Here are the handouts for the Revelation series at Springs Ranch Church ( You can listen to them by selecting the “Media” tabs at www.springsranchchurch.com)
I cheated last night. I woke up feeling incredibly guilty. So much so that I had to tell my wife first thing…
I cheated in my sleep. I woke up this morning remembering the discretion so vividly that I had to come clean as quickly as possible, and confess to all of you too… I am sure you are wondering what in the world happened, so here goes: I had a dream that I was at an all you can eat ice cream buffet. I had several scoops of ice cream in a large bowl, and after every few bites I would go back to the buffet line to add more toppings… there was hot fudge, sprinkles, whip cream, and everything else you can imagine. I would take a bite, then seeing an open spot in the bowl, I would head back to the buffet and add more chocolaty goodness – all along feeling more and more guilty for over indulgence. I am definitely an emotional eater…
So as I was getting ready today I was thinking about this dream, why I had it, and why I felt so badly about dreaming that I ate so much, and realized yesterday was an incredibly stressful day. Stress is a trigger for my destructive self soothing behavior. Nothing super difficult happened yesterday, but at the end of the day as I was processing it all I was reminded that a couple things that aren’t right can really mess up an organization our size. A conflict here, avoidance there, people being people, and I take it all to heart. I hate it when people aren’t happy, when there is conflict, or when things aren’t making progress as quickly as I would like, it can build up pressure in my heart that pushes hard on my stress button. In the past I would eat to feel better but that is self destructive, so today I am writing to feel better and tomorrow I will run to feel better…
What are your stress triggers? What positive ways to you handle your stress?
(Or if you aren’t comfortable sharing that, at least tell us what your favorite ice cream is!)
Last week the guy that put in the church’s irrigation system gave me a book. Normally that in and of itself wouldn’t be a big deal, but this book was different. His wife works for Biblica, and they recently just published an updated version of “Operation World” which is kind of an encyclopedia of all of the nations in the World broken down by population, important information, and ways you can pray for them. It was huge and intimidating. I love to read, but books that look like they would be more in place in a classroom than on a coffee table frighten me. I really expected to put it on a shelf somewhere and never think about it again, but a funny thing happened… one morning I opened the book, just flipped to a random page and came across this: Botswana, South Africa has 100,000 aids orphans, and is second in Aids deaths only to Swaziland. It made me really think about what hopelessness must be there, and how impossibly blessed I am to sit in my air conditioned office so unaffected by the troubles other people are dying from. So the next day I opened the book again. This time it flipped open to Fiji. I think Fiji would be an incredibly beautiful place to vacation in, but this book pointed out that it is incredibly unstable and the racial segregation there has been largely ignored by those that could speak against it. The next day was Latvia, in Europe it has the world’s fourth highest suicide rate! Then I read about Rwanda, in 1994 800,000 people were killed in 100 days, genocide causes incredible division and hurt and they are in need of healing that will take decades to work through. Today I read about Venezuela, a mid point for drug and human trafficking, with huge fuel exports but incredible inflation and 60% of those that live in urban settings live in slums… 60%!!! It is noted for being the second most corrupt nation following Haiti.
I have really enjoyed reading about these places, and praying for them… today it came across my mind that I should plug these locations into Google Earth as I pray for them so I can actually see them on the globe too, I actually plugged all of these locations in and watched the Earth spin and drop in on these places… it was really helpful to see where they are located based on where I am, and it made them feel much more real and much closer than I have ever imagined them before… Humanizing these needs for these people that may live far away, but are living, breathing, human beings regardless, dealing with hardships beyond my imagination.
I never imagined this book would become something that I look forward to exploring every day now… but I do! It has not only changed the way I think about and pray for nations and people that I will probably never have the opportunity to see other than through a computer monitor, but it also connects me to them in ways that make it easy to pray for…
What things have been helpful to you in your prayer life?
How do you pray for foriegn countries, nations and people?
Because of wildfires burning in Arizona, the mountains here have been obscured from view the past few days. (Although today was an exception). It is hard to believe the smoke from Arizona is so thick here you can see it and smell it in the air! It has however, made for some incredible sunsets the past couple nights. I wish I had a picture to share, but didn’t take one as I sat on my deck watching the sun slowly slip behind the mountains creating an incredible red and orange hugh around it as it went. It was impressive both nights for sure… But last night as I was sitting and watching it slip away, I noticed the moon high in the sky, and it looked so small compared to the sun. It was amazing to me to think of how much bigger the sun is compared to how far it is from the Earth, and how small the moon was based on how much closer to us it is than the sun!
It may have been because as the sun was setting the light made it look much bigger, or maybe there is some other explanation of it, but all I know is that at that point there was no comparison of how beautiful it was and how huge it looked! Regardless, as you read this my hope for you is that no matter what, that God shines into your life in a big big way. Even if there are other things closer to you than Him (like the moon) that He would shine so brightly that you cannot take Him for granted, overlook Him, or mistake Him for something else. No matter how far away you feel He is, I hope you catch a glimpse of Him that reminds you that He is shining down on you, wanting nothing more than all of you, faults and all.
A while ago my wife bought me one of my absolute favorite things: custom made in-ear ear buds (in the old days they were called headphones, now because of their smaller size and the fact that you don’t have to wear a headband type thing they call them ear buds I guess). The fit is perfect because they actually shoot some sort of gooey stuff in your ears that they use to make a plastic mold of. Then they put tiny speakers in the plastic mold and the sound is phenomenal! Because the are form fitting, they block out almost every other noise, so when you have them in you don’t need the music as loud to get great sound out of them. I use them all the time, but they are especially helpful when I am trying to study from our busy home. I can put them in and block out the TV, the four kids, the three dogs barking, and any other distraction that may come my way.
There is an actual point to this post if you hang in there for a little bit with me…
One of the other reasons that I like them so much is because they have great sound. The bass is low and can really pack a punch, the highs are clean, and the listening experience rivals any room filling surround system. But this past weekend I noticed a serious problem… the bass on the right ear isn’t working properly. All I am getting is the highs out of the right side. When the left ear is getting the full treatment bass and highs, and the right isn’t it feels terribly out of balance. It is really amazing the difference, and it messes with your head! It is so unsettling that I actually had to stop using them and go back to an old pair of Sure ear buds that I have had for years but pale in comparison to the custom ones.
I know it is a stupid thing to lament, most of you are perfectly happy with the ear phones that come with your iPod or other device, but here is the point: Many of us walk around without hearing everything that we are meant to hear from God. We have one ear open to it, but the other is stopped up for some reason. It may be stopped up from selfishness, not wanting to have to give up our lifestyle. It may be from fear, you may be thinking, “what is God going to ask me to do, sell everything and move to india or something?” It may be from stubbornness or from unbelief, “that can’t possibly be God speaking because He doesn’t exist.” You may have had a great ear for Him at one time, and lost the signal after a tragedy, misunderstanding, or just from getting tired. You may never have even been tuned in to hear Him before, so you don’t know what you are missing.
Whatever the case, ask yourself this, “do I want to hear from God if there is a God?”
I am going to send my in-ears in to the company that makes them to see if they can fix them for me. I am sure it is going to cost something, hopefully not too much, but I am looking forward to getting them back so I can hear music like I used to.
Whatever the problem that keeps you from hearing God, it can be fixed. You may have to make an effort to carve some time out of your day so you can hear Him. You can ask for His help to figure out what the problem is and get back to hearing well, or maybe hear Him for the very first time. Remember, God loves you, He isn’t going to whack you on the head or humiliate you. He isn’t going to ask you to live like a monk or a recluse. He is longing for you to get back to a place where you can hear Him and follow Him. He will move heaven and earth, and tax the furthest star in order to have relationship with you. Not sure? Remember, He sent His only son so He could be with you forever… I am pretty sure He is longing to hear from you too…
Tags: culture, future, Past, thought for the day
The very first concert I can ever remember wanting to go to was the STYX “Mr. Roboto” tour. I am sure that does more than just age me, now you know what kind of music I prefer too. I heard they were in town last week, and I heard it on the day that they were performing. I even thought about going, but when I found out it was 5:30 and I was tired! (I am pretty sure they weren’t sold out so I wasn’t worried about tickets being available.) I remember when I was 13 or so wanting so desperately to go see them, but being the early 80′s seeing a band with the name that represented a river in Hell was really difficult to convince my parents of, so I couldn’t go.
I couldn’t believe they were even still around, but seeing a review on the news later informed me that not only are they still around, they are still writing new stuff! And the funniest part of it was that the reporter said that many younger kids are coming home and asking their parents to let them buy this new song from this new band, and when they say the band’s name, the adults in the room usually chuckle a little! This little tidbit about STYX would have been enough to get me thinking, but a couple other things happened this week surround old music stuff that really got my curiosity going.
The second part was that Neil Diamond got the Icon award at the Grammy’s! He sang all his classic stuff and everyone in the room knew all the words to all his songs – seeing as most of the songs were older than the people in the room, I thought that was kinda cool. I still worry about telling people I have Neil Diamond on my iPod for fear of being ridiculed, but apparently he is an icon now so he’s cool!
Then lastly, as I was driving somewhere listening to a popular young speaker from L.A. talk about what music he likes to listen to depending on what mood he is in. Not unusual, we all have our fav’s when we are working out, happy, or sad, but he mentioned he likes Huey Lewis and the News and I about fell on the floor! Really, Huey Lewis? Come On!!!!
I guess it’s all good though. My buddy from high school that got me hooked on Depeche Mode recently got me hooked on another music movement… Mashups. They take old and new and mash them together to make some pretty cool stuff. I like it anyway… go check it out sometime. Mashuptown.com Let me know what you like. So far I like the Dire Straits & Beiber one and my favorite is the Adelle Rolling In The Dark one.