Friday, January 2, 2009

Think on these things

The year 2008 was one of awe and wonder in my little world. In the midst of it all - moving from one day to the next, it is sometimes hard to see the forest for the trees - but as I now reflect on all that transpired in 2008 - blown away is the best useage of the language to describe what God has been up to.

In case you have missed it, the Spirit is on the move and is doing amazing things in this world through His people. The great bloggers over at Red Letter Believers and Getting Down with Jesus have inspired me to share with you what God has been up to in the past 12 months as I think on these things. I encourage you to take a peek at other reflections on 2008 at www.redletterbelievers.blogspot.com.

One of my favorite pieces of scripture was used by Jennifer Lee in her entry in this project - her poem there is beyond anything I can touch - but Philippians 4: 8-9 is certainly a fantastic backdrop to what comes to mind for me in 2008.

Here is the passage from the NIV: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice (or "do" - emphasis mine). And the God of peace will be with you."

The volume of things that God worked in and around me in 2008 was staggering, indeed excellent and praiseworthy, and thus I want to "think on these things" with you for a little bit.

The past year was one that saw incredible highs for me and those closest to me, and yet some wrestling and struggles that also draw us closer to the One we love.

On a late-February 2008 Saturday night, I spent an hour with a friend in one of the basement rooms of a conference center in tears and in prayer over the word he had received the night before that his father was sick again. Seeing the pain and concern, the struggle and hurt is something I will probably will never forget - but that hour was a powerful one in my walk with Christ. This was certainly true, pure, noble and right - I often "think" of this evening.

A day later, in the same building, seeing my dad make a choice for Christ was an answer to hours and hours of prayer. This was certainly excellent and praiseworthy - something to "think" about again and again.

February also marked the start of a new little outreach ministry of our church called The Lighthouse. Some of you might be getting sick of reading about The Lighthouse here, but statistics tell us that even in a part of the world where church attendance and "Christians" are plentiful, there are still people who don't know Jesus, don't go to church and feel downright uncomfortable with the notion of both.

So we started this little outreach. with the objective being to shine the light of Christ on life in a variety of ways. As a result lives are being restored, transformed and are flourishing - this goes for the lives of the target audience I mentioned a moment earlier, as well as those of us who have ventured into this ministry in hopes of showing the love of Jesus to people who don't know him. Again, excellent and praiseworthy!

An incredible time of growth and development was also occurring for my wife and I in the midst of these February events and throughout the spring in our involvement with The Lighthouse and Bible study. Times of reading, praying and studying with framily that continued to draw us closer to Himself.

In mid-June, our 14 year old daughter professed Christ. Her 11 year old sister did so in late September - both without external pressure but certainly partially in response to the things they were seeing happening with us and this ministry. I think on these two things often.

Another memorable moment in the month of June for me came on the practice tee of Brooks Country Club at Okoboji. There on the practice tee I discussed the idea of grace, what it looks like, what salvation is, who it is for and "who is this Rick Warren guy, anyway?" with my mother. She had attended the women's weekend a week after my dad's weekend in February - and is today continuing in her quest for knowing more and more who God is.

For a parent there is nothing greater than to see your kids accept and profess Christ - but as a child of parents who aren't getting any younger, finally knowing for sure their final destination is a pretty huge thing, too. Excellent and praiseworthy, even, so I think of these things often, too.

Professionally speaking, 2008 was a roller coaster that drew me ever closer to God. Business has long been about me and my ability - my penchant for generating revenue and chasing the dream. I don't remember the exact day (I wish I did and really don't believe that I can't), but in a tear-filled wrestling match with God, I threw my hands in the air and washed myself of the pressure of one our ventures making it. I finally gave it to God, fully.

That decision didn't come without some stress and angst, but more and more prayer in this situation has alleviated some of that stress and there is no way to explain what has gone on in our little businesses in 2008 - in this economic mess our country finds itself in - other than God! I will forever "think on these things." All praise, glory, and honor to him!

The fall brought more and more blessings in ministry, in prayer, in reading and in study
- and also another conference weekend in November. Another late night conversation with a dear friend was a bond-tightening one that neither of us knew at the time would be so necessary just a few days later. It was also a weekend in which my dad prayed over me. It was a fairly big moment for us both, I know.

For my wife and I, 2008 has to be the year in which we look back and say "WOW!" Has God been amazing or what? We had no personal tragedies to deal with, but were able to stand alongside some who were struggling. We have experienced the hope, joy, peace and love of Christ in so many circumstances and events during the past year that it is humbling to say that God has let us be a part of some of them.

And now that 2009 is upon us - that it is here - my prayer is that more and more we will think on "these things" and that we will "do" more and more of them - those things that are right, pure, lovely, and true. That we will not miss opportunities to be blown away - that more and more, with every fiber of our being, we will seek God in everything. In the hear and now...in the everyday...in our families and friends...in our businesses...in our walk with Christ...in our ministry opportunities...in prayer and in study.

May we think on these things, knowing that when we do, "the God of peace will be with you"!

Grace and peace,

Chris

4 comments:

Jennifer said...

I can't even describe to you how timely this post is right now. God bless you, brother.

Kay Martin said...

The blog world surprises me pleasantly every day. I dropped by here after you left that lovely comment on my blog.

2008 for you and yours was absolutely amazing. When you boil life down to its smallest denominator it is all about seeing and knowing Jesus Christ as King of kings.

Your parents, your children and the Lighthouse are wonderful evidence of Jesus shining through you, your wife and your fellow servants.

I will be busy this weekend catching up on your blog. I have been greatly blessed in these few moments here.

God bless you and fire you up to an even brighter flame!!!

girlforgod said...

Wow Chris, What a blessing to have you come by and read my blog, and that I could also come by this morning to yours. Those words that you quoted are such treasures to remember as we walk with Him this new year. Whatever is true, right, noble, fair, lovely.... May we all learn more suurender so He can work out more of His beauty and goodness through us to be a light to others. I love the idea of your lighthouse ministry! Keep up the good work. I have been involved in ministry at times, and it is so wonderful to bless others with the love of God that lives in us. So happy for your daughter too! How exciting for Her. I pray that Jesus reveal more of who He is to her as she learns to live out her life for Him. I know there is nothing that makes the father more happy than one of His Kids come back to Him:) P.S. I responded to you on my blog, I too, Car worhsip! Gotta love peoples gwaking looks! Oh, that we would be light. Have a blessed weekend! Robin

patty said...

Your enthusiasm & zeal for the Lord is contagious! Thank you for sharing! :)