Day 31 – Measuring it out

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Todays Reading – 1 Chronicles 24:1 – 2 Chronicles 7:10

I want to accomplish so many things over the next few months. I have ideas and dreams about what to do. My natural tendency is to simply go day-to-day and do all I can and hope that I reach those dreams and ideas. The reality is that is not the best way to accomplish anything for me.

Like most people, it is important for me to sit down and look at my calendar and look at my resources and really plan. When can I get things done? What can i change? What is within my power? These are important things for me wrestle with and strategize over. Even then, I think it is important to accept my own humanity and understand there might be some problems along the way.

Today’s reading takes us into the extensive plans for the temple that Solomon was tasked with building. The materials were gathered and the workmen were gathered as well. Plans and prayers happened. Eventually the temple was complete. It seems as if it was spectacular. Not one thing was shortchanged. The contractors assigned to the job took no shortcuts.

Yet something happened on opening day. The dedication to the temple was done by Solomon. The people all gathered and the sacrifices were made. It was then that a slight problem was found. The bronze altar Solomon had made was not big enough to entirely contain the burnt offerings. He then had to dedicate the middle of the courtyard so that the sacrifices could be done.

Really? After all that planning and all that time, no one noticed a problem was going to happen? Did they simply get caught up in the splendor of the project? Was everyone afraid to tell the King there was a flaw in the plans? It is not apparent in the reading, but something happened.

It is vital to make the plans we need as we move forward but it is also important to remain flexible enough that as situations arise we can adapt. We need people who are willing to point out upcoming roadblocks and also encourage us along the way when we fall into trouble.

Measure twice….cut once…but be ready to adapt if the cut needs reworked.

Day 30 – 33 % isn’t passing

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Today’s Reading 1 Chronicles 10:1 – 23:32

So we are 1/3 of the way there. It seems like quite a pipe dream when we started. However, we are 1/3 of the way through our 90 day biblical adventure. Yes, there is reason to be happy but there is still a lot more reading to do. Hopefully, these 30 days have given us some insight and reignited a powerful connection with the God we have been reading about. I know it has does that for me.

Over the course of these 30 days, if you are like me, there have been days you could not wait to turn the pages and see what God was up to next. On other days, you probably joined me in moaning over counts and one more round of family lines. Yet, we keep pressing on looking to God for inspiration and guidance. These days have been a journey of power and wonder and I can’t wait to see what God has in store next.

Over the last two days reading we have heard mention of the very first Praise and Worship leader, Heman. Heman, along with others, to lead the people in praise and to make beautiful music to the Lord. Heman would help those people find connection with God even when they were less than 100 percent. One thing we have learned in this early reading of the bible is that worship is vital.

So perhaps you have struggled over the last 30 days finding time or the excitement needed to read. Maybe you need to look at the next 60 days of a time of worship. Spending time in God’s word will be a way for us to experience the glory and wonder of God.

So buckle up…the ride is just beginning.

Day 29 – Keeping them out?

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Today’s Reading 1 Chronicles 1:1 – 9:44

We all know the feeling of waiting in line at the amusement park. Will we make it? Is this the year? What will happen if I can’t get on the ride? The waiting can been overwhelming it seems. Yet, we will all wait it is a must.

The moment when you finally make it up to the front of the line is when you first see them. They are big and opposing. They seem mean and angry. They are the gatekeepers. They are the ones who make you stand against the sign to see of you are tall enough to make the cut. They are the arbiter if you are allowed to enter.

As we read the chapters this morning, we see gatekeepers being assigned. They are assigned with protection of the temple. Ensuring that all the valuables of the temple were safe was the main role of these gatekeepers according to what we read this morning. However, something interesting happens later. By the time we get to 2 Chronicles the roles of the gatekeepers changes. They are now also assigned with keeping the unclean out.

Keeping the unclean out. It seems reasonable…or does it. After all, those gatekeepers in the front of the ride line might not be our friend when we are smaller but they are tasked with keeping us safe. But how about if their roles expanded. How about if they got to choose who is in or out based on clothing, skin color, age, sex, sexuality, etc. Who are the “deserving” for the ride?

The gatekeepers keeping people away from the God of Abraham just seems wrong. The God of Abraham was a God of freedom and hope. The Israelites desire to give God a home so they could keep God close had unintended consequences it seemed. If you can keep God in a box of sorts than perhaps you can then decide who gets to visit. Who is worthy. To do that we need gatekeepers.

The question becomes now, who are the church gatekeepers? Are we still trying to keep the unclean out? Who are the unclean? How many people walk towards the church doors fearful of the looks of the self appointed gatekeepers?

Are you a gatekeeper? Do you know any gatekeepers? Does God need your protection from the “unclean”?

I think not!

Day 28 – Time moves on.

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Reading today -2 Kings 15:27 – 25:30

We have reached the last day of the Bishop’s convocation. We have been talking about the “coach approach” to ministry. It has been a good time and a very educational one. Understanding the power of presence, deep listening, and powerful questions has been an eye opening thing. These skills are something that can enable me to empower and help people in new ways.

The Israelite Kings needed some good coaching. They often found themselves stuck. They needed to be pushed to see how their actions were impacting the country, people, and themselves. A good coaching session could help them get unstuck and back to their first love.

If you find yourself stuck today do a bit of self-coaching. Ask yourself “what is blocking you from making progress today? ” When you spend time discovering what is blocking you then it will be easier to take action to remove them.

Day 27 – The Ocean was Angry my Friends…

ocean Today’s Reading 2 Kings 4:38 – 2 Kings 15:26

We don’t always get it right. We try…we really really do. Yet, time and time again we find ourselves falling short. Intentions are one thing but actions are what we often use to judge others and ourselves. Take for instance the weather forecasters.

All throughout the Northeast, we were told to prepare for w Winter Storm that would being devastating. All throughout Philadelphia and New Jersey, travel bans were enacted, schools were closed, and businesses were shut down as people prepared to fight off the blizzard. I woke up this morning and saw nothing like I expected.

The roads are pretty clear. The travel bans are being lifted and soon life will go back to normal. They tried, they really really did. they just missed this forecast. Now I know, there are parts of New England that will be continued to be blasted snow wise. Yet for a large part of the area that was supposed to be impacted we escaped the storm.

Some of the Israelite kings tried as well. We read today of a few that really did try to follow the laws of God. Yet we are reminded that they ignored some areas, often times the altars in the high places that were used to sacrifice to other gods. Those places were often still in use and while the kings didn’t notice them God did. They perhaps were trying to be men of integrity but were falling short.

What places in our lives are we missing? Are there areas in our life that we are ignoring while we focus in on other things? What can we do about that? Is there trouble looming for us in the high places of our lives?

Take some time today while you are snowed in, if you are, and do some self-evaluation. Try and identify those area in your life that you may be lying to yourself about. For Seinfeld Fans, we may remember the many exploits of George Costanza. His failure to really see himself and not be a man of integrity often put himself in bad spots.

Don’t let the angry oceans swirl in your life. Don’t let the high areas go unattended.

Day 26 – And then there was snow!

beach Today’s Reading 1 Kings 16:21 – 2 Kings 4:37 This picture is my view from the balcony of my room in Long Branch this morning. I am gathered with many colleagues for the Bishop’s convocation for the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference. This will be a time of learning and fellowship for us over the next couple of days. We are gathering together as the world around us prepares for a storm of epic proportion (according to the weather forecasts). We will be talking about the “coach approach to ministry”. Learning how to come alongside the laity and help them uncover their gifts and passions for helping God transform the world. Sounds interesting and sounds like it may be a good way to help people find the story they are being called to tell. I am looking forward to it. It seems as if this approach to ministry is similar to what we read about in the chapters of the Bible this morning. The relationship of Elijah and Elisha can be seen as one of a “coach approach to ministry”. Elijah is walking with Elisha and helping him see God’s call. Elisha is also discovering his own uniques set of God given gifts. It seems as if real ministry and effective ministry can happen when the people of God are spending time listening to and being in communication with each other in an effort to seek God’s will. Be safe. Be warm. Spend time with God.

Day 25 – The Siege Continues

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Today’s Reading 1 Kings 7:38 – 1 Kings 16:20

Can you imagine what it is like for Cameron Fleming? What you don’t know who he is? Well he is a rookie lineman for the New England Patriots. He has probably had dreams his whole life to get into the Super Bowl and his first year he made it. What an accomplishment!

However, for the last week I am sure he hasn’t had much celebration happening. He has found himself embroiled in “Deflategate”. From all media accounts he is part of the Evil Empire. Every newscast he sees and every newspaper he reads is wall to wall coverage of his team and the scandal. I bet he is getting tired of it already.

Who can blame him really?  All your life you work and train to get to a point and the memory is being tarnished. I thought a lot about Cameron Fleming the last day or so and a whole bunch of other nameless and faceless Patriots. The focus is so intense that I almost feel bad for those players and I can’t STAND the Patriots.

Let’s be honest for a second, whether the deflating of balls is the Patriots doing or not, people like Cameron Fleming had nothing to do with it. Yet, his reputation could be impacted by whatever is decided. Is it fair? Nope. Is it reality? Yup. So what do we take from it?

When I read today’s reading I couldn’t help but think of the nameless and faceless Israelites. King after King directed the people away from God. We look at that period of Israelite history as a time when the people turned from God. That unfaithfulness becomes their heritage and their legacy. Yet, God’s words remind us of something very important.

God held the kings responsible as he did Jehu. those who lead and teach are called to do so as God leads them. They are called to live lives beyond reproach. They are called to help raise up a generation of people committed to God and changing the world. We are all human and we all sin. However, leaders more than any other, are called to repent and look not for their own gain but God’s glory to be done.

Maybe Bill Belicheck needs to think about the Cameron Flemings of the world a little more. Maybe we all do.