Tuesday, November 24, 2009

And So We Gather

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A phenomenon takes place every Thanksgiving with clan Lewis (no we are not Scottish, although my wife traces her roots there...but she married into the clan). My side of the family (my mother, three sisters, myself and our spouses, children, their spouses and their children) gather for Thanksgiving.

 We meet at either one of my sister's homes or our home, all 20 of us, and we eat, laugh, share, remember, cry...and eat some more. Friday morning my sisters and I, along with our spouses, go out to breakfast and catch-up, without the kids and Mom. Plus, we review Mom's status and make plans for her. (She's 81 years old and doing well, although we did have to take the car keys away from her - except for local trips to the grocery store, the doctor, and to Walmart.) Hmmm...in 30 years will my kids go to breakfast and make plans for me?

In the past the children would do a live comedy/drama. Then they moved to film: story-boarding, shooting, editing, and presenting their creation for the adults. Now most of them are adults themselves so they are content to just hang-out and not feel pressure to entertain. But we gather.

Sometimes one or two of us can't make the trip because of  work commitments. Sometimes we have to cut the weekend short to get back to our churches (one of my brother-in-laws and I are both pastors). Once we had to postpone our Thanksgiving because of a December wedding of my nephew's. But still we gather.

And it's already begun for this year...all my kids (one with a wife and daughter) are home, my Mom arrived on Monday, and various family members will arrive at various times from various places on Wednesday (one nephew flying in on Thursday from Texas).

Once again it will be an excellent Thanksgiving, as stories are shared, food is consumed, changes are celebrated, and memories are made...

And so we gather.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Blind Side...What Is Your Destiny?

What defines your life? What will your life look like when it's over? When it's all been said and done, what is your destiny?

Many people think that their destiny is to do some great exploit or some great act of heroism. I used to think that my destiny was to have the perfect ministry job, or to speak to large crowds of people, or to go on great mission trips. I even thought that I would one day be a hero and perform some type of lifesaving act for one or more people. (I still have dreams of writing that one great worship song that will be sung in churches all around the world.)

I began to realize that my destiny was not going to be defined by one or even a few significant events and highlights in my lifetime, but rather it would be defined by the consistent acts of service that I demonstrated in the lives of others, and the impact that I have on the lives of the people around me.

I saw that there are people whom I know that I can influence to a greater good (encouraging hope, creativity and leadership skills in them), and that there are people all around me (call them strangers for lack of a better term) who are hurting and needy, and could use a touch from me. That touch can come from an encouraging word, from meeting a physical need, or simply by stopping to talk to them (and even pray with them). In doing so I am either verbally or through my actions demonstrating God's love for them.

By the way, there is a movie being released on November 20th called "The Blind Side". According to the Internet Movie Database: "The Blind Side" depicts the remarkable true story of Michael Oher, a homeless African-American youngster from a broken home, taken in by the Touhys, a well-to-do white family who help him fulfill his potential.

From the preview it looks like a great movie about destiny, at least how I am defining it in this Blog. We'll wait and see.

But for now, allow me to say that the perfect job or ministry may come, and the great crowds may still be there for me. I may even come across a burning building and rescue a stranded occupant. (Who knows, that hit worship song may still be bubbling in my spirit.) But I know that my destiny will be fulfilled everyday, by pouring into the lives of people I know, and by looking for ways to minister to the people I don't know.

Now that's a destiny I want.

For a complete discussion of this topic, click here to watch a video (or listen to the audio) of me teaching at my church recently on Destiny.  The teaching title is "Sunday: Needs to Destiny".

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

On Being Other-Centered

This morning I shared with our staff about the importance of being other-centered. If you will indulge me, I will use this post to re-cap my comments:

Being Other-Centered: Focusing on others' needs
  • A biblical mandate: Philippians 2:3-4
    • 3  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better (or more important) than yourselves.
    • 4  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
  • A culture of kindness: Living aware of others' lives.
  • A stance of service: Thinking about how we can help others.
  • A heartbeat of humility: Choosing to elevate others' needs over our own needs.
I suggest that all of us give it a try!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

India: Epiblog

I have been reflecting over the past two weeks since I have returned from India. I remember one of the "chat" conversations that I had with my wife while I was there. I was sharing with her about my encounter with a Muslim man whose wife had left him, and in his brokenness his desire to commit his life to Christ.

She in turn shared with me about some people that she was ministering to here in the US. The following thought struck us both at the same time, and this is the direction that our conversation took: there are hurting and needy people everywhere. One doesn't have to travel to a foreign or third-world country to find people who need us to reach out to them. We only have to look right here at home.

At the risk of sounding self-important (something I try to avoid at all costs), allow me to share a bit of our hearts. My wife and I try to be sensitive at all times to people who might need a simple kind word, an act of service or an offer to pray for them. We don't go into ministry mode when we step off the plane (Elaine in Guatemala, me in India). Rather, our ministry trips are simply an extension of our lives here at home.

Why do I share this? Simply put, to challenge the readers of this Blog to look outside of themselves and into the lives of others. At the Starbucks and across the street, people have needs. And you may be the very encouragement that they need.

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