I Stand in Awe


 

Oh Lord, my heart overflows – with praises to You.
It’s just so awesome – the things that You do.
Nothing exists – without Your masterful design.
And all of Your plans – are perfect and fine.
You made everything – in this whole universe
You are most worthy – of my praise in this verse.
You made mankind – and placed us on earth
and you blessed each one of us – even before our birth.
You’ve counted the stars – and each grain of sand.
You hold the universe – in the palm of Your hand.
Oh, Lord I lift my voice – in poetic praise
and I’ll shout hosanna – for the rest of my days.
Lord, You made the green meadows – where animals graze.
And You made beautiful sunsets – on which to gaze.
You sprinkle pretty frost – on the meadow grass
it sparkles like diamonds – or expensive cut glass.
You can order the snowflakes – either day or night
to cover the hillsides – with a blanket of white.
You designed big rivers – to go rolling by
They flow continuously – but they never go dry.
I marvel at the sky – and Your clouds filled with rain
as I watch the rain drops – on my window pane.
Then when lightening flashes – putting darkness asunder
I praise Your Name – when I hear Your mighty thunder,
for the whole sky lights up – as though it were day
While I stand in awe – and in helpless dismay.
What a mighty God – what stupendous power
Lord, you’re in control – every moment, every hour.
You control the universe – with Your mighty hand
All the elements obey – Your every command.

Each time I’m in need – I call on Your Name
and You touch me in a way – that I’m never the same.
For You’ve provided comfort – when my heart was breaking:
You have plenty of assistance – that’s mine for my taking.
You always forgive me – when I humbly request:
Oh, I’m such weak sinner – I feel like a pest.
You love me so much more – than I can even comprehend
and You’re always with me – Oh, true and faithful Friend.
You’re worthy of my praise – from morning till night
and Your glorious face – shall never leave my sight.
For my heart is overflowing – with joy and thanksgiving
and I’ll praise You continually – as long as I’m living.

Courtesy of Mary Katherine Kohl

Blind Willie


Reposted from Radical Mentoring

For almost 20 years, my wife and I have had a little fish pond beside our home. I feed the fish every morning. I throw the pellets in the same area every time, and all the fish hurry there and start chomping on fish food . . . except for one. This little guy is orange, black and butt ugly. His eyes are white and bulging. While the others eat, he floats, swims around in circles, and seems to have no interest in food. He appears to sense that all his colleagues have vanished but he doesn’t know why or which way they went. Eventually, he wanders to the opposite end of the pond where the other fish are. But by the time he gets there, the food I’ve thrown in is gone . . . gobbled up by all the big healthy fish. Eventually we figured out that he was totally blind. So, I named him Blind Willie. The other fish start swimming to the feeding spot as soon as they see me coming. But since Willie can’t see, he’s left swimming around in darkness. One day I started to wonder, “I know Willie can’t see but maybe he can hear,” so I started shaking the food cup as I approach the pond, signaling to Willie it’s time to eat. Now he’s still always late to the party, but he gets there. And I make sure to throw in enough food to make sure Blind Willie gets some.

I don’t think fish do much thinking. But I sure do. And I can’t help but think about the way God loves us. Sure, He feeds the ‘superstars’ . . . the ones who ‘get it’ and got it long time ago. But He also keeps an eye out for guys like Blind Willie . . . guys who don’t have ‘eyes to see.’ He goes the extra mile, figuring out other ways to bring even his most blind children to His food. And He keeps a little extra love for those who get there late.

I was Blind Willie for a long time. In those years when I was far from God, when I was stumbling along in spiritual blindness, God kept making sure I got a little food. He put Charlie Childers in my path. In the midst of dying from one of the most painful types of cancer, Charlie looked up at me and said, “Regi, don’t you worry about me. I know where I’m going. I’m worried about you.” Another time, God sent a guy into my living room who asked me, “Mr. Campbell, if you died tonight, where would you spend eternity?” It made me real angry but a few moments later, that little voice in my head asked, “Regi, if you’re so sure, why are you so upset?” Then there was my friend’s wife, looking me square in the eye saying, “Regi, God’s not going to give up on you!” All these encounters were fish food for Blind Regi . . . dished out from the hand of God. He rattled the cup, trying to get my attention so He could feed me the Bread of Life.

Is there someone in your sphere of influence who is spiritually blind? Perhaps God wants to use you to throw that person a little ‘fish food’ . . . a little love, some compassion, a challenge, or maybe a vision of the man God designed him to be. Maybe you’ve got a son or daughter who’s floating or swimming around in circles, or has no interest in spiritual food. Rest in the fact that your Heavenly Father is rattling the cup, throwing little pellets of spiritual food in their direction, and waiting patiently for them to realize He’s there and He loves them.

Scripture: Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35)

In the Midst of your Circumstances


Reposted from Radical Mentoring

Sometimes I say stuff and think “Hmm, that sounded pretty good! I wonder if I made that up?” Usually I find it was from Andy Stanley or one of the many other people smarter than me. But just to make sure, I’ll google it to see if I can find the author. If it doesn’t pop up, I assume maybe I did come up with it. So, here’s one . . .

No man can gain perspective in the midst of his circumstances.

Your perspective is the way you see something. Perspective has a Latin root meaning “look through” or “perceive.” All the definitions of perspective have something to do with looking. David Brooks, in his book The Road to Character, talks about how our perspective changes with age and experience. Younger people see what’s right in front of them and in real time while older people ‘pan the camera back’ and see the bigger picture and the longer run.

Our perspective is often skewed by our vested interests and our ego. We want to brag about the things we get right and hide those that are ‘going south.’ A couple weeks ago, we talked about the idea of having a ‘plus one’ in your life . . . it’s exactly for this reason . . . to help you get or keep perspective on the things you’re doing or thinking about doing. You’ve heard the idea of getting a ‘fresh set of eyes’? Same thing. Someone outside your circumstances walks in, looks around and sees things you don’t. Sort of like the clutter in your house . . . it’s been there so long you no longer see it. But bring in a stager or someone focused on de-cluttering and “Boom . . . there it is!”

Counselors help us get perspective. They come into our lives and relationships with fresh eyes and clear ears. They listen to our words and the tone we use as we say them. They watch our body language and help us see what we can’t see.

Consultants do this for organizations. Tony Morgan is a friend with a team of crackerjack people who do this for churches. In his new book, The Unstuck Church: Equipping Churches for Sustained Health, he gives church leaders perspective on their circumstances. He encourages them to take an objective look at where their church really is in its life cycle and offers some pretty solid ideas for next steps.

But . . . why is it so hard for us to step outside our circumstances and objectively look back? What keeps us from inviting in a trusted friend or a counselor or a consultant?

Pride.

Plain and simple.

We don’t want to be wrong. We don’t want people to think we didn’t see it for ourselves. We’re afraid we’re going to have to change. To live, love or lead differently. Ignorance is bliss . . . as we don’t have the facts we don’t have to face the facts. And thus, we allow ourselves to settle for the status quo.

As Jesus-followers, we know we don’t own anything. Our life is a stewardship. We steward our bodies, our health, our relationships, our money and our faith-walk. We steward our churches, whether we work there or attend and serve. But be honest, can we be great stewards without inviting ‘fresh eyes’ in to help us gain and keep perspective?

Scripture: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Stop Tinkering


Reposted from Radical Mentoring

Did you know that there’s been a dramatic shift in the age when most young adults complete all the major transitions into adulthood? We’re talking about leaving home, finishing school, becoming financially independent, getting married and having a child. Back in 1960, 77% of women and 65% of men had completed all these transitions by age 30. Fast forward to 2000 and those numbers dropped to only 46% of women and only 31% of men having completed those same transitions by the time they turned 30.

Why? For one thing, today we have an overwhelming number of choices. But in addition to that, young people struggle with making big decisions. Robert Wuthnow, whose book After the Baby Boomers is the source of the statistics in the first paragraph, calls these 21 to 45-year-olds ‘tinkerers.’ They tinker with doctrines, churches, relationships, college majors, advanced degrees, living at home and even with spiritual practices. Those who are Christians often get stuck waiting to know ‘God’s perfect will,’ or ‘for a door to open,’ or ‘for a word from the Lord’ and so on.

Years ago, when I was contemplating leaving my job at AT&T, I read everything I could get my hands on about finding God’s will. I was desperate. I’d never had a grownup job anywhere other than ‘the phone company.’ It was lucrative and secure. But I had no peace . . . my single-minded passion for moving up in the company had almost ruined my marriage. Yet I had no open doors to another job. I needed God to tell me what to do. Stay or go? Keep on or start over?

My investigation into finding God’s will led me to an understanding that served me well then and since. And at some point, I found Kevin DeYoung’s book, Just Do Something, which spells it out with an economy of words. He says the New Testament illuminates 3 flavors of God’s will . . .

God’s will of decree – This is what God ordained. Some people call this His sovereign will. He decides. He rules. He’s never wrong. We can’t know his will of decree . . . we can only accept and respect it. It cannot be thwarted.

God’s will of desire – This is how things ought to be. It’s the bulk of the New Testament and of Jesus’ life and teaching. Sometimes called God’s moral will . . . it’s His prescription for how we should live our lives, how we should love and relate to others and how we should relate to Him.

God’s will of direction – This is God’s specific plan for your life; could be called His individual will. Should I leave this job? Buy this house? Move back to my hometown? Pray as long and as hard as you will, but God rarely tells us what to do. DeYoung says He loves us too much to take away our free will. He lets us choose for ourselves and that’s ok, so long as we operate within the bounds of His will of desire . . . His moral will as revealed in the New Testament.

While there’s the age-old argument about what’s predestined and what’s not, there’s more consensus around God’s wills of decree and desire. His authority over Heaven and earth is obvious. And His desire for our behavior to reflect what Jesus did and what the New Testament says is pretty clear. The harder part comes in regard to God’s will of direction. DeYoung argues (and I agree) that God’s individual will for me and you can only be understood in arrears. “Looking back” he writes, “we will often be able to see God’s hand in bringing us to where we are. But while we are free to ask God for wisdom, He does not burden us with the task of divining His will of direction for our lives ahead of time.” God gives us His Word, free will, access to the wise counsel of other Jesus-followers and the assurance of His presence with us no matter what we decide. Then we decide and go! Our challenge is to trust Him with the outcome . . . regardless. That’s what we call faith.

So, my advice for those who are tinkering away their lives? Just do something!