Thursday, January 31, 2008

Ready for spring!


Ok, enough of winter! I'm ready for spring.
It's been too cold too long! If this is global warming then I'm really confused. Doesn't global warming mean warmer? What's up with all of this cold weather? I just talked to my brother in Iowa and he said it was colder there this winter than he can remember. I am looking forward to spring and the wind in my hair (not really, I wear a helmet) and bugs in my teeth (not really) as soon as I can get the motorcycle out on the road and not freeze. So, all I need is a little more sun, a few warm days and some time to head for the back roads.....sigh.

Repackaging ideas

I was listening to some of the political speeches yesterday and heard something I want to talk about today. I will assure you that I will not mention names here, that's not my goal. But I heard something interesting....I heard one of the politicians repackaging ideas. He said something that caught my attention because I had never heard it before. It was a very well crafted selection of words. This politician said, "I will pursue economic justice!"

When I heard that I said out loud, "WHAT?" Because these two words do not go together. I had never heard them used together, so I thought....what is he REALLY trying to say? Then it came to me, he's using this phrase "economic justice" to describe socialism. He could never say he will pursue socialism in this country, but cloak the same idea in a confusing package of words, and presto changeo.....we have the same old philosophy in a new word package that offends no one...most people really don't even think about what was said.

This same thing is happening all across our culture...the repackaging of words and ideas. We are wrapping old ideas or even rejected ideas in new clothes and selling them to the public. The rhetoric is amazing, and honestly I admire the guy for coming up with such a subtle way of selling socialism.

But my problem isn't so much with politicians as it is with those of us in the Christian world. We have become very good at doing the same thing. New word combinations to say something everyone would reject if they understood what you meant. It's like chocolate covered asparagus! You might be able to get people to try it, but when all is said and done it's still asparagus!

So listen carefully to what people say. There's a lot of repackaging going on.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Mermaid prayers



Last Sunday I preached through John 15. It's an amazing chapter loaded with final instructions for the disciples. It is a chapter addressing three relationships. In Jesus' teaching in chapter 15 he said,

John 15:7 "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you."

This verse, and others like it, are hard to understand. We do try to abide, get into his word, and we pray....but often our prayers are unanswered. So then we ask, how do we reconcile this verse and others like it with our life?

My daughter had to deal with this recently while talking to her children about prayer. Her second daughter, Alice, said, "but Mommy, it doesn't work. God didn't answer my prayer." (She's only 5.) My daughter asked why she thought that and she said, "because I asked God to make me a mermaid and he didn't do it."

How often have we prayed like that? Prayers that we think are perfectly good and right for us, and yet we didn't see God answer those prayers. If we could just see it from what God wants to do in our lives it would often look like Alice's prayer- a mermaid prayer. God won't answer our prayer, it wouldn't be in his will or even good for us. I wonder how many of our prayers are like Alice's. We are disappointed and confused because God didn't answer, but what God heard was a mermaid prayer.

When your prayer isn't answered realize there may be a good reason- it's not time yet, God's working on it, it isn't in his will, or maybe you were praying a mermaid prayer. When you aren't sure how to pray, pray anyway. God is good, and he will sort it all out for you. He loves us too much to answer mermaid prayers.

Quote of the day


The quote of the day comes from my fellow pastor, Brent. I thought it quite funny that the quote of the day, brilliantly said, comes from a cartoon character. Here it is:
"In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so."

-Anton Ego- Ratatouille

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Mormonism 101


Here are a few facts for those who don't know what Mormonism teaches. You can find more information at the bottom of the article.
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"MORMONISM IS NOT WHAT YOU THINK
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Here are some beliefs Mormons resist telling you at first...
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-The LDS Church is the only true church. The Lord told Joseph Smith personally that all other churches are an "abomination." Any non-Mormon church is automatically part of the "church of the devil." No other church has the valid priesthood. The devil has even made a pact with many Christian pastors to teach Christian doctrines about the Trinity and salvation by grace. But in public we say that all religions are good and have some truth.
-There are many gods. We deal with three of these distinct gods from the council of the gods: Elohim, Jehovah, and the Holy Ghost.
-God, the Father,was once a man like us. His name is Elohim, and he had a literal father before him. (That means there is a god even higher than God the Father!)
-We can progress to become gods of our own worlds just like the god Elohim.
-Jesus is the brother of the devil, not his creator.
-Jesus was not born of a virgin. Elohim had sexual relations with his daughter, Mary, to bring about the conception of Jesus. (Not all Mormons are familiar with this teaching.)
-We are not permitted to pray to Jesus, but only to another god named Elohim.
-Celestial heaven is near a star called Kolob.
-The Bible contains doctrinal errors.
-Polygamy is an eternal principle. Mormons still believe in polygamy, but just can't practice it right now.
-Black people were cursed with their black skin because of their inferiority in the pre-existent life.
-Native American Indians are really Israelites who were cursed with red skin because of their sin.
-The current prophet, Gordon B. Hinkley, is a prophet in exactly the same sense as Moses or Ezekiel in the Bible. He has authority to write new scripture. (He just passed away this week.)
-The first LDS prophet, Joseph Smith, saw God the Father in the flesh.
-Adam did not sin when he ate of the forbidden fruit, but was merely choosing to obey a contradictory command from Jehovah.
-Jesus shed his blood to offer us the potential to be forgiven if we successfully stop our sins permanently.
-We cannot be saved (forgiven) by grace alone through faith alone.
-Secret temple rituals where one learns secret names and secret handshakes contribute to one's exaltation in the celestial kingdom. No non-Mormon is worthy to go inside a dedicated temple.
-No one who pays less than 10% of their income to the LDS Church is allowed inside a functioning temple.
-It is possible to eventually become perfect by progressing a little bit at a time through eternal progression.

If LDS members deny any of the above, as they occasionally do, they are being dishonest. I lived it as a Mormon myself, so I know what I am talking about. Extensive documentation for the above can be found at http://www.mrm.org/ ."*
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*article from- ww.exmormon.net/index.html
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I just thought you should know a few things about what those nice young men believe who will come by your home someday.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Thinking deep thoughts


I really enjoy reading different blogs. There are so many different agendas and all of them fascinate me. The atheist, the Muslim, the homemaker, the mom posting photos of the kids, the political blogs, the photo blogs. All of them provide a rich fabric of people's lives and opinions. I have really enjoyed getting to know people from all over the world through these blogs. It's a great experience to interact with people thousands of miles away that you may never meet.
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The blogs that are most fascinating to me are the Christian theology blogs....all different views from every perspective of the Christian theological mind all "defending the fort." Some are very insightful, helpful in clarifying world views, others are contentious and looking for a theological "cat fight." These are fun to read as well, but to be honest very frustrating. It often seems to me that we have groomed a new generation of Pharisees who are really good at "straining the gnat." The finer points of theology, which make little difference to eternity, become major issues of debate.
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Don't we have a lost world to win? Are these issues so important that we would fight with other Christians over them? Are your finer points of theology so important that you would hurt a brother in Christ over them? What would Jesus say to us if he were to read these blogs and respond to them? Wouldn't that be great? Is this new generation of Pharisees so sure of their "gnat straining" techniques that they would rather fight than walk in love?
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I know the answer I would get from them, "truth is worth fighting for!" And I would agree, but is what you are willing to fight over really truth or just your opinion? I think I will avoid the "gnat strainers" from now on. I have far too much to do in my own life to waste precious minutes reading about the fine art of gnat straining.
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Thanks for letting me vent....I feel better now.

The great artist

Each of these pictures is a closeup of different butterfly wing. As I looked through the photos I was amazed at what a wonderful artist God is. He is so creative! For him to even build design and beauty into the wings of a butterfly indicates his care and detail for his creation. If he is so involved in the design of a butterfly wing what are his plans in my life? Often I forget that I'm a work of art that God is painting. If this is what he does with butterflies I can't wait to see how we turn out!

Monday's cartoon

The TV writer's strike has been a really good thing for me. It has helped me sever the TV cord. Once in a while now I will scroll through the channels to see what's on and find that with hundreds of channels there really isn't anything on worth wasting my time watching. So, to all those writers who are on strike, thank you for your help....I won't be needing you anymore.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Strange signs?


Forget about crop circles, how about sheep circles?

Saturday morning

It's a cold, foggy day here in Dallas. Too dreary to do much. It's a perfect day for a fire, some coffee and time to read. I have a day today with nothing on the calendar (very rare), so I'm going to do as much of nothing as I can.

Friday, January 25, 2008

A gospel parable in real life


I read this story this morning and thought, "what an amazing example of love." This paints a wonderful and sad picture in real life of what Christ did for us to give us life.
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"A mother from the U.K. died just weeks after refusing cancer treatment so that she could save the life of her unborn baby, the Daily Mail reports.
Lorraine Allard, 33, of St. Olaves, near Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer when she was four months pregnant with her son Liam. She refused to terminate the pregnancy at 23 weeks and delayed her own vital treatment to save her son.
Liam was born 15 weeks early and Allard was able to see him a handful of times before she died Jan. 18, according to her husband Martyn, 34. Liam, who was born Nov. 18, is putting on weight and doing well in the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital." -Friday, January 25, 2008, Fox News

The story of the gospel is just such a story. Christ willingly died to give us life. What an amazing love....to give our life for another. In Christ we see the full demonstration of God's love for us.

For this dear family it's a sad story, but one illuminated forever by Lorraine's love for her unborn son, Liam. We live each day in the reflection of just such a love, God's love demonstrated on a cross more than 2,000 years ago. A love that is still amazing and changing those who hear about it.

"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his lie for his friends." John 15:13

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A little jealous


I must tell you that I am a little jealous. One of our friends, Lori, is heading for Israel next Monday. As I anticipate her trip I am a little jealous that I'm not going. I have never been there.
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There will be a day when I will see Jerusalem.....
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Rev 19:11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war.
Rev 19:12 His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself.
Rev 19:13 He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.
Rev 19:14 And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses.
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I guess my first view of Jerusalem will be when I fly in low with the king on horseback.....that might be the best way to see Jerusalem for the first time!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Quotes of the day

"You are just as spiritual as you want to be." -Leonard Ravenhill

And one more,

"God's not concerned with your happiness, he's concerned with your holiness." -Leonard Ravenhill

Funny article

One of my readers, Brandi, sent me this article. It's intended to encourage exercise, but in it was a funny statement that she pointed out to me,

"A little bit of exercise goes a long way," said Peter Kokkinos, lead author of the study. "Thirty minutes a day, five days a week of brisk walking is likely to reduce the risk of mortality by 50 percent if not more."

Wow! And I thought the risk of mortality was still 100%. Amazing what a little research will do.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Only God could do it

Today I did a funeral for a man I never met, and yet, as I put the service together I found that God had been working towards this moment in time for more than 30 years. The weaving together of lives, situations, relationships, notes in bibles, old phone numbers that hadn't changed, neighbors at the right place and time, pieces of paper left for me to find after more than 20 years....I was amazed to see how God wove it all together to bring lives to this very day, but he's not done yet. I know he's only showing me part of what he is doing, but I am amazed at the little bit I do see. It's like solving a mystery hidden from decades past. Clues hidden, tracking down people, connecting lives, and all of it was planned by God for one purpose- HIS GLORY! As I watch the little bit I see all I can say is, "God, you are amazing!" If you're curious I'll tell you the whole story.....it's one that only God could do.

Broken Open

Monday, January 21, 2008

Quote of the day

"Finishing well is a continuous process of becoming a better vessel for God's purposes." -Jay Bennett (from Finishing Well by Bob Buford)

Just thinking...

-I'm suddenly faced with a funeral tomorrow I'm not ready for. An unexpected death, a family in shock, an uncertain eternity....those are always difficult. It's difficult for me because I know I'm dealing with eternal souls, and they are priceless to God. What to say? How to comfort the family? How to help those left behind make good decisions in their lives? It's a time when I very much need to hide and pray for a while about this.

-We have a granddaughter at our house for a sleep over. Waiting for her to get up so we can go have pancakes! It's such an amazing thing to have grandchildren. What an honor.

-I'm preaching next Sunday, continuing the study in John, and will be teaching through John 15. I spoke on part of this chapter several months ago, so I will have to take some time and get a fresh look at the passage for Sunday.

-This year I will be at the church as a pastor for 10 years....amazing. It's been an amazing time in a dozen different ways, both good and bad. One of the great things about this milestone is that at the 10 year mark I'm up to 4 weeks of vacation. I'm not sure how to take that much time off, but will try.

-In a month my wife and I will celebrate our 34th anniversary! I have been thinking about what to do....still working on it, any ideas?

-I had dinner last night with one of our worship leaders, Hal. We had a great time discussing the service for next week. Music is such a hard thing to do, there are so many styles, tastes and preferences. To get a blend that will help people to worship is really difficult. So, to make it even more complicated, what songs would you like to sing this Sunday?

-Well, she's up! So let me leave you as we head for the restaurant for pancakes with granddaughter...have a great day.

Monday's cartoon




Sunday, January 20, 2008

Reality check

I stopped by a web site that shows the news and details of life on the day you were born. I entered my birth date, and was rudely shocked to see this message:


"Our records don't go back that far."

Not really, but when you see the detail you will think that might have been true. It made me aware of how quickly things change, and how quickly we forget. Solomon was right, "one generation comes and goes, the next one doesn't remember what went before."

Here's some information about the day I was born-


President:

Harry S. Truman

Vice President:

Alben W. Barkley (I had never heard of him before this search...shame on me.)

Bread:
$0.14/loaf
Milk:
$0.82/gal
Eggs:
$0.70/doz
Car:
$1,750
Gas:
$0.27/gal
House:
$14,500
Stamp:
$0.03/ea
Avg Income:
$3,815/yr
Min Wage:
$0.75/hr
DOW Avg:
235
On TV:
Time for Beany
Truth or Consequences
The Alan Young Show
The Ed Sullivan Show
The Burns and Allen Show


If you are ready for your "reality check" you can find it here: http://dmarie.com/timecap/step1.asp

Saturday, January 19, 2008

A hard day



Yesterday was a hard day! You can't anticipate days like this, and they are hard to describe afterward....

In the morning we got word of a house fire. Thinking it was one our staff's homes, Brent and I ran out there to make sure they were ok. Fortunately it wasn't their home, but sadly it was the home of a woman who had just lost her husband within the last year, and now she has lost her home as well.

At noon I met with one of our men for lunch. After we got our orders taken he starts with this, "I'm having a hard time with a few thing. First, I am having a hard time understanding how a good God could...." That's how the lunch started, and it got much deeper after that.

After getting back to the church and catching my breath the police department calls to send me out on a home situation. Apparently a 14 year old boy went into the bathroom looking for his dad, and found him dead on the floor. I went to sit with this young man until his mom got home from work. It was a very sad 10 minutes. This was completely unexpected, and the young man and his mother were in shock, as anyone would be.

In a world filled with loss and sadness I often have to come back to what Jesus said for direction,


Mat 11:28 "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
Mat 11:29 "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.
Mat 11:30 "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

A great movie



Last night we went to the movies with fellow pastor, Brent and "his smokin' hot shutterbug trophy wife" Tracy to see The Great Debaters. It was a great movie, very emotional at points and challenging. What's amazing is that the movie is based on a true story. It's one of those movies that will stay with you for a long time. This is a very well done film. I give it two thumbs up.

Getting older


The new teaching pastor at our church, Steve, came to my office a week ago to tell me he couldn't see the clock at the back of the church sanctuary, and needed something that was easier to see. Personally, I agree with Steve. We need a better clock, something that can be seen easily, so I went online...did some research, and asked questions. What I finally ordered is this clock with its 7 inch numbers! I was told we should be able to read this clock from 300 feet away. I told Steve, "if you can't see this clock then heaven help us all!" With more than one service on Sunday morning hitting our time marks is important....this should help.

Saturday's cartoon


Friday, January 18, 2008

Fun on a Friday afternoon



Dolphin Play Bubble Rings - video powered by Metacafe

Reflections



I like the fact that I'm more than the sum of me because of God's work in me. Without him there really isn't much to us...flesh and bones, passions, desires, hopes, dreams....but add the ingredient of God and suddenly a simple life reflects the very God that made it. I'm more than the sum of me because of the God who made me. Because of him working in and through my life I am a reflection of his life....at times it's even magnified through me as I depend on him.

A simple drop of water is clear by itself...not much to it, but let it reflect something more and suddenly a drop of water becomes beautiful beyond imagination. We are a lot like that....not much by ourselves...but let us reflect the very life of God through us and wow!

I like the fact that I'm more than the sum of me because of God's work in me.


Php 1:6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.


Col 1:27 to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Sober thoughts



I just got back from a meeting with the police department for our city. I work with the police department here as a chaplain. Tonight we were discussing process and procedure for dealing with situations where our services will be needed- family notifications of death, talking people out of suicide...how and who, and a number of other situations. It was a very sobering meeting. Sitting there I thought, "This is sure a sad world we live in. It's so broken." Dealing with the results of sin and sorrow is a serious business and often brings dangers of its own. I am so looking forward to seeing how this world will be when sin and its influence is removed. What will it look like? What will surprise us? I have thought about this several times in this blog simply because I have to deal with it so often, so maybe I'm more acutely focused on the world as it is and thinking about the way it was really meant to be. Let me just say I can't wait for "that day"...it will be amazing!

Innovate or Die - Aquaduct: Mobile Filtration Vehicle

This is a great idea! It's ideas like this that really make a difference for those in developing countries. I hope they are able to develop this and get it into the areas where it's needed.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The mundane



A lot of life is very simple, and sometimes rather mundane. There are the simple things that must be done...sleep, eat, work, rest, and breathe.....they are simple because we don't even think of them, but we must do them. Then there is the mundane....the tasks which must be done, but are hard because of the tedious, boring nature of the task. It is often a simple thing, needed, tiring, maybe boring, but important. And yet, while I'm doing those simple needed tiring boring things life happens. One day fades into another and soon we find that we have lived our years and missed the best part of life....simply doing it all with God involved in every moment. I talk to many elderly in my work, and many who are nearing the end of their lives. They think that because they didn't do anything significant their lives were wasted....and yet.....significance isn't measured here and now. It's measured by God, and it looks completely different than you think it does. It's doing the simple mundane things of life in fellowship with God himself. In those simple moments light comes to dark days, life comes to dead hours, eternity invades short lives.....the mundane suddenly becomes something more than you ever dreamed.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Examples


We all find ourselves examples to those around us. People watch us even when we don't notice. To your children you are an example of what a parent is like. To your co-workers you are an example as well. They watch to see if what you say about yourself is true or not. Are you really who you claim to be?
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We are being watched. Am I an example of how NOT to do something? Do I lead the way for others to follow or do I show them the path to avoid?
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Don't forget that people are watching. I still remember eating out with my wife. The food wasn't that good, the service was poor, and I was grumpy.....it showed. Then someone nearby asked, "Aren't you a pastor.....?" What a reality check! Watch how you live, others are watching as well.....
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Mat 5:16 "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
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1Peter 2:12 Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Quote of the day

"Long ago the voice of God went out to men and called them to the possibility of a uniquely human greatness. Possessed of a divine spirit, they were capable of transcending their genetic makeup and leading lives of romantic monogamy, parental purpose, and communal commitment. It is time for that voice to be heard again."


-SHMULEY BOTEACH , The Jerusalem Post

Monday's cartoon


Thinking....


Last Friday night I "hit the wall." I was exhausted! We got home from one of our home groups about 10 and I was spent to the point of feeling physically ill. A good day of rest helped, but I'm thinking....how did I let that happen? How did I so foolishly live last week that I found myself at that place? I know it was my foolishness that brought me to that point. I get so busy so easily that it takes a crash to make me stop and remember that I'm not God. I don't have to do it all myself. So here's a reminder for those of you who, like me, are trying to do it all....stop it! You can't. Slow down, get some rest....take some time to stop and rest physically, mentally and spiritually. God intended us to use our rest times to refresh. Rest is a good thing because it reminds us that God is in control and we are not.
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Psa 127:2 It is vain for you to rise up early, To retire late, To eat the bread of painful labors; For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The purpose of pets


(Postscript: On of my readers, Mike McM., sent this to me. I thought it would be a great postscript for these photos-

Subject: A Dog's Purpose (from a 6-year-old)

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog's owners, Ron, his wife, Lisa, and their little boy, Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn't do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker's family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker's death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives. Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, "I know why."Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I'd never heard a more comforting explanation.He said, "People are born so that they can learn how to live a good Life -- like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?" The six-year-old continued, "Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don't have to stay as long."

Remember, if a dog were the teacher you would learn things like.......

When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure Ecstasy.
Take naps.Stretch before rising.Run, romp, and play daily.
Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
Be loyal.
Never pretend to be something you're not.
If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.
ENJOY EVERY MOMENT OF EVERY DAY)

Alarm

One of our mission partners as a church is a ministry called Alarm. This great ministry works in most of North Africa in the area of reconciliation and discipleship of the pastors in the local churches. Tonight we had the great opportunity to hear their president, Celestin, speak to our church family about their ministry. When you are praying...pray for Celestin and Alarm.

Grandkids are great!



Grandkids are great! Here's just one of our beautiful grandbabies having fun in the leaves.

The bible says grandchildren are a blessing from the Lord....I sure feel blessed.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Chasing lions

Last year my wife read a book by Mark Batterson titled In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day. He's a young pastor who started and built a large church on the east coast. He had some great things to say in this book. One that I see often quoted is what he calls the Lion chaser's manifesto. My wife, Joye, wrote about it and used it in a message she gave last year as well. It's a thought provoking challenge. Let me share it with you and invite your thoughts. Here it is:

the lion chaser's manifesto

Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. Set God-sized goals. Pursue God-ordained passions. Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention. Keep asking questions. Keep making mistakes. Keep seeking God. Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution. Stop repeating the past and start creating the future. Stop playing it safe and start taking risks. Expand your horizons. Accumulate experiences. Consider the lilies. Enjoy the journey. Find every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can. Live like today is the first day and last day of your life. Don't let what's wrong with you keep you from worshipping what's right with God. Burn sinful bridges. Blaze a new trail. Criticize by creating. Worry less about what people think and more about what God thinks. Don't try to be who you're not. Be yourself. Laugh at yourself. Quit holding out. Quit holding back. Quit running away. Chase the lion!

Saturday's cartoon


Friday, January 11, 2008

Who is Jesus?


I have been reading different blogs and have come across several which discuss Jesus. The ideas of who he was and what he taught are amazingly different. I posted a comment on one that I simply couldn't let stand. Some of the posts are outright lies about Jesus!
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For me it's difficult to let a lie about my savior stand, so I have to respond. Therefore, to erase any confusion, let me clarify who I believe Jesus is:
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He is God, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace, Creator of heaven and earth, The obedient Son of the Father, 100% God and at the same time 100% man, The Perfect Servant, The Son of Man, The Prince of Peace, The King of Kings and the Lord of Lord, He is the only Savior of man, He is risen and seated at the right hand of the Father, He is the second person of the trinity, He is the only Worthy One, He is the one who holds all things together, He is the Great Intercessor, He is the soon coming King of the World, All angels bow down and worship him and soon all mankind will bow to worship him as well, He is the Great Healer, He is the only way to heaven, the only hope of mankind, the only perfect man, the only example I can trust, the only one who never fails, He is God.
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Now, if that's not clear enough I can add about 100 other things to the list to help with clarity, but let me leave no doubt for anyone who might ask- I believe he is exactly who the bible says he is....He's God!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

There's hope for me!

I'm encouraged! I was reading an article today and came across this:
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Warren is 2007 'Sexiest Preacher Alive'
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"The Wittenburg Door has released its choice for 2007 Sexiest Preacher Alive, and it's Rick Warren, the 50-something, seeker-friendly love god of evangelicalism."
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This may not do much for you, but for an old, overweight, balding pastor this is heartwarming news! This article made my day....there's hope for me!

Quote of the day

One of our ladies on staff, Nancy, gave me this quote on a card. She thought it was really good, and so do I so it's the quote of the day.
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"The cycle of escalation can be broken when a courageous, faith-filled person refuses to strike back." -David McCasland

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Beginning with thanks


Today has a simple beginning for me. I just want to take a minute to say thank you to the Lord for all he has done.

Lord, thank you for all you have done for us even when we don't say "thank you." Thank you for your amazing love that changes our lives forever. Thank you for forgiveness...that amazing grace so richly given and so clearly undeserved. Thank you for food today. So many are hungry, and we are not. Thank you for clothes, and a place to stay. Thank you for holding us together every moment. Thank you for thinking about us. We are so blessed. There are not enough pages to write about all that you do for us. So much of it we simply take for granted. Thank you most of all for your son, Jesus Christ, who gave himself to provide for us the life and eternity we could never attain on our own. We are so blessed...thank you.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Emir Caner


I'm really thrilled to announce that Emir Caner will be speaking at our church on February 3rd. Emir and his brother, Ergun, grew up Muslim, but came to faith in Christ. Both are now serving at different seminaries. Emir is a gifted communicator, and will be talking about Christianity and Islam. I hope you will be sure to join us for this great morning.

A book you need to read

There are a few books that every Christian needs to read.

This is one of them.

The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer is one of the most important books you will read. I try to read it at least once a year. This little book of 117 pages focuses on the attibutes of God. Tozer does a wonderful job teaching who God is and what he is like. It's an inspiring work.

If you have never read it I encourage you to get a copy and read it at least once a year. You will find that it will change how you view almost everything!

You write the story...


I had taken this post down for lack of response, but was told by one reader, "I'm still thinking about it." So let me repost this photo. As you know if you read this blog, photos are part of the inspiration (see "Ripples" below). So, I want to invite you to write the story or devotional with this photo as your inspiration. I will leave it up this time, response or not, so have fun. I'm looking forward to your ideas.

Today I'm reading....


This morning in my reading I came to one of my favorite Psalms. Here's a portion of it:
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Psa 37:1 A Psalm of David. Do not fret because of evildoers, Be not envious toward wrongdoers.
Psa 37:2 For they will wither quickly like the grass And fade like the green herb.
Psa 37:3 Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
Psa 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Psa 37:5 Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
Psa 37:6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light And your judgment as the noonday.
Psa 37:7 Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.
Psa 37:8 Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.
Psa 37:9 For evildoers will be cut off, But those who wait for the LORD, they will inherit the land.
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I love these verses because they give me instruction, direction, assurance and God's promise of care. By nature I'm a worrier....when there isn't anything to worry about....I worry about that! It has been a weakness for me for years. "What if....?" is the motto of the worriers club of which I was a member for many years.
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Over time I have learned to trust the Lord more, but it's been an odyssey to leave this sin of worry behind and trust God. These verses have helped me do that. I often have to go back to this chapter to get my bearing and remind myself of these basic instructions. What I have learned is this- because of who God is I can relax and trust him. When I worry I'm really saying that God isn't big enough to handle my problems....I'm really insulting the sovereign God who takes care of me every moment.
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In my counseling I have often given these verses to others as the prescription for their problems. It is a great help for those who have yet to quit the worriers club. If you are still a member I encourage you to spend some time meditating on these verses and decide whether God is big enough to handle your life's problems or not.

Monday, January 07, 2008

A post you need to read

John Dennis posted a great poem he wrote on his blog called "If Jesus was Enough." It's really well written and thought provoking. I encourage you to stop by and read his recent post.

Monday's cartoon


Saturday, January 05, 2008

Someone should do something



A few years ago one of our men, Ron, drove by our church and noticed that someone had run over a skunk right in front of the church driveway. He thought, "someone should do something about that." And off he drove not thinking another thing about it.

The next day, as Ron drove by the church once more, there was the skunk still lying right in front of the church driveway. He told me later that once again he thought, "I wish someone would do something about that skunk," but he knew it wasn't him so off he drove without another thought.

He said that this skunk in the driveway of the church really bothered him, and he was upset that no one had moved it....Sunday was coming and it would really "cause a stink" for those coming to church.

Saturday night he went to bed as usual, but at about 2 AM Sunday morning he was startled awake by a voice that said to him, "YOU move the skunk." He told me later he had always wanted to hear from the Lord, but he never expected this to be the message. But in obedience he got up, dressed, got his shovel and went to the church and moved the skunk at 2 AM Sunday morning.

We all see things in our world that should be done by someone. "Someone should do something about that," we say and off we go to live our lives, but the truth of it is that if you noticed what needs to be done you are the one to do it. A servant doesn't wait for that "someone" to come along, they simply "take care of the skunk." This little story is a true one. Ron tells the story so much better than I do, so on behalf of Ron let me encourage you to be that someone so the Lord doesn't have to wake you up at 2 AM on a Sunday morning.

Saturday's cartoon


Friday, January 04, 2008

Ripples



It doesn't take much to make a ripple in your life or in the life of another. A little touch ripples through you and out into your world and causes other ripples that extend out to touch the lives of those around you.

I'm in the business of helping people deal with the ripples of life. Often the people most affected didn't make the ripples, but now they have been touched by them, affected by them and they have to decide what to do about it. It always amazes me how much damage little ripples make...an unkind word, a mean look, a thoughtless comment......there are hundreds of ripples we could add to this list. They seem so small, so insignificant, what damage could they possibly do? And yet ripples gradually mold us, affect us, change us.

Yesterday I spent about 4 hours talking to people who are struggling with the results of ripples...what an interesting phrase...the results of ripples. Little things that make a big difference in a life.

For one it was the thoughtless actions of a mate over many years that have gradually worn down his love. For another it was a sin of a relative that has affected his whole family in a way that will ripple down several generations.

You may have ripple damage in your life...little ripples that have touched you and affected you so that now they seem like they were waves, harsh crushing waves, meant to hurt. But for the one who started the ripple it was just a small thing, nothing meant, they have already forgotten about it.

To the one who caused it...a ripple, to the one who felt it...a crushing wave that they haven't forgotten to this day. They may still hurt from the sting of your ripple.

Let me offer a simple remedy, some ripple control if you wish, that has directed my life and one I must often remind myself of. It's the solution to ripple damage-


John 13:34 "Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another.
John 13:35 This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples--when they see the love you have for each other."

These are amazing words to me. They speak of something I simply cannot do on my own. I must depend on Christ to do it in and through me....to love as he loved. I often find myself praying, "Lord, I can't, will you do it through me?" And he always does. If we could ever see people the way God does it would change our lives forever! Living in his love, and then loving others because of the love we have received would turn all of our ripples into calm waters, lives that easily reflect his image in us to those around us.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Unrequited Love by Jude Simpson - for rejesus.co.uk

I really like Jude Simpson's work. This is a new one. I think you will like it too.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Inspiration for your new year

Here's a story to start your year off right. When you face a challenge you have never faced before think of Cliff. When you try something you have never tried before think of Cliff. When you don't think you can do it think of Cliff.
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The Legend of Cliff Young: The 61 Year Old Farmer Who Won the World’s Toughest Race
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by: Shane Sunday, December 30th, 2007
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Those who are in the ultra world already know about the legendary Cliff Young but those outside may not have heard the story.
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The whole nation thought he was a crazy old man to undertake an almost impossible feat. Most feared that he would die trying. But this humble old man proved all the critics wrong. Cliff Young, at 61 years of age, participated in 1983’s Sydney to Melbourne race. Considered to be the world’s toughest race, with the distance of 875 (543.7 m) kilometers and took at least 5 days to finish, Cliff Young entered the race against world-class athletes. Read how he achieved the unthinkable and inspires the whole nation.
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The Beginning
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Every year, Australia hosts an 875-kilometer endurance race from Sydney to Melbourne - considered to be the world’s longest and toughest ultra-marathon. It’s a long, tough race that takes five days and normally participated in by world-class athletes who train specially for the event. Backed by big names in sports like Nike, these athletes are mostly less than 30 years old men and women equipped with the most expensive sponsored training outfits and shoes.
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In 1983, these top class runners were in for a surprise. On the day of the race, a guy named Cliff Young showed up. At first, no one cared about him since everybody thought he was there to watch the event. After all, he was 61 years old, showed up in overalls and galoshes over his work boots.
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As Cliff walked up to the table to take his number, it became obvious to everybody he was going to run. He was going to join a group of 150 world-class athletes and run!
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Everybody thought that it was a crazy publicity stunt. But the press was curious, so as he took his number 64 and moved into the pack of runners in their special, expensive racing outfit, the camera focused on him and reporters started to ask:
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“Who are you and what are you doing?”
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“I’m Cliff Young. I’m from a large ranch where we run sheep outside of Melbourne.”
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They said, “You’re really going to run in this race?”
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“Yeah,” Cliff nodded.
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“Got any backers?”
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“No.”
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“Then you can’t run.”
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“Yeah I can.” Cliff said. “See, I grew up on a farm where we couldn’t afford horses or four wheel drives, and the whole time I was growing up– until about four years ago when we finally made some money and got a four wheeler– whenever the storms would roll in, I’d have to go out and round up the sheep. We had 2,000 head, and we have 2,000 acres. Sometimes I would have to run those sheep for two or three days. It took a long time, but I’d catch them. I believe I can run this race; it’s only two more days. Five days. I’ve run sheep for three.”
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When the marathon started, the pros left Cliff behind in his galoshes. The crowds smiled because he didn’t even run correctly. Instead of running, he appeared to run leisurely, shuffling like an amateur.
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Now, the 61-year-old potato farmer from Beech Forest with no teeth had started the ultra-tough race with world-class athletes. All over Australia, people who watched the live telecast kept on praying that someone would stop this crazy old man from running because everyone believed he’ll die even before getting halfway across Sydney.
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Turtle vs rabbits
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Every professional athlete knew for certain that it took about 5 days to finish this race, and that in order to compete, you would need to run 18 hours and sleep 6 hours. The thing is, old Cliff Young did not know that!
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When the morning news of the race was aired, people were in for another big surprise. Cliff was still in the race and had jogged all night down to a city called Mittagong.
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Apparently, Cliff did not stop after the first day. Although he was still far behind the world-class athletes, he kept on running. He even had the time to wave to spectators who watched the event by the highways.
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When he got to a town called Albury he was asked about his tactics for the rest of the race. He said he would run through to the finish, and he did.
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He kept running. Every night he got just a little bit closer to the leading pack. By the last night, he passed all of the world-class athletes. By the last day, he was way in front of them. Not only did he run the Melbourne to Sydney race at age 61, without dying; he won first place, breaking the race record by 9 hours and became a national hero! The nation fell in love with the 61-year-old potato farmer who came out of nowhere to defeat the world’s best long distance runners.
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He finished the 875-kilometre race in 5 days, 15 hours and 4 minutes. Not knowing that he was supposed to sleep during the race, he said when running throughout the race, he imagined that he was chasing sheep and trying to outrun a storm.
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When Cliff was awarded the first prize of $10,000, he said he did not know there was a prize and insisted that he had not entered for the money. He said, “There’re five other runners still out there doing it tougher than me,” and he gave them $2,000 each. He did not keep a single cent for himself. That act endeared him to all of Australia. Cliff was a humble, average man, who undertook an extraordinary feat and became a national sensation.
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The Inspirational Run Continues
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In the following year, Cliff Young entered the same race and won the 7 th place. During the race, his hip popped out of the joint socket, his knee played up and he endured shin splints. But those didn’t deter him from finishing the race. When he was announced as the winner for most courageous runner and presented with a Mitsubishi Colt, he said, “I didn’t do it near as tough as old Bob McIlwaine. Here, Bob, you have the car,” and gave the keys to him.
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It was said that Cliff Young never kept a single prize. People gave him watches, because he never had one. He would thank them because he did not want to hurt their feelings, but will then give it away to the first child he saw. He did not understand why he would need a watch because, he said, he knew when it was daylight, when it was dark, and when he was hungry.
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Cliff came to prominence again in 1997, aged 76, when he attempted to become the oldest man to run around Australia and raise money for homeless children. He managed to completed 6,520km of the 16,000km run before he had to pull out after his only permanent crew member became ill.
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His love for running never diminished but in 2000, after collapsing in his Gellibrand home a week after completing 921 kilometers of a 1600-kilometre race, he lost his strength for running. The mild stroke ended his heroic running days.
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After the long illness, Cliff Young, the running legend passed away on 2nd November 2003. He was 81.
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Current Race
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The “Young-shuffle” has been adopted by ultra-marathon runners because it is considered more aerodynamic and expends less energy. At least 3 winners of the Sydney to Melbourne race have been known to use the ‘Young-shuffle' to win the race.
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Now, for the Sydney to Melbourne race, almost nobody sleeps. To win that race, you have to run like Cliff Young did, you have to run all night as well as all day.


Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year!

Enjoy life more, worry less
Listen more, talk less
Smile a lot, cry a little
Care about people, not things
Take time to relax and don't feel guilty about it
Read the Bible more, the newspaper less
Talk to God more, but don't ask for so much
Watch TV less, read good books more
Trust God, not man
Go fishing, don't worry about catching anything
Look for ways to send "thank you" cards
Fear will come, trust God when it does
Walk in the rain and don't use an umbrella
Meet new people, they need a friend
Travel if you can, read about it if you can't
Read a biography this year
Give money to someone who needs help
Don't be so critical, God will sort it all out
Be merciful, you will want mercy in your own life
Be kind, it makes life easier
Be patient, relax, enjoy your life
Have a great year!