Wednesday, March 22, 2006


"In fact, sin does disconnect us from intimate fellowship with God." I guess I would push it even further and define sin as disconnecting us from God, that is what it is anything that disconnects us. That may be what Warren was trying to say as well, but I wanted to clarify. Of course, you may recall that Luther then took it a step further and defined sin as not just disconnecting from God, but turning in on oneself.

That being said what struck me the most today was:
"The most common mistake Christians make in worship today is seeking an experience rather than seeking God. They look for a feeling, and if it happens, they conclude that they have worshiped...Seeking a feeling, even the feeling of closeness to Christ, is not worship."

Warren goes on then to talk about as baby Christians God touch us with lots of feelings, etc. to reassure us, but eventually we are weaned away. For me this is where our relationship with God being compared to marriage became a helpful analogy for me. I know I have only been married a couple of months, but in that time one of the things that has struck me is the arguments that happen. Usually they are over silly little things, but it seems that often the anxiety gets heightened because those warm, gooshy feelings aren't there and panic sets in that maybe in this moment the other doesn't love us. Just because I sound angry and I act distant doesn't mean I don't love my wife. As our relationship grows I will learn to realize in a very real way that when I experience that from her she hasn't stopped loving me as well. I think the same is true with God. Just because we don't constantly have that warm gooshy feeling doesn't mean that God doesn't love us, for God does indeed continue to love us.

Once again I will leave you with my favorite quote from today's chapter...speaking about Jesus on the cross: "Jesus could have saved himself -- but then he could not have saved you."

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

All Of You

In case you haven't been "tuning in" every day, I thought I would point out that I have changed from reading through a book of the Bible and now during Lent I am reading Rick Warren's "The Purpose Driven Life" for my devotional time. Listed here are some of my reflections on the chapters as I go....

Today's chapter starts with "God wants all of you." God doesn't want just part of you. God wants to engage with heart, mind, soul, body, spirit, with every part of you. God wants all of you, all of the time. So what does that mean? What does that look like in your life? Where do you hold back?

Warren also writes, "Your biggest distraction in worship is yourself -- your interests and your worries over what others think about you." I would add to that your critique of what worship should be, what you expect from worship is part of your personal distraction from worship. What distracts you from worship? What gets in your way? How do you over come those hurdles? What helps you to focus on God?

Finally, I will leave you with this quote from the end of the chapter: "The heart of the matter is a matter of the heart."

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Buddy Jesus

So today's chapter made me think about the movie, "Dogma" and the introduction of Buddy Jesus. It makes me a little nervous, sometimes to hear this talk of God wanting to be your friend. Oh, I suppose there is some truth to it, but I think that is only one side of things. It is true that is about a relationship, so I can go with that. However, I think it something deeper than a friendship... Maybe I'm wrong here.

I was struck by the thoughts on prayer. I think it is a great struggle to pray continuously. It makes me think of the line from the Steven Curtis Chapman song that says, "Just because I say, 'Amen' doesn't mean this conversation has to end."... of something like that. The suggestion from Brother Lawrence to pray lots of shorts prayers instead of one long rambling one was beautiful. So go ahead and pray. In fact, go ahead and make your whole life a prayer. It's good communication to build a deep and loving relationship with your creator, redeemer, and savior.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


I don't know if I have much in way of thoughts today, so I was thinking maybe I'd throw out some of the quotes that struck me...

"The heart of worship is surrender."
"Surrender is an unpopular implies losing, and no one wants to be a loser."
"In today's competitive culture...If winning is everything, surrendering is unthinkable."
"It (surrendering) is the natural response to God's amazing love and mercy."
"That surrender led to a stunning victory at Jericho. This is the paradox: Vicotry comes through surrender. Surrender doesn't weaken you; it strengthens you."

Monday, March 13, 2006


We are here to bring God pleasure. What a notion. We worship by bringing God pleasure. Amazing. It's fun to watch parents when their babies are born. There is so much love for that child, and that child brings the parents so much pleasure. As a small infant there is nothing that child can really do to bring pleasure to their parents, but they bring endless pleasure just because of who and whose they are. We are children of God. I think it works the same way.

Today there also much talk about worship and I liked it. I think it was a good reminder that worship is not about the music. We use worship and music almost synonymously when we talk about it, but there was worship before there was music. Worship also isn't about you. You often hear people saying things like, "I got a lot out of worship today" or "I sure didn't get much out of today's worship." You know what? It's not about you. Worship is about God. It's nice if you are touched by the presence of God in worship, but that is not the goal. Worship is bringing glory to God, praising God, bringing God pleasure. Worship is not about excellent reminder to start the week.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Glory to God

"The ultimate goal of the universe is to show the glory of God. It is the reason everything exists, including you...What is the glory of God? It is who God is."

It is our purpose, it is why God created us, to bring God glory. How do we do that? By living out what God calls us to, by using the gifts and talents that God has given us. Jesus talked about having brought God glory, because he did what God set him on earth to do. Because of all that God has done for us we try and bring God glory by doing our best to fulfill the mission God has set before us. Each one of our missions will look slightly different in how we are to go about it, but it seems to me all of them will be similar in that we will be serving God through serving our neighbor.

Let me leave you with two questions that Warren proposes today and I ask you, "Will you live for your own goals, comfort, and pleasure, or will you live the rest of your life for God's glory, knowing that he has promised eternal rewards?... Who are you going to live for -- yourself or God?"

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Life is Temporary

Life is temporary, at least here on earth. I was touched today by Warren's analogies for our time here on earth.

The first was that as green card holders. In our country people who come here from other countries to work, but maintain their citizenship in their country of origin need to have a green card. As Christians we are residents of God's kingdom and we maintain that citizenship even though we live and work here on earth.

The second analogy was that as ambassador's of God. Still we remain citizen's of heaven, but we are here on earth on assignment. Our loyalty, though, remains to the kingdom of God. If a U.S. ambassador is sent to somewhere like China they take on some of the cultural practices so as not to offend others, but they remain loyal to the values and customs of the U.S. If that ambassador begins valuing the customs and cultures more of that foreign country and begins to favor that country over their country of origin (U.S.) then they are no longer valuable as an ambassador. So too remains our challenge as Christians. We follow certain customs and practices of the world around us, but we remain loyal to our citizenship in heaven.

It's about gaining perspective. We are God's property. When that sinks in it seems that our struggles for popularity, trends, and other earthly recognition begins to fade away. We realize that the trappings of this life are temporary and rather insignificant, at least when compared to our eternal inheritance in God's kingdom, which has already begun...if only we can see it.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Point of View

I think I would agree with today's premise that how you see life shapes your life. I'm not sure exactly how, but I suspect that because I often view, and would describe, life as a rollercoaster it does effect how I chose to live life. I suppose there is something about sitting back with nervous, eager anticipation, enjoying the rush, and looking back and seeing it had gone way too fast. I haven't thought about it much, but I think there is merit. I wonder, what is your analogy for life? What is your image? How do complete, "Life is a..."?

What I'm not all so sure about is the contention that life is a test. I do believe that God tests us along the way of life, but is that one of God's sole purposes? Warren set up the premise that how you view your life shapes how you live it. He even hinted at seeing life as a game is negative because you're always trying to win. I think seeing life as a test, it becomes something you have to get "right." I think that's dangerous. Isn't the point of Jesus' death that we can't get it right and that's why Jesus had to die for our sin? I supposed viewed from the cross I can become okay with the testing. Yes, God tests us, but we pass only because Jesus passed the test for us already.

Being the season of Lent, I think reading this chapter it is a appropriate to pray for forgiveness for not passing the test, for our failures. It is also appropriate to pray a prayer of thankfulness that Jesus passed the test for us so that we can continue taking the test. If we are a success in life, if we pass the tests of life, it is because of Jesus, because of God's hand at work.

Monday, March 06, 2006


I think it's interesting that today's topic was eternal life. It came up this morning at our Monday Morning Theologians Bible study at the bakery in town. We were talking about God's covenant with Abraham (at the point of his name change) and our discussion led to talking about how life becomes somehow easier, or more bearable, when we have some perspective, a hope for the future. In essence God was giving Abraham hope for a future with the promise to make his descendents as numerous as the stars in the sky. One person this morning shared about how their perspective changed after their father died. They got, I believe, a glimpse of eternal life. We are living in what the theologians call the now and not yet. We live both in this world, but we also reside in the life eternal, it doesn't start after death. With that kind of perspective things like fashion trends and popular opinions look completely different. When you live close to God everything else begins to appear small in comparison.

Saturday, March 04, 2006


I like the question posed today. "What drives your life?" Is it fear? Trying to please parents? Guilt? Your check book? Work? Your calendar? Sports? For probably just about all of us the answer is something other than God, which is ultimately going to lead us to a dead end. Unless it is God who is driving your life then you are like a hamster on it's wheel, just running and getting nowhere. Some of us fool ourselves and think it is God because we are doing so much around the church, but what is driving you to do those things? Who are you trying to please? Is God really calling you to all of those projects or are you ultimately seeking approval from somewhere, or someone, else? If you really look close, the answer might scare you.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

You are not an accident

I like that sentiment. God formed you. God had a purpose for you. However, I have to admit all of this schooling set off a bit of an alarm in me talking about how detailed God's plan was for my life, that God wanted all of this to happen the way it did. Oh, for me that's cool. I've had a good a life with good parents. I can't help but ask, though, about that person born into an abusive family or other horrific life experiences, did God really plan for that suffering? I think that's a dangerous thought. I do like, though, when Warren points out that, "While there are illegitimate parents, there are no illegitimate children."

Still, even better, I like where Warren says, "You were created as a special object of God's love! God made you so he could love you." What a profound notion. We were created simply so that God could love us. Most certainly it had to have been God's hand at work. How else do two cells merge together and then start dividing until we get what we see in the mirror each morning? Either God's had has to be at work in there or we are luckier than any powerball winner ever has been. It becomes even more amazing when you start expanding your view and you see how intricately plants, water, air, and animals all coexist and how in so many ways they work in a way to support our life. God created it all for you because God loves you, because God IS love.... let me blow your mind a little bit more. This is just the beginning of the love story. The love continues to grow.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

It's Not About You

"It's not about you."

That's how it starts. It's not about you, in fact, it's about God. I like starting here. This is where we turned yesterday at the funeral. This is where we turn tonight on Ash Wednesday. It's not about you. See in the beginning God created, so it's really about what God is up to and what is about. Or as Warren so nicely put it, "God is not the starting point of your life; he is the source of it." So it is about who God is and what God did, what did for us on the cross. Now that seems an apt place for us to start this Lent.