broken but not crushed

Helping each other live successfully and abundantly in the face of brokenness.

Location: Columbus, Central Ohio, United States

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Oooops...Sorry for another lapse.

OK, my friends, so I write for a while and then take a break – I guess that has become my habit. I apologize for the empty places, but knowing myself as well as I do, sadly, I don’t really think I’m likely to change. I learned a while back that as we age we don’t really change, we just become more of what we already are. That is an interesting concept isn’t it? If we are grouchy when we are younger we just get more grouchy as we gray. If we are sweet and kind we just get more sweet and more kind. I hope I am the latter and not the former.

I’m reminded of a list – yes I’m still making lists (I hope they are useful to you). The Apostle Peter writes in what is called guttural Greek. Not terribly polished and not exactly great literature, Peter just gets right to the point and says what needs said in simple, easy language. He was a simple man, an uneducated fisherman who understood nets and boats but probably only learned how to read and write as an adult. He was a Galilean, considered hicks and hillbillies by the rest of Jewish society. But he was anointed by God to preach, and he knew Jesus personally, so when he preached or taught, people listened.

Peter’s list of how to live a Godly life is found in 2 Peter 1:5-11. I’ll give you the PDV…

“Whatever you do, your first step has GOT to be that you have faith in God. But then you need to add – in this order – goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love. These won’t all come at once, but once they do, you need to let them grow and grow – because if you don’t you’ll become useless to God and to yourself. But if you let them increase in you, you can’t fall and God will welcome you home with flying colors when the time comes.”

Brotherly kindness

As you think about this list remember that you begin at the beginning and end at the end. You can’t just jump in anywhere you want, this is a progression and each thing on the list needs done in the order given. Ask God to help you understand how to successfully make this journey. And let this list become your road map toward godliness. As you practice his presence and immerse yourself in the godly disciplines, you will see a growth and closeness to the Lord you’ve never known before – and you’ll love it!

Have a great day!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Get up and Go!

Dear Fellow Travelers,
We’ve been taking a look at a few habits that ought to be common to every believer. We’ve called them the 6 Basic Disciplines of a Godly Person, and what we have discovered is that these disciplines, though common, are where the Devil fights his hardest in our lives. We’ve already looked at the first 2 concerning God’s Word and prayer, and today we look at #3 - Attend a Bible believing church for worship and fellowship - and go there often.

I have heard literally thousands of excuses why people didn’t go to church. I have also heard a few real reasons, but, let’s face it, most of the time our ‘reasons’ aren’t even good excuses. We know we’re supposed to get up and go - goodness, most even know that God himself said, “Do not forsake assembling together”. But I confess, sometimes, especially when you are broken, you really have to take hold of yourself by the scruff of the neck like a naughty puppy and make the extra effort or you’ll just sit home and watch TV. Trust me, I’ve been there.

Why is going to church so important? There are two primary reasons, in my humble opinion – worship and fellowship. But the truth is that these two cannot be separated from each other. We worship the Lord with our whole heart, and in church we share that experience with other people. God’s blessing then comes on the “body” of believers and we are changed together. How amazing! Let’s look at the list …

1. We need each other. In a recent survey 80% of respondents gave “to see friends or family” as either the first or second reason they go to church. The opposite is also true: we will only stay in a church if we believe we will make real friends there.

2. Worship is better together. Yes, it is possible to worship the Lord at home and we ought to, but there is something special about doing it in a group of like minded people.
a. We sing along even if we can’t sing all that well,
b. We pray together and draw strength from touching God together,
c. We sense God’s presence as a group and for some reason it feels more authentic.

3. We learn from each other, getting insights we might never have known – two [or more] heads really are better than one! From preacher, teacher, and just ordinary conversation in the hall our brains are engaged by being together.

4. We are encouraged by each other. We all need a pat on the back now and then – and when things are going rough on us we need the strength we get from others who love us. The flip side is also true, that is, when we are strong and things are right in our world, it is good for us to share our strengths with others.

5. We touch one another – actual, physical touching has healing and strength attached that cannot be explained. A simple touch is enormously powerful, especially in our detached, sterile world. A shared hug strips away some of the ugliness from our lives and leaves us feeling loved and cared for.

6. We celebrate each other’s victories and share each other’s sorrows. When you do something good it’s nice to be recognized for it, and when you are broken or burdened its great to have someone share the load. A friend can be the difference between failing and staying the course.

The bottom line is that the church body is our “other” family – sometimes more important to us than our biological one, and we REALLY DO NEED EACH OTHER! So, find a good church where the Bible is taught as truth, Jesus is Lord of all, God is worshipped in spoirit and in truth, and you get to share your life with a few good friends.

Until we meet again,

Friday, October 20, 2006

Dear Fellow Travelers,

“OK, Dwight, I’m reading and I’m praying, but how do I know if I’m getting through? I mean, how can I know that what I’m hearing is really God?” I hear you, friends. This whole spiritual journey we are on can sometimes be frustrating. Really, how DO you know it’s God talking and not some figment of your imagination or even worse, wishful thinking on steroids? As you might expect, I have an answer for you, and once again, it is from “The Book”.

Might I re-mention something first – recognizing God’s voice comes with practice. When my daughter calls on the phone I don’t have to guess who it is, I know who it is. I am familiar with her voice because I’ve heard it a thousand times and I want to hear it a thousand more.

Now, to today’s list. The following are six ways we can recognize God’s voice, that is, ways we can be sure that it is God talking and not something else.

1. God tends to speak gently. What a great story you will find in 1 Kings 19:11-13. If you are expecting this big booming voice sounding suspiciously like Carleton Heston with major reverb goin’ on, well, its not likely going to be like that at all.

2. God’s voice produces freedom. Matthew 11:28-30 I don’t mean to sound cryptic here – but so much of what we hear today causes conflict, stirs up trouble, or places the listener under some kind of obligation (bondage). But when God speaks we are better off after than we were at the start.

3. God tends to speak while we are consciously seeking him. Deuteronomy 4:29 and 2 Chronicles 7:14 Interesting, isn’t it? God is the ultimate gentleman – he does not intrude into our lives if we don’t want him there. Jeremiah 29 11-13 says “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

4. God speaks only the truth. Isaiah 45:19 as well as a whole bunch more – email me for more if you need them. In a world filled with lies and deception, political advertising and false religions, we desperately need to hear the truth, and God is bound by his own character to always be true.

5. God convicts only of specific sin. John 16:7-11 This is REALLY important. I’ve counseled so many people whose lives are short-circuited but have no idea why they feel “unforgivable” – they just somehow “feel bad” all over, like they are condemned. This is a lie from the pits of Hell itself. Yes, God does hate sin and convicts us when we are wrong, but he’s not EVER going to just make you just feel bad, or dirty, or useless. If you did wrong you will know the specific time and place, and, to be forgiven, you will need to confess and repent of specific sin, then stop doing it.

6. God does not confuse us. 1 Corinthians 14:33 Listen, if you are confused about an answer, the best course of action is to wait. God is NOT a God of confusion, but Satan is. Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the Lord, be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord”. Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God”. We can make bad decisions if we get impatient. Learn to take “what a while” for an answer and then wait until you get the assurance that you “know” God’s heart.

Well, I hope this helps when you are wondering if the voice you hear when you pray is God or last night’s pepperoni pizza. Joking aside, re-read the list and take it to heart. Study the scriptures attached to each one and find out what God has to say on the subject.

And until we meet again,

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Find Your Umbrella

Dear Fellow Travelers,

Let me tell you, Satan will do ANYTHING to keep you from connecting with your heavenly Dad. Our daily time with the Lord will be buffeted by every imaginable kind of storm and, well, we might as well face it, sometimes we get side tracked or off track. The Devil desperately wants you to give up, but there is great value to hanging in there. So, today I’m just going to remind you of two critically important things that I call “Umbrella Principles” (because they cover everything).

First, just like any good relationship, this is going to take time.

Time is a factor that we must never ignore because it is at the root of every good relationship. Goodness knows we live in a hurried world. All week long we jump out of bed at the last minute so we can rush the kids to school and ourselves to work, and after hours of rush projects we rush home, then rush through our microwaved dinner so we can rush the kids to soccer practice. On Sunday we rush through our shower and breakfast, hurry the kids and our spouse into the car and rush to church – and once we are there we rush to talk to ALL our friends before getting to the main service where we take our first real breath of the day while jotting notes in our PDA, all the while wondering how long the line will be at Bob Evans if the preacher preaches too long. Goodness, I can feel my blood pressure rising just writing it down!

Is it any wonder we don’t get much spiritual food in church?

Hey, if you are married you know that you didn’t meet your spouse and marry them the next afternoon, now, did you? Of course not. A good courtship takes time. You go to dinner and talk about “sweet nothings”. You stroll along a side street and, literally, stop to smell the roses. I mean real roses and real stopping. Amazing that the world didn’t collapse because we weren’t in such a rush, huh?

Listen – EVERY good relationship is going to require an investment of time, and so will your relationship with God. So don’t be in a hurry. Your time with God will get better if it is nourished and fed- and given time to develop - like any good relationship. And if you don’t plan to MAKE the time, it just won’t happen. Put time with God in your daytimer and put a star beside it as a priority – then don’t ignore your daytimer!

And while you’re at it, think a moment about the second umbrella principle – hearing clearly requires quiet.

It is NOISY out there, and if we allow our souls to be disengaged by the noise of natural existence we will never be able to hear God speak. And yes, God DOES speak to us mortals and he DOES give us clear directions for living. But I guess you’ll just have to tune in next time to see that list.

So, until then, find a quiet place and spend some time with your ‘Dad’.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Practical suggestions

Dear Fellow Travelers,

How are you doing out there in blogland? Are you keeping up with things or do you find yourself in a rush but not quite getting everything done?

Sadly, one of the first things to be dropped by the wayside when our lives get really busy is our private time with the Lord. Because we quite often can’t see immediate results we tend to make trade offs – we trade important things for urgent and we trade the permanent for the temporary. It is a natural phenomenon, but that doesn’t make it very smart, now does it.

The problem is, though, that if we don’t keep at it, our prayers become shallow, selfish, and ineffective. Do you want a powerful prayer life? I know I do, so here are some practical truths and some suggestions for having an effective prayer life - and note, they are all based on God’s Word!

1. The length of the prayer does not determine its value. (Matthew 6:7)

2. Effective prayers come from a humble heart. (Luke 18: 9-14)

3. Be specific. God wants to grant the desires of your heart. (Psalm 20:4)

4. Ask according to God’s will and his Word. (James 4:3 and 1 John 5:14)

5. Pray in faith and with thanksgiving. (Philippians 4:6)

6. Don’t give up! Persevere in prayer. (Luke 11:5-10)

Well, give these thoughts a try and see if they improve the effectiveness of your time with God. If the Bible is true – and it is – then you should be on your way to powerful praying!

Keep up the good work,

Friday, October 13, 2006

Next stop on our Journey

Dear Fellow Travelers,

Let’s take another step in our shared journey into the basic disciplines of the godly person. We’ve been talking, in the last few blogs, about getting into God’s Word, the Bible. I hope and pray that you’ve gleaned some insight into new and different ways to connect with your heavenly Dad and to hear what he’s saying to you, personally.

Today we turn down a different street in our disciple’s village. As we examine the addresses on the houses we find one that is called ‘prayer’ – easily one of the most talked about yet most misunderstood of the spiritual disciplines. Though it might seem like we are getting the cart before the horse, one of the first question that comes to most people’s minds is “how does God answer prayer? So here are the “Five Ways God Answers Prayer”, according to the Bible.

1. “I love you too much to answer yes.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 Let’s be honest, everything we ask God for isn’t really good for us, and He knows better than to give us what we want. Remember Garth Brook’s song “Thank God for Unanswered Prayers”.

2. “No, not yet. You must wait for my timing.” Daniel 2: 20, 21 and John 11: 13-15 Hey, I get in a hurry, too! But God’s timing is always better than ours so we’ve got to learn to wait a while – ugh!

3. “I hear you, and if you insist, I’ll say yes. But this is not the best for you and you will soon discover that.” Psalm 106:15 It is true. God sometimes gives us the desires of our hearts - even when he knows we’ll be sorry for it later. These are lessons in waiting on God, realizing we aren’t as smart as we think we are, and learning to trust. Hard, sometimes painful lessons, for sure.

4. “YES, I though you would never ask!” Matthew 7:7-11 God really IS our heavenly Dad, and just like good dad’s everywhere, he loves to give his kids good gifts – and in His case, he can afford to give everything he wants to give. Now THAT’S cool!

5. “Yes, and here is even more than you asked or even dreamed you could have.” 1 Kings 2:12, 13 and Ephesians 3: 20. From his never ending supply he can even outstrip our imagination. In fact, right now God is planning for you things that are beyond your wildest dreams.

Well, as far as I can tell these are the primary ways, according to the Bible, that God answers when we call. And no, I don’t really like the “wait” or the “no” any more than you do, but they are necessary for us so they are part of God’s plan. Remember, He doesn’t do anything that is for our harm, even when it seems that way at first, and even along the way. I, too , have a lot of questions for him when he releases me from this broken body, but until then, I – and you – are asked to trust. So I do.

Well, until next time, remember discipline #2 - Pray - at first, just do it, then keep at it until your prayers are powerful and effective.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Practical "Do It's"

Dear Fellow Travelers,

The past couple days I’ve been in the woodshop and have had great times. But my mind has also been running over this whole business of talking to you about getting into God’s Word. We all know it is really important, but, sadly, it can also become tedious – or boring. No, I’m not being sacrilegious, but seriously, folks, if we don’t vary the approach we will, sooner or later, just stop. We both know that!

We can fix it in several ways. Yep, another list.

1. Read or listen to different versions. There are lots of them out there and lots of ways to buy them inexpensively online. Just make sure they are the real thing – some groups have generated strange “versions” of the Bible that are really off the wall. And for pity’s sake, get something up to date. One more 300 year old version isn’t likely going to change your attitude.

2. Write your own version. I don’t mean sit down with a quill pen and copy the whole thing like a monk. Rather, choose a scripture that is meaningful to you, or is complex, or that causes a question in your mind, then write your own version in your own hand. Mine is called the PDV – Pastor Dwight’s Version. It’s my favorite version to quote – in fact, I’ve used it in my blogging so you’ve already seen it.

3. Take smaller bites. Sometimes we think we have to ‘finish the chapter’ or we haven’t actually “had our devotions”. Baloney! Sometimes a few words are enough to jumpstart our thinking toward spiritual issues so don’t become personally legalistic. What a drag!

4. Remember that your attitude will determine your altitude. If every time you sit down to read your Bible you are thinking “well, here we go again” it’s not likely going to change your day much. Just think, you get to hear God talk to you – and how cool is that !!!

5. Also remember, there is one ingredient that defines every relationship – time. So plan to make the time necessary. Do not relegate your time with God to whatever might be left over – because we both know there is seldom any time “left over”, and then you are exhausted.

6. Create a sacred place where you and God meet regularly. A certain chair, a place at your desk, a corner of the basement or spot under the tree. Just pick a place and go there to read and pray every day (we’ll talk about that tomorrow), preferably at the same time every day. It’s like an appointment for dinner with your sweetheart – something you wouldn’t miss for anything.

7. Take a break. “Oh my goodness are you saying its OK to stop reading for a while?” I sure am. I love to eat. But I tell you, after Thanksgiving dinner and three kinds of pie, I’m not really all that interested in more - even steak or ice cream. Take a vacation that will allow your mind to hunger once again for the real soul food and water that the Bible is. And remember, vacations are short. Take a break, then get back in the habit.

My oh my, I’ve gone on longer than I figured on. Please know that these lists are intended to jog your thinking and are not anywhere near a completed essay on the subject. They are just ideas that work. The most important rule in Bible reading is well said in the Nike commercial – just do it!

Till we meet again,