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Showing posts from July, 2017

God, Heisenberg and Sub-Atomic Relationships

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Most of us learn in elementary school that electrons are one of the "building blocks" of the sub-atomic world.  We even learn to draw various atoms, with electrons in orbit.  

But did you know that the relationships that exist in our crude grade-school drawings can also tell the story of a relational God, who created all things to be connected to God and to one another? 

In 1925 Werner Heisenberg devised a new theory about electrons that set the scientific community on its ear.  First, Heisenberg theorized that there is no way to predict where an electron will appear and reappear.  Scientists can only calculate the probability of where it will pop up.  

About this unpredictable nature of the sub-atomic world, physicist Carlo Rovelli wrote, "It's as if God had not designed reality with a line that was heavily scored, but just dotted it with a faint outline."  

But back to Heisenberg, who further theorized that an electron is essentially a set of observed jumps from …

Created For A Purpose - Week 3: "Nets"

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This week I'm going to be continuing the sermon series that we began a few weeks ago, a sermon series on discovering your true purpose entitled: "Created for A Purpose: God's Great Plan For Your Life."  

I want to lift up a few of the important lessons we've learned together these past few weeks.  First, and most importantly, we learned that when it comes to discovering your purpose in life, it's not about you... it's about God. 

Second, the thread that ties together everything we're talking about is this:  You are uniquely positioned and prepared to fulfill God's purpose.  

We've also learned that we are uniquely positioned and prepared because God made us to be us and only us, and as Pastor Britta taught us last week that we are positioned and prepared because we are uniquely made for an adventure---the adventure of trusting God. 

Pastor Britta challenged us last week to think about people and places that get placed on our heart, and to trust …

Home

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Yesterday I returned home after spending a week in Guatemala with the various mission teams sent by my church in Austin, Texas.  

I had the unique privilege to move from team to team over the course of the week, staying in different parts of Guatemala, and seeing how all of our mission teams work together to create unique, sustained partnerships with ministries and organizations within Guatemala.  

And it also happened to be the first foreign mission trip for my son Jackson.  

I will be forever grateful to the adult leaders of his mission site (an orphanage where some 70-80 children live) for all they did to care for and encourage him while I was moving from site to site. 

The trip had a profound effect on him---I can tell he's still trying to figure out how he feels now that he's back home.    

One of the adults on the trip told me that bed Jackson had selected for the week was pretty terrible. At one point, they told him he needed to move to one of the empty bunk beds, which was …

The Dignity of Notice

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Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor is a neuroanatomist from Harvard. 

She studies the brain.  I had no idea what that meant either... 

Taylor suffered a stroke and in the midst of that stroke she was able to study her left brain and right brain functioning.  When the left side of her brain started shutting down, she started losing the ability to comprehend numbers, analyze and verbalize. 

But here's where this gets freaky...

As the right hemisphere of her brain began to grow stronger, Taylor discovered that her sense of individualism decreased and her relational connection to the world around her increased.  She also began to experience a sense of joyous well-being, shared reality and peace. 

Taylor concluded that what's happened in our culture is that we've been trained through our industrial-era educational systems to approach the world with left-brain angles.  And this one-sided approach can diminish our ability to care for others and feel connected to the world around us.

My wife has a b…

Does Prayer Work? - Pt. 3

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When I was a little kid we went to this tiny Baptist church that had Wednesday night prayer meetings every week.  At the end of these informal church services all of the men (which included any male in the joint) in the church would leave their pews and head to the front of the sanctuary where they would kneel on the steps leading up to the chancel while all the women would stay in their pews. 

It was an old-school, hardshell Baptist church with all kinds of patriarchal hang-ups, what can I say?   

Once all the guys had gathered, however, a good old fashioned pray-off would begin. The object was to pray out loud for as many things as you could think of, throw in as many "thees" and "thous" as you could, say "Father" a hundred times a second and keep going until you ran out of things to say. 

There were always these two guys who would be the last two dudes praying.  

By the time they were the only last two guys, they were basically praying nonsense, "Fath…

Does Prayer Work - Pt. 2

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Today we're going to continue our series in the Daily Devos on Prayer: 

Years ago someone gave me a little plaque that is on the mantel in my office.  It reads, "Prayer Changes Things."  Maybe you've seen this little aphorism before. This is an excellent little phrase, but I think it needs to be nuanced just a bit. 

I would say the following is more accurate:

"Praying changes things---prayer changes us."  

As I pray--when I am opened to the power of the Holy Spirit and to hearing the voice of God in all of the infinite variety in which God speaks--I can easily be transformed by the very act of praying itself.  My heart can be moved... My thoughts transformed... My very being realigned with God's purposes... 

Listen... 

Every single one of us have had prayers go unanswered.  We've prayed and prayed and all we hear is silence.  I've had more than my share of conversations with wounded and broken people who have said to me, "God didn't answer my…

Does Prayer Work? Pt. 1

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Today we are beginning a series in the Daily Devos about Prayer: 

Why do we pray?  What happens when we pray?  Does prayer really work?  These are questions that most people have asked or will ask at least one time or another over the course of their life. 

The ancient mystic of the Church, Teresa of Avila said that "prayer is nothing else than being on terms of friendship with God."  

English poet George Herbert described prayer as "Reversed thunder" and "Church bells beyond the stars."  Almost as if he believed that when a person prayed to the God of the Universe---something actually happened. 

Not everyone embraces the mystical when it comes to prayer, however. 

Practical theologian Tony Jones doesn't see prayer as a therapeutic exercise, and doesn't buy into the notion that if enough people pray for something to happen--God will listen and share his power to answer those prayers.  But, he admits, "I need to pray. I now pray out of obedience be…

A Few Words About The Spirit - Pt. 6

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Today we are going to conclude this week's study on the Holy Spirit through our Daily Devos.  

In the Jewish tradition there are literally prayers for all aspects of life--because, according to the ancient rabbis, being open to God requires a shift in your understanding about what is sacred and what is "profane"---another word for what is seemingly earthy and not holy. 

In fact there is a very old "privy" prayer that is meant to be prayed after you have finished doing your business in the privy, which is the old English word for bathroom.   

Listen to this from Rabbi Abayei:
"Abayei said, when one comes out of a privy he should say: Blessed is He who has formed man in wisdom and created in him many orifices and many cavities. It is obvious and known before Your throne of glory that if one of them were to be ruptured or one of them blocked, it would be impossible for a man to survive and stand before You. Blessed are You that heals all flesh and does wonders.&q…

A Few Words About The Spirit - Pt. 5

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Today we are continuing our series in the Daily Devos about the Holy Spirit. 

As you recall from earlier this week--we are constantly exchanging the atoms that make us us with one another and everything else.  Energy is flowing around us, in us and through us all of the time.  And to think that we aren't affected by this billions-of-atoms-a-second energy exchange is ludicrous. 

So there's all of this energy flowing back and forth between us--energy that bears the very DNA of a God who is not far away in his holy temple tuning in occasionally to hear our puny prayers.  This God is here, present, flowing through us in what Christians call the Holy Spirit.  And I believe this God is speaking, laughing, guiding, whispering and creating in the midst of all of it. 

When we read about the way Jesus always seemed to be speaking to God, sharing something special with God, maintaining an open channel, so to speak with God... it makes you wonder if this was exactly what Jesus was trying to …

A Few Thoughts About the Spirit - Pt. 4

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Today we'll be continuing our exploration of the Holy Spirit of God through the Daily Devos. 

I went on a cruise to Alaska a few years ago.  While on the cruise my wife and I joined some new friends for an evening of karaoke and drinks.  Actually drinks and then karaoke.  Trust me, the order is important.

For the final number my friend Stuart was asked by the DJ to come up and sing Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive."  As the first strands of the song played over the speakers, every woman in the crowd it seemed was on her feet singing along, "At first I was afraid, I was petrified...." 

And then they came to the dance floor.  Young women in the twenties.  Teenagers.  Single moms.  Middle-aged women in super high heels.  An elegant woman in her mid-seventies.  Two lesbian couples.  A couple of old ladies who couldn't walk very well...

And Stuart. 

They sang at the top of their lungs.  In unison.  Triumphant, proud, hopeful and full of unbelievable joy. 

It was on…

A Few Thoughts About The Spirit - Pt. 3

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Today we're going to be continuing a short Daily Devo series on the Holy Spirit of God.  

Some years ago, I remember having a conversation with a young woman who told me that she had come to point in her life where she knew she believed in God, and that this belief had ultimately led her to experience Jesus. She said that "there is just too much good in the world for this not to be true...."

The first time I heard a sermon on grace was when I was twenty four years old in a Presbyterian church in Ocoee, Florida.  I can't remember exactly what the pastor preached, but I couldn't stop crying.  I'd been an agnostic for some time.  I was bitter.  I had spent years trying to fulfill the longings of my heart by appeasing one god or another. 

And I thought that the God I had learned about in Sunday school was angry and required negotiations.  There wasn't anything imminent about that God, and by imminent, I mean up close, personal, and real.  

But then there I was he…

A Few Thoughts About The Spirit - Pt. 2

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For today's Daily Devo, we're going to continue thinking about the Spirit of God, and how the Spirit of God works in and through us.  

I believe that the Spirit of God within us creates a longing to connect not just with other people, but with God, who knows us better than we know ourselves. 

We long to know and to be known.  We long to truly feel.  To not give in to the despair that comes from the resignation that this is all there is, and there is no Creator or Designer, no plan or purpose. 

Because when we resign ourselves to this--even slightly--we end up trying to fulfill our longings with other things, other feelings or even what some might call other "gods." 

But when those longings are met for real. We know it.  When we realize (sometimes surprisingly) that there really is a God, and that God is actually connected to us.  It draws out emotions, feelings we didn't know we had. 

And when we respond to these emotions we often sing... or pray... or weep... or stan…

Created For A Purpose - Week 1: "Armor"

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Today we're going to be launching a brand new sermon series entitled Created For A Purpose: God's Great Plan For Your Life

What does it mean to be "created for a purpose?" 

In our culture, discovering your purpose is a billions dollar industry.  I did a quick search for the wealthiest self-help gurus in America today and there were at least a dozen who made $15 million or more a year---giving people advice on how to discover their purpose. 

Here's a sample of the kind of advice that landed some of these gurus on that list: 

Write down your values every six months.  Compare them to the ones you wrote down six months ago.  And... And... create a personal purpose statement.  

Passion + Action = A Purposeful Life.  

Get out of your personal bubble.  Stretch yourself.  

If you want to be be successful.  Do successful things.  

I am not making this up.  You can take your pick from a plethora of people who are coming up with stuff like this---and people are basically telling th…