Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I hate dancing!

 1 Thessalonians 4 (The Message)

 1-3 One final word, friends. We ask you—urge is more like it—that you keep on doing what we told you to do to please God, not in a dogged religious plod, but in a living, spirited dance. You know the guidelines we laid out for you from the Master Jesus. God wants you to live a pure life.

This weekend Stephanie and I attended a great wedding.  My secretary's daughter got married.  The wedding and reception was a lot of fun.  Now, when I attend a reception, I really enjoy talking with people you don't get to see very often.  I love just having fun with friends and watching all the people Kickin' up their heals and having fun.  One thing I don't do is DANCE! I really hate dancing.  I am not sure why, but it has been true my whole life.  I love music, but I can't dance. I'm not very light on my feet. I'm more of a plodder.

Even though I'm a plodder when it comes to dancing, I don't like the thought that I'm a plodder when it comes to life.  I really get annoyed by those people who seem to be plodding along in life.  I view them kind of like Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh. Everything is "Whoa is me!" Life can be so exciting and so adventurous.  It is fun to see what kind of excitement is around the corner.  I do have my moments when I feel like I'm plodding along. Sometimes these moments can last for several days.  But, something always seems to happen to get me out of my "Funk" and I can feel more like life is a spirited dance. Life as a follower of Christ is not meant to be boring or a "dogged religious plod".  Life is meant to be really lived and really savored and really enjoyed.  All of this can be done even following the guidelines set by God.  We can remain pure, or "live a pure life" and still enjoy life to  it's fullest.  A lot of people would think those two things are opposites of each other.  When I was at the wedding reception I had a lot of fun and I did it well within the guidelines laid out by Jesus. Life as a Christian can really be fun. It's not all about becoming a monk. It can be full of laughter, fun, and celebrations. It can be just like a Dance! (I think!)

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for providing excitement in my life.  Thank you for the adventure we call life. Help me to Dance more often than I plod through my daily life.  Help me to share that dance with the people I see every day.  May my life have meaning and be fun at the same time through you and your presence. Amen!

Monday, August 30, 2010

I miss my daughters!

1 Thessalonians 3 (The Message)

 1-2So when we couldn't stand being separated from you any longer and could find no way to visit you ourselves, we stayed in Athens and sent Timothy to get you up and about, cheering you on so you wouldn't be discouraged by these hard times. He's a brother and companion in the faith, God's man in spreading the Message, preaching Christ.

These verses made me think of my daughters.  Kelley is living in North Carolina 10 hours away.  Lindsae is 2 hours away in Greenfield, and McKenzie is an hour away in Berne.  I can't stand being separated from them. I just got to see McKenzie and Lindsae  yesterday for a short time.  But, I haven't seen Kelley in such a long time.  As your kids grow up you get used to them being around all the time. Then when they leave the nest, you think you will adjust and you do, for the most part.  But, you still miss them. I know I can't be with them all the time, but I do have a valuable tool that gives me a sense of peace about being separated. That tool is prayer.  Nearly every night I pray for them.  Sometimes very specifically.  Other times I pray in general terms. I always have one specific request. I ask God to send christians into their daily lives.  Just like Paul sent Timothy when he couldn't go the Thessalonica.  I pray constantly that God will send his people to "Cheer them up" when things get difficult.  I pray that people will come into their lives that will keep them from being discouraged in hard  times. I know that I can't always be there for them, but God can.  He knows exactly what's going on in their daily lives.  He knows there joys, sadnesses, needs and wants.  I have seen his mighty hand in my life and the lives of my family.  I get so excited when I get to hear how their lives are going and then I see that God's hand has been at work. He has been so faithful in protecting them.  They have had their share of troubles and hard times, but every single time they do, I can sense his presence and his divine guidance in getting them through the troubles.

Dear Lord, Thank you for sending angels to protect my daughters and their families.  i know you Love them dearly and are active in guiding them through life.  Thank  you for hearing my prayers.  Thank You for being with them when I can't.  Speak to their hearts, Lord.  Show them your love in a special and meaningful way. Draw them closer to you. In your great name I pray, Amen!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

"My Fellow Americans......."

1 Thessalonians 2 (The Message)

 3-5..... Be assured that when we speak to you we're not after crowd approval—only God approval. Since we've been put through that battery of tests, you're guaranteed that both we and the Message are free of error, mixed motives, or hidden agendas. We never used words to butter you up. No one knows that better than you. And God knows we never used words as a smoke screen to take advantage of you. 6-8Even though we had some standing as Christ's apostles, we never threw our weight around or tried to come across as important, with you or anyone else. We weren't aloof with you. We took you just as you were. We were never patronizing, never condescending, but we cared for you the way a mother cares for her children. We loved you dearly. Not content to just pass on the Message, we wanted to give you our hearts. And we did.

The Apostle Paul would never make it in politics.  He wasn't after crowd approval. He made sure his message was truthful and free of errors. He didn't have mixed motives or hidden agendas. He didn't use flowery words. He never tried to throw is weight around. He wasn't aloof or patronizing, or condescending.  He was a loving and caring individual.

It doesn't matter if your democrat or republican, conservative or liberal, or any other political persuasion, I think most people would agree our system of politics has it's flaws.  If politicians would just follow this small passage from God's word we would be so much better off. I might be naive, but I really think politicians start out with noble goals and honorable convictions.  Somehow along the way they change.  They say power corrupts. I certainly think we can see that is true with our politicians.  Look at how many of them fall from power in less than noble ways. Our society is very complex socially and economically.  I think it is so obvious that no one side, no individual ideology is correct 100% of the time.  I wish politicians could just admit when something doesn't work.  They have all sorts of ideas.  When one of them doesn't work like they thought I wish they could just admit it.  Can you believe the President (either now, past, or future) calling a press conference and saying. "Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen, I just want to start off by saying I'm sorry.  Last year we tried to stimulate the economy and well, frankly what we tried didn't work.  I just want you to know we won't give up and we are willing to try something else and to continue to do that until we find out what works.  I will be in contact with the other party and we will try some of their ideas, since ours didn't work. Please accept my humble apology. I will continue to work for you and do what ever possible to help this country , even if it means I have to swallow my pride."
 I am not pulling punches against the Democrats who happen to be in charge right now.  I am just as critical of the republicans who seem bent on just trying to destroy the credibility of the democrats.  They haven't been to humble either.  They haven't helped to solve our problems, just divide us. Wasn't their a saying "United we stand, divided we fall!" What ever happened to really getting together and COMPROMISING?  Can't we swallow our pride long enough to try to work together regardless who gets the credit or the blame. Can't we just elect people who have the same convictions Paul did?  I want to see leaders who don't speak through a smoke screen, that don't have hidden messages, that care more abotu people than getting re-elected. Re-read the passage.  Wouldn't that be a great platform for a politician!  I would vote for them with no second thought regardless of their party!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

You're the Message so---Don't Mess-up!

1 Thessalonians 1 (The Message)

 7-10Do you know that all over the provinces of both Macedonia and Achaia believers look up to you? The word has gotten around. Your lives are echoing the Master's Word, not only in the provinces but all over the place. The news of your faith in God is out. We don't even have to say anything anymore—you're the message!

I have had so many people say they read my blogs.  So, every night I sit down, look through the verses for the night and instantly feel pressure.  I feel like I just have to come up with something "valuable" to write. I don't know exactly how big the provinces of Madedonia and Achaia were. Maybe they were the size of Dekalb County or maybe northeast Indiana.  Regardless of how big they were,  I am sure Paul felt a little pressure when he was asked to share the message.  i don't want to build-up my little blog as having a bigger impact than it has. But, I do feel pressure when I think about what I write and then how I live my life every day.  I feel so exposed in that, just like Paul, I am sharing my faith. What happens if I mess up?  What happens if people discover the mistakes I have made in the past? What happens if I don't live up to my own words?  I don't want to be a hypocrite!

The message for Christians is the same across the entire planet.  People are watching you and you ARE going to mess-up! I really think that's why so many Christians don't share their faith.  It exposes them to the pressure to live up to the message of christ. When people really don't know your beliefs, it's easier to just act how every you want. When we openly talk about our faith, we open ourselves up to criticism by those who don't understand the true message of Christ. We should not feel that kind of pressure.  We need to know that we are going to sin.  We are not perfect.  We will mess up.  We shouldn't spend so much time worrying about messing up.  We should spend more time trying to figure out how to react to our mess ups.  We should be more humble, more honest, more accepting, and more open about our mess-ups.  The only way we can lead a life where we are exposed to the scrutiny of "the world", is to rely heavily on the grace of God to help us through. When we rely on our own understanding, our own will, and our own resolve we are in for a big fall and we are in danger of destroying the message we are trying to share.

God's grace is sufficient to get us through. He is the only judge we need to face. When we accept the fact that we will fail and that Gods grace wipes away those mistakes, we can live a life that is truly free!

Dear Lord, Please provide me with your wisdom.  Please provide me with your grace.  I want so much to present your pure message to the people I know.  Yet, I know I am a sinner.  Help me to be open and honest with those who see me everyday! Help them to see me as a humble servant who accepts your grace and realizes without it I have no message to share.  With your grace, I am the message! Amen!

Friday, August 27, 2010

It;s a wonderful life!

Colossians 4 (The Message)

 2-4Pray diligently. Stay alert, with your eyes wide open in gratitude. Don't forget to pray for us, that God will open doors for telling the mystery of Christ, even while I'm locked up in this jail. Pray that every time I open my mouth I'll be able to make Christ plain as day to them. 5-6Use your heads as you live and work among outsiders. Don't miss a trick. Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.

Paul had every right to be upset about being jailed.  He could have been depressed beyond imagination but he wasn't.  He was focused on being grateful, telling of christ, being gracious, and building up others.  He lived life with such a positive outlook. 

What a great and wonderful life I live.  Where has the positive attitude toward life gone for you?  Bring out the best in others, not the worst.  Can't we find something good to say. Today is my 50th Birthday and I really have to look back at my "First" 50 years and say, "Wow" I have done it all.  I am blessed so much beyond my wildest dreams.  I am completely baffled about how I could get to this point in my life having been blessed beyond anything I deserve.  The older I get the more I realize life is truly awesome.  I try to make the most of every opportunity that God has given me.  Sometimes I've been successful and other times I've fallen flat on my face.  God has been with me during both circumstances.  Sometimes I open my mouth and I am ashamed at what comes out.  Other times, I am truly amazed at what comes out, knowing it had to be from God.

I am 50 years old.  i haven't realized my goals yet,  I want everyone to know the love of Jesus Christ and the joy he can bring to your life.  I don't know how to put it any clearer. It's as plain as day:  GOD IS THE REASON FOR MY WONDERFUL LIFE. If you want that same wonderful life, to feel the same joy that bursts forth in me.  You have to get to know your savior.  He is leading my life and I can't wait to find out where I go next!  It is not me, but Christ within me!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

School Uniforms!

Colossians 3 (The Message)

 9-11Don't lie to one another. You're done with that old life. It's like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you've stripped off and put in the fire. Now you're dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete. Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ.

CONTROVERSY! -- I'm a proponent of school uniforms. I have spent 17 years in education as a teacher, coach, and now administrator. I have been a faculty member at 3 different school systems. As an Athletic Director I get to work closely with administrators from other school systems.  One topic of discussion that never goes away is School Dress Codes.  You can be for or against school dress codes, but until you spend a year in a school and see the wild and outlandish things students wear to school, you can't really take a stand.  I have seen it all. (Unfortunately, whenever I say that, I see something that shocks me even more.)  Too much cleavage, too much "crack", not enough clothing, too much exposure in the hind parts or other personal body areas, inappropriate slogans, offensive language, and graphic pictures.  As I said, I want school uniforms.  With uniforms, the division shrinks between the haves and the have nots. Uniforms allow the focus to be on the education and not "Project Runway".  I remember one of my daughters absolutely NEEDING a pair of "Lucky" jeans when she was in high school.  The jeans cost $70. Ok, that might not seem like a lot to you, but I grew up wearing plain pocket jeans that we bought for $10. Nike, Addidas, Tommy Hilfiger, they all get our students hooked on their label.  Trust me, it costs to wear those labels.

When we take the step to join the family of God, we get a new wardrobe.  That wardrobe consists of nothing but taylor made suits, designer clothing, and personalized labels.  The great thing about this new wardrobe?  God provides the same uniform for all believers.  Once we have God's "school uniform" on, you can't tell anything about our past,  you can't tell anything about the condition of our heart before we joined the club.  You can't tell anything about all the dumb choices we've made.  God wipes it all away. We start brand new. This wardrobe is always in fashion and never wears out.  People no longer look at what we're wearing, they can only see the changes God has made in our heart!  Isn't that great.  God doesn't want us seen for what's on the outside, so he remakes us all so we are the same on the outside.  Then the change that is inside us will shine through like the brightness of a million stars.  That is awesome!

Thank you Lord for transforming us from what we use to be.  Thank You for taking our inside and making it more important than what we have on the outside.  You are the creator and the re-creator of all things, including my own Heart!  Praise God for all things! Amen!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Intellectual Hogwash!

Colossians 2 (The Message)

 8-10Watch out for people who try to dazzle you with big words and intellectual double-talk. They want to drag you off into endless arguments that never amount to anything. They spread their ideas through the empty traditions of human beings and the empty superstitions of spirit beings. But that's not the way of Christ. Everything of God gets expressed in him, so you can see and hear him clearly. You don't need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without him. When you come to him, that fullness comes together for you, too. His power extends over everything.

Do you know anyone who has a genius IQ?  I'm not sure I know anyone who is registered as a genius.  It's not something you usually ask someone. I know some people who think they are geniuses.  When I was going to college their was a student in a lot of my classes who was a Math Major, like me.  He wanted to be a high school Math teacher, like me.  We had a lot of classes together.  This guy was brilliant. He would start rattling off all sorts of postulates and theorems in class.  He could make the most simple of concepts, a complicated mess. He would make me dizzy with some of the words he used.  I was studying Math because I really loved it and had fun solving problems and I wanted to teach kids.  I love being around students. This guy was in it for reasons I have yet to figure out.  We both did our student teaching at the same time.  He knew Mathematics like I never could. But, he didn't survive student teaching. I did.  His problem was simple.  He knew the material, but he could care less about the students. I can imagine him spouting all sorts of intellectual double talk with  a Pre-Algebra class. I am sure it would have been entertaining, but not for the students.  I also know people who "know the Bible" in ways I could never imagine.  These intellectual religious types have analyzed scripture from a telescope and a microscope.  But they are missing one thing. They are missing the power and fullness of Christ. They know the message, but they don't know the Creator.  They know the words, but they do not realize or feel their impact. They are missing the personal relationship with the creator of all things.  They can dissect the scriptures, but don't know how it personally has impacted their hearts.  They live to learn all the details, but don't have a heart to share the simple message with everyone they know.

I don't study scriptures to gain intellect. I study scriptures to try to learn about my creator.  I study scripture to receive guidance.  I study scripture because I love to hear God speak to my heart through them. I may not know the ancient texts, or the greek detail.  I do know how they touch my heart. I know how they convict me to continue to pursue God. I know how they reveal his plan for my life. I know how they stir my heart in such a way I can't hold it in! When I can't hold it in any more, I just have to share it!

Dear Lord, Thank you for speaking to me so I can understand your beautiful and clear message.  Thank you for wanting to speak to me.  Thank you for your word and it's impact in my life. I am not a spiritual giant, but I know you, the creator who can hold the universe in the palm of his hand. Praise God for your Love of us! Amen!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Flippant about Prayer!

Colossians 1 (The Message)

 9-12Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven't stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works. We pray that you'll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you'll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.

Let me say I am not being critical of anyone when I make my comments.  As a matter of fact, most of my critical comments are directed at the mirror!

How many times have I said, "I'm praying for you." and not prayed for  someone.  I am so embarrassed to admit, it's too many times.  A few years ago our church did a series on prayer.  I was so convicted about having such flippant attitude about prayer.  I remember a comment from that series.  Many times we christians use the  saying (I'm praying for you.) like we use "Hello" or "How ya doin'".  So, I have really worked hard to change.  I am not where I want to be in my prayer life, but I am moving toward the goal and have gotten to the point I really enjoy and take very seriously my prayer time.  When I look back at my prayer journals,  I noticed one significant positive change.  Even once I began getting more serious about praying, I focused on ME!  As I started making REAL prayer more a part of my regular life,  I got tired of praying for myself.  It began to feel so shallow to go to the Lord every day about me and my problems. I started to become more aware of those around me that needed prayer.

Look at these verses in Colossians.  Notice how the emphasis is not on Paul, it's not on his ministry or the struggles he was facing, it was very specific and certainly centered on someone else! I am not the center of the universe. This shouldn't be news to you.  But, I hate to burst your bubble -- You aren't the center of the universe either.  I want to pray more like Paul.  When i have been able to focus on others in my prayers,  I am amazed at the answers and how quickly and clearly they are.

Dear Lord, Please forgive me for being so self-centered in my prayer life.  I need your strength and your power to stay committed to serving others. Fill me with your Holy Spirit!  Convict me when I do not follow through on my promises to pray for others. Help me to be aware of the needs of others and get to know them personally so i will know exactly what to pray for.  Remind me that my whole purpose is to serve others in your name.  Amen!

Monday, August 23, 2010

How happy do you look?

Philippians 4 (The Message)

 10-14I'm glad in God, far happier than you would ever guess—happy that you're again showing such strong concern for me. Not that you ever quit praying and thinking about me. You just had no chance to show it. Actually, I don't have a sense of needing anything personally. I've learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I'm just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I've found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. I don't mean that your help didn't mean a lot to me—it did. It was a beautiful thing that you came alongside me in my troubles.

Isn't this a great passage. Somehow I get stuck on the first line: "I'm glad in God, far happier than you would ever guess......"  Does my internal happiness equal my external happiness?  I have said it before in many different ways, but I am a Happy person.  I literally have everything anyone could possibly need.  I have stuff, but more importantly I feel content where God has  me spiritually as well as physically.  The relationships I have in my life from my wife, to my daughters, to my grandkids, to my friends and coworkers, I am a lucky man. I think contentedness is an age thing.  The older and older I get, the more I realize how lucky I am.  Age breeds contentment. I find myself looking more and more what I have been given than looking at what I might get in the future. The more I think about what I have been blessed with compared to what I deserve, the more I realize true joy.  I need to display my joy so people don't have to guess if I am happy or not.  They should know that God has provided all the joy I need.

Lord, Thank you for the wonderful blessings you have granted this sinner.  The more I think about it the more I am humbled by the gifts you have granted me. Help me Lord to take these gifts and us them for your purposes alone.  I Love you Lord and I praise you for your wonderful kindness and mercy.  I want for nothing because you have provided it all for me.  Thank You!  Thank You! Thank You! Amen!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Ain't Nothin but a Hound Dog!

Philippians 3 (The Message)

 7-9The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I'm tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. 

We have a Basset Hound named "Copper". We rescued him a few years back when our Dalmatian died. We also rescued her.  When we got Copper, he was advertised as a pure bred Basset but had no papers to prove it.  Trust me, he is a Basset Hound. His ears and long low body are the first give away that he is a Basset Hound.  But his actions speak louder than any papers could. Here is a typical day for Copper.  We let him out of his Kennel at about 6:30am.  The first thing he does is sprint to his dog dish to see if it's full. When he realizes it's not, he prances and pounces around like a cat until we fill it. He finishes his food in exactly 30 seconds.  He then goes outside to "do his business".  He might chase a rabbit or just sniff the remnants. He comes in and plays with his bone or his toys for about 5 minutes.  After this "exhausting" morning ritual, he is done for the day.  He sleeps the rest of the day until we repeat the ritual at about 3pm. I don't need any papers to show me he's truly a Basset Hound.

As Christians, as true followers of Christ, we don't need to show our credentials.  We don't need to show our certificate of baptism, our church membership, or  a list of great accomplishments to show we are believers.  I think the more we try to demonstrate our Righteousness, the more we prove we're not.  We can't take credit for any of the great things that have occurred in our lives.  We can't take credit for any accomplishments we have. Christ is the only one who deserves any credit.  We should be able to trash our credentials and let Christ who is living in us, to be our spokesperson.  If we're going to acknowledge anything, let's acknowledge it is only by the Grace of God, that we are saved!

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Philippians 2 (The Message)

 19-24 .....I have no one quite like Timothy. He is loyal, and genuinely concerned for you. Most people around here are looking out for themselves, with little concern for the things of Jesus. But you know yourselves that Timothy's the real thing. He's been a devoted son to me as together we've delivered the Message. As soon as I see how things are going to fall out for me here, I plan to send him off. And then I'm hoping and praying to be right on his heels.

Do you have a best friend? I have had several people throughout my life that I consider to be best friends.  It started when I was in High School, Tim DeWolfe and Jeff Cisney.  Wow! did we have fun.  We did everything together from Back-Packing in Colorado and Canada, too just hanging out together.  They were in my wedding and I have the fondest memories of them.  When  my Dad went into ministry as a Senior, I lived with Tim and his family. When Stephanie and my young family lived in Goshen, Indiana, we had great friends in Ron and Linda Mabry. Our young families spent countless hours, playing cards, golfing, and just having fun.  One of my best friends of all time was Jim Rousseau.  We worked together as youth directors, in Fort Wayne. We played a lot of basketball together and had conversations about all sorts of family issues.  What a great friend. Certainly my best friend of all time is my wife, Stephanie.  We have spent a wonderful 32 years together and have generated a lifetime of memories. 

Paul's best friend after his life changing encounter would have to be Timothy. Everybody has to have a friend like Timothy.  you need someone to be able to confide in.  You need someone to share with your Great moments and life's valleys.  You need someone to talk to, argue with, be honest with, share your private feelings and your personal trials.  I know you have heard it before and it sounds kind of cliche' but Jesus wants to be that special friend.  He wants to spend time with you.  He wants you to share all your joys, sorrows, and fears.  No one will be more loyal than him.  How many of your friends would give their life for you,  He would.  He did!  He is the true meaning of a best friend forever!

Lord, Thank you for being my best friend.  I treasure our time together.  I can't even think about my life without you. It is great to have someone to really open up to and who will Love me know matter what kind of dumb things I will do or have done. Thank you for the people you have put in my life.  It's great to have friends. Amen!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Are you ready for some football?

Philippians 1 (The Message)

 27-30 Stand united, singular in vision, contending for people's trust in the Message, the good news, not flinching or dodging in the slightest before the opposition. Your courage and unity will show them what they're up against: defeat for them, victory for you—and both because of God.

Tonight was our first Home football game.  I am exhausted.  I didn't stop for a second from 7am this morning until now.  But , even though I am tired, it was fun getting the football season under way.  I love all sports, but I like football because of it's complexity.  It is unique in how the 11 people on the field must be completely united in their movement.  Soccer has some of this, but not having much soccer knowledge, I don't see the same unity of purpose as in football.  In order for a single offensive play or a single defensive stop to occur, everyone has to do their individual job in complete sync with the player next to him. if one player "flinches" it causes a problem that will over extend the other players.  The team that wins is the team that can work with single purpose and single unity.  It is truly an intimidation factor when all eleven players are working together.  It will spell defeat for the opponent.

As christians we also need to focus on the one purpose and the one goal.  It will not work if we have one church fighting another, or if we have one christian fighting another.  We must be united to let the opposition know that we will win. We will win because Christ is on our side.  When christians unite to make a political stand, to challenge sin, or to help each other, it can be very impressive. Now more than ever we (christians) are fighting a very strong opponent. If the challenger can divide us, he will win.  If we can stand together, WE ALL WIN for eternity.  The best news is that we have the best coach in the world,  God is on our side, no one can defeat us!

Dear Lord, thank you for teaming us up with fellow believers.  We are united in you. We are soldiers, teammates, and cheerleaders for each other.  We will work together to further your kingdom on Earth.  Thank you for being with us and the confidence that we are victorious through you!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Whistle While You Work!

Ephesians 6 (The Message)

 5-8Servants, respectfully obey your earthly masters but always with an eye to obeying the real master, Christ. Don't just do what you have to do to get by, but work heartily, as Christ's servants doing what God wants you to do. And work with a smile on your face, always keeping in mind that no matter who happens to be giving the orders, you're really serving God. 

Ok, this is not fair! It is so popular in our society to complain about work.  We love to sit and complain about what our boss is doing or not doing.  Just like a radio talk show, we criticize and analyze our supervisors and superiors like it is a past time.  Can you believe this verse actually says "work with a smile on your face."  I am sure this is a miss-print. God can't truly expect us to do this.  Can he?  Work Heartily? are you kidding me? It kind of gives me the feeling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. HiHo! HiHo! It's off to work we go! Some days I feel like I could strangle the little dwarfs for even suggesting the thought of being happy at work! (Today!)

Just like everyone else I love to whine and complain about all the stress I'm under at work.  I have 6 million things to do in a very short period of time each day.  I moan and groan about all the added responsibility and duties and very few additional rewards. Yada! Yada! Yada! I'm supposed to Smile about this?  Ok, let me see if I can do this :)

In reality I love my job. (I have said that before and it is true!) I want to do a good job.  I put myself under the stress. No one else is responsible for that except me.  I am the one who deals terribly with the stress I place on myself.  I am the one who scowls when the pepsi cooler breaks at 3pm on game day, or if it feels like the weight of the world is on my shoulders. God cares about my work.  He cares about me getting all the things done for  tomorrow's varsity football game and he cares about me attending a volleyball game.  He is with me every moment of every day and he wants me to use those moments for him (including the time I spend at work!).  He wants me to do my job the best I can and with Christ in mind. I need to set an example, I need to smile more especially when things aren't going well.  I need to work Heartily, accept things as they are and ,regardless of the obstacles, serve God through my work! I need to ask not what my school can do for me, but what can I do for my school! (Sounds a little cliche', HUH!)

Dear Lord, forgive me for my whining, complaining and the criticism of my Earthly bosses.  Help me to be an example, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, even smile at work! Amen!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tough Talk!

Ephesians 5 (The Message)

 6-7Don't let yourselves get taken in by religious smooth talk. God gets furious with people who are full of religious sales talk but want nothing to do with him. Don't even hang around people like that.

Wow! This is some pretty tough talk.  What I like about the Bible -- it does not pull punches.  It is equally tough on Christians and Non-christians.  Just when I start thinking a little highly of myself, I read something like this and I start to shrink back to size.  Christians always make it all seem so easy and life is anything but easy as a christian.  If someone tells you that you need to devote your life to Christ and your life will be perfect, are giving you a BIG SALES JOB!  Ok, not too many people will tell you your life will be perfect, but even if they don't say it directly, they certainly leave you with that impression. How can you tell if you are getting a SNOW JOB?  Well, it's not always obvious!  As a matter of fact, if you don't work at building a relationship with God, it can be nearly impossible to tell the Smooth talking religious sales person from an honest God fearing Christian.  By building a relationship I mean by praying, reading the bible, hearing the word of God preached, and confiding in trustworthy Christian friends.  God talks to us through all of these ways.  The more you seek him, the better you are at discerning the truth and gaining wisdom. Also, if someone tells you they have that perfect life, or even if they lead you to believe it, they are lying.  God wants us to hear the truth and gets upset when we are deceived, especially by Wolves in Sheep's clothing.  Trust God alone!

Dear Lord, grant me discernment.  Help me to gain your wisdom in everything I do.  I know that life is not always perfect. But, I also know you are with me no matter what comes my way.  You want me to rely on you in the good and the bad.  Please Lord, give me the strength to Trust you and you alone! Amen.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Strolling through Life!

Ephesians 4 (The Message)

 1-3 .....I want you to get out there and walk—better yet, run!—on the road God called you to travel. I don't want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don't want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere.

I have done a little bit of running in my life.  I have run a couple of marathons, a few half marathons, and numerous 5k's or 10k's.  In order to run a marathon, and to some degree any race, you have to have a plan.  You can't just wake up one morning and say, I'm going to go out and run a 5k race.  You start your training with a shorter distance, work to build up to the race distance or a little bit further.  Then you work on racing or going at a faster pace.  Sometimes this training plan can stretch out for a few weeks, months, or even years.  I always thought an exciting part of the challenge of running was in the training.  I would try different workouts and see how that affected my race.  If it worked I would do it again.  If it didn't I would try something else.  But, I always had a plan. As I matured, my plans got better and better.

Do you know people who just seem to be wandering or strolling their way through life? They have no purpose, no goals, and no plans. They don't really do anything of significance. Maybe they spend their time in front of the television or reading blogs on the internet.(LOL!) God wants us to have purpose, drive, and to follow his plan.  In my mind, strolling is meaningless walking.  It's hard to run without having a purpose.  You're either running from something or toward something.  If you don't know where you're going, you usually slow down, walk until you figure it out, and then take off again! Just like training, sometimes the plan works and sometimes it doesn't.  But, you make adjustments and move on.  God has a plan for us.  That's the perfect plan.  Our goal is to try to find that perfect plan and follow it.  If we can build that relationship with God so we know his thoughts and hear his coaching, we will learn that perfect plan.  Once we know the perfect plan, we can run the perfect race.

Dear Lord, I know you have a plan for my life, every second of every day, of every year that I walk this earth.  I don't want to just wander through life aimlessly, with no purpose.  Guide me, Coach me, and Teach me to learn your perfect plan.  Amen!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Grossly Under-Qualified!

Ephesians 3 (The Message)

 7-8This is my life work: helping people understand and respond to this Message. It came as a sheer gift to me, a real surprise, God handling all the details. When it came to presenting the Message to people who had no background in God's way, I was the least qualified of any of the available Christians. God saw to it that I was equipped, but you can be sure that it had nothing to do with my natural abilities.
 8-10And so here I am, preaching and writing about things that are way over my head, the inexhaustible riches and generosity of Christ.

Ok, let me start by saying I AM NO PAUL! However, I can sure relate to these verses. I really think I have been called to write this little blog.  It really is a surprise to me.  I am even a little fearful, but God has provided all the details and is presenting his message through me.  Please, I am certainly not thinking more of myself and my little commentary than I should.  I, like Paul, feel grossly under qualified to share the message of Christ. As far as my natural abilities, I can't say this feels very natural at all and I really don't feel like I am PREACHING.  I just feel like sharing my thoughts about what I'm reading. I have a hope that it might strike a chord with someone.  I really do feel that some of these things are way over my head and without any formal training except my 50 years attending church, I hope I don't make a mistake. This message, these words that I read are so important and can have such a life changing impact.  I don't want to lessen their impact in anyone's life.

It is amazing to me how God can use people, even me.  I know people who are so much more talented and effective in reaching others for Christ.  But, I am really enjoying this and will continue as long as my God feels he can use me.  I feel embarrassingly blessed!

Thank you Lord for using me, a sinner, and certainly the least qualified to present such an "Eternal Message". Thank you for teaching me and providing us with your word.  Guide my thoughts each day and help me to touch someone's heart , even if it's only my own. Amen!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Canada is a Foreign Country!

Ephesians 2 (The Message)

19-22 This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You're no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He's using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he's using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.

Stephanie and I took a long trip this summer and part of it was through Canada.  We traveled across Manitoba and through Ontario, Thunder Bay, north Lake Superior and then home.  When we crossed into Canada, I experienced a feeling I hadn't expected. I really, for the first time, felt like a foreigner.  We were in Canada for over a week.  The thought of being an outsider was very strange.  Don't get me wrong.  The people were just like us.  Some were friendly, some were not. Some made us feel at home and others made us feel like we were trespassers.  I am sure they get the same feeling when they come to "The States", as they call us. It's not easy traveling in Canada.  First it's the hassle of getting a passport, crossing the border feeling like a terrorist or criminal, then it's the different currency, then its the different measuring system, and finally the different or lack of cell phone service.  For all 8 days, I just felt uncomfortable, to say the least.

Have you ever seen a non-christian surrounded by a bunch of christians. Talk about feeling like an outsider.  I have been a christian my hole life, or most of it.  But I can certainly see how going to church for the first time, especially for a non-christian would be extremely intimidating.  The idea of not knowing what to do, where to go, not knowing all the right things to say and do.  What would you think about seeing or taking part in communion for the first time.  I love church, but really it is not for the non-christian. That is why Jesus told us to GO and make disciples of all nations.  They certainly aren't going to come to us.  BUT, once they do become believers, the barriers need to come down instantly.  Many times they don't.  God has a plan for all who believe in  him. Once we make that commitment, we all become special people. If we don't know the right words, that's ok.  If we don't understand all the symbols and "rituals" it's ok. If we don't wear the right clothes, have the right job, have enough money, or the best education, it's ok.  We are all the same in his eyes.  We're no longer in a foreign country, we're home.  Not only are we at home, we become a critical part of the  home.  We each have  an equally important part.  The only one who has a special, unique purpose, is Christ himself. Irrespective of how we got their, God will use us.  Irrespective of where we are now, God will use us!  We don't have to worry about a passport anymore.  We become full citizens with all the rights and privileges of a lifelong citizen. Praise God!

Thank You Lord for inviting me to be a part of your kingdom.  Thank you for treating me like I am the only one that matters.  I hope and pray I can bring others to the family.  I hope and pray that I can add more bricks to your house. I know I can't do it under my own power or my own will.  I can only do it through you, the master builder.  Amen!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Perfect Plan!

Ephesians 1 (The Message)

7-10 He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.

I'm a planner. 90% of my job is to plan. As Athletic Director I work on schedules 5 and 6 years ahead.  I have varsity football officials scheduled through 2015.  I have nearly every other sport (varsity) official hired for the next 2 years.  While we are now beginning the fall sports season, I will soon begin working on plans for the winter season. I have check lists for about every event and occasion. I hate it when I forget something.  About 4 years ago we were getting ready for the National Anthem for the football home opener when it was pointed out to me that there was no flag for the National Anthem. I was so embarrassed.  I hate forgetting things.  I wake up at night in a cold sweat when i realize I have forgotten something for an event.

I am so thankful that God has a better memory than I do.  He has been planning since the beginning of time.  Unlike, the GHS athletic director, he never forgets a thing. His plans are perfect.  He DELIGHTS in the plans he has made. Most people don't see the behind the scenes planning that has gone on to make a football game possible.  We also don't know all the plans God has made for us. We have to trust him.  We have to know that he is  a perfect planner.  When he does reveal the plans, they are always so exciting.  In many ways we do know the plan.  We even know the final result.  The plan goes straight through Christ being crucified and raised in 3 days.  It ends with eternity in Heaven. We may not know all the details but we do know the outcome.  Since we know the outcome we should be able to just sit back and enjoy the trip. I can't wait to see the plan revealed in my life!

Dear Lord,  Thanks for The perfect plans you have made for us.  Thank you for leading us along the path to the final completion of that plan.  I can't wait to see the future you have for me! Amen!

Friday, August 13, 2010


Galatians 6 (The Message)

1-3 Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day's out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ's law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.

Together Everyone Achieves More -- I am not sure who coined this, but I've always liked it.  Of course it's true when you're talking about athletic teams, but it's also true about businesses, churches, families, clubs, organizations, and marriages. But what does it really mean when you work together.  Paul knew what it meant to work together. If you read between the lines, he is saying don't get so caught up in your own righteousness. You could just as easily be the one falling back in sin.  Sometimes we think of ourselves being up on a pedestal.  Stop being so high and mighty and get down to business with those who are oppressed and suffering.  Not only should we reach out to them, we need to make a difference in their lives. Don't just talk about helping. Do something! You never know when YOU could be the one needing help.

When a key player gets injured in an athletic contest, the coach will usually get the rest of the team together and say that someone is going to have to step up to replace the injured player.  Someone is going to have to carry more of the load. It won't work if everyone just keeps doing what they've been doing. What if we looked at our communities in the same way.  What about  our churches, families, workplaces, or marriages.  We often find people who are suffering and need a lift.  Many times it's people we care about deeply.  Sometimes we find we're the one who needs the lift. If one person suffers, we all suffer.  If we work together, all of us will be lifted up and restored. It's easy to be critical instead of help. Stop what your doing and take action. Work together and not against each other.  You are not better than those who need a helping hand.  Maybe you have been blessed so you CAN help.  Be creative don't accept the situation the way it is.  Change it with the help of your creator!

Lord, please help me to be a better member of the team.  Help me to use my resources to help the people I'm in contact with every single day.  Help me to take the blessings you have given me to bless others that need help! We are one in your spirit Lord. Help us to act like it! Amen!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

I'm Pumped!

Galatians 5 (The Message)

 22-23But what happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

I made a comment today on Facebook that I love the excitement and anticipation of another school year. Today was our first day back at GHS.  We had a great assembly to welcome the students back.  I'm not sure many people would admit it (teacher or student), but I think we really miss it when we are apart during the summer.  I love talking to the students and reconnecting with them.  You have very few, if any, discipline problems on the first day.  It's too bad it can't stay that way. I might be crazy, but I sense an exuberance about life from everyone. It doesn't always last.  Don't get me wrong this was an exhausting day and I will look forward to my head hitting the pillow.  I don't adjust to the activity like I used to.  But in the midst of a terrible economy, layoffs, unemployment, the breakdown of the family, and a dangerous world, it is nice to have some place that provides consistency, routine, and a hint of hope. To me, school is like that. I see students every day that I feel will never make it in life because of all the barriers they face. But our theme for the year is to "Rise Above". The largest majority of our students bring me cause for hope. I can't wait to see what these students will accomplish this year. I can't wait to see how they can make a difference in the future of our planet. I can't wait to see them rise above their circumstances and make a difference. It's exciting to be a part of developing the future hope of society.

I think IF I was living God's way more, I could sustain this exuberance past the first day of school.  I could consistently feel the serenity that all is right in my life.  I could develop more endurance during rough times and a better attitude towards others.  I could see "the basic holiness that permeates things and people."  How often do I look at the good in people instead of the bad? If I was more committed to  God's way of living I wouldn't get as exhausted, because I would do a better job managing my time and resources.  I would be content in my situation.  I would constantly act to serve others. I could reap the full blessings God has promised!

Being around the future generation brings me hope. Spending time with my Creator brings a hope that is eternal!

Dear Lord,  Thank you for the hope that is eternal.  Fill me with your spirit.  Give me the desire to do your will so I can have a hope that lasts and a peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Talkin' with Dad!

Galatians 4 (The Message)

 4-7 You can tell for sure that you are now fully adopted as his own children because God sent the Spirit of his Son into our lives crying out, "Papa! Father!" Doesn't that privilege of intimate conversation with God make it plain that you are not a slave, but a child? And if you are a child, you're also an heir, with complete access to the inheritance.

What name did you call your Dad?  Did you use Pops, Dad, Daddy, Papa, Pa, father? If you're like me that may have changed depending on your age, your relationship, or even what it was you were talking about to your Dad.  It seems very strange to me that I can talk to the Creator of the Universe as I would my Dad.  I know some people who had terrible relationships with their Dad's.  I don't understand this.  My Dad was awesome.  He chose to go into the ministry very late in life.  He heard the calling and answered the call with yes.  The older my Dad got the wiser he got.  Well, ok, maybe he was always wise.  It may have been that I wasn't old enough to recognize it.  I could talk with my Dad about anything and the older I got the more I realized how valuable his counsel was. My fondest memory is when we lived in the same town in Elkhart, Indiana.He and my brother would share breakfast at Cracker Barrell on a regular basis. We had such great conversations. We talked about everything. I miss those long lost days. I really miss him.

Similarly, when I was young my thoughts about talking to God were from formal prayers like the Lords Prayer, "Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name...." It never occurred to me when I was young that I could have an intimate relationship with God.   I just looked at him like I saw my own father, as an adolescent.  He was a disciplinarian who gave me a list of rules I had to follow. If I didn't obey, he punished me. As I grow older in my walk with God, I can see that he is so much more. Paul is telling us that we can have a relationship with the Creator of the universe that is not based on a slave vs master relationship.  We can have a relationship with God that is like our earthly father.  We can tell him anything.  We can share our full  range of emotions.  We can seek his counsel like I loved the counsel of my own father. The next time you pray to God, think about your attitude.  Try to picture sitting with your father at Cracker Barrell, sharing a breakfast, talking about everything from the Yankees to the latest movie, to politics, to the struggles your having. Open up! Wait for the response. I think you'll be amazed at how clearly he joins the conversation.

Hey Dad! Sometimes I just don't get why it is you love me the way you do?  Why do you put up with all my mistakes and poor judgment?  I really value your opinion and want to know if you could help me change. Help me to be a better person when I'm tired, when I'm stressed, and when I deal with people who make me mad.  Can you teach me how to be accepting like you? Dad, I want to be just like you. Amen!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Galatians 3 (The Message)

 1 You crazy Galatians! Did someone put a hex on you? Have you taken leave of your senses? Something crazy has happened, for it's obvious that you no longer have the crucified Jesus in clear focus in your lives. His sacrifice on the cross was certainly set before you clearly enough.

 2-4Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin? Was it by working your heads off to please God? Or was it by responding to God's Message to you? Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren't smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it? Did you go through this whole painful learning process for nothing? It is not yet a total loss, but it certainly will be if you keep this up!

I love being athletic director for Garrett High School.  I love the daily contact with the students and especially with the athletes.  I can truly say I have fun at my job.  To share Paul's term, High School Students are CRAZY. But, they are fun to be around.  They certainly are not perfect and I have found myself saying to them on more than one occasion, "What were you thinking? Are you crazy?"  I might have asked the same question as Paul, "Did someone put a hex on you? Have you taken leave of your senses?" When I was coaching cross country I had a talented group of runners that were ornery, to say the least.  We nicknamed them Juvi 1, Juvi 2, and Juvi 3. (Juvi was short for juvenile delinquent.)  I spent so much time with these kids and they used to drive me crazy. Don't get me wrong I have the best memories about cross country camp, carving names in pick-up trucks and winning a Cross Country meet by default. The greatest memory I have is nearing the end of the season, sitting in the back of the bus with the team and everyone saying they didn't want the season to end. I didn't want it to end either. I have such fond memories of these CRAZY student-athletes. It truly was one of the best times of my life.  They really weren't juvenile delinquents.  They were crazy, for sure, but I love them deeply to this day.

When I read Paul's comments to the churches at Galatia, I could somehow relate to how God feels about us.  He loves us so much, even though sometimes I am sure he is so puzzled with how we act.  I am sure he is amazed at how we work so hard at pleasing him and still don't get it.  I am sure he would call us Crazy in how we go about serving him and making the mistakes we do.  He is amazed at how we lose the message he has given us and how we lose touch with how we were saved. Yet, even though he witnesses our craziness on a daily basis, he truly loves being around us.  He loves the time he has with us and he longs for more.  There is nothing we could do to destroy the feelings he has for us. He knows we're crazy, sometimes to the point of causing him pain, but he offers his grace to us regardless. When you think about it, How crazy is that?

Dear Lord, Thank you for loving us so much.  Thanks for looking past our craziness and still wanting to be with us.  Thanks for your grace!  As the song says, it truly is amazing! Amen! 

Monday, August 9, 2010

The K.I.S.S. Principle

Galatians 2 (The Message)

 15-16 We know very well that we are not set right with God by rule-keeping but only through personal faith in Jesus Christ. How do we know? We tried it—and we had the best system of rules the world has ever seen! 

When our students start school on Thursday, teachers and administrators will spend a lot of time talking about the rules for students during the school year.  I have a special athletic parent meeting tomorrow night to go over the Athletic Code which is a set of rules to be followed by our athletes.  We have quite an extensive set of rules with an equally complicated set of consequences.  Our assistant principal spends the majority of his time disciplining students for school rule violations (usually dress code violations). For the vast majority of our students you wouldn't even have to mention the rules.  They know, because they have been raised properly, how to act and how to dress in public.  The best set of rules I have ever heard came from one of my coaches.  It was pretty simple really.  Don't do anything to embarrass yourself, your team, or your parents? I always thought the simpler the rule, the more likely students would follow it. I like the K.I.S.S. principle. Keep It Simple Stupid!

Really God's rules are just as simple. Love God with all your heart and Love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:34-40) That's it! Thats all there is to it! Paul finally understood that having a lengthy  set of rules describing in detail what you could and could not do, with an equally set of consequences, was ridiculous.  He knew first hand as a Pharisee how tough it was to follow the complex rules of the day and even harder to enforce the rules. We can't earn our place in eternity by following a lengthy set of rules.  We can wear jeans to church.  We don't have to pray a certain way. We don't have to  worship all the same way. We can be a sinner (all of us are) and still build a relationship with the creator of the universe.  Don't waste your time trying to follow the rules.  Instead, follow Christ with all your Heart,and Love your neighbor as yourself! Simple isn't it!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

There's more!

Galatians 1 (The Message)

 10-12Do you think I speak this strongly in order to manipulate crowds? Or curry favor with God? Or get popular applause? If my goal was popularity, I wouldn't bother being Christ's slave. Know this—I am most emphatic here, friends—this great Message I delivered to you is not mere human optimism. 

I was reading in the newspaper today that Christian films are gaining in popularity.  They mentioned "The Passion of the Christ" as the movie that proved the general public would go to a "Christian" movie.  I love movies like "Facing the Giants" and "FireProof".  I guess I would say they are "In your Face" type movies. They lay out in front of you the christian life and leave nothing to question. When you watch these movies you know that you need Christ, you need prayer, and you need to study the word of God. I also like movies like the "Chronicles of Narnia" or "Blindside".  They are much more subtle, but certainly provide a great christian message.  They don't directly teach the Gospel but, they do hold true to the great ideals of the christian life. Both types of movies have a great place and can help direct people to Christ.

But, as a christian we need to be careful not to always rely on being so subtle. I know more than one person who believes you can get to Heaven by being a good person. In reality, I guess I used to be one of those people. Paul was telling us, in so many words, this is not a popularity contest.  In the society we live in today, it's not popular to say their is only one way to receive eternal life. It's not "politically correct" . We can't water down the message of Christ.  We all know we must be great examples of Christ for everyone we meet.  We know that our actions speak louder than our words. Very rarely can you FORCE someone to become a follower of Christ. You need to build the relationships in order to have the opportunity to share. But, somewhere, you need to share the simple, clear, direct message that Christ was the one and only son of God, He lived on earth, died, and was raised from the dead for the salvation of our sins. You need to tell them the only way to gain eternal life is to believe this message, repent or ask God to forgive you of your sins, and to ask God to come into your life.

It's not about being optimistic. It's not about being a good person. It may not make you the most popular person. It might not gain you a standing ovation in this world. But, If we don't tell them, how will they know?

Heavenly father, help me to build relationships with the people I see everyday.  Help me to be an example  to non-believers. But, Lord don't let me forget the beautiful and simple message you want me to share.  Help me to be bold and confident to share with others.  Help me to see the opportunities and not to wait until it's too late!  Amen!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Ace the Test!

2 Corinthians 13 (The Message)

 5-9Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don't drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it.

School starts this week for GHS. It won't be long and the students will be studying for the BIG test.  They will take Pop quizzes, chapter tests, Unit Exams, Final Exams, and the ultimate Graduation Exams. I always had to spend tons of time studying. There was nothing natural about my academic ability.  My wife Stephanie, however, never had to open a book. She was and is naturally smart.  When she sold her books back in college, the pages had never seen the light of day. I had to do all sorts of tricks to memorize and learn the material. So, when I read this verse, it brought back some memories of long nights of serious studying.

One thing that struck me about this verse is the first two words.  Test yourselves. I certainly am not a biblical scholar.  I even did a little checking.  I couldn't find anywhere else in the Bible where we are instructed to "Test Yourselves". I apologize if there is and I missed it.  I found numerous places where God has tested us and He tests us everyday.  Since the very beginning of time we have been tested by God.  Sometimes we passed, most of the time we fail.

I think most students would love the idea of testing themselves.  The problem with testing ourselves, how do we know if we're passing or failing.  When I was in college, I always bought the optional solution manual. (I was a mathematics major.) I would legitimately do the problems and then check the solution manual.  If I didn't do it right, I would go back, do another problem and continue to do this until I got it right.  Sometimes, this process took forever.  I also joined numerous study groups.  I always looked for the smartest groups.  Sometimes they were better than the solution manual. I also found that if I could try to tutor someone else. It always seemed like it helped me more than it helped them. Since I was an adult when I went to college, I was never afraid to go straight to the professor, outside of class, to get direct help. There is nothing like going straight to the experts!

My Christian life is no different.  I have several copies of the solution manual. I have to study it daily and have for years.  I still struggle with the material! I'm not sure I will ever figure it out. I still attend those study groups.  Most people call them CHURCHES! Besides the study groups,  I also have to meet with the Ultimate professor at least once, but more than likely, several times a day. I figure if he created the universe, he is the only qualified expert when I don't understand the homework assignment.  I also try to do my own version of tutoring.  Although I feel very inadequate trying to teach others, selfishly it helps me more than it helps them. Just like in college, I really consider myself to be a slow learner. I have to study like crazy. I have to test my heart, my attitudes, and my motives every minute of every day. I also found out that at the top of the class is Jesus. He is the only one who ever aced the test. I certainly need him as my study partner. I can't ever imagine passing the test, yet my Professor knows my heart. He knows  everything about me.  He runs his class different than any professor I ever had.  His educational philosophy is centered around Grace.  He is looking for commitment, and honesty, openness and effort.  He knows I am doomed to failure, but he loves me just the same. He always gives me an undeserved A+. I could live in his class forever!

Dear "Great Teacher", Thank you for being patient with me even when I just don't get it.  Thank you for developing a class  that is designed just for me.  Test me and help me continue to test myself. Help me to improve and to be able to follow your plan for my life! Amen!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Happy about Bad Breaks!

2 Corinthians 12 (The Message)

 7-10My grace is enough; it's all you need.
     My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ's strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.

I had a great summer.  Stephanie and I traveled over 5100 miles on our trip out west to Glacier National Park and Canada.  We have taken these trips for the past 5 years.  We have traveled to the Grand Canyon, California, South Carolina, Tennessee, and toured most of Michigan by motorcycle. We love it!  Taking long motorcycle trips is like backpacking on wheels.  We camp, we take back roads, and we see the fantastic sights of the country. It is our time to rest and refresh.  We reconnect with each other after our busy schedules and we reconnect with God. God has had a very magical way of speaking to us on each of these trips.  This year was no different.

We stayed the night just north of Little bighorn in Montana.  We got up early and headed north to our final destination at West Glacier, MT. It was going to be a long day. If you have never been to Montana, I can't describe to you how desolate it is.  Well, we were about 100 miles from Great Falls, Montana when I looked at my volt meter and noticed the Harley was losing voltage.......quickly.  We were in the middle of nowhere.  No houses, no cell phone service and no other vehicles on the road. When I first noticed the problem, I waited to tell Stephanie.  I didn't want to ruin the great vacation and a great day. I instantly began to pray God would fix the bike.  He didn't.  At least he didn't fix it right away.  Well I finally told Stephanie and now we had two people fervently praying.  To tell you how worried we were, it was Saturday afternoon, July 3rd of 4th of July weekend.  I had no idea if there was a Harley dealer in Great Falls, but I was pretty confident they wouldn't be open on a Holiday weekend. I had already made up my mind that we would have to get a Hotel for a couple of days in Great Falls (if we made it there.) and wait until we could get some way to fix the bike.  I could feel the tension the closer we got to Great Falls.  Both Stephanie and I were praying that God would provide us with a solution.  We really didn't have a good plan. The voltage kept dropping and was down to about 10 volts just outside of Great Falls.  I was afraid to even slow down, thinking if the motorcycle died, it would never start again.  We pulled in to Great Falls.  I had no idea where to even go.  I made a quick decision just to go left.  I didn't know why.  I had no idea where to begin looking for a Harley Shop, Hotel, or assistance of some type. God was in charge. Not even two blocks into Great Falls I saw a Harley Dealer sign. That was a great relief.  I thought, well at least we have a place to take it on Monday or more than likely Tuesday after the Holiday.  As I got closer to the Harley Dealer. I noticed it was open.  A sign out front and a huge crowd indicated they were having a 30 year celebration.  Wow!  So I thought, maybe I can get someone to take a look at it.  I knew the chance the service department was open, was slim to none.  We walked into the showroom, asked if they knew someone who could look at the bike, they said, just go to the service department. THEY WERE OPEN! PRAISE GOD!

About 4 hours later and several hundred $$$, we were back on the road.  We enjoyed the great music, free food, and the quick work of the service department to fit us into their schedule.  It was truly amazing. It was truly God!

I wish I could say I was like Paul and took the "Bad Break" in stride. I wish I could say I was glad for it to happen. I was a wreck physically and mentally at the end of that day. I had no idea what to do, but God did.  God has taken care of Stephanie and I for the 32 years we've been together. He has answered a whole lot more than the prayers to fix a motorcycle.  It is always at the lowest point, the point of my greatest weakness, that he provides the strength.  We are weak, but he is strong!  Christ took over and worked his miracle.  Praise God

Lord, I am ashamed of my weakness and lack of faith.  You, however, are always faithful.  I can look back on my life and see your mighty hand at every turn, at every low point, and every miracle.  I praise you Lord for the grace you provide and the great love you have for this sinner.  I praise you for the strength you provide in my weakness. Thank You! Lord! Amen!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Real Deal!

2 Corinthians 11 (The Message)

 7-12I was careful never to be a burden to you, and I never will be, you can count on it. With Christ as my witness, it's a point of honor with me, and I'm not going to keep it quiet just to protect you from what the neighbors will think. It's not that I don't love you; God knows I do. I'm just trying to keep things open and honest between us.
 12-15And I'm not changing my position on this. I'd die before taking your money. I'm giving nobody grounds for lumping me in with those money-grubbing "preachers," vaunting themselves as something special. They're a sorry bunch—pseudo-apostles, lying preachers, crooked workers—posing as Christ's agents but sham to the core. And no wonder! Satan does it all the time, dressing up as a beautiful angel of light. So it shouldn't surprise us when his servants masquerade as servants of God. But they're not getting by with anything. They'll pay for it in the end.

My Dad was a Methodist Pastor.  He did not go into ministry full time until my senior year in high school.  He started out as a Gideon, accepted two churches on a part time basis before he turned to full time ministry. He moved around as Pastors do in the Methodist Church.  I was always so proud how honorable he was and how he had an impeccable reputation.  It's not always easy being a full time preacher.  We used to tease Dad about only having to work on Sunday, but we knew the truth.  Pastors rarely work a simple 9-5 day or a 40 hour week. They rarely take long vacations or have full days off. Besides the after-hour meetings, constant bombardment of phone calls from "the flock", funerals, weddings, hospital visits, counseling, managing the church personnel, church finances and writing an occasional sermon, it can be grueling. Through all of that, I never one time, heard my Dad complain or turn someone down.  He was so honorable.  The pseudo-preachers, lying preachers, crooked pastors, immoral pastors, always grab the headlines.  But, the Real Pastors, the ones who work the long weeks and are concerned about honor and keeping things open and honest, just go about their schedule serving in quiet and effective ways. He was not perfect, none of them are.  But, he was careful never to be a burden to the church. He served with honesty and integrity, even when the message had to be "tough love". He was humble and made sure people knew he was nothing special, just a simple servant.  Most REAL pastors are like that.  God sent these wonderful servants to share his message. Don't get discouraged when you hear about pastors who masquerade as God's servants. Don't lose faith when you witness first hand the type of pastor Paul was describing. They are only a small minority and will always get their just rewards in the end. If you look closely at your Pastor, more than likely you will see he is the real deal!

Lord, Thank you so much for the servants you send to Preach the Gospel.  We praise you that your spirit guides their lives.  Please protect them and their families from harm.  Bless them abundantly,  help them to focus on you and not be distracted by the things of this world.  Give them rest, renew their spirit daily, and provide them with your wisdom to lead.  In your great and powerful name, Amen.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tool Time!

2 Corinthians 10 (The Message)

 3-6The world is unprincipled. It's dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn't fight fair. But we don't live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren't for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. 

Hey! Does everybody know what time it is?  -------------- TOOL TIME -- I love the television show Home Improvement. I love tools, working on things and Do-It-Yourself.  Tim Allen is hilarious.  I guess I like this show because I can relate.  I don't think I have ever done anything as crazy as putting a jet engine on a lawnmower. or building a mans kitchen, or a mans bathroom.  But,  I do understand  MORE POWER.  I love gadgets and gizmos. I think anything can be fixed with duct tape or tie-wraps. Well. almost anything.  I have done my share of not having the right tool for the job and improvising, only to end up in disaster.

I think Paul would have loved "Tool Time".  Go back and read this verse like Tim Taylor would read it.  It just makes me want to take a crowbar and start ripping things up. (Ok, it may be a man thing!).  But, don't you get fired up when you think about the daily fight we face with the "World".  We can't be shy, we have to attack or be attacked.  We need to use "More Power" or face destruction.  We have to use our God-tools. Now that is More Power!  We have to be willing to stand for what is right in Gods eyes, not our own. Using the word of God, we need to take political stands, defend the weak and the poor.  We need to be open to the leading of the spirit to take action against injustice. We need to pray for our enemies that they would know the Lord. We must realize we are in a fight and we must not back down.  We aren't to use just words or negotiations, (marketing or manipulation) to change this world.  We are to take action! Tell it like it is!  Don't accept anything but a world shaped in the likeness of Christ.  We need to Love, but we must not yield to the evil we face during our daily walk.

Read the verses again.  If it doesn't give you a sense of urgency and a sense of purpose, a sense of power. I don't know what will.  Argh! Argh! Argh! MORE POWER!

Lord, help us to use your tools to make a difference in this world.  Help us to take action, tear down barriers that get in the way of a life you designed.  We know. Lord, we are in a battle.  The battle belongs to you Lord, but we want to join the fight.  We need your power, your strength, and your purpose to stand up against this world.  Give me  a sledge hammer, help me rip the walls down that get in the way of this world turning to you. Help us make a difference! Amen!