Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Feelings of inadequacy


I don't know about you, but I, like most people I know, struggle with feelings of inadequacy...feeling that if "they" ever really find out how inadequate I am to do this job they will fire me for sure! It's a sinful feeling I admit, because in truth I am inadequate, unable to do what I'm doing....that's why I need to trust Christ to do it through me, but when I get focused on myself I realize I am simply not up to the task, and fear sweeps in to pounce on me.


It was those feelings of inadequacy that actually drove me to the Lord in the first place. They should be my friends, not my enemies, but when they overwhelm me it's the fear I feel. If I'm quick enough I can catch myself, bow before the Lord and acknowledge my need for him....for I am indeed inadequate...and then off I go again until the next time I forget how unable I am to do any of this stuff called the Christian life.


1Co 1:26 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble;
1Co 1:27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong,
1Co 1:28 and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are,
1Co 1:29 so that no man may boast before God.
1Co 1:30 But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption,
1Co 1:31 so that, just as it is written, "LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD."

Monday, October 29, 2007

Monday's cartoon


This is an age old prayer, "God, give me a sign." They asked Jesus for a sign in the gospels, and we continue to ask today. If God would only do a trick for me, then I would believe. But it's not true...we wouldn't believe. The truth is that he has given us a sign, it's his son hanging on a cross, dead in the tomb, risen from the dead, savior of the world. If that sign isn't good enough we wouldn't believe no matter what sign God would give. Maybe this is the right sign for our time, what do you think?


Saturday, October 27, 2007

Life's bad timing



Here is my second nominee to the "Finishing Well Hall of Fame." Although they haven't yet finished the race, this couple has finished an amazing trial of life in a way that pleases God. It's my honor to introduce you to Bruce and Camille, my second Hall of Fame nominee.

Not every decision we make is intentional or invited. Many times we are forced to make decisions that we would never have thought about making. We find that life has forced us into a place where we must make choices at a time when choices are the hardest to make.

Bruce and Camille were in that situation. Without notice, their daughter Ellen got sick at school one afternoon, and before the day had passed, so had Ellen. She was only 8 years old. Bruce and Camille started the day sending their three children off to school like every other day and ended it in a hospital with the death of their daughter.

How do you prepare for these times? Many of the major events in our lives arrive as unwelcome and unexpected visitors. Then, in the midst of these events we must make decisions. Often they are decisions that will determine the future course of our lives. Just as a sailboat is affected by the wind and must make course changes based on the desired destination, so must we when the storm and the winds come against us. Unfortunately, most people simply give way to the wind - they give up and let the wind do its worse. They deal with where they are when the wind subsides, but most of the time are not able to continue on course because they have lost their direction.

This day in the lives of Bruce and Camille brought a storm they never anticipated. They could “give way to the wind” or make a decision to set their sails and hold on. As a couple they made a number of decisions in that crisis, but the shock and numbness of the day and the events that had come into their lives brought them to decisions they had prepared for many years in advance.

Storms always come. Most people don’t expect them and are shocked when real trouble comes into their lives. That didn’t happen to Bruce and Camille. Yes, this was a shock. Yes, they grieved. Yes, it broke their hearts. But something else was going on in their lives too.

Bruce and Camille made decisions in the calm knowing that storms would come. They prepared for “that day”. It is clear that they had no idea what the day would look like, but they made certain decisions about their lives which made the choices of "that day" possible.

What did they decide? I asked Camille that question two years after Ellen died. She thought for a minute, and then with tears in her eyes, she said, “We decided to be thankful anyway.” That was an ultimate decision of trust in God when all that is in you wants to scream to the heavens, “WHY?”

In that time she and Bruce decided to trust God. But it didn’t happen then. For them, the decision to trust God was made years earlier. This storm just set their resolve. When the storm comes, how do you best demonstrate trust? Be thankful to the God who is sovereign over our lives! Be thankful to the God who knew this storm was coming in our lives! Be thankful to the God who loves us!

The Bible says to consider it all joy when you suffer because God allows life to happen for our ultimate good. To believe this and live according to it takes faith. The choices we make to do this are always made earlier, and are cemented into our lives during the storm.

Here is a problem we all face- decisions made in crisis, trial, pain, testing or disaster are often the wrong decisions. They are made in anger, pain, bitterness, confusion and sorrow. They are decisions that will prove to be temporary and inadequate.

How do we make decisions that will allow us to weather the storms ahead of us?
Here is part of their story in their own words to tell you their thoughts (the entire story is available upon request.)

"I guess there are countless decisions Bruce and I have made over the years to seek God. One of the most deliberate was praying for the church God wanted us to be involved in. We searched a long time for Crossroads Bible Church and of course, we can’t begin to relate how much the church body of Crossroads has ministered to us since Ellen died, as well as throughout the years before. We’ve been attending various Bible studies, including BSF courses, and I think that made the biggest difference in my walk with God - not one specific study but the extensiveness of it. There were many times after Ellen died that I clung to those facts. When your emotions are screaming, doubts of who God is can come. But I’d tell myself that everything I was taught of God was true - not just someone’s opinion or my wishful thinking - but that God’s Word is always true The statement that “we don’t need to know all the answers when storms happen but that we need to know God” is exactly what I’ve seen. When you know that God is Sovereign over all but is also loving to all, you can give everything (pain in all forms and joy in all forms) to Him. The key is knowing both - His sovereignty and His love. That knowledge doesn’t come overnight. That knowledge sinks in slowly with each small and sometimes big experience in life. We knew that we also had the choice to be thankful for what Bruce and I had been given (eight wonderful years) or bitter and angry that God hadn’t given us more. What arrogance to think God owes me! It didn’t take away the pain, but I knew God still loved me and would somehow get us through this. It is true about how the previous decisions we make effect the decisions that must be made in a crisis. It is so true. When Ellen died in that emergency room, there were few conscious decisions - mostly reactions...." --Camille

A story like this sobers us. In Bruce and Camille’s story you can hear their hearts and see what choices they made before, during and after their terrible storm.

Today, several years after Ellen's death, Bruce and Camille continue to walk with God and serve him. So, Bruce & Camille, welcome to the hall of fame.

Saturday morning thoughts



I really have enjoyed the blogging world, both writing and reading the thoughts of others. It's amazing to me that I have a "vehicle" that allows my thoughts to take flight and people all over the world read them. So, today I was just thinking....I wonder what impact each of our blogs will have on the lives of others? Some of our posts are just personal vents...full of hot air, that help us deal with life. Others are attempting to change the world from this little soap box, and still other blogs are sharing with friends and family the photos and stories of their lives.


As each of these posts take flight it's fun to see all the color it adds to the skyline, it's interesting to read about the thoughts and lives of others I may never meet. So, as I launch my multi-colored balloons of thought each day (some full of hot air), along with millions of others, I look forward to seeing where it will take me....what lives these few thoughts might influence....in fact I have already made friends I may never meet in this life who have watched my balloons fly by and waved, or have launched their own into the air, and they have caught my attention as they lazily float by.


Is it really this easy to touch other lives? I wonder why we don't do it more.....what a pretty picture it paints for those who are looking...how easy it is to connect with others, bring a smile, and touch a life....maybe we should do this more often in the real world.




Friday, October 26, 2007

Today is an important day!


Today is Joye's birthday. I surprised her last night with dinner out. I had arranged for the kids and grand kids to be at the restaurant already, and they were there waiting for us. We ate a lot of food, and had fun. It's an important day on my calendar because it's the day my wife was born, so if you have time stop by her blog and wish her a happy birthday. Happy Birthday, sweetie!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Life is painful

It's early, but I'm up (as usual) and just read an e-mail from one of our men I have been counseling. His wife divorced him a year ago, and he's still working through it all. It's still very painful for him. He's looking for the rose, but all he's getting right now are thorns.

It's painful. He's lonely, hurting, angry, frustrated and struggling. But what's been great is that he's moving towards God in his walk.....until the e-mail tonight. Tonight he made it clear he has lost hope. Tonight his note told me he doesn't see any chance of reconciliation with his wife. Tonight I read a note from a broken man.


I'm so excited for him! Now, I know you are thinking, "what?" But stay with me for a moment....After all these years I have walked with God and watched the human condition I find that God does his very best work when we have given up all hope. In fact I think he uses thorns to get us to let go! Then he can begin to work. You may have heard the old quote, "I feel much better since I gave up hope." The truth is that we do. When we give up all hope of getting the answer we want then God can work. I'm so excited for my friend because now God will begin to work....but we are at a delicate time in this walk. We are at a time when giving up hope of fixing his marriage could go all the way to giving up hope of walking with God.


Some have walked away from God entirely during these "thorny" times, not understanding they were on the very edge of a miracle. I hope my friend will not do that. It's so hard for us when the painful times come. We can't separate what's happening in a fallen world from God's work, and in our confusion we blame the situation AND God.....giving up on all of it. But those times of pain can be some of the most exciting times of growth in our walk with God if we will let them.....if we will let God work in us. There is a rose at the end of that row of thorns, don't let the pain of the thorn make you miss the blessing of the rose, the blessing God has waiting at the end of the stem.



Jas 1:2 Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.
Jas 1:3 You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.
Jas 1:4 So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
Jas 1:5 If you don't know what you're doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You'll get his help, and won't be condescended to when you ask for it.
Jas 1:6 Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Celebration


Celebration is important! To celebrate victories. To celebrate lives lived well. To celebrate what God has done. It's important to celebrate the victories of our lives. We easily forget God's work in our lives if we don't intentionally set days of celebration. God instructed the children of Israel to do that, and to this day they celebrate the special things God has done with holidays.
As a church, we are celebrating the great things God has done in our family. He has seen us through one of the most difficult years I have ever experienced, and he's done it in a miraculous way. We are celebrating our own crossing on dry land, and it's great to see smiles on faces as we look back on what amazing things God has done.
Celebration is important! Praise the Lord for all he has done!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Twinkies and Root Beer

A little boy wanted to meet God. He knew it was a long trip to where God lived, so he packed his suitcase with Twinkies and a six-pack of Root Beer and he started his journey. When he had gone about three blocks, he met an elderly man. The man was sitting in the park just feeding some pigeons. The boy sat down next to him and opened his suitcase. He was about to take a drink from his root beer when he noticed that the man looked hungry, so he offered him a Twinkie. The man gratefully accepted it and smiled at boy. His smile was so pleasant that the boy wanted to see it again, so he offered him a root beer. Again, the man smiled at him. The boy was delighted! They sat there all afternoon eating and smiling, but they never said a word. As it grew dark, the boy realized how tired he was and he got up to leave, but before he had gone more than a few steps, he turned around, ran back to the man, and gave him a hug. The man gave him his biggest smile ever. When the boy opened the door to his own house a short time later, his mother was surprised by the look of joy on his face. She asked him, "What did you do today that made you so happy?" He replied, "I had lunch with God." But before his mother could respond, he added, "You know what? God's got the most beautiful smile I've ever seen. "Meanwhile, the elderly man, also radiant with joy, returned to his home. His son was stunned by the look of peace on his face and he asked," Dad, what did you do today that made you so happy?" He replied, "I ate Twinkies in the park with God." However, before his son responded, he added," You know, he's much younger than I expected. "Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. People come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. Embrace all equally!

Secrets of Finishing Well, part 2

Secret #2-Get a good map for the journey



The second secret to Finishing Well is to get a good map for the journey. It's very difficult to get to the finish line if you don't know the way, so one of the most important tools for any journey is a good map.


It's important for you to know that there have been hundreds of map makers over the years. The philosophy of each map maker is important as you look for your map.


That may sound strange, but you need to know that the kind of map I'm talking about is made by those who have a definite view of the destination.


When picking your map make sure you know the philosophy of the map maker. What is his view of the destination?


Here are a few choices in map makers-


1. The "no destination" map maker- There are map makers who maintain that there is no destination, that there is no goal to live for. They believe that when your life is over it's over, so a map, for them, is just for entertainment....pick your own route, go where you wish because there is no goal...there is no destination, so the map is just for our entertainment until this life is over. These map makers can't help you with directions, because they don't know where they are going themselves.


2. The "you find your own map" map maker- These map makers have quite an easy job. They really don't have to do anything. They maintain that we each find and make our own maps. We must each find our own way, so the map they sell is a blank page. It's your job to fill in the details. This is one of the most frustrating sources of a good map because you must do all the work....you must fill in the details. How can I find my way when I must guess at the destination?


3. The "compilation" map maker- These map makers do their best to create accurate maps by compiling all the maps they get from those who travel the different ways. As each one comes back from their journeys these map makers make copies of the travelers map and add the detail to their maps. Eventually the maps they sell are a compilation of numerous traveler's journeys, but what you end up with is a map that looks like a maze. If you ever did find your way to the finish line it would be just a lucky turn in the road. Those who buy these maps will find themselves frustrated with their journey for they never really know if they are on the right road.


4. The maker's map- Imagine that the one who made everything also made a map to help us navigate the route. The truth is that this is the only map that will get you to the right destination, to the finish line. It's a map that describes the journeys of others who navigated life according to the map, and finished well. It's a map that gives direction, instruction and encouragement. It's a map that clearly tells you where to turn, when to stop and what problems to avoid on the way. It's a map that has guided millions to the right destination. In fact, it's their navigation, using the map, that is an encouragement to others to use this map as well.


Although there were more than 40 contributors to the design of this last map it has just one author. It's a map that took more than 1,000 years to draw, but it's been the chosen map for millions because it gives us hope that there is a finish line, and this wonderful map gives us the route to that goal. If you don't have a map for your journey may I recommend the map I use?


It's called the bible.

Monday, October 22, 2007

A quick retreat


Joye and I had the great pleasure of taking a couple days to be part of our church motorcycle retreat last weekend. It was a quick ride to East Texas for some good food and fellowship with this great group from our church.
We had several join us who simply like to hang out with us, but don't attend our church. It was fun to meet them, and find out about their lives.
A couple days with friends on motorcycles- priceless!

Monday's cartoon


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Raise the white flag, I surrender!


Well, the war is over....the kindness war I have mentioned in the last year. The war has been one of kindness between my neighbor and I. The battle? Attempting to mow the other persons yard before they can get to it. It's been fun and rather funny as well. Yesterday the war ended, I raised the white flag...I gave up....I have lost the war. We had been gone on a retreat and just got home when we heard a mower in the front yard. I went out front to find my neighbor mowing my lawn AGAIN! She smiled when she saw me. As she came around the yard she stopped the mower to talk. I asked her, "what are you doing?" She smiled, and said, "I got a new mower, and wanted to try it out. I got one with a key start and power drive." She was giddy. I responded, "it doesn't take much to make you happy, does it?" She said, "no, not at all." So, I raise the white flag. I can't keep up with a happy neighbor with a new mower. Let me just say I'm grateful for kindness wars when they break out. We are still trying to meet with these neighbors for dinner and pursue some time to talk. I'll keep working on that. It's great to have neighbors who are just too nice....what a wonderful problem to have. So today I gladly raise the white flag...I surrender!

Quote of the day

“The long dull monotonous years of middle-aged prosperity or middle-aged adversity are excellent campaigning weather for the Devil.”

— C. S. Lewis

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Saturday reading

Here is a fun site for that lazy Saturday afternoon-

http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/posters.htm

It's from those guys at pyromaniacs, and it's just another fun poster project.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A good book to read



I'm reading a new book by Ravi Zacharias called The Grand Weaver. I always enjoy Ravi's work, and this one is especially good.

Let me encourage you to get a copy of this book and read it.

There are few works like this that look at the life of the Christian, and God's great plan in it and for it.

It's a book that will make you think, but more than anything it's a book that will encourage you and give you a greater vision of what God is doing in your life.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Secrets of Finishing Well, part 1



One thing I have realized as I write this is that nearly everyone I talk to WANTS to finish well, but really don't know HOW to accomplish it. How do I finish well? How do I come to the end of my life with celebration, and not regret? How do I live in such a way today so that I will finish well?

Our culture imposes so much on our lives that it's often hard to get a correct compass setting for our destination. It's hard to stop long enough to look at where I am, where I want to go and how to get there. We are moving so fast....not sure of our direction...but we can't stop long enough to ask, "where AM I going?"

In the next series of posts I would like to look at the secrets of finishing well from the bible. I will keep each post brief, adding scripture to help you, and when we are done you will have a guide book for the journey ahead. Are you ready?

Secret #1-Keep you eyes on the goal

The great challenge of any journey is the goal. Where are you going? If you don't have a destination, then how will you know when you have arrived? The first secret of finishing well is Keep your eye on the goal. Here's how the bible describes it;


Heb 12:1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
Heb 12:2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Heb 12:3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart.

The goal for us is not a mountain top, it is Christ himself. As this passage describes he has finished his race and won. The goal is to be like Christ, to finish this life having run our race with endurance. The writing of this sounds so much like Paul. He used this kind of language in his own description of the Christian life. He said;


1Co 9:24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.

And he continues in the description of his own life;


1Co 9:25 And everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.
1Co 9:26 Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air;
1Co 9:27 but I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.

Keep your eye on the goal. How do I do that? For me it's done with a daily focus on Christ himself. For me, in some part of my reading each day, I am always in one of the gospels. Every day I am watching and following Jesus.....I'm keeping my eye on the goal- to be like Christ himself.

Paul describes the goal in a very interesting way in Ephesians when he writes;


Eph 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children;
Eph 5:2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
Eph 5:3 But do not let immorality or any impurity or greed even be named among you, as is proper among saints;
Eph 5:4 and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.
Eph 5:5 For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
Eph 5:6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
Eph 5:7 Therefore do not be partakers with them;
Eph 5:8 for you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light
Eph 5:9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth),
Eph 5:10 trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.

Paul is clear here, the goal....the mountain peak I am reaching toward....is being like Christ himself in my life and lifestyle....."trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord." Now, I have to warn you that it can't be done by my best efforts....there is more to this than just a focus on the goal, and we will talk about that later, but for today what I want you to see is that secret #1 starts our odyssey with the goal in sight.....you can't get there unless you know where there is.

Secret #1-Keep you eyes on Christ.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Bob Newhart's counseling technique

I attended a conference today, and the speaker showed this video clip. I'm not sure this is a good counseling technique, but it sure is a great way to deal with problems....I wonder if this would really work?


Just thinking...



I am up early again. Maybe it's just being old....I notice I just don't sleep as much as I used to. So, as my brother Brent often does.....here is what I'm thinking this morning.....

-I had the great opportunity to attend a bible conference on the topic of grace yesterday. It is amazing how many opinions there are about basic bible themes. I wonder how many of them will look really silly when Jesus shows up.

-I'm amazed how easy it is to get busy and accomplish nothing. I think I understand the hamster in the wheel....running for all he's worth, but going nowhere.

-We had our grand kids last night while our daughter and son-in-law went to their small group. Our 9 month old grandson is almost walking. It's amazing to me to see how God develops those little brains to accomplish something that is hard for him now, but will become second nature soon.

-I got an e-mail from a friend I haven't seen in a few weeks. They simply have been too busy to be in church. I think this is more common in our culture than we realize....we get too busy to be with the family of God. How, as a pastor, can I help people with this "ride" they get on and can't seem to get off of?

-It's the middle of October here in Texas, and it's finally cooling off a little. It will only be in the mid 80's today. I wish it would cool down a little more....I'm really tired of hot weather.

-I got a phone message from a friend yesterday who told me he's in Colorado for a few days....resting at a mountain cabin, and he would call me when he gets back. I'm jealous.

-Tonight is my only open night (nothing to do) for a few weeks...I wonder if I'm on "the ride" too? How do we get so busy? How do we stop all of this activity? Are we accomplishing anything?

-I think I'm going to stop watching the news. It's the same every day- murder, kill, destroy! It never changes....always the same with different names. I think all the news does is keep our fears alive and well (if you can call it that.)

-I'm really enjoying the "getting acquainted" experience with our new teaching pastor, Steve. He's a really great guy. I think he will do a great job in our ministry. I have really enjoyed getting to know him.

Monday, October 15, 2007

God's plan

Rom 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.


How does he do it? How does God make all these things work out as he does? It seems so amazing that he can coordinate people, events, time and circumstances for his children's good.


He does all of this for our good!


But there are days when it seems that none of the gears are working as they should. There are days when I have wondered, and I know you have too, does God really have all of this worked out for my good?


There are days when it seems that everything is going wrong.


What is God's plan? What is he trying to do in my lives? How does this "gear" (this event) connect to another, and another and ultimately end up being something good in my life? I must tell you that I cannot sort it all out. As I watch my own life it seems there are things that happen that I cannot see could ever turn out for my good....they look like utter failures. But God says he is working and I will see both his hand and his good at the end.

"All things work for good".....what a promise. I'm so glad God has a plan, that he is able to make it all work, that what looks like a mess to me he is able to make into a miracle, that he is interested in my good when all I see is bad....I'm so glad that God has a plan.

Monday's cartoon

Heb 4:16 Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.

I can come into the very presence of God any time I wish to ask for help. There is no God like the God of the bible who hears and answers prayer. Since that is true....take some time today and talk to him, he's waiting to hear from you.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Mom Song Sung to William Tell Overture with Lyrics

This is great, just watch it and have fun...does it sound familiar?

God is working!

There is a wonderful site that shares the testimonies of Muslims who have come to faith in Jesus Christ, the Messiah. They testify to torture, and hardship, but they share a genuine faith in Christ. Here is one testimony from this very encouraging site, if you want to read more you can find other stories at "Truth, Love, and Newness of Life."

A Testimony from a Saudi Believer

"Born to a Saudi family, in Saudi Arabia, and living very close to Mecca, I grew up with strict principals and traditions of Islam and the Arab culture. As a teenager I went to the mosque five times a day in obedience to my parents. One night, while I was asleep, I had this horrible dream of me being taken into hell. And what I saw there brought me real fear and these dreams kept coming to me almost every night. At this point I was really wondering as to why I should be seeing hell in this manner. Suddenly one day, Jesus appeared to me and said, "Son, I am the way, the truth and the life. And if you would give your life to Me, and follow Me, I would save you from the hell that you have seen."
This came as a surprise to me, for I did not know who this Jesus was. Of course, He is mentioned in the Koran in the book Surah Mariam. He is stated as one of our prophets, but not as a Savior who could save us from hell. So I started looking out for a Christian who could give me some advise about this Jesus I have seen and possibly get one of the Christian Holy Books, which I now know is the Bible. But it was a difficult task for me to get any Christian to speak to me about Jesus. As you would know, Christianity is totally banned in Saudi Arabia and if a Christian is caught witnessing to a Muslim, he could be almost sure that he would be beheaded.
Then the Lord led me to an Egyptian Christian who was sick. I prayed for this man’s healing and this man gave me a Bible. Then I, by myself, started reading the Bible. By this time Jesus had become a close friend to me. Soon I started witnessing about the experience I had with all my family relations and friends. Soon the authorities were informed that I had converted to Christianity, and I believe this was done by one of my family members. As it states in the Koran, if someone would turn away from Islam, he is a traitor to the faith and he should be executed. So I was taken into custody and tortured. They told me that I would be beheaded if I would not turn back to Islam. But I had already made my decision that I would never turn back. So I told the authorities I’m willing to die for Jesus and that I would never come back to Islam. After much torture and imprisonment, I was sentenced to be beheaded. They gave me a date and a time and I told them, "You go ahead and execute me. I’m going to heaven to see Jesus. But I pray that what you would do to me would stay in your minds and not give you rest until you come to Jesus."
The appointed day and time came for my execution, and I was waiting with much anticipation, yet very much strong in my faith in Jesus. Generally the executions are carried out on the set time and date. But to my amazement, no one turned up. One hour lapsed, two hours went by, then it became three hours, and then the day passed by. And no one turned up. Then two days later, the authorities turned up and opened the doors and told me, "You demon! Get out from this place!" I also noticed that the main person who was determined to get me beheaded was not present when they came to release me. I asked them where this guy was. And with much hesitation they replied that his son had died on the same day they planned to execute me. Although I continue to go through much persecution, one thing I know is that the Lord’s hand is upon me.

A Brother from Saudi Arabia

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Casablanca Bugs Bunny Style

It's Saturday morning...time for cartoons. In the good old days when I grew up (before cable TV) Saturday morning was for kids. From the crack of dawn until the middle of the day all the channels showed were cartoons. I always looked forward to Saturday morning when we could spend the morning watching our favorite cartoons. Bugs Bunny has always been my favorite. Here's a great Saturday morning cartoon. Enjoy.

Friday, October 12, 2007

A reader's request


I got a wonderful e-mail from Jeremy today. He literally "tracked me down" through the internet to send me an e-mail.
Jeremy is a big fan of Major Ian Thomas, as am I! Major Thomas has made a tremendous impact on my life and thousands of others as well. Jeremy asked that I mention the Major's books. In fact I do have his latest book in my book list. It is his last book released just months before he died.
Let me say that this is a "must read" for any believer who wants to follow Christ. If you have not read it let me encourage you to save up your pennies and get this small, but wonderful work.
It will literally change your Christian life.
And, Jeremy, thank you for your e-mail and the time it took to find me. I look forward to visiting with you further.

The end of the world?

Here is an interesting article that made me think...my thoughts after the article:

What would you do before the end of the world?

Thu Oct 11, 2:09 PM ET

LONDON, (Reuters)-- An asteroid is on a collision course with the earth and you have one hour left to live. What would you do in your last 60 minutes?
Not surprisingly, the majority of Britons questioned in a survey -- 54 percent -- said they would like to spend it either with or on the phone to their loved ones.
But the survey revealed a strong hedonistic streak -- 13 percent would sit back, accept the inevitable and reach for a glass of champagne.
Sex appealed to only nine percent while just three percent would turn to prayer.
Two percent intriguingly said they would reach for some fatty food while another two percent decided, with just an hour's life to go, that it was time to start looting.
The survey was commissioned by Ziji Publishing to mark the release of "Cloud Cuckoo Land" by debut novelist Steven Sivell who "uses the classic premise of an impending meteorite collision as a metaphor for threats to the human race."
May I say something that came to my mind? How crazy have we really become? I knew we were in a "Post-everything" culture, but for people to deal with the end of life so lightly...so casually...makes me realize that most people I meet do their best to not think about eternity at all. What better way to deal with God than to ignore him? And that's what the world is doing.....ignoring the God who made them.
What kindness and grace God extends to us by not sending that asteroid today! But he doesn't, his love for us and desire to save us makes him wait. And so he waits for us to turn to him....to trust him for salvation and forgiveness.
But there will be a day when we will, indeed, have only an hour before all of this ends. We won't know when that hour comes, but it's coming....so get ready!
As I say at every funeral I speak at, "there is a heaven to gain, and there is a hell to shun," are you ready for your last hour?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Revelation Song - Jenifer Smith

I'm so glad we are singing this praise in our churches today. It is a praise that will be made by everyone who has ever lived....we will all bow at the feet of the throne, and offer this praise to God and to the lamb. I can't wait for the day when we sing it in God's presence. It's so exciting to me that we are singing it in our churches now....we are getting a chance to practice before that great day. In fact I had memorized this praise before it was set to music so I would be ready for that day. What a blessing that someone has put it to music for the church to sing...it's our worship and celebration of that day when we will be singing it in his presence....what a day that will be.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Dodging traffic

It's been busy! I feel like I'm in the middle of the highway just dodging traffic. I have a number of things to do, people to see, plans to prepare, visions to cast, bible studies to prepare and teach, hospitals to visit, and in the last 10 days I have had 4 funerals!

In these last few days it's been hard to get time to think of anything to say here....I have to think of something to say or teach somewhere else nearly every day. I have been busier, but I'm not sure when.....so be patient with me....I'll be back in the groove in a few days.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Why?

I'm just thinking this morning, as I start another week, about another life that has ended. I must tell you that I have been doing far too many funerals lately. It's especially hard when they are people I knew well. Tonight I have the opportunity to be part of a service for a man I have known for years. He battled chronic illness with several problems, and in the last year of his life spent many weeks in hospital. He and I would sit in the hospital room and visit about the "whys" of life....why was his life so hard? Why did others have things so easy? Why couldn't he just go "home" to be with Lord? Why was God allowing all of this?

So, this morning, as I prepare for that service I am just thinking about the whys.....

In fact this is a question that King David often asked in the book of Psalms. Why? Let me quote one of his prayers for our visit today....

Psa 42:11 Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.

I know, from years of watching, that most of the "why" questions of life have no answers here. We honestly wouldn't understand the answer if God told us, but one day we will know. One day we will understand.

So, until then my task is to turn my attention from the difficult question to the amazing God who loves me. My focus should be this- Hope in God.....He will sustain us through this life, regardless of the problems, and will love us as we live through it all.

Tonight there will be people asking me "why?" And, honestly, I have no answer for them.....I can't hand them a wonderful answer for their question, but I can point them to a big God who loves them through it all.

To many, this will answer nothing. They would scoff at my comments saying I have resolved nothing, and they would be right. But it's not my job to resolve anything...it's my job to know the God who resolves everything in his perfect presence....and if that's not enough then nothing would satisfy them. There is a place in life where we say, "I don't know, but I trust God", and that will be enough.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Quote of the day

There is no situation so chaotic that God cannot from that situation, create something that is surpassingly good. He did it at the creation. He did it at the cross. He is doing it today.

— Handley C. G. Moule

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Friday, October 05, 2007

Today I start.....



Today I start....

For the last year, with all the challenges of life and ministry, I have used food as my drug of choice. But starting today I'm going to get busy and lose those pounds.

No more hamburgers and fries and chocolate malts for me....today I start.

Losing weight is hard work, but much needed for my health, so if you see me just encourage me to stick with it.

Today I start that horrible four letter word...today I start a diet. There are a lot of spiritual things to be said for food. I could write about all the times Jesus ate....he loved food. I could justify my girth with some nice platitudes, but that's all unnecessary....let me just have a moment to myself to cry and then I will be on the way.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Just thinking again.....


Tonight I am reading a card I got in the mail today. I'm always amazed by the cards I receive....the words and thoughts are such a blessing. In fact I keep all the cards I receive. I have boxes and drawers full of cards from decades in the past. They are a living history of people and events in my life.
As a pastor relationships are most important to me. I really do love and care about people and what happens to them...so when they share a card with me it means a lot.
Tonight the card is from a dear friend who was part of our church several years ago. His words humble me....he said, "I only wish I was still under your leadership. I send this so you know what your leadership did mean to me and my family. Thank for being such a great pastor. Matt."
Words like that make me say, "Wow...." But I must tell you the truth....all I did with Matt, all I ever do is just love people and care about them. If every person is important to God, then how can I view them any less than he does? So the cards for me are reminders of lives, of people I have cared for and loved. Many of those people are dead now....but I have their cards, their words to me. They are reminders of lives God let me touch, and lives that touched me.
The card that most surprised me was a card we got years ago from Pauline. Pauline was a dear lady who loved the Lord and was a member of my church. I had just done her funeral a week earlier....but then we get a card from her. It was her handwriting, I knew that, dated only a couple days earlier.....but she had been dead for more than a week. It was a handwritten letter from Pauline and it began this way, "Well, I have been in heaven for a week now, and I just wanted to write you to tell you how wonderful it is here...." She had written these letters weeks earlier as she was nearing death, and had given them to her nephew to mail a week after her funeral....what a card that was!
Well....I was just thinking tonight about people. The people whose lives changed me, and lives that, through God's grace, I changed. I have their cards...and as I thought about them I just wanted to share a couple of those lives with you.

Proud of my wife!

Joye spoke at the women's study today. She did a great job. She has been preparing and praying for weeks.

This is actually the first time she has spoken in public like this, and she sounded like a natural.

It won't be long and I will be traveling with her as she speaks in different churches.

For someone who has not spoken in public before she sounded like she had done it a hundred times.

I'm sure proud of my wife!

The only negative for me is that she told one of my most embarrassing moments....now the women will be teasing me for weeks.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The conflict

There is an interesting verse in Proverbs that always makes me stop and think when I read it.

It speaks about the conflict.

I know you may ask, "what conflict?" Here's the verse, then let me explain:

Pro 29:27 An unjust man is abominable to the righteous, And he who is upright in the way is abominable to the wicked.

There is, according to this verse, a conflict between the righteous and the wicked. Neither can abide the other....both are intolerant! And for good reason.

Here's a definition to help us with this conflict:

bom·i·na·ble, adj. 1. Unequivocally detestable; loathsome. 2. Thoroughly unpleasant or disagreeable.

The righteous sees God's holy nature and character, and want to be like that. Anything that is in conflict with that is an abomination to us...a rebellion against the very plan and nature of God.

The wicked see the righteous living in light of the holiness of God, trying to be like him, and it's abominable to them....they feel judged just by our presence and hate the righteous for what it reveals about them.

It seems there is a conflict between the two that is not resolved by just trying to get along...that's what many would try to do. The only solution is to pray for the wicked, that they might be saved, and realize that the conflict will be there. The only resolution to this conflict is to win the wicked to faith in Christ. Appeasement will not work in this conflict....it's spiritual warfare to the end!

So, when you run into this conflict, don't be surprised....it's real.....and all you may have done to spark it is try to please God.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Happy Birthday!


Ok, I see that I have become far too serious in recent posts, so let me lighten this up with birthday wishes to the person responsible for me being here- my mom!

Her birthday is today! Happy Birthday, Mom!


She not only gave me physical birth, but was principle in my spiritual birth as well. I will tell you that story another time. Thanks Mom.


I wish you could know her. She is one of the most amazing people I have ever met. (I would say that even if she wasn't my mom.) She loves the Lord, is an eternal optimist, always excited about life and ready for the next adventure. Few would know that she has battled depression most of her life.


I'm blessed to still have my mom with me, so to one of the most amazing women I know, Happy Birthday, Mom!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Fear Fertilizer

I know this is not a new problem, but it seems to me that there is more "fear fertilizer" being spread through the media than I have seen in a long time. Maybe the reality is that there is more to be afraid of. It gives the media a lot to work with, and it gives us a lot of "fertilizer" to help our fears grow.

Here are just a few of the news headlines online this morning that are perfect "fear fertilizer":

-8 Missing as Volcano Scorches Yemeni Island

-Female Homicide Bomber Kills 15 in Pakistan

-Racial Tensions High as Hmong Murder Trial Starts

-7 Wounded in Early Morning Shooting at N.C. Club

-Study: Pollution Shuts Down the Immune System

There were many more, but these make the point.

It seems that our world has become quite a fearful place. There is plenty of "fertilizer" to feed our fears.

And, it appears we have created a culture that thrives on headlines that feed our fears. We have even made fear part of our entertainment diet. The movies that feed our fears are great hits.

Why do we so "enjoy" fear? It has to be true because we thrive on anything that feeds it...anything that "fertilizes" it. Why do we so thrive on fear?

I believe that it's a result of a culture that has refused faith in God...refused a reverence, a fear of God. In the vacuum of faith in God fear of anything else will fill the emptiness. And, as a result, we have developed a whole "fear industry" to feed our fears and tell us we should be afraid. Now, fear is the new normal. If we aren't afraid we become fearful that we are missing something...because everyone knows we should be afraid...so we rush to the morning news to get our "fear fix."

What's the result when a whole culture thrives on fear...when, for the most part, faith is abandoned and fear is glorified? It will be a culture that will elevate these things- pride, arrogance, sinful lifestyles, course language, a glorification of death, a disdain for punishment, a high value on possessions, glorification of sinful lifestyles, an elevated fear of man, and a diminished fear of God. (My list comes from the book of Proverbs.)

And, so here we are...in the middle of a culture of fear with all the systems in place to feed it.

How can we live differently in the middle of all of this? It starts very simply with this one verse-

Pro 14:27 The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, That one may avoid the snares of death.

I invite your comments on this topic...

Monday's cartoon