Black Friday

I saw this last year and you may have seen it already, but it bears repeating.

black-friday

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The voice in your head may be wrong

I often hear voices. Don’t worry, it is usually just the sound of my conscience arguing with itself.
At times I hear the voice telling me that I am awesome. This usually comes after some victory or wise insight. Those moments when I have proven myself as a brilliant, successful leader come with a voice of pride and arrogance.
Other times I hear the voice telling me that I am a loser. This usually comes after some defeat or stupid comment. Those moments I have proven myself as a failure and not a very good person come with a voice of despair and depression.
Here is what I am learning: The voice inside my head is very seldom right. I am not that great, nor am I that bad.
In truth, I read the Bible and I listen to God’s word so that I have an unbiased voice speaking to me regularly. I need to be reminded that I am sinful but I am loved in spite of that fact. I need to be reminded that I am sometimes good but not perfect like my heavenly Father.
I struggle daily to listen to the only voice that matters – The voice of God. I hope you do too.

No Direct Path WITH God

I want to build on my thought from yesterday. While listening to people share their stories of faith I have become convinced that there is no direct path TO God. Well, I have also come to realize that there is no direct path WITH God either.
Once people come to faith in Jesus their story continues to be as unique as the person’s story before Jesus. I have listened to people who sound like they have never sinned or doubted anything about God then I have listened to other people who did nothing but sin and doubt God. People’s stories are unique and often not very straight at times.
Years ago I read about Rick Warren and his baseball analogy for faith. It goes something like this; people come to church and they are then going to run to first base, which is making a commitment to Jesus. Then they will become committed to Church and then to ministry and mission. It sounded great and simple to follow. Since hearing that analogy I can only think of a couple of people who I know that have actually followed that path.
Some people come to Church and then they get involved in helping others and then they commit to the Church and finally Jesus. It was as if they were running the bases backwards. Other people I know have come to Jesus and then spent years wandering around the outfield before getting to second base. Finally, others have come to Church and then made a straight line for the beer stand before stumbling into third base.
I write this as an encouragement. Your journey will not look like anyone else’s journey. Your story will be unique. The questions are always, “Where am I now?” and “How do I take another step with God?” Eventually I may look back at the footprints in the sand and it may look like I was blind on this journey with steps going every direction. That is okay, as long as your journey keeps leading you home.

No Direct Path TO God

Over the past few months I have listened to numerous personal testimonies as part of my Evangelism class. This is in addition to all of the testimonies I have heard through the years, plus those I continue of I hear on podcasts. Last week while listening to someone’s story a thought hit me like never before. Here it is, “There is no direct path to God.” By that I mean that there is no one way that people come to faith. No two people’s journey of faith looks alike. There are no steps one through five for everyone to follow.
Each one of us comes to God through our own set of unique circumstances. Some people come to Jesus through their parents (both good and bad), some come through friends, some from a big event, some through books, some through service, and I could literally go on and on. Some reject God for years and others have never rejected him. Some people come through love and others through frustration.
Yes, I do believe the Bible gives us firm markers in our acceptance of faith like confession and baptism. But the actions that lead us to those markers are very different for each person. As I listen to people’s stories I am more and more convinced that everyone’s journey is unique. Therefore, each one of us needs to understand the next step on our journey. Each of us needs to individually evaluate our current location and then the steps we need to take on this journey with God.
For years I have felt discouragement that my life did not look like other pastors. I have struggled as a Christian because my story was nothing like others. Lately I am resting in the fact that God is moving me through my own story for the sake of His glory.

Do Something

In the last two days I have experiences that made me think deeply about people.
First, at a Jr. High Basketball game on Monday night there was a boy for the other team who fell and hit his nose on the floor. The moment he rolled over screaming I jumped up and ran to get an ice pack. I then ran to the boy and saw his nose bleeding profusely. Next, I ran to the bench looking for a medical kit (each team is required to have one on hand). Let me say, I have no medical knowledge and can’t stand the sight of blood. It makes me “freak out,” but this boy needed help. I put my emotions aside and sought help until finally one person with some knowledge helped the boy stop his nose bleed and got him patched up.
What caught me off guard about this experience is that not one other person jumped to do anything. Everyone just sat motionless in the stands. No one even appeared to inquire if they could help. In fact, one man who I know who works as a part-time EMT just stood there on the sideline. Only one other person did anything.
The next experience was a lot less traumatic. At the end of last week I noticed the basketball net was breaking on the main floor. Another coach said that we should do something. Then the I overheard the girl’s teams coaches saying that something needed to be done just before practice. Well, before we took over the main gym I had my son grab a ladder and we changed out the net. I laughed about how many people knew something needed to be done, but no one did anything.
Both of these incidents have me thinking about people. Too many of us want to sit back and do nothing about problems. We will talk about them and we will sit back and watch what happens, but we will never do anything about them. In fact, I have seen numerous people whose lives have some form of struggle and they don’t do anything about it. Unfortunately, many of us refuse to do something that might improve our own lives or the lives of people we know and love. My plea is that today you would get up and do something that will bring about a change for good in life.