Monday, September 21, 2009

The Just Shall Live...

It is no great secret that I am a sports fan, and this is my favorite time of year in sports. Major League baseball is rapidly approaching the playoffs, college football is in full swing, and Sunday afternoons are filled with NFL highlights... life if good. Yesterday afternoon, as I watched the Chicago Bears make a great comeback against the defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers, I found myself pondering why some team overcome challenge and adversity while others start strong only to fade as they approach the finish.

For each of us the landscape of life is filled with the all too painful reminders of those whom we appreciated and even admired who eventually stumbled short of the finish line. There are sports heroes who have admitted cheating, government servants who have fallen from grace, and businessmen who have bilked retirees out of their life savings; each attempting to circumvent the process to insure personal victory. As painful as these personal failures are none seems to cut so deep as when one of our spiritual role models falters in the faith and compromises their testimony. We are reminded of the saddest of all scripture when it is said of Samson, "but he did not know the Lord had left him."

What causes us to falter in the race? Hebrews 11 declares that without faith it is impossible to please God, and lists a biblical hall of fame; those who understand the formula for finishing strong. The answer is found in the realization that "every good and perfect gift comes from the Father of heavenly lights." We find great comfort in the realization that it is not us, rather it is God in us that brings strength and success. The poison the enemy regularly uses to sidetrack godly people is pride. Satan loves to use the miraculous provision of God, that which should be an anchor for our faith, as the birthplace of pride. We can quickly lose sight of the hand of God in our life and begin to believe that the success we experience is a result of our wisdom, abilities, and efforts.

Let me offer this thought: If we continually live our life in such a way that God has to come through, it keeps our focus on Him. If we chose simply to function at the level of our resource and ability it become all too easy for the focus to be on us. The truth is we serve a God of the impossible. As I reflect on our ongoing facilities expansion, and ponder the next steps we must take as a church, I must confess to you that it seems like a mountain compared to our earthly resources.... it is a good thing that God offers us mountain moving faith :)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Living Without Regret

I am fascinated by flight. I have logged hours in experimental airplanes, private planes, a sea plane, and countless commercial jets. Still, I always look forward to each new flight. Flying allows you to rise above the storms of the day, passing through the clouds to a beautiful sunny sky. The view from the cockpit gives a bird ’ s eye view of the incredible landscape that God has created. The time spent in the air is but a fraction of what the trip would require if we were resigned to travel by land.

Kent Couch, a 47-year old gas station owner from Bend, Oregon shares my love of flight. Quite possibly, he shares this love a bit too much! -- Last weekend, Kent Couch settled down in his lawn chair with some snacks - and a parachute. Attached to his lawn chair were 105 large helium balloons. Destination: Idaho. Nearly nine hours later, Kent came back to earth in a farmer's field near Union, Oregon; short of Idaho but about 193 miles from home. Couch is the latest American to emulate Larry Walters - who in 1982 rose three miles above Los Angeles in a lawn chair lifted by balloons. Walters had surprised an airline pilot, who radioed the control tower that he had just passed a guy in a lawn chair. Walters paid a $1,500 penalty for violating air traffic rules

All too often we are challenged with the reality that, if we had the opportunity to relive a moment or rethink a decision we would choose a markedly different course. Life is filled with many “ it seemed like a good idea ” moments and “ what was I thinking ” evaluations. The good news is that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion. When I think of a man blocking the flight plan of Los Angeles International airport in a lawn chair it makes me chuckle, yet if I were to begin the list of my decisions that lacked a little wisdom I expect it would be frighteningly long. How do we walk in wisdom in order to avoid regret? Here are five quick thoughts:

  • Lean on God ’ s Understanding – We are reminded that if we trust in God even when it seemingly does not make sense to us, that He will always keep us on the right path. While God ’ s ways are often not like our ways, they are always the best way.
  • Listen to Godly Counsel – Scripture challenges us with the truth that there is wisdom in much counsel. I am grateful for those who have walked this path before me who are willing to warn me off the pitfalls and share with me the joys I will find along the journey.
  • Learn For the Past – It is true that we will inevitably make some poor choices. There is amazing comfort in the truth that all things work together for good for those that love God… God will use those failures to refine our faith and develop our character if we give them to Him.
  • Look to the Future – Many times we find our regrettable decisions are a direct result of impatience. Be confident that God has joy and blessing for you in each step of the journey.
  • Live In The Present – We learn from our past and have faith for our future, but today is our focus.

Let the wisdom of God be the guiding force in your activities and attitudes this week. Let each situation offer a learning opportunity and each encounter provide a growth moment. Finally, if you find yourself with some free time and you notice your lawn chair….. just walk away :)