Archive for January, 2012

Worship 1

It was an awesome weekend of worship. The band from our church had a Night of Worship on Saturday in conjunction with the release of their latest worship CD. The 14 songs on the album are all original from different members of our church and performed by the band including members across the five campus’. The style is in the same vein as Chris Tomlin and the focus is upon our great God. If you get a chance look up the “No Other Name” album by the NewSpring Band.

Mentioning the night of worship makes me think of what worship is. As many of you know my occupation is as a Reliability Manager. I help my company’s plants understand what is necessary for the plants to run more consistently, producing product at a lower price by having the equipment do what it is supposed to do, when it is supposed to do it. One of the biggest tasks I have is to convince people that reliability isn’t just what maintenance does when the equipment breaks down. Reliability is all the activities, behaviors, and culture that have any impact upon the health and care of the equipment. Yet most persons have a very narrow view of reliability. The same is often true of the word Worship. In many cases we look at it as the time we sing praise songs. In other cases we may expand that view and encompass when we go to church. Even more progressive thinking would broaden that to say we worship when we are intentional to serving others in Christ’s name. I believe this is a fairly accurate definition although I see another level of worship that I believe we can and should aspire to and that is having the mind of Christ.

We are called to live “in Christ”. We are told to be filled with the Holy Spirit. We are children of the King. All of these show our reality, yet so much of the time we don’t receive, perceive, or feel these truths. In many cases we can experience a nearness to God that lasts until we walk out the door of the church, or until the first trial trips us up and then we seem to fall back into turbulent ways of the world.  For me it is usually a gradual losing focus that gets my eyes off of the reality of living in Christ and onto whatever task or challenge I am up against.  A great Sunday service, a true Sabbath rest, solid praise music in my car radio can all help me maintain focus a while longer, but like a water bladder that has a pinhole leak, over time I lose that sense of joy and Christ-centered focus that buoys me above the fray and gives me such sharp focus.

I have had seasons in my life where this pattern has been broken and I experienced an extended time of divine joy.  Last year during Lent was one of those times.  As I look back at that time I see a few reasons which I will briefly mention and then I will go into greater detail in the coming posts.  1) I was committed to being obedient to a task that I know the Lord asked me to do.  2) I had other believing friends who joined with me in prayer.  3) The Lord by His Holy Spirit moved in situations and circumstances to make His presence clearly seen.  4) We were intentional about seeking and doing whatever the Lord asked us to do during this season.

It is my intention to have a Lenten discipline again this year that draws me closer to the Father.  However after Lent last year I relaxed and I know that was a mistake.  I am asking for the Lord’s guidance now on both the Lenten discipline and the follow up.  He is faithful and I am asking that He do whatever He needs to in me to grow my faith.  Won’t you join me?  To God be the Glory!

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Pastor P said something the other day that struck close to home. He said God won’t give you another important task until you have obeyed the last thing He told you to do. For me the common refrain as I cry out to God over the past 3 – 4 years has been Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands love your wife like Christ loved the Church, He gave Himself up for her”.

I love my wife, Lisa, and I have committed my life to her. My vow before God and gathered friends almost 27 years ago is still true – I will love her til death do us part. There is no other woman for me. Yet when compared with Jesus’ sacrificial love expressed toward the church, my love is a very pale thing indeed.  And I have played the “Oh yeah, He was God so of course my love toward Lisa will be so much inferior.”  But somehow that doesn’t wash.  When I get desperate and cry out again the Spirit whispers the same thing, “Dan love Lisa with that redeeming, sacrificial love that Jesus loves the Church with… He gave Himself up for her.”

Almost 3 weeks ago Lisa broke her leg pretty badly.  She was in the hospital for a week.  She had two surgeries and faces at least one more.  And the pain was such that the pain meds only took a bit of the edge off, but never really gave her true relief.  It was over two weeks before she slept through the night.  She is getting better but we have 10 more weeks before she will be able to put any weight on her leg and then an extended period before she will be back to full functioning.

During this time I have been able to see a vast difference in how I respond and act toward Lisa compared to before the accident.  I am ashamed of how independent and detached I really was.  With my beloved in such pain and helplessness, a better more loving part of me emerged to care for her.  Despite the pain we have laughed, cried, and talked more than in the previous year I think.  And Lisa has responded emotionally and spiritually in ways that bless me greatly.  We already look at this accident as a blessing from the Lord.

As I write this blog today I know we are at a turning point.  I am a little tired from performing most of the chores.  I am ready to get some of the things that I want to do done.  I am about to have to go back to work at the pace I usually do.  And yet I know these things as I have practiced them in the past were part of the problem why we had grown distant.  I do not want to go back there.  So this morning I ask for God’s help to do that which I know He wants me to do – to love my wife like Christ loves the Church.  And even as I ask I know He will help me to do this because it is His will for me.

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I am not exactly sure why I get so pumped up about NEW things, but I do. New beginnings excite me. I like traveling to new places, meeting new people is fun, starting a new year gets me amped up.  I believe that it is part of our spiritual DNA that we have a desire for new – to experience something new and better.  All who come to Christ experience this as they become a “new creation”.  Here is a list of NEW things that I enjoy.

New friends and relationships

New opportunities to share God’s love

New work assignments which give me an opportunity to grow and learn

New babies… and new christians

The fresh start a New Year provides

The fresh start God’s forgiveness provides when we recognize and repent of sin in our lives


A new place visited

Seeing my wife in the morning or when I return from a trip

Seeing old friends anew

A new book

God is creative.  He is the author and creator of all that is and all that will be.  He makes all things new.  As His children we have that creative spark within us.  God allows a mother and father to participate in the creation of a child.  He enables the composer to create a beautiful symphony.  And He gives us each day to enjoy and participate in new beginnings.  People that we meet can experience Christ’s love through us.  Places we travel to can be viewed through eyes that see it anew.  Tasks we undertake can be done in a new and creative manner.

My prayer today is that we relish the NEW God offers to us this day and we allow Him to use this awareness in His transformation process… in us and in the world in which we live.

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I have no confidence in the political process bringing about a resolution to our country and the world’s current problems. Financial problems continue to roil Europe threatening a world-wide deterioration while in this nation we battle a tremendous debt problem combined with stubbornly high unemployment. And the national political leaders are unable to work together in a cooperative manner to do anything helpful. No, I don’t have faith that they can solve our problems. But that is not a bad thing because this reflects the reality – mere man left to his own devices is incapable of doing what must be done to “do right”. And the current climate in this country is still one that doesn’t want God to get involved. This is a recipe for disaster, but it is also the recipe for salvation.

Since I am a reliability engineer, one of the tools that we use is called root cause analysis or RCA for simplicity. In RCA you look at all the evidence and then you put this together to identify cause and effects. As you link these together you are tracing back to the initial inadequacis that led to the progression that created the undesirable event. I have been involved with hundreds of RCA’s through the years and I have observed that any significant failure has multiple root causes, not just one.

Obviously with something as large as our current financial crisis there are many root causes. There are some rather obvious elements along the failure path that have garnered much attention in the press. Banks that engaged in very risky lending practices, congress members who pressured lenders to make loans available to persons who could not legitimately make the purchases they were considering, people who used credit in unwise ways, the list of intermediate steps is very large. For the sake of simplifying this discussion let’s just say that a lot of bad decisions were made in the progression of this crisis and then identify what some of the motivations for those bad decisions were.

1) Greed – While a lot of loans made carried risk, they also represented very high potential pay-offs to banks and individuals in the short-term. Many individuals were motivated by greed.
2) Power – there was signficant political pressure brought to bear to make loans available that were extremely risky. The payback was greater political power to those who could say they were “helping” their constituents even if they were really only making it easier for people to get in over their head.
3) Coveting – we want / we deserve what everybody else has and the government must make it possible for us to get it. This is a first cousin to greed and carries the same negative consequences if left unchecked.
4) Complacency – unfortunately this one has been in place for a long time and is directed predominantly at the church. There are very real needs in people’s lives that often go unmet for lack of the church being the hands and feet of Jesus. Government steps in and tries to implement solutions… secular solutions to needs that contain a spiritual as well as physical need.

There are many more types of root causes but the gist is that they all trace back to some type of sin.

Before I go much further I want to speak to some of the legitimate though complicit thoughts and actions that were also involved. The desire to better oneself and their family is totally legitimate. It is a fundamental reason that I believe this country is an exceptional nation. Our Founding Fathers understood this and they sought to build a nation that would promote and reward this type of spirit. I do not believe this was an accident, but rather the providential guidance of the Almighty God. As I read the constitution and the Federalist Papers there was not a guarantee that everyone would prosper, but rather a government structure designed to make it possible for persons of moral character, i.e. integrity, hard work, perseverance, etc. to succeed. There is nothing in our constitution that serves as a promise that everyone will succeed. That’s simply a political ploy to win votes and gain power. It is not a promise that can be delivered upon.

This is one of many distinct differences between man’s way and God’s way. Man promises things he cannot deliver on and then blames others, usually the other party, when things don’t work out. God promises to forgive our sins and to walk with us through life AND He does it. Government promises many things, but takes much more than it gives. God promises a few things, but delivers so much more than we can ask or imagine. Government has a short-term perspective which at the longest generally stretches only to the next election. God has an eternal perspective.

Back to the root causes of why we are where we are.  Ultimately the goal of a good RCA is to identify the root causes of a undesirable event so that the appropriate actions can be taken to prevent it from ever happening again.  In some cases such as our current negative national state the results of an RCA will tell us what steps to take to move back to the positive.  The negative political process is an issue that has arisen and is a problem to be dealt with, but it is a separate issue from the poor economic state and I do not want to deal with it in this post.

If we look at the four root cause types I have identified they all fit into the biblical term of sin.  While I believe that the government has a responsibility to create and enforce laws that promote a morally good nation, there are two major problems that I see with this.  First, the individual heart if bent upon evil will find ways to do what it is they are led to do.  Laws will be broken or laws will be circumvented so the persons who are impacted the most are those who desire to do right anyway.  Second, the more laws the greater the loss of freedom AND the greater the opportunity for misuse of those laws to control the populace.  While I don’t agree with everything the libertarians advocate, ultimately each individual is responsible to God for their actions and a government that governs the least seems to me a better vehicle than one that oversees every area of our life.  (A topic to dig into more at a later date.)

So if sin is at the root of many of the causes to where we are, then we should go to the expert on dealing with sin – God.  Now I see a definite order in how these things need to be addressed.  It has to begin with the church.  The body of Christ must begin by recognizing and repenting of our complacency.  While we could probably come up with dozens of ways we have been complacent, I think it is reasonable to boil it down to just a few and I will talk about two today.  The first is our failure to be sufficiently in tune with the Holy Spirit that we have failed to hold up, pray up, serve up the hedge of protection around this nation.  The church is to serve as watchmen on the wall (Ezekiel 33) and yet our voice is marginalized to the point of insignificance.  While that is partly due to the effective attack of our spiritual enemy, it is also a reflection upon our ability to wage effective spiritual warfare.  We are to “never give in” to the enemy.  The church has a God-given responsibility AND a divine promise if we fulfill that responsibility.  At the dedicate of Solomon’s temple God spoke to the people of Israel a truth that is ours today as well.  In 2 Chronicles 7:14 God says, ” if My people who are called by My Name, shall humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and will heal their land.”  This is how this current mess will be resolved.

The second is our failure to fully understand and meet the needs of a hurting and dying world around us.  This awareness and response to the very real needs of others has been a hallmark of the Church for 2000 years.  It has waxed and waned, but it has always remained one of the defining elements of Christ’s body.  In America the role of the church as been challenged and in many areas usurped by the government and we have allowed it to happen.  I shudder when I hear stories of the church simply shuffling people off to government agencies to meet their needs.  It is no wonder that people clamber for the government to “do something” when the church as been of so little help in the past.

I must wrap up for today.  While I have outlined my read of the situation and the two primary actions that I see as beginning points for restoration, I do not have a good sense of when this will change.  I’m convinced it will begin as soon as the church gets serious about our role, but I don’t hear a lot of churches speaking about this yet.  And I do believe God will allow it to get however bad it needs to get for us to wake up.  He sees with an eternal perspective for each and every individual on earth.  He wants us to know Him, to receive Him, and to walk in love and obedience with Him.  Our pain, whether it be for days or even years, is small in comparison to the glory of eternity spent with Him.

Please join me in praying for and working for revival.  And in your churches pray and work for a heart that reaches out to the community where you live with Jesus’ love and compassion.

God’s peace.

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