Total Pageviews

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Worrrying about worry

I was reading something today that did not bless me.

Did you know that puppies are the chief carriers of ringworm? Were you aware that kitchen counters have more germs than the seat of a public toilet?

On and on it goes. Makes you wonder just what IS safe in today's world.

That's why we must live life with zest and gusto in the present. Death will come soon enough. While we as followers of Christ keep one eye on the future and eternal life, we live in the present with the knowledge that God has everything under control.

It doesn't do any good to worry. I know that, I teach that, yet why do I still worry?

It doesn't make a lot of sense.

Someone once said, "Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but it doesn't take you any where." Its useless.

What do you worry about?

Your children? Money? Your health? The economy?

Has your worry ever accomplished anything?

Have you become worried that you worry too much?

I love this the words of Jesus found in Matthew 6:25-34:

25"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

26Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

27And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[g]

28And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,

29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

31Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'

32For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.

33But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34"Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

Worry is just another form of atheism. It's believing that God really isn't in control. If it's to be, it's up to me.

Jesus says, "Each day has enough trouble of it's own." Thanks a lot, Jesus! Yet, it's true. Every day brings its own trouble. Why worry about tomorrow's troubles?

Let's throw them on God! As Peter writes, "Cast (throw, dump on) all your worries and cares on God for he cares for you!"

Does God care about your car payment? Yes.

Does God care about the bills you need to pay? Yes.

Does God care about your children? Yes.

Is He in control?


Father, we give you this day. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow is not yet here, today is all we have. We give you our fears, our worries, our anxieties. We know that you have everything under control." Amen."

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Being chosen by God

I can remember as a boy standing on the corner of Grant and Norton where we would play baseball in the summer and football in the fall and winter.

All of the young guys from the neighborhood would come. As I recall, it was truly a Norman Rockwell kind of upbringing.

Lazy days riding bikes to the pool, stopping off at the corner store for a candy bar, playing basketball till we dropped.

But back to the corner of Grant and Norton. Inevitably what would happen would be that two people were elected to "pick" the teams. What an anxious moment for a gangly, skinny kid with asthma. Where would I be chosen?

Nobody wanted to be picked last.

Everybody wanted to be picked first or at least second or third.

It became almost hierarchical in it's approach.

This Saturday is the NFL Draft where teams from the National Football League choose college players to add to their rosters.

It is an honor to be picked first.

It got me to thinking today - I am glad that God has chosen me.

Paul writes in Ephesians 1:4,5 that "he chose us in him before the creation of the world...he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ..."

We as evangelicals stress (and rightly so) that we must make a decision as to whether to accept or reject Christ.

But first of all we must realize that God has chosen us!

You and I are important to God!

He has chosen you!

If you feel unappreciated today, or discourage because of a lack of recognition, know that in the eyes of our Creator, he has picked you first!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Describing God

Just for fun, describe God without using religious jargon or cliches. It's hard isn't it? Well, God is, huh, let me think. God is love. That's good, something from the Bible, but what does that mean?

God is Spirit. Lots of things are "spirit."

I can remember a cheer from high school that goes like this, "we've got spirit, yes we do, we got spirit, how 'bout you?"

God is Spirit...hmmmm.

Who is God?

How can do you describe Him? Does He even exist?

Here's what I know: the way I think about God does not define Him. Yet, again, how can we define or describe God?

Is God really out there?

I would suggest to you that more than "out there" He is "in here" in my life, my heart, my spirit.

Well, how can you prove that?

Here's a thought that is kind of reverse logic: "Don't worry about proving God's existence, because no one can disprove it."

I'm interested in your responses? How do you describe God?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Keeping everything in perspective

One of the things I am learning is that we can't qualify our pain. Pain is pain. My pain is real to me. My hurt hurts me. I can't compare my pain to anyone else's pain, and they can't compare their pain to mine.

It's easy to say to someone in pain, "Read the red letters (the words of Jesus in the Bible), pray and suck it up," and turn right around when we are in pain and crave for comfort and consolation.

As someone once said, "minor surgery is when it's on you, major surgery is when it is on me."

Yet at the same time, we need to keep our pain in perspective.

As you read this, ask yourself, "am I having a lousy day?"

It's so important to put everything in perspective.

David Slagle of Atlanta, Georgia writes this:

On Sunday evening, when I walked out to my car and pressed the keyless entry button to unlock the doors, nothing happened. I tried again and again. Still nothing.

After calling a repair shop, the mechanic said he would call me on Monday morning with an estimate. He did—and it was painful. That Monday evening, I walked up to the payment window to take care of my bill. A genuine southern belle greeted me.

"How are you doing, Sugar?" she said to me through a big smile.

As I handed her an invoice for several hundred dollars, I decided not to fake it: "Not so well."

Like an iron fist in a velvet glove, she responded: "Yeah, I know. But you know what, Hon? I didn't lose a child at Virginia Tech today."

She was, of course, referring to the 32 students at Virginia Tech who were killed by a gunman that morning. It was a punch—a perspective punch. I need those every now and again.

She continued: "I'm getting off work in five minutes, and do you know what I'm going to do?"

I shook my head.

"I'm going to go home and hug my little boy."

Good advice for all of us. Go home and hug someone today.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


I really like the word "consolation". It means "to be" (con) "with the lonely one" (solus). To offer consolation is probably one of the most important ways that we care.

Life is full of pain and hurt. Life will give anyone all the pain that they need. It's full of loneliness and sadness, so much so that we often wonder what we can do to ever walk in joy again.

That's why, every day of our lives, we must look around us for opportunities to offer consolation.

We must console the mother who lost her child, the person with AIDS, the family whose house has burned down, the soldier who was wounded, the teenager who thinks about committing suicide, the older person who wonders why they should stay alive.

I've been thinking a lot about this, this week, especially in lieu of what happened at Virginia Tech. My heart goes out to moms and dad who have lost their children.

A lot of what I hear in the media from the "experts" tries to tell us how to take away the pain. I would suggest to you that is not at the heart of consolation.

To console does not mean to take away the pain but rather to be there and say, "You know, you are not alone, I am with you. Together we can carry the burden. We can carry the grief. Don't be afraid. I am here with you."

That is consolation.

May we all be open to give it as well as receive it on a daily basis.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A profile of courage

Yesterday I wrote about the fact that "out of the worst of us can come the best of us." I shared with you that we would be hearing stories of heroism and courage.

Sure enough, the story has come out about Liviu Librescu, 76, an engineering science and mechanics lecturer. Below is a story from MSN.

"Born in Romania, he survived the Nazi Holocaust and emigrated to Israel in 1978 before moving to Virginia in 1985.

An Israeli citizen, he had taught at Virginia Tech for 20 years and was internationally known for his work in aeronautical engineering.

"His research has enabled better aircraft, superior composite materials, and more robust aerospace structures," said Ishwar Puri, the head of the engineering science and mechanics department.

After surviving the Nazi killings, Librescu escaped from Communist Romania and made his way to the United States before he was killed in Monday’s massacre, which coincided with Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Librescu's son, Joe, said his father's students sent e-mails detailing how the professor saved their lives by blocking the doorway of his classroom from the approaching gunman before he was fatally shot.

“My father blocked the doorway with his body and asked the students to flee,” Joe Librescu said from his home outside of Tel Aviv. “Students started opening windows and jumping out.”

It's true, "out of the worst of us comes the best of us."

May Liviu's family be blessed.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Out of the worst can come the best

Once again, our country has been hit by a horrific tragedy, really a massacre. 30 or so college students murdered at Virginia Tech. Horrible. Terrible. Unbelievable.

Yet here's what I am learning, "out of the worst of us can come the best of us."

I believe without a shadow of a doubt that we will be hearing stories of bravery and courage in the next few weeks. Of students who either left their life on the line, or performed some heroic act of bravery as the murderer fired upon these unsuspecting students.

Let me give you and example of what I mean.

Remember October 2, 2006?

October 2, 2006, was a dark day for the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. That morning, a local milkman named Charles Carl Roberts barricaded himself inside the West Nickel Mine Amish School.

He was armed with three guns, knives, and over 600 rounds of ammunition. When police attempted to intervene less than half an hour later, Roberts opened fire on 11 girls—all less than 14-years-old—killing 5. After these brutal acts, he turned his weapon on himself and committed suicide.

It was a dark hour, but as more news became available in the days that followed, a new story began to emerge—one full of courage, faith, and love. According to two of the survivors, when 13-year-old Marie Fisher began to understand what Charles Carl Roberts intended to do, she made a request. "Shoot me first," she said, "and leave the other ones loose." As the oldest child in the group, she hoped that her death might somehow spare the other children or provide more time for their rescue.

Immediately after this request, Marie's younger sister Barbie added one more. "Shoot me second," she said.

News of the girls' bravery and sacrificial love impacted millions of people across the country after the story broke. But according to Rita Rhoads, a local midwife close to the family of the two girls, their faith also affected their attacker. "He asked them to pray for him," Rhoads said. "I think that's amazing. He recognized they had something he didn't."

How would you react in the same circumstances? How would I? Hard to tell. But I would hope and pray we would all act with courage and dignity.

I know you hurt for the families who lost loved ones yesterday. Can you pray with me -

"Father, we pray for the families of those who lost a son or a daughter, a sister or a brother, a nephew or a niece. Encourage them. Comfort them. Lift them up. Let your peace reign in their lives during this difficult time."

Monday, April 16, 2007

Looking backwards to move forwards

Sometimes it's good to look backwards so that you might better move forward. In Joshua 4, God commands the children of Israel to....well let me give you the passage.

1 When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the LORD said to Joshua, 2 "Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, 3 and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan from right where the priests stood and to carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight."

4 So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, 5 and said to them, "Go over before the ark of the LORD your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, 6 to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, 'What do these stones mean?'

7 tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever."

Joshua had just led the people of Israel across the Jordan River (when it was at its flood stage) n a miraculous way. The waters parted and the people crossed over on dry ground!

Now, God says, remember this. Remember how I helped you through this difficult time.

Its important to establish memorials in our own lives in our spiritual journey. We must keep a record of our experiences with God as a continual reminder of His faithfulness to us.

This is what Debbie and I did yesterday here at our church. Our church family graciously honored us for 10 years of service as their lead pastors. Debbie and I took the sermon portion of the service to reminisce, to remember and thank God for all the good things he has done.

God helped us in a time of revival as many came to Christ and drew closer to the Lord.
God helped us to build our new sanctuary, with offices, etc.
God helped us as we have ministered to our community in all kinds of different ways.

We don't look to the past to dwell on the past, but to learn and be stronger for the future.

What in your past, today, has God done for you that will encourage you in the present?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

faithfulness in marriage

Dan Moreheart died a few weeks ago. He really suffered physically throughout the later part of his life.

The last time I talked with Dan he said, "I always thought that I would be with Patty in our eighties, walking hand in hand down the street."

Dan's now with Jesus.

But what he said struck me.

I look forward to walking "hand in hand" with Debbie when we are old. I am committed to being faithful to my wife.

Author and business leader Fred Smith writes: One of my treasured memories comes from a doughnut shop in Grand Saline, Texas. There was a young farm couple sitting at the table next to mine. He was wearing overalls and she a gingham dress. After finishing their doughnuts, he got up to pay the bill, and I noticed she didn't get up to follow him. But then he came back and stood in front of her.

She put her arms around his neck, and he lifted her up, revealing that she was wearing a full-body brace. He lifted her out of her chair and backed out the front door to the pickup truck, with her hanging from his neck. As he gently put her into the truck, everyone in the shop watched. No one said anything until a waitress remarked, almost reverently, "He took his vows seriously."

Hebrews 13:4 states, "Marriage should be honored by all."

The word "honored" means "to hold in respect, to value with high esteem, and to take seriously."

I love Debbie. She is my partner. My life companion. My best friend.

May God help us all to take our relationships seriously by being faithful.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Looking for God in all the small places

Sometimes we are guilty of looking for the "big event" when it comes to God's moving in our lives. Someone rises up and is healed and begins to walk.

A gift is given to pay off a huge debt.

A job is opened that has been prayed for, for months.

Yet, most of the times, God moves in our daily lives in ways that if we are not careful, we miss.

On January 12 the Washington Post conducted an experiment: What would happen if a world class musician performed elegant classical music on a priceless instrument in the Metro station of a major American city?

The city was Washington D.C. The musician was Joshua Bell, who can earn upwards of $50,000 for an evening's performance. The instrument was a 300 year-old Stradivarius valued at $3.5 million. The music included the works of Bach and other masters.

The experiment was captured on hidden camera. So, what happened? How did people respond?
During Mr. Bell's 45 minute performance, 1097 people passed by. 27 dropped spare change into his open violin case, for a total of $35.

And seven of them stopped what they were doing to listen for at least one minute.

The other 1070 people hurried past, oblivious, uninterested, unmoved.

We must also ask ourselves: how many times a day does something like this happen to you or me? How many times do we encounter truth, beauty, and excellence, without giving it a second look? How many messages of hope do we ignore? How many demonstrations of grace do we disregard? How many divine appointments do we overlook?

Ezra wrote these words: "But now for a brief moment grace has been shown from the Lord our God, to leave us an escaped remnant and to give us a peg in His holy place, that our God may enlighten our eyes and grant us a little reviving in our bondage." (Ezra 9:8)

Let's make an effort to recognize -- and fully experience -- those brief moments of grace God sends our way. There were be at least few today. Will you see it?

Monday, April 09, 2007

What is the true extend of forgiveness?

I'm in a little bit of a quandary today. Let me tell you why. Don Imus is in hot water because of some comments that he made on his radio program about the women's Rutgers basketball team.

His comments were wrong, even despicable.

He apologized this past week and today on his program expressed remorse and contrition and has asked to meet with the team members and families.

Several are asking for his resignation.

The quandary is this: how far does a person have to go before he/she is forgiven?

Of course this question doesn't apply to things that are done that are against the law. These things must be punished.

When someone says something stupid and out of place, even cruel and inhuman, and then apologizes, how far does that person have to go before he/she is forgiven by the public in general?

And isn't it always true that someone who picks up an offense (i.e. those who are calling for Don Imus resignation) are harder on the offender that those who in whom the offense was actually directed?

Interesting. Are we becoming a society where forgiveness (both given and received) is impossible to act out?

What are we going to ask people to do who say stupid things? Cut off an arm? Have them give up on life? What will it take to satisfy those who are "offended?"

Again, what Imus said was wrong, please don't misunderstand me.

But he apologized. Should not the "punishment" fit the "crime"?

To forgive another person from the heart is an act of liberation. We set that person from the negative bonds that exist between us. We say, "I no longer hold your offense against you."

But there is more. We also free ourselves from the burden of being the "offended one."

As long as we do not forgive those who have wounded us, we carry them with us, or worse, pull them as a heavy load. The great temptation is to cling in anger to our enemies and then define ourselves as being offended and wounded by them.

Forgiveness, therefore, liberates not only the other but also ourselves.

Is it too late for our society to become a society of "forgivers?"

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Celebrating easter

Jesus is risen!

I am grateful for that. Without the resurrection our faith is nothing as Paul writes.

I was talking with a friend today, and we both concurred that we don't "make as big a deal" about Easter as we do other "holidays" like Christmas.

To be candid with you, in one sense I'm glad we don't, for otherwise our culture would commercialize it to the extent that we would lose it's meaning as we have done with Christmas.

Oh, don't get me wrong. Easter is a powerful, personal important remembrance for all of us.

But by and large, outside of Easter eggs and the bunnies thing, etc., it remains a "religious" holiday meant to help us all focus in on the fact that Jesus was born, lived, died and came back to life.

So, this Sunday, let's celebrate!

As Joseph Bayly writes:

"Let's celebrate Easter with the rite of laughter.
Christ died and rose and lives.
Laugh like woman who holds her first baby.
Our enemy death will soon be destroyed.
Laugh like a man who finds he doesn't have cancer or he does but now there's a cure.
Christ opened wide the door to heaven.
Laugh like children at Disneyland's gates.
This world is owned by God and He'll return to rule.
Laugh like a man who walks away uninjured from a wreck in which his car was totaled.
Laugh as if all the people in the whole world were invited to a picnic and then invite them."

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

True community

Someone once said that, "community is the place where the person you least want to live with always lives."

Isn't there always that one person that bugs you?

Here's what I know and what I learn over and over again. Just about the time someone that really irritates me leaves my life in whatever way, someone else comes along.

I can't choose or not choose who is going to be "my brother," or "my sister" in the faith. God calls me to live with them as fellow followers of Christ in His kingdom.

We have this pollyanish idea that kingdom living is some kind of sentimental love fest, where everybody walks in perfect harmony and loves each other. That is never, I repeat, never goign to happen.

We all need to be trained to realize that community, true biblical community doesn't mean emotional harmony.

We are all on such different levels spiritually and emotionally. We are all in different seasons of our lives.

We are all on different paths, growing at different rates and levels.

And then there's the thought that maybe, just maybe, I am that person that really bugs someone, that person that they are thinking, "if only I could just not have them in my life."

It works both ways.

May we be filled with grace today to accept those who we feel are unacceptable, and love those who find us unlovable.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Florida Gators!

Good thing I don't live in Old Testament times. I would be stoned to death. That's what they did to prophets back then.

A few weeks ago, I "prophesied" that Ohio State would win the NCAA 2007 basketball tournament, 78-72, over Florida.

I predicted the correct teams but the wrong winner.

Florida won convincingly, 84-75.

Some observations:

1. Teams with 5 very good players beat teams with 2 great ones.

2. It helps to have guards who can shoot threes.

3. Hustle will overcome ability a good majority of the time.

4. Great players rise to the occasion, playing with skill, passion and heart (Oden).

5. Player who play with passion for the game are fun to watch.

A big "shout out" to the Florida Gators, 2007 National Champions.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Choosing our thoughts

As much as I talk and teach about the importance of our thoughts, it continues to be a challenge in my life, and I assume for all of us.

Someone once said, "The most important things in life are the thoughts you to choose to think."

If this is true, and I believe it is, then the most important decision you'll make today is what to think about. You can think thoughts of faith or thoughts of doubt, thoughts of hope or thoughts of despair, thoughts of love or thoughts of hate. These thoughts will find their way into your words and your actions as the day wears on.

"Thoughts should be tested before they're transmitted," said William Arthur Ward. "If our thoughts taste unkind, critical or unfair, we should refuse to release them into the dangerous world of words."

Every temptation begins with a thought. So does every act of goodness. Paul said, "Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think." (Romans 12:2)

Today, let's let thoughts of faith, hope and love fill our minds. Let's make a choice to believe the best about the future God has planned for us. That's faith.

Let's make a choice to expect the best in each situation, because God is at work in the details. That's hope.

Let's make a choice to give the best to those around us, because this is what he has called us to. That's love.

Our lives will become what our thoughts make it.

Be transformed, then, by the renewing of your mind as Paul writes.