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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Liking yourself

Do you like yourself?

Kind of an interesting question.

Here's what I know: if I don't like myself, I generally won't like other people as well.

To be candid with you, most of us don't like something about ourselves--usually something we had nothing to do with or can do nothing about.

Such as: "Why can't I be taller, skinnier, better-looking? Why couldn't I have been born rich? Why couldn't I have been born in another place, or another time? Why couldn't I have a more pleasant singing voice or a better jump shot (I know that Rick Odden wishes for the last one)?"

You might be dissatisfied with the raw material you were given to work with, but the Bible says that God made you just as you are, and he specifically had you in mind at the time.

There is only one you.

Here's how David expressed it.

"You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous -- and how well I know it.

You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God!" (Psalm 139:13-17)

Abraham Lincoln said, "It is difficult to make a man miserable when he feels worthy of himself and claims kindred to the great God who made him."

Do you remember the gospel story of the man born blind? Jesus was asked who was at fault -- the blind man or his parents? Jesus said, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned. This happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life." (John 9:2)

Instead of grumbling about who you are, take some time to thank God for how he created you. He chose your parents, your birthday, your physical attributes, your talents, your intellectual capacity -- you are just as he wanted you to be. He even knows about your weaknesses and limitations.

Just like the man who received the gift of sight, remember that you are who you are so that, somehow, God's work can be displayed in your life. That's what he had in mind when he created you.

How might you display his work today?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


We had a great time at our small group last night. We all brought pictures from our childhood and weddings.

It was interesting to see the way everyone has changed over the years.

Memories are very, very important. They can build us up, or they can tear us down.

Some memories we cherish, others we would rather forget.

What's amazing about God is that he chooses to not remember my mistakes and failures, but is going to reward me one day for what I have done right.

Dwell on that for a moment.

That's what I would call "selective memory" at its finest.

God has "selective memory."

The Bible says he puts my sins as far away as the East is from the West.

Can we not be thankful for that today!

And would it not behoove us to do the same in our relationships with others? We must learn from the past, but not dwell on the past.

Paul said that we are to forget those thing that are behind and press on toward the goal of drawing closer to God.

Learn from the past - but don't dwell on the past.

Onward and upward!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Miracles part deux

I watched an interesting episode of "House" last night. House was his being his typical ornery self. It was a classic clash of science and faith or as the program purported it to be - between House and God.

The opening scene was pretty right on, it showed a young teenager "preaching" the Word concerning faith and healing. I couldn't find anything wrong with it, in fact, his sermon was something you would hear in Pentecostal churches across the country.

The teenager gets sick in the midst of praying for someone and goes to the hospital. He finds himself praying for a cancer patient, and her cancer goes into remission.

The program leads you to believe that there is a possibility that God really did do a miracle!

But, and I might say unsurprisingly, House comes up with scientific evidence for the remission and at the same time exposes the young teenagers sins.

Wow..So much there, the program raises more questions, I believe, than it answered.

Questions such as:

Can God uses someone who is (or did) participate in sexual immorality?
Is there scientific evidence for every miracle in the Bible?
If there is scientific evidence for a miracle - does that negate the miracle itself?

And then at the end of the program, Wilson makes a profound comment, "Just because you believe in something, doesn't mean that you are going to live up to it," speaking of the fact that the teenager really believed in faith and healing, but his life did live up to it.

Lots of questions - any answers out there?

Monday, November 27, 2006


Back in the early 1980's there was a movement call the "Vineyard" churches. Their founder was a man by the name of John Wimber. John Wimber had a profound influence ironically enough, on the evangelical community concerning the subject of miracles and healing.

We as Pentecostals gave it a passing nod, but didn't pay it much attention.

His whole emphasis, that through signs and wonders, people are not only ministered to, but secular people are attracted to the gospel and connect with God.

I really believe that he was on to something there.

Wouldn't it be great to see people actually healed in our times together! And wouldn't it further be great to hear stories of miracles!

One time Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer - it was about three in the afternoon. A man who was crippled form birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts.

Peter and John come along, and he asks them for money.

Peter says, "Sliver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the names of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk."

Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up and instantly the man's feet and ankles became strong.

He jumped to his feet and began to walk.

Somehow I can't see Peter wearing a white suit and having a how great thou art mood music song in the background.

I think Peter said this in a very normal tone of voice - almost matter of fact.

I think miracles were happening so fast in the early church that there was no need for mood music or sensationalism.

That's what I am talking about. And that was what Vineyard churches at the beginning of their movement were all about.

Healings and miracles should be a normal happenstance in our every day lives. In order for that to happen, let's don't go to the extreme of doing certain emotional and physical gyrations or weird stuff. God's power doesn't have to be weird!

God can move within the context of our everyday, normal lives. A simple prayer of faith will work wonders!

May you come across someone today with whom you can pray for a miracle. And may that miracle be granted.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


I am grateful.

I'm grateful for God's patience with me.

For life.

I'm grateful for the ability to see, touch, taste (especially tomorrow), walk, feel, and hear.

I am grateful for health.

I am grateful for my relationship with God and the knowledge that I am going to spend eternity with Him.

I am grateful for a loving family, a wonderful and beautiful wife who continually makes me laugh, and 3 children who bring a tremendous amount of joy in my life.

I am grateful for my church family.

I know that they are there in my time of need.

I am grateful for friends such as Rick, Jon, Dale and Gary who allow me to be myself and yet continue to want to hang around me (now that's friendship).

Thanks, God. I am grateful to you.

Happy thanksgiving to all.....

With much love,


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The three stooges

When I was a kid, I loved to watch the "Three stooges." Their sense of physical comedy really appealed to me.

Sometimes when I read about Peter, James and John, I think of Larry, Moe and Curly. I mean, these guys, until they were transformed by Jesus were full of hijinks and mischief.

Peter was brash, proud and outgoing. At one point he denied the Lord, and another point he even rebuked Jesus (oh, by the way, did I mention that Jesus was the Son of God?)

James and John were known as the "Sons of thunder." Now usually when you get a nickname it's for a reason. At one point they came across a village that didn't want to accept them or help them, and J and J wanted to call down a "rain of fire" upon the village and destroy them.

Jesus basically said, whoa now....slow down a little bit here.

You see, perhaps Peter and J and J were not so close to Jesus because of their personalities or friendship with Jesus, but because they required more attention. Like the student who is "asked" to sit by the teacher in class.

Sometime we have friendships, not for what we can get out of them, but for what we can give. Some friendships are there to coach, to mentor, to disciple, to help people grow in God.

Let me ask you this: who are you reaching out to this day - so that they might draw closer to Christ?

Just a thought....

Oh, and by the way, because of the attention of Jesus? Peter died for God and help found The Church. John became the apostle of love. James the pastor in Jerusalem. Wow......

Monday, November 20, 2006


Have you ever longed for something only to realize that what you were longing for really didn't matter that much?

Think about that for a moment.

We long for a great Thanksgiving and Christmas (Christmas tree, turkey, ham, all the fixin's) - only to realize that it's friends and family that make a great Christmas and our relationships with them.

We long for success, only to realize that in the long run it's signficance that matters. Who am I influencing for good? What relationship am I in this day that I can encourage and deepen?

The Bible tells us in Proverbs 15:17, "Better a meal of vergetables where there is love than a fattened calf with hatred."

And then in Proverbs 17:1, "Better a dry crust with peace and quite than ahouse full of feasting, with strife."

Good relationship are so important.

This past weekend was an example of that for me.

Christie and Becky came down to see George's play.

My favorite moments? Moments that are meaningful for me?

Talking with Becky for about 10 minutes in the kitchen about her life and what's going on at Michigan State and then taking her out to the Red Lobster for her birthday with her mom.

Taking a walk with Christie and hearing about Grand Rapids and what's going on there, and then having a dinner with her and Debbie Saturday evening.

Watching George's musical on Thursday, Friday and Sunday. Seeing the joy that he brought into people's lives as he performed.

Being continually reinforced by Debbie of how much she loves me.

The cost of a dinner at Red Lobster? Around 35 dollars.

The cost of a meal at hom with Christie? Probably around 15 dollars.

The cost of the musical for three night? Around 30 dollars.

The cost of being with my family and knowing that they love me and I love them? Priceless.

And for that I am thankful.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Power of prayer

In Point Man, Steve Farrar tells the story of George McCluskey. When McCluskey married and started a family, he decided to invest one hour a day in prayer, because he wanted his kids to follow Christ. After a time, he expanded his prayers to include his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Every day between 11 a.m. and noon, he prayed for the next three generations.

As the years went by, his two daughters committed their lives to Christ and married men who went into full-time ministry. The two couples produced four girls and one boy. Each of the girls married a minister, and the boy became a pastor. The first two children born to this generation were both boys. Upon graduation from high school, the two cousins chose the same college and became roommates.

During their sophomore year, one boy decided to go into the ministry. The other didn't. He undoubtedly felt some pressure to continue the family legacy, but he chose instead to pursue his interest in psychology. He earned his doctorate and eventually wrote books for parents that became bestsellers. He started a radio program heard on more than a thousand stations each day. The man's name was James Dobson. Through his prayers, George McCluskey affected far more than one family.

May you be blessed with powerful prayers for your family this day....

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Qualifying pain

One of the things I am learning is that you can't qualify pain.

Many times we fall into the trap of comparing our pain with others. I know I have.

We can feel ashamed because we know that our pain is nothing compared to somebody in Sudan who is holding their starving kids, just trying to stay alive.

That is tragic. We hurt for those who hurt.

Yet, here's what I am learning. All pain is pain. You can't measure it on a scale and rate how "worthy" or "unworthy" it is.

While there are times when we do need a reality check as to our reaction to the pain in our lives, we must never rush to qualify our pain.

I can't compare my situation with anyone else.

The one thing I do know. All pain leads us to God. A dependence upon Him. It takes us in prayer from trying to get God to do what we want to seeing it as our way of being in on what God is doing - and just hanging on.

May you sense God entering into your pain this day.....

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Last words

"If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say? And why are you waiting?"

In the movie "Love Actually", Hugh Grant's character makes the observation, "When the planes hit the twin towers, as far as I know none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge. They were all messages of love."

Many of us spend too much time thinking of things we'd like to say -- how we would like to tell so-and-so what we really think about him/her and how he/she needs to get his/her life in order.

Or we think of things we wished we'd said -- we always think of a snappy comeback about a month after the occasion to use it has passed, don't we? But that doesn't prevent us from rehearsing it, just in case we get another chance.

Instead, we should be thinking of things we ought to say -- such as "I love you," "I thank God for you," "You're special to me," "You make a difference in my life," "I appreciate you."

The first chapter of Philippians gives us a good example to follow. Paul says, "Every time I think of you, I gives thanks to God for you." "I always pray for you and I make my requests with a heart full of joy." "It is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a very special place in my heart."

More than likely, today isn't your last day on planet earth. But don't use that as an excuse to put off saying that most important thing to one who needs to hear it.

By the way, you're looking good today!

Monday, November 13, 2006

My father's love

The one thing that I deeply appreciate about God as my Father is that He always loves me. He can never love me any more or less than he does right now.

When I am really burning on all cylinders and my walk with Him is strong, He loves me.

When I am disobedient My Father still loves me.

In fact, I have learned in life that those who need God's love the most are those who feel the most unloved and are the most in need of love. And God never fails to reach out to them.

The father in the story of the prodigal son show this. He runs out to welcome his son, with a hug and some kisses. He then offers the disobedient one the best robe, the ring, and the sandals. Finally he throws a party.

Wow. The love of God. Unconditional. Always there. Always willing. Always perfect.

We judge, we throw out opinions like we do so much bathwater, but God is there. Loving us. Caring for us. Never leaving us.

Father, help us to love as you love us. Forgive us for our judgmentalism and critical spirit. Let us express your love to those around us this day. Amen.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The importance of teamwork

The two most memorable plays Terrell Owens has made for the Dallas Cowboys are two he didn't make: a fourth-down drop that short circuited a rally against the New York Giants, and a deep, sure touchdown pass he dropped against Washington.

His most memorable touchdown celebration? A nap that cost 15 yards against the Redskins.

I just shake my head.

The question is: Is talent worth all the grief that he is giving the Cowboy organization? Would they have a record of 4-4 without him? Or would they be better?

How important is personality and chemistry to a team?

I think it is very, very important.

I would rather work with someone who gets along with everyone than with someone who was extremely gifted and couldn't get along with anyone.

More and more, when we look for new staff or ministry leaders, I am convinced that character is more important than natural talent and even spiritual giftedness.

I would rather have great chemistry (i.e. the Detroit Tigers), than great talent (i.e. the New York Yankees) any day.

My only guess is that winning is so important to Jerry Jones that he is willing to sacrifice integrity, teamwork and class to get it.

Come on, Jerry, trade him or release him. You might not make the playoffs anyway, so why not build a "team" instead of "group."

Just a thought.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Patience - fruit of the spirit

I voted yesterday. So did a lot of people. Apparently, I went at the same time as many others. The line was all the way out the door.

The fruit of the spirit of patience was called into question.

I said nothing.

But, as per my personality, I was standing there thinking of ten different ways we could have voted more efficiciently.

Am I the only one who has thought of the idea of having touch-screen computers set up where all you have to do it to touch the screen to vote for the candidate of your choice?

And isn't there a better way to sign in than having three older ladies (who were voluntering - God bless em) there (who are in all their glory - I overheard one lady say, "I better quit talking and start working - oh really?)to sign us in?

The lady at the end reminded me of my 3rd grade writing teacher. It took her "forever" to write my name.....

Come on America, let's change the way we vote...enough of this stuff....

If you have read this entirely, thanks for listening.....

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Living deeply for God

Do you desire to draw closer to God? Of course you do. In fact, I know you do.

Anais Nin said, "People living deeply have no fear of death." I like that idea. I'm not sure how he would define "living deeply" -- but I have found it in living with Jesus as the center of my life and the focus of my efforts.

The longer I'm engaged in living the Christian life, the more central he becomes. This seems so obvious that it sounds ridiculous, but the fact is that sometimes devotion to Jesus is overlooked in our efforts to get his work done.

Here's an axiom that I constantly come back to as I minister: I must live for God and not ministry. My love for God must be at the forefront - for I can't give what I don't have.

Ted Haggard's fall is a terrible, horrible blow both to him, his family, and the kingdom.

Only he and the personal demons that he fights can explain why.

My reaction has been not, "how could he," but, "Lord help me to continue to put you at the forefront of my life." "Help me to not become so busy with ministry that I lose sight of you."

Remember Mary and Martha? Martha was distracted by all that had to be done while Mary sat at Jesus' feet, listening to what he said.

When Martha objected, the Lord said, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:41-42)

I love serving Jesus. I love doing the job he has called me to do. But I want to see if I can, like Mary, make a habit of choosing that which is better. In addition to doing his work, I want to learn to sit at his feet and hear his voice.

This is something Paul had undoubtedly learned to do; it's why he was able to say, "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." He was a tireless worker, but he also knew how to live deeply in the presence of Jesus

Monday, November 06, 2006

Being a mentor

I am on a quest. It's a quest to make a difference. I'm learning that making a difference doesn't mean that I need to pastor the biggest church in the county or state.

All I need to do is influence one. Let's call it the "influence of one."

My goal is to influence one person each day, each month, each year. If I can do that, if I can pour my life into one person (or two or three), than that one person can influence two others, and two others can influence six others and, well, you get the idea.

I encourage us all to look around us and seek out those whom we can influence. Would to God (I say that as a prayer) that the older men in our church and in the kingdom would recognize this. On the one hand I can't fault anyone for I know that we all have life issues to deal with.

But the irony is that it's in the midst of dealing with life issues that we are the most effective in ministry. It's when we are hurting the most that we influence the most in our lives. It's called "ministering through pain."

Some in the midst of pain want to withdraw, to withdraw from ministry, until their suffering is over. Yet, God calls us all to be "wounded healers," as Henri Nouwen writes.

How do I seek out someone to mentor?

First of all, recognize the need to be a mentor. Let's take teenagers as an example.

On a regular basis, this generation of young people is faced with things we could have never anticipated. The increasing level of influence society has on them is continually justified while the teenagers of today are slipping farther and farther out of the grasp of the church.

It is going to take concerned adults like you to rescue them from the clutches of the enemy that is luring them away ever so subtly. What can we do? What does this generation really need? This generation needs you. It needs you to be a mentor.

You may ask, “How can I do anything to help a teenager or someone in need? I don’t even know how to talk to them!” Believe it or not, teens are ready and waiting to get to know adults that care for them. Here are a few tips that you can use to get started.

Be real... If your life isn’t a cake walk, don’t pretend that it is. Show teens how to respond to difficult situations. Often, we feel pressured to act as if our life is perfect, making us seem incredibly un-relatable. Teens have an uncanny sense of knowing when you are being fake. If you are not real with them, they have no reason to be real with you. Teens can feel intimidated by people who seem perfect, but they are willing to open up to those who are transparent.

Seek first to understand, then to be understood... Remember, God gave us two ears and one mouth; listen more than you talk. In his book, “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” Stephen Covey writes, “…unless I open up with you, unless you understand me and my unique situation and feelings, you won’t know how to advise or counsel me. What you say is good and fine, but it doesn’t quite pertain to me.”

It is easy to counsel through your own autobiography, forgetting that things today are not quite the same as when you were a teenager. In fact, each teenager’s story is different than your own. Learn to listen before telling them how it is.

Don’t pretend you have all of the answers... If you don’t know the answer, don’t allow yourself to be intimidated. Rather, find the answer together. Pray and search scripture together. Investigate the issue even further by reading a book together on the topic. The key is not knowing all the answers, but knowing how to find them

Walk the talk... Stephen Covey also writes, “The real key to your influence with me is your example, your actual conduct. Your example flows naturally out of your character or the kind of person you truly are—not what others say you are or what you may want me to think you are. It is evident in how I actually experience you.”

The way you privately and publicly live your life is the foundation of your influence on a young person. If the two contradict, then the relationship you are attempting to build will crumble. “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” (Mark 3:25)

Once you’ve identified someone to mentor, remember this: You can’t take someone anywhere that you haven’t been before. Don’t let that intimidate you, but let it encourage you to go places with the Lord you’ve never been before. Then, show them how to get there, too.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Years ago a friend of mine by the name of Jay Littlefield was reading a book by Catholic theologian Hans Kung called "On Being A Christian." It is 709 pages long.

What's ironic is that it does not include a chapter, or even an index entry, on the subject of prayer. Hans Kung later said that he regretted the oversight; he was so stressed about meeting his publisher's deadline that he simply forgot about it.

I don't see how such an omission could be made, but I can think of something even worse: the omission of prayer in our daily lives. We get busy, we get stressed, and we overlook the most important aspect — and certainly the greatest privilege — in the life of a follower of God.

When it comes to prayer, there are two important directives from Scripture to remember: Pray about everything (Philippians 4:6) and Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Don't let pressure, stress, deadlines, or frustration keep you from praying. As these things increase, increase your prayers. How things turn out is in God's hands, as always, but we have one guarantee: "If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand." (Philippians 4:7 NLT)

As you read this, why not have a conversation with God...right now...this moment....

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


What drives you?

What gives you passion?

What motivates you?

What gets you going full bore at anytime of the day?

It's hard to fully understand everything that drives us. Kant said that it's the "insatiable desire to possess and rule."

William James said we're driven by the need "to gain, keep, or recover happiness."

Alexander Pope said that self-love is the "spring of motion."

Former President Lyndon B. Johnson said "Sex and envy are the greatest drives in life." Former President Nixon said, "People react to fear, not love. They don't teach that in Sunday School, but it's true."

Maybe French Philosopher La Rochefoucald nailed it when he said that we would be embarrassed by our best deeds "if the world were to see all their underlying motives."

Solomon wrote, "All of a man's ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart." (Proverbs 21:2) This reminds us of Jeremiah's words, "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9)

I am in the process of learning to stop trying to determine what motivates others.

You see, here's the question of the day: I have trouble reading the intentions of my own heart; how can I judge what drives someone else?

Maybe our attention shouldn't be consumed with "what drives them" — it should be directed to: "What drives me? Are the desires of my heart molded into the desires of God's heart?"

David's prayer was "Create in me a pure heart." (Psalm 51:10)

He understood that his motives were a mixed bag, sometimes leading to greatness, sometimes leading to disaster. And he understood that his heart needed to be made new by the power of God's mercy.

I am learning that we can't afford to waste our time second-guessing that which only God can judge and only God can change. Instead, we must make a habit of laying our own hearts on the altar, asking God to redeem and purify our motives — and to use us in spite of who we are, not because of who we are.