Friday, October 22, 2010

Good Morning!

 I used to be the kid, teen and young adult who got up first and helped everyone else. But when my son was born, and I began working on-call nights at the hospital, sleep became more precious and my life got more out of kilter. I found myself staying up later, sleeping later, and worse off when I woke. I know that part of it was the hours, and part of it was the being awakened at night.
But I also know that for me, like many of you, part of it is controlled by my choices.
We are created to sleep at night and be up and awake at day. For thousands of years, that has been the habit of humanity.
But since the advent of electric light, that has changed. For many of us, rhythms of our families and habits have changed that. I know some kids who are up until 2 or 3 a.m. as babies and young children. By the time they hit school, their natural body clocks are so disturbed that they never overcome them.
We also push ourselves- because of overachieving, because of lack of planning, because of the things we take on ourselves, or the "fun" we want to have, we ignore our bodies' needs for sleep. We push longer, fight deadlines, and give up sleep to do what we want. That works once or twice, but eventually becomes a deficit we never recover from.
But the hardest thing to overcome about our need for rest is peace. We have brokenness- things we and others have done, habits, addictions, medications sin, guilt and hurt. When we don't deal with these before a God who loves us, and make relationships right with others ("as far as it lies with you" scripture says), we lose REST even if we sleep. We fight fears and imaginations, guilt and loss in our sleep, and wake exhausted.
We need to find 7-8 hours a night of rest. It needs to be free of tension and conflict. When we seek God first (not our goals, ambitions, bad habits, activities or relationships, or what we feel we "have" to do), we find the peace that passes all understanding, allowing us to be healthier, live longer, and love God and others better.
Seek first, plan rest, and all these things will be given to you!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Christian Music Radio

I am one of those “grew up in the church” kids (I could still win a game of hide and seek in the old Birmingham First Church!). So when I came to faith, it was a progression, fits and stops, growth and loss. I went to the altar at least 200 times before age 20!
But we did have a Christian radio station. It had way too many bad preachers, and way too much southern gospel, but in drive time played Contemporary Christian Music. I learned about Amy Grant & company (MWS, KT, Pam Mark Hall (!), Rich Mullins, Gary Chapman) and others- Petra, Leslie (now Sam) Philips- and their music became the soundtrack of my life. Songs put scripture in my heart. DJs added thoughts about God to my outlook on the news. When God called me to be a pastor, I knew what I had to do. In every church I have served, I have found the local Christian music station and promoted, encouraged and even begged my people to be part of it. You are going to listen to something- why not listen to music that puts Christ, the Bible and faith into your heart? Praise God for Christian Radio!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Shovel while you pray

"I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." (Jesus in Matthew 17:20)
You know, the interesting thing about mountains is that they usually don't move all at once. 
When I was a teenager, the freeway was expanded on the road between our house and our family business. The area where it came through started with what we thought were hills. But over 2 years, half of those were completely leveled, and another was raised to what we thought were amazing heights- but to exactly what the freeway needed!
HUGE machines (Can I get a Tim the Tool man Taylor "uh, uh, uh!"?) worked day after day, one load at a time clearing, moving and building the earth. We couldn't always understand what they were doing, but they had a plan and followed their plan. And the mountains were moved, and laid down, and built up.
God doesn't want us to be helpless against the mountains of our lives. Jesus said as much. But as we pray, I believe that God does want us to exercise complete faith in Christ and move some dirt.
So stay on your knees in your heart, but after a time of prayer, listening for God and study, get a shovel and move the dirt you know that you can move. 
Shovel while you pray!