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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Big Foot, the Loch Ness Monster and the tomb of Jesus

MSNBC is reporting that a tomb discovered in 1980 is believed to contain coffins that hold the remains of Jesus, his mother Mary, Mary Magdalene, and several other family members, including Judah, the son of Jesus.

The archaeological find has been detailed in a documentary produced by James Cameron (Titanic). The documentary is called, "The Lost Tomb of Jesus."

Even though this story is almost 30 years old, and the inscriptions on the casket inscriptions were decoded a decade ago, it is now being treated as breaking news, primarily due to Cameron's involvement.

The documentary is scheduled to be shown on the Discovery Network, presumably between documentaries asserting the existence of Big Foot and the Loch Ness Monster.

One more time, Christianity is being challenged. One more time, the truth will eventually come out.

You almost get into a "when will they ever learn" type mode.

Jesus is "the way, the truth and the life." No one can come to the Father but through Him.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

God's love

Paul prays a wonderful prayer in Ephesians 3, part of which speaks of God's love. He prays, " that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge..." (Ephesians 3:16-19)

God's love is something that we can't completely understand because it is eternal, supernatural and unconditional.

God's love reaches down into every part and parcel of who we are.

It is wide - it covers the breadth of our own experience, and it reaches out to the whole world.

It is long - it continues the length of our lives.

It is high - it rises to the heights of our celebration and elation.

It is deep - it reaches to the depths of discouragement, despair and even death.

If you ever feel shut out, isolated, or in despair, remember that God's love is always there.

God will never love you any more or any less than He does right now. He is love. His love is based on his character not whether or not I am lovable.

Author Mike Yaconelli says:

I travel a lot, and I came to San Francisco one night and missed my connection back home. I was angry and upset, and I called my son on the phone. I wanted him to encourage me. I said, "Man, I'm stuck in the airport; it's been a horrible day. I've been traveling too much."

My son said, "You know, Dad, if you didn't travel so much, you wouldn't have things like this happen." Well, I didn't appreciate that. I was ticked off. I said, let me talk to your son [my two-year-old grandson]. Well, I forgot that when you're two you can't talk, and when you're 60 you can't hear.

This is not a good combination. He's mumbling on the phone. I'm hoping that this is going to make me feel better. It's making me feel worse. Finally, I've had it. I hear the phone drop onto the floor. Now, I hear the kids playing. I'm stuck in the airport. I have this miserable experience. I'm furious and angry, when all of a sudden I hear crystal clear over the phone, "I love you, Grampa."

You know what? All my anxiety, everything went out the window.

There are people who are so busy they're at their wits' end. If they'd only stop for a minute, they could hear the God of the universe whisper to them, "I love you."

Why not do that today? Stop and hear the voice of God, "I love you."

Father, may we all experience you love today. Thanks for your unconditional love.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Fear of God

The Bible tells us in Proverbs 1:7, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge."

The word knowledge in the hebrew means, "information of a person with a strong implication of relationship to that person.

It speaks of an experiential knowledge of God. It speaks of being intimate in our relationship with God.

To acheive this intimacy, I must fear God.

The only way to know God is to fear God.

I have some definite ideas about what it means to "fear" God.

But before I share them, I'm curious as to what that phrase means to you.

What do you think?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Charisma versus character

One of the principles that God continually brings to the forefront of my walk with him (and especially the last few days) is that character is more important than charisma. The fruit of the spirit are more important than the gifts of the spirit.

Both are needed, both are to be yearned for, but ultimately the fruit show a deep relationship with God.

Paul describes the Christian experience as a race. It's a race, alright, but it's a race of marathon length. It's not a short sprint.

I have seen fellow followers of Christ with tremendous charisma come and go. But it seems like the ones who keep on running are those with character.

And....every once in a while I come across someone who is blessed with both. They are a person of integrity, faithfulness and joy. They attract people in a natural way.

Which would you rather have if you had to make a choice?

I would suggest to you that in the short run - charisma.

In the long run - character.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Complicated Times

We live in such complex, complicated times. It's beginning to remind one of the sixties. What's right? What's wrong? What the direction we need to take as a country?

Should we say in Iraq? Should we go? Should we go into Iran? Should we simply leave the region all together?

Yet the complexity we feel on a national, global level is the complexity that we feel on a personal level as well. It seems like life is becoming more and more complex.

Under the philosophy of "tolerance" we are beginning to go to the other extreme in accepting anything and everything to the point that it's hard to tell who is right and who is wrong.

That's why I love the simplicity of the message of Jesus. Jesus basically said, "love me and love other people." Accept me and live for me and live forever.

Simplicity doesn't imply that something isn't profound, only that it is easily understood and applied.

What if we applied the philosophy of Jesus to global politics? Love God, love one another. Too simple? Maybe. But the basis of the direction we need to go? Absolutely.

Just a thought on a Tuesday morning.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Silence is golden

William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, said, "True silence is the rest of the mind; it is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment."

Practicing silence effectively requires ... well... practice. It takes effort on your art. In his book Noise Reduction Leonard Koren writes, "Like an unbroken horse or a spoiled child, your mind will resist any attempts to discipline it."

We are addicted to noise. All day we are besieged with sound, from the time we wake up to the sound of the alarm until we drop off to sleep at night, often with the TV in the background to "keep us company."

Try a few moments of silence each day. And begin today. Just a few minutes with no music, no radio, no TV, no conversation. Just a few moments of absolute silence in the presence of God. These moments will be like nourishment to your soul.

As David wrote, "But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me." (Psalm 131:2)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

One of Jesus main guys was John. He had a close, deep friendship with him. The "gospel" of John really brings this out - the closeness, the depth of their relationship as brother in God.

In fact, John calls himself, the "disciple whom Jesus loved," in John 21:20.

John knew that he was loved by Jesus, so therefore he was really sensitive and open to the words of Jesus when Jesus talked about the idea of God not only loving us, but being love.

John went from being one of the "sons of thunder" to being a disciple of love. Through the continual discipleship and confrontation of Jesus, we see John transformed.

Here's the idea: Jesus confronts each of us as he confronts John. God knows us completely. And I would suggest to you that we can't know the depth of the love of Jesus for us unless we are willing to face the fact that he knows us completely.

Otherwise we deceive ourselves into thinking that God must love the people that we are pretending to be (and we all pretend in one way or another) rather than the sinners we actually are.

God accepts us as we are - but loves us to much to keep us that way!

Here's the "formula"...accept God's willing to change...and be transformed!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


We are in the throes of probing into the idea as to whether or not to start our Sunday morning worship time at 9:30, 10:00 or 10:30 A.M.

I'm open to any "starting time," but there is one thing that really bothers me as a spiritual leader.

I would not want to start earlier so that "I can get on with my day."

When I hear that, it leaves a taste in my mouth (to use a very graphic illustration), as when you accidently "throw up in your mouth." It leaves a bitter taste.

Jesus said, "The sabbath is not made for man, but man is made for the Sabbath."

Sunday is not first and primarily a time to kick back and focus in on leisure and hobby activities. It is a time to focus in on God.

Coming on a Sunday morning to connect with God and connect with others is not something I do so that "I can get on with my day," it IS my day. It's the reason for the day.

I'm not opposed to other activities on Sunday. Thankfully, the kingdom is way beyond not allowing swimming, golf or working in the yard on Sunday.

But let's not go the the other extreme of thinking that attending a Sunday morning service is optional.

"The Sabbath is not made for us, we are made for the Sabbath."

Monday, February 12, 2007

Intimacy with Jesus.

Jesus describes a relationship of intimacy with him as the connection that a branch has with the vine.

I long for true spiritual intimacy in my relationship with the Son.

I long to be grafted "into Jesus" as a branch is grafted into the vine so that everything I say and do comes from the vine. In communion with Jesus, the vine, my life can grow and bear fruit. I fulfill the purpose that God has for my life.

I long to fulfill the purpose that God has for my life.

Jesus said, "If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."

My prayer: "Jesus I remain in you today. Let you shine through me." Amen.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

How do you deal with conflict? Avoid it? Hit it "head on"?

Some people will go to great lengths to avoid conflict:

Read the article below from the Tampa Bay Times:

A woman told her church friends she was dying of cancer, and 11 months of deception began.
Beneath a stained-glass mural of the resurrection, the choir of St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church gathered Jan. 26 to mourn a young member's death.

The people had braced for Alison Matera's passing since they learned of her cancer. They sat in wooden pews before a pedestal of polished white stone. Among them was a stranger who looked strangely familiar.

She said she was Matera's sister. But she looked and sounded exactly like Matera.
And the people wondered.

Was it all a trick?

According to an incident report from the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, this is what happened:
Matera told them about the cancer last February, after two years in the choir. They were some of her closest friends, and she gave them frequent updates on her treatment.

Near the end of last year, at the age of 27, she said she was giving up and entering hospice care.
Choir members started getting calls from a hospice nurse with updates on Matera's condition. Several of them noticed the same thing: The nurse's voice sounded just like Matera's.

Jan. 18, the same nurse called choir director Timothy Paquin and told him Matera had died at 7:04 p.m. He spread the news and planned the memorial.

Soon after, Paquin got a call from a woman saying she was Matera's sister. She said Matera's body would be shipped north to her family. She, too, sounded just like Matera.

Paquin called the hospice. He called local funeral homes. No one had record of Alison Matera. But the wheels were in motion, and the memorial went on.

Then the so-called sister appeared, and the suspicion grew, and by the end of the service the people were convinced it had been a charade.

It's unclear whether anyone confronted her, because no one from the choir agreed to be interviewed for this story. Matera also declined comment, as did the stepsister she might have impersonated.

After the service, a choir member called the Sheriff's Office and asked for help. A deputy visited Matera's apartment in New Port Richey that night. She was there. According to the report, she confessed to faking her sickness and death.

Matera was not arrested. According to sheriff's spokesman Doug Tobin, she did not commit a crime.

So why did she do it?

She told the deputy she has attachment problems rooted in childhood trauma. Any time someone gets close, she feels the need to separate.

After she gained several close friends in the choir, she said she had cancer to drive them away.
But it brought them closer.

She said the fake death - the heartbreaking conclusion of an 11- month lie - was her best attempt at sparing everyone's feelings.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Psalms 34 personalized

Here's Psalms 34 personalized as a prayer:

Lord, I'm going to honor you at all times, every time I think of it, I'm going to praise you.

My inner spirit knows that you are in contorl, and I hope that everyone around me knows that.

To everyone around me, let's praise God together!

Let's worship him as one!

I seek you, Lord, and I know that you asnwer me and that you encourage me when I am fearful.

I know that because I hear reports of those around me who do that and they continue to walk in joy in the midst of their bad circumstances.

I call to you Lord and you hear me, you help me out of difficult situations.

I know that your angels are watching over me, because I have a tremendous amount of respect and awe of you, Lord. Not only are they watching over me, but they are in the process of delivering me from all of my troubles.

Help me this day dear Father, to actually experience you and to run to you.

We fear you Lord, we who call you Savior and we know that as we respect you, you take care of all of our needs.

Even the strongest of the strong falter if the live without God, but those of us who seek you never will lack for anything.

My friends, listen to me, I am in the process of learning how to "fear" God. Join me in this process!

I know that you desire to enjoy life and live a long life, so let me encourage all of us with this:

We are to keep ourselves from speaking evil, malicious lies about those around us - even if we call them prayer requests!

Let's all do the right thing today. Let's seek peace, actively seek peace.

God's watching us and he hears our prayers

He's also watching those who do bad things and is going to do something about it. He will wipe the very memory of them from our minds.

We who try to be holy, cry out to you Lord, and we know that you hear us, you deliver us from all of our problems.

Thanks for being there for us in our time of need - especially when we are discouraged, brokenhearted and down. You continually lift us up.

We all have troubles - Jesus said so! But you help us in the midst of all of them.

You protect us physically in every area of our bodies.

Those who are wicked will eventually turn on themselves, but the ones who are against you will eventually be wiped out entirely.

You save us Lord, you never condemn us if we take refuge in you.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Good people in the world.

Lately, I've been hearing some stories that show that there IS good in the world, that there ARE people that are reaching out in a time of need.

I was at Ritz camera the other day in the mall, and the manager and I got into a conversation about her son who is in college.

He is on his way to China for 6 weeks where he will work with physically handicapped children, who will then be taken to America, operated on in a hospital, and then given out for adoption to a loving family.


And then this article I found it and know that there ARE good people in the world, people who care, people who want to help.

Congratulations to the winners of the Super Bowl: the Chicago Bears.

OK, I'm guessing you watched the game (even some of those $2.6 million commercials) or at least heard the score, and you know that Indianapolis actually prevailed. But to the residents of some African village soon, the Bears were and always will be victors of Super Bowl XLI.

That's because as soon as the game was over, Reebok representatives rushed onto the field with 288 championship caps and t-shirts, making sure Peyton Manning and team were seen in those garments that would be on sale at your local retailer on Monday morning. But that means there were an equal number of items on hand proclaiming the Bears as winners. What happened to those shirts and caps?

According to a story in the Feb. 4 New York Times, as soon as the game was concluded, the unused apparel was kept under lock and key, to avoid any renegade caps showing up on eBay. Then on Monday it was all shipped to a World Vision warehouse, from which it will soon be sent to an African village for distribution to people with no TVs and no football, and for whom the Bears will forever after be the winners.

So while we have some bones to pick with the NFL over refusing to let churches show large-screen displays of the game while allowing sports bars to do so, at least they got something right. Instead of just destroying 288 perfectly good -- if inaccurate -- shirts and caps, they get them into the hands of people for whom they will have real value.

And the Bears can know that somewhere in the world, they are winners after all.

May we all be "winners" this day by reaching out and helping someone - for the good.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Tony Dungy

I was thrilled for Tony Dungy winning a super bowl last night. I know that a lot has been made of him being the first African American to coach a winning super bowl team, and that's great, but what about him being the first Christian African American coach to win the super bowl?

I thought that it was cool that towards the end of the super bowl game the announcers, Jim Nantz and Phil Simms were talking about Dungy's character. They said that the only word that anybody on his staff around him have ever hard him say (concerning curse words) was when he said that he was willing to appear on the "Best Damn Sports show" on Fox sports. That's the name of the show, I'm not adding my own personal adjective to it.....

Well even that was too much for Tony Dungy...he said that he would never say the name of the sports show again...

What a great example of someone being godly and winning at a game that almost demands ungodliness!

Yet I also detected a certain amount on sadness coming from Coach Dungy. Maybe I'm making too much of this, but his son died last year (committed suicide) and I would think that Coach Dungy is putting all of the Super Bowl stuff in perspective.

Anyway...may he be blessed this day. Way to go Coach!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Growing faith

Having great faith is a learning process. I learn to have faith. It comes through a process of trial and error.

On time Jesus got into a boat (matthew tells us) and his disciples followed him.

All of a sudden a tremendous storm came up and their boat was covered with waves - it was the original perfect storm.

Jesus slept.

Now that's a great thought in and of itself. In the midst of this storm - Jesus slept.

Besides the face of having great faith and knowledge that God was in control - how could he physically sleep through all of that?

His guys came to him and woke him up and said, "Lord, save us! We are dying here!"

But He said to them, "Why are you fearful, o you of little faith?"

that word faith is oligopistos from oligos meaning "small" and pistis, meaning faith, describing a faith that lacks confidence or trust too little.

But another way to term it is "underdeveloped faith," as opposed to outright unbelief or distrust.

In other words, perhaps the disciples were not in a state of sinful disbelief, but their faith had not yet developed to the point where they could viably handle the situation.

My prayer today is - God increase our faith!

Help us to learn to trust in you!