God is there. Are you?

I’m pretty sure I love God with all my heart. I’m quite confident that Jesus is my #1 treasure in life. I enjoy singing. I love playing and listening to music. I hope all my piano and guitar students become worship leaders. I was a worship pastor on staff at a church for years, for goodness’ sake. So how can I be so easily distracted during “worship time” at church then?

We all can become distracted and complacent in our worship, but what if we wholeheartedly arrived at church each week to join the Body of Christ in seeking Him and pouring out our praise on Him? What if we offered Him something that actually cost us something, and did it while helping others in need? What if He listened to us and responded in mind-blowing ways?

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How to Help Your Pastor Become a Better Preacher

I could probably call myself a “sermon junkie.” I watch several sermons a week on YouTube, and I’m blessed to belong to a church where the pastor is a good preacher. But there have still been seasons over the last couple decades where I’ve left the church after a Sunday service feeling like, “Eh…today’s sermon was okay. I’ve pretty much heard it before.”

One of the dangers we face the longer we’ve been in the church is losing the spark we had at first for hearing God’s Word preached so we could go out that very week and apply what we learned. My mission is to do all I can to protect my heart and yours from becoming stagnant or calloused when it comes to hearing and living out the truth of the Gospel.

If you’ve been in the church for quite some time, and have ever wished your pastor would preach better sermons, I invite you to grab a cup of coffee, and watch the video first, and follow it up with the 5 action steps.

Two caveats about the video:

  1. At the beginning of the video, I’m “acting irreverently” exaggeratedly and on purpose, to help make a point.
  2. If you’re a new Christian, you’re not the target audience for this post. If you’re a new Christian who is excited to listen to every sermon possible, and to hear and learn God’s Word so you can apply it in your own life, don’t ever stop! (And help the “been there – heard that” older Christians in your church to regain the joy of falling in love with Jesus and of telling others about Him.)

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Why go to church?

I’ve been a church-going Christian for over three decades. For over two of those decades, I was a pastor on staff at a church – first as a youth pastor, then as a worship pastor, then as a children’s pastor. During those years, I could give you some good reasons why you should choose go to church, but for me and for the other staff pastors, there was really no “choice.” It’s not like we could wake up on Sunday morning and say, “Eh…I really don’t feel like going to church today.”

Now things are different for me. Earlier this year, my baton was passed to an amazing and dynamic new kids pastor, and since then, after decades of having no “choice” of going to church (if I wanted to keep my job), now I get to choose whether or not I’m going to church each Sunday.

And I choose YES!

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Think like a bird.

Back in kindergarten, this naughty boy taunted me on the playground, “Bird Brain! Bird Brain! You’re nothing but a Bird Brain!!”

That mean mockingbird.

I wanted to cry at the time, because even though I hadn’t taken any science classes yet to know the actual size and capability of a bird’s brain compared to that of a human, at age five I was confident that anyone who likes to eat worms couldn’t be that smart.

But these days, I sometimes wish I had more of a bird brain. Listen to me chirp for a moment.

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Worth the Wait

Did you catch the solar eclipse yesterday? I had a lot of fun viewing it with my sweet neighbor and her grandsons.

All the talk and expectation leading up to this eclipse got me to thinking about waiting for things, and even more so, about waiting upon God. I’m so glad it did, as I learned just a little more about what it means to “wait” on the Lord in the context of one of my favorite verses—Isaiah 40:31.

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Does your heart ever amaze you?

I amaze myself sometimes.

I wish I could say it’s my singing abilities that amaze me. But that would be my friend Jessica. Not me. I’m just a bit above average. My dad might argue, as he’s convinced I could beat anyone on The Voice. Sometimes it’s charming to have a lifetime fan who’s always looked at me through rose-colored glasses (or listened to me sing with rose-colored hearing aids), but that’s another post for another day, and I’m (squirrel!!) already getting off-topic.

What I really wish I could say is that I’m amazed by my ability to consistently do, think, and feel the same things Jesus would do, think, and feel if He were walking in my shoes today.

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How to be a Happy Camper

Lesson learned. Happy camping (and living) requires a lot of planning and preparation.

This was one of the life lessons that spoke even louder than the coyotes’ howl-a-thon I heard from our tent in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny National Forest last week. After not tent-camping for over five years, it seemed like a first-time experience.

It makes sense that I would derive this “planning and preparation” lesson from camping at this time. It seems I’m more intensely evaluating every part of my life these days. I’m thinking about how my planning and preparation (or lack thereof in some areas) in my 20s and 30s got me to where I am today. I’m also thinking more about how I can – if Jesus doesn’t return or take me home in the the next 20-30 years – plan well and work hard to be prosperous and generous instead of regretful or suffering consequences that could’ve been avoided.

Is this a mid-life crisis? No. I’m too young for that, 😉 but I am old enough to have a few regrets. I’ve dabbled with the blame game and the excuse party from time to time in efforts to calm the regrets, but deep down, I think we all know when we’ve made unwise choices – choices that often come from a lack of planning, preparation, and hard work.

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How to Make Wise Choices

My parents only live six minutes away from me, and I love to stop in and visit as much as possible. Every time I do, they are faced with a choice. With my hands hidden behind my back, I walk right in and say with my best game show hostess voice possible, “Do you want what’s in my right hand, or my left hand?”

Ninety-nine percent of the time, my dad chooses first, and chooses correctly. I don’t know how he does it. The prizes are often both good ones, like a chocolate chip cookie in one hand and a candy bar in the other, but sometimes there’s only one good prize and the other’s a real dud. Dad rarely ever chooses the dud.

If only all of life’s choices were so simple, huh?

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Oooo, I’ve gotta FIX this!

James 1:22-25 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. (NIV)

Have you ever been at an elegant social event for hours, talking with all kinds of people, and you step into the restroom, glance into the mirror and see that big dark green glob of who knows what stuck in your front teeth? Would you ever in a million years decide to leave it there and do nothing about it?

I doubt it. (Just like I would never in a million years film a video with messy hair and no makeup – unless I thought it might help me draw attention to a life-giving truth.)

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When the Fireworks are Gone

The lakefront homes across the street from my house are pretty much all vacation homes. Last weekend was the 4th of July celebration; cars were everywhere, and fireworks were boldly exploding for five days straight. Today, just a week later, the driveways are empty, the boats are in hiding, and there’s not a firecracker to be heard. What happened to all the celebrating?

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