Friday, October 22, 2010

What I Want. What I Need

Tonight I have just returned from sharing an extended version of my testimony at Birth Choice in Temecula, Ca. The folks there did a wonderful job on this event. It was such a privilege to be part of something that you are pretty sure made our Creator smile.

As I was asking the Lord what to share tonight, God reminded me that when I was a college freshman I was searching for what I wanted, but God was looking to give me not only what I wanted but also what I needed. What I was searching for was peace in my life. It had been 9 months since the abortion. I was certain I had done something horrible. I just didn’t know how to fix it. I began to stumble under the weight of sin. The burden of my actions was growing heavier with every cry of infant that reached my ears. I was not at peace with what I had done. I was not a peace with myself.

I didn’t know Jesus at the time, so I knew little about the concept of grace (i.e., God’s unmerited favor). I had no clue that the path towards peace would take me over a bridge of grace that was built from the wood of the cross. It took a while for me to get it, but when I did, I had to have it. After weeks of reading the Bible and asking questions, I realized that I could not have peace in my life unless I first received God’s grace in my life.

My conclusion then was simple: I needed Jesus. In May of 1985, I prayed a very simple prayer, “Jesus if you are real, here’s my life.” Not really a prayer of great confidence. It was sort of like a prayer with an escape hatch. When I prayed that day, I wasn’t sure if God was real or not. I was, however, very sincere. I knew I had done something horrible. I knew I couldn’t fix it without help. If God was real, I wanted peace and I needed grace. “Jesus if you are real, here’s my life.”

It wasn’t too many days later that I read 1 Corinthians 1:3-4 (GNT) that says, “May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. I always give thanks to my God for you because of the grace he has given you through Christ Jesus.” There is was…the cliff notes that described my life’s transformation. I wanted peace but didn’t know how to get it. I needed grace but was clueless as to why. I found Jesus who provided them both.

Today, I am the pastor of one of God’s churches. I don’t pray “God if you are real” prayers anymore. I know He is. I don’t wonder anymore how to experience grace and peace anymore either. God is always there to help. My hope us that you would consider the grace and peace that is offered through Jesus Christ.

May His grace and peace be yours today!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What’s My Bandwidth?

Bandwidth is a term used in computing, radio, and even mathematics. Three areas I know little about. What intrigues me about the term is how the computer industry uses it to define capacity and how our frustrations in life so often stem from us not recognizing our life’s capacity. In the computer world bandwidth measures the fluctuating amount of communication resources available, in other words…how much information can we send at any one time. Typically bandwidth is measured in kilobits or megabits per second. If you are confused, just ask your cable company. They will love to charge more for the bandwidth available to your internet connection at home. The larger the bandwidth, the quicker your internet connection and the more your cable bill will be.

Why do I care about bandwidth and internet connection speeds? More importantly, why should you? Here is my pastoral observation. One of the key frustraters in people’s lives is that they assume they can function at someone else’s bandwidth. That’s right. People have a capacity or a bandwidth. If you ask a mother with three active adolescents that need to get to eat dinner, go to soccer practice, and finish their homework all before 8:00 p.m. their bandwidth is never enough. Yet, we have all observed people who also never seem to come close to maxing out their bandwidth. Curious. One seems to need more. One is clearly not using what they have.

One of the greatest joys in life is discovering and embracing your God given bandwidth. When you do several joys will be uploaded in your spirit. First, you’ll know exactly when to ask for help. It will be clear that the task before you is outside your capabilities or your bandwidth available at that time. Learning to say “no” to good opportunities is one of the key disciplines of a peaceful life. Second, knowing your bandwidth will really free you up from the prison of comparison. Maybe you’re just not capable of what the person in the cubicle next you is. Are you OK with that?  I hope so. It was the Creator’s purview as to bandwidth He gives each us. As a pastor, I have had to conclude many times, “I can’t do what the pastor across the freeways does because I just don’t have the same bandwidth.” Humbling to recognize but yet freeing to experience.

One of the greatest senses of satisfaction in life is using your God-given bandwidth to its fullest. God has created us to do good works. In fact, the Bible clearly says that God created our capacities but He also has a plan for our bandwidth. Listen to Ephesians 2:10 (ESV), “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” God has prepared a list of good works for you to do. Some of what He may ask you today will be outside your bandwidth, but if God has asked you to do it then He will have to supply extra dose of bandwidth for you to get it done. Also, it does no good for you to try to do those good works on my God-given “good works to do list.” That’s just going to max out your bandwidth more quickly while leaving your list undone. Besides today…I like what’s on my list!

My hope today is that you embrace you bandwidth as you walk closely with Jesus.