Last week one of my fellow staff members passed-away suddenly. Lynn Hoffman was the feisty and faithful Senior Adult Minister for our church. And she was my friend. In the weeks before her passing, we talked soberly about plans for her retirement and travels with Norman, her beloved husband. My friend Lynn and I knew how we felt about each other. I knew that she and her family loved me, and she knew that I and my family loved her. However there are a few things I wish I would have said.
This is for anyone in an exclusive dating relationship moving toward marriage. Here are three potential red flags. Think about your life with the one you like-like or love and make certain none of these are present. If they are, they need to be addressed. Evaluation now is better than heartbreak later. And beside that—you deserve a great relationship.
[Furnishings Part Two]
Meal experiences are some of life’s best. Think of holiday gatherings, wedding rehearsal dinners, sitting-down to find mom made your favorite dish. And there are times when good food and good conversation with good friends turns into lingering hours—enjoying each other long after the food is gone.
Dinner tables can also be a place of tension and feelings hurt by mumbled comments, slicing accusations, or cold-shoulder detachment. Few things cut like unkind words from a family member.
Jurassic World is a summer hit. Chris Pratt fills the big screen with Indiana Jones-like heroism. Thirty minutes into the film, the audience watches Pratt’s character, Owen, discover a genetically engineered dinosaur cooked-up by the Jurassic World scientists. He is not happy. They’ve created a super-predator, trusting a tall and thick fence to keep it confined. Owen lets them know they are idiots. [Spoiler Alert] The monster gets out, and the rest of the film deals with the destructive results.
That fence reminds me of the sins we try to keep as pets; never putting them to death, trusting they will remain small, secret, and under control. Like the scientists, sometimes we are idiots.
If taking notes on sermons is not part of your routine, I hope to convince you to give it a try.
I love the feel and smell and aura of a nice leather journal. They are perfect for capturing personal prayers and reflections. They are also good for taking notes on Sundays. As much as I love the pen and paper experience, in this post I want to recommend that you find a digital method for taking notes. Here are eight reasons why you should head to church this weekend with a fully charged phone, tablet, or laptop.
- It keeps you from distraction. Note-taking locks you in to what is happening as the people of God gather to hear the Word of God. If you are busy taking notes, you are less likely to check social media feeds and less likely to people-watch. It even counteracts the tendency to fall asleep. Your mind will focus and your heart will follow.
Waiting on God is one of the most difficult challenges on a disciple’s journey. If you are currently assigned to this draining task—if you are waiting for God to move or act, I hope this will encourage your soul and buoy your faith. There is a way to honor God as you endure. If you are not in a season where what’s next is still unnamed, I ask that you digest the heart of this post and bookmark this link…for your turn to wait will eventually come.
Beach-goers of all ages love to stand in the ocean surf, bobbing between the waves. Normally, mild waves lift the swimmer gently up and down again. At other times, large breakers crash as violent tests of strength and courage. Victory is measured by taking the hit and somehow keeping your feet.
Waiting on God is a similar test. There are good days when you barely notice the paused plans. But there are other days when waiting assaults the heart and mind like one of those unexpected big waves; swirling, pushing, attempting to pull you from upright to under.
Loneliness is an aching awareness of the absence of people who care about you because they know you. It’s easy to feel lonely standing in a big crowd. It’s easy to feel lonely while others around you laugh and have a good time. Loneliness is an emptiness that others may have no idea you endure.
If you feel lonely right now, I’m very sorry. You deserve someone who gets you, cares about stuff you care about, and listens to you. This is not the way life should work. Loneliness is a consequence of humanity’s fall. Continue reading
There is a giddy ritual performed by most Western couples before they marry. They register for gifts. They make selections at various stores and websites so well-wishers can know of their needs and preferences. After all, a new husband and a new wife in a new home will need a few things. They will need furnishings; items including a comfortable bed, places to sit in the living room, a table for meals, and dinnerware to fill kitchen cabinets.
The Bible refers to similar furnishings—usually not as life-changing truth topics, but as part of the scenery of Scripture. At times they are a feature and at other times they are in the background. The Bible mentions beds, couches, tables, chairs, cups, bowls, and other items. The Furnishings Devotional Series will lead Believers in Jesus to see and savor Him through the Scriptures, using the many references to furnishings as places to start.
Part One: A Bed in the Wilderness
“My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.” (Psalm 63:5-7 ESV)
Harry S. Truman, one of our U.S. Presidents back when life was in black and white, said, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” That rings true. Reading is a necessary discipline for leaders of families, churches, and other organizations. Good leaders never stop learning. Books create classrooms in the mind, they poke at our complacency, and they render visions of far off places—like where we could end up in the next five years.
If you are a leader, reading is not a luxury; it is a responsibility. Put fresh thoughts and models before your eyes. Submit yourself to challenge and page-by-page inspection; read books that will hone the edge of your faith. Read stories of success and failure; learn from others and minimize your life’s leadership regrets. Let the artful beauty of well-crafted sentences inspire you to renewed conviction, replenished enthusiasm, and refreshed gratitude. Continue reading
Earlier this week, I waved goodbye to my wife and two of our children as they set-out for a one-week mission project in Western Canada. Each had a bulging suitcase and a bulging heart; the latter full of happy anticipation. Seeing them off, I began to think about what prayers I should pray to cover their hearts and to partner with the Holy Spirit in their work.
Just maybe, someone you know will carry love and the Gospel this summer to a different culture, state, or country. I hope these six ideas serve your commitment to go to the Father on their behalf.
1. Pray for the spiritual fruit of new Believers.
This must be the hope and goal of missions—both long-term and short-term. Let there be new worshipers of Jesus! Rescue the perishing!
Ask God to open spiritual eyes to see His marvelous grace. Let’s pray that men and women believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins. “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.” (Romans 10:1 ESV) Continue reading