“I Can Do All Things…”

2 10 2012

Tuesday Re-mix -

I can do all things through him who strengthens me.  Philippians 4:13 (NASB)

I grew up with a pretty healthy dose of Zig Ziglar and Norman Vincent Peale and The Power of Positive Thinking…or at least with my Dad’s slightly more scriptural version of that philosophy.  Dad used to always say to me, “Son, with God’s help, you can accomplish anything you set your mind on accomplishing…and you can be anything you set your mind on being.”

Honestly, I am not sure I ever really believed that.

I just never really bought into the promise that, “through God, I could do all things.”  The whole notion of being some kind of spiritual superhero sounded glamorous and all, but it raised a few questions in my mind.  First of all, what if I set my mind on being God?  Could I accomplish that?  Secondly, shouldn’t there be some moral correlation to that rule?  Or is it really anything at all to which I set my mind?  And what if what I really set my mind to accomplish conflicts with what you really set your mind to accomplish?  Then what?

I had a thousand questions about this concept, especially the secular version of it.  But even the scriptural version gave me trouble: I can do all things through him who strengthens me.  It would be many years before I would begin to understand it.

As it turns out (I would later learn), being empowered by God is not quite the same thing as being gifted with super powers which I could then go and use either for evil or for good.  Moreover, it does not even mean that my story will always be powerful or successful or even meaningful.  In fact, being the kind of Christ-follower Paul describes in Philippians 4 means that my life story is not about me at all.  Rather, my life story becomes a story about God.

Stop now and let that last statement sink in for a moment.

My life story is not a story about me at all…it is a story about God.  That changes everything, doesn’t it?  Suddenly all my metaphors for life are wrong.  All my strategies fail.  It is an entirely different paradigm.  “I can do all things…” no longer has anything at all to do with me and my agenda, because now it has only to do with God’s agenda in this world and, more specifically, His agenda through and around me.  Now it has less to do with my own accomplishments and much more to do with Him telling me “great and mighty things which [I] did not know”.  I am no superhero.  The only superhero in my life story is God Himself…and He is doing truly amazing things all around me…and sometimes through me.

So it is only through Him that I can do these things, i.e., through His agenda and through His will.  And here is the best part of this truth: this “correction” does not limit this promise at all; rather, it expands it.  Because however grand my agenda and my vision might be for saving the world, God’s is infinitely bigger.  God’s purpose for my life and for your life is immeasurably larger than any purpose we can imagine on our own.

I could never have understood that as a child.  But I was blessed with both an earthly Dad and a Heavenly Father who kept that promise before me long enough for me to find my way back to it eventually.  “I can do all things…”  What an awesome truth!

© Blake Coffee
Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. For web posting, a link to this document on this website is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Blake Coffee.  Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: © Blake Coffee. Website: churchwhisperer.com




It is Always About the People

25 09 2012

Tuesday Re-mix -

My Dad had a kind of a rule when we went on vacation.  Well, maybe it was just a strong preference or philosophy.  Sometimes those things all can sound the same with Dad.  :)  Dad felt strongly that, when taking pictures on vacation, there should be a person in every one of them.  In other words, a vacation picture without a person in it is just a waste of film.  So, anytime we saw something noteworthy or cool and wanted to take a picture of it, Dad wanted someone (ANYONE) to go and stand by the thing for the picture.  I followed that philosophy most of the time, but am just going to confess now that, as I have grown a little older, I have often broken that rule and have taken some pictures of some pretty amazing scenery…without any people in them.

But perhaps that preference says more about Dad and what is important to him than it does about his taste for photography.  You see, Dad is a pastor.  Irrespective of his various titles and positions in ministry, in his heart he has always been a pastor.  To him, people are important.  In fact, they are the most important thing.

I would like to think I have learned that preference from him, especially where the church is concerned.  It is all about the people.

I think it is easy to make it about other things…the buildings, the budget, the music, the parking, the numbers, the location, the constitution & by-laws, the committees, the votes, the worship planning, the strategic planning, the reports, the offices, the retreats, the concerts, and I could go on and on.  You get the picture.  But even as important as most of those things are, they are never more important than the people.  In fact, the only reason any of those things even exist is for the people.  That is, after all, what the church is…just people.

I know it sounds elementary.  Church is about the people.  But it bears reminding once in a while.  And it is a lesson I learned from my Dad.  And for that lesson, I am grateful.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am still going to take pictures of breathtaking scenery on vacation, even without people in them.  But I will never forget what is important.  I promise.

© Blake Coffee
Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. For web posting, a link to this document on this website is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Blake Coffee.  Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: © Blake Coffee. Website: churchwhisperer.com




The Routine Maintenance of Every Relationship

18 09 2012

Tuesday Re-mix -

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,  not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another…  Hebrews 10:24-25

As a teenager starting to drive, I spent one Saturday afternoon learning from Dad how to change the oil in my car.  It was actually pretty interesting to me.  I was fascinated with the whole process.  Dad was very careful to show me how to change the oil filter without damaging it, how to drain the oil and properly dispose of it, how to tighten the drain plug again without stripping it, and how to put the new oil into the engine.  It was a whole process.  I learned it all.

Then, by the time I was 40 years old, I had paid to replace two different automobile engines as a result of NOT changing the fluids regularly enough.  It seems that, while I did learn HOW to change the oil…I had not learned THAT I must change the oil regularly!  I am a slow learner.  :)  The truth is, I have had a hard time learning about routine maintenance in lots of respects…appliances (both major and minor), household, landscaping, automobiles, computers…you name it, if I have owned it, I have struggled with routine maintenance for it.

Relationships have routine maintenance requirements as well.  All relationships do…even Christian relationships.  Relationships between really good people still need maintenance.  Relationships among experts on relationships still need maintenance.  Without that maintenance, even the strongest of relationships will tend toward breakdown.

I am always amazed in my counseling endeavors when I find two otherwise intelligent, personable, Christian leaders who spend little time actually nurturing their friendship with one another and who then seem befuddled by the brokenness in their relationship.  Relationships need regular doses of two elements: quality time and honest communication.  Without those, a relationship dies.  Relationships among church staff leaders need those two elements.  Marriages need those two elements.  Every friendship needs those two elements.  That is the routine maintenance for relationships.

I suppose it comes with the territory of my ministry that I must bear witness to so very many broken relationships among otherwise Godly people.  In almost every case, the brokenness is due to neglect.  Oh, there may have been an issue, even a terribly divisive one.  But it was the subsequent neglect of the relationship which did the damage, not the initial injury.  Relationships, you see, are amazingly resilient.  They can spring back to life out of even the most broken of situations.  But there is one thing a relationship cannot survive: utter neglect.  It requires regular routine maintenance.  Without that, the brokenness turns into deeper and deeper damage.  It is very much like your automobile in that regard.

It is simple, really.  It is not rocket science.  Relationships are just like everything else worth salvaging.  Forsake the maintenance, and pay the price.

© Blake Coffee
Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. For web posting, a link to this document on this website is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Blake Coffee.  Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: © Blake Coffee. Website: churchwhisperer.com







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