Tag Archives: seeker

Eagle-Sightings, God-Sightings, Flash-Mobs and You

Eagle in Waterton Canyon

The three of us bounced down the popular trail in Waterton Canyon on our mountain bikes, racing the South Platte River as it descended out of the mountains. It was a glorious evening with the sun hanging just above the rugged hogback, its last shards of light reflecting on the river. Suddenly a bald eagle, wings spread muscling the wind, swooped down near the surface and glided upstream, hunting.

All three of us clamped on our brakes and skidded to a halt in the middle of the road. The eagle danced on the wind just above the current and then tilted up and came to rest on a rock, where it stood turning its head from side to side surveying its kingdom.

Steve grabbed his camera and began shooting. The eagle preened and stretched its wings as if attending a royal photo shoot. Brendan, my son, and I, holding our breath, loyal peasants that we are, watched his Highness. Time slowed, then stopped. It was one of those magical moments where minutes stretched into hours and heaven seemed to touch earth.

Then other hikers and bikers broke the spell, heedless to the grand show the eagle was putting on just fifty yards away. Not ready for it to end, I stepped out into the dirt road, putting my finger to my lips and pointing to the eagle, hoping they too could see what I was seeing.

Their responses dumbfounded me.

Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week.

TODAY’S READING (click here to view today’s reading online)

Ezekiel 47:1-48:35

1 Peter 2:11-3:7

Psalm 119:49-64

Proverbs 28:12-13

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

Ezekiel 47:1-48:35: This is one of the most beautiful sections of Ezekiel. God gives Ezekiel a vision of how God will heal his land and his people in some future time to come. That vision is of a full, powerful, and ever-deepening river that Ezekiel can step in, be healed by, but not be master of.

This passage is one that modern Jews hold tightly to. Their move back to and resettlement of Palestine in the 1940s is based in part on this streams in the desert prophesy. Moreover, it became their motivation to irrigate and plant much of their desert home. The results in many places are fantastic.

Also, there is a large group of Jews, mainly Orthodox, who are waiting for God to give them a signal to rebuild the Temple. Some call it the Third Temple Movement.

Whether these Jews are right or wrong in their literal understanding of this passage, I find it inspiring that they expect God to do what he says he will do. That is not so often true in my life.

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends. Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: www.bibleconversation.com.

THE WORD MADE FRESH

Maybe I’m a bumpkin, too easily impressed. Maybe they were jaded and calloused adrenaline junkies. Maybe eagles specifically, and nature in general, aren’t all that big of a deal anymore compared to 3D computer generated images. Whatever the reason, as I stopped the people on the road to show them the eagle, I expected them to be, like me, awe-struck. Most weren’t.

One or two stood transfixed. A couple more stopped and looked and then moved on. More yet only slowed down and glanced. Many, too many, followed my finger point, saw the eagle, gave me a puzzled if not angry look and never even slowed down. It made me mad. I wanted to grab them by the ears and shake them. I didn’t.

The eagle must have found us similarly boring because it soon lifted off and soared into the deepening sky.

As I finished my ride, it dawned on me (remember I’m a pastor and I can’t help it that my brain works this way) that my eagle sighting was eerily similar to how many of us respond to actual God-sightings.

Most of us who believe in God want to grab those who don’t believe by the ears and shake them. We get angry when they can’t see God, or do see God but don’t value God. God is so good and so full of grace and so powerful I desperately want others to see God and know God and stand in loving awe of him.

When they don’t respond according to our expectations, however, we do grab them by the ears, turning their heads by force. This seldom works. It’s like shining a bright light in their eyes. They just shut them tighter. They are busy or hurt or distracted. They are breathless from the journey, panting for their lives, little knowing the One who loves them is riding along side. Is it my job to knock them off their bikes?

I think not. Peter tells us not to demand that others see God and believe but simply point him out, with our deeds, “that they may see [our] good deeds and glorify God.” Peter says our lives–our response to authority, our relationships with one another, and even our refusal to return evil for evil–are pictures that are worth a thousand words. And yes, we use words too.

“Look, look at that,” we can say.

But it is not ours to force a response. Maybe we are not so much to debate the truth of God’s existence and love but rather live in front of others as if it is true.

My eagle-sighting made me realize that my job is first to love and enjoy God and while doing so, point God out to others. I recently saw a video (below) that is a living example of this. Instead of making people come to their church and hear about how great God is, they went to the food court in the mall and in flash mob style sang “The Hallelujah Chorus.” They loved God in the mall. Can you imagine?

What if each of us–and our churches–went out into our neighborhoods, and pointed to and loved God in such a way that a few would look and notice and begin to love and enjoy God too? Some would simply ride by. But others might just join us. And Who knows? Maybe all of them would notice something, just enough to pique their attention later.

The bad news is that often it is impossible to love anything, much less God, until you see someone else doing so. The good news is that it is possible to love something, even God, when you see someone else doing so. “To this you were called,” Peter tells us.  That is good news indeed.

If you’re reading this blog on Facebook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here. www.bibleconversation.com.

Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO and writes a blog eugenesgodsightings.blogspot.com

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The Promise of the Prayer of Jabez and the Failure of Formulaic Faith

The prayer of Jabez is one of the most famous prayers in the Bible. For a time it became the mantra of the entire evangelical Christian world. The book by Dr. Bruce Wilkinson became a bestseller. Pastors world round preached it. Bible studies poured over it. Marketing gurus produced The Prayer of Jabez trinkets that popped up like baby bunnies in every Christian book store.

Of course many of us prayed it. I know I did. But did God plant this gem of a prayer in the dry sands of 1 Chronicles’ endless genealogies so that I could be blessed, have my territory enlarged and my pain reduced? Join me in wrestling with that question as we explore today’s readings.

Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week.

TODAY’S READING (click here to view today’s reading online)

1 Chronicles 4:5-5:17

Acts 25:1-27

Psalm 5:1-12

Proverbs 18:19

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

1 Chronicles 4:5-5:17: “The practice of inserting short historical notes into genealogical records,” such as the prayer of Jabez, was common in the ancient world, says the NIV Study Bible. Why? Though we can’t know for sure without asking the author(s), they are usually insights that further or validate the author’s over-all theme. The theme here seems to be showing how God has kept the promise to Abraham by increasing Israel’s territory (verses 10 and 38-43).

Acts 25:1-27: Paul’s trial continues. And God continues to use him to proclaim Christ to everyone from prison guards to kings.

Proverbs 18:19: A popular paraphrase of this proverbial truth may be “Do you want to be right? Or do you want to be in relationship?” Too often proving our arguments are the winning ones drive those we love away. We have to have the last word. And when our version proves true we retort, “I told you so.” In so doing, our ideas and advice have no more chance of influencing our loved ones than a small army attacking a fortified city.

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends. Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: www.bibleconversation.com.

THE WORD MADE FRESH

Can you and I expect God to bless us, expand our territory, protect us, and keep us from pain? Maybe, maybe not.

Though I prayed and preached The Prayer of Jabez, I am profoundly uncomfortable with formulaic faith. I even struggle with rote recitation of the Lord’s Prayer, despite that Jesus told us, “This, then, is how you should pray.”

This aversion to formula comes from both my understanding of and experience with God. Nowhere in Scripture do we find the “Five Keys to Unlocking This or That” or  the “Six Steps to Successful Something or Other” that we preachers so love to enumerate. Few, if any, biblical heros lived what we today call successful lives. Rather we find Paul, a true hero of faith, languishing in prison. Did Paul not know about Jabez’ prayer? If he did pray it, it seems God increased Paul’s territory by blessing him with a prison sentence and also increasing his pain.

No, life, even with God at the helm, is messier than that. And unpredictable.

What God did for Jabez, or even Paul, is not necessarily what God is doing with and through me. As my brother-in-law is prone to say in his slight New England accent, “Gawd is Gawd.” God is not bound by my prayers or my interpretation of Scripture.

In truth formulaic faith is not faith at all. It is a lack thereof. If God is bound by his Word to act in accordance with what I pray or claim to believe, faith plays no part. God’s answer becomes a mechanical must.

Instead Jesus‘ famous prayer reminds us to pray for God’s will to be done in our lives just as it is in heaven. God will answer according to his divine plan and what he knows is best–not just for me in that moment. There is promise in the prayer of Jabez. Not the promise of a formula, but rather the promise of an honest, prayerful conversation with the Creator of the universe that can develop authentic faith.

Can we pray the prayer of Jabez today? Sure. I have many times. God has always answered in his way and in his time. I’m comfortable with that–most of the time.

  1. Which reading spoke to you?
  2. What formulas have you expected God to follow?
  3. How has God answered your prayers?

If you’re reading this blog on Facebook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here. www.bibleconversation.com.

Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO and writes a blog eugenesgodsightings.blogspot.com

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I Found God. Or Did God Find Me?

“I found God on the corner of 1st and Amistad,” goes the popular Fray song. Many of us who talk about knowing God talk that way. “I found Jesus,” people say.

“Was he lost?” I want to ask.

Does God crouch down behind a bush, counting to a billion, playing hide and seek with us? Or does God seek us?

Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week.

TODAY’S READING (click here to view today’s reading online)

2 Kings 6:1-7:20

Acts 15:36-16:15

Psalm 142:1-7

Proverbs 17:24-25

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

2 Kings 6:1-7:20: There’s a cliché that asks, “If you can’t find God, guess who has moved?” This is a guilt-line to try to convince us we can’t sense God because we are doing something wrong. Maybe. But the four lepers found out that it was God who had moved. God was not sitting against the city wall waiting for them to die, as they were. God was out in front of them taking care of business.

“If you can’t find God, guess who has moved?” Sometimes the answer is: God. And we need to get up and follow.

Acts 15: Paul and Barnabas argue over young John Mark. As far as we know, they never work together again. A deep friendship is broken. But God redeems even this. In place of Barnabas, God provides Silas, Timothy, Titus, and many others as partners for Paul.

And John Mark matures and becomes a partner of Peter–another person Paul argued with–and eventually writes The Gospel According to Mark.

When we give our disagreements and disappointments to God, he turns them into better stories.

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends. Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: www.bibleconversation.com.

THE WORD MADE FRESH

I believe God seeks us out.

For me this is really good news because I’ve never been able to find anything. “If it was a snake it would have bit you,” my mom used to say pointing out my lost shoe right under my nose. If not for my wife, I would have starved to death long ago because of my inability to find food in the refrigerator.

This is genetic, some say, part of being a male.

Maybe so. Even though God is pretty big, I’ve over-looked him often enough. Then some of us even refuse to look.

I once saw a magazine advertisement that asked, “What do you do if people won’t come to the doctor? Take the doctor to them.”

God had the same idea first. God takes it to us, so to speak. He sent Philip and Peter and Paul and Barnabas and many un-named others out to find those who had need. For that matter, God never hung out a shingle for his spiritual health clinic, hoping we would seek him out.

“Where are you?” God asked Adam and Eve. God sought out Abraham, Moses, the Samaritan woman at the well, and, in Acts 16, Lydia. God even seeks out you and me. As a little boy, I once ran away to see if my mom would look for me. She did. It felt great–not the spanking I received after she found me–but that she cared enough to seek me out.

Did you know God cares so much about you he is always on the hunt for you? The Hound of Heaven, Francis Thompson called God in his poem by the same name.

“Lost and insecure, You found me, you found me,

Lying on the floor, where were you? Where were you?”

The Fray ask as if it’s God’s fault we hide from him. Maybe, if you haven’t already, it’s time to stop running.

  1. Which passage spoke to you and why?
  2. Has God found you?
  3. If so, when and how?

If you’re reading this blog on Facebook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here. www.bibleconversation.com.

Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO and writes a blog eugenesgodsightings.blogspot.com

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A Lesson From The Farmer

Once upon a time, a young man who grew up in the city inherited a large sum of money from a distant relative.

“This is a dream come true!” he exclaimed. Literally. Inspired by the movie Field of Dreams, he had long-dreamed of someday living on a farm in rural Iowa. So he sold his house in the city and moved his family to his “Field of Dreams.”

After settling into his new surroundings, the man began dreaming about the kind of farmer he’d like to be. I want to be the best corn farmer in the area, he decided. So, with his remaining money, he bought the best equipment available and the highest quality seed.

On the first day of the corn harvest, he hopped on his combine and drove out to his fields. Where’s my corn? he asked himself. All I can see are weeds. And it was true.

Too proud to ask anyone for advice, the man slowly drove home.

The next Spring on a sunny morning, the man drove his shiny new tractor to his fields to examine his young crop of corn. But again, he was disappointed. Where are the seedlings? he asked, his voice trembling. His dream was quickly becoming a nightmare. Slowly he drove home without saying a word to anyone.

Come harvest, he drove to his fields one last time, expecting the inevitable. And it was: an utter and complete crop failure.

Finally, after coming to the end of himself, he asked a retired farmer whom he greatly admired to meet with him.

“John,” he began. “I don’t understand why I’m not getting any crops. I moved to a farm. I bought the latest farming equipment. I purchased the highest quality seed. What’s my problem?”

“Glen,” the old farmer replied. “You have to plant seed in the soil if you want a harvest.”

Do You Resemble The Farmer?

Do you ever feel like your spiritual life is an utter and complete crop failure? Or do you feel low-level dissatisfaction in your relationship with God?

Perhaps you’ve been hoping for a harvest but you aren’t planting enough seeds. Your soul is like the rich, Iowa soil in this story. And the seed is the word of God.

When we consistently plant seeds of the word of God into the soil of our souls, we will reap a harvest. It may not be immediate, but it will take place.

What does the harvest look like? It can take a variety of appearances:

  • Godly character
  • Fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23)
  • Love for people
  • Love for God
  • Strength to overcome sinful habits.
  • Ability to sense God’s presence

Obviously, reading the Bible isn’t a guarantee for a life without problems or an end to the struggle with our dark sides. But it WILL make a difference.

“For the word of God is living and active,” Hebrews 4:12 tells us. Something happens in our souls when we take regular doses of the word of God. It brings life. Spiritual life.

You’re Invited

On January 1, we’re going to begin our journey together reading through the Bible in one year. Please join me. For more information on our format, click here.

If you miss a day or two, you can catch up by reading past posts to the blog. If you’d like to visit every now and then for some spiritual food, that’s fine, too.

But most importantly…feed your soul.

Michael J. Klassen

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

–Galatians 6:9

www.bibleconversation.com

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The Most Important 20 Minutes Of Your Day

What can you do in 20 minutes?

You can catch up on your emails…

Check the news on your favorite Internet news sites…

Take a nap…

Waste time channel surfing…

Regardless of how busy your life is, most–if not all–of us can find an extra 20 minutes in our day to do what’s important.

But you can also spend that extra 20 minutes feeding your soul.

Invest In Your Soul

This time last year, I decided to take on a personal challenge that has profoundly impacted my life. I decided to replace 20 minutes a day of mindless surfing on the web to invest in my soul. I wasn’t sure if I could do it, but as the year progressed, I began building momentum. This Fall has been the most spiritually vibrant season of my life.

I can’t guarantee that your experience will imitate mine, but I do know this: feeding your soul every day will profoundly impact your life.

I’m confident of that!

In fact, as the year has progressed, I’ve longed for a community of people to join me in these daily feedings–so we could share with each other how these feedings have impacted our lives.

Then the thought occurred to me: why not build a community of people who will read and feed together–and then give them a forum to share their experiences?

Food For Your Soul

So what is the source of this spiritual food?

It sounds almost too simple. Quite honestly, I’m a little embarrassed to admit it because by acknowledging it, you may  want to place me in a category where I don’t belong.

Nevertheless, I’m so convinced it will change your life that I’ll go ahead and tell you.

The source of this spiritual food is the Holy Bible.

Most people feel overwhelmed when they open their Bible. Where do they start? How can they understand such an old book? Who can explain it? And where can they offer their thoughts?

Hopefully my new blog http://www.bibleconversation.com will answer those questions.

Here’s The Plan–And It Only Takes 20 Minutes!

Beginning January 1, 2010, I’m going to guide people on a spiritual journey in reading through the Bible in one year. To do that, you only need 20 minutes a day. Twenty minutes a day that will impact your life!

Here’s the format: Every morning when you wake up, you’ll be given a link to http://www.BibleGateway.com with your daily online Bible reading. If you’d like to use your own Bible, that’s fine, too. For this first year, I’d like to use the New International Version translation of the Bible, because it’s a fairly accurate translation that’s easy to understand.

Then, you’ll be supplied with a few notes that will help you understand that day’s reading.

Next, I’ll offer some thoughts about how God spoke to me through the reading.

And then you’ll be invited to interact with my thoughts–and hopefully offer some thoughts of your own.

If you like, you can subscribe to this online community through email. Just sign up through the sidebar of this blog.

The focus of this blog isn’t Bible information, it’s spiritual transformation. How is God speaking to you through the Bible? Reading for information makes minimal impact on a person’s soul. But taking a moment to listen, meditate, marinate in God’s word will forever change you. And everyone needs an outlet to share and listen to others.

It’s that simple!

A Word To Any Well-Intentioned Doubters And Skeptics

Please allow me to to add one additional thought: Perhaps you’ve never looked at a Bible, or even consider yourself a deeply spiritual person. That’s okay! We’re all pilgrims on a unique spiritual journey. I’m not going to try to make you change your beliefs so they resemble mine. However, this is an opportunity for you to join a safe community of people who will journey together on this voyage of discovery and life-change.

Will you join me?

Michael J. Klassen

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