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Showing posts from January, 2016

My Story - Week 4: "I Decided to Leave"

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This week we are concluding the sermon series that we've been working on for the past several weeks, a sermon series entitled, "My Story: Living the Story You Want to Tell."  The basic centering idea of this series is this simply, yet profound truth: The decisions you make today determine the stories you tell tomorrow.  

One day you're going to tell a story about this season of your life--hopefully, you'll tell a story that you're proud of.  Hopefully, you'll tell a story of how you started new habits to build a better foundation for your life.  Or maybe you'll tell the story of how you stopped doing the things that were keeping you from wanting the things God wants for you.  Maybe you'll tell the story of how you stayed put when it would have been easier to leave.  

The decisions you make today determine the stories you tell tomorrow, and these decisions you're making aren't always the few big huge decisions, that you're called upon to …

Daily Devotion - Friday, January 29, 2016

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This past Sunday, I continued the sermon series I've been working on for the month of January, a sermon series entitled "My Story: Living the Story You Want to Tell."  The basic idea of this sermon series is pretty profound:  The decisions you make today, determine the stories you tell tomorrow.  

I've been kind of living with this idea for the past several weeks as I've been working and studying for the sermons, and I have to say that it's one of the most important lessons that I've learned in recent memory.  

Lately, I've been reflecting on how quickly time seems to be moving.  It's already January 29th as I write this, and it feels like New Year's Eve was last week. The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of busy-ness.  I look at my calendar and can't believe that there are so many things that are on it, so many events, projects, meetings, programs--both personal and professional.  

Sometimes my daily schedule gets filled with a lot of th…

Daily Devotion - Thursday, January 28, 2016

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I finally got my computer fixed the other day.  For two months or more I've been staring at only half of the display on my laptop.  A freak accident cracked the glass on the screen, and turned half of it into a bunch of pulsating, lines that would grow even more dense and fuzzy the longer the computer was left on.  
All of my efforts at getting it fixed were thwarted over the holidays and beyond, so I had to learn how to use my computer when I couldn't see a number of the controls I normally used to write, create stuff, edit things I was writing and the like.  I couldn't do anything about it, so I reoriented my display, learned shortcuts and persevered.  

Yesterday I went and picked up my newly restored computer, and turned it on.  After so many weeks of only being able to see half of my screen, it was amazing to see the whole display.  I finally could see what I was doing when I was editing, writing and creating.  Controls that had basically been hidden from me were now acc…

Daily Devotion - Wednesday, January 27, 2016

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This past Sunday my beloved Denver Broncos won their conference championship game against the New England Patriots, which sent them to Super Bowl 50.  Since that time, I wake up each day reading online articles about the game preparations, stories about my team and the like. 

I also have watched more than my fair share of the NFL Network and ESPN on television, eager for more stories, eager to hear things that will boost my confidence that the Broncos actually do have a chance to win it all this year. 

This is the eighth time the Broncos have made it to the Super Bowl, and the second time in the past three years.  In all of the other games that have been played since I have been able to remember, I've cared very little about the game itself.  I haven't watched sports shows, listened to the radio, or read online constantly about the game. 

Because when my team wasn't in the game, when I wasn't invested in it, I didn't care.  I was only interested in the TV commercia…

Daily Devotion - Tuesday, January 26, 2016

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I woke up with a headache today, one of those headaches that seems to originate from the back of my head, radiating toward the front in aggravating waves.  I'm still fighting the lingering effects of the wicked cold that I got a couple of weeks ago--the same kind of cold that apparently hundreds of thousands, even millions of other people are fighting, too.  

I never really felt like I was in any real danger when I got sick a couple of weeks ago.  It was just annoying.  I ate chicken soup, watched a lot of television, snorted nasal spray and waited it out.  But there was a very slight chance that whatever I got could have developed into something more serious.  

I've heard well-meaning Christians tell their friends or loved ones who are going through tough times, "Well, God won't give you more than you can handle."  The truth of the matter is that's not at all biblically-based.  God frequently gives us or allows us to take on more than we can handle.  The actua…

Daily Devotion - Monday, January 25, 2016

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"I love humanity, but I hate humans." - Albert EinsteinThe Christian communities within which I was raised taught me to believe that humanity is essential evil.  I remember hearing pastors preach about the inherent wickedness of humankind--going so far to make their point that they would say things like: 

"You look at a tiny baby and you think to yourself 'There's no way that tiny baby could be evil,' and then you start seeing that tiny baby crying, throwing tantrums, and then you know--that baby has a sinful nature. That baby was born wicked."  

This way of interpreting the story of the Garden of Eden from Genesis--where Adam and Eve chose to "be like God," and eat from the forbidden fruit, thus condemning all of humankind--is widely known as "The Fall."  The idea is that before The Fall, Creation was perfect, humans were in intimate relationship with God, all was right with the world--the way God intended it.  

But after The Fall, hum…

Daily Devotion - Friday, January 22, 2016

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Start with God—the first step in learning is bowing down to God;
 only fools thumb their noses at such wisdom and learning - Proverbs 1:7

Yesterday I listened to reports on the radio about how Washington, DC was crippled by a light dusting of snow that quickly turned the streets both inside and outside the Beltway into a frozen mess.  One man declared that it had taken him an hour to drive four miles.  

Even President Obama's motorcade was spinning its wheels during a long commute back to the White House, which I am sure did not sit well with the White House.  

People were abandoning their cars on the side of the road because they couldn't move them in the horrific traffic jams caused by the icy streets.  The news was made all the more terrible because the city was preparing for a massive snowstorm of historic  proportions that is due to hit the eastern United States any moment.  

The mayor of Washington, DC was blathering on and on about how the city was prepared for the coming Sn…

Daily Devotion - Thursday, January 21, 2016

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The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

Today Merideth and I are celebrating our twenty-fourth wedding anniversary.  Twenty-four years ago today we both snuck out of our respective parent's houses where we were living at the time, and we met early in the morning at the Scotty's parking lot in Ocoee, FL.  From there we drove to the Orange County Courthouse in Ocoee and were married by one of the clerks in the office.  
The rest of the day was a blur of happiness.  We had booked the Honeymoon Suite at the Grand Floridian Hotel at Disney, but the room wasn't ready and we had to spend the day out shopping, eating breakfast and lunch until we could check in.  

I remember glancing down over and again at the shiny new wedding ring on my finger, barely able to believe what had just happened.  After years of being apart, experiencing loss, dealing w…

My Story Week 3 - "I Decided to Stay"

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Today we are continuing the sermon series that we started a couple of weeks ago, a sermon series entitled, "My Story: Living the Story You Want To Tell."  One of the keys to our learning during this sermon series has been this very simple, but profound idea that we've returned to a number of times:  The decisions you make today determine the stories you tell tomorrow."  

And it's not always the big decisions that determine those stories.  Sometimes it's the hundred little things you do every week, and not the one big decision that you had to make that truly makes a difference in the stories you tell later. 

Here's the deal, one day you are going to tell a story about this season of your life.  Hopefully you'll tell a story that you're proud of.  Hopefully you'll tell a story about how you started some good habits that helped build a foundation for the future.  Hopefully you'll tell a story about how you stopped doing things that kept you fr…

Daily Devotion - Wednesday, January 20, 2016

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"Keep knocking and the joy inside will eventually open a window and look to see who's out there." - Rumi (11th century)

I've been thinking a lot lately about what it takes to be a sold-out, bet-the-farm, wild-eyed follower of Jesus.  And by sold-out, bet-the-farm, wild-eyed follower, I don't mean someone who is mean, angry or belligerent.  I also don't mean someone who is off his rocker--at least not in a bad way.  Although, I've learned over the years a little bit of crazy can be a good thing when you want to follow Jesus properly. 

What I mean is that it takes passion and desire to be a Jesus-follower.  That's the difference in being an admirer of Jesus and a follower.  An admirer lacks the passion and desire that permeate a follower.  A follower of Jesus gets up, acts and moves, putting one foot in front of the other as they follow (often stumbling) in Jesus' footsteps.  An admirer, will pretty much stay on the couch where it's safe.  

Lots of…

Daily Devotion - Tuesday, January 19, 2016

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I was reading from Psalm 13 today during my quiet time and I read these words that stuck with me: "How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?  How long must I wrestle with my thoughts, and day after day have sorrow in my heart?" 

I remember the moment when I first doubted the existence of God. I was 19 years old and I had grown weary of the images of God that I had been living with my whole life.  God as judge.  God as jury.  God as executioner.  God as Zeus, hand trembling on his lightning bolt, ready to toss it at me if I stepped out of line.  

I remember saying, "There is no God," out loud.  And then I waited for something to happen.  I had been taught from the writings of Paul that "The fool says in his heart there is no God," and I figured that if the God I had always imagined actually did exist, he wouldn't abide my foolishness.  I waited, but nothing happened.  There was no lightning bolt, no voice from …

My Story - Week 2: "I Decided to Stop"

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Today we are going to continue the sermon series that we started last week, a sermon series that is going to take us all the way through the month of January. This series is entitled, "My Story: Living the Story You Want To Tell."  

The beginning of a new year often prompts us to reflect on our own stories, and how we might begin to write new chapters in the story of our life.  The truth is, everyone of us has a story.  Some stories we are proud of, and others we'd rather not tell.  I don't know about you, but I have plenty of stories that I would just as soon forget.  

I know that even the dark chapters of my life serve their purpose in moving the story forward, but they aren't the ones I want to go back and read again, if you know what I mean.  

Last week we learned something very profound.  We learned that the decisions we make today determine the story we tell tomorrow.  We talked extensively about why it is so important to start--to start the kind of habits and…