Tuesday, July 29, 2014

East Coast Encouragement Tour

Update: my east coast Encouragement Tour begins on Friday, August 8, and winds up on Sunday, August 17, when I will be speaking to the church at Grace Life, in Woodstock, GA (http://www.gracelifeonline.org/). I’d love to meet you! I have a few OPEN DATES on this trip, including Tuesday, August 12, and Thursday through Saturday, August 14-16. If you’ve got a group you’d like me to speak with, or if you’d simply like to meet for an hour or two, message me, and I’ll do my best to get with you. And if you’re way out of the area, I like meeting with people and groups via Skype or iChat—I do it all the time! So message me if that’s something you’re interested in.

One of My Favorite Pastors

On my recent West Coast Encouragement Tour, I had breakfast with Jeremy White, who is one of my favorite pastors. Why? He is a testimony of God’s effective grace, and he doesn’t hide it. His sermons, coaching, fun, family and church related activities reflect what God does for him. That means that anybody can listen or talk with him without fear of being challenged by a super-human, Superman kind of person toward the foolish goal of being the same. With Jeremy, it’s all about Christ and His work for us, in us and through us.

If I lived anywhere near Vacaville, California, I’d be hanging out with him as often as I could. To find out about his excellent book (The Gospel Uncut: Learning to Rest in the Grace of God) and church, click http://www.valleychurch.com/

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Latest In Christian Headgear

I don’t like navigating the people I meet (even through social media) by provocation and prosecution, “identifying” them as fast as I can so I can stick them into my pre-configured templates, then to deal with them. It’s not real, it’s not authentic—it’s presumed. Since I began to know Jesus and found that He’d made a home in me, knowing that He loves and cares perfectly for me has meant (among other things) that I love and care for others; not only those I agree with, but those with whom I do not. The only people I cannot actually have a true conversation with are those who reject me before we get started—those who prefer relationship by template.

There’s a time and a place to prosecute my opinion, to be sure. Many have not yet discovered what God has discovered to me, and because we do not agree, there’s a certain tension in our relationship as we explain our opinions. Sometimes it gets heated because it’s personal and difficult to do that, but why can’t that be okay? I think it can. In my experience, it’s pretty normal.

There are some issues we will divide over, as the apostle Paul did with some people in his day, but I sure don’t like that division thing. I want to be with people and talk with them, so any attempt to portray those who disagree with me as stupid or uneducated as a way of proving the superiority of my opinion is not in keeping with how Jesus treats me. He’s not like that. Not at all. My opinion is based upon Someone I know, Someone who loves and listens to me, not just a book I’ve read, as much as I like the Bible—particularly the New Covenant.

Which is why, I am convinced, the One who lives in me and whose heart I have thinks having really big ears on my head is a good idea.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Encouragement Tour, San Diego

Joe, a true pastor of people at a local church in San Diego, actually sees people as being well-off with God because of what Jesus did at the cross and resurrection. Every Sunday (and every chance he gets) he even tells them how great they've got it with God and each other -- imagine that. He's a human revival source, and I was better off for having a meal with him.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Encouragement Tour, San Diego

I had breakfast with Will, who loves his downtown San Diego neighbors in a way I've never seen before. He's become a sort of parish pastor to the area, and it doesn't matter to him what they look like or what they have to offer; he's going to encourage them and love them and live with them -- come what may. Will, I deeply admire you. However, unless I get to see your wife and family next in addition to you, I'm going to do something, um, ah, silly. You don't want that. Right?

The Encouragement Tour, San Diego, California

I am in pretty serious awe of this man, with whom I met at an English pub after landing at the San Diego airport. We first met at a small group event where I was speaking some ten years ago, and we’ve become lifelong friends; I did the marriage ceremony for Michael and Veronica several years ago. They now have three children, two of whom have life-altering diseases, and the weakness, love and strength they share together is my favorite beauty to behold on this trip. Michael, I love you.

The Encouragement Tour, La Jolla, California

So far on the tour, this is my favorite meeting. (Dis)honestly, it had nothing to do with the location—George’s on the Cove, in La Jolla, California. I was ridiculously fortunate to get a major dose of all things beach, including sea lions sunning and barking at each other on the rocks below us, and fresh albacore, a favorite of mine since I began catching them well off the coast with my dad and brothers in the late 60’s. Pictured with me is Paul Hatten a beautiful Aussie man with a family to match, who is starting a church in August in the Escondido area. If I lived anywhere near there (like within 50 miles or so), I’d go. He knows the love and grace of God, and in a deeply intriguing way, that channels and filters into everything he does. If you get the opportunity, listen to this man.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Encouragement Tour, Loomis, California

It’s always fascinating and amazing to meet a group of people amalgamated together by God. Here, some of the group I met last weekend at Loomis, California, poses together in a “here are the ones made holy, righteous, pure, blameless and flawless” moment. Do you think that God might have been just a little bit happy about them?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Encouragement Tour (Sacramento, California)

It’s a wonder to me when people quickly and easily accept me into their group of friends and want to know about my life, what I’ve discovered about God, and what I think might help them. Why should they do that? It has to be love recognizing love, and their desire to explore God’s love and grace together with me. It happened again last night with a beautiful amalgamated band of people in Loomis, California, and I suspect it will happen all over again tonight at 5:30.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Encouragement Tour (West Coast)

And the Encouragement Tour (West Coast) begins.  I will be meeting with a group in Sacramento to begin with (Friday – Monday), then fly to San Diego where I’ll meet with several people, families and small groups (Monday – Thursday), drive to the Los Angeles area and meet with people, families and small groups, and attend my High School 40th Reunion (Thursday – Monday), and then fly to Phoenix where I’ll do pretty much the same thing:  meet with several people, families and small groups (Monday – Thursday).  I get home to Colorado on Friday, when I will fairly collapse into my wife and daughters. (I'm unable to get to the northwest this time around, but read on for a good option.)

Some have asked for the locations of these meetings, but, as I first encouraged, they are mostly small and/or private groups.  If you’d like to do something like this next time, just ask, and I’ll get to you as soon as I can.  There is another way for us to meet—one that I really like and do quite often: http://lifecourse.org/Face_To_Face.html.

For those near Atlanta, Georgia, I have a couple of open dates on this summer’s Encouragement Tour (East Coast):  Wednesday, August 12; and Thursday, Friday and Saturday, August 14-16.  If you’d like to meet together or ask me to speak with your group or church, simply ask and I’ll do my best.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Starting Point

Here’s something to remember: “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” That’s your starting point today, and really, every moment of every day. If you’re hearing or feeling anything else, it is not from God because He always begins with what He has done for you. That’s always His starting point with you every day, throughout the day. That just might make a difference for you in those days, don’t you think?

But maybe you’re asking, “What about when I fail? What about when my behavior stinks, or my thoughts about myself and about you are terrible and ugly? What then? What happens when, after the 438 time I’ve promised to not do something (or to do something, as the case may be), I blow it again?! What then? What’s my starting point with God?”

Same place: “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Same starting point.

Of the New Covenant letters, 19 begin with essentially the same vital truth that we do well to remember and to emphasize for each other: “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Everything starts with Him, so it’s wise if you start with Him, too.

(This is from yesterday’s video, “Starting Point,” and is for those who might rather read than watch. To see the video, click http://youtu.be/aULNZciNi7U, or simply scroll down this page.)

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Starting Point

When I’ve been good and when I’ve been bad, what’s my starting point with God—no matter what?  Take 2 minutes to be encouraged. 

Monday, July 07, 2014

The Faithfulness of Frustrated Longing

Have you found that much of this world's pressure and torment ends up serving your desire for Jesus?  Has that happened for you? 

God has made us to have deep yearnings for love and life and satisfaction, and if we are finding this world as it is—faulty and frustrating—then it's likely that we'll find Him as the contrasting and constant treasure He is.  That’s something of the plan.

It's difficult, I know!  But if our “citizenship is in heaven,” and we are just now a sort of loosely assembled, heavenly colony, then doesn’t it figure that you and I already find most enjoyable the truth and sustenance which one day will be ours without measure?  In a word, He is Jesus.  Fortunately, we’re already listed in the logbook and scheduled for the coming rescue flight and home-going party.  What a feast of love and life and satisfaction that will be.

Until that day, we’ve got what the apostle Paul wrote about in Philippians 1—the longing to depart this world and to be with Christ, which is the greatest thing, and the attendant knowledge that we’re likely going to be here a fruitful while longer.

Hang in there, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of God.  Jesus really is faithful and capable with you.  It’s Him you want, and it’s Him you have.

(This is a transcript of a September 2013 video, “The Faithfulness of Frustrated Longing,” and is for those who might rather read than watch.  To see the video, click http://youtu.be/VAgXlZmNkHo.  You may also subscribe to these regular videos by clicking the red “Subscribe” button while there.)

Friday, July 04, 2014

New Sermon Video - "Hitting My Pause Button"

If you’d like to indulge your appetite for God, finding Him to be as satisfying as you think He ought to be, this is your message.

“Hitting My Pause Button” – From the Everlasting Grace Conference, Wednesday, June 4, 2014.  Part 2 of 2.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

New Sermon Video - "Behaving Himself"

If you’ve ever wondered about how God is happily working for you to know and enjoy Him, this is your message. (Part 1)

“Behaving Himself” – From the Everlasting Grace Conference, Monday, June 2, 2014

(There was a sound issue that you might notice, but it doesn’t greatly affect the audio. There is no sound issue in Wednesday, Part 2.)