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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

How do you not forget? - Part 4

This is the last part in my series of posts stemming from an email from a friend asking me, "How do you keep talking to God throughout the day? I mean, how do you not forget?" My first two principles had to do with how I approach my life. It is key to realize that my life is hidden with God in Christ and that in him I live and move and have my being. These form a foundation so that I can build the spiritual practices I enumerated in parts 2 & 3. But now the principle I want to briefly talk about here in part 4 deals with time.

One of the distinctives of our modern existence is that we no longer have "any time" for truly important things. Our lives are busy. Quite frankly, we are to busy caught up in so many things. My life is full. I commute 2 hours a day. I am at work 9 hours. I personally answer all calls to Common Heart and respond to emails. Most Saturday mornings I help out at the cupboard, deliver groceries, or lead outreaches. I have friends I visit, write, call, try to stay in contact with. I have two active boys that I endeavor to love, spend time with and bring up in the Lord. I love my wife and spend time with her talking about the day, our plans, our life together, I volunteer at church. Yet, I still daily and regularly spend time with Jesus. One key is my daily rhythm I shared in part 2, but the main thing I do is I endeavor to "redeem my time".

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
Ephesians 5:15-17
Time belongs to God. He is the Lord of time, the Lord of my time. This includes time I spend waiting on line. The time I spend walking back to the shop to check on a project at work are included as well. It includes each moment I use up muttering impatiently as I wait at a stop light. It includes time spent on cleaning, grooming, and necessities. I have found that I can redeem those mundane moments by, as the NIV translates Eph 5:16 ,"making the most of every opportunity".

For instance, I have been known to read my Bible while I wait on hold on making a phone call to a prospective customer. I actually once meditated on Psalm 23 while having a cavity filled. It sheds new light on "though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death" as the dentist drills out a cavity.

These verses are about much more than just redeeming moments to pray or meditate on scripture. It is about living our lives fully for the Lord. Allowing his purposes to fill all that we do, causing all our moments to bring glory to God. There is an old hymn I love by Frances R. Ha­ver­gal that expresses this fuller thought.

Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet, and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee.
(Read the lyrics and hear the original melody at
Now I hope you have not gotten the idea that I am perfect at any of this. I am truly no expert in the answer to the original question my friend asks, "How do you keep talking to God throughout the day? I mean, how do you not forget?" These are just a few things I do. How do you keep talking to God through out the day? How do you motivate your thoughts heavenward?

Equipping Saints to Serve

"Equipping Saints to Serve" is the mission of Common Heart Missional Community. Acts of kindness whether giving groceries to someone in need or buying a cup of coffee for a stranger, or just taking a moment to speak a kind word to a cashier can all be ways God can use you as an agent of his kingdom to draw people to himself.

Jesus in the sermon on the mount called each of his followers "the light of the world". He says that on no one lights a lamp and puts it under covers, but instead it is lifted up high so that it can give light all around. He continues to say that a city on a hill can not be hidden, but is seen by all. To me what he is telling us is that no one is going to see what God is really like unless they see him through us and in our daily lives. Jesus didn't intend for us to hide out in our churches, or to hide behind our fears, instead he has called us to engage our world, our culture, the people we come into contact with daily with his love. The truth is people will learn about God from us it is inevitable, but what are they going to learn?

Jesus goes on to say in that sermon that we should serve people in such a way that they see or experience the good things we do and give God the praise for it. In other words, there are ways to interact with people that will point them to God, and there are ways that might leave a bad taste in their mouth. We strive to demonstrate God's love to an unbelieving world in such a way that, one by one, hearts are softened and drawn along in their journey to God. Our serving, our loving, our good works are like bread crumbs along the path that leads people to the Father's house.

This is the common heart beat we share. We are followers of Jesus who love God and love people. We seek to serve as Jesus served, and to be about our Father's mission on earth today. Ultimately we seek to see people drawn into the arms of God.

As we encourage a “common heart”, we seek to equip by outfitting the follower of Jesus with what he needs to serve. Our first missional endeavor, Common Cupboard, is a place where followers of Jesus can “equipped” with groceries to give away freely to those in need. Along with some simple training, mentoring, and prayer, a follower of Jesus can be equipped to demonstrate God's love in such a way that people's hearts are softened to God and led gently along their way to Jesus.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Neighborhood Christmas Party

I am amazed daily at how God opens doors and provides in simple ways. One of these doors is at Castle Rd & Riverside Apartments and the surrounding area. This area off Walkup Ave in Monroe is ethnically diverse. Many of the folks living in these apartments and the trailer park next door are in need. We have been reaching out in this area for over a year and currently help 15 or so families each month. My wife Deb and I have been wondering what God would have us do in this area.

Through a series of events I met the owner of one of the apartment complexes and expressed to her the idea of what Deb and I have been calling a festival. She was excited because she is a Christian who just purchased the complex and had been asking God for direction on touching people's spiritual needs in her apartments. She asked if we could pull something together for December. We decided to do a neighborhood Christmas Party on December 8th.

About 25 people came out to help including a youth group from El Shadai, a Latino congregation in Monroe. We gave away educational items, toys, and bags of groceries . We ate some cake and drank hot chocolate (in 70 degree weather). We also had a shepherdess, a wise man, and an angel helping us out with singing some carols as I shared a little about how we can experience Jesus today. It was a great time.

Click on the picture below to view pictures ...
Neighborhood Christmas Party - Dec 8

Monday, November 26, 2007

How do you not forget? - Part 3

The question was ... "How do you keep talking to God throughout the day? I mean, how do you not forget?" When my friend first asked me that in an email, my email response just poured out in a form of a list. In parts 1 & 2 I looked at the two foundational principles that make up my mind set as well as my daily rhythm of prayer. With parts 1 and 2 covering the first 3 on my list I am now on number 4.

4. I pray in the Spirit often through out my day. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:15" I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also." The Spirit making intercession through the prayer language he has given me is just a part of who I am in the Lord. My experience is that it releases me to just trust him more. As Jude encourages, "Building yourself up in your most holy faith, praying in the Spirit." (Jude 20)

5. When I find myself in need I look to heaven in my heart. (Psalm 121:1-3) It usually takes the verbal expression of "Help me Lord". It often comes when I can't find something. Or if I am running late. In these kinds of mundane situations, but it also comes when I am at the end of my rope and I just don't understand what God is doing.

6. When something good happens I thank God. I just say "Thank you." I have not yet achieved the admonition of Paul in 1 Thesalonians 5:18 - "In everything give thanks ..." I am working on it!

7. I try to stay away from being religious, and I walk with God and talk with him as my true friend. This means that I carry on conversations with him as I go about my day. I just talk to him about anything. Micah 6:8 tells me that to walk humbly with God is one of the 3 biggies that God requires along with doing justice and loving mercy.

8. I verbally remind myself to trust in God, to not trust in my self or my strength. (Psalm 28:6-8) I might say something like, "Keith, you can trust God in this." Sometimes I remind myself to praise God, or to thank him. Others may not be around to encourage me not to forget, so I have to remind myself sometimes.

9. I confess my faults, but don't let them get me down. I am depending on Christ's perfection not mine. (1 John 1:6-10) The key really is that I can't let them get me down. A friend of mime, Doug Roberts, says it pretty clearly, "That is not who I am, that is just the dumb thing I did."

10. I meditate on scripture. (Psalm 1:1-3) I used to memorize scripture a lot. (Psalm 119:11) So now I have a number of scriptures that are brought to my mind. I also meditate on the daily readings I do as part of my rhythm in part 2. Meditation in its simplest form is just thinking deeply about scripture. Applying it to your daily life. Allowing it to question you and responding in prayer to God about it. One resource I have used recently, is a podcast called "Pray as You go". It is available at iTunes and is also available as an mp3 download at It is a daily 10 minute guided meditation. I like to use them as I commute.

I have one more item on my list. But that is for another day.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

How do you not forget? - Part 2

This is the second part of an answer to a question a friend asked me - "How do you keep talking to God throughout the day? I mean, how do you not forget?" My last post on this topic could be called my outlook on life. My (undivided) life is "hidden with Christ in God" and "in him I live and move and have my being". This seems to set my heart to realize that God is at work all around me and in me, and if I seek to see my life and my world this way, how can I not "not forget".

But this post and the ones following are in the realm of practice. What do I do?

I used to have a "daily quiet time". You know what I mean, don't you. Set apart an hour with God a day, at the same time every day. Pray and read your Bible. This works for many people, I suppose. It did for me at a certain time in my life. But I don't do that any more. For me it seemed to condense God to just an hour of my day.

Instead I have come to practice what may be called a daily rhythm of prayer. What I mean is that I pray daily at the specific times throughout the day, following the pattern of the Hebrew prophet Daniel (Daniel 6:10). For me this rhythm generally follows the pattern of my commute to and from work and lunch. Also I often pray before I go to bed. I use a form known as the daily office. I generally use a Celtic Christian liturgy posted on this site ... (You can find a link posted to the right under my profile.) Although I have memorized the psalms and prayers that make up the “liturgy” of this daily office, I mix it up with spontaneous non-written prayer. Also I employ periods of silence, meditation and singing as well. There are daily bible passages that are scheduled to be read, and I generally pull them up on my computer at work and read and meditate on them by “stealing a moment” while waiting on hold or between customers or at other times.

This practice or using a rhythm of prayer according to the cycles of my day, has helped to transform my days and my moments from just hurriedly moving to my next destination or chore, to realizing God is present in all the times, seasons, cycles and patterns of my days. It helps me to move from mere mundane to recognition of Emanuel, God With Us.

Am I perfect at this? No. After 18 months do I still struggle at times to implement it? Yes. Do I always sense God's presence in it? No. Do I sometimes miss a beat in this rhythm? You bet ya. But I have found that by having my prayer follow the patterns of the ebbs and flows of my day, it makes it easier to get back on track and in tune with God, when I skip a beat. I also find that this rhythm helps me to keep Jesus in the center of the simple patterns of my day, and so I look to him through out the day.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Just 30 Minutes Away

Not to long ago I put out an email to some of my friends about what was going on at the Common Cupboard, a missional food pantry that my wife and I and some friends started about 17 months ago. We use it as a way to demonstrate God's Love in a practical way by visiting people and delivering free groceries to those in need on a monthly basis. One of the additional ways we reach out is to go door to door in targeted low income areas and give away free groceries.

Recently my pastor, Jeff Gardner, took me up on on the invitation to go out on one of our "grocery outreaches". Jeff is the lead pastor of Threshold in Matthews NC. He took an opportunity last Sunday to share a little about his experience just 30 minutes away from his home.

This clip is part of his talk entitled Serve. You can listen to the rest of his message at Threshold Media.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

How do you not forget? - Part 1

Earlier this month a friend of mine asked me a question in an email. Truthfully, I am not sure why he asked it of me. I am by no means an authority. I am just a traveler on the way. And I have lots to learn.

The question was: "How do you keep talking to God throughout the day? I mean, how do you not forget?"

Although I do forget and I am nowhere close to unceasing prayer as Paul urges followers of Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:17), I have several things that I do practice that have helped me in my endeavor to keep God in my thoughts and keep my heart set on him. I will be sharing them in this blog over the next several posts.

The first is that I know that my life is hidden with Christ in God. I have and do meditate on this thought found in one of Paul's letters to young followers of Christ in the first century (Colossians 3:3). There are other places in the Christian Scriptures that speak of my life being in Christ, or Christ living in me as well. This is a key thought to me. I have only one life. And it is hidden with Christ in the God.

This means that all of my life is sacred. I do not have a home life, a work life, a family life, a social life, etc I have a God life .. .it is hidden in him. If that is true then he is in all my life from the most mundane and normal activities to the most exciting and unusual. And if my life is in him, and he is in my life, then all my life can be worship. Strange thought, but true.

Not only is my one life hidden with Christ in God but in him I live and move and have my being. This thought is from a sermon given by Paul recorded in Acts 17:28. God surrounds me and moves all around me. I look for him in my day. I look for signs of his love. I recognize his care and protection. I see his actions as I live my life.

To me these two thoughts are key to the question ... "How do you keep talking to God throughout the day? I mean, how do you not forget?" As I have meditated more on them and continue to invest myself in the truth of them, it becomes harder to forget to talk to the One who loves me like that.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Are we waiting?

In preparation for Outside the Gate 2007 I ran into this video on youtube. I will be sharing it with those who gather with us. I thought I would share it with you. Are we waiting?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Food Drive Ideas

Here are several Food Drive ideas that we have found work very well. We can use any non-perrishable foods. If you are going to do a food drive, email us at or call Keith at 704-458-3744. You could drop the food off or we could arrange to pick it up.

1. Ask your church, Sunday school class or small group to hold a food drive. Ask each member to bring in a bag of canned or non-perishable food. You can arrange to drop it by the cupboard, or we will pick it up.

2. Same as idea number one except do it at your work.

3. Organize a neighborhood food drive. Just put out paper bags to each of your neighbors with a note. Ask them to fill the bag and put it out by their mail box or on their front porch on a particular day and time. Saturday around noon works well. Make sure to lprint your name and phone number on the note as a contact if there are any questions. You can download a sample note by clicking here. One neighborhood food drive last year brought in over 800 pounds of groceries!

4. Have a grocery scavenger hunt for your youth group or school class. Give the kids an area to go and knock on doors and ask for groceries. Give prizes for the teams that get the most items. Leave a note with the donors thanking them for the groceries and inviting them to come to church.

5. How about this one. Why not have a food-less food drive? Collect the money that your group would spend on filling bags of groceries and either designate a shopper or send a check to Common Heart!
6. Here is a way to combine worship and commuity service at your church. Have a monthly food collection in connection with your Comunion Sunday Service. As you experience the breaking of bread in communion, you can share your bread with the "least of these my brethern." A great way to but feet to faith.
Canned Vegatables & Fruits - corn, green beans, mixed, etc.
Canned Baked Beans
Canned Meat - tuna, chicken
Meals in a Can -spaghettios, ravioli, stew, etc
Breakfast Cereals - cold or hot
Pasta - noodles, spaghetti, macaroni, etc
Canned or Bottled Juices
Box Dinners or Sides- Hamburger Helper, Rice-a-Roni, etc
Salad Dressing & Condiments - mustard, ketchup, etc
Personal Care Items - shampoo, soap, toothpaste, etc
Extras - crackers, cookies, snacks, etc
Paper Products - Diapers, toilet paper, etc.

Thursday, February 1, 2007


It has been quite awhile since last I wrote in this blog. But a lot of things have most certainly taken place in this journey of mine. A couple of words can express the things that have marked this journey of late.

Simplify - It is the most difficult thing for me to do simplify. It is much easier for me to complicate my life than to simplify. Pre-fall I worked two jobs and co-pastored a church and lead a developing missional community spearheading a missional food pantry. Of course that is in addition to family life. Needless to say I was also getting some counselling ... obviously needing my head examined. Today I am down to one job and leading Common Heart Missional Community.

Family - For years my pursuits especially in the arena of Christianity have put my family far behind my desires. What I mean is that my ministry determined where we attended church, for instance, rather than the needs of my wife and boys. We began a search for a new church home that would provide age appropriate ministry and community for my two boys. In so doing we were surprised to find a people with a similar heart, a movement, a church called Threshold.

Desert - As my life has changed, working an hour away from home, away from mi amigos in the journey, I have sensed a longing for connection, a yearning for relationship. Over some time I have realized that this has highlighted the dryness of my soul and my thirst for God. A strong sense of being alone is uneasy for me. But in this desert - this dark and dry place God has promised to provide springs of water. So I want to learn to love this place, and cultivate it, and keep it in my sojourning heart as a place to meet God.

Just a short update from the journey.