Sunday, October 31, 2010

Snooze Alarms!

Revelation 3 (The Message)

 1 Write this to Sardis, to the Angel of the church. The One holding the Seven Spirits of God in one hand, a firm grip on the Seven Stars with the other, speaks: "I see right through your work. You have a reputation for vigor and zest, but you're dead, stone-dead. 2-3"Up on your feet! Take a deep breath! Maybe there's life in you yet. But I wouldn't know it by looking at your busywork; nothing of God's work has been completed. Your condition is desperate. Think of the gift you once had in your hands, the Message you heard with your ears—grasp it again and turn back to God."If you pull the covers back over your head and sleep on, oblivious to God, I'll return when you least expect it, break into your life like a thief in the night.

I was a Math teacher. I have to admit that some days I assigned busy work just to keep my students from getting on my nerves. This work would be helpful in their Math studies, but it wasn't always necessary. But, most of the time I tried to make sure my students had meaningful homework. I always let them work on it together. I would always be available to answer questions and used this work to make sure the students understood the material. I have known some teachers who give more busy work than meaningful work. Some of my colleagues have been copy machine experts. They spent most of their time copying worksheet after worksheet of problems for students to complete. Even if a student has mastered the material, they still have to go through the process. I also know of teachers who teach everything by video. They have a video day every friday and can adapt any feature film for their own personal lessons. 

Some christians are also great at busy work. I get the feeling that some people believe the more work you do, the better your chances of getting preferred seating in Heaven. These "Busy Bodies" are long on Content and short on substance. I kind of picture them as the modern day Pharisees. They get so bogged down with the details of their faith, that they never actually develop a relationship with the Father. Some of these people spend more time in service to their church than they spend in bible study, prayer, and building a meaningful relationship  with their Lord in Heaven. 

It is entirely possible for us, as Christians, to get bogged down in the process and lose site of the goal of our lives. When God speaks to them and tries to get them to put their faith in action they just hit the snooze alarm, pull the covers over their head, roll-over, and go back to sleep. We can't do this. We need to listen for Gods voice, we need to spend our time with him, get our marching orders from him, and be about the task of doing his work. That is our only goal. Their is no other work as valuable as the assignment we have received from God. I need to stop wasting time on the "fluff" and concentrate on what is important! Sometimes it's alot easier to hit the snooze button than it is to get up and get to work for Christ. But once we take that step and get up out of bed, the rewards are amazing. 

Dear Lord, Be patient with us in your work. We know that we work for you but many times we follow our own agenda. Help us Lord to focus on your assignments and taking your word and applying it to ou every day lives. Amen!

Saturday, October 30, 2010


 Revelation 2 (The Message)
18Write this to Thyatira, to the Angel of the church. God's Son, eyes pouring fire-blaze, standing on feet of furnace-fired bronze, says this: 19"I see everything you're doing for me. Impressive! The love and the faith, the service and persistence. Yes, very impressive! You get better at it every day.
What are you impressed by? I am so impressed and amazed by people that are humble and normal people. I am so impressed by people who war thrust into the spotlight and still hold to their beliefs. I am greatly impressed by the single mom who juggles work, family, and faith. I am so impressed with christians in foreign countries who battle through persecution and still share their faith. I am so impressed with Pastors who work for the Lord and do not get brought down by material things and set a great example for their flocks. I am so impressed by people who are battling cancer and refuse to blame God. I am impressed by these same cancer patients who not only won't blame God but Praise him all the way to their death. 

In this message to Thatira, God is impressed with Love and Faith and Service and Persistence. I want to be known as a person who Loves others unconditionally and without exception. I want to be known as a man who has such a strong faith that I would defend it unto death. I want to be known as a Man who puts others first even at a sacrifice to himself. I want to be known as a man who does not give up on others, a man who prays without ceasing for the lost. I know I haven't done anything to impress God. But, my Life goal is to serve him and at the end of my life to be known as a Good and Faithful servant.

Dear Lord, I know I have a long way to go to be the person you want me to be. Help me Lord, give me direction and wisdom to continue to improve every day. I want to do it all for you! Amen!

Friday, October 29, 2010

In the shadow of Mordor

Revelation 2 (The Message)

To Pergamum

 12Write this to Pergamum, to the Angel of the church. The One with the sharp-biting sword draws from the sheath of his mouth—out come the sword words: 13"I see where you live, right under the shadow of Satan's throne. But you continue boldly in my Name; you never once denied my Name, even when the pressure was worst, when they martyred Antipas, my witness who stayed faithful to me on Satan's turf.

Do you remember in the Lord of the Rings -- Mordor. It was so depressing

You can just feel the evil and the gloom. When I watch the news or deal with broken families at school I get the feeling of gloom and doom. When you see the way that our country has turned from God and how anti-christian our society is getting, it is easy to get depressed. When you see the murder and senseless  destruction of babies, or the extreme poverty, homelessness, and famine, you can be overwhelmed with depression.
But, we/I need to continue boldly  in the name of Jesus. Even when the pressure is at it's worst and we fight our battle on Satan's turf, God is with us. We need to persevere. We need to realize that God is in control. God defeats Satan. These earthly battles are only fleeting. They are mere puffs of wind. God is the wind, he will blow away the evil around us for all eternity. We need to defeat the depression in our lives. In the midst of the shadow and in the midst of the darkness is a perfect Light. The Light of the world is Jesus! AMEN!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The only thing to fear is............

Revelation 2 (The Message)

 8Write this to Smyrna, to the Angel of the church. The Beginning and Ending, the First and Final One, the Once Dead and Then Come Alive, speaks: 9"I can see your pain and poverty—constant pain, dire poverty—but I also see your wealth. And I hear the lie in the claims of those who pretend to be good Jews, who in fact belong to Satan's crowd.10"Fear nothing in the things you're about to suffer—but stay on guard! Fear nothing! The Devil is about to throw you in jail for a time of testing—ten days. It won't last forever.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave his famous speech about fear at his Inaugural address on March 4, 1933. Here is that transcript:

"I am certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our people impel. This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.

I wonder if he read Revelation 2:10. They sound similar in tone and power.  FDR gave his famous speech before attacking the problem of the Great Depression. He knew that unless we addressed our fear of what was to come, we could not move forward. We would be paralyzed.
We are now and have been facing one of the most difficult times in our nation's history. Unemployment may not be at the same levels of the great depression, but they are very high. Our nation has been paralyzed, maybe not by fear, but by lack of openness and candor of our leaders. The same frankness and vigor of our leaders is just not present. They are too busy destroying each other to think about healing our nation. Many Americans fear what is going to happen to them. They are close to losing their homes to foreclosure, they are struggling to put food on the table, many are either unemployed or underemployed. You can sense the stress level of the nation when you follow the present election campaigns. It wasn't just FDR that told us we don't have anything to fear. God has also told us we have nothing to fear. The Devil has no power over us. We might have some suffering down hear on Earth. Their will be poverty, dire poverty, and pain, constant pain. But, we have the power of the almighty God on our side. We know that we have the victory. Our life here on Earth is only fleeting in terms of the Eternity we are promised. Praise God, he loves us and cares for us. We have nothing to fear with God on our side.

Dear Lord, Thank you for your love. We know we don't deserve it and our faith is weak. We count on your strength, we count on your perfect wisdom, to guide us through poverty, pain, and all of life's troubles. We love you. We worship you. We adore you! Amen!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My First Love!

Revelation 2 (The Message)

 1 Write this to Ephesus, to the Angel of the church. The One with Seven Stars in his right-fist grip, striding through the golden seven-lights' circle, speaks: 2-3"I see what you've done, your hard, hard work, your refusal to quit. I know you can't stomach evil, that you weed out apostolic pretenders. I know your persistence, your courage in my cause, that you never wear out.4-5"But you walked away from your first love—why? What's going on with you, anyway? Do you have any idea how far you've fallen? A Lucifer fall! "Turn back! Recover your dear early love. No time to waste, for I'm well on my way to removing your light from the golden circle.

I'm way ahead of schedule to finish my whole Bible Study by the end of the year so I think I'm going to slow down a little bit. I love this part of the book of Revelation. These verses are specific messages to 7 churches. Yet, the messages are just as valuable to our modern day churches and even to individuals.

Do you remember your first love? I don't mean your first girlfriend/boyfriend. I mean your first real love. For me that is my lovely wife Stephanie. I had the great pleasure of meeting Stephanie when I was in high school. Stephanie was selling milk at lunch (how romantic!) I was close friends with one of her girlfriends, Kim Osnamer (I apologize Kim, for the spelling). She suggested we should get together. So, we had our first date at lunch at school. Being the great suave and debonaire person I am, I don't remember putting together any complete sentences. I do remember getting this strange feeling that she was amazing. I couldn't get her off my mind. She was a real distraction! It really was love at first sight. We hit it off immediately. We went on our first REAL date to see a movie, a very romantic, tear jerker of a movie, "Star Wars". Ok, I know it's not a great movie for a first date. What can I say, I was young! Our relationship continued to grow. I don't remember when I knew she was the one. But, it wasn't long after we met. I was still in high school and Stephanie had graduated. We got married after I graduated in 1978 and the rest is history!
I've never thought about walking away from my first love. Of course we've had our disagreements and we've had our share of FIGHTS. But, I love Steph more today than I did when we were first married. We have had some wonderful times and some difficult times, but we've done it together. I still think she is amazing and I feel like the luckiest man alive.

Do you remember when you gave your life to Christ? Do you remember how fired up you were. If you were like me, your enthusiasm was contagious. Remember when you couldn't get enough worship, or study of his word, or prayer. Have you lost your enthusiasm? Maybe you have walked away from your faith. Maybe you have grown cynical. Maybe you have let the world take over your heart. That's what happened to the church at Ephesus. They were true leaders of the faith and then something happened that they walked away from their true love. Maybe you haven't realized that you have drifted away. Maybe you aren't aware of how far you have fallen.
My advice: Stop what your doing. Pray to your Father in Heaven. Speak to him from your heart. Ask his forgiveness for "walking away" Ask forgiveness and then change your actions. Spend more time in the word, spend more time in prayer, pray for enthusiasm to share with others. Then get involved in ministry, even if that's at work, home, or in your community. Ask for God's hand in changing. Reconnect with your love. Give him a chance to rekindle that love. He is always there waiting for you to turn back to him.

Dear Lord, You are my first love. Please forgive me for not acting like it. Forgive me for not putting you first in my life. Forgive me for just walking through the paces and not getting excited about the grace, mercy, and blessings you have granted. Give me a heart for you. A heart that I can share with others I see everyday. A Heart that knows your love. Thank you for your patience with me. You are an awesome and wonderful God! Amen!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Back to the Future!

Revelation 1 (The Message)

 1-2A revealing of Jesus, the Messiah. God gave it to make plain to his servants what is about to happen. He published and delivered it by Angel to his servant John. And John told everything he saw: God's Word— the witness of Jesus Christ!

How amazing would it be to know the future. Countless movies and books have been written about time travel and going forward in time. What would you do if you knew what was going to happen to you tomorrow? My first thoughts are I could really profit. I could find out the lottery ticket numbers and then go back and pick them. You could check out the stock prices and make some great investments. If you knew people who got in car accidents, you could go back and try to influence the events so it wouldn't happen. If you knew and then changed your actions, you would have to go back to the future and see what happened next. You would have to keep doing this to see the results of your changed actions. It's starting to sound pretty complicated. In reality, the only  one who can change the future is God. His plan is perfect. Regardless what we do, his plan will continue. The future isn't something we can influence. Even if we could somehow travel to the future, God would be one step ahead of us. His plans will not change. So, it doesn't help us to go Back to the Future!
The book of Revelation starts out with this verse. This book is the revealing of God's final plans. It's a warning and it's a promise. As Christians we've been trying to explain to the world what the future will hold. The problem is most people don't believe it. They aren't interested in the future. If the future meant they were going to win the lottery, they would be VERY interested. All we're trying to explain is the difference between eternal life and eternal death. I just can't understand why the world isn't more interested.
God hasn't kept the future a big secret. As a matter of fact he has revealed it very clearly. Guess what? HE wins! Jesus will return and the final victory has been decided. This should be very comforting to his followers. If it's so comforting,  why do we worry and fret so much about today? Can we change the future? NO. This is not some Hollywood movie. You can't change the future. God has already set the future. His plans have been revealed. As followers, we don't have to worry, we don't have to stress out about what is ahead of us. We just need to rest in the arms of God and accept his loving grace and his perfect plan.

Dear Lord, You are such an awesome and powerful God. We worry and fret about what will happen tomorrow, next week, next year, and the end of time. Why?  I know you already have decided the future. Your plans are complete. Please help me accept your plan. Help me to accept the perfect plan you have laid out before me. I am excited to be yours. i am excited to be included in your eternity. Thank you Lord for your Love. Amen!

Monday, October 25, 2010

God Live Under the Bed (Two for One Monday!)

I just got this from one of my CMA Friends. Thought you should read it! Two posts in one day -- Wow!

God Lives Under The Bed 
I think this is perhaps one of the BEST email 'forwards' I have ever read. I hope you will enjoy it half as much as I have!!  
Don't start reading this one until you've got more than a minute to just 'scan' over it. It deserves some time for reflection.
I envy Kevin. My brother, Kevin, thinks God lives under his bed. At least that's what I heard him say one night. He was praying out loud in his dark bedroom, and I stopped to listen, 'Are you there, God?' he said. 'Where are you? Oh, I see. Under the bed....' I giggled softly and tiptoed off to my own room. Kevin's unique perspectives are often a source of amusement. But that night something else lingered long after the humor.  I realized for the first time the very different world Kevin lives in.  He was born 30 years ago, mentally disabled as a result of difficulties during labor. Apart from his size (he's 6-foot-2), there are few ways in which he is an adult. He reasons and communicates with the capabilities of a 7-year-old, and he always will. He will probably always believe that God lives under his bed, that Santa Clause is the one who fills the space under our tree every Christmas and that airplanes stay up in the sky because angels carry them. I remember wondering if Kevin realizes he is different. Is he ever dissatisfied with his monotonous life? Up before dawn each day, off to work at a workshop for the disabled, home to walk our cocker spaniel, return to eat his favorite macaroni-and-cheese for dinner, and later to bed.  The only variation in the entire scheme is laundry, when he hovers excitedly over the washing machine like a mother with her newborn child.  He does not seem dissatisfied.  He lopes out to the bus every morning at 7:05, eager for a day of simple work.  He wrings his hands excitedly while the water boils on the stove before dinner, and he stays up late twice a week to gather our dirty laundry for his next day's laundry chores.  And Saturdays - oh, the bliss of Saturdays! That's the day my Dad takes Kevin to the airport to have a soft drink, watch the planes land, and speculate loudly on the destination of each passenger inside. 'That one's goin' to Chi-car-go! ' Kevin shouts as he claps his hands.  His anticipation is so great he can hardly sleep on Friday nights.  And so goes his world of daily rituals and weekend field trips.  He doesn't know what it means to be discontent.  His life is simple.  He will never know the entanglements of wealth of power, and he does not care what brand of clothing he wears or what kind of food he eats. His needs have always been met, and he never worries that one day they may not be.  His hands are diligent. Kevin is never so happy as when he is working. When he unloads the dishwasher or vacuums the carpet, his heart is completely in it.  He does not shrink from a job when it is begun, and he does not leave a job until it is finished. But when his tasks are done, Kevin knows how to relax.  He is not obsessed with his work or the work of others. His heart is pure.  He still believes everyone tells the truth, promises must be kept, and when you are wrong, you apologize instead of argue.  Free from pride and unconcerned with appearances, Kevin is not afraid to cry when he is hurt, angry or sorry. He is always transparent, always sincere. And he trusts God.  Not confined by intellectual reasoning, when he comes to Christ, he comes as a child. Kevin seems to know God - to really be friends with Him in a way that is difficult for an 'educated' person to grasp. God seems like his closest companion.  In my moments of doubt and frustrations with my Christianity, I envy the security Kevin has in his simple faith.  It is then that I am most willing to admit that he has some divine knowledge that rises above my mortal questions.  It is then I realize that perhaps he is not the one with the handicap. I am. My obligations, my fear, my pride, my circumstances - they all become disabilities when I do not trust them to God's care.  Who knows if Kevin comprehends things I can never learn? After all, he has spent his whole life in that kind of innocence, praying after dark and soaking up the goodness and love of God.  And one day, when the mysteries of heaven are opened, and we are all amazed at how close God really is to our hearts, I'll realize that God heard the simple prayers of a boy who believed that God lived under his bed.  Kevin won't be surprised at all!  When you receive this, say a prayer. That's all you have to do. There is nothing attached. This is powerful
Just send this to four people and do not break this, please. Prayer is one of the best free gifts we receive. There is no cost, but a lot of rewards.

One Way!

Jude 1 (The Message)

 17-19But remember, dear friends, that the apostles of our Master, Jesus Christ, told us this would happen: "In the last days there will be people who don't take these things seriously anymore. They'll treat them like a joke, and make a religion of their own whims and lusts." These are the ones who split churches, thinking only of themselves. There's nothing to them, no sign of the Spirit!

There are at least 22 different major religions

  1. Christianity: 2.1 billion
  2. Islam: 1.5 billion
  3. Secular/Nonreligious/Agnostic/Atheist: 1.1 billion
  4. Hinduism: 900 million
  5. Chinese traditional religion: 394 million
  6. Buddhism: 376 million
  7. primal-indigenous: 300 million
  8. African Traditional & Diasporic: 100 million
  9. Sikhism: 23 million
  10. Juche: 19 million
  11. Spiritism: 15 million
  12. Judaism: 14 million
  13. Baha'i: 7 million
  14. Jainism: 4.2 million
  15. Shinto: 4 million
  16. Cao Dai: 4 million
  17. Zoroastrianism: 2.6 million
  18. Tenrikyo: 2 million
  19. Neo-Paganism: 1 million
  20. Unitarian-Universalism: 800 thousand
  21. Rastafarianism: 600 thousand
  22. Scientology: 500 thousand
 The number of members are debatable, but they are accurate as far as ordering the religions. Christianity claims the most members at just over  2billion. But, if you add up the other religions they have over 4 billion members. These are 4 billion members that are not Christians and in many cases are Anti-Christian. Many of these religions are very new. With the onset of the internet you can just google any one of these 22 religions and many others. I think we can say that we are in the last days. Certainly if you look at these religions and their beliefs you can see they were created by the whims and lusts of their founder. I'm not going to criticize these religions specifically but they are, none-the-less, interesting.

As I said many of these people are anti-christian and they act in  a way contrary to our faith. We have some of these same types of people inside our churches. They claim to be Christians, but they are in it for themselves. They take the Bible and twist it to say what they want. They twist things to limit, restrict, and judge their fellow believers.  They think of themselves and don't care who they hurt to get their way. They hold others to a higher standard than they live. On Sunday at church we talked about how non-christians hate dealing with Christians. Many times we are the worst examples. Many times we are rude, overbearing, judgmental, and generally unpleasant. Our greatest Christian "Witness" is not what we say or do inside church, but how we act outside church.

In many ways we have developed are own religion. We have so twisted the true Christian Faith, that we can hardly recognize it as Christianity.  This verse emphasizes one of the most important principles of Christianity, "We must think of others before we think of ourselves."  I really  think this is one of the distinguishing factors of our Faith.  We are to think of others before ourselves. Yet, this is one of our weakest points. In order for us to even hope to convert any of these 4 billion + people that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, we have to change the way we treat people. We have to put them first over ourselves. We need to sacrifice like Jesus. We may even need to sacrifice ourselves. We need to love others first!

We are in the last days.  We need to share our own faith but more importantly we need to model it and it's differences from the others. We worship the true God. We can not forget there is only one way to eternal life, that is through Jesus Christ. Our Faith is special, we need to act like it!

Dear Lord, Forgive us for not representing you as we should. We are not good examples of your love. Help us to change that. Help us to put our faith into action by loving people more than we love ourselves. Amen!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hospitality for Christ!

3 John 1 (The Message)

 5-8Dear friend, when you extend hospitality to Christian brothers and sisters, even when they are strangers, you make the faith visible. They've made a full report back to the church here, a message about your love. It's good work you're doing, helping these travelers on their way, hospitality worthy of God himself! 

When i was Athletic Director at South Adams High School, I had a great mentor. Herb Resler "raised me" as Athletic Director. I am so grateful for his 5+ years of guidance. I literally new nothing about being an AD and he guided me through the entire process. I truly believe God placed us together so he could provide that guidance. One of the great lessons I learned from him was how important hospitality was. His fantastic wife, Fancheon Resler, is a wonderful homemaker. Every Friday Night home football game, she would provide food for our workers and officials. She is amazing. She would also completely organize hospitality for our Sectional and Regional tournaments. Herb would organize the office staff to provide for regular season home basketball games. 

When I moved back to Garrett, we continued the same tradition. My lovely wife Stephanie who also happens to be an amazing cook, has provided countless meals for Football, Basketball Coaches, Officials, and workers. I know our Coaches, Officials, and workers greatly appreciate this act of kindness. I wish we had time to do it for all of our sports. It is just too difficult to do this during the week. 
Why do we do it? We do it precisely because we don't have to! It is a part of our Christian service. Our Coaches, Officials, workers, visiting coaches and administrators barely have enough time to get home and back to school before a game. Many times they do not have the chance to get something to eat. So, my lovely wife plans out meals and snacks to help.  Not only have we done this for our own home events, but now it has grown to providing "Hospitality" for our Conference events, and the Semi-State Wrestling tournament. We don't do it for the praise. It would be so much easier not to do it. We do it as one of the ways we can put our Faith into action.  It is how we make our "Faith Visible". 

Put your faith in action. Serve someone when the only reason is because you don't have to! Don't do it for the great feeling you get, (you will experience this). Don't do it for the Thank You, (people are always appreciative). Do it for Christ! (When you do it for one of the least of these, you do it for him!)

Dear Lord, Provide us with the desire to service others. Help us to serve others, not from selfishness, but to share your Love. Help us to expect nothing in return and to enjoy the service just as we are serving you! Thank You for all your love, grace, and mercy. You don't have to Love us, but you do anyway! Amen!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Face to Face is best!

2 John 1 (The Message)

 12-13I have a lot more things to tell you, but I'd rather not use paper and ink. I hope to be there soon in person and have a heart-to-heart talk. That will be far more satisfying to both you and me. Everyone here in your sister congregation sends greetings.

I have a blog. I don't use pencil and paper much any more. Some people are very critical of this fact. Computers are replacing paper and pencil. I can type just about as fast as I can write with a pencil. If you compose as you write, it is so much easier to go back and reword on the computer. When I compose with pencil and paper, I go through a lot of erasers. What did we have before pencil and paper? I never had to use a quill pen. I'll bet that was a pain. I taught with chalk boards and then graduated to a smart board. (If you don't know what that is, google it!) Now the trend is to get away from textbooks and go to with online texts. I know this is also controversial. I'm not sure why. It is so much easier to get up-to-date textbooks if you don't have to wait every 4 years or so. Also, with the cost of textbooks, a computer is CHEAPER! My final comment, join the real world, dump your pencil and paper! also need to dump your computer from time to time in favor of face to face communication. People don't have Heart-to-Heart talks enough! This is going to sound like I am a hypocrite but, the computer isn't the ultimate answer to communicating (neither was pencil and paper).  Just like paper and pencil, you can't tell the emotion behind the computer. You can't get the sense of the heart of the communication. How many times have your emails been misunderstood? When we communicate by computer, we absorb the information with a limited filter. When we communicate face to face. We get to use all of our senses to filter the info. Some things just need to be said face to face. Like, witnessing. Your own christian testimony loses so much if it is just written. The power of your testimony is in your heart. You can't reproduce that on pencil and paper or on the computer. You can try. But, sometimes words are not enough. I'll admit, sometimes our tongue gets us in trouble. The pen or the keyboard can be equally as dangerous. Don't just rely on it to share. Face to Face, Heart to Heart is always best!

Dear Lord, you gave us marching orders to GO. Help us to realize that is a physical command. Help us to communicate your message the best way we can. Help us to use face to face and heart to heart talks. We need your words, we need your thoughts, we need your heart. Help us to be the best witness we can be. Help us to Go into all the world and share your wonderful story by every means possible. Amen.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Love God -- Love his children, Hate his children -- Hate God!

1 John 5 (The Message)

1-3Every person who believes that Jesus is, in fact, the Messiah, is God-begotten. If we love the One who conceives the child, we'll surely love the child who was conceived. The reality test on whether or not we love God's children is this: Do we love God? Do we keep his commands? The proof that we love God comes when we keep his commandments and they are not at all troublesome.

I love my wife. She is the best blessing that God could have ever granted. Of course I have talked about this before. But, I never get tired of saying it. She is wonderful. Loving her naturally leads me to loving my daughters. My love for Stephanie endures through the love of my 3 daughters. Mckenzie, Lindsae, and Kelley are awesome. They all 3 grew up in the same home, with the same parents, under the same circumstances. Yet, they are completely different, wonderful, young women. I could not be more proud of them and the loving Christian women they have become. They take after their mother. All 3 of these great ladies are connected at the hip. I tease Stephanie about how many times she talks to her daughters. They can't stand to be a part. McKenzie and Lindsae have become great mothers and great wives. Kelley will not be any different. She is very special and when the right Christian Man comes along, she will also be a great wife and mother. I love to pray for them and their circumstances. I am always amazed how the Lord works through those prayers and has blessed them. These three amazing women are just extensions of my great wife. I can't love Stephanie without loving them. They are Stephanie!

We can't truly Love God without loving God's Children. If we don't love God's Children, we don't really love God. They are from God. God Loves them. So should we. If we hate people, we hate God. We need to Love like Jesus. We need to love all types of people, from all backgrounds, from the good to the bad and everything in-between.

Dear Lord, We know we are commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves. We also know we don't always do a good job of loving others. Help us to place others before ourselves. Help us to love everyone, our enemies, the unlovable, and even the people who deny you. We can love them without loving what they do. Thank You Lord for loving us and teaching us how to love. You are an awesome and powerful God. Amen!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Stop It!

1 John 4 (The Message)

 4-6My dear children, you come from God and belong to God. You have already won a big victory over those false teachers, for the Spirit in you is far stronger than anything in the world. These people belong to the Christ-denying world. They talk the world's language and the world eats it up. But we come from God and belong to God. Anyone who knows God understands us and listens. The person who has nothing to do with God will, of course, not listen to us. This is another test for telling the Spirit of Truth from the spirit of deception.

I have watched a lot of sporting events in my time. I have seen high school, college, and Professional teams in many different sports. I have a question? Is trash talking all that necessary? As a matter of fact "Trash Talking" doesn't just take place in sports, it takes place everywhere. Just watch a political ad, or a Sunday News Program, or Listen to Talk Radio. When did it become ok to Publicly Insult someone? The sad thing about trash talking in political ads, it seems to work. We are swayed by these ads. It is difficult to tell the difference between the Spirit of Truth or the Spirit of Deception.

I just spent the last hour going on you tube and watching the Kennedy-Nixon debates of 1959. (I can hear you trash talking me right now..........I am not a geek, a nerd, or whatever the popular term is now-a-days)  These debates were great. Both candidates made their points, but they never dipped below the line of being disrespectful. Even "tricky-dicky" (sorry, that was trash-talking wasn't it?) was very respectful and found many points where he and Kennedy agreed. I watched a few of the ads. They were a whole lot more civil than the John McCain ads claiming Obama was Brittney Spears or the Obama ads that responded in the same negative way. I have heard some recent political debates from the upcoming "heated" election. No wonder we can't get anything done in this country, we hate each other! If we don't hate each other, we sure act like we do. What ever happened to "A house divided can not stand!"?  The worlds language is destroying us. Yet, we long to hear it! We love the adversarial / competitive / in your face debate. But what we get at the end of the day is just a bunch of hurt feelings, animosity, and vindictiveness.
I've picked on the politicians enough. What about your own talk? What about mine? Are we any different than the politicians? I'm not sure we are. We over analyze, criticize, and second guess all the decisions of our Coaches, Bosses, husbands, wives, kids, preachers, and just about anyone else we can think of. So, what can we do? STOP IT! End of Story!

Dear Lord, Help us to control our tongue. Help us to think before we speak. Help us to be understanding, loving, forgiving, kind, and respectful of the people in our daily lives. Lord, we pray for our Political Leaders, our Media Leaders, and ourselves. Give us wisdom, guidance, and understanding when it comes to dealing with our adversaries and our enemies. Help us to use Love as our greatest tool for change. In your great name, I pray. Amen!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

And that's only the beginning!

1 John 3 (The Message)

 2-3But friends, that's exactly who we are: children of God. And that's only the beginning. Who knows how we'll end up! 

When I was a little kid, I was cute. I had that early 60's haircut. It was neatly parted on the side, trimmed nicely, no hairs touching the ears. This was always done at our regular trip to the local barber shop (Cecil's Barbershop). I was a well behaved puny little kid who was quiet, worked hard in school and obeyed his parents. (Those of you who know me, don't laugh! I can prove every statement. Just ask my Mom!) Somewhere along the line I changed.  Somewhere along the line, this cute little kid might have lied to his parents (once or twice); he got a little lazy at school; he was convinced to try cigarettes and a couple of other bad, unhealthy habits; he gave his life to the lord at Center Chapel United Methodist Church just outside of Muncie, Indiana, but continued to prove the fact we are all sinners. I'm not the same cute little kid. I never imagined that I would be the person I am today.  I started my life in such an innocent time. I grew up as our world began to change. I remember staying up all night and waiting patiently for the first man to walk on the moon. I watched the real Apollo 13 splash down in the Pacific. I grew up through the assassination of the Kennedy's and Martin Luther King. I grew up to see the start and end of the Vietnam War. I grew up in the "Age of Aquarius" and the development of the internet! Now look at me, I'm a Blogger!

Even though 50 years have slipped by and a lot of me has changed, I'm not done changing. With all of my "experience" you might think I would have a better idea who I'm going to be in another 20 years. I don't have a clue. I don't know what dumb mistakes I'm going to make. I don't know the people who will come into and out of my life. I don't know what jobs I will hold, or  what my family will look like. I don't even know if I will still be on this earth.  I think that's a part of the excitement of this life we've been blessed with. God knows where we've been, he knows who we are right now, and he knows exactly who we will become.  When I think back over my life, I am truly amazed at how God's plan has been revealed in my life.  So many times in my life I have worried about this "Major" problem or that major "Crisis". Yet, here I am. I started life  a Child of God, I'm a Child of God now, and in another 20 years, I will still be  a child of God. My Heavenly Father not only knows the road I'm about to travel on, he paved it. He has planned every inch of my path. He might put a couple of bumps in the road, but I can't wait to see my destination!  This verse sums it up when it comes to my life up to this point: "And that's only the beginning!"

Dear Lord, I love you and am excited about my life with you. I can see your hand in my life from 50 years ago to this very moment. I know I panic when I face trouble. But, I can look back now and see that you were there every step of the way. I trust you and your plan. I look forward to the excitement that I will face in the rest of my life. The only way I can face any of that is because of you, Lord. I praise your name and worship you! Amen!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Varuca Salt!

1 John 2 (The Message)

 15-17Don't love the world's ways. Don't love the world's goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.

Trivia Question? Varuca Salt is in what 1971 Movie?

The answer is........................................................................

One of my favorite movies of all time is Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971 version). When I read these verses my first thought was of Varuca Salt. She wanted everything. She was a spoiled rotten little girl who thought only of herself. Here is the classic scene from the movie:

Varuca Salt -- I want it Now!

I'm so glad I'm not like that.................... I'm not am I? Don't answer that!

The truth is, I am exactly like that. As Stephanie says,  "Steve has never lost an argument, he always gets his way!" I prefer to say I have been blessed! When in fact I am just  as spoiled as Varuca.

I love the Lord. My relationship with my savior has grown immensely in my lifetime. That relationship continues to grow exponentially the older I get. I have seen the hand of God in my life in ways I would never imagined even 10 years ago. Part of that relationship and part of that growth as a follower of Christ is the realization that I am a deeply flawed person. I can not hide the fact that I am a sinner. One of my greatest weaknesses is my love of the things of this world. My sinful self does so much to separate myself from my heavenly father.  He is doing everything he can to be near me and I am doing everything to isolate myself from him. I don't want to isolate myself from him. I know I have a long way to go to be set for eternity. I need to squeeze out the love of the world by replacing the world with things of the Lord. I am trying. I hope I am making progress. I need to do better.  My greatest progress is when I can keep my focus on him. That means focusing on God not just on Sunday, not just at my devotional times, not just at prayer time, and not just as I wake. I need to focus on the things of the Lord all the time. I have said it before, I'm not where I want to be.

Dear Lord, Help me to be the person you want me to be. Help me to focus on you not the things of this world. I want your presence in my life every minute of every day of every week of every month of every year of my life. I am a sinner Lord. Please forgive me! Save me from evil. Bring me to your presence. Thank You Lord for not giving up on me. You are an awesome God! Amen!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Alive Then! Alive Now!

1 John 1 (The Message)

 1-2From the very first day, we were there, taking it all in—we heard it with our own ears, saw it with our own eyes, verified it with our own hands. The Word of Life appeared right before our eyes; we saw it happen! And now we're telling you in most sober prose that what we witnessed was, incredibly, this: The infinite Life of God himself took shape before us.3-4We saw it, we heard it, and now we're telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy!

Can you imagine actually being there? Can you imagine walking on the earth at the same time and place as our Lord? There is no way for us to go back in time to relive this. We won't get the chance to sit with Jesus to hear him spin a tale. We won't get to hear one of his lessons through parable. We won't get to eat supper with him. We won't get to witness his healing touch. We won't get to see him grow up from a simple carpenter's son to our wonderful savior..............Or can we?
The writers of the New Testament, with the guiding hand of God, did a fantastic job writing what they heard, saw, and touched.  You can read the bible as just a set of verses or you can take these eyewitness accounts and absorb the vibrant picture they create. If you really cherish the words in your heart, you can experience the same thing they did.  These people experienced first hand the life of God as one of us. Obviously they were changed forever. They captured that feeling in words. They had this marvelous compulsion to share it with you and me.

Don't just sit down and read the bible like a list of rules and regulations. Don't try to spend all your time reading between the lines. Don't just try to dig the depths of the words. You also need to read it as the true life experience of those who were literally touched by the hand of God. They want you to experience the same joy they did! We can experience the life of Christ through the Bible. We can also experience Christ first hand through our own lives. He is not just the Lord of the New Testament. He is the Lord of here and now. We can speak to him. He can touch us with his healing hand. We can hear his voice. Really nothing has changed. He is the same now and he will always be the same. We can feel the same joy. We can feel the same excitement. When God fills your life, he is just as real and present as if he were walking on this earth right now. When you can wrap yourself around that idea, your life will be filled with real joy. This is a joy you just have to share with others. We might even have to write it down so others can experience the same joy! Read the Bible. Spend time with Jesus in your life. Take him everywhere you go Share him with your family, friends, and neighbors. Experience him as he was, as he is, and who is always going to be!

Dear Lord, Thank you for being involved in our lives. Thank You for filling us with your thoughts, words, and deeds. We long for our Heavenly home, but we know you are right here with us now and forever. You are amazing and we worship your greatness. Praise God! Praise God! Praise God! Amen!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

We better get moving!

2 Peter 3 (The Message)

 8-9Don't overlook the obvious here, friends. With God, one day is as good as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day. God isn't late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn't want anyone lost. He's giving everyone space and time to change.
God isn't restricted by time. We are controlled by time. God is, was, and always will be. So, he can't be late. We're always late. Unless you're someone very special you probably put things off. Our students had finals this week and I saw so many of them "Cramming" at the last minute. Lunch time in the Gym commons was full of kids quizzing each other, studying vocab, and panicking!  We had athletes trying to do everything possible to keep from failing classes. My guess is they could have put in some more time earlier in the term. It is a great part of our human nature to put things off. Well, God is putting things off also. But, he's not procrastinating. The reason God doesn't come back and begin the judgement of mankind is Obvious. He's waiting on us. He loves us so much, he can't imagine anyone becoming permanently lost. But, the US he's waiting on isn't what it seems. He's not just waiting on the lost to come to know him. He's waiting on us CHRISTIANS to get off our "rear-ends" and go out into all the world to save the lost.
We heard a great message about this at church today. Pastor Stu challenged us with this statement: "If everyone in the church congregation was just like you, what kind of church we have?"  What would happen to our churches if we really became messengers to the lost. If we want the end to come sooner than later, we better get busy sharing. Why don't we share? Are we embarrassed of Jesus? Are we just too busy? Are we just wanting to be another link in the chain? Will someone else finish the job?  God doesn't want anyone to be lost when his final judgement begins. But, he uses us to share. He has made us ambassadors and he wants us to speed up the process. Don't put it off.  Don't wait on someone else to make the first move. Be Bold! Let's get moving so we can end this thing and join Jesus in our Heavenly Home!  God is giving us space and time to change so we can bring change to those we know who are lost!  God is withholding the final judgement, the grande finale, because of me and you! I don't know about you, but I don't feel comfortable holding up the creator of the universe! We better Get Moving!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Two steps forward and one step back

2 Peter 2 (The Message)

 20-22If they've escaped from the slum of sin by experiencing our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ, and then slid back into that same old life again, they're worse than if they had never left. Better not to have started out on the straight road to God than to start out and then turn back, repudiating the experience and the holy command. 

This is the story of my life. I take two steps forward and then one step backward. If you go through life this way, progress is very slow. I don't consider myself a "backslider" but I am still a sinner. I do a couple of great things and then all the sudden I do something stupid. I am so interested in focusing on relationships, building up others, helping them, praying for them and serving them. Then right in the middle of doing good things, I say something stupid or hurt someone. For someone who displays his Christianity out in the open, (Like on a Blog!), I should know better.

When I first read these verses I was thinking about the big "Backslider". I was thinking of those people who claimed to be a Christian and then get into drugs, alcohol, infidelity, or other "Big" sins. Then I remembered -- Sin is Sin. For someone who doesn't know Christ, we expect them to act like a sinner. But, for someone who knows Christ, like me, they should know better. It is so destructive for Christians to carelessly sin. It is so counter to our message when we treat others poorly. If we take this to an extreme, we can keep people from God with a misplaced word or deed. We need to hold ourselves to a higher standard. I'm embarrassed to think about this in my own life. I don't mean to hurt others. My intentions are good. My sinful nature gets in the way. So I keep moving...............Two Steps Forward and One Step Back.

Lord, Please help me conquer the sin in my life. I know that I am hurtful to others around me. I know that I need to be more careful of my words and my actions. Please forgive me for hurting others. Please forgive me for my hurtful words and my sinful actions. Lord I love you and want to serve you in everything I do. Amen!

Friday, October 15, 2010

You're Invited!

2 Peter 1 (The Message)

 3-4Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. The best invitation we ever received! 

I love the feeling you get when you get a formal invitation. I have been invited to weddings, graduations, birthday parties, anniversary parties, and other special occasions. Every time I receive one of these "Personal" invitations, I get the same feeling of joy. Everyone likes the feeling of being special and important. I know people go to a lot of expense in creating and mailing formal invitations. A special list is made of all those to be invited.(including my name!) The invitations are personally addressed and sent to the invitees. You can't just send them out randomly. You have to think about who gets them and who doesn't. These formal documents are meticulous in their wording. They always use fancy print. They even spell out the day, date and year (October fourteenth, two thousand ten, at nine o'clock) If you were in a hurry and didn't care about the invitee, you wouldn't do this.
Think about the most important event you've ever been invited. Think about the grandest invitation you've received. There is nothing that can ever remotely compare to the invitation you have received from God. You are on the special guest list. God has personally addressed your invitation. The personal signature of God is on your invitation. You are not a random member of the guest list. God has thought about you since the beginning of time. He has written you meticulous instructions in how to get to the event. This wonderful invitation is an invitation to a Grand Mansion, made just for you. This invitation might have a start date and time but the event will last for eternity. 
You have  been invited to life eternal and you have also been invited to get to know the person who invited you. He longs for you to be with him. All you have to do is RSVP. You need to accept the invitation and you will receive the gift of eternal life. RSVP NOW!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Not too Proud!

1 Peter 5 (The Message)

 4-5...... And you who are younger must follow your leaders. But all of you, leaders and followers alike, are to be down to earth with each other, for— God has had it with the proud, But takes delight in just plain people.

What is wrong with being proud? When you read this verse and when you look through the Bible, there are countless examples of "Proud" people. Most of the time when the Bible refers to the proud, it is not a positive thing.

Job 33:17 " turn man from wrongdoing and keep him from pride,"

Psalm 10:4  "In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.

Proverbs 16:18 "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall."

So what's wrong with being proud?  Look at the definition of pride:

  • a feeling of self-respect and personal worth
  • satisfaction with your (or another's) achievements
  • the trait of being spurred on by a dislike of falling below your standard.
  • be proud of; "He prides himself on making it into law school"
  • unreasonable and inordinate self-esteem
Pride is centered around us! When you are proud of something you are happy about something YOU have done. When was the last time you did something great? When you did something great, who got the glory?  What part did God play?

"Just Plain People" know that everything they have and everything they are comes from the Lord. They know they are nothing special. "Just Plain People" know that God sets the standards and that our own standards are weak, at best. Selfishness or self-centeredness leads us in a direction away from the Lord . When we are prideful, we start down the road to self-centeredness. Sometimes the trip back is difficult. I need to resist pride. My pride keeps me from relying on the Lord. My faith in Christ has no room for pride in my own accomplishments. Really, I have no accomplishments. I only have accomplishments through Christ who lives in me. 

Dear Heavenly Father, Please Lord destroy the pride in me. You alone Lord have provided for every gift and every blessing I have. Please help me realize the world does not revolve around me. Help me to be a delight to the Lord. I just want to be a plain person, happy with who you have made me! Amen!