Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Distractions continued ...

I posted last week about distractions, giving a partial list of things that I allow to distract me and said I would post further about why I get distracted. This is an attempt to address the whys.

First of all I must admit that many of the things that become distractions are only distractions because I allow them to become a distraction. Their are some things that are distractions that are forced upon us, but most of things are really a choice we make to be distracted. The why of the forced distractions is basically a non-issue. People stopping by to talk is one of those items and is not really fair to be labeled a distraction, I want to talk with people and especially when they are seeking a listening ear, encouragement or counsel.

I have come to realize that I can be my own worst enemy when it comes to distractions. I tend to seek them when I am either working on something that I am not excited to be doing or when I am struggling to finish something. In those times I begin to seek out distractions. I look around and then start to wonder about other things that should not be the priority at that moment. I begin to search my mind for other things that are undone and begin to work on those, or at least think of work on them. Am I alone in this?

There is probably something in me that delays the finish of some projects becasue I am not confident that my finished product will meet some standard that I have created. So the irrational thinking that takes over is that if it is not finished then I have not fallen short of the expectation. I know, I know, this is not a rational thought process, but I can live it this bubble at times.

There are other times that I just don't want to be doing what I am doing at that time and therefore welcome a distraction. If none presents itself then I create one. So maybe I should just view much of this distraction ordeal as creative thinking. Yes, I like that thought. I am just being creative. Creative thinking is a good thing. Therefore I am doing a good thing. Wait, what was I posting about?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Monday Morning Musings ...

Yesterday was another very good day. God is so good. We had beautiful weather, which really stood out given the rain and dreariness of the previous few days. We had a great spirit in our worship. People seemed to really be engaged in the service right from the beginning through until the end of the service and then hung around and spent time with each other for a long time.

Our attendance was very low, thanks in large part to illness and the fear of illness.

I did an addition to the series that I concluded last Sunday. The question of the day was "Where is your focus?". I told the story of my youngest grandson play baseball and after pitching to his mom for a while and her having trouble hitting the ball (to give her a break it probably had a lot to do with the fact that he is 2 1/2 years old and isn't real accurate with his pitches). He evidently got frustrated with mom and took the ball walked over to mom, holding the ball up toward her face he said "Watch the ball Mommy, watch the ball!". He has heard that a few times while he is hitting and repeated the instruction. That is really good advice, not just for baseball.

In our relationship with Christ we need to "watch the ball" by keeping our eyes on God, focusing on our faith and not the struggles we face and focusing on the God of our faith not the opposition we face. So what are you focusing on, is it what God has called you to focus on?

It is good advice in our work, our personal relationships, our relationship with Christ and many other things.

Had a good time in my class on parenting last night. So encouraged by our switch to Sunday School on Sunday evenings. Sunday mornings seem smoother (though people are having trouble getting there on time) and we have more relaxed times of sharing and discussion in our classes in the evening and the numbers are very good.

Have a great week and check your focus.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Distracted ...

I have thought about distractions a lot recently. Mainly because I realized how much I have allowed myself to be distracted of late. It seems that many things have jumped up to distract me from getting some things accomplished in a timely fashion. Many who know me are aware that I have a tendency to procrastinate on paperwork. The truth is “tendency” is a kind way of saying that normally I procrastinate on any type of paperwork or report. Don’t know why, it has been true for as long as I can remember.

What I have been processing recently is the what and the why of things I allow to become a distraction. I can be distracted by a noise, a smell, a game on the computer, an email, a phone call, someone stopping by, thirst, hunger pangs, random thoughts, just to name a few.
I have realized that the what of my distractions is not difficult to identify. I am wrestling with the why of my distractions.

I will post again soon with some further thoughts as to the whys.
How about you? What distracts you from doing what you know needs to be done? Or, are you one of those annoying people who rarely gets distracted? If you are one of those please don’t respond, I don’t like you. Just kidding, sort of.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Monday Morning Musings ...

Yesterday was a truly spectacular day. We had been pointing toward this day for a few weeks. The ending of chapter 11 in Hebrews has a listing of people who exercised tremendous faith and then a statement that there are even more who could be listed. Then there is a description of many things those unnamed people endured and still their faith shone through. It is an incredible read and an even more incredible picture of faith. This series of messages has been entitled "Character(s) of Faith". We have looked at many of the people (characters) who demonstrated faith. We looked at principles of faith that they exhibited. The goal was not just to have a history lesson on faith, but to put these principles of faith to work in our own lives and hopefully to become "characters" of faith ourselves.

Yesterday we got started way too late, which is a pet peeve of mine, but I refused to dwell on it or let it impact my choice to worship and rejoice in the Lord. Our time of singing went well and people engaged fairly well. I started the message about a clock that had a nervous breakdown when it realized how many times it had to tick during a whole year and for it's lifetime. But the psychiatrist told the clock to just focus on one tick at a time. The clock said he could do that. Living by faith is much like that, live it out one day, or one hour, at a time. Do what you know God wants you to do right now, without getting freaked out by what might happen. Living by faith is decision to follow God's call one step at a time. The characters we examined were the regular people, the nameless ones who exercised their faith in spite of terrible circumstances. The principle was that they didn't give up.

We concluded the service with cardboard testimonies. Many churches have done this, where people hold up a piece of cardboard. On one side is the problem in their life from the past and then turn it over to reveal the answer from the Lord, or how they are living now. No words are spoken, a song is being played and sung during all of the people who share. We had teens, grandparents, great grandparents and everything in between. We people who were very courageous and vulnerable in what they shared. I was moved and humbled by all the testimonies.

As I said it was a spectacular day. So many people shared how much it impacted them. People were going up to those who shared, thanking them or asking for more of the story where appropriate. I received comments and emails from many people who were so encouraged by the service.

Then in the afternoon I received a very encouraging phone call, from someone not in my church who just wanted to encourage me. Wow, how cool is that?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Monday Morning Musings ...

Wow, I really stink at this blogging stuff lately, I will try and do better.

Yesterday was a very good day. The spirit in our morning Worship was outstanding. You could not have been in the building missed it. Things started well musically (virtually no technical problems) and just kept on rolling. People really got engaged early in the service and never drifted away. While we were singing I went to the altar to pray, a little later another man went to pray, during our time of prayer a few people came forward to pray and at the conclusion of the service a couple of people came forward. I love it when the spirit is working and we respond. The message went well, the Lord really took over. Still in our series on Characters of Faith from Hebrews 11. The character this week was Gideon. The principle of his faith we examined was that he served in spite of some doubts and fears. You do not have to perfect to serve, just be available and let God work through you.

"The true, living faith, which the Holy Spirit instills into the heart, simply cannot be idle." Martin Luther

Living faith is active.

Gideon was one of the most unlikely leaders you can find. But he stepped out of the pit (actually a winepress) where he was hiding and feeling sorry for himself. He was full of doubts, probably some bitterness and certainly many fears and still served. So what is our excuse?

Gideon understood that it was not about him, but about God and His call on Gideon's life. God is faithful, even when we are not. Gideon was certainly not living his faith when he was called to serve, but God was still being faithful. Gideon responded, with some doubts and fears, and God gave a great victory.

What do you need to get past in order to serve?

Monday, October 05, 2009

Monday Morning Musings ...

Yesterday was a very good and difficult day. The difficulty was that we had several of our men gone on a retreat, half of our worship band and vocal worship team were gone. One of our projectors went out before the service and no matter what I did I couldn't get it to work. We got started late and that driving me nuts. Having so many men gone certainly changed the "feel" of things as well as the look. Having a downsized worship band and vocal team gave things a different look and feel. The projector being out only impacted those on the platform, but created some major adjustments. I also woke up with quite a bit of pain in my back and leg, which was discouraging since it had been getting better each day.

With all of the above difficulties, God showed up and that is all that really matters when we worship. There was a decent attendance even with so many at the retreat. I had trouble reading the crowd, for whatever reasons, while I was preaching. I felt very strongly about the message and wanted desperately to communicate the truth of the Word. This was another in the series on Characters of Faith from Hebrews 11. This week the character was Rahab. The principle of her faith that we focused on was that she acted on her stated beliefs. Too often we do not act in accordance with what we say we believe. It it one thing to say what we believe, it is quite another to put it on the line and act on it, no matter what the circumstance. Rahab had not been raised in the faith, but observed, investigated and committed to God. She followed through on her commitment and stood up against some difficult circumstances, such as her King demanding something from her that would have compromised her newfound faith.

What if we began acting in line with what we claim to believe? What if we reached out to those around us who are far from our ideal and showed them the love of Christ? What if we followed through on our commitment? What if ...

The story of Rahab, the prostitute, is the story of all of us. Before you protest too much, haven't we all been tempted to sell ourselves for something - position, popularity, money or praise at multiple times in our life? However, just like with Rahab, God steps into the areas of our life that we have walled off and given us the choice of his love.

Though I had not planned for it, we had several who came to altar to pray about acting on their beliefs. There was no music, nothing planned, just an invitation and the move of the Holy Spirit. I love it when God takes over.

Sunday evening my class on Parenting Isn't For Cowards began covering the topic "Taming the Twos, Threes and Teens". It was fun to examine these stages, to see their similarities and struggles from a parenting standpoint. We had some good discussion, laughter and a few knowing sighs. We will continue examining this next week.

Yesterday was a very good, though difficult, day. Thank you Lord for showing me your grace.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

What do you do with pain?

I have had a painful week. I awoke last Sunday morning in severe pain from a pinched nerve, so something like, in my lower back. It created pain in my left hip, leg and foot and then the leg and foot went numb. The foot has remained numb most of the time this week. The back pain has lightened and most of the numbness in the leg is gone, just the foot is continuing to play the numb game. I know that what I am experiencing and endured this week is nothing compared to what many people face in their daily lives. I have watched many people as they have dealt with pain. I also realize that for many the pain is not as much physical as it is emotional from devastating experiences in their lives. I am not trying to put myself in the same category of those who have experienced devastating losses or endure daily pain of level I can only imagine.

However, the pain I have faced this week has caused me to ask, what do you do with pain? Do you ignore it? Do you embrace it? Do you enjoy it? Does it devastate you? Do you keep going? Do you give up?

I have tried to ignore the pain. Of course that only works up to a certain point, there is only so much you can ignore no matter how high your pain tolerance. I am not trying to be noble in attempting to ignore my pain, it is much more practical for me, I just don't want to have to change my schedule and other things because of the pain. My wife calls it being stubborn, I prefer to think of it as perseverance. Who is with me on this one?

But I have tried to at least pause some this week and ask what I can learn through the pain. I am still sorting it out, but I have come to a couple of conclusions. I have been reminded that I don't like pain. (How is that for a revelation?) I have learned that pain really spotlights that I am not invincible, nor am I indispensible. I am not real fond of those realizations, but they are certainly true nonetheless. I have learned that I must really depend on the Lord on a daily basis. I don't just mean the lip service dependence I that I (we) usually give to depending on the Lord. I am speaking of the truly can't do what I am called to do with Him type dependence. I must confess that too often I don't live each minute, of each hour of each day in this type of surrendered dependence. How about you?

I have realized that if I am to be who God wants me to be then I need to live in dependence on Him, like I do when I am hampered through pain. However, I think it would be much better to live this way without the pain. How different would my marriage, my ministry, my relationships, my life be if would live in this type of dependence?

So for now, I am somewhat grateful fo the pain this week because what I have been reminded of in my life. But to be completely open about this, I have told the Lord that I would like to try to live this way now without the pain. I will try to keep you informed as to how this goes. As for now I will continue to persevere (be stubborn if you are in my wife's camp).

What are you learning from what you are facing?