I was late to a meeting; I'm sure that's what must have triggered the antagonism that followed. Okay, so I was 20 minutes late, but still... to take it out on part of my ministry? Let me explain.

We're past the 'me being late' part, the meeting is now in full swing, I'm just beginning to get comfortable and the attention has been mercifully drawn away from me for the time being -- and my shields are now down. Bad mistake. I discover, too late, that the penalties for lateness remain latent until vigilance is lax and vulnerability is laid bare (sorry... having too much fun with alliteration...). I discover this only when it's my turn to talk. Everything I'm saying is good, it's sound, it's even oddly respectable. Then I slip up. I reveal too much of a certain amount of cheesiness in an area of ministry and he pounces -- Lead Pastor of Neighborhood Church, Dr. Bill G., pounces.

I was telling them about how fun “Pick-up Play” is, the Outpost iGroup (small group) that opens up the elementary school gym on Sunday nights so that anyone from the community can come play basketball after helping us tear down our Sunday morning church set-up. “Do you do some sort of Bible lesson before you start?” came the sincere question. “Yes,” I replied, and explained how our short 3-4 min. devotional worked. Then I said the words that exposed my weakness. “I call it ‘Something To Think About.” The room went deathly silent. My inner 'guardian of Josh's dignity' put his head in his hands and wept silently. That's about when Bill started laughing. I mean really laughing. The kind of laughing where the person is trying to make sure they ‘understand what you just said but can’t quite get it out because they’re still laughing’ kind of laughing. “You should have a sound effect that goes off whenever you say that” advises Bill between laughs, “you know, like (insert annoying computer sound here), or (repeat with different computer sound effect)!” Soon, pastor of The Well Todd Skinner joins in. “Or how about this?” he offers (chuckling), and proceeds to play a portion of the Star Wars sound track on his iPhone. Clearly, they had found a chink in my otherwise robust armor. Humiliated, I stayed quiet, but was secretly annoyed that the only thing I could think of as they continued their good-natured jeering was the 4-tone jingle employed by NBC in their “The More You Know” series.

Besides appreciating the rich intellectual content of the following short clip, I’m grateful for how useful it is for the average American. Yes Bill, thanks to you, the 4-toned soundtrack of this commercial and all those like it will forever echo through my brain each time I stand and speak to those eternal souls in basketball shoes…

Seriously though -- here's something to really think about...

The other night we had a discussion about the parable of the 'Sower and The Seed' at our Men's Bible Study, and I wanted to address an important follow-up question. Jesus makes it clear that the seed is the 'word of God,' and that the 'good soil' is a receptive heart, or a person who 'takes in' the seed, who 'takes in' the word of God so that it doesn't stay in the shallows or on the surface to get 1) eaten by the birds (removed by Satanic means), 2) scorched by the sun (the hardships of life in the world), 3) choked by the weeds (the pleasures and distractions our inner mess chooses over the first -love that should be God). I made the point that all of these things can happen to a Christian, even one who goes to church and loves God -- but how? These things can happen when we treat the word of God like fast-food instead of a gourmet meal meant to be savored, when we treat the word of God like just another item on a daily checklist instead of the central agenda that can set the tone for the entire day. So how do we prepare the soil of our hearts on a daily basis, like someone in our group was talking about -- how do we make sure that we are daily that "good soil? How do we ensure that our hearts daily 'take in' the word of God so it is able to put down roots, so that it is able to produce fruit?

Here's the Biblical suggestion: Meditate on it. Meditate on God's word, and it will go deep. "What?" you say -- "Meditate?" Not the 'cross your legs, do weird things with your fingers, chant a funny chant and go cross-eyed in search of your inner child' kind of meditation, but rather, do the kind of meditation that is Biblical -- the kind that is simply "deep thought." Think deeply about what you have read so that what you have read can go deep! Or at least think deeply about something you have read in your Bible today! I know each of us is busy, that we all live busy lives. I know when we're doing our 'read through the Bible in a year" thing we can't possibly "think deeply" about the entire volume of Scripture we've covered for that day! But we can pick out a verse, or a promise, or even something we didn't understand from what we read, and take that with us into our day, mulling it over from time to time and mixing that mulling with the kind of prayer the Bible would describe as "unceasing" -- referencing the presence of God as we would reference a map or a compass, frequenting His presence with requests for clarification and direction so that we are able to grow in understanding of His word and recognize the opportunities for application in our daily lives.

Psalm 119:11 says "Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You." How do we do this? How do we ‘hide God’s word’ in our hearts? We do it by meditating on it. By reflecting on what we’ve read, by thinking about it long afterwards and throughout the day, letting it sink in, deep into the soil of our soul.

Psalm 1:1-3

1 "Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked

or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.

2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.

Whatever he does prospers."

The next time you pick up your Bible and read, don’t just hold God’s word in your hands – hide it in your heart. Just ‘something to think deeply about.’

Surrounded By Grace,


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*Grace induces faith & Grace is obligated to faith ~