confession time

I love my mom. And that’s not the confession I’m making…

Many years ago she started e-mailing us kids each day of the work week; she shared a verse and thought of the day from a devotional calendar that she has. And it has stuck – and now we get a little glimpse into whatever she is doing that day, etc. as well.

Today’s e-mail made my heart happy. Life over the past couple of years for my mom has been hard. She lost her sister and then almost a year later, we lost my brother. So things have been tough – but she has been faithful with her daily e-mails and faithful to encourage others. Today she shared this: “I had a chance to witness to Debbie, our apartment manager, yesterday. She is really close to the truth, and wants to understand the bible-please pray that the Holy Spirit will give me the right words. I invited her to church, and will invite her to go to Bible Study…”

I wrote her back and I told her I loved her and I loved her heart for others. She told me she has really grown and been stretched this last year. And its great to see her wanting to share with others about her faith in the Lord and the hope she has in God. And it is true – something has changed in her…

I’m also madly in love with my wife. And that’s no confession either – pretty much everyone knows how crazy I am about her…

My wife shared with me recently that she has a new desire to be more open to sharing about the love of God with people she is connecting with or new people she meets. If you know her, you know that she tends to be more a “behind the scenes” kind of person. But recently, God has been growing her and stretching her to look for opportunities each day, wherever she is at, to connect with people and to point them to Jesus. And guess what? Well, every park we’ve been to with the kids in the last couple of weeks the Lord puts on my wife’s heart to connect with a person she meets there. It’s incredible – this change in her, this desire and boldness…

My mom and my wife are inspiring me with their desire to share with others about their love for God. The Lord has used them to re-ignite within me an awareness of what He has already at work doing in the lives of people I encounter each day. Their example in my life has encouraged me to more bold with people I connect with. It’s led me to pray with strangers at the pet store and Wall-Greens. It’s led me to stop, connect and listen with people I normally pass by. And it’s given me opportunities to share with each of them, the hope that I have found in the Lord.

So my confession is this: I have not been good at sharing with others the hope that I have in the Lord. And to my family and friends who aren’t yet connected to God – I am sorry I haven’t been more courageous about sharing my faith with you. We know its there – for crying out loud, I’m a pastor. But I want that to change. I want you to see in me and my actions the hope that I profess in Jesus Christ. I don’t want to just pray for you, I want to, if you’ll let me, to pray with you. And, regardless of what you might think about the church, or the Lord – I want to, if you are willing, to have great conversations with you about God and His love for you. I love each of you and I want to spend eternity with you. I care about you, and about us, and I care too much to stay silent about this anymore.

So…who are you going to share going to share the Good News of God’s love with today? There are people all around you that need to know the Hope you have in the Lord – be bold, be courageous and point someone to Jesus today!

Seeking Inspiration

The word ‘inspiration’ is defined as the “stimulation of the mind or emotions to a high level of feeling or activity.” It is also defined as “divine guidance or influence exerted directly on the mind and soul of humankind.” The origin and history of the word ‘inspiration’ has the implication of “immediate influence of God, or a god” (see What, or who, inspires you? What do you do when you don’t feel inspired? And, how do you seek out inspiration for your life?

I can answer those last three questions with one word: prayer. Prayer inspires me. Praying to God, and praying through His Holy Word inspires me. And when I don’t “feel” inspired, when depression or other insecurities set in, I always find myself praying, asking the Lord to immediately influence my situation. And its not just prayer that inspires me, but it’s the practice of other spiritual disciplines too, like worship, mediation/reflection, confession and even serving that seek to inspire me and motivate.

I believe that sometimes we let wrong things, and even the wrong people (or their examples) inspire and influence us. Even Satan and his schemes can become our immediate influence in those times of great need. Now whether it’s God, or not, the things that influence us serve as an example to others in their search for inspiration as well.

One of Paul’s first letters to the churches was to Thessalonica and he starts his letter off to them in 1 Thessalonians by saying “We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers.” How inspiring to know that Paul was praying for them and what’s great is that he communicated to them this truth. Prayer is inspiring. Spiritual disciplines are inspiring and highly influential.

If we go back to 1 Thessalonians again and pick up in verse 3, it says, “We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction…You became imitators of us and of the Lord…and so you became a model to all the believers…the Lord’s message rang out from you…your faith in God has become known everywhere.”

Have you developed a lifestyle of personal worship that serves to keep you connected to, and inspired by, the Lord? In your personal moments of need are you drawing closer to the Lord for your influence and direction? Because if so, like those in Thessalonica, it will be a powerful model to others, not to mention it dynamic impact on you in that moment. Don’t forget what God has done in your life and how He has used you to make a difference in other people. God’s has chosen you. You belong to Him. And sometimes in our greatest moments of need, it’s seems as if the truth of God’s love for us is all we have. So, “let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” [Hebrews 10:23-24]