Monday, November 25, 2013

Inspiration in 37 Seconds of Less: Part 3

Posted by Michael

"The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why."
                                 -Mark Twain

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Journey Part 8:Loving The Fire and The Cloud

Posted by Michael

It might make us nervous when we realize that we can't control God. As if that weren't humbling enough, we also can not fully understand God or all that He does. That combination can make it tough to know how to approach this God who is both like fire and like cloud. So, what do we do with a God that we will never completely figure out or control?

We love Him.

We give up trying to predict what He might do next. We stop trying to manipulate Him (if I do this, maybe He'll do that), and we commit ourselves to simply enjoy Him. We fill our thoughts with a God who is for us. We embrace the good news that the God of the universe wants to spent our minutes with us. We stop allowing the things we don't know about our future to rob us of our present. Our God is here now and He is in control. The only time we look back to our past is to remember and see how He was at work there, so that we will have the confidence to plunge into the future one courageous step at a time. The end of the Christian faith isn't greater knowledge, or more clearly organized facts, it's greater relationship, deeper love.

When we content ourselves with searching for God so that we can love Him more fully, rather than leverage Him so that we can have greater success, we find that life becomes a bit more clear. The activities, job stress, relational heartbreak, and exhilarating victories that we experience are not our life. They are simply the setting of a great love story between you and your God. Your failures are places where He wants to love you and teach you. Your joys are places where He wants to celebrate with you. You are caught up in the greatest story in history, and the ending of this story is better than you have ever hoped.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Inspiration in 37 Seconds or Less: Part 2

Posted by Michael

It's hard to muster inspiration that can rival the previous post by my fellow blogger Tony, but here goes...

"The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong."
                                          -Mahatma Gandhi
Something Completely Un-Inspirational Even If You Spent All Day On It
posted by Tony
 Not to be contrary, but I am sure that I am everybody's favorite crazy haired genius...and for my words of wisdom...
                                                      ..... oh sorry, I was distracted
                                                             thinking about barbecue.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Inspiration In 37 Seconds Or Less

Posted by Michael

Today’s inspiration comes from everyone’s favorite crazy-haired genius….

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.”

                                                                -Albert Einstein

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Journey Part 7: God In The Cloud

Posted by Michael

Fire was not the only picture that God gave the people to help them understand how to approach Him, He also used the picture of a cloud. During the day a cloud engulfed the tabernacle, so that everyone would know that the movable temple was there, but at the same time not be able to see it with complete clarity.

Almost every major tragedy in the faith community has begun with someone feeling that they had finally and completely figured God out. They understood completely who God was and what He wanted, and felt that God had spoken the last word they ever needed to hear. The next thing you know armies were being send to Jerusalem or “witches” were being burned. Nothing is more terrifying that someone saying that they know with certainty all that God is and all He wants for the world. That sort of arrogance leads people to stop listening and stop learning. If God is… well, God, if He set everything we are and understand into motion at creation, then He is much bigger than we can wrap our frail minds around. Even if everything I know about God is 100% accurate (and it isn’t), there are still worlds of things I don’t know about Him, truths and insights I have yet to scratch the surface of. To put it simply, God is much bigger than I am.

It would be a mistake, however, to assume that since we can’t know everything about God that we can’t know anything about Him. The God we find in the Bible seeks to make Himself known to His people, and delights in knowing and being known.  Therefore, we must reject arrogance on one side and apathy on the other.  The middle ground (where truth is often found, but is also often messy) is that when we look for God we are able to see him. The vision is dim at times as if He is shrouded by clouds and fog, but He is there to be found nonetheless. God's plan seems to be less about learning everything there is to know about Him, and more about learning to love and trust what we do know. Knowledge of God is meant to be relational and not just intellectual. The process of seeking and loving and trusting keeps us humble. It also places us in the center of the strange paradox of hungering to know Him more and at the same time being deeply satisfied in what we do know. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Journey Part 6: God and Fire

Posted by Michael

I love to play with fire.

Both literally and figuratively, I suppose.

In the past, my brother and I enjoyed backpacking. The hike was great and we loved each other’s company. We chose trails for their beauty and diversity. My favorite time during the hike was dusk. It would be getting dark, we would finish putting up the tent, and then set about to build a fire. Fire is great. It would warm us, and give us light. We could cook on it, and of course, just burn stuff. My brother, being the oldest, was always practical,  and he would warn me to respect the fire. Burning  sharpened sticks so that I could throw flaming javelins into the woods wasn’t a great decision he would say, and as usual, he was right. When fire is unleashed it is uncontrollable. Everything we thought we could control just a minute ago, could rage out of our control if we were careless.

In some ways, fire is like God.

God provides for us, feeds us, keeps us both warm and safe, but God is not to be played with. We may think that we can control and predict God, but God doesn’t work like that. The people of Israel needed to know that the God that was in their midst was better than they could have ever possibly dreamed. He was not, however, simply there for their comfort. He was there to lead them and to love them, and sometimes love is uncomfortable.

Fire is consuming, though not always for the better.  God’s love is consuming. His love will consume our deepest fears and doubts. It will leave us changed, but unlike fire, the change is always for the better. All of us are consumed with something, our careers, our finances, our relationships, our appearance. God wants us to be consumed with love, his love for us, and our love for others. His love is a fire that will change us and our world. 

Photo courtesy of xedos4/

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Journey Part 5: The God of Cloud and Fire

Posted by Michael

As the people of Israel set out across the desert to their new home, God gave them two pictures to help them understand who He was. The tabernacle or movable temple that God instructed the people to build was to be the location for God’s presence among the people. So, when they had stopped or were becoming tired or anxious, they could look toward the tabernacle and know that God was with them. To make sure that the people were clear about His presence, a cloud would hover around the tabernacle during the day, and fire would seemingly be consuming it during the night, although there was never any damage done (Exodus 40:38). God didn’t choose these images randomly, both images would teach the people (and us) a lot about who God is. We’ll dive into both of those images in the next Journey posts, but in the meantime, in case you feel alone and your day seems bigger than you are, remember, that your God is with you. Jesus in our hearts is for us, what the tabernacle was for the Israelite people. This truth is so important that God chose Immanuel for His name when He came to earth, which literally means, “God with us”. So, we may have days that are hard, but we never have days when we are left to face it all alone.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Words Worth Your Time 2

Posted by Michael

Today’s Words Worth Your Time are from George Eliot. I hope they connect with you as they have with me!

            “It is never too late to be what you might have been.”
                                     -George Eliot

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Journey Part 4: The Freedom to See Clearly

Posted by Michael

Once we have made peace with how God sees us, that He values us greatly and loves us immeasurably, we are ready for the next stage of our journey. Once we understand that we are accepted by God, our vision is cleared and we can begin to see God more honestly. This is important because the way we see God determines how we see the world and how we understand ourselves. If you think God, for example, is primarily concerned with judging you, and cares only about how well you keep his rules, then your life will likely be filled with anxiety and stress. Also, you will be tempted to judge others and hold them to impossible standards as well. If you think God is just a friendly old grandfather in the sky, dozing in and out of naps while we live our lives down here, then you will likely assume that He doesn’t care how you live and will make your decisions accordingly. A healthy life begins with a healthy view of God. We’ll look at how to begin that process in the next post, but for now take a few minutes and rest in the fact that you are deeply loved by the Creator of the Universe. The one person who truly knows everything you have ever done, said, or even thought is madly in love with you, and wants only the best for you.