Friday, September 30, 2011

What are you hearing?

Text for the week: John 10:1-10

There have been a lot of ways that God has been speaking to us this semester. 
What are you hearing?

If you are looking for an answer to that question here, I don’t think I can do that for you.  I can’t dream what God will do in and through you. I’m wired differently than you are, and you should be very grateful for that.  But because of that, there is no formula to follow for the “what” to our dreams. Some would like to say it’s as easy as 1-2-3, but I don’t think so.

Of course, there are similarities about all of our dreams — developing a relationship and heart like God’s, living in community with each other, learning to love as God loves and to see as God sees.  I don’t think I need to go through the whole litany of what we believe, but what we believe shapes what and how we dream. 

Your dream is your dream.  But we don’t chase our dreams in a vacuum.  Some of you are studying to be doctors, lawyers, teachers, nurses, pastors, engineers, writers, lab technicians, and a number of other occupational callings.  These are the things you are wired to do.  They fit how you are uniquely created, and what you are created to do.  I believe that we are all passionate about different things. 

I hate math. Sorry, Dr. Atkinson, but I do.  Maybe better stated, I don’t do math.  And I’ve tried — trust me, I’ve tried!  That doesn’t mean math is an evil subject sent from the pit of hell to haunt me all the days of my life. (Maybe I’m still festering over that last test in Dr. Atkinson’s class that cost me my A.)

Just because I’m wired in ways that aren’t conducive to math doesn’t mean I’m wired better than someone else; it just means we’re wired differently.  Because we’re wired differently — or gifted differently, to use the biblical term — we will do different things, but still do them for the Kingdom.  The “what” you dream, matches the “how” you are wired, gifted and created.  How will you use your passions for the purpose of the Kingdom?  That is how you begin to answer the question: What are you hearing?

So how do you make your calling about the Kingdom?  I think that’s found in listening and dreaming.  They go hand in hand, because I believe that we can know for certain that everyone has a calling.  And if what we’ve been saying this semester is true, then God will reveal that to you as you listen, and begin to dream His dreams for your life.

What are you hearing?

Friday, September 23, 2011

25 things

Text for the week: Psalm 19: 7-14

If you didn’t take notes, you’re in luck.  If you missed them, here they are.  I thought, as a reminder of some wise counsel we received this week that we needed to put this to print.  So, I asked Corey if we could have a do-over, and give you his list of 25 things, again.  Here they are:

1.        Floss every night before you brush

2.       Never go grocery shopping while you are hungry.

3.       Change the oil in your car every three thousand miles.

4.       Never buy new technology.

5.       Don’t buy anything with credit except your house and education.

6.       After you graduate, read a book or two a month.

7.       Lay your clothes out the night before — it will save you time in the morning.

8.       Always get the name of the customer service person you are talking to.

9.       Keep an “in-case-I-die” folder.

10.   Be critical in your thinking, but not critical in your spirit.

11.   Finish strong and with character in everything you do.

12.   Love people, all people, regardless of the team they cheer for.

13.   Be careful what you talk about in front of your children.

14.   God first, then family, then the ministry.

15.   Remember that God does not need you, but he really wants to use you to advance His Kingdom.

16.   Let God use you to the fullest.

17.   Remember, you are going to die.

18.   Remember, this side of heaven is not your home, and you will always be homesick.

19.   Have an accountability and prayer partner.

20.   Remember that we are all one.

21.   Be faithful in the little things.

22.   Love the Church.

23.   God’s will for your life is this: to live as Christ.

24.   Remember the most important things in life.

25.   God is enough.

Thank you, Corey MacPherson.  Our lives are richer because God allowed our paths to cross.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Always about the heart

Text for the week:  John 14:1-14

As a young man, I remember searching to remain as close to God as possible.  I didn’t do this perfectly; as a matter of fact, like most teenagers, I was far from it. But God was patient with me as we grew in our relationship with each other.  I remember a conversation I had with my father concerning my continued trips to the altar in our church.  I asked him when I would ever get over the need to come and pray — most times in confession — and I will never forget his answer: “Never.”

That has shaped me in ways that I’ve always been grateful for.  It has served as a constant reminder that God is bigger than me and my ability to “rein Him in.” There is always more for me to know, experience and do.

It also taught me that humility is a part of our journey of faith.  It’s humbling to walk down the aisle to the altar in front of everyone, especially when you might have to walk over 13 people just to get to the aisle.  I’m no different than you — I have to fight my own demons, being more concerned about what others are thinking about me than what God is saying to me at the time.

This reminds me that even in the process of doing good, our faith rests in our hearts, our passions, our desires and our willingness to respond when God calls.

That’s what revival is all about.  It’s about the heart.  It’s about making sure we’re doing what we do from a heart that is shaped by the things of God.  We want to love others, but love them in the right way — the way God loves.  We want to see people as God sees them — even ourselves.  We want to do what God would do if He were here.

 Understanding what this love looks like is vitally important to our faith and relationship with God.  As we examine our hearts this week, let’s remember that it’s always about the heart.  Let’s protect it and allow God to keep and shape it, so we can love, see and do as He would.

Why we dream

Text for the week: Romans 10:14-21

The word “imagination” has been kicked around these days, like we can’t trust or use it.  But I wonder what could happen if we started imagining together a new and different future, for us and for our world.  What could that look like? 

I’m sitting in my office on a cool, June morning, thinking about you — thinking about what it is that God would want to say to us through our minds, through our ability to imagine, dream and think big thoughts for the Kingdom.  I’m imagining what God could do through a group of young adults if they truly aligned their hearts and minds on the things that are on the heart and mind of God — living on a Friday and anticipating Sunday.  But why should we?  Why should we even care about this?
That’s a great question.  It’s one I want to attempt to answer.

Why should we care?  Simply put, because God cares.  It’s because of His nature and character, not ours.  He drives this train.  How and where does He drive it? However and wherever He wants to. 

Here’s what I’m trying to say: we believe that God is active everywhere, working at all times for the sake of His Kingdom. God isn’t limited to our location.  He isn’t limited to the space we fill, but His Spirit is everywhere —all the time — working to reveal Himself to everyone.  If you don’t believe that, then re-read the claims found in John 3:16, which is much broader than people think.

Because God is active everywhere at all times, we are to be a people that look outward, seeking out the places where God is active, and joining Him in those places.  It’s why we send missionaries, plant churches, visit prisons, minister in nursing homes, invest in mentoring kids, preach the Word, build homes, love the handicapped, minister to the homeless and feed the hungry. We believe that God precedes us in every one of these activities, whether in the city or on the farms; in the slums or in mansions; with the rich or with the poor.  He is already there.  If He is there, these are the places we should go as well. 

But those activities take us out of our comfort zones, which is why they involve our imagination.  We need to realize that things can be different; we need to imagine a day when things are better.  And because of our dreaming and imagining, we then try to create a world that looks like our God-given dream.  With God, we imagine and dream, because He already sees it.  It’s up to you and me to join Him, making “it” happen.