The Middle

Sometimes in my life I get lost in the details, I focus on the little things, losing sight of the big picture. Raise your hand if you’ve ever experienced that feeling….. Wow! I’m in good company! For me, I like living life in the “now,” in those right here, right now moments. I still focus on the big picture, but I like the moments that are in front of me and I feel like that’s where my impact is. Call it the middle…..

21 Days of Prayer Update
Today is the last day of my 21 days of prayer and as I’m writing this it’s humbling to me that God’s presence can be so clear in my life. I’m OCD about a lot of things in my life, including my prayer time. There have been days during these 21 days that I haven’t prayed, days that I haven’t given God those 15 minutes. When I read back over that last sentence, I realize how selfish that must sound, I realize that God deserves more of me, and I realize God is still with me despite my lack of devotion to Him. Does that make me (or you) a bad Christian? No, in my eyes it’s proof positive that God accepts us as we are and I know in His eyes I do not have to be a perfect person.

Social Media
I read something on Joel Osteen’s Facebook page that spoke directly to me the other day……

“You may not be perfect, but God is not basing your value on your performance. He’s looking at your heart. He is looking at the fact that you’re trying.”

How humbling is that; to know that no matter what where we feel we may have let God done, there He is.

My Verse of the Week
2 Chronicles 7:14
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Because we’re all in this battle…….

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Tim’s Reflection

20140118-075029.jpgI thought looking back was easy. I was wrong. When my 21 Days of Reflection began I was lost. I didn’t know where to begin to make it meaningful. Should I look a 2013, my 30’s, or my whole life? Then I got this question in my head… “What if the reflection you see is not the image others see?” And with that question, I had answers to find. Of course I asked God to reveal it to me. I guess I was thinking a vision or something. God had something else in mind as He often does. Something better. Now when I look back at the beginning of this process I can see God had a journey in mind.

The first stop on God’s little journey? 7AM Monday Morning – NY Bagel off Exit 23 in Huntersville. My men’s small group. The guys in my men’s Bible study are all fathers and we are studying 1st Timothy right now. 1st Timothy is a letter from the Apostle Paul to his Spiritual Son in the Faith, Timothy. These letters are essentially instructions to Timothy about all kinds of things. Our group decided to use 1st Timothy 3 as a guideline for being a good father. Jim, the leader of this study, suggested we read 1st Timothy 3 and replace the word “Deacon” with “father” for our study. A good piece of information, but this thick-headed boy didn’t see his Father’s intent just yet.

Before we see where this journey takes us let’s think about something. Letters. You know. The old fashioned pen and paper style letters. Letters are an important way to express feelings. Feelings that would otherwise by disguised by the emotions of human interaction. Letters can provide an account of something. They can also last a lifetime. They can show up at precise, calculated moments in someone’s life. They can reveal someone’s true intent. They also take time to write and show you care a lot.

Have you ever gotten a letter from your Dad? If you were to receive a letter from your father, what do you hope it’d say? “You are an amazing kid” or “We always enjoyed camping. Make sure you take your kids.” Maybe you’d want to read that your life makes them proud. Maybe the letter would just tell you all the secret places to fish. Or maybe, it’d tell you about his struggle to bring you to God, provide for you, and how he didn’t think he was a good father at times. A letter like that may just answer a lot of questions that we carry around everyday.

The next stop on our journey is revelation. Not the book. The act. I was thinking about my Bible study and the letters I’d like to write to my kids. I was also reading over 1st Timothy 3. Then I got this idea for my blog post on 21 Days of Reflection. Why not write about the instructions Paul gives Timothy through the lens of being a good father? But that’s not about reflection so at first I scrapped the idea. I’d certainly wrtie about this but not during 21 Days of Reflection.

Then I began to count Paul’s instructions for leaders. There are twenty. But wait, that’s almost 21. Is this a coincidence? (I’ve learned to see coincidence as the high possibility that God is working and speaking.). But there are 21 Days to reflect on. What about the extra day? Oh yes, I could reflect on looking at these qualities through lens of being a father. Each of the twenty following days I’d spend reflecting on the qualities of a good father listed in 1st Timothy 3 and asking one question:

Would my kids say I am good at (insert Paul’s Leadership Quality)?

Here are a list of the qualities:

Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap. In the same way, deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons. A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well. (1 Timothy 3:2-4, 6-10, 12 NIV)

My journey is not over, but now I’ve got the map. 1st Timothy 3 is my guide through these 21 Days. My direction is to look through my kids eyes at myself with these qualities in mind. How will I measure up? There are some really hard questions to answer. It has been painful and rewarding. Most of all I’ve seen some things about myself that I can change to be a better father, husband, son, and friend. All of this came from beginning my 21 Days of Reflection. It took slowing down. It took a long look in the mirror. It took a deep reflection. It took that penetrating question. Is the reflection I see what my kids see?

I suspect the next stop on the journey will be writing letters to the kids about my reflections. I can only imagine what God has in mind.

I hope your journey through these 21 Days has been good. Continue to reflect, keep your thoughts in prayer, and write your thoughts down. I can’t wait to read Brian’s post next week and see what he’s been up to.

God Bless…

Step Into It

Happy New Year!

Every year at my church I look forward to our 21 Days of Prayer. We do this twice a year, in January and August. The 21 days is more than just praying, it’s focusing on your relationship with God, it’s carving out time for an intimate relationship with Him, and for me, the most important thing is reflecting on my life and what God’s presence means to me.

Here are the basics of 21 Days of Prayer…..
* Carving out time to pray – this is a different time frame for all of us. It may just be 15 minutes on the drive to work. There is time, make it.
* Pray specific prayers; don’t be afraid to tell God exactly where you’re at or what you need.
* The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13)
* 7 Targets for God’s Blessing – make a list of 7 people/things you want to pray for
* Pray together – there is power in the number of people that pray the same prayers

My church started a new sermon series last week called “Selfie.” I’m sure we are all guilty of taking a picture of our selves and then posting that somewhere on social media. That’s the concept of the “selfie” label….. Maybe it’s time to turn the camera around and focus on something other than ourselves. Let’s be honest here, we are all selfish people. You, me, us, we, etc.

Step Into It
Isn’t it about tie that we all took a step forward, time that we all quit living our lives in “neutral,” or even worse isn’t it time we quit taking steps backwards? In 2014, I’m stepping into it! I’m not going to settle for less than I deserve, I’m not going to live my life just by the words, I’m going to take a step forward, I’m going to step into it, and I’m going to do all of this with God in my life. Is that not the best feeling, the best possible way to look at the year ahead! Will you join me on this journey? Will you be all that you’re capable of being and will you do it knowing that God is everything that you need?

My Verse of the Week
Ephesians 2:10
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

2014, San Francisco, and Jesus

GoldenGateBridge-001

2014, San Francisco, and Jesus

On this day in 1933 construction began on the Golden Gate Bridge. I read that on Wikipedia this morning (also where the picture comes from – thanks Rich Niewiroski Jr.). That got me thinking about bridges. Not bridges over troubled waters or even Jeff Bridges. About bridges between 2013 and 2014. About bridges between old and new. About bridges between friends and family. Finally about THE Bridge, Jesus Christ.

A bridges takes you from one place to another usually over treacherous terrain. To desire building a bridge there must be a good reason on the other side. Bridges are costly, hard to build, and therefore only considered if amazing things exist on the other side . Bridges make connecting things possible. For example, Jesus serves as bridge between God the Father and the Church to bridge the Holy with the unholy.

2014 is here. As we stand on the bridge between last year and now we mustn’t forget the ground we’ve covered in 2013. We read the entire Bible together, people!. That is awesome. This year Brian and I decided to SLOOOOOW things down and go deeper into more concentrated studies. Maybe a study series or two. We’ll still be traveling through the Bible in a year as we walk with God, but now we’ll spend a little more time studying the Bible. Our posts will be about our studies, our walk, and what God is doing in our lives. Feel free to use the studies we cover in your Small Groups or suggest a study for us to cover.

Go through the Bible again while following the blog. I always learn something new about others, myself, and about God as I travel through the scriptures and you will too. Reading through the Bible is a fantastic way to understand God’s heart and understand where you fit in His story. You can find Scripture reading assignments in the sidebar and they are updated daily. A link to the DailyAudioBible.com is also in there.

Reflection:
There’s a word for looking back. Reflection. Brian is going through a study at his church called 21 Days of Reflection. During our conversations of looking forward into 2014 we decided the best way to begin would be to look back. Next week, Brian will give us the ins and outs of this study (he’s learning them today). I encourage you to begin your reflection now. Break out your journals, think back over the year, and as your read Bibles reflect on how you’ve changed. What’s different in your life today compared to this time last year? If nothing has changed, what do you WANT to be different next year? Write some stuff down. The study will begin next week and conclude at the end of January. We’ll tag it as “21 Days”

2014 will no doubt be a year of adventure as we listen and follow God. I’m sure the will be peaks and valleys. I fully expect that when I cannot cross, my God will bridge the way.

Proverbs 3:6

6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.[NIV]