Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Metaphors for Life

I have been thinking a great deal lately about metaphors. If you are not an English major, and I was not, a metaphor is like a simile. (Some of you recognize that as funny.) Basically a metaphor is something that describes without using the words like or as. They are figures or symbols which tell a story.

I was thinking about my life last night when a metaphor came to my mind. It is a little image that I recognize has, for better or worse, come to symbolize some very emotions in me.

I have a brick on the file cabinet in my office. I got it when I was a youth pastor and took a group of students to Isleta, Mexico. It is a brick that was made at a very rustic, poverty stricken factory we visited. Every person on the trip received a brick. It is multi-colored, rough, and uneven, but in many ways it is very beautiful. And I have found recently that it paints a picture of me that is reflective of my own personal narrative.
· The brick has a basic shape, but is very uneven.
· The brick looks strong and sturdy but it is actually fairly delicate.
· The brick will flake and the clay will fly off if you rub your hand against it.
· The brick stands as a memorial to a different part of my life.

Here is how it reflects me. I have a basic shape and worldview, but I can be uneven in some areas. I hate seeing my weaknesses show up. I can be uneven in my emotions and in my attitudes. I can fly off the handle at the smallest things and other things tend to roll right off my back. I long to be more stable

On the outside people assume I have it all together. Most people see me on Sunday when I am “on.” However Monday through Saturday I feel fairly vulnerable. I need to stand with others in order to have any true strength. One brick may seem strong on its own, but its true strength comes when it is placed alongside other bricks.

When I get hurt, part of me dies. The clay of this brick flies away when you rub it. When I get hurt or rubbed the wrong way, part of me escapes and disappears. It is a painful and lonely place at times.

The brick reminds me of a special trip to a special place with a group of special people. I want my life to be a memorial for Jesus Christ. I want people to look at me and see Christ. I want to be a reminder of God can do with one simple little life.

The brick I have was shaped and created by humble people, living in poor conditions simply trying to survive. I was shaped and created by the Master of the Universe, the infinite God and the one who loves beyond all compare. As David said, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

What is the metaphor for your life?

Monday, October 27, 2008


This morning is beautiful. The air is crisp and clean and there is not a cloud in the sky. I had a meeting planned this morning with a friend of mine, and when he arrived at the office we took our chairs outside and sat as we talked. I love this time of year. Perhaps, if I get really lucky, I may get to break out a long sleeve shirt and feel comfortable. After all, I live in South Florida so low 70’s is almost winter weather.

I appreciate short moments like I had today because they allow me to enjoy the beauty of God. They allow me to see that Gods creation is a place of wonder and awe. It reminds me that God loves me no matter the stress and strain of my daily life. In short, I see God in the midst of life.

Today, take a moment and enjoy God. Go outside at lunch instead of eating at your desk. Take a moment and breathe in the crisp cool air. Open a window and feel the breeze. And in doing so, enjoy the presence of God.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Life or Sometihing Like It!!

Life is rolling right now. I am back to teaching at Palm Beach Atlantic University plus pastoring LifeQuest. Between study for class, study for messages, and my own personal growth time I have my nose in a book a lot right now. I feel like a rag doll at times because my Blackberry calendar keeps going off telling me where to go, who to meet with, and what I am supposed to be doing. It is amazing how those three things aren't always the same!!!

Life is busy and crazy for people. It reminds me of the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off where Ferris looks into the camera and says, "Life moves pretty fast." If ever a greater truth came out of Hollywood, I am not sure what it is.

But in the midst of life, we must slow down. I am forcing myself to study more than other people's writing. I am making a commitment to be in God's Word and to listen and not just talk when I pray.

Our society and culture is not going to slow down. My Blackberry is not suddenly going to empty. But, we must all find the time to simply "Be still and know that he is God."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Truth, Lies, and the People That Follow Them

At election times there are always stark challenges to truth. Did he do or say one thing and vote another? Is this person honest and trustworthy more so than his opponent? Will this person promise not to raise my taxes and will they, once elected, raise my taxes anyway? Sometimes it seems that truth, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

But there is such a thing as real truth. No matter what our generation says about truth, there are some absolutes that never change. The fact that some people say that there absolutely are no absolute shows the flaw in the argument. It is like saying, "ALL generalizations are bad." "And don't start a sentence with a preposition."

Gods word gives us a great picture of what happens when people exchange truth for lies.

"The idols speak deceit, diviners see visions that lie...therefore the people wander like sheep oppressed for lack of a shepherd." Zechariah 10:2

As followers of Christ there are lies we buy into everyday that keep us from living out the life we should be living. Here are some of the lies that I have been facing lately:

* I have to be perfect to be loved.
* I am responsible to make everyone around me grow in their faith.
* The success of the church is a reflection of how good I am.

All of these lies have one common ingredient: me. They are all based on a sense of self-value that is distorted by the world in which we live. We have the idea that somehow everything depends on us. That is not true.

One of the heroes of my life has been the late Bill Bright. he founded Campus Crusade for Christ and lived with a passion for reaching the next generations with the message of the gospel. I attended seminary at a school he founded. One if his favorite sayings to us was "Work as hard as you can and leave the results to God."

That is the truth that we as leaders must embrace. We must understand that true, lasting fruit only comes from the Heavenly Father. We find his truth in his word and in the power of his word to come alive in our lives. That is truth that lasts and that produces people of God who follow the Truth.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Unmet Expectations

I am constantly amazed as I read through scripture at how often the people closest to Jesus totally missed on his point. They often thought he was talking about one thing when he was really talking about another. They took metaphors and made them literal. They missed the signs and the illustrations that Jesus was using to teach.

I then become totally frustrated at how often I do the exact same thing. We have 2,000 years of history to tell us what Jesus meant and millions of pages of commentary to help us understand and yet we often whiff on the point of what Jesus is trying to show us. Today, let me give you one simple idea to help you get the point.

When we are struggling with a teaching of Jesus and what it really means, look deeper. Look not at what you think it means for just the issue in front of you, but what is the deeper meaning, the one that has eternal value.

When Jesus tells us to honor our mother and father, he means for us to literally do that. It also means for us to demonstrate God's love in our own homes first. When Jesus tells us to love our neighbor, it literally means that, but it also means we should see them through the eyes of God. When Jesus tells us to be a light to the world around us it means to set an example to those not yet following God. It also means to be seen with his love and grace, not with judgment and anger.

We get frustrated with God because he does not meet our expectations. However we need to understand that maybe our expectations are not of the eternal realm. Maybe our focus is not in line with his. In order to avoid unmet expectations with God we must see through the lens of eternity and not through the lens of the temporary. God deeper. Love more. Shine brighter. That is God's expectation for us.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

One Heart at a Time

I have just begun reading a book that I have had for several months. You know how it goes: someone suggests a good book, you buy it and it sits for a while before you get to it. Well, I decided this morning was the time I needed to get to it.

The book is called Restoring Broken Things and it is written by Steven Curtis Chapman and his pastor Scotty Smith. I really respect SCC and have loved his music for a long time. I actually met him when I was in college and he was just a new musician with a serious mullet!!! As I started the book I was looking forward to some great stories and lessons on God’s love and the power of redemption. I was not prepared for what hit me on the second page of the prologue.

If you know anything about Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife Mary Beth (does the whole family have two first names?) you know that they have adopted three little girls from China. When they adopted Shaoey, their first, they visited the orphanage where she had spent her entire life. Here is how SCC describes that event:

“Like being caught in an unexpected downpour, I wasn’t prepared for the burst of emotions that welled up inside of me as these simple elements took on enormous symbolic meaning. Two images came into mind, one right after the other. Not exactly like a song lyric, but just as real as the thought came to me: “One bed at a time…that’s how we’ve got to think about the daunting challenge of caring for so many orphans. One bed at a time.”

As I read those words I could only think of one thing: One heart at a time. That is how we must care for the lives that are broken and wounded in the society around us: One heart at a time.
I am not a huge slogan guy. At LifeQuest we don’t have a new motto every year and we don’t do acronyms or acrostics to make our point. But this one is one that is hitting me heard. For some reason this is rattling my cage in some major ways. I don’t know what it looks like or what it means, but there is something to the concept of “One Heart at a Time.”

What would happen if churches across America began to love people that way? What would it look like if Christians quit fighting one another and restored the broken places in the depth of our hearts? What would happen if we were really serious about touching one heart a time?
I don’t know. But I am committing to praying through this concept and I am committed to exploring it to the ends of the earth. Is anyone else interested?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Half of My Life

This morning Alana and I had the exact same thought at the exact same time. I said something and she replied with a joke and a smile. My response was, "I knew you would say that!" We just laughed because it seems to happen more and more these days.

I realized that I have spent exactly half of my life in a relationship with Alana. We met when we were in college, dated for two years and have been married for 18 years. I can honestly say that without Alana my life would be very, very empty. What a blessing she has been to me

I prize my wife. She is a blessing and a joy to everyone who comes into contact with her. She is loving, sensitive, emotional and passionate. She is an incredible mom and a wonderful partner in ministry. Most of all she loves Jesus more than anything in the world.

Life has not always been easy. We have seen some really tough times, but God has been incredibly faithful to get us through.

So, here's to my wife. The greatest blessing ever!!!!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Guys Night Out

We had a great time at the LifeQuest Classic Mini Golf tournament on Saturday Night. A bunch of guys got together and had some incredible laughs playing mini golf. We had two balls go off the course into the water, one ball go off the course and through a fence and at least one ball chipped from the grass next to the hole! (It was the only shot I had!!!)

The night was just a lot of fun for guys. We went to Michael Sapusek's and had pork loin that he had been slow cooking all day. It was awesome. Guys, we need to do more stuff together. We need to hang out, talk and get to know one another. And, in the midst of all that, we will find that we need to listen, learn and trust in new ways.

I hope everyone who went had as much fun as I did!! And if you didn't make it, I hope you will be there for Night O' Beef in January!!!