Cleaning Up

4 06 2010

I am glad to be back at the computer this morning with my cup of coffee and my Bible in hand.  Starting the day with God, in his word, is the best.  I think it is the equivalent, spiritually, to what we eat for breakfast.  They say that if you eat sugar for breakfast then your body will process all the food for the day like it’s sugar, but if you consume protein and other healthy foods for breakfast your body will process everything like it’s protein….just in case your wondering…that’s better than the sugar option.  I look at the morning devotional as something that has substance, protein for my soul and heart, unlike the morning news and ESPN which is a very “sugary” way to start the day.  You tracking with me?

Recently, with all that’s been going on (wedding planning, work and moving), I allowed my morning devotional time to “take a backseat” and I noticed a huge change in my life.  I noticed that God was more of an emergency consultant, or spiritual customer service representative, than he was my friend and father.  I noticed that the relational aspect went out the window and my communication with God went from constant/consistent and transformed into a 911 mentality….emergencies only.  I am not writing all this to pat myself on the back, my arms aren’t long enough and I am not flexible enough to actually do it anyway, but I am writing this to give you hope.  Hope that the daily void that you feel, despite your relationship with Christ, can be filled with something as simple as spending time with Christ before you do anything else.  It’s an old school idea but I highly recommend doing it.  Also, write your thoughts down as you process your morning devotional… helps work through the things that God is teaching you.

I don’t know if I ever really explained this before but I am currently reading through the Bible and I have decided to do it at my own pace.  I tried a couple of different ways last year but it was either too complicated or way too much info all at once.  I started on the yearly plan but those yearly Bibles are all chopped up and I just couldn’t get into the different stories and I was having a hard time connecting all the dots when I was reading, so I stopped.  I then purchased a book called “The Bible in 90 Days.”  If you feel tired just from the title then you must have tried this option already too.  Can you say “overload?”  After one week I had read half the Bible and my brain was Jello….just kidding.  I didn’t read through half the Bible in one week….
Needless to say, I needed a new plan and I needed it yesterday.  That’s when I thought of something genius….just read it.  Hmmm….who publishes that version?  What if I don’t finish in 365 days?  Will God be ok with this irreverent read through the Bible?  I was willing to find out.  I will give anyone who is thinking about going this route one warning….you might learn something as you read.  You can read as much as you want or as little as you want.  I usually read until I come to a verse that captivates me and stops me.  It’s pretty cool.

I am doing this because I have never, in all my life as a Christian, read through the Bible.  Shameful, yes.  Irreversible, no.

This morning I picked the history of man back up in 2 Chronicles 14 and 15.  Good stuff.

Chapters 14 and 15 talks about King Asa, of Judah, and how he served God.  Folks, this guy was a grade-A leader.  2 Chronicles 14:2 says, “Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God.”  Wouldn’t it be cool if your life or my life were documented in the Bible like this?  Not very many men got this type of PR in the Bible….only the guys/gals who deserved it.  Asa deserved it.

If you keep reading you once again come across the “how to” of doing “what was right and good in the eyes of the Lord” in verses 3-5.
“He removed the foreign altars and the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles.  He commanded Judah to seek the LORD, the God of their fathers, and to obey his laws and commands.  He removed the high places and incense altars in every town in Judah…”
Asa cleaned house.  He got rid of the idols in the land and the places that the people had designated as places to worship these idols and he commanded them to worship God.  He was not going to let God’s children make a mockery of God any longer.  He was going to get them back on track….and it worked.

At the end of verse 5 it says “…and the Kingdom was at peace under him.”  Then it says in verse 6 that “the Lord gave him rest.” There was a tangible reward for getting things back on track and Asa lived it.  I am almost 100% certain….so like 99% certain that the words King and Rest have never gone together, until here in King Asa’s life.  Asa was obediant to God and in his obedience he put his eyes, and the eyes of those that he was leading, back on God.  He took their distractions away and pointed them back towards abundant life.  Asa doesn’t even have the mercy and grace of Jesus and yet he still finds serving God to be better than serving the world and false gods.  In his obedience he is given rest.

I am challenged and encouraged by this example that Asa sets.  I so often find myself wanting to wear the banner that says “Justin has done what is good and right in the eyes of the Lord,” but I so often forget how much discipline it takes to get to that place.  I don’t think that our mercy and grace comes from doing enough good things….I am not Mormon….but I do believe that we are responsible to take action and to incorporate works into our faith.  James 2:26 says it for us, “…faith without deeds is dead.”  Crystal clear truth.

We can’t just expect to have rest because we know of God or because we have entered into a relationship with him.  We have to clean house and get our hearts, our families, our friends and the people we lead pointed towards God’s love and what He desires of us.  The truth is this….it starts with you.  It starts with me.  We can only be responsible for ourselves but our lives will directly impact those that we lead in both good and bad ways.

I heard a pastor say one time “you can only lead people as far as you are willing to go yourself.”  Asa was willing and his people followed.

How far are you willing to go in order to do “what is good and right in the eyes of the Lord your God…?”  If you lead them there, they will follow.

Be blessed.


Perfect Game, Numero Tres, Is No More

3 06 2010

2010 has already been a magical season for Major League Baseball with 2 perfect games pitched in the same month of the same season.  Historic start to a very promising season.  Last night in Detroit there was a chance for another MLB first…. 3 perfect games in one season.  Most of you know the story by now but I am still shocked that the runner was called safe.  I think that I am even more shocked that the commissioner of Major League Baseball decided, today, that the OBVIOUS bad call will not be overturned….. excuse me?  Are we serious?  If I was the commissioner of baseball I would have overturned that call before the game was even over…..before the 28th out was recorded.

I guess this game might still be historic in it’s own special way.  Not that a 1 hitter is all that special anymore but there is a Phoenix rising from the ashes of this mishap.  It’s name is Instant Replay.

There’s been a lot of talk in the past and some replay has been introduced but I am calling for a comprehensive replay package…complete with navigation and leather seats.  I think that this situation will be the straw that breaks the back of the MLB and the Umpiring association and quite frankly, I like it. I have wanted replay for years now.  Sure it might slow the game down a little bit but nobody complains on Sunday afternoon during a football game, that has already lasted 3 hours, when the booth is called upon for their slow-mo magic.  So why the fuss?  I think that people are worried that it will change the game too much…but that’s not always bad is it?

Last night a little slow-mo magic from the booth would have awarded, and rightfully so, a young pitcher the 21st perfect game in MLB history and the 3rd this season. I think that is enough evidence to change the rule.

If you don’t believe me……just sit with this picture for a minute.  I am no Tigers fan but I do love baseball.  Let’s figure something out Selig….and make it snappy.

Muddy Buddy Treats

3 06 2010

These are a little sweet creation that I just came up with tonight.  I took two classics:

1. Chex Muddy Buddies  –

2. Rice Krispie Treats –

put them together and BAM!!! ….. created a masterpiece.

Topped with chocolate chips and powdered sugar….these are guaranteed to make your dentist happy!

God is with us

3 06 2010

It has been a little while since I have posted but, let’s face it, I have been extremely busy.  Helping my amazing fiance plan our wedding, working, writing, moving, wedding planning and then more wedding planning.  It is an amazing season of life and unfortunately the blog has taken a back seat…..well not today.

Today my journey through the bible did not get very far before I was smacked in the face with some very challenging words from God.  Yes, I got smacked.  It was a loving smack if you happen to be worried, however, it was still a well placed smack.  My reading starts in 2 Chronicles 13 and by the time I got to verse 12…. I was stuck.  I just sat and read the verse over and over again.  I was digging a well in 2 Chronicles 13:12 because I noticed that there was some water on the surface.  Let’s just say it ended up being more like a geyser than a well.  As I bent down to dig, hoping to ease my way into the truth of this verse, I got blasted with some living water. (If you have not noticed yet….I love analogies.)

The verse reads as follows:

2 Chronicles 13:12
“God is with us; he is our leader….do not fight against the Lord, the God of your fathers, for you will not succeed.” NIV
“Can’t you see the obvious? God is on our side; he’s our leader….. don’t fight against God, the God of your ancestors. You will not win this battle.” The Message
“And, behold, God himself is with us for our captain,……. fight ye not against the LORD God of your fathers; for ye shall not prosper.” NKJV

The first part of this verse is great.  You can take it out of the context of the verse and print it on a t-shirt or an elegant painting, you can quote it when you are feeling oppressed at work or when you want to encourage somebody….you can place it in the scenario of your choice, however, if you take it out of it’s context you will miss the “how to” of God being with you.  Check it out….

Previously in the Old Testament…..
There was a man named Moses, yeah the one that parted the red sea, and he met with God on a pretty regular basis.  At one point he is instructed to tell the people how God wants things done, this is mapped out in the easy reading book of Leviticus, but the children of Israel don’t listen.  Subsequently they do not enter the promise land.  Years later the new generation is revisiting the Promise Land and they decide that they should take God up on his word.  They are reminded, in the book of Numbers, what God wants and desires from them once they enter the promise land.  Most of the Israelites are 2nd generation so this is kind of new stuff….and it’s a lot of stuff.  They initially realize that God wants these things done so that the people of Israel are constantly thinking about him above all other things. Sooner than later human nature prevails and before you know it the nation has divided itself into 2 nations, Israel and Judah.  Let’s just say neither group is perfect in their walk through history but when we pick up the story in 2 Chronicles 13 we find Israel and Judah at war with each other, you should be anything but surprised.  Israel has decided, at this point in history, to worship some cows of gold and Judah is worshiping God.  In fact, Judah has been doing the things that God has called them to do and they are experiencing a strong relationship with the Lord Almighty. This gives us a little context to go forward with……BTW…. this flashback through the OT is in no way a “Community Chest Card” letting you just “Pass Go” and collect your $200.  I would really encourage you to go back and read through the books of the Old Testament including Leviticus and Numbers.  They are hard to read but they offer some deep truth about God.

Now we find Judah, who is in an active relationship with God, making a statement that can only be made by somebody who is in an active relationship with God…… “God is with us; he is our leader…”  The living truth that smacked me in this verse was a jagged little pill at first.  Yes, God is with me and He is my leader but does my life look like it on a daily basis, behind the scenes, when I am not in a battle?  It’s easy to fall back on God’s presence and leadership when I need him to calm the seas of life and navigate me through the perils of disappointment but I am I doing my part?  Am I actively giving back into the relationship with God or I am just taking?

The second part of the verse is the part that I clearly understood because, unlike you, I am not perfect.  When I read words like, “don’t fight God…you will not succeed,”  I know it to be true because I try it all the time.  I try it when I overreact to something or when I want my way above His way.  I fight against God when I let green pieces of paper become my “daily bread” or when I do something that I know that God hates.  I fight against God when I sin and I sin everyday.  Bummer.  But wait….there’s hope…..

There is something very different for us, today, then there was for the people in the Old Testament, Jesus Christ.  What I love is that Jesus has made it possible to have a rockin relationship with Him, God, without having to slit a goat’s throat twice a day, every single day.  He is with me and he is my leader BUT the question still remains.  Does my life look like it?  Can I really say that “God is with me; he is my leader,” and feel confident that I am doing all that I can to keep that relationship alive and powerful?  The sad truth is that a lot of the times I want to feel the power of the words “God is with me; he is my leader,” but I am not doing anything to make that true except trying to be a good Christian…..don’t laugh.  You know that trying to be a “good” Christian doesn’t ever work like you think it’s going to.

When I am in the Word and I am allowing the Word to become living water in my life…..that’s when I know that I can stand on the battle lines or I can sip a cup of coffee and proclaim with all of my heart that “GOD IS WITH ME; HE IS MY LEADER!”  The goal is not to be perfect but to have an active, living, thriving, and abundant relationship with Jesus Christ and then that statement will have some real depth and meaning when we say it.

Bottom line:  It’s a great verse but it’s a better story.  Let’s live it.