Sunday, July 31, 2011
I have a new best friend. His name is Jim.
This morning I had the joy of preaching in our church. It was a great morning with our church family. And then we came home....to a hot house! It's over 100 today and will be all week. This is not good.
I went out to look at the AC unit and the fan was not working! Panic. Despair. Why does disaster always strike on Sunday? What to do? I took the AC unit apart, took out the fan and headed for Home Depot. Clearly they were not going to be any help at all, but the young man who told me they couldn't help did say, "But the Trane rep is here in the store today. Let me call her and see if she can help." In a moment she arrived and gave me the office number. I call it with my fingers crossed and someone answers the phone! There is a GOD!!!! He said he would send someone....maybe today, but probably tomorrow. What else could I do?
Within a half hour the phone rings and it's Jim! He said he was on the way and would be here in 30 minutes. I had a bottle of cold water waiting for my new friend. He looked at the unit, just happened to have one last motor in the truck and within an hour we are moving cool air again.
So, today, Jim is offically my new best friend. Thank you, Jim, wherever you are. The house is cool and the family is happy. In spite of the high price of my new friendship I'm thrilled with God's great provision of Jim on a hot Sunday afternoon in Texas.
Friday, July 29, 2011
“Be still, and know that I am God!
I will be honored by every nation.
I will be honored throughout the world.”
Be still. Stillness is a foreign concept to most of us. In our lives it's more, faster, longer, and in short order we are frantic with all we "must" do. Be still. Stop for a moment. Get out of the traffic and turn off the engine. God isn't heard in the midst of all the noise of life. He's heard in the stillness, in the quiet moments when we simply stop all the craziness and rest our minds, our bodies, our thoughts.
Be still. It's in that stillness that you discover you don't have to do it all, you can't do it all. It's when you stop trying to rule the world that you find there is a God fully in charge, fully able to take care of you. Be still and know that I am God. Trust comes in that stillness, in that rest when you quit trying and discover God is more that willing to take over.
Be still. Are there still moments in your life, in your day when you discover God? When you know him as God? Is there a calm place where you find him and rest in him? If chaos, frenzy and panic rule your thoughts and emotions God invites you to a new place, a place where you discover him.
Be still.........know that HE is God.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
A friend sent Steve's article to me and I thought you would enjoy it as well.
You can't teach a frog to fly!
by Steve Brown September 3rd, 2009
I've had a lousy job for most of my life!
As you know, I'm a preacher/pastor and my job description is to keep people from doing what they obviously want to do. I've often felt like an overwhelmed police officer at a rock concert charged with keeping the concert goers from using drugs.
With a job description like mine, you hardly ever get invited to parties, people are not very honest, and sometimes you feel like a wet shaggy dog shaking himself at a wedding. I tell them that I'm trying to help and that God anointed me to reach out to them, but they simply don't care.
Preachers are supposed to keep people from sinning.
I haven't been very successful so far.
There are times when I feel like I'm standing by a cliff where people come to dance. "Be careful," I tell them. "It's a long way down and the stop will be quite unpleasant." They look at me. They sometimes even thank me.
Then they jump.
But I keep at it. "Hey," I say to the next group who approach the cliff, "not too long ago, I saw people go off that cliff and if you'll bend over and look, you can see the bloody mess they made." Like everybody else, since I've been standing beside the cliff, they seem grateful for my concern. They maybe even say something about my compassion and wisdom.
Then they jump.
Frankly, I'm tired of it. In fact, I've given up standing by this stupid cliff. I'm tired of being people's mother. I'm tired of trying to prevent the unpreventable. I'm tired of talking to people who don't want to listen. And I'm tired of pointing out the obvious.
Just when I determine to leave my position by the cliff, to my horror and surprise…
What's with that?
Let me tell you. There is a very human and undeniable proclivity of human beings to sin-to jump off the cliff. We're drawn to it. We love it (at least for awhile). No matter who tries to keep us from doing it or how much pain it will cause, we are irresistibly drawn to that cliff. Maybe we want to fly. Could be that we have a masochistic streak in our DNA. Could be that our default position is jumping off cliffs. I don't know. But for whatever reason, we do jump, we do get hurt, and if we survive, we then climb back up the cliff and jump again.
There is a parable (author unknown) about Felix, the flying frog. Even if I mix the metaphor a bit, let me tell you the parable.
Once upon a time, there lived a man named Clarence who had a pet frog named Felix. Clarence lived a modestly comfortable existence on what he earned working at the Wal-Mart, but he always dreamed of being rich. "Felix!" he said one day, hit by sudden inspiration, "We're going to be rich! I'm going to teach you to fly!"
Felix, of course, was terrified at the prospect. "I can't fly, you twit! I'm a frog, not a canary!"
Clarence, disappointed at the initial response, told Felix: "That negative attitude of yours could be a real problem. We're going to remain poor, and it will be your fault."
So Felix and Clarence began their work on flying.
On the first day of the "flying lessons," Clarence could barely control his excitement (and Felix could barely control his bladder). Clarence explained that their apartment building had 15 floors, and each day Felix would jump out of a window, starting with the first floor and eventually getting to the top floor. After each jump, they would analyze how well he flew, isolate the most effective flying techniques, and implement the improved process for the next flight. By the time they reached the top floor, Felix would surely be able to fly.
Felix pleaded for his life, but his pleas fell on deaf ears. "He just doesn't understand how important this is," thought Clarence. "He can't see the big picture."
So, with that, Clarence opened the window and threw Felix out. He landed with a thud.
The next day, poised for his second flying lesson, Felix again begged not to be thrown out of the window. Clarence told Felix about how one must always expect resistance when introducing new, innovative plans.
With that, he threw Felix out the window. THUD!
Now this is not to say that Felix wasn't trying his best. On the fifth day, he flapped his legs madly in a vain attempt at flying. On the sixth day, he tied a small red cape around his neck and tried to think "Superman" thoughts. It didn't help.
By the seventh day, Felix, accepting his fate, no longer begged for mercy. He simply looked at Clarence and said, "You know you're killing me, don't you?"
Clarence pointed out that Felix's performance so far had been less than exemplary, failing to meet any of the milestone goals he had set for him.
With that, Felix said quietly, "Shut up and open the window," and he leaped out, taking careful aim at the large jagged rock by the corner of the building.
Felix went to that great lily pad in the sky.
Clarence was extremely upset, as his project had failed to meet a single objective that he had set out to accomplish. Felix had not only failed to fly, he hadn't even learned to steer his fall as he dropped like a sack of cement, nor had he heeded Clarence's advice to "Fall smarter, not harder."
The only thing left for Clarence to do was to analyze the process and try to determine where it had gone wrong. After much thought, Clarence smiled and said…
"Next time, I'm getting a smarter frog!"
A number of years ago, I realized that I was, as it were, trying to teach frogs to fly. Frogs can't fly. Not only that, they get angry when you try to teach them. The gullible ones will try, but they eventually get hurt so badly they quit trying. And the really sad thing about being a "frog flying teacher" is that I can't fly either.
Let me tell you a secret. If one is a teacher trying to teach frogs to fly, nobody ever bothers to ask if you can fly. In fact, if you pretend that you're an expert and tell a lot of stories about flying; if you can throw in a bit of aeronautical jargon about stalls, spins and flight maneuvers; and if you carry around a "Flight Manual" and know your way around it, nobody will question your ability to fly. You just pretend you're an expert and tell stories, and the students will think you can fly.
The problem is that you become so phony you can't stand yourself.
So I've repented.
Now I just send them to Jesus and try to get out of the way.
Come to think of it, if you're struggling with sin and aren't getting better, don't come to me. I like you okay, but that kind of depends on how my day is going. Instead of coming to me, run to Jesus. He'll love you and maybe even make you better.
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Monday, July 25, 2011
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
The word empirical denotes information gained by means of observation or experiments. It is the criteria demanded by science to prove something true and it must be something that can be repeated. It's called the scientific method. God understands the scientific method, in fact he invented it! Here's what God says about empirical evidence,
For the choir director: A psalm of David.1 The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
The skies display his craftsmanship.
2 Day after day they continue to speak;
night after night they make him known.
3 They speak without a sound or word;
their voice is never heard.
4 Yet their message has gone throughout the earth,
and their words to all the world.
Sunday, July 17, 2011
"I never tell people I'm a pastor any more, and I rarely even acknowledge I'm a Christian unless they give me time to explain. I don't believe I have any power or prestige from my position. In fact, I think it puts me a few yards behind the line of scrimmage. I don't argue philosophy or debate alternative religious viewpoints. I don't point a finger at the traditional church and say we're doing something "anti-church." I simply put pressure on myself to live in such a way that people want to be with me, and then hope others will follow in our way. If no one is following, then I assume it's because of me."
These words are profound to us as Christians in this time. This is "evangelism" in our day...living a life that draws others to Christ in us. It is the tangible kingdom lived out.
Friday, July 15, 2011
It's often hard to see God, to see his hand, his work in our lives. It's often hard to sense his presence, but for the believer he's ever present. In fact, he says he will never leave us, but most of the time we don't sense his presence, we aren't aware of his care.
For me it's the busy life I live that makes his voice hard to hear, his face hard to see. I don't take the time to quiet my mind and heart to listen, to see him ever with me.
The times when God is most visible, the times when we see him the most clearly are times of test, times of trial. It's in those refining moments the ever present one is most clearly seen....with us even in the heat of the trial.
As I read Daniel 3 this morning, the story of Daniel's friends and their trial by fire, the ever present one is unseen until Daniel's friends are in the midst of the flames. In those refining moments, in the furnaces of our lives, God's presence is most clearly seen. It's in those moments when we desperately need to see him. In the midst of the trial our questions abound, in the midst of the heat we need him most. Has he brought us to this trial to destroy us? Is he punishing us for our sins? Why is this happening to us?
And in the midst of the furnace God is with us. He never leaves us. Last night I was with a family in the furnace of a lifetime. It's a trial by fire to be sure. This is when they most need God's presence, his care, his love. It's in their furnace that they will see him. He is always with us, always caring for us....even in the furnace of trials.
But why trials? Why use the furnace to make himself known and seen? It's because in the furnace no one can help us but God. As the king said to Daniel's friends, "Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?" The king has defined the test- Is there a God who can deliver from the furnace? Is there someone to help when the trials of life overwhelm? The answer from the furnace is "YES! I'm here with you. Don't worry, I will take care of you."
The God of glory is always with us working for our good and his glory. In the midst of your furnace God is with you making himself known to you and seen by the world. In the midst of the furnace all other distractions are burned away and we see the ever present God who is always with us.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
It's 100 degree + again today. It's summer in Texas. We usually have hot summers, but this one seems especially warm.
Today a friend invited me to lunch with him, but he wanted to "ride" to lunch. That means motorcycles. I have an old BMW airhead with the cylinders right in front of each foot. It's air cooled which means it's hot for me behind those big cylinders. Add that to 150 degree temperatures (just kidding) and it was sweatin' time.
We had a great visit, but after the outing today I think I'll leave the bike in the garage until the weather is a bit cooler. I'm still a little dehydrated....more water please.....
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
You read about them daily in the news. They cause fear and devastation when they strike. Their tactics change lives forever, including their own. They are called suicide bombers.
It's a recent term to describe a growing trend...people willing to destroy themselves to hurt others. Their beliefs are so strong that they are willing to give their own lives for their cause. They are called suicide bombers.
All around me are people I call by the same name. They are people who would never see themselves in t
They would tell me "I just want to be happy" and so they justify the decisions they make. In the process they destroy their home, their family and unknown to them they destroy themselves. I call them suicide bombers.
They look normal enough to those around them. They don't have bombs strapped to their waist, but they are on a mission to destroy and they do. What they don't realize is they will be part of the destruction that results. I call them suicide bombers.
In their attempt to control, cause fear, change their situation, rule another person they actually destroy their own life.
The result? Chaos, destruction, hurt, homes demolished, lives in shambles. Who would be willing to do such things?
There is a certain insanity that comes with being a suicide bomber....whether you use explosives or your car, a car bomb or a divorce attorney, bullets or an affair the results are the same, lives are destroyed, homes are demolished, families blown up, lives forever changed. Most of all yours.
Suicide bombers don’t always need explosives to accomplish their task. Sometimes it’s as simple as sin having its way in a life. Always, in every case, destruction will follow. And the one hurt the worst? The suicide bomber himself.
Romans 6:21What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
"My dear brother and co-worker I'm sorry telling you the following words however, God who sees know why I do ask for this. Please if you can afford to send to me 50 USD you will have saved my family from going without a meal by tomorrow evening. I'm so sorry for I know you're too in the same situation, please do according to the leadership of the Holy Spirit for I believe He knows how we will go through."
This e-mail is from my friend in Kenya. He rarely asks for help, although I know he needs it. There are thousands more who have no one they can ask to help them. My heart goes out to him, my prayers as well and my resources must follow. Pray for those like my friend who face hunger and hungry children begging for something to eat.
Monday, July 11, 2011
Saturday, July 09, 2011
Observation- problems are more normal and more frequent than blessings.
I see a world in chaos, crisis, confusion and now, this week drought in Africa. Problems are everywhere, in every life, in every day.
It seems to me that problems around us are increasing both in number and frequency. It's as if there are more things to worry about, more things to make us fearful. At every turn there are new challenges to deal with. As I read the news the warnings are more intense....our economy is crumbling, there is a new bacteria that is drug resistant, murder is on the rise, job losses are going up, prices are going up, temperatures are going up....the list continues.
But, as much as I write about that, behind it all is a pattern that I see as I watch God working in the bible. Here's the pattern repeated over and over in the bible- God creates a problem in a life that cannot be fixed or solved by the person themselves, the problem gets worse, they go to God to find help, God helps them and they discover the God of the bible to be real, true, alive and caring. It's a story repeated over and over through the pages of scripture.
Problems, big problems, bring us to our knees and humble us with our inability to solve them. Problems bring us to God. Problems make us face a simple reality- we need God! Many of us think we can do it all on our own, but then a problem beyond our resolution comes and we are helpless....we need someone bigger than we are to help us. We need God.
The bible writes about this often, both in story and in instruction. God is working, but what is he really working on? Is he trying to make the world a better place to live? no. Is he trying to bring peace on earth? no. Is he trying to solve all our problems? no. Here's what he's doing- he's drawing men and women to him that we might know him, find life in him and grow in relationship with him. It's all about knowing God! (see John 17:3) That's what God is doing.
We think life is all about here and now, my comfort, my happiness. It's not! It's all about knowing God. That's why problems are such a blessing. They take our eyes off of our ability to take care of ourselves and force us to look to God, trust him, talk to him and depend on him. So, as James writes below, celebrate your problems, they have a purpose and when you are done you will know God more intimately than you could have imagined.
James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Friday, July 08, 2011
Thursday, July 07, 2011
As I sit in Starbucks this morning reading a new book, "The tangible kingdom", I am challenged by the reality of a culture changing before our eyes. Community, "church", and fellowship have moved from the church buildings to the corner Starbucks, the local bar, and the neighborhood fitness center. For most in the church this is not news. The question for us is this- what do do about this changing culture, the exodus from church community and fellowship? How do we "do church" in a changing world? Those questions are just a few this book asks. I am challenged by the culture around me. I'm excited about what's ahead, but I am also aware that we must change or simply become a non-issue to the very culture we are trying to reach. At the moment I have a lot of questions. I'm not sure I will get them all answered, but I'm excited about the adventure ahead.
Wednesday, July 06, 2011
My friend, Jay, sent me an e-mail with some advice and counsel. I had called him to discuss an issue and his reply today was very encouraging and helpful.....especially his advice that follows,
"My philosophy: When you come to a fork in the road, take it."
Tuesday, July 05, 2011
Monday, July 04, 2011
I pray for those who have so little, who are hungry tonight. I pray for those who have nothing when I have so much. I pray I will use what God has given me to serve him for his glory. I don't want to waste this blessing in this time and not use my all for God. In these moments of comfort for me so many are suffering. I pray I never forget I'm part of God's work in the lives of those around me. I pray I finish well and never forget my awesome blessings.
|Beliefs of the Founding Fathers - Quotes from our Founding Fathers on Religion|
Information gathered by the American Policy Roundtable
"I now make it my earnest prayer the God would have you and the State over which you preside, in His holy protection, that he would incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government; to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the field; and, finally, that he would be most graciously pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind, which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation." June 8, 1783 in a letter to the governors of the states on disbanding the army.
"God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever." 1781,Query XVIII of his Notes on that State of Virginia.
"My views...are the result of a life of inquiry and reflection, and very different from the anti-christian system imputed to me by those who know nothing of my opinions. To the corruptions of Christianity I am, indeed, opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian in the only sense in which he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines in preference to all others..." April 21, 1803 in a letter to Dr. Benjamin.
“The doctrines of Jesus are simple, and tend to all the happiness of man.”
“Of all the systems of morality, ancient or modern which have come under my observation, none appears to me so pure as that of Jesus....I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus."
"Religion is the basis and Foundation of Government." June 20, 1785
"It is not the talking but the walking and working person that is the true Christian." In a manuscript on the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, Madison makes this statement.
"We have all been encouraged to feel in the guardianship and guidance of that Almighty Being, whose power regulates the destiny of nations." March 4, 1809 Inaugural Address
“We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We’ve staked the future of all our political institutions upon our capacity…to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.” [1778 to the General Assembly of the State of Virginia]
"Here is my Creed. I believe in on God, the Creator of the Universe. That He governs it by His Providence. That He ought to be worshipped.
"Heavenly Father, May all revere Thee, And become They dutiful children and faithful subjects. May thy Laws be obeyed on earth as perfectly as they are in Heaven. Provide for us this day as Thou hast hitherto daily done. Forgive us our trespasses, and enable us likewise to forgive those that offended us. Keep us out of temptation and deliver us from Evil." Franklin's own version of the Lord's Prayer
“God governs in the affairs of man. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured in the Sacred Writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this. I also believe that, without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel” – Constitutional Convention of 1787, original manuscript of this speech
"The Christian religion is above all the Religions that ever prevailed or existed in ancient or modern times, the religion of Wisdom, Virtue, Equity, and Humanity. Let the Blackguard Paine say what he will; it is Resignation to God, it is Goodness itself to Man." July 26, 1796, in his diary.
"I have examined all religions, as well as my narrow sphere, my straightened means, and my busy life, would allow; and the result is that the Bible is the best Book in the world. It contains more philosophy than all the libraries I have seen." December 25, 1813 in a letter to Thomas Jefferson.
"The Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount contain my religion..." November 4, 1816 in a letter to Thomas Jefferson.
"As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation." December 27, 1816 in a letter to Judge F.A. Van der Kemp.The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were. . . . the general principles of Christianity. . . . I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God; and that those principles of liberty are as unalterable as human nature. (taken from a letter to Thomas Jefferson on June 28, 1813)
Twenty times in the course of my late reading have I been on the point of breaking out, "This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion at all!!!" But in this exclamation I would have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly. Without religion, this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company, I mean hell.
Jesus is benevolence personified, an example for all men… The Christian religion, in its primitive purity and simplicity, I have entertained for more than sixty years. It is the religion of reason, equity, and love; it is the religion of the head and the heart
Sunday, July 03, 2011
My thoughts today demand that I quote part of an article written by someone else. The full intent of t
The Known Universe
"On a clear night, depending on your location and ability to scan freely from horizon to horizon in all directions, the average person is able to view approximately 3,000 stars with the naked eye...
On July 22, 2003, CNN News reported that astronomers announced there are 70 sextillion stars in the visible universe. A sextillion is a 1 followed by 21 zeroes.
That's 70,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 known stars in the universe. That's more than all the grains of sand on all the beaches of the entire Earth.
There are nearly 7 billion people on t
For every single person, there are 10,000,000,000,000 known stars in the universe.
Each star could have multiple planets within their system, just as we have multiple planets in our own solar system. Numerous planets have already been discovered in the closer regions of space..."
The amazing thing to me is the vastness of the universe we can see. Even more amazing is that there is more we simply can't see.
Here are God's words about t
Genesis 1:14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars.17 God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.
One of the problems I see in the lives of Christians is the smallness of their God. They face a problem, a struggle and their faith shakes, they doubt God, they shutter with fear. T
Those five words always (and I mean always) amaze me. When I realize there are more stars than there are grains of sand on the seashore it strikes me that, to be honest, God was just showing off when he made the universe. He wanted every man to be able to look up at the night sky and say, with awe, "the God who made that is beyond anything I can imagine!" If God is able to make more stars than grains of sand and do it for our benefit, AND almost as an afterthought, don't you think he can take care of you?
Here’s how big t
Now, let’s apply all of t
I fear when my God is too small, then, 1. My problems grab my focus. When my problems seem to be bigger than God's ability to fix them, 2. fear follows. And, 3. My faith stutters when both fear and focus have me worried about the events and problems of the moment. It’s as if fear and a focus on my problems makes God too small and unable to help me. When these three happen in my life it’s clear that my view of God is too small for my life on planet earth.
If God, as an afterthought and for our benefit, could make the universe....a universe bigger than we can imagine, bigger than we can see....couldn't he take care of me? Couldn’t he take care of you? When fear, loss of focus and a staggering faith is the problem look up....count a few stars and thank God that he made it all to show you he's big enough to take care of you and any problem you face.
Here’s what the writers of scripture say,
Psalm 124:8 Our help is in the name of the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth. (Implication? If God can make all of that can’t he take care of you?)
Jeremiah 33:3 ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’When your fears overwhelm you look up. Count the stars if you can. God made all of them. He can help you. He’s big enough and he’s able, and did you know he’s willing? Look up….he’s a BIG God!