Category Archives: God

There’s a lot to celebrate today

Just let these verses penetrate your soul today (Isa 49).

16 Look, I’ve written your names on the backs of my hands.  The walls you’re rebuilding are never out of my sight. 17 Your builders are faster than your wreckers.  The demolition crews are gone for good. 18 Look up, look around, look well! See them all gathering, coming to you? As sure as I am the living God”—God’s Decree— “you’re going to put them on like so much jewelry, you’re going to use them to dress up like a bride. 19 “And your ruined land? Your devastated, decimated land? Filled with more people than you know what to do with! And your barbarian enemies, a fading memory. 20 The children born in your exile will be saying, ‘It’s getting too crowded here. I need more room.’ 21 And you’ll say to yourself, ‘Where on earth did these children come from? I lost everything, had nothing, was exiled and penniless.  So who reared these children? How did these children get here?’” 22 The Master, God, says: “Look! I signal to the nations, I raise my flag to summon the people.”

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It’s Your Love

It’s been a tough and amazing season all at once, but one thing is for sure, the sense of God’s amazing love and grace is overwhelming. The truth of Philippians 4 has become a living, breathing reality for me recently…

12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Verse 13 is probably one of the most misquoted verses in Scripture, so often taken completely out of context. I can’t go out an bench press 325lbs this morning because I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. But I can learn to live in a way that is independent of my circumstances, I can learn to not be controlled by the situations and challenges that I might face, but rather live in a place of absolute dependence up the One who is in control. In this passage Paul is borrowing language from the Stoic Philosophers of the day to show us how Christ uses the circumstances and situations we face each and every day to initiate us into this path and life of complete dependence upon Him. I can only face life, and do the things that are in front of me, through His strength, by drawing upon Him, my source of strength. It’s a life of dependence, not divorced from circumstances, but recognizing that those circumstance are being used by God as an opportunity to engage with His way of viewing and walking through life. It’s why Paul said this in Philippians 3:

7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

So back to God’s love… that’s where we started. Read this from Prodigal John last week and I think it sums it up well. “God doesn’t need me. He loves me.” You see He is God. He is complete. He doesn’t need my additions. Because of His passionate love for each one of us He welcomes us into this partnership, better said a relationship, of dependence upon Him.

So click on the video below, close your eyes and make a commitment today to allow yourself to depend upon Him. It’s His love.

Wow! What a year.

My wife often accuses me this time of the year of getting philosophical and reflective… and maybe I do (after all its the end of the year and I get one year older). As I was looking back on 2008 I was struck by God’s incredible faithfulness and blessings on our life. Some highlights from 08:

  • An incredible week of prayer and fasting in January and so many promises both personally and corporately to our church
  • 10 days in Ireland in February with my family.
  • An awesome trip to Kansas to serve a church there.
  • The opportunity to visit many wonderful friends and family in Portland.
  • A great staff retreat in June… I work on one incredible team.
  • A first ever visit and game in the right field bleachers of Yankee Stadium.
  • Doing dinner with Craig Groeschel and Steven Furtick.
  • Steak & Rake 08.
  • Brett Favre’s retirement and un-retirement
  • Shea Stadium and a day in NYC with my son.
  • One unbelievable week in Disney winning an evening in the castle. Can’t tell you how much we felt God love and pleasure as a family.
  • Riding Big Thunder Mountain with Aidan, Sophie and Madeline (Mads was just crazy funny).
  • The opportunity to meet Mark Batterson (his book is part of the reason we ended up here in Albany).
  • The opportunity to spend a couple of days with my wife in Montreal to celebrate our 13th anniversary. I can’t tell you how much I couldn’t do life without her.
  • Having the opportunity to go to the Catalyst Conference (a dream came true).
  • 50 Thanksgiving food boxes to families in our community
  • The opportunity to go to Soldier Field and watch the Packers play the Bears in the coldest game ever played there (-12).
  • Blogging, facebook and twitter.
  • New friendships with this guy and this guy.
  • The iPhone 3G.
  • An incredible Christmas season… in a little over two weeks across all three campuses we gave over $60,000 to local and global charities. Incredible generosity!

I’m filled with gratitude when I look back at 2008. This year has not been without its disappointments and failures, but I can’t tell you how blessed I feel. God is good all the time. I don’t know what 2009 has in store my I know that I’m going after God with everything I’ve got.

Seven Songs

You need to download and allow to wash over your soul… We’re in perhaps an unprecedented time in our history. Fear and confusion are running rampant on a personal, cooperate, national and even global level. These seven worship songs have engaged my faith and spirit and reminded me who’s really in control. Over the past week I’ve had the opportunity to reconnect with my true north. Go ahead and take a listen.

1. Breathe On Me (Todd Fields – Louder Than Creation)
2. Psalm 62 (Aaron Keyes – Not Guilty Anymore)
3. God of this City (Chris Tomlin – Passion: God of this City or Hello)
4. All Because of Jesus (Steve Fee – We Shine)
5. We Shine (Steve Fee – We Shine)
6. Everlasting God (Todd Fields – North Point Live)
7. Help Me To Find You (Todd Fields – North Point Live)

Just arrived

Just arrived in Atlanta and picked up a live blog from perry nobles session. Most notable quote so far… “We can’t expect the Spirit to lead us professionally if we’re not yielded to Him privately.”

Thank God for you!

I was going to write an article about Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers opening performance on Monday Night Football (btw I think the Packers are going to do alright, they’re in good hands with Rodgers) but over the past two evenings I’ve spent a couple of hours on the phone with two of my best friends.

Life is filled with challenges, it’s not a straight road without highs or lows. It twists and turns, it rises and falls, sometimes its a five lane highway (with toll booths) and other times is a single lane dirt road with potholes that even New York couldn’t compete with. As I’ve traveled through this life over the past 35 years, and in particular over the past five I’ve been so honored to have people in my life that help me see more clearly and graciously and lovingly challenge me, challenge my perspective and help me to get out of bed and face another day. They rejoice with me when we’re winning, and they throw the proverbial arm around me when we’re not (most often kicking my butt to tell me to get up and go after it one more time).

I’m humbled that I have a 30 something friend who will talk with me into the wee hours of the morning or the middle of a busy day. We think alike and wrestle with many of the same issues, but his wisdom and ability to see clearly and ask me questions helps me see with a clearer perspective. I have a 50 something brother (and that’s what it feels like) who will listen to me and will 100% of the time reply with, “let’s pray together.” And will then have this conversation with God as if we were sitting having coffee with God. I have a (age not being mentioned to protect the innocent) sister who sees me online and breaks into my day through Google Talk to tell me that she’s praying for Jennie and I and she loves us. She does it because she loves us and thinks of us, she probably doesn’t realize how often I stop what I’m doing and put my head in my hands and thank God for her and the fact that she’s such a valuable part of my life.

I can’t tell you what an incredible joy it is to go through life with people who love one another, serve one another and give themselves for one another. I can’t imagine it any other way and fear grips my heart at even the thought of losing these kinds of relationships. The most amazing  thing about it is that these are relationships that are thousands of miles away in terms of the proximity, but right next to me in terms of our connection. May everyone of us be blessed with people that we can trust and walk through life with. The challenge to me and to all of us is will we be those kinds of people to someone else?

Allow God to pop the bubble wrap!

I’m sure you’re probably aware of the whole Mike Guglielmucci (author of the Healer song) episode and while it’s sad what has happened, there’s a grace that I’m sure Mike’s experiencing as he gets the help he needs and God can still anoint a song regardless of the messenger. The blogosphere has been passionately abuzz with opinion and comments about the story. But this morning I stumbled across this post, and it added fuel to a fire that I’ve been investigating in my own soul. What am I allowing in my life to ruin me for the cause of Christ? Or have I so bubble wrapped my life that I’m insulated from “feeling” anything too deeply and as a result not moved to do anything too outta the boat. Rather moved to play it safe and live in balance.

I’ve always been inspired and challenged by Royce and Elizabeth Iverson. A couple who many would say had everything going their direction and living a great life in Portland, Oregon. However they were ruined for the cause of Christ when they allowed themselves to see things from an eternal perspective. I remember Royce on many occasions telling me, “all this stuff won’t mean a thing in heaven. I’ve only got one life to live and I don’t want to get to the end of my life and have regrets.”The ruining had begun. And it would radically change the trajectory of their life – they quit jobs, sold homes and possessions and moved from their comfortable, nice neighborhood in Portland to Uganda with their two kids to start a medical clinic and orphanage called Hope Village (video here). They had been ruined and moved to never look back. It was forward with what God had put in their heart or death of a vision which would slowly antrophy the rest of their spiritual existence. They chose to be ruined, and as a result choose life.

So in the midst the Mike Guglielmucci episode, or whatever local level irritant you’re encountering let me ask you what is ruining you? As we head into the fall, back to school, back to what might be a normalizing of work and corporate schedules is there something that’s going to ruin you this fall? Is it something with your kids that will cause you to change your schedule or lifestyle so you can invest in them. Is it something in your church, your community or in the world that you know is God challenging you to let yourself be ruined by it, so moved and changed from the inside out that you have to do something about it. A neighbor that needs your support and encouragement. A community that has needs they can’t meet on their own. An area of your church that’s struggling because you’re not there passionately engaged in making it better.

Whatever it is, let’s allow God to pop the bubble wrap!