Monday, July 21, 2014

"AUTHOR! AUTHOR!"

(photo by Steve Hixon)

If you've ever been to a play the finish is most exciting.  The cast and crew come on stage and take their bows and then the audience begins to chant, "Author! Author!"  It's a compliment to the author and the desire of the audience to applaud the author for his work.  As the bows are finished the author of the play is acknowledged and celebrated as the creator of the great work you have just witnessed.

This morning, as I read in the book of Acts, I came to this phrase spoken by Peter as he talked about Jesus, he called him the "author of life".  The phrase is one I have read many times, but this morning I stopped for a moment and rolled those words over in my mind.  The author of life.  It all came from him...he made it ALL!  Who made it?  Jesus did.  The very one we read about in the gospels walking about Israel is the one who made the dust he walked on.  Imagine that, the author of life entering his own creation to provide a new kind of life.  Who else could do that but the very one who made it all in the first place?

The author of life.....all that is or ever has been was made by him!  And now, in the gospels he comes to create once more, to provide eternal life to his creation.  When I look around at creation I see an amazing work of art.  Everything is so wonderfully made, so intricate, so detailed. And now, in the gospel story, the author himself comes to finish the work, to complete his masterpiece.  I can't wait for the day when we will all stand and cheer, applaud and celebrate the author of life.  Author! Author!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Mormonism

Last night I finished teaching a four week summer course on Mormonism.  It was a great time for the 50 people who attended and worked through this with me.  I think one of the revelations for those in our church is how different the Mormon faith really is from Christianity.

A few years ago two Mormon missionaries boldly approached me and began to present their faith.  I responded with a few comments about the differences and one of them said, "We believe the same things you do."  Shocked by the claim I asked him, "Do you know you're lying to me or don't you know what your church teaches?"  After a quick blush he responded, "I know I'm lying to you."

The differences are dramatic and the desire by the Mormon church to "look Christian" is very deceiving.  As one author wrote, "Talking to a Mormon is like trying to climb Jell-O."  The reason it's so difficult is that every word we use to describe our faith has a different meaning to the Mormon!  The first task in talking to a Mormon is to define terms.  After that the difference begin to become clear.

For the Mormon everything they believe about life, salvation and eternity rests on the their faith in the word of one just man- Joseph Smith.  If you study him carefully I think you would be very reluctant to put your eternity in his hands!

With all of that said the class was fun and our people who attended now know more about the Mormon faith than most of the Mormons they will encounter.  If we can talk to them in love and with a bit of knowledge I truly believe God will open blind eyes and help many to see what they have staked their eternities upon.

Is the Mormon faith Christian?  NO!  Not in any possible way.  Do they worship the same God we do? NO!  For the Mormon is salvation by faith alone in Christ alone? NO! With just a few simple questions like these it becomes clear there are dramatic distinctions that make an eternal difference.  I pray that your encouters with the young men who knock on your door will give you an opportunity to share the love of Christ with them and tell them about the only God of heaven and earth, the God of the Bible.

Monday, July 14, 2014

It's a bend, not the end....


We humans do not like the unknown! We want straight roads and sunny skies.  Anytime there is a bend in the road that changes our direction we struggle and complain.  There is no way to know what is around the corner and the unknown is what we are afraid of.  

I might have a wreck, lose my job, have to move...I might get sick, lose a family member....any bend tells us of a change, a course correction, the promise of the unknown and often, if we are honest, the bend makes us anticipate the end.  Since we can't see what's ahead we expect the worse.

But some of the best scenery, the best drives are on winding, bendy roads.  The excitement of what's next can be more thrilling than the fear of what's ahead.  A bend is a new opportunity to trust God for the unseen, the unknown ahead.

And, honestly, for the Christian there is never really an end....just a gentle bend into eternity...a new course that will never end.  As our lives come to  bends in the road...sickness, financial problems, fears, losses....realize it's just a bend.  Although you can't see the road ahead there is one.  It's a road designed for you by God and there is no end....just a simple bend that will find you in eternity.  What a ride!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

To blog or not to blog, that is the question

This whole blog thing was very much a fad in the last decade.  It hit a high note in the first decade of this century and has gone downhill ever since.  Just a bit ago I looked at a number of other blogs on this platform and most have been abandoned years ago.....last post 2010, 2009, 2011.  It's clear our culture is on to the next thing that will engage our interest, but that too will pass.


My purpose here is not to tell you all about me, but to write about God and his work in my life.  I do plan to continue doing this.  I may have to change platforms, but the concept and what I'm trying to do is still good.....even if all the blogs around me have been abandoned.

Saturday's cartoon


God sees me


Many of us, over the years, have memorized scripture. We memorize it because these are God's words to us. They inspire us, help us, teach us. Paul wrote that all of scripture is inspired and so it's all valuable to teach, to guide, to help us. Here's a verse for you to memorize,

Bunni, Azgad, Bebal, -Nehemiah 10:15

You're smiling, aren't you? You are thinking how can this verse help me? As I read this verse, among a list of other names, it struck me that in a world where we seem to disappear into the crowd of billions God sees us. God sees me. He sees you. He knows my name. 

I picked this verse from the many in this passage because here are three men you will never hear about in literature, never know more about than their names and these simple facts- They lived during the difficult days of Nehemiah as they rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem. They were leaders of the people. And, most important, they signed their names to the list of those who promised to follow and obey God. Now, for more than 3,000 years, their names are read and remembered by millions who have no idea who they were, but God knows.

Paul wrote that all of scripture is profitable, so as I read a verse like this I wonder how this verse helps me, guides me, teaches me. Here's what I get from it....God sees. He notices those who follow him. He sees us. Psalms says God is intimate with the righteous and here, among a list of 44 names, are three who decided to follow and obey God in difficult days. And for their faith we know their names. They promised to follow and obey God. We will know nothing more about them until we see the Lord, but we know this one thing- God sees.

Friday, July 11, 2014

A year ago today

A year ago today my dad passed away.  He was an amazing man and I love him dearly.  Life wasn't easy for dad and mom, but they made the best of it and modeled how to live for us kids.  Today I'm celebrating one man who lived his life, the best he could, to the glory of God.  Thanks dad.  Can't wait to see you again.

Little things


Proverbs 11:1 The Lord detests the use of dishonest scales,
    but he delights in accurate weights.

Have you ever wondered why a verse like this is in the bible?  Have you ever read something and really didn't know what to do with it? 

This is a short verse, a pragmatically simple one, that reveals God's concern for even the little things.  In biblical days they would measure grain and other products on the scale to determine price.  Often a dishonest merchant would "tip the scale" by making the weights that counter balance the product inaccurate...thereby making a bit extra on each sale and cheating his customer.  The customer may have thought he was getting a pound and walked away with only 15 ounces.

Over time the merchant made a lot of extra money, but what this verse highlights is that God hates the dishonesty that would cheat a trusting neighbor in a purchase.  It's really just a little thing, but it reveals the heart of God.  He wants us to treat each other right, to be fair, to be honest and loving in our affairs....even in how we measure what we sell to others.

These short words not only speak to God's hatred of dishonesty and cheating, but they tell me how far he goes with this....even down to the weight on the scale!  And, to be honest, this isn't about the weight of the product, it's all about how we treat each other.  God hates it when we value stuff more than we do the people around us.  At the core, it's a heart issue, isn't it?  What do I value more?  The stuff I can get from you or YOU?

When I deal with you fairly I'm saying you are more important that the material goods we trade.  That's the issue- what's most important to us?  God's concerned about these things even down to the last ounce of our interactions with others.

Even the little things are important to God because they speak to what is most important to us- the stuff or the people?

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

It's all about ME!


(click on cartoon to enlarge)

As the population of the world grows our personal need to be "seen" and acknowledged seems to grow.  The web site youtube demonstrates that our need to be seen by someone only intensifies as we feel more and more unseen.

I wonder, just thinking, if some of the crazy things we are seeing around us are cries from the crowds of humanity to be known, to have someone who sees us.  In our despair of anonymity there is a natural response to act out to be noticed.  It shows up around me with purple hair, pierced everything, whatever it takes to be noticed.

Years ago my son came out of the bathroom with orange hair.  It wasn't orange when he went in.   I asked him, "What are you doing!" He said, "I'm going to the mall so people can see me."  For him, at that time, it was entertainment.  When he got home he washed it out and told me he had a great time.

As more of humanity surrounds us we each feel the heart cry and question, "Does anyone see me?"  And the answer is "YES!"  It's the answer of the bible as you watch God in flesh, Jesus Christ, notice the invisible, reach out to the ones no one notices and says to them, "I see you, I care about you. Let's get some lunch."  It was the story of a "wee little man" in Luke who was hated by his neighbors, but noticed and loved by God.  When you read the bible watch for how often Jesus stops, engages and spends time with the invisible ones around him.  Lives that would have passed and never been noticed are remembered by us because Jesus saw them.

And he sees you too.  The whole message of the Gospel is that God loves me and will give his very best to have a personal relationship with me.  He sees me.  He sees you too.  You don't need orange hair, you don't need to accomplish something great; you are known, you are loved, and you are seen by the God who made you. 

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

God's coffee

My friend, Lori, posted this on facebook.  I'm sure it's just a nice story but I have experienced something like it in real life.  It's a great lesson to remember.


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A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life.

Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups – porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite – telling them to help themselves to the coffee.
When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said:
“If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress.
Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink.
What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups… And then you began eyeing each other’s cups.
Now consider this: Life is the coffee; the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life, and the type of cup we have does not define, nor change the quality of Life we live.
Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee God has provided us.”
God brews the coffee, not the cups………. Enjoy your coffee!
“The happiest people don’t have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything.”
Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Movies, children and life


My wife and I have been texting back and forth on several issues in recent days and it seems that lines from children's movies keep coming up.

This morning she wrote, "Like Dorie says, 'Just keep swimming.'" (Finding Nemo)

And I replied, "Ok, I'm swimming and singing, 'Everything is awesome...' (The Lego movie) and thinking 'Let it go, let it go...' (Frozen).  

How is it that the words of children's movies become the life principles of our day?  

Movies seems to reflect the way we think and live in real time and the very words become embedded in our vocabulary.  Last week I said on Facebook, "Curse you Lego movie for the 'Everything is awesome' lyrics. I can't get them out of my head."  And in reply one of my friends said, "You're just going to have to 'let it go, let it go...'"  

In another children's movie (Despicable Me 2) one of the songs of the movie has become a world-wide hit.  The song is "Happy" by Pharrell Williams. It's now the background music of our lives almost every day.

We might find it interesting how much the principles of our lives and culture are actually reflected back to us in the movies we pay to see.  I wonder, what's next?  I almost fear the song, the words I won't be able to forget, that come from the next children's movie.  I can't wait!


Wednesday, July 02, 2014

An orchestrated life by a grand composer

Mordecai’s Loyalty to the King

Esther 2:21 "One day as Mordecai was on duty at the king’s gate, two of the king’s eunuchs, Bigthan and Teresh—who were guards at the door of the king’s private quarters—became angry at King Xerxes and plotted to assassinate him. 22 But Mordecai heard about the plot and gave the information to Queen Esther. She then told the king about it and gave Mordecai credit for the report.23 When an investigation was made and Mordecai’s story was found to be true, the two men were impaled on a sharpened pole. This was all recorded in The Book of the History of King Xerxes’ Reign."
As I read these words in the book of Esther they captivated my thoughts.  Because I know the rest of the story I know these events are important later in the story, but in the moment they seem to be unnecessary details.  Why do we need to know about a conspiracy by men named Bigthan (what a name!) and Teresh?  It's important because it's part of the bigger plan of God.  
Daily we encounter little events that seem to be insignificant, unimportant, but are divine encounters in a plan we live in real time.   We can't know  how they fit into the bigger story of God, but they do.  Often we miss them, overlook them and only see God's hand after the events have unfolded.
What captured my imagination this morning was the reality that even in the events of my day God is orchestrating every encounter to be part of magnificent plan and work....but I will only see how it all fits together at the end of the story.
Take time in each day to realize that each encounter, each person is part of the orchestrated plan of a loving God in your life.  Write down the names.  Remember the events.  Don't pass by the encounters of your day too quickly because in those moments is God.  

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Butt dust

The "Skit Guys" have a cute skit based on a portion of Psalm 103.  It's a funny play on words, but the passage it's part of is what I want to mention this morning.

Ps. 103:14-17

For He himslef knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.  As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he fourishes. When the wind has passed over it, it is  no more, and its place acknowledges it no longer. But the lovingkindnss of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him.

The words of this passage are very humbling.  God describes us as grass and as a flower that only lives for a little while and then is gone.  We are temporary.  We will only live for a few years and then "our place will acknowledge us no longer".  For the most part, other than family and close friends, we will be forgotten by the world.  Is that humbling enough for you?

We all want to live a life of signifigance, a life that makes a difference, but soon it will be over and we will be forgotten.  WOW!  That is humbling.  It should make us rethink everything, but instead most will push ahead to "leave their mark on the world" and will discover too late that it's all a cruel joke.

The longer I live the more I realize that a relationship with God is the most important thing any man or woman will have.  It is the only thing that will last.  He is the only one who will not forget us.  When we feel like "butt dust" it's important to remember there is an eternal God who loves us, cares about us, thinks about us every moment and has given his very best to have a relationship with us.  Now that is something to celebrate in this life that will so quickly pass.