years ago that he reminded me of this morning:  Greater Works by Scott Wolfe of InYou Ministries.

Registration for 2011 BHDM summer camps

February 13, 2011

Registration for 2011 BHDM summer camps has begun! Sign up your son/daughter now – space is limited! http://ow.ly/3Vt0g

LOVE IS…what I got – what do I give?

February 11, 2011

As Dave and I were talking yesterday about 1 Sammy 8 & 9, we didn’t make it past 1 Sam 8:3 – which took us on a long, but very cool tangent concerning fatherhood & important male spiritual role models in each of our lives – and what their families looked like too, to see if we could uncover a pattern that resembled what we were just reading.  It seems that you hear of the pastor’s kid(s) who go astray or the spiritual parents who have ultra rebellious children.  I’m not sure if it is exactly SO true, that this kind of pattern exists – as if as you become an adult & a parent who loves and follows Christ that your kids will automatically rebel.  However, if you are trying to parent them to be Christ followers, you WILL automatically be leading them to walk against the grain of the way the world walks, and that may cause rebellion.  Maybe it looks “so bad” to the onlooker because of the contrast between the way the parents are living and pursuing God and the way the children are rebelling.  It is hard to watch.

But, in looking at Samuel, and Eli before him, could it be that we are seeing a slight embodiment of 1 Corinthians 13:1-3?  I don’t know.  In some instances maybe….  We don’t see much about the father & son relationships between these two priests and their sons, other than the fact that the priests were godly men, but their sons were taking advantage of their fathers’ position as a priest, and went crooked – participating in “dishonest gain, taking bribes and perverting justice” (Samuel’s boys) and “lay with the women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting” (Eli’s boys).  Perhaps the dads were so preoccupied with their roles as priests (and maybe a little legalistic) that they didn’t take the time to parent their boys well, and minister to them from their shoes…that would not be uncommon, looking around at the world today.  The father wound leaves a gaping hole in many – physically or emotionally absent dads who don’t know how to lovingly father their children with mission & purpose.  The boys are looking for attention, acceptance and love – like we all are, since God has hard wired us that way – and when they don’t find it in their earthly father, they go running to find it with worldly means.  They weren’t pursued & cherished by their dads, so they went a wrong way – never to recover.
This Ransomed Heart Daily Reading was so appropriate today (Few Feel So Pursued) in light of the convo Dave and I had…
As we looked at real love as described in 1 Corinthians 13 (NASB), we read off it’s traits…LOVE:
  • is patient
  • is kind
  • is not jealous
  • does not brag
  • is not arrogant
  • does not act unbecomingly
  • does not seek its own
  • is not provoked
  • does not take into account a wrong suffered (not keeping score)
  • does not rejoice in unrighteousness
  • rejoices with the truth
  • bears all things
  • believes all things
  • hopes all things
  • endures all things
  • never fails
This is other-worldly stuff that is rarely modeled even by the most godly of parents!  I was coming clean about the fact that when my 10 year old son bursts into my office while I’m focused on something work-related…or just interrupting my flow of things period…it may not be pretty.  And yet, what I want at the end of my life – more than power, position, wealth, etc – is to leave the legacy that my children and wife feel as if they were KNOWN & deeply LOVED by me – not just that they lived with me and “did time with me”.  I want them to feel pursued by me and cherished.  If I want that at the end, I must do the work of intentional positive memory making now.  Because as was evidenced by my daughter’s FIFTEENTH birthday this week (yikes!!!  Where has the time gone?!?), the days may sometimes be long, but the years are fleetingly short.
This takes effort now.  Engaging now is better and less painful than being an old man with regrets.  I’m not horrible in this category, but I have much room for improvement.  I can’t…but He can, through me.  I need to just get out of the way!
Lord Jesus – only You have embodied the Love…You ARE LOVE.  Thank You that I am a vessel and a conduit of this other-worldly Love.  I pray that You will keep me from damming up the flow of this Love into the lives of my family and friends today.  Amen.

God’s Will = Safest Place on Earth. Really?

January 17, 2011

Jeff Jones’ joking yesterday (Chase Oaks Church – Urban Myths Series kickoff) about an advertising agency advising Jesus on what to, and not to say as he is recruiting disciples to “Follow Him” reminds me of this newspaper ad recruiting for Ernest Shackleton’s Antarctica expedition:

“God’s Will Safest Place on Earth” – really?

This sounds good…we’d like for this to be true maybe, as “safety, comfort, clean” all appeal to us.  My son’s prayers most consist of “Help us to have a safe and wonderful day…”, which is sweet coming from a 10 year old, but an attitude that proliferates Christianity.  If we don’t have a safe & wonderful day, we wonder what we’ve done wrong, sins committed maybe…or is this payback in some way, shape or form?  No, not necessarily any of the above.

All in all, as Jeff says, this is a dangerous thought in the Christian life.

In Matthew 10, the disciples are given “power on loan” (Matt 10:1) to go the “lost sheep of Israel” to preach & teach about the kingdom of heaven being at hand.  Jesus says to heal the sick, rais the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons.  All good things right?  This is what God would want right?  This is His will, right?  If this is me, I’m probably thinking that everyone should really be on board with this mission trip plan – because we are going to do “all the good” as we go to these towns & villages.

Jeff’s first point is that as Jesus followers, we are SENT TO NEED – Jesus went to the point of greatest need.  Not to talk to the most “desirous” people by the world’s standards nor going to the most “ideal” places (the leper settlements outside the city, etc.).  Since Jesus went to the point of greatest need, if we follow Him, that is where we need to be going too.  We are not here just to hang out in our Christian cliques and wait for the Second Coming, but we are here to fulfill God’s mission on earth – we are sent to be agents of restoration, armed with His power (Christ in you, the hope of glory – Colossians 1:27).

Jeff then posed the question: When was the last time you made yourself/allowed yourself to be uncomfortable and move into the need of someone else? Ugh.  Not sure I can remember when.  I HAVE done this in the past, but yesterday’s manna is wormy today – I can’t live in the “used to” when there are still needs in the now.

Jeff’s next point is that as Jesus followers, we are SENT TO DANGERMatt 10:16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves…” Jesus followers going into the points of greatest need are not popular visits to those who seek to oppress the needy…meaning the efforts of those who seek to do good works will be thwarted by forces of evil.  As we carry His light into dark places, darkness does run from the light, but it doesn’t run away quietly every time.  Jesus gives them a preview in Matt 10:17-18, of what kinds of reception they’ll get from men, but He doesn’t camp out here – He is real with them, but His focus is not on the enemy or his actions, but on the power of the Trinity at work:

Verse 19 – 20 : “But when they hand you over (not IF but WHEN), do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say.  For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.”

Verse 26:  “Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known (darkness will run from the light – ‘I Am the Light of the World’ – see also John 8:12; John 9:5; John 12:35-36, 46).”

Verse 28:  “Do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Jeff concludes with the notion that we should not be so concerned with safety – praying for safety, etc.  Rather, we should pray dangerous prayers…pray that He would make us brave, to embolden us to be courageous in the face of fear and to stand firm against the wiles of the enemy and GO AND DO because CHRIST IS IN YOU.

Let’s not “settle for safe”.

One of my favorite books (and one of the most challenging to me personally) is The Barbarian Way by Erwin McManus.  Referring to John 21:20-21 he writes, “This is the sticky part of the barbarian call.  It’s not fair or equitable.  When you hear the call, when you follow the call, you must recognize that it is a life-and-death proposition.  When you understand what Jesus means when He says that you must follow Him, you finally realize that this is not a cattle call.  He is not calling you to the same life that everyone else will live.  He’s not even calling you to the same path that every follower of Christ will walk.  Your life is unique before God, and your path is yours and yours alone.  Where God will choose to lead you and how God chooses to use your life cannot be predicted by how God has worked in the lives of others before you.  Jesus’ response to Peter was as straight-forward as it could possibly get:  “If I want John to live and you to die, what is that to you?  Your part is to follow Me.  My part is to lead the way.”

Man.  Tough stuff, but real.  Stepping into need is messy, inconvenient and not where I want to go, if I am pursuing comfort and safety.  However, the call was, “Follow Me,” and I have accepted….

New Discovery Channel series “Kidnap &

January 11, 2011

New Discovery Channel series “Kidnap & Rescue” premiers 1/29/11 at 10PM CST. Will heighten “Kidnap IQ” Check out: http://ow.ly/3BHrQ