Friday, April 25, 2014

Joy Full

Some of the most joyful people I have known have been the people most unlikely to have it.  In my days of doing ministry in prison, I can recount some men who taught me a lot about having joy.  They did not talk to me about it, they simply showed it to me while living in some pretty dire circumstances - un-air conditioned, crowded, dreary dorms living among the desperate and dangerous.

I remember one young black man from Colorado; he was one of the best worship leaders I have ever been around.  We sang everything with out any instruments except for our clapping hands.  Every time he lead us, I always experienced a very real sense of worship, largely because he seemed to express so much joy in leading us.  He was miles away from any family.  He was in prison for a very serious crime, yet he was full of joy.  What he and others taught me is that joy is a choice.  I can choose joy wherever I may be circumstantially because I have a relationship with Jesus.

Joy, like many great spiritual experiences, is more likely to be caught before it can ever be taught.  Much like C. S. Lewis said about peace, joy is also something that cannot be had and does not exist apart from God himself.  If we really follow God long enough and close enough, he will lead us to joy.  It comes second in order only to love as a fruit of the spirit in Paul's list in Galatians.

Dallas Willard said, God is, "the most joyous being in the universe."  So how much joy rubbed off on you today?  How much got shared with others?  How do we grow in it?  These are some of the things we will look at on Sunday and beyond as we look at the joy of Paul in the book of Philippians.  I would enjoy your company in it.

for the journey...


Friday, April 18, 2014

Cell Phone Revelations

It was November 5, 2013, I would be helping a group as they watched the Billy Graham video, "The Cross" that evening.  It was a very important day; I was feeling a little nervous.  I got down on my knees beside my bed to pray and as I did I reached for my cell phone to put it away so I would not be interrupted for the next few minutes.

As I pulled my iPhone out of my pocket I realized it had been opened to my internet browser and it had opened to John 20:19.  I was shocked because I had not been searching on it recently and I was puzzled how it could "accidentally" gotten to those places.  Here is what John 20:19 says, "On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!"

I took it as something I really needed to read that day.

I read on and verse 21 said, "Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you!  As the Father has sent me, I am sending you."  Now I really knew that was something that I needed to read that day.  I knelt there not really knowing what to pray, just trying to soak it all in.  Before I could even say anything in prayer, I had been shown what I needed to hear that day.

God is faithful, that night went well.  The gospel was shared, there was not a great response but I had a real sense that seeds were planted.  But more than that, I went to that gathering to watch Billy Graham's final message with an awareness that the risen Lord was with me.  That really changed my perspective.  I wasn't just going, I was sent.  I didn't have to be afraid, Jesus was there to bring me peace.  Just as surely as he showed up in that locked upper room, he was there that night in a borrowed living room with that group of people offering peace to us all.  What I set out to do that day was not changed.  My perspective on what I set out to do was.

I have read that passage numerous times.  I have read over the notes I wrote down that morning several times since then.  I sensed that this passage is what we need to focus on this Resurrection Day morning.  The resurrected Lord stands here among us and he offers us his peace, even if it doesn't just pop up on our cell phones.

for the journey...


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Did You Mean to Pray That?

When we started this series on the Lord's Prayer, we found a group of videos about prayer we either used, decided not to use or could not fit in the time we have.  I have simply given you the link today to a YouTube that we could not find a time to put in a service but it is well worth the time it will take to watch it.  We will conclude our series this week.  I hope you will watch this before you come.  See you Sunday.

For the journey...


Friday, April 4, 2014

A Forgiving Forgiveness

Last weekend I attended the Grace Journey Men's Retreat.  I appreciate prayers and support that many of you gave me about this.  It was a great experience where I got to connect with God and with a great group of men.

There were about fifty first time attenders and fifty team members who made the retreat a wonderful time for us attenders.  Nine or ten attenders or "retreatants" came to a clear understanding of a relationship with Christ and accepted Him as their savior.  A lot of other spiritual and personal changes could be seen.

I got to see God do some really neat things between people.  I got to see a very diverse group of men - ethnically, generationally, religiously - find what we have in common in Christ.  One retreatant who had recently gotten out of prison recognized another retreatant had been one of his guards while on the inside.  The two connected as brothers now on the outside; there was no animosity, just a new sense of unity.

Two of the team members had made the realization that while one of them was a police officer years ago he arrested the other.  The man who had been arrested lost his job and a lot of other things after the arrested but that spiral down led him to turn to Christ.  Now they served side by side to share what Christ can do in forgiving us and enabling us to forgive.

God does give us a forgiving forgiveness.  My receiving it - if I really understand the magnitude of it - enables me to give it.  When I can't fully give it, it means there is something more of it that I need to ask for and receive.

How about you?  Is there someone in your life that if you both showed up at the same weekend retreat you would say to yourself, "Oh no, not him/her?"  God wants to fix that right now, not someday.  He wants to give you a forgiving forgiveness.  We will talk about receiving and giving that this Sunday.

for the journey...