Total Pageviews

Thursday, May 31, 2012

When am I going to come to the point where I am totally dependant upon God?

I still, even at this season of my life, strive for that.

Looking out my window this morning, I see (even as I am writing) that the three baby robin chicks are growing.  Momma comes back to the nest with the worm and they lift up their beaks in anticipation of being fed.

The chicks are so helpless, so dependant upon mom and dad.

Now, momma is sitting on them keeping them warm (it is an unseasonably cold day in Chicago today). 

What care!

What faithfulness!

And in God's case - what love!

The writer to the Proverbs tells us, "We make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps."

Let's not forget today -  you and I are totally dependant upon God.

And that is a good thing!

As we place ourselves in God's hands we are safe and secure.  We are satisfied.

We are in God's hands (and there is no other place I would rather be but in God's hands.

Dwight L. Moody told this story:

"A minister was one day moving his library upstairs. As he was going up with a load of books, his little boy came in, very anxious to help his father. So his father just told him to go and get an armful, and bring them upstairs.

When the father came back, he met the little fellow about half-way up, tugging away at the biggest book in the library. He couldn't manage to carry it up. It was too big.

So he sat down and cried.

"His father found him, and just took him in his arms, book and all, and carried him upstairs. So Christ will carry you and all your burdens, if you will but let Him."

My encouragement to you today is to let God carry you.

Just a thought for a Thursday.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Positive people and negative circumstances

Here's what I know:

Positive people realize that God is controlling circumstances.

God is fitting everything into a pattern and His purpose is greater than your problem.

The reason why, over and over again in the Bible, we are told not to complain or grumble about our circumstances is this, complaining is, in essence, rebellion against God.

I love the story of the four-year-old who had one of those trouble-filled days.  After reprimanding him, his mother finally said to him, "Son, you go over to that chair and sit on it now!"

The little boy went to the chair, sat down and said, "Mommy, I'm sitting on the outside, but I"m standing up on the inside."

When I complain about my circumstances that are beyond my control, "I'm really saying, "If I were God things would be different.  If I were in charge the whole human race would be much better."

That's rebellion and that's why it is so serious.

We are sitting on the outside, but we are standing on the inside.

God says, "Don't do that."

By grumbling and complaining we are challenging three things:

1.  God's wisdom.

We are saying, "God, do you really know what you are doing?"  "Do you see what is going on?"

"Is this really wise?"

2.  God's care.

We are saying, "Do you really love me?  Really care for me?"

3.  God's goodness.  I am focusing on what I don't have rather than focusing in on what I do have.

I am being ungrateful.

Often the things that I personally complain about the most are often the very things God knows I need the most in order to become all that He wants me to be.

Just some thoughts for a Wednesday.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:

The three robin eggs outside my office window (in the nest) have hatched.

The inner child in me marvels at God's creation.

Mom is "sitting on them" as I write, keeping them warm and fed.

At this stage, the little ones are not the prettiest things in the world.

It is interesting to me as to why momma robin chose outside my window to build her nest.  Maybe because it is protected from the wind and the sun.

Wonderful having my daughter, Christie, my son-in-law, Andrew, and of course our two granddaughters, Georgia and Kinley with us over the weekend.

As any grandfather would say, my granddaughters are two of the most wonderful girls in the world.  Beautiful. Smart.  Loving. 

There is nothing like having one of your granddaughters running up to you and giving you a hug and saying, "I love you grandpa" - and then laughing as you hug them.

As I am writing, momma bird just brought the little ones a worm.

Now "papa" bird is into the act.  He just brought another worm.

It's "family dinner time!"

Anyway, back to the weekend.

We watched T.V., played games on the floor, ate ice cream at Plush Horse (huge portions) and played on a playground.

Spending time with family is great.

Andrew and Christie are doing a great job of raising the two girls.

I am beginning to sense that we are starting, and I use the word "starting" with meaning, we are starting to establish our church identity in the Orland Park area.

More and more people from this area are beginning to check us out.

It has taken over a year and a half, but it is beginning to happen!

Praise God!

I really enjoyed worship yesterday.  Appreciate our entire worship team.

White Sox on a tear.  Maybe, just maybe, the might get into the playoffs.

Love watching Chris Sale pitch - key word "fast".  His fast ball is "fast" and he pitches "fast" (he doesn't waste time between pitches but gets the ball back from the catcher, sets and fires the baseball.

Robin Ventura is turning out to be a great choice for manager.

I trust that this week will be a week where you are encouraged and challenged to speak positively.  Anyone can speak negatively. 

Let our words be filled with positiveness.

Anticipate trials this week - and choose to react in a positive manner.  Remember, as the the people of Zambia, in Africa, have said (in a proverb):  "If you wish to have rain, you must be content to have mud."

Love you all.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Wishing you were somewhere else

From time to time - I wish I was somewhere else.

I know that might shock you, but it is true.

Here's what I know however - we all have those thoughts from time to time.

Those thoughts will come, but it is what you do with those thoughts that count.

I choose to ignore them because after 55 years of living on this planet, I know this:

Life is never greener on the other side of the fence.

If you are dealing with a difficult person, you will face people like that wherever you go.

If you are dealing with a difficult situation, you will face those same types of situations wherever you go.

Almost all of the time, leaving a situation is hardly ever the answer (although it is another blog entirely on when is the correct time to make a change).

Most of life is filled with "ups and downs", times of extreme victory and times of extreme defeat.

A key is to look at everything as objectively as you can.

Have a "hang in there" person in your life.  Someone that will continually encourage you not to leave.

Trust that God has a purpose for you in that situation.

Know that the difficult person or situation might be just what God is using to develop you in your walk with Him - and that if you leave - you will face the same situation (or person) over and over again until the lesson is learned.

It all comes down to attitude and how I choose to look at what is happening to me. 

God is more concerned with what is happening in me than the is in what is happening to me.

Now then, before I leave you, let me share with you a story that I tell over and over and over again. 

It not only is one of my favorite stories to tell - but it is a story that I have internalized in my own thought life.

St. Thomas Aquinas told of a man who heard about a every special ox and determined to have it for his own. 

He traveled all over the world.  He spend his entire fortune.  He heave his whole life to the search for this ox.

At last, just moments before he died, he realized that he had been riding it all the time.

Consider this:  that marriage, that job, that house, that neighborhood, that church, that "whatever" might be just where God wants you to be.

Just a thought for a Thursday.


I am sitting here tonight remembering that I forgot to blog today. So I thought I might list the things that I should never forget. Debbie's birthday. Happy birthday, today! My wedding anniversary - January 2nd. The birthdates of my kids. The fact that Debbie and my kids love me. And the fact that God will always love me. His love never fails. May you be blessed, as I am - to be surrounded by people who love you! As Red Skelton used to say, "Good night - and may God bless."

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

what do you do when everything is not okay?

What do you do when everything is not okay?

There's the story of a little boy who from birth had refused to speak, for 9 years, he had never spoken a word, up until that day his mom served him oatmeal for the 3rd morning in a row.

For 3 straight mornings he had eaten oatmeal - and finally on the 3rd morning, he couldn't stand it any more and he cried out, "I hate oatmeal!"

His  mother was overjoyed.  She said, "Son, you spoke, why haven't you spoken until now?"

"Up until now," the little boy responded, "everything has been okay."

What do you do when everything is not okay?

Let me summarize what I shared this past Sunday.

When everything is not okay:

Postpone major decisions until a crisis has passed, if at all possible.

When you are going through an extremely stressful time - that is not the time for a major move, a career change or any other life-altering choices.  Wait until things quiet down and you can look at thing objectively - and spend time in prayer.  "Knee jerk" reactions to stress are hardly ever in God's will.

Don't go into isolation.  This is huge.  Don't separate out yourself from the body of Christ.  Our first instinct when things are not going okay is to hunker down and be by ourselves.  Protect ourselves from further hurt.

I see this all the time in the kingdom of God.  "Well, George, I'll be back at the church when things quiet down and I get through this mess," people say.  My suggestion to you is that - that is exactly the time that you need the body of Christ.  Isolation breeds self-absorption which breeds more misery. 

Those around us can give us an objective, spiritual and godly perspective on our troubles that we wouldn't have otherwise.

Say no to fear, self-pity, and "if onlys."

Fear can paralyze.  What is fear?  Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real.  Sometimes we can think that if we are just fearful enough our problems will go away.  We need to embrace our fears rather than running away from them. 

I see people engaged in neurotic thinking in the face of stress - because neurosis is simply an attempt to avoid pain.  Sometimes in the attempt to avoid pain, the pain becomes greater than the actual experience of that pain itself.

Think positive, godly thoughts.  Think of those things that are pure, lovely and of a good report and Paul writes in Philippians.

Keep up with your routines.  Rest.  Exercise.  Eat right.  Spend time with family and friends.

Admit your feelings.  Revealing your feeling is the beginning of healing.  It is so important to find trustworthy people to talk to so that you can void stuffing your feelings down inside.  Reveal your feelings to God.  "Call upon God i the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me."  Psalms 50:15

Remember who is in control.  Turn your "stuff" over to God who controls the universe and has only your best in mind.

Listen, I know that you've got hassles and pressures and disappointments, and there are a lot of us who know about hurt feelings and guilt and broken relationships.

Some of you have been accumulating a long list of gripes about life.  Things haven't been going right and people around you have let you down.

Will you look away from everyone else, and everything else, and right now look to Jesus?

Look away from your spouse, your friend, your enemy, and look to Jesus.  That is where you will find the peace that you need.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend

Great having my son, George with us over the weekend.

We looked at the pictures he took of his recent trip to Uganda - wonderful stuff.

Saw the movie the "Avengers"  (with my men's life group and spouses):  loved it when the Hulk took the "bad guy (who thinks he is a god)" and tossed him around like a 3 year old tossing around a little doll. 

It reminded me of the authority we have over the enemy - Satan - who calls himself "god".

I really like the folks in my life group.  I love them in the Lord - but I like them as well.

I am thankful that God not only loves me but he likes me.  Have you ever thought of God that way?

Congratulations to the White Sox for their sweep of the Cubs.

Maybe, just maybe, the Sox might make the playoffs.

Robin's nest update (outside my church office window):  There are now three turquoise eggs in the nest.

Met several new people Sunday morning, "checking our church out".

My prayer is that God will continue to send us people who need the Lord - and can help us in ministry.

God is much more interested in changing me than he is in changing my situation.

Thankful for a church family who is faithful in their giving of their tithes and offerings.

Mine is to be faithful, God's is to move as He sees fit.

Mind is not to reason why, mine is but to do or die (in God's work).

Our new intern, Tabitha Walk, is with us for two months.  She will be participating in all facets of the church.  Youth ministry.  Children's ministry.  Speaking.  Hospital visitation.

Training young people for ministry is a great privilege.

I encourage everyone to remain faithful throughout the coming summer months.

Love you all!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Living a holy life in an unholy world

Here's a great question:

Can you live a holy life in an unholy world?

I say, "yes!"

This is important to recognize.

It is important to recognize because the most frustrated person in the world is not the person who is outside of God's kingdom or does not have a connection with God.

The most frustrated person in the world is the follower of Christ who is connected to God and going to heaven, but they have one foot in the world and one foot in God's kingdom.

Trying to life for God and trying to live a life of carnality and a life of self at the same time.

One day they are up in the faith - the other day they are down in the faith.  It is like they are riding a roller coaster.

They have their highs and they have their lows.

They are close enough to have experienced the glory of God in the past - a taste of God's presence, but close enough to the world that they are spiritually dry and spiritually useless.

They are "mugwumps", people who live with their "mug" on one side and their "wump" on the other.  Riding the fence

Pastor James describes this type of person as double-minded.

One day he/she is committed to serving God - the next day that are participating in the things of the flesh.

Paul describes it like this in Romans 7 by saying, "that which I don't want to do, I do, and that which I do - I don't want to do - I am a wretched man and I am miserable."

Yet, you and I can live a holy life.

Why would Paul tell us to put off the old man and put on the new if we can't put off the old man?  Is God somehow trying to stick out a carrot stick in front of us that could never touch - and the result of that is that we are frustrated?


Jesus didn't die on the cross so that we could cope with sin, Jesus died on the cross so that we could have victory over sin.

He died so that we might not only be justified, but that we might be sanctified (I threw in a little bit of theology here to make my blog "legit").

Christ didn't save us so that we could just keep our heads above the cesspool of sin and somehow breathe and survive with a little bit of help until we finally, gasping, crawl into heaven.

We can live a holy life in an unholy world!

We can be "in the world" but not "of the world".


Decide beforehand the choices that you will make.  Before I am in any given situation, I have already decided how I am going to act or react. 

Someone once said, "inner conviction can overcome an outer pressure to compromise."

Secondly, approach each situation with the right attitude.  Enter into each temptation to compromise with the attitude of humility.  Not seeking to condemn others.  Not considering yourself, "holier than thou."

Holiness is not from the outside in but from the inside out. 

Finally, trust God to give you the victory.  God will see your through.  Greater is he that is in us than he who lives in the world.

Just some thoughts for a Thursday.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Things we don't need to pray about

Did you know there are certain things we don't need to pray about?

We don't need to pray about whether or not we should read the Bible on a daily basis.

We don't need to pray about whether or not we should have conversations with God on a daily basis.

We don't need to pray about whether or not we should share our faith on a daily basis.

We don't need to pray about whether or not we should tithe.

We don't need to pray about whether or not we should be faithful in church attendance.

These are just "givens" in our walk with Christ.

Here's one more:

We don't need to pray about whether or not we should be attending a small group (life group).

George Gallup found that 70 percent of Americans have said that the church is not meeting their needs.  When asked what these needs were, there were six common responses.

- To believe life is meaningful and has purpose.

- To have a sense of community and deeper relationships.

- To be appreciated and respected.

- To be listened to and heard.

- To grow in faith.

- To receive practical help in developing a mature faith.

While these needs can be met in all kinds of different ways, they are best met through nurturing a small group.

Whoever created Velcro has done a great service for mankind.  Especially for children.

Ed Stetzer in his book, "Comeback Churches," writes, "Small groups are like Velcro shoes for little kids.  Shoes that are secured by Velcro make it easier for little kids to get their shoes on and off their feet.  It is easier for them to connect with Velcro than with shoelaces.

In the same way (He writes), small groups make it easier for new people to connect with others in the life of the church. New people can feel like it's hard for them to fit into church life, get involved in ministry, or connect to other people in the church.  This can be frustrating.  But, when they can get involved with a smaller group of people, they are much more likely to "stick" to the church."

I encourage you to join a small group, if not for yourself, for ministry to others.  Ministry to the hurting.  Ministry to the lost.  Ministry to those who need healing.

We are saved to serve and not to sit.  Small groups need you and you need small groups.

For more information:  Please contact Debbie Smith at our church office (708) 385-2770, or email her at

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Robins and God's care

When I am sitting at my desk at the church, there is not much that can distract me. 

One of my strengths is focus.  I can go for hours working on sermon - almost without looking up (to exaggerate just a little).

I say that because the past few days I have noticed (from time to time) a Robin outside my office window.

As I look up from my computer, the Robin sits there and looks in.

Finally, today, I stood up and looked out and saw that right outside my office window is a nest with a beautiful turquoise egg inside.

"Mom" Robin comes every so often to check on the egg and then takes off, I assume to get food and/or water.

Her care is constant. 

David writes in Psalms 91:4, "He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge."

Under his wings.

Like a mother Robin, God shelters us in a time of a storm.

Here's what I know:

If a mother Robin becomes aware of a predator, she doesn't schedule a seminar, plan a self-help class, or start handing out C.D.'s.  She lifts her wings and, within seconds, all the baby chicks disappear underneath them.

I read a story today, found in a National Geographic issue several years ago:

"After a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, forest rangers began their trek up a mountain to assess the inferno's damage.

One ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes, perched statuesquely on the ground at the base of a tree. Somewhat sickened by the sight, he knocked over the bird with a stick. When he struck it, three chicks scurried from under their dead mother's wings. "

The loving mother, keenly aware of impending disaster, had carried her offspring to the base of the tree and had gathered it under her wings, instinctively knowing that the toxic smoke would rise.

She could have flown to safety but had refused to abandon her babies.

When the blaze had arrived and the heat had singed her small body, the mother had remained steadfast. Because she had been willing to die, so those under the cover of her wings would live."

Today, God delights in spreading His protective wings and enfolding His frightened, weary, beaten-down, worn-out children. 

"Hide here for a time," He says.  "Get out of the danger.  Regroup.  Recuperate.  Find new strength."

Now, to carry this one step further, the time will come when God will gently lift His wings and urge his children (you and me) to venture back out into their world (I am going to be watching for the Robin's egg to hatch and the little chick to appear in the next few days), but we will do so a little calmer, a little stronger and a little bit more secure.

I encourage you today to consider trusting Christ and hiding under His wings.  Hang out with God for a time and let him explain in greater detail His plan for your life - knowing that you are in a safe and secure place.

Just a thought for a Tuesday.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Thoughts from the weeknd

Thoughts from the weekend:

Debbie did a wonderful job yesterday in speaking.

Many, many of our congregation responded by saying how God really ministered through her.

Truly there was an anointing of God's Holy Spirit working through her.

Thank you, Debbie!

What we go through in life can only make us stronger.

I am thankful for almost 32 years of marriage.  Through the ups and downs, our love has remained strong and consistent for one another!

I loved seeing the photos of our family - had not had the chance to see them in advance.

What I took away - we are all growing older and more "mature" - at least physically.

Worship was phenomenal. 

I shared today that many times in worship there is what I call a "holy roar" - where the volume of worship and music takes off - not due to the level of sound but due to the level of worship, worship that is anointed by the Holy Spirit.

Holy Spirit worship is (can I say this - yes I can) FUN!

I love to worship God. 

I love to please God with my worship.

Had a wonderful time leading the wedding ceremony for Kathy (Hayes) and Matt Nicklas.

Two great young people who love God.

They are going to have a long, fulfilling marriage with one another.

Wedding ceremony don't have to be "spectacular" to be either meaningful or beautiful.

Simple elegance (in my opinion) is always best.

Thanks to the Hayes family for letting me lead the wedding.

It was my first Saturday morning wedding.  I like the idea of a Saturday morning wedding with a reception in the afternoon.

I am grateful that God is blessing us with younger couples. 

I am grateful that God is blessing our church with younger singles.

We are blessed.

Thank you for being faithful to our church.

It is a privilege serving you as your pastor.

Debbie and I love you all a lot!

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

The Jaws of life

I was reading today that when people need to be cut out of cars after a bad car accident, there is often a tool used called the "Jaws of life."

The Jaws of life are big cutters that can cut away doors to give access to people who are trapped.

Even when drivers have had an accident through no one's fault but their own, rescue crews will still use the "jaws of life" to get them out of trouble.

Some people get into accidents because they are talking on their cell phones.

Other are listening to the radio and reach down to change the channel.

Others still are just not paying attention.

Yet whether the accident was self-imposed or not, the "jaws of life" can still be used to get them out of danger.

The rescue team doesn't stand back and say, "well, they are getting what they deserve."  "They should have known better."  "There are others who need our help more than they do."

No, they answer the call for help no matter who is at fault.

You say, "well, I can't help everyone!"  And there is validity to that.  The question is not, "have you helped everyone," the question is, "have you helped someone, anyone - today - this past week - this past month."

Pastor James, in James 5:19,20, states to his church in Jerusalem, "My brothers (other followers of Christ), if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this:  Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins."

I understand that to mean that we as Christians should be the "jaws of life" to one another.

When someone is trapped, whether it is their "fault" or not, we should be ready, prayerfully ready to rescue them.

We should be willing to offer a lifeline to our brothers and sisters when they are stuck.

After all, we all reach a point when we will need those "jaws of life" ourselves. 

Just a thought for a Wednesday.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Defusing an awkward situation

One of the things I know as a church leader is that the longer you serve a church as a pastor, you learn what to talk about and what not to talk about with different (and difficult) people.

It's not that certain issues should not be addressed - but there is always a time and a place for that.

I'm talking about the every Wednesday and Sunday encounter - the "meet and greet" times when we shake one another hands and ask how each other is doing - and we always respond, "fine, fine, I am doing fine."

Many times that is not correct - but then that is for another blog.

I'm talking about sitting next to someone at a potluck dinner, during our coffee connection time, in a life group or in a meeting.

How do you defuse a difficult, awkward situation with difficult people?

I read an article today that summarizes some great points on doing so.

Some you might agree with, some you might not quite agree with, some of the points you might reject outright.

Anyway, here they are:

Minimize time with problem people.  Keep interactions as short as possible.  Now, what that does not mean to do is the passive aggressive "Christian thing" and not talk to people whom you either don't like or have problems with.  To put it crassly, that's eight grade stuff.

Sometimes, I forget who is talking to me and who isn't as I walk through the foyer.  At my age, it gets confusing.

But what that does mean is that you and I can "meet and greet" and have a friendly time of conversation with that (difficult) person in a godly way.  We can treat one another with respect and love.

Keep it logical.  With a difficult person, keep the conversation fact based with minimal details.  Don't try to connect and reason with difficult people.  Their response will often only make you more upset.

Focus on them in conversation.  One way to avoid being the target of demeaning comments, manipulation or having your words twisted is to say as little as possible.  Some folks are like the Pharisees in the New Testament, constantly trying to trap you with your words.

Here's a big one:  Give up the dream that they will one day be the person you wish them to be (outside of the working of the Holy Spirit in their lives).  This is huge.  With my personality, I take a difficult person as a challenge, a challenge that either I or God (with my help) can change them.  Not going to happen.  We all lower our anxiety levels when we deal with people on the level of, "that's just the way they are." 

Some folks wants to fight immediately. 

Others carry offense around like a badge. 

No matter what you say or do, they will walk away from any encounter saying to themselves, "why did they say that."  "What point were they trying to prove?"  "What hidden motive do they have for telling me that?"  (Just one point here:  I feel sorry for folks like that - what a lousy way to live).

Still others cringe at any kind of authority.  Others still have an immediate dislike for you or your personality.

You are not going to change them! 

If you expect that person to change they will always end up disappointing or hurting you.

Accept them as they are - love them as they are!

Avoid topics that get you into trouble.  This is another big one in church life.  Before any interaction with a difficult person, mentally review the topics that invite attack and make an effort to avoid them. 

Don't try to get them to see your point of view.  Don't try to explain yourself or get them to empathize with you.  They won't.  You will walk away feeling worse for trying.

I wish I was better at all this stuff - but I wrestle with it.  My prayer and desire is that I continue to grow in this area - and be the man of God that God wants me to be.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:

I can't help but thank God for all the good things happening in our church!

God calls us to be faithful - and he will do the rest.

God blesses me as I give - not to raise my standard of living - but to raise my standard of giving.

Many thanks to our worship team for their leadership yesterday in both services.   Phenemonal worship.  God is truly the "great I am".

We continue to trust God for our present and our future.

Had a great time with Debbie last Friday evening - our date night. 

It's official:  I am now beginning to have my father's hands.

Whatever I need more of - I need to give to God.  If I need more time, I give my time to God.  If I need more money, I give my money to God.  If I need more ablities and talents, I give my abilities and talents to God.  Whatever I need more of - I dedicate to God.

God normally moves, supernaturally, in a natural way.  As we are driving to work.  Watching a movie.  Talking with someone over a cup of coffee.  Bam.  Ordinary moments become Holy Spirit moments.

Am thankful for those who gave for our new mini-bus.  Almost $3,000 more dollars were given yesterday.

Many in our church family are beginning to give on-line.  Thank you!  Great way to continue to be faithful to the Lord in giving when you are on vacation or can't come to one of our Sunday morning services - or just if you don't want to carry your checkbook to a Sunday morning service.

Had lunch with several of our church couples (and their kids) yesterday at Mindy's.  Great group of people! 

Mine is not to reason why, mine is but to do or die.

As we keep our focus on God - great things happen.

Love you all

Thursday, May 03, 2012


Most of us Christian types are really lousy at confrontation.

Yet there are times when honest communication means that we will have to confront.

To leave our concerns and differences unspoken would not only betray our friend (spouse, co-worker, neighbor, person at church) but undermine our friendship.

It's called having an "elephant in the room".

While the unresolved difference might seem to be insignificant, it can wear on a relationship like a pebble in our shoe.

Here's what I know:  if the issue is not dealt with, it will eventually erode the relationship.

Making the peace is not avoiding a problem.  Just because you or I have failed to discuss a problem, does not mean that we have peace.

Unresolved conflict can be the very root of marriages disintegrating.  It can cause people to leave a job or a church.

Making the peace is not appeasing another person.  Saying or doing things just to make you feel good or get along.  That is keeping the peace and not making the peace.

Let me share with you a few quick thoughts on how to make the peace.

Making the peace is my own individual responsibility.  I can't wait until the other person comes to me.  I am to go to them.  It is hard work. 

Carrying a grudge or not extending forgiveness is the lazy person's way out. 

Schedule a time to get together with that person.  Sit down together with the idea of bringing about reconilcation (Which is different from the resolution of every problem).  A relationship can be reconciled while incrementally working on the issues.

This is especially important in church life where there are followers of Christ who think and act in the way of avoiding another believer or worse yet, trying to destroy them.

We can walk hand in hand without seeing eye to eye on everything.

Seek first to understand and then to be understood.  Place yourself in that person's shoes.  Mindset.

Ask God to help you.  We vastly underestimate the ability of the Holy Spirit to make the peace. 

In any relationship, the lack of peace is destructive.  Marriage.  Work.  Family.  Church.

A few years ago, National Geographic had a photo of the fossil remains of two saber-toothed cats locked in combat.  To quote the article:

"One had bitten deep into the leg bone of the other, a thrust that trapped both in a common fate.  The cause of the death of the two cats is as clear as the causes of extinction of their species are obvious." 

When we fight each other, everybody loses.

Paul wrote, "If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other."  Galatians 5:15

Years ago, in my high school year book, next to my senior year photo, I quoted St. Francis of Assisi as my senior quote: 

"Lord make me an instrument of they peace
Where there is hate - may I bring love
Where offense, may I bring pardon
May I bring union in place of discord"

Just some thoughts for a Thursday.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Charles Colson and what really counts

Having lived through the Watergate years (during President Nixon's presidency), the name Charles Colson has come to represent many things to different people.

To some, he was the ruthless hatchet man that worked in the Nixon White House, working behind the scenes to make sure that President Nixon's enemies were dealt with.

Skulduggery and illegalities were common place.

To others, he was the man who gave his heart to God and ministered to people around the world.  A man of consistent faith in his walk with God.

My admiration for Charles Colson comes from the fact that he connected to Christ - and stayed connected for the rest of his life.  Never wavering.  Never compromising.

God took one of the "worst" and turned him into one of the "best".

The Apostle Paul of our times in the sense of going from an evil man into a good man - all because of the power of the Holy Spirit.

Here's what I know:  Even the worst of people in your life can come to Christ.

We can't ever think (or limit God by thinking) that "so and so" would never come to Christ.  "They are too far gone."  "They are too evil."  "They have done too much".

No one is beyond redemption in God's eyes.  God never, ever gives up on anyone, why should we?

Why not pause, even right now, and pray for that person that many consider to be "beyond hope" in the spirit realm.

But there is yet another lesson that we can learn from Charles Colson.

That the most effective life is not a life that is growing on the outside with power, pleasure and prestige, but a life that is growing on the inside.  A life that is dedicated to the service of others.

He tells the story about his home town of Naples, Florida, which he calls "one of the garden spots of the world."

He writes:

"It's an absolute nirvana for all golfers, and they all come there. They're all CEOs of major corporations, and they retire to Naples, and this is "it"—twenty-seven golf courses and miles of sparkling beach and the best country clubs. I watch these guys; they're powerful people. They have this New York look on their face; they're determined. But now, all of a sudden, they start measuring their lives by how many golf games they can get in."

He further writes:

"I often say to them, "Do you really want to live your life counting up the number of times you chase that little white ball around those greens?" And they kind of chuckle, but it's a nervous chuckle, because in six months they've realized how banal their lives are, and they've got beautiful homes—castles—and when they get bored with that, they build a bigger castle, and they're miserable. The object of life is not what we think it is, which is to achieve money, power, pleasure. That's not the holy grail. The object of life is the maturing of the soul, and you reflect that maturing of the soul when you care more for other people than yourself.

I underlined that last part because that is the true purpose of our lives.  To live for God and leave this planet a better place than when we entered into this world.

Just a thought for a Wednesday.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

The daily grind of inner turmoil

Here's what I know:

Life is daily.  And life is a daily grind.

Someone once said that the difficult thing about life is that it is so "daily".  And a daily grind at that.

We get up.  Go to work.  Come home at night.  Go to sleep.

Repeat the whole thing all over again the next day.

Have I encouraged you yet? 

Part of that daily grind can be a sense of inner turmoil.

We all have within us that "churning place."  It is in your stomach, on the upper, left side, (or right side), just below the rib cage.

When disturbing things happen, when troubling words are said, when certain email that contain ugly words or extremely critical comments are read, the churning start.

I know, and you know, that I know what I am talking about.

Some people feel it at the back of their neck.  Others in the form of a headache in a particular spot.

Some particular region that starts to grind within us.

There are any number of things that can trigger this feeling:

Bad News, strong fears, strained relationships, accidents, almost running out of gas, dental work, late-night phone calls, tornadoes, the list can go on and on.

David, in the psalms was very open about the inner turmoil that he dealt with on a daily basis.

He writes in Psalms 42:1-5, "Vindicate me, my God, and plead my cause  against an unfaithful nation.  Rescue me from those who are deceitful and wicked. 

2 You are God my stronghold. Why have you rejected me?  Why must I go about mourning,  oppressed by the enemy? 

3 Send me your light and your faithful care,  let them lead me;  let them bring me to your holy mountain,  to the place where you dwell. 

4 Then I will go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight.  I will praise you with the lyre,
O God, my God.

5 Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?"

And then David goes on to write (and it is a word of ENCOURAGEMENT) to us today:

"Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God."

During the daily grind, we all come to the place where we have a choice.  Am I going to trust God's Word completely before the victory comes? 

Am I going to claim and believe the promises of God?

Am I going to continue to praise God in the "good times" and in the "bad times"?

God never stops being our savior.  God never stops being in control.  God never leaves us or forsakes us.

I encourage you today to "have a talk with Jesus"......and keep on lifting your voice in praise.

Just a thought for Tuesday.