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April 22, 2009

Guest Blogger – Living the Christian Life

guest-bloggerSay hello to this month’s Guest Blogger! It’s the second part of Doug’s letter, this one on everyday Christian living. Read the first part here. If you like what you read, be sure to hop over to his blog and let him know how much you enjoyed reading this.

# 1 The sacred/secular myth

All of us (if we are spiritually alive) are God’s ambassadors to the world- period. As I understand the scriptures, all of us are in full time service. Some of us may be pastor/ teachers, some of us may be lawyers 😉 (justice by the way is very close to the heart of God) and some of us may be swinging a hammer for the Glory of God, but this sacred/secular distinction is a crock.

When I read the scriptures and hear Peter telling me ” but you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people…” He’s talking about the priesthood of all believers. and when Paul says ” whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God,” and , present your bodies as living sacrifices,….which is your spiritual worship,” that isn’t just written to those who are in “full time” ministry.

#2 Effective ministry

I have come to the conclusion after reading a multitude of books on discipleship, attending and teaching classes on evangelism that Loving people without pretense is 95 % of effective ministry…know the correct verses to quote is the other 5%. I do not like it when I sense someone is reaching out to me with ulterior I refuse to do that to the people in my life.

I call it having a “scalp mentality” In the days of the wild wild west in America, the goal of the the native Americans was to see how many “scalps” they could collect. If I sense a pastor (or anyone for that matter) is looking to add me as a notch on his belt then I am not interested in what he is pushing…if they are not interested in me as a person..then who needs to feel used?

#3 Evangelism

Evangelism is a process…it is not just “harvesting” (getting someone saved) It is also tilling the soil (building bridges and relationships into their life) , planting spiritual seeds, watering spiritual seeds and sometimes harvesting . When we pressure people into making a premature “decision” it’s like trying to induce a woman to go into labor before she’s full term.

#4 Transparency

I believe we are more credible when we are willing to admit we don’t always have it all together. If I’m struggling with some life issue..I will not pretend I have it all together…I remember at one point, where we were beside ourselves as parents as our kids began hitting the teen years- I told this guy who was not a believer, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. Would you believe that actually made me more credible in his eyes?

Don’t get me started on Christians wearing masks 🙂 When I am around people who always have this fake smile pasted on their face they give me the creeps.

#5 Evil

I believe all of us are capable of committing all sorts of evil. If someone says to themselves…”I would never do such and such” then I believe the devil has already greased their slide. If King David, a man after God’s own heart, took another man’s wife and eventually had him killed, then you and I are also capable of anything.

#6 Mentors

– I’ve had several, mostly in the form of good authors. Some of the mentors/ books that have the biggest impact on my life include: Charles Swindol. Dropping Your Guard, Strike the Original Match, Corrie Ten Boom, Brother Andrew and Wilkerson (The Cross and The Switchblade) all tell stories from their lives about how God is as active today as he was in the book of Acts. A. W. Tozer’s book The Pursuit of God impacted me deeply and finally Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Church where he articulates what real spiritual maturity looks like. Spiritual maturity is not just cramming my head full of Bible Trivia. Knowledge (while key) is only one sliver of spiritual maturity. The last thing many Christians need to be in is another “Bible Study” or workshop- we need an outlet for the wealth of truth we already know…or we become like the dead sea, always taking in but no overflow, and we wonder why we are spiritually stagnant.

#7 People skills-

You’d think with as much space the Bible devotes to getting along with people Christians would be masters at knowing how to relate to people, how we speak, honor,and love…but that is often not the case. A book (thoroughly rooted in scripture) that helped me in this area is the book by Dale Carnigee “How To Win Friends and Influence People” I can just see the eye rolls (if someone other than yourself ever reads this letter) -especially the more hard core “Bible only” crowd who will only read the Bible..they won’t pick up any other book because according to that school of thought, the bible has everything we need if we just read it.” To them I would ask…how many non-believing friends do you have in your life- or have you burnt all your relationship bridges by now and see this as being persecuted for righteousness sake? Try telling that to Christ on the day of judgment when he asks you why you had such little impact on your culture.

#8 Balance

We are in it for the long haul. I’m not a runner, but I know enough to know, if a person expects to make it to the end of the course, they better pace themselves, that means to me, “burning out for the Glory of God” and burning the candle @ both ends of my life for ministry is just plain stupid. Jesus took time to go to weddings, dinners in peoples homes, quiet times by himself to keep his bearings. A caring Christian can very easily fall into the trap of being a work-a-haulic in the name of dying to self…Our ministry can then become just another way we think we can earn God’s approval and living in the flesh.
I regularly take naps (now) w/o guilt, host live musical events as a way of reaching others, blog, tend an apple orchard, run a bed and breakfast and a plethora of other things to give my life balance. I can assure you, I see way more spiritual fruitfulness now in my life than I ever did when I darkened the door of my local church 4 times a week and was too burnt out to reach out to other people…just my humble opinion 😉

#9 The Gospel

The word gospel, as I’m sure you know literally means good news. I believe as I am in relationship with God, then his life is flowing through me. The Gospel is not just “Hell insurance”….the gospel is Jesus Christ living his life through me….just as in the Old testament when the presence of God came down and inhabited the tabernacle in the wilderness, and later Solomon’s temple…now that same presence , in theory anyway dwells in this cracked pot, these earthen vessels of you and I.

#10 Sense of humor/and joy

A Christian who evidences a sense of humor and joy is a rarity, and such a powerful tool in the hands of God in drawing people unto himself. Ask yourself- How many truly joyful Christians do you know? Why are they so rare? When I read the accounts of Jesus and how normal non religious types wanted to be around him, I get the sense he was a fun to be around…who had trouble with that? the religious leaders. Who did he have conflicts with? the religious leaders

It is possible to maintain and cultivate a sense of humor in the midst of a broken world. @ one point in our family, when all hell was breaking loose again, I was standing in the Dr’s office as the Dr suggested another one of our kids should be on zoloft. (it’s an anti-depressant) I started laughing- it was either that or go crazy…I asked if it was possible to get a volume discount 🙂

If you would like to do a 'Guest Blogger' post,
just leave a comment here and I will get back to you.
March 14, 2009

Reminder: Guest Blogger!

Just a quick reminder…I will be posting the first of my guest blogger’s tomorrow, 15th March, 2009. Be sure to not miss this, it is a powerful read. Here’s a sneak preview so you know what to expect:

…but the truth of the matter is how a man treats people, starting with his family members, is directly connected to his personal relationship with God. A man can fool the people at church (at least for a season), but the people he lives with- not a chance.

As I mentioned before, thirty years and four children later, here we are….so here are some of my thoughts…

#1 A marriage relationship is a living thing, in many ways similar to a plant. There are things you can do to enhance it, make it flourish, and there are things you can do in terms of neglect. It can go without water and sunlight for a spell, but make no mistake…the principle of sowing and reaping is just as relevant in marriage as in any area of life.

Ladies…and gentlemen, this is certainly what reading. As a result of this post, I am shifting ‘Something for the Week‘ to Monday, 16th March, 2009.

Once again the date is:

15th March, 2008!!

March 5, 2009

Guest Blogger Series!

microphoneA few days ago, I wrote to a very good older friend inviting him to be a guest blogger on my blog. But I had something very different in mind. He has been a husband for 30 years and a father for 28; he is also a grandfather. Many times I feel as though I am now, on the threshold of my life; I am aware that most of the readers here at reservoir, are on some threshold or the other. So instead of the usual interview questions, this was what I asked:

“Basically, if you had to write to your girls, advising them about life, God and men, what would you say?”

What I got in return was…wow! It was over and beyond what I expected and to crown it all, he said there were two more letters on the way! Three! I was overwhelmed. I have not finished digesting the first and I read it several times. I hoarded it for a while and almost did not share, but I decided it was too good and too valuable to keep to myself. So I will post it here on reservoir. Come back on the 15th of March, 2009 for the first installment. I am going to print it on cardboard papers and give as gifts; I will definitely save one for my daughter (or son). It is one of those letters that will be engraved in the sand of time.

Once again, the post will be up on the 15th of March 2009. You really shouldn’t miss this!

September 25, 2008

A Blog Award

I just got awarded by Sincerae of The Icthys Returns.

I ‘met’ Sincerae a few months ago through blogging and we later met up at facebook; she has been an encouragement to me. She’s one of those whose spirit is like a sweet fragrance that wafts up into cyberspace. This award has been a delightful surprise. Thank you so much Sincerae.

She also tagged me, but I’ll have to do that another time.

There is one person I’d like to give this award to; I love so many blogs, but this one is special – Doug from Heart to Heart. His writing speaks to the heart as he writes about life and practical stuff, which anyone can relate to… Check him out if you can. Hey, he even had me over as a guest blogger!

P.S. If you have left me a comment, I will reply you I promise. Things have just been crazy but I will make time to catch up with everyone.

May 26, 2009

Ten Things Tuesday

XBOX Wife Ten Things Tuesday

It’s been ages since I did the Ten Things Tuesday meme over at Mrs. Brownstone’s. Not that I don’t have stuff to be thankful for it’s just that thinking up 10 in one go could get a bit daunting. But hey, I did it today! I’m so proud of me. So, on this fine Tuesday morning, here are 10 things I’m thankful for:

My Blogging Friends: I have been a bit cut off from my non-virtual friends especially as they are not really into the virtual stuff and since I moved back home, I’m far away from everyone else. It would have been excrutiatingly lonely if I did not have my blogging friends. Not that it’s not lonely, but it is bearable. So I want to show my appreciation to two really special people; thank you!

My Brand New Sewing Machine: NO, I haven’t bought it yet, but I’m going to get it today (hopefully) and I am so excited! For some reason I feel as though it is going to open several possibilities for me. And it’s even more special to me because I’ve been saving for this machine for a while.

My Spanking New Blog Award: If you look to the right sidebar of this blog, at the very top, you’ll notice a glittering blog award. It was a surprise gift from a good blogging friend. It has meant so much to me and I’m still so overwhelmed. Definitely made my week!

A Beautiful Weather: The weather here has been awesome; cold but not so cold that I need to be huddled up under a blanket. The air is fresh with a sort of twang! Anyway, I find it really delightful and waking up to this weather each day fills me with joy.

Great Health: Coming back home was definitely the best decision I made. After months and months, struggling with asthma I have not had one attack in 9 months! It’s incredible.

My Little Guests: I have staying at the Guest House, 18 adorable 9-11 year olds. They came over for an interview to the Mission School and they’ve been all over the place! It’s nice hearing so much noise…the Guest House feels so alive!

My New Business: Yeah, I started a new business a couple of months ago-creating and managing blogs for people. No one was more shocked than I was when I actually started making money from it – ??? It’s so not work to me; it’s what I’d do for free anyway. I’m having fun.

Family and Friends: I got to appreciate them even more when I started my business. They were amongst my first clients. And yes, the link is to a blog I created. I think I’m making a blogger about of the owner (lol)

My Sweetheart: He has been a tower of strength and support and I love that gradually, we are getting to understand each other better.

His Faithfulness: God has been ALL that to me; He has shown me his faithfulness every step of the way. I am the person I am because of His grace, His mercy, His LOVE and his faithfulness. There is no other way to end this list!

Whew! So many links – forgive me. It’s just that the list wouldn’t be complete without these linke.

So hop along to Mrs. Brownstone’s and let’s know what you are thankful for, today.

March 15, 2009

To My Daughters – On Life, Marriage & Men

guest-bloggerThank you for the opportunity to express my heart as a dad.

Since I suspect this letter might wind up on a blog, I do want to give a little background. On April 21 of this year, my wife and I will celebrate 30 years of marriage. It is still hard to believe how quickly that time has flown. Our relationship rocksbut only by the grace of God. Three daughters and one son later, we still laugh, date, and are best of friends. There is nothing- and I mean nothing, the two of us can’t talk about, and have over the years. As a couple we’ve had to work through many of the same issues most couples get to do- if they hope to stay together that is.

As I thought about this letter, I decided this is one of those rare opportunities in life that may only come along once or rather than try to cram too much into a single letter, I’m going to write you three. They are yours too keep, feel free to pass them along or just keep them for yourself.

I’m writing from the perspective of a Christian, a man, a husband and a father. (footnote- while I did grow up in the “church” it wasn’t until I turned 22 that I understood the good news and it felt like the lights came on for me spiritually) Now that I have that out of the way, I’d like to share some thoughts in random order about relationships and marriage in this letter to you.

I heard this illustration back in the 1990’s and never forgot it:

An old pastor was getting ready to retire. Someone asked him, “Of all the things you have learned in your years of ministry, what is the most significant? Here is what he said: “The true measure of a man’s relationship with God can be seen on his wife’s countenance.”

Just look into his wife’s eyes, and you will learn much about the man. Yes, there might be exceptions, but the truth of the matter is how a man treats people, starting with his family members, is directly connected to his personal relationship with God. A man can fool the people at church (at least for a season), but the people he lives with- not a chance.

As I mentioned before, thirty years and four children later, here we are….so here are some of my thoughts…

#1 A marriage relationship is a living thing, in many ways similar to a plant. There are things you can do to enhance it, make it flourish, and there are things you can do in terms of neglect. It can go without water and sunlight for a spell, but make no mistake…the principle of sowing and reaping is just as relevant in marriage as in any area of life.

#2 A “healthy” marriage takes work. You don’t feel the “warm fuzzies” for each other all of the time. Don’t panic- that is normal. Micaela and I like to spend time together; we enjoy each others company. But as Dr. Dobson puts it,” Emotions come and go. Do the deeds and the feelings will follow.” Make the phone calls from work just to say “Hi, I was thinking about you.” Bring her coffee in bed. Get out, one-on- one, just the two of you, even if it is just for a coke. Help out around the home with dirty dishes, dirty diapers (yuk!) and, here’s a big one- pick up after yourself!!!

#3 Take time to listen and stay “current” with each other. Don’t pour all of your energy into your job and have nothing left over for your family. Don’t become “married singles” -two people living in the same home who longer have anything in common. If your job (or ministry) does take all of your energy all of the time, then speaking to both parties, you need to find a different job. There is nothing more tragic in life than a man (or woman) who makes it to the top of the company ladder and loses their family in the process.

#4 Use these words often (you will need them):

I’m sorry,”

I was wrong.”

Please forgive me.” and

You are right.”

#5 Dance….have fun….keep doing the silly things you did when you were just dating or courting. “But Christians don’t dance.” some will say Humbug I say.

#6 When (not if) you find yourself having an unresolved conflict in some area (money, sex, parenting, work, church, etc) work at it until you find the answer! ( God has used everything from books to other Christians to help keep our boat afloat over the years.)

#7 Get out- (or stay out) of debt. There are lots of spin-off ramifications that come with financial pressure. Christians (at least in my country) tend to have a worldly view of money instead of a Biblical one. “Owe no man anything except love” and “the borrower is the slave to the lender.” are not just good ideas.

Just a side note to this one- for the most part, we have been a one income family, and since I have chosen to make a living with my hands (I am in construction) we have made financial choices:

a. to rent (instead of own) the first fifteen years of our marriage.

b. to drive an older car.

(i) to shop at garage sales, discount grocery stores, etc.

These are choices we all have to make, but as children enter the picture, dad, needs to have some time and energy left over at the end of the day, or be willing to pay the piper later in life. (Do you remember the song, “Cat’s in the Cradle?”)

#8 Give each other some space and freedom. Trust and respect are foundational issues.

#9 Pray and share with each other spiritually.

#10. Be a forgiving person. Let’s face it, you are not perfect, your mate is not perfect, “stuff” happens. Cut each other some slack. Practice grace, be the first to initiate reconciliation.

Well, I’ve pontificated enough for one letter. Thank you Sharon (Sha) 😉 again for the chance to share these things with you. If after you get this, you have specific questions, let me know, I would love to interact more with you about them.

In Christian love, Doug M.