Fellowship

Geese Fog

The day was cold.

Cold and foggy.

Cold and foggy and damp and dreary and what in God’s name was I doing out in it?

Walking, that’s what.

Walking and praying.

Praying and walking.

And I didn’t care about how cold or foggy it was because on this day I was desperate and yearning for an audience with – and a word from – God.

Anyway, I had a jacket.

It was one of the last times that I walked the 20-acre boundary of the church I had planted. And on this day the cold heaviness of the West Texas air was only exceeded by the cold heaviness in my spirit.

I got about halfway down the fence row, asking the Lord to speak to my heart. I so desperately wanted to hear His voice.

What I heard instead was the honking of the geese overhead.

Listening for God, I could only hear the dissonant, grating sound of geese. Can you relate?

Looking up, there was no way to see them, the fog was so heavy and low-hanging. But I could sure hear them.

I laughed to myself because of a recent conversation I’d had with my wife. She hates the sound of geese.

Eventually I did see them in the mist – surprisingly lower than I had imagined. And they were dealing with the same fog I was dealing with. Nevertheless, they flew in perfect formation, in a straight line.

And that’s how the Lord spoke. [click to continue…]

{ 2 comments }

Teamwork

(In 100 words, every New Testament reference, in order, from John to 1 John, describing God’s vision for how Christ followers act toward each other. Read this slowly. Thoughtfully. Out loud if possible. Learn some things… watch the flow, note the repetitions… and remember, this means both giving and receiving, so go back and re-read it as a potential receiver. Leave a comment and tell me what you find. )

+++++++ [click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

Business people

It’s a Martian word, so you probably don’t hear it a lot down here, unless you move in some hipster or techie circles. It’s a darkly guttural word that sounds something like a bullfrog in a fight with a cat, so it lacks a certain sense of poetry.

But it’s an important word to describe a unique and powerful ability that can separate:

  • leaders from posers,
  • successful marketers from annoying advertisers,
  • elected officials from also-rans,
  • spiritual shepherds from obnoxious preachers,
  • faithful, lifelong friends or marriage partners from relational flame-outs,
  • Oprah from, well, anybody (okay, just kidding… a little).

I’m referring, of course, to grokking. [click to continue…]

{ 3 comments }

Gratitude

Come on, admit it… when you first saw this title you started hearing the old hymn in your head, didn’t you?

I once was lost, but now I’m found,
Was blind, but now I see.

If not, I’ll bet you are now.

With apologies to Philip Yancey for borrowing the title of his excellent book,  I had a curious collision with “amazing” the other day and thought I’d share it. It started when I read this simple greeting from the Apostle Paul to a group of Christians in Corinth.

I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus.

Isn’t that sweet?

Any believer anywhere can testify, as John Newton and the Corinthians could, that the grace of God has been given to us by Christ Jesus. And if this verse had no other context or backdrop it would be precious enough. But our thinking about it would soon lose its edge. Sure, everybody who knows Christ can testify of the grace of God.

Next!

Sure, we were “wretches” and now we’re saved. But that was a long time ago for a lot of us. In the immortal words of Janet Jackson, what have you done for me lately, Grace?

The answer to that – Grace in the present, not the past – is what’s so amazing about grace. [click to continue…]

{ 2 comments }

Knitting

I don’t knit.

My sister tried to teach me when we were kids.

It wasn’t pretty.

My wife knits.

My daughters too.

Not me.

But you know who else does? [click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

smiley_bubbly_day_04Can’t believe it’s been a whole year, but I got to see Walter again yesterday. We took a little ride and shared a little fellowship. It was good to catch up.

Two years ago Walter was going through a severe depression.  He had been through a series of deep losses, including his job and health benefits. That’s tough enough for anybody, but at Walter’s age new careers don’t just grow on trees.  I really don’t know how old Walter is, but I’m 54 and he’s a good five-to-ten past that. I have to say, though, he makes it look good.

There is none of that suicidal darkness remaining that so gripped this man just a couple of years ago. And make no mistake about it – this was no bootstrap operation. Walter is joyfully explicit about Who gets the credit for raising him out of the pit. His life radiates with gratitude and joy, even when he’s all business.

Walter is especially excited because he and his wife are meeting their children and grandchildren in a few weeks. [click to continue…]

{ 1 comment }

How many times have you heard or said something like this:

  • “This place feels dead.”
  • “We have some unresolved issues.”
  • “This relationship just isn’t working.”
  • “I can forgive, but I just can’t forget.”
  • “I don’t feel like I belong – I just don’t feel any connection with them.”
  • “It’s just going to take some time before I can trust him again – if I ever do.”

These and many more are expressions of a strained or dysfunctional fellowship.  And if you’ve ever been part of the church scene or had any experience with Christ followers for any length of time, more than likely you’ve landed there.  Which reminds me…

Somebody once asked, “Pray for me. I’m surrounded by non-believers every day at work.”

My reply:  “Pray for me – I’m surrounded by Christians every day!”

Is it any wonder that Jesus’ one explicit prayer request for this generation was that we would be one, so that the world would believe in Him (John 17:20-21)? So, Phil, how’s that workin’ out for ya’? [click to continue…]

{ 1 comment }

As long as people have searched for direction, worshipped their Creator, and looked for language to express their passion and warmth, we have returned again and again to stand by the fire.

The fire was an agent of God’s guidance and an ongoing expression of worship in the days of the tabernacle.  And we kept returning to stand by the fire.

A refiner and cleansing agent of the hearts of men, the fire was a symbol of God’s hatred for sin and an affirmation for the prophets who spoke His truth.  And again and again, we kept returning to stand by the fire.

The fire was a weapon of God’s voice, a light in the darkness, and an expression of hospitality and welcome. And from the dark places and lonely spaces, still we kept coming to stand by the fire.

The fire revealed a passion for God’s word in our bones, the baptism of the believer, the instrument of God’s testing, and the piercing gaze of the risen Christ.  And out of desperation or terror, love or longing, still we kept coming to stand by the fire.

And even today the Spirit and Bride invite you to come.  To be warmed and convicted and cleansed and restored and pure as you stand by the fire. [click to continue…]

{ 2 comments }