Friday, December 31, 2010


In a daily devotional, Sara Young presents an intimate conversation with God, where He invites her, and the readers of the devotional, to come closer and experience the peace of His presence. Here is the word for her, you and me as this year draws to a close:

"As this year draws to a a close, receive My Peace. This is still your deepest need, and I, your Prince of Peace, long to pour Myself into your neediness. My abundance and your emptiness are a perfect match. I designed you to have no sufficiency of your own."

Wow! What a powerful word as we enter this new year. "no sufficiency of your own". What a contrast to my ego, my pride, my "self-sufficiency". I read the words from Philippians that says, "I can do all things through Christ..........." My actions say I often stop at: "I can do all things."

I want to have the attitude of Ruth and Mary in the scriptures where they say, in essence: "who am I that You would redeem me, that You would show such favor, that You would consider me someone who could be used for Your Kingdom purposes?"

I know what God is calling me to do in this upcoming year, and I don't like it but I receive it. It sounds like what He was calling me to do in the year just completed. And the one before that and the one before that and ........................... You get the picture.

Humility -- discipline -- fasting and prayer -- accountability -- patience ........... You also get that picture, don't you? Up North Wisdom says it isn't that difficult (to understand). But it is not easy to put into practice. Whoever said it was? The way of the cross? My flesh says no. My spirit says it's the only way -- to anything worthwhile. To peace -- to joy -- to satisfaction -- to acceptance -- .................And you get that picture as well, don't you.

And like Sara Young, I end the year saying to the Lord: "Thank You for Your Peaceful Presence, regardless of my feelings." Amen. For 2011, THE BEST IS YET TO COME!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

It's Not About Me

Christmas should remind us if nothing else does, that this life is not about us, even if we try so hard to make it so. If we are Christians, then even the church is not about us. The church is about reaching out to those who do not know, who do not believe that their only hope and salvation is in Jesus Christ.

Are you making life all about you? You will never be content or at peace if you do. Jesus came into this world because of you (every "you" out there). If your life revolves around you, then you will always be seeking, searching and trying to do what is impossible to do: that is, find satisfaction from what you do and from what you achieve. We have nothing to offer Christ except the only thing He wants -- our life committed to Him. Our talents means nothing in light of all that Christ gives to any who ask.

Up North Wisdom says stop trying so hard to be appreciated, valued, accepted in what you do instead of in who you are. The theme of our Mega For Kids says: God created you, God loves you, and God has a plan for your life. Rest in that and quit trying in your own power to make God (and others) love you more. We serve because we are loved.

Thank you, God for sending Jesus Christ to make real life possible. You came to give us LIFE and to give it to the very fullest. Wow!


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Greatest Compliment

At a recent staff meeting, I asked my associate pastors what would be the greatest compliment that someone could give them. After hearing some excellent feedback, I told them that I heard my sister say of a person some years ago, "That person was the best listener I have ever talked to."

If relationships are at all important to us, then it is critical that we be good listeners. Are you? Am I? Someone said that good leaders are good listeners and great leaders are great listeners. The Bible says in James chapter one that we should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. Good counsel -- too bad we all don't heed it better.

I like to talk to God; and to my wife; and to my kids and grandkids. Do I like to listen to them as well. God wants my attention and so does my wife and the other important people in my life. Stephen Covey in "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" puts it this way: "Seek first to understand, then to be understood." Wow! Did you get that?

I guess we need to be less concerned with whether people hear and understand us than we are with whether we hear and understand them. We need to listen more and talk less. I think since God created us with two ears and one mouth, it should tell us something.

Here are some barriers that keep us from being effective listeners: (They are not original by any means.) No. 1 being preoccupied and not listening. Parents do this a lot with their kids. God forgive me for all the many times I tuned my kids out thinking it wasn't as important as my immediate preoccupation. No 2 Being so interested in what I have to say that I listen mainly to find an opening to get the floor. No 3 Formulating and listening to my own rebuttal to what the speaker is saying.

No 4 Listening to my own personal beliefs about what is being said. No 5 Evaluating and making judgments about the speaker or the message. And finally No 6 Not asking for clarification when you know that you do not understand.

Up North Wisdom says that I need to follow my own teachings that I gave regularly to the teens when I was the Youth Pastor. That is: to listen up, lighten up and shut up. Their language. You get the message. And so do I. And when it comes to our relationship with God, let's be like young Samuel when he said, "Speak Lord; your servant is listening." Blessings!