Wednesday, December 30, 2009
I spent several hours in his house with family and just sat there. No words of wisdom offered just being there and caring.
Please pray for me as I prepare to do his funeral this weekend.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Today I came across something that I thought would encourage you today. Here it is.
**True Story of Rudolph**
A man named Bob May, depressed and brokenhearted, stared out his drafty apartment window into the chilling December night. His 4-year-old daughter Barbara sat on his lap quietly sobbing.
Bobs wife, Evelyn, was dying of cancer.
Little Barbara couldn't understand why her mommy could never come home. Barbara looked up into her dad's eyes and asked, "Why isn't Mommy just like everybody else's Mommy?" Bob's jaw tightened and his eyes welled with tears.
Her question brought waves of grief, but also of anger. It had been the story of Bob's life. Life always had to be different for Bob.
Small when he was a kid, Bob was often bullied by other boys. He was too little at the time to compete in sports. He was often called names he'd rather not remember. From childhood, Bob was different and never seemed to fit in. Bob did complete college, married his loving wife and was grateful to get his job as a copywriter at Montgomery Ward during the Great Depression. Then he was blessed with his little girl. But it was all short-lived. Evelyn's bout with cancer stripped them of all their s avings and now Bob and his daughter were forced to live in a two-room apartment in the Chicago slums. Evelyn died just days before Christmas in 1938.
Bob struggled to give hope to his child, for whom he couldn't even afford to buy a Christmas gift. But if he couldn't buy a gift, he was determined to make one - a storybook! Bob had created a character in his own mind and told the animal's story to little Barbara to give her comfort and hope. Again and again Bob told the story, embellishing it more with each telling.
Who was the character? What was the story all about? The story Bob May created was his own autobiography in fable form. The character he created was a misfit outcast like he was. The name of the character? A little reindeer named Rudolph, with a big shiny nose.
Bob finished the book just in time to give it to his little girl on Christmas Day. But the story doesn't end there.
The general manager of Montgomery Ward caught wind of the little storybook and offered Bob May a nominal fee to purchase the rights to print the book. Wards went on to print,_ Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer_ and distribute it to children visiting Santa Claus in their stores. By 1946 Wards had printed and distributed more than six million copies of Rudolph. That same year, a major publisher wanted to purchase the rights from Wards to print an updated version of the book.
In an unprecedented gesture of kindness, the CEO of Wards returned all rights back to Bob May. The book became a best seller. Many toy and marketing deals followed and Bob May, now remarried with a growing family, became wealthy from the story he created to comfort his grieving daughter. But the story doesn't end there either.
Bob's brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, made a song adaptation to Rudolph. Though the song was turned down by such popular vocalists as Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore, it was recorded by the singing cowboy, Gene Autry. "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" was released in 1949 and became a phenomenal success, selling more records than any other Christmas song, with the exception of "White Christmas."
Monday, December 28, 2009
Right now we are in the middle of what I will call a "death watch" for a man in our community. He is a believer and we know that he is ready to meet his Lord. The hardest part is we don't know when he is going to die, and it is hard watching somebody die. Let me ask you a question. Have you ever watched a loved one waste away and die?
It is difficult and as Pastor I have never gotten used to praying for those who need healing only to have to preach their funeral weeks or months later. Death is not something that I look forward to, but something in which I have made my plans accordingly. Sometimes in the midst of death we encounter heaven on earth. This happened recently.
We were all around the bed of this dear man and we began to sing songs of praise to the Lord when all of sudden the presence of the Lord filled the room. Wait, this should be a sad time, right? No, not when you know the Lord and you enjoy His presence.
Let me challenge you today to enjoy the presence of the Lord today, don't wait until people are gathered around you on your "death watch."
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
You probably are familiar with the famous Mephibosheth that was the son of Jonathan. He was the son who was lame in his legs because his nurse dropped him as she was fleeing after the news of the death of King Saul and Jonathan. He was shown kindness by King David because of the covenant he made with Jonathan. David spared Mephibosheth. But there was another man by the name of Mephibosheth.
He was the son of Rizpah (Saul's mistress) and he was not spared from death. He was executed along with six other sons of Saul because of Saul's rash violent killing spree against the Gibeonites. Now stay with me. Here is the point.
There were two "sons" by the same name, but only one received pardon and was spared execution, why?
- The 1st Mephibosheth was covered by a covenant, the other one was not.
- The 1st Mephibosheth was seeking favor, the other one was not.
- The 1st Mephibosheth was aware of his guilt, the other one was not.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
1. Be quick to listen.
2. Be slow to speak.
3. Be slow to become angry.
Isn't it interesting that we could save ourselves so much grief if we would just follow these guidelines? Think about a time where it might have saved a relationship.
I would like to challenge you to really listen to the person that is closest to you. It may be your spouse or maybe a family member. Just a note for us guys, put the remote down and turn the TV off!
Try this next time someone is talking, only talk if you have something that could add to the person you are speaking with. Resist the temptation to tell all that there is to know about you. Think before you speak.
This last one is tough. Try this, count to 10 before you get angry. It is a good way believed to give you time to pause and reflect and not react to what just happened. Gotta tell you I have been trying to do this more often lately.
Live your life without regrets and without words that you wish you could take back.
Although our spirit man does not have muscles that you can see physically, we must not neglect our spiritual health. There is a scripture in Hebrews 13:9 that says "It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace..." Wow! Our spirit man is strengthened by grace. That means that it will not profit you to follow liturgical traditions without grace. Let me explain. Sometimes we think if we just do this or that (i.e. church attendance, tithe, service) it will make us stronger spiritually, but it wont. If we want to be spiritually strong we should always do what we do with the reminder that we couldn't do it if it wasn't for the Lord.
So today be strengthened with the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and flex those muscles.
I was reading Hebrews 12:1 about the people that have gone on before us and are watching us as we run this race that is set before us. I guess I have always imagined that as a bad thing. These godly people see when I fall down, and then it occurred to me that they are watching to see me do good, not fall down. Let me share a couple of thoughts with you today
1. Because we are being watched from the stands we should lighten our load.
2. Because we are being watched from the stands we should not be caught up in sin.
3. Because we are being watched from the stands we should run the race before us.
Why do I share this with you today? Because you need to be encouraged that you are not alone in this race that we call life. Those who have gone before you are cheering you on, and one day we will run the last lap of our race, and we will enter the grandstand of heaven. Until then my friend keep running the race before you.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
My family and I are reading a good book about Christmas traditions and how they have roots in Christianity. Take for instance the song "The Twelve Days of Christmas." It seems like a very silly song, but actually it has great meaning.
I won't go into all of the meanings behind this song, but let me give you two symbols and what they mean.
- The partridge is a bird that will give its life for its young (type of Christ).
- The two turtle doves are symbolic of the Old and the New Testament.
There are many more symbols and I will give you a link to discover all of the meanings. Let me challenge you today to sing Christmas songs for they have the story of Christ. Merry Christmas.
Here is that link below:
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
There was a song written in the 80's by U2 that was entitled "40". This is a song from Psalm 40. I was reading that psalm today and was humming the melody in my head. It is funny how that was so many years ago and I can remember it the first time I heard it.
Let me share with you some things from Psalm 40.
1. Those who wait upon the Lord will have their cry answered
2. Those who wait upon the Lord will feel the Lord close to them
3. Those who wait upon the Lord will be brought out of the pit and have their
4. Those who wait upon the Lord will have a new song.
Could it be far too often we are in a pit of some kind and we complain instead of cry out to the Lord. There is a difference you know. I encourage you today to cry out to the Lord and have the assurance that He has heard your cry.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Friday, December 4, 2009
When you read Genesis 11 the story unfolds about people led by Nimrod (what a name!) to build a tower to reach Heaven. More careful study tells us it was an attempt to worship the sun or the stars in what we call today as astrology. The building project was successful until God intervened and confused the people as they began to speak different languages. The tower was never completed because they did not speak the same thing. Now go with me to the Day of Pentecost.
The disciples have been waiting for the promise of the Father (Luke 24) and they have been praying and waiting for 50 days after Christ's ascension to Heaven. Now watch what happens. In Acts 2:1 the Bible states that there came a sound from Heaven like a mighty rushing wind and in that moment those who were gathered in that place received the promise of the Father. They began to speak in other languages that they had not studied or understood. Those who were hearing them said that they could understand what they were saying without a translator. Isn't this like God to bring back people from all languages and unite them for one purpose? Why do I mention this?
I mention this because I believe that when we really think about it we can do more together than apart. God's desire is for His people to be of one mind and one purpose to love the Lord.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
I was reading Proverbs 3:9-10 as it instructs us to honor the Lord with all of our possessions. Now, that maybe a new concept to some of you; but truth is the Lord has given you everything that you have anyway. Let me put it this way.
Let's say Bill Gates gives you a salary of $2 million a year and all he asks in return is for you to reinvest ten percent of your earnings back into Microsoft, would you do it? Now, imagine if the Creator of the universe who has supplied all that you have whether you have acknowledged this or not asks you to "reinvest" into His kingdom, would you do it?
Seems like the first scenario is a no-brainer, right? Bill Gates is worth billions and even while I am using this computer to write this post his net worth is climbing. So who in their right mind would not "reinvest" into Microsoft? Since that makes sense let me explain the second scenario to you. God is the Creator of the universe and He is asking you to "reinvest" a portion of your earnings into the Kingdom of God namely your local church. God has more security to offer you than Bill Gates, because He isn't affected by the recession and neither are those who "reinvest" into His Kingdom.
So today I challenge you to set aside a portion of your income (10% is recommended) and start living according to the economy of God and not the economy of man.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
There has been a lot of talk about climate change, and recently there has been some "experts" come out and air their doubts about climate change. It seems as though that people are not of the mind to accept what the news media reports, good for them. I want to say something that might shock some of you that know me, I believe in global warming.
Let me explain. I don't believe in the climate change that has been circulated around by Mr. Gore and most recently former President Bill Clinton. But I believe that as the Bible says there will be a global warming. The heavens and the earth will be renovated by fire. This is really the only global warming I believe that will take place.
Let me ask you are ready for that time? Do you know for a certainty that if you stood before a holy God He would allow you to go to Heaven? If you don't friend today is the day of salvation. It is a simple as ABC. Admit that you have done some things that you are ashamed of (sins). Believe that Jesus died on the Cross for your sins, and confess Jesus Christ with your mouth and believe that He has forgiven you and wants to lead you daily. If you have done this and you mean it you are a child of God. Congratulations, there is a party in your honor going on in Heaven right now.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
It seems as though there was a banquet and there was a certain style of dress required for the wedding banquet. This may not be important to some of us here in the West, but in the Eastern culture this was very important. I believe that everyone was instructed to wear a wedding garment, and this man came in without one. Listen to the passage in Matthew 22:11-13 paraphrased in the Message.
11-13"When the king entered and looked over the scene, he spotted a man who wasn't properly dressed. He said to him, 'Friend, how dare you come in here looking like that!' The man was speechless. Then the king told his servants, 'Get him out of here—fast. Tie him up and ship him to hell. And make sure he doesn't get back in.'
Listen to what he says:
- "How dare you come in here looking like that!"
- "Get him out of here fast!"
- "Ship him to hell."
Monday, November 30, 2009
Okay raise your hands if you have some left over turkey from this last weekend. I see those hands way in the back. Now seriously who doesn't have left overs from Thanksgiving. Most of us do because we overestimated how much our guests would eat or we wanted a ready made meal. Well whatever the reason let's agree that leftovers are not a bad thing unless we are talking about manna. Let me explain.
God provided manna (meaning "what is it?") for the children of Israel while they were in the wilderness. All they had to do was pick it off the ground in the morning and eat it. Sounds pretty simple doesn't it? Listen to the scriptural command about "leftovers".
Exodus 16:19-20 (New International Version)
19 Then Moses said to them, "No one is to keep any of it until morning."
20 However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them.
Seems pretty clear to me that you were to take what you needed for you and your family and eat it before it was night. That means no leftovers. Why? Because God wants us to depend on Him for our daily bread, not our weekly bread. What a great picture of God's care for His children.
So the next time you go to your refrigerator and see leftovers remember that God doesn't need leftovers for His children. He always has fresh bread for those who want it.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
I am studying leadership at Gonzaga and I am amazed at the various definitions of leadership. Here is one I think we can all agree upon, leadership is about one thing: influence. Who you influence is who you will be able to lead. Let's look at an example from the Bible concerning this fact.
In I Samuel 22 David is in the cave of Adullam running for his life as Saul is in pursuit of him. The Bible says that when his brothers and his father heard he was there they came. But don't miss the next part, it says "...and everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented were gathered to him. So he became captain over them. And there were about four hundred men with him" (1 Samuel 22:2). Could you imagine how David felt? What a great show of support from his family and others that had followed David's leadership and decided that they wanted to be with him instead of Saul. But I want to point out something that may be obvious to you.
Those who were attracted to David were just like him. David was in distress and he was in debt and he was discontented. Let me stop and ask you about the people that are around you, are they just like you? Isn't this all the more reason that a leader must first lead themselves and overcome their distress? We should look at the people around us that we have influence over and ask the question, "is that really who I am as a leader?" If you are pleased with what you see then keep doing what you are doing. But if you want to be a better leader than you should see those closest to you as a reflection of your leadership.
I want to influence people that are like me, but sometimes I see a reflection of my leadership from those closest to me and I think I still have a long way to go. How about you?
This is the recipe that some of you requested earlier. Here it is Happy Thanksgiving.
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 cans (15 oz. each) pumpkin
2 cans (12 oz. each) evaporated milk
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons butter, softened
Combine the first four ingredients until crumbly; press into a greased 13-in.x 9 in. x 2 in. baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Meanwhile beat filling ingredients in a mixing bowl until smooth; pour over crust. Bake for 45 minutes. For topping, combine brown sugar, pecans and butter; sprinkle over top. Bake 15-20 minutes longer or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool. Store in the refrigerator. Yield: 16- 20 servings
Denise Goedeken, Platte Center, Nebraska
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
This past weekend I was in a training with two other churches about team building. Our coach was Mel Ming. He showed us a chart and explained the four stages of team building, I want to share them with you. They are taken from the "The One Minute Manager Builds High Performing Teams by Kenneth Blanchard, Donald Carew and Eunice Parisi-Caren, William Morrow, 1990. Here they are:
- Stage One Orientation: this is the time period where those on the team ask "Where do I fit?"
- Stage Two Dissatisfaction: this is a difficult time when the team members lose their self-confidence and will express this frustration in fits of anger. Members may say "I can't do anything right."
- Stage Three Resolution: this is the time you will hear the team members say "I think I am getting it." This is a sign that trust and self esteem is being built into the team.
- Stage Four Production: this is the fun part of the process where performance as a team and morale meet in the middle.
One word of caution. Be very careful and very intentional how you handle delegation and empowerment.Why you may ask? If you delegate or empower too prematurely you will set up a power struggle. Secondly you must understand that even though it doesn't seem that the team needs your direction, they most certainly do need your direction. The work of the leader is to have the end in mind and pursue this goal ethically but persistently. The heart of the leader is to be patient and loving towards the team and at some times carry them along.
Team building is a wonderful thing when it is done right, but it is a process and should not be hurried so that "we can get on with things." Teamwork is a concept that needs more practice and less conversation. Go team!
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
- Jonathan and David's friendship was solid through the good times and the bad times.
- Jonathan and David's friendship was mutual
- Jonathan and David's friendship was full of self-sacrifice.
Monday, November 16, 2009
We as Christians all know how huge forgiveness is in our lives and the lives of others around us. I just read an article about the power of forgiveness in the lives of six perpetrators of violence during the years of apartheid in South Africa. I was amazed that a fact that is known in the church is now being discussed outside of the church. Here are three things that I want to share about the power of forgiveness.
- It can have the same effect on those who have offended as well as those who have been offended.
- Those who have received forgiveness are more likely to extend forgiveness to those closest to them.
- Those who have offered forgiveness are much happier and healthier people.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
1. Infant (dependent upon someone else)
2. Child (independent, "I can do it myself.")
3. Adult (interdependent, "I need someone to help me with this.")
Looking at this list I find myself thinking "I know I should be asking for help, but I can handle this." I want my own way and don't want anyone to interfere with my desires. Sounds kind of petty doesn't it? There is one word to describe that tendency, sin. Some might say it is selfishness, or even others would contend that it is an attitude that doesn't reflect the best interests of others. They are all right. I think we need to become dependent on God and interdependent on others, I will give you three reasons.
- We can't do it by ourselves.
- We need to be valued by others as we are valued.
- It is just not much fun when you can't share the burden.
So, are you independent or interdependent? Sure you may be able to do it by yourself, but there are people that need what you have. Today, share your talent with others and find the freedom in not having to do it by yourself.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
1. Plan your exit (someday) as you reach your new assignment
2. Pick your successor (if you are able)
3. Postpone immediate gratification so that those who come after you will enjoy their labor
Go out now and live with the future in sight, after all the future is tomorrow.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
David has just killed Goliath and all of the women are singing his praises. Okay men that was a pretty cool moment wasn't it? Then King Saul begins to be afraid that David is going to take the kingdom away from him. Wasn't it already prophesied that God would give the kingdom to another? Seems like to me you can't be afraid of losing your position as long as God has put you there, and you can't change God's mind about moving you on. So, if you are in this situation maybe you should remember that God is in charge. Okay back to the story. King Saul is so enraged that he asked (read forced) David to play the harp for him in the throne room and then he tries to kill him with a spear. Now listen to what the Bible says next in verse 12 "Now Saul was afraid of David because the Lord was with him..." That seems strange to have fear and the Lord in the same sentence doesn't it? But maybe we can get some more information as to why Saul was afraid. Look at the last part of verse 12 "...but had departed from Saul." Now that is a reason to be afraid.
Saul saw the presence of God on the life of David and he was jealous because he remembers what it was like to enjoy the presence of God. Who can you most identify with today, Saul or David? Are you afraid because you are without the Lord, or are like David ready to do whatever the Lord says?
Whether you are most like Saul or David the good news is that you can always come to God and know that He will cast out all of your fear.
Monday, November 9, 2009
I read a very encouraging passage of scripture that I want to share here with you.
The Lord gives his people strength.
He is a safe fortress for his anointed king. (Psalm 28:8)
Thursday, November 5, 2009
I am a die hard Phillies fan and I was disappointed when they lost last night. Oh well, at least its not the end of the world. Life will go on. This got me to think about what it takes to be a winner. Here is my take on the subject.
1. Practice: there is no way we will overcome without having a regular regiment of exercise and team building skills.
2. Proper Thinking: if you constantly run yourself down and others around you, you will never get above your own expectations (low) that you have set for yourself.
3. Positive Performance: There is nothing like watching somebody so effortlessly using their talents. I think of Joe Montana and Jerry Rice and how they used to work together so well to win football games. They were winners on and off the field. Let us strive to be these kind of people.
A shout out to the Philadelphia Phillies for a great season and a great series, we are proud of you. Who knows what will happen next year.
Monday, November 2, 2009
I went with some friends to a local High School to "trick or treat" with my kids. I didn't know what to expect. Well, I guess we should have skipped that trip. My kids are very sensitive and did not like the amount of "fright" and "darkness" that were a part of the atmosphere. I thought it should have been toned down for the kids but I guess that didn't ask me. Seems as though if your child hasn't been desensitized to this kind of stuff it is pretty scary. I am glad that my kids and I were able to talk about this trip, but I am sorry that I took them and they got scared.
As a parent I must protect my children and look out for their best interest, but sometimes as a parent I am going to make the wrong choice. It is then when I can ask them to forgive me and try to do better the next time. Maybe parenting is supposed to be a process and not an event. When I decided that me and my house would serve the Lord I guess I didn't take into account my shortcomings. Well, gotta get back up and stay true to my decision to serve the Lord, how about you?
Friday, October 30, 2009
I want to start by saying that I do not believe that Halloween is beyond redeeming. Let me give you some background.
When we were kids we were not allowed to go trick or treating. It was kind of understood that we just didn't do it. This was during the time where people were reported to have put razor blades in apples, and drugs in candy to kill little kids. Not sure if these were urban legends, but it sure kept us from going trick or treating. We had the parties at church, but it still seemed like we were missing something. So one year we went trick or treating, without Dad's knowledge. It kind of seemed empty, and real shallow. We were not missing much. When I was in Bible College I was influenced by many well meaning people how "evil" it was, but I was taught how to redeem the holiday. I remember even preaching against Halloween in the 2nd church where we were Youth Pastors talk about stupid! Not because it wasn't bad, but because it wasn't my conviction; secondly there was another family in the church that was having a party at their house. They even gave me some candy! Here is what I believe.
Halloween is like any other thing in America it is an opportunity to share what we as Christians believe. Instead of cursing the darkness, let's light a candle. How about even opening your door to neighborhood kids and blessing them in Jesus name. Happy redeeming!
Thursday, October 29, 2009
That title sounds a bit ominous doesn't it? No, this is not about the evils of Halloween or the evils of living in this world. This post is about what God considers two evils that His people have committed. Here they are:
1. "They have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters."
2. "(They have) hewn (made) themselves cisterns-broken cisterns that can hold no water
What does it mean to forsake God? How about to forget Him or look over Him. So what have we overlooked? The fact that God is the source of living water. He is the only one that can quench our thirsting soul (John 4:10). What do we mean by living water? There is a lot of stuff out there today that promises satisfaction, but leaves you more miserable then when you started. Only Christ can satisfy the deepest longing of your heart. Why would anyone drink from the living water and then stop? Glad you asked.
The second thing that is evil is the making of "buckets" that will not hold water. The real issue is not the making of a new bucket, but rather ignoring the fact that the living water is leaking out the bottom.So, the question needs to be asked, why do we leak? Because the trials of this life will puncture our "bucket". What can I do to keep from leaking? Allow God to show me where the leaks are and prayerfully repair the leaks. It seems to me that to summarize this verse would be something like this.
It is an evil thing to forget God who is the only source of what we really need and then try to find buckets that are broken to hold water. Seems pretty foolish doesn't it? Why would anyone go to a well that is empty with a broken bucket? The only reason that I could think of would be pride. We are too proud to say that we need God, and we are too proud to acknowledge that our bucket has a hole in it.
Could I challenge you today to cry out to God and tell Him how much you need what He has? Further still could I ask you to confess (agree with) to God that you have a hole in your bucket and you can't fix it alone. Once you come back to a well that satisfies and have a bucket that holds water now you are in business.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Let's be honest for a moment. There are all areas of our lives that we feel strongly. Sometimes these areas are described as preference. My preference is not your preference, and depending on the day it is my preference changes. As a matter of fact my preferences have changed over the years. But let me ask you a question? Do we really want to be disagreeable over preferences? If we are not careful we will alienate people close to us because we confuse our preferences with principles found in the Word of God. Whether I eat meat or don't eat meat should not be the litmus test as to whether you think I am spiritual. The Kingdom of God is not about meat or drink, but about righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. Let's not devour one another over our preferences. One final thought.
The Bible makes it clear that we should not do anything that would cause another person to stumble. It seems as though we can enjoy our preferences as long as we are not causing others to stumble. Let me challenge you to remember your preferences must not be confused with the principles found in the Word of God. We should love one another for conscience sake.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Have you ever thought how Samuel in the Bible must have felt? We all now how God used Samuel mightily and how great things were ahead for him and his family. But we read in the Bible how that Samuel's sons were not living a godly lifestyle, and furthermore that the people didn't want him to rule over them anymore. The people of Israel wanted a king, just like the other nations. Samuel warned them about the dangers of having a king but they still wanted a king.
God told Samuel that they were not rejecting him but they were rejecting God's leadership on their lives. So God led him to Saul, and he became the first king of Israel. Saul started out well but ended very badly. But look a little further and we see a tiny shepherd boy who has probably been passed over before, this time God will use Samuel to bring about God's plan in David's life.
Here's the point. If we only look at our immediate situation we will miss what God is really doing. Samuel believed that God would bring about greatness through his sons. Nope. Maybe it was through King Saul? Wrong again. God was preparing things for the arrival of David who would become not the first king of Israel but definitely the greatest king of Israel.
Where are you today? Are you struggling with seeing what God is doing? Do you still believe that He has a plan for your life? Then be faithful, and you never know who God will bring into your life.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
I am studying the first two chapters of Jonah for my message Sunday. As I am studying I am learning about Nineveh and how evil they were. Their cruelty included torture, dismemberment and evil of all kind. It sounds like an episode of N.C.I.S. or one of those forensic crime shows. But here is the question that I want to pose to you my readers, is America more like Nineveh or Sodom and Gomorrah?
Think before you answer this question. Is God going to judge us or give us another chance? The wickedness in both places was equally disturbing, and the cry to Heaven was heard by God. The only difference that I see was that Nineveh was sent a prophet (albeit reluctant) to extend the mercy and grace of God to the Ninevehites. This is the amazing part, they heard the message and repented! On the other hand Sodom and Gomorrah did not repent before God, and they were destroyed. Here is my answer to the question.
I believe that America will repent and we should pray that God gives us a second chance. America is not so far gone yet, but we as Christians must cry out to the Lord. I am told that there are people from other countries who are sent to be missionaries to America, who knows what God will do when we pray.
America stands at a crossroads and it is our duty to pray that God will give us a second chance.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
When I was a Youth Pastor in my 20's I was part of a church that was just starting. There was a family that took me in as a part of their family.I still remember thinking this is the good life, I had a family that thought I mattered, and cared for me.
There were kids in the church at the time that were never in my classes or a part of what I was doing but I treated them as though they were just that important. This is just how I was taught. Now fast forward many years I find that two of these "kids" are now planning on getting married, and guess who they asked to do the ceremony? I have accepted and I am honored to conduct the wedding. Why do I tell you all of this?
What matters most is that you mattered to a child in your lifetime. Here is the challenge, whether it is your kids or other children treat them like they are the most important dignitary. You will never regret that decision.
Monday, October 19, 2009
There is no way that we can please people. Have you tried it before? It is so difficult, it is meant to be that way. The one we are supposed to please is God, because He has accepted us and loves us enough to change us from the inside out. Today, be of good cheer you are accepted by God.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Have you stopped to think for just a minute what it would like to be homeless? No house to call your own, no car, just what you have on your back. This would pretty well devastate most of us including me. But, wait a minute. We are homeless.
Isn't it true that this world is not our final resting place? Also if that is case then it would mean that the house or car or clothes or any other possession that you "own" is just on loan. That changes things doesn't it? What if we lived a live that we so focused on this fact, that we are not staying long? How would that change how we lived our lives?
Today I have been having a Rich Mullins marathon as I have been watching all of his videos and listening to his music. He really seemed to be focused on what was really important. I want to be a man like that. I want to be a homeless man.
Monday, October 12, 2009
- I learned that being a referee is a lot easier if there are rules
- Being a referee is done best when you know the boundaries
- Refereeing is a job that requires your undivided attention
Okay John what is your point? Refereeing is a lot like life, it is more easily enjoyed when you know how to play the game. In life there will be a lot of times we don't know what we are doing, it is at those times we need to look at the playbook, and ask the coach what to do.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
My brother is a godly man who has been through it this last year. Just to share a few things with you. He had a job that his supervisor tried to make him quit by the way he treated him, he was promised a better position at this same company only to be told that he would not get the position. He has been injured on the job, he has been lied about and physically pushed on the job. And that is just at work.
He finally found a good church to take his family only to see the church close and no place to call as his home church. I just found out that his wife had been fired because of false accusations. The only question I have is how much more can he take? He just came through a debilitating bout with a physical illness resulting from stress. Yet, my brother refuses to give up.
Here is the secret to enduring difficult times, know they will end. That's it, nothing earth shattering; just know that they will end.
God did not allow us to go through tough times for no reason, He has a plan for all that He does. I may not know the plan, but at this moment God's plan for my brother is on target. Is it easy for me to say this because it is not me, yes it is. Here is the truth, God will not forget those who have put Him first in their lives. It is said that many people are waiting for their ship to come in. Sometimes the heaviest ships are the slowest ships to come into port.
For those who are suffering, God has not forgotten you, He is testing you and He knows that you will come through this test as the victor. So how long o Lord? Until we look more and more like Jesus.
Monday, October 5, 2009
In all of the publications that are church related the buzz word is missional. I understand that we need to be about the mission of God, and how we do that will be different in every situation. But I have been given an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of other students. Since Gonzaga is a diverse setting, no one is rejected based on their beliefs. This is a two edged sword, there are those who are totally godless, and then those who are seeking for truth. It kind of reminds me of the U2 song "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" The other side of this is that when I am asked how I perceive truth I can say that truth is absolute and is found in the person of Jesus Christ. How cool is that? Let me give you an example of the opportunities I have been afforded.
There is a student who is on one of my classes that has had a messed up life. This student is not a happy person, and if you knew their background you would understand why. Anyway, the other day this student said "I want to know God, but I don't know how." I was totally blown away. Here is the good thing I will get to live out my witness before this student. God is so good.
Can I challenge you to take the word missional and apply it to your situation? It is not only for Pastors, etc. it is a word for the Body of Christ to embrace. So go to your job and live out your faith knowing that others are watching. Let's take Christ to the marketplace, and not leave Him at church.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
As Pastors there is a pressure all about us to take care of everyone around us, and by doing this neglect our family. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
1. The most important member of your church Pastor is your spouse
2. The most important children of the church are your children
3. If you take care of your family, you will have a rich ministry
4. Finally, if it comes down to "saving" the church or taking care of your family; opt for taking care of your family.
Let me say that I am not advocating neglecting our duties as Pastor, I am advocating prioritizing our lives. You will always be glad that you put your family first.
Monday, September 21, 2009
I have noticed that since it has been a few years since my Masters Degree, I am not in shape for studying! LOL! I forgot (read, chose not to remember) that you actually had to plan ahead in order to get your "homework" done. Planning is a huge help to avoid the last minute cramming of whatever it is you were supposed to do two weeks ago. I have burned the midnight oil a few times this last week, then I wondered why? So today I have laid out a schedule where I will spend two hours a day studying. This is of course a noble attempt to avoid procrastinating. Just kidding. Really I can't afford to procrastinate when my plate is pretty full, and neither can you.
Planning is boring, it even sounds boring. Planning is not spectacular, but it allows us to break big things down into smaller more palatable pieces. Let's talk practical for a moment.
We have no idea when Jesus is coming back to earth again, but we must plan to be ready. How? By staying ready until quitting time. I mean we can make our plans, but only God knows whether we will accomplish them on our schedule.
Let me challenge you today to make your plans, but ask God to help you line up your plans with His will.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
The main idea of the story is that we choose how we live. Living does not only consist of working and doing chores and sleeping, etc. Living is how we respond to those closest to us, it is how we spend time with the Lord. Listen to Ivan Ilych:
"Maybe I did not live as I ought to have done," it suddenly occurred to him. "But how could that be, when I did everything properly?" he replied, and immediately dismissed from his mind this, the sole solution of all the riddles of life and death, as something quite impossible.(http://www.geocities.com/short_stories_page/tolstoydeath.html
I would encourage you to read this story(http://www.geocities.com/short_stories_page/tolstoydeath.html) to more fully understand the above quote. But let me see if I can give you the gist of the story.
There are many of us who at the end of our life will have regrets, and realize that it would have been more important that we had a good relationship with our family than how much money is in our bank account. Just because we do everything proper, does not mean we have done the proper things.
Can I encourage you to not work so many hours if it is at all possible? If you have to work a tough schedule maybe you can make some time for your family. If you are not careful just when you blink your kids will be grown. Let your life be one of authenticity. Spend time with your family, you won't regret it.
The life that we live is not one that we have no control over. Start taking back the control of your life, and choose the way in which you will live.
Monday, September 14, 2009
We have made it our practice when passing Adult bookstores or the like to pray and ask Jesus to save those people and shut that place down. My kids know how to pray passionately when we pass these places. So when my son saw the sign for "body shop" he was thinking this was one of these other places that we pray for God to shut down. Isn't innocence wonderful?
The Bible says in Romans 16:19 that we should be excellent in what is good, and be innocent of evil. How nice it would be to see things through the eyes of childlike innocence.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
My disconnection was an inconvenience, and I would be okay. But, if we are disconnected from the source of life we will miss a lot more than just telephone calls. Make sure you are connected to the vine.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
It seems all too often I am guilty as much as anybody else in saying or doing things that I did not think through. I should not be so impulsive, or hasty in making a decision. Here is some good advice.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."
So whether it is second thoughts on that last piece of cake or words that you wish you could desperately take back, trust God. His thoughts are higher than ours.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
- The Bible is filled with ordinary people doing extraordinary things for God
- This was a personal letter as well as a letter to us
- We can see ourselves in each one of these people
What about you? What would be said of you and you are gone? Would your name make it in some one's book? What we do on this Earth will not be eternal, but the things done in the name of Christ will last for all eternity.
It matters not if your name is any book here on Earth, but it does matter if it is in the Lamb's Book of Life. Make sure your name is in the book!!!
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
I was thinking today about how doing the right thing for the right reason is the right thing to do. Did you catch that? Okay, let's put it another way. Faithfulness has its own reward.
My son is very sensitive towards people that are having life controlling problems. He was telling me what his friend said about men who are unfaithful to their wives. His friend told him it was pretty common. My son asked me if there was something that would happen to these men. I told him that the Bible says that this is like playing with fire, and that these people would get burned. He didn't quite understand, so I explained it this way. I asked him "what would happen if Daddy was to take hot charcoal embers from the grill and put them in my jacket?" He said "it would be hot?" I said I would get burned. I then told him about the man that sleeps with his neighbor's wife is like the man who is putting hot coals inside of his jacket. This man will be burned.
Faithfulness doesn't get much press. You do the same thing over and over. You cut the grass, take out the trash, and even do the dishes. Then you go to sleep and do it over again the next day. No medal of honor here. But here is what we need to hear. God is speaking to your family as you are faithful to do the things that you always do. God is keeping record and He will reward you for your faithfulness.
So for the guys that are doing the "same old thing." Keep doing it, and refuse to listen to the siren voices of the world that are telling you to break free and enjoy life. God has a life prepared for those of us who love Him, those who are faithful.
Monday, August 31, 2009
Today was the first day of school for our kids. My daughter is a 7th grader starting today, seems like I can remember her being just a little baby. My son is in 4th grade and my other daughter is in 1st grade.
Why is it that kids are up early on the first day of school? Is it the new pencils, backpacks and notebooks? Or is it a sense of being nervous and little afraid of the unknown. I tend to think that it is that they are nervous.
I know that my kids will do great in school, I'm just not sure that they know this is hard on parents. Don't get me wrong it is nice to have a more structured schedule for my kids, but don't they grow up too fast? Since we can't slow down their growth, we can grow along with them.
One of the things that I have noticed is that I have grown as a Father over the years. Am I a candidate for Father of the Year? Depends on who you ask.
Could I challenge you to enjoy your kids while you have them, it seems they grow up too fast.
Friday, August 28, 2009
I love the passage of scripture found in Genesis 41:51. Listen to it. "Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: 'For God has made me forget all my toil and all my father's house.' I want to focus on three words, made me forget.
This post is for my J.S.B.C. friends.
My college experience is something that has a lot of good memories. The friends that I made, the things we experienced ,etc. I would not trade it for the world. All of it was perfect except for a season of that time. I experienced various emotions, and saw things that I wished I would never have seen. I saw what someone referred to as a "meltdown". The things that I had experienced were all very helpful, but also very hurtful. So what do you do when everything around is shaken?
That is a question I have had to ask from time to time. I not sure I have always answered it right, but let me share with you what has helped me.
For a long time after I graduated I felt as though I had been lied to, and used to further someone's agenda. I was mad, and I was hurt. Was this the way things would be? Then little by little I began to sift through the raw emotions and find the fingerprints of God through my experience. It was not easy, but I began to see that it was worth it. All of the pain and the tears, and all of the confusion before, during and after this situation. I also began to realize that it was time to move on and start living my life without this excess baggage. I realized I was not responsible for one man's fall, nor was I responsible for everyone reactions. I was only responsible for what I did with this situation. So let me ask you a question, how do you remember your years at J.S.B.C.?
Let me tell you how I handle it. When the subject comes up I talk about all of the Pastors and Missionaries around the world that are doing something for God. I also talk about my friends in every area of business or commerce who are living for Jesus whatever they do. I like to tell people that I was a part of something that was very special, and could never be reproduced. It was a time when God brought us all together for one purpose so that He would do some incredible things in our lives. Let me finish.
I won't be at the reunion in Baton Rouge coming very soon. Not that I don't want to, but I am starting my classes that weekend. My heart is with my friends, and faculty that poured into my life. I can say like Joseph "the Lord has made me forget." How about you?
Thursday, August 27, 2009
The first or hedge I trimmed was kind of "bald" in places, the second one was not terribly even and by the time I got to the fourth hedge I was perfecting my method. Just think I still have several huge hedges to do today! Why am I telling you about my experience (or inexperience some might say) with yard work? Because it reminds me how God looks at us.
Listen to what I Corinthians 1:26 "For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called." This gives me hope, I don't have to know how to do everything. I do need to know how to do some things. "God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called." God is looking for you to open up your hands and use your talent, or be willing to learn something new. Embrace that challenge for your life today.
It was not on my job description to trim hedges, but I will gladly do it. Why? Because they will eventually grow back! LOL! Seriously because I serve the Lord. Blessings.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
School starts for me on the 4th of next month, and my kids start on the 31st. Our house has been a clearing house for #2 pencils, paper, erasers, etc. It is a very active time for us right now.
Today I have spent a good time trying to read requirements for academic papers and downloading tutorials on Microsoft Office 2007. Yes I know, it is about time. I can still remember when we used typewriters and white out! LOL! How antiquated is that? Things are changing rapidly and time marches on, but surely there is something that will remain constant?
The good news my friends is that God never changes! It is nice to know in a world of learning curves, and information overload that God's message is still the same. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." This is good news.
So as you and your kids are hurrying around getting ready for the first day of school, remember the greatest lesson you could ever learn is how much God loves you! Be blessed!
Monday, August 24, 2009
I was in St. John riding shot gun with my nephew as he was driving the truck to the grain elevators. Here is one thought that occurred to me, everyone talks about harvest. Have you stopped to think about what harvest means? Here are few thoughts.
- Hard work
- Long days
- Careful preparation
- Much oversight
Could it be that everyone wants harvest, but we haven't counted the cost?
Friday, August 21, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
I don't think that any of us understood when we were all in college how good it was to be in the same place at the same time. Looking back now I see the providence of God in our lives. How would any of us know what would be going on in our lives or how we would need to be refreshed by those who have been through similar trials.
Here's the point. Life is just too short not to have friends to share the journey. The Bible puts it this way. "O How good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity." To my friends in Dallas and abroad, I am better man because I met you. Thank you.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
If someone has fallen, let us restore them in an attitude of meekness. Please understand that restoration does not always mean a return to ministry as usual. It is not my job to pass the ultimate judgment on those who have fallen, but it is my job to love and pray for those who are needing hope.
I want to challenge you today to reach out and "help" those who have been forgotten. It is the job of the Body of Christ to heal the hurts of those who are wounded.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Here is what I am realizing. I have had more opportunity to talk about my faith when I am on these trips. I had a really good conversation with one of the guys who is from our local. Forget about trying to talk to a total stranger on the plane, that is difficult Instead put yourself in your community, and get involved with people who are good neighbors, but need to know how much God loves them.
This is where the rubber meets the road.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
It has occurred to me that sometimes I trust my credit card more than I trust God to provide my need! (ouch!!). I have been trying to trust God more than I have in the past, but it requires patience and understanding. I must not come to God and demand that He do things a certain way, because He is God and I am not. My lack of faith stems from a seed of doubt that says "you can't ask God for that, you are on your own." Has this ever happened to you? Here is what I recommend to you the next time that you are tested to believe God will provide for you.
1. Remember how God provided for you last time (His past performance will dictate His present faithfulness)
2. Don't rush into making decisions: Pray about these things, and take them to the Lord.
3. Believe that God has your best interest at heart: Know that you are loved by God!!
When it comes down to it trusting God is much harder and takes much more time, but in the end God is faithful.
Friday, August 7, 2009
Our theme this year was "Paul and the Underground Church". The kids who came got a taste of what it might have been like in 1st Century Rome, especially for Christians. It seemed a bit surreal as we talked about persecution in Rome. Think about this, more people today are being persecuted for being Christians than in any other time in history! Let that sink in. Watch this video.
How can we forget our brothers and sisters who are suffering all around the world? We can't, let us work together to share the love of Jesus. That is the best kind of teamwork.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Can I ask you a question? Are you using God's Word as a measure for your life? If not you may be able to go unnoticed but after a while you will notice that you are the one who is left on the short end of the board.
Here's the point, always use a reliable measure for guiding your life.
Monday, August 3, 2009
Have you ever thought maybe that was a misprint? Surely if we want to get ahead in this world we have do whatever it takes to get ahead, right? Wrong. That is the problem, we need to be the servant of all to be the greatest in the Kingdom of God. Let me explain.
There is so much evil that resides in me because of the sin nature, much less the evil that is talked about on the news. We are going to have people that will oppose us, we should expect that response to our living for the Lord. But we must remember that God's prescription is to do so much good in response to the evil that is done to us. The literal translation is to "drown the evil in good."
Here's the point, it is much easier to trade insult for insult. But how about practicing blessing others when they are cursing you? That is tough isn't it?
Now allow the goodness of God to fill you so that when you are provoked kindness comes out of your mouth.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
Jesus came to give people hope! Have you thought about where you would be without hope. The hope that there is a better life than this one? Have you stopped to consider that because of the resurrection we have hope?
Yes Jesus came to deliver us all from sin, but after that to give us hope that He would make things better on the other side. And that friend is something that you can take to the bank.
What do you think? I would like to hear your comments.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
I am traveling because I am part of a Community Coalition that is doing on going training. I am here in Louisville for training that is paid for by grant dollars. Here is the great thing about this. I am here not as Pastor John, but John. I can live my faith in front of others and I don't have to say a word. I have made it known where I stand and I have had some good conversations with people who are looking for answers. I don't know if I have the answer that they are looking for, but I listen and validate what they are saying. Why am I telling you this?
Because we are all in ministry in our respective occupations. The question is are we using the platform we have been given to be the hands and feet of Jesus?
I am flying out tomorrow and will have an opportunity to post on Saturday or Sunday.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
The desk clerk was very kind, and went above and beyond to provide the highest customer service. Finally he said that he found my reservation and since I was waiting patiently he would upgrade my room to the Consierge Lounge. This would mean a bigger room and a lot of extra amenities. So what is my point?
Here is the point, there is a reward for being patient. Being patient won't always get you a room upgrade, but someday you will receive your reward in Heaven.