Friday, September 30, 2011

Quote of the day

R.c. Sproul Jr. (on Facebook)-

"After two bouts with cancer and now a leukemia relapse my precious glass half full wife says "Apart from cancer I've been very healthy.""

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The one thing

There's a great movie from the past called "City Slickers." In it the character Curly Washburn, played by Jack Palance, advises the "City Slicker" played by Billy Crystal, to face his problems: by concentrating on the "one thing" that is most important in his life. It's a fun story of boys becoming men....even in mid-life. Curly's advice is still appropriate for a world of men and women who have never focused on the "one thing", the main thing that is most important.

This morning, as I read one of my favorite passages from Philippians 3, I came to these words,

Phil. 3: 7-11 Yet every advantage that I had gained I considered lost for Christ’s sake. Yes, and I look upon everything as loss compared with the overwhelming gain of knowing Jesus Christ my Lord. For his sake I did in actual fact suffer the loss of everything, but I considered it useless rubbish compared with being able to win Christ. For now my place is in him, and I am not dependent upon any of the self-achieved righteousness of the Law. God has given me that genuine righteousness which comes from faith in Christ. How changed are my ambitions! Now I long to know Christ and the power shown by his resurrection: now I long to share his sufferings, even to die as he died, so that I may perhaps attain as he did, the resurrection from the dead. (J.B. Phillips)

The one thing for Paul? Knowing Jesus Christ. That's it. All he aspired to, all he wanted was to know Christ.

The price? Whatever it took! The one thing most important to Paul was to know Christ. That insight is profound. It defined him, his choices, his passions and his life. It makes his choices and life easy to understand. His "one thing" drove his mission, his message and his walk. His "one thing" has changed, impacted and influenced the church and millions of other Christ followers for 2,000 years.

Part of every believer's odyssey is discovering the "one thing" that gives them purpose, focus, direction and meaning. Recently I asked what verse you would have as a tattoo if you had one verse to describe your walk with God. Some replied, the verses were different, but each defined "the one thing" most important for them.

For me these words from Paul are the "one thing" that is my passion.

I want to know him whatever the price.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Quote of the day

Cancer patients one to another: "Do you ever get mad at God?"

Response: "I can't afford to get mad at God. I still need Him."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Stuck places

We all get stuck. Stuck at points of our life that cripple us in the days ahead. From that "stuck place" we find that we now "walk with a limp." Something happened, we were hurt, wounded, broken, abused, sinned against. A parent died, a wife left, a child became ill, and we got stuck at that terrible that moment in our life.

I'm finding that the problems in people's lives are often the result of their stuck places. From that wound, that death, that divorce we are emotionally stuck and cannot go further, cannot grow, cannot walk away from the wound and so we carry our woundedness with us and sadly create stuck places for others we encounter. We are the walking wounded, the mass of humanity stuck in the past hurts and wounds of our lives that have affected us and now affect those around us.

Stuck places...places we remember vividly because of what they have done to us, moments in time we have recorded in our brains we can replay in high definition detail. We are stuck because of what happened, because of what someone said, what they did to us, how they hurt us. We remember every detail, every moment. We are stuck.

This morning I was visiting with a friend and described my thoughts on this topic. He knew immediately his stuck place and described it in fine detail, as if it had happened yesterday, but in fact it was decades ago. It was life changing for him, he's never forgotten it, he knew exactly when, where and how he got stuck. It's changed him, it changed his family and his life.

Another man I visited with has struggled with alcohol and drugs for more than 20 years. I asked him when he started drinking, doing drugs. He replied, "I started drinking when I was 12." My next question changed everything in our visit. I asked, "what happened when you were 12 that made you look for something to dull the pain?" He lowered his head, he was quiet for a moment, and then he replied, "my baseball coach sodomized me....." There was silence for a moment, but I knew right away that he was stuck at that event in his history. It had affected his life, his family and his path. He was stuck! I told him, "It's not your fault." He broke down and wept, broken, stuck, wanting out, but stuck at 12 years of age.

I know this may not fit with all the counseling models I read about, but I also know that I am seeing this more clearly in each visit I have with someone who is having a difficult time in life, something happened and they got stuck.

Another man I know grew up in a horrible home situation and ran away from the abuse and brutality of his family at the age of 13. Imagine things being so bad that you run away from home at 13. Now, even as an adult, when things get difficult, conflict happens in his life, relationships are hard, he runs away. He's stuck at the tender age of 13 and doesn't know how to resolve his brokenness, his stuckness in the pain of his past and so he lives it out in how he makes choices today, more than 30 years later.

Imagine this multiplied by 6 billion. The whole of humanity stuck in the pain and hurt, rejection and abuse of their pasts. Imagine the wounds that are still open, still tender, still bleeding from what has happened in our pasts. Imagine what can happen when even one person brings all their mess, all their stuckness to God to resolve.

Where was Jesus when you were hurt, when you were rejected, when you were abused? Where was God when you got stuck? He was right there with you, walking with you through your hurts, your abuse, your divorce, your rejection. It's his great desire that we take our brokenness to him, our stuckness if you will, and allow him to heal, restore, and move you past the pain, past that moment that got you stuck.

My friend who was sodomized at 12 is doing much better, he's no longer a broken hurting 12 year old boy. He's a man beginning to recover. It's available to everyone, no matter what happened, no matter where you got stuck, Jesus came to dissolve the glue of our past, erase the pain of our wounds, heal the scars of our encounters and make us new.

Paul described it this way, 2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation (something brand new!) has come: The old has gone, the new is here (present tense)! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. (getting us "unstuck") And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Are you stuck? Jesus can fix that.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Just thinking....

This morning I was at the church working at 4:30. In the middle of a very busy day already one of our families has a loved one to bury. Everything else is rescheduled when that happens. People are too important. As I thought about the service this morning I reflected on the hundreds of funerals I have done over the years...many close friends, many I dearly loved, it's a difficult time for family, but it might surprise you that it is hard for the pastor as well. In these solemn times we are dealing with mortality and it makes everything vivid, raw and emotional...even for guys like me who have spoken at hundreds of these services.

In the midst of death important things become very clear. What is most clear, if only for a moment, is what really matters. We are busy living for food, cars, houses and things, but in death we see....if only briefly....that the only important things around us are the people. You see, the only eternal things you will ever encounter (other than God himself) are people. All the cars, houses, things and stuff will rot, rust, decay or be thrown out, but people...they last forever! Even in a funeral service, when it appears there is an end, we all know that person lives on still. There is built into each of us the awareness of our eternity ahead. The woman I will speak for today chose the right things to invest in...she chose people. She had little, but was wealthy beyond measure because she invested in eternal things....the people who will be at the service today.

It reminds me once more that the only important things, the only eternal things, are people. It reminds me to check my priorities. How am I investing my life? What's important to me? Each one you meet will live forever! Don't pass by too quickly, don't dismiss them, don't abuse them. Every one is created by God to live forever, prize each one as a precious jewel...because they are.

Friday, September 23, 2011

On being part of the story

As I read through the Old Testament I'm fascinated with all the names, all the lives described. Most are not major players in the story, but they are an important part of the story. They are part of history. As my imagination races back to these individuals living their lives thousands of years ago I wonder if they had a thought about their part in history, in the story of God. I wonder if they knew what God was doing beyond their task for that moment, for those days. I wonder if they had a concept (and who could have imagined such a thing) of their place in the story of God.

The story I want to highlight for these thoughts is quite simple. The man I want to talk about shows up in several places, but what I want to focus on is his simple task, his main role in the story of God. Here's the portion of the story that has me thinking,

1 Chronicles 27:32 Also Jonathan, David’s uncle, was a counselor, a man of understanding, and a scribe; and Jehiel the son of Hachmoni tutored the king’s sons. 33 Ahithophel was counselor to the king; and Hushai the Archite was the king’s friend. 34 Jehoiada the son of Benaiah, and Abiathar succeeded Ahithophel; and Joab was the commander of the king’s army.

"Hushai the Archite was the king's friend." His story is in 2 Samuel and in 1 Chronicles. His role is crucial, but quite simple. His job, his claim to fame in the story of God, is that he was David's friend. Among the list of the important people in David's life Hushai stood out to me. I read the rest of his story in 2 Samuel. He is the kind of friend everyone wants. He's faithful to his friend, protecting him, helping him, serving him. Imagine meeting him on the streets of Jerusalem one afternoon. Imagine the visit with me, "Hello, my name is Mike. May I ask your name, what you do?" Hushai replies, "My name is Hushai. I'm the king's friend." I reply, "That's it? That's what you do? That's your claim to fame???" Hushai, "Yup, that's it." And with a smile he walks away.

I live in a culture where position, power, and status is important. Husahi would have looked on with disdain at our messed up priorities. His job, his role in the story of God was quite simple, he was David's friend. The things that stand out in the story of God are often quite startling to our cultural eyes. What's important to God and what he writes about in his book sometimes messes with our way of looking at the world around us.

What was important about Husahi? He was David's friend. A role he fulfilled faithfully. In our culture we would not see such a man as a success, but God did. He accomplished the task God gave him and did it well. If the only accomplishment of your life is that you were someone's friend celebrate that. God did. A life that pleases God has little to do with status, title or power. It has everything to do with being and doing what God made you for, even if it's simply to be a friend.

Finishing well

This site is titled "Finishing well" for a reason. That's my desire, to finish well, to please God with my life, to do something eternal. It's my desire to use my life, my years for something that will last beyond me. I have to tell you that I'm far from perfect, but I want to use my brokenness, my frail life, for God's glory and kingdom. I don't always get it right or do well, but my intent is clear- I want to please God. My problem? I'm still under construction, I'm still not perfect....far from it, but I'm on a quest to finish well. To help with this quest I have a few personal questions I ask myself and often ask others. Let me offer them for our discussion this morning. Here they are,

1. How do you want to be remembered? What do you hope people will say about you at your funeral?

2. What's your goal in life?

3. If you could achieve just one thing with your life what would it be?

4. We all want to live a life of significance, we want to make a difference. If you could make a difference in just one thing, one field, one quest, what would it be?

5. What's most important to you? People or things?

These are basic questions, but they might help to think through direction, purpose and desires. We will never reach our destination if we didn't choose one when we started the trip. If you don't know where you're going then how do you know when you have arrived? Finishing well is a discussion on these issues and questions. Ask them of yourself. Where are you going? Why? What do you want to achieve with the few years you have here? Are you after fame? fortune? freedom? What is the fuel that drives you on? Where are you going? What will "Finishing well" mean to you?


This morning I just realized I have at least four different blog sites I have created or write for, no wait.....there are two more. It's six sites! I don't have enough to say for all those sites and the newspaper articles I write as well. It often feels I don't have enough to say for this site how can I write for more! The hard thing for me is the loss of focus on what the goal of the site is. I easily wander around, just as my life wanders, thinking and writing about what's going on with me right now. It's clear I have a chaotic mind and probably a chaotic life. Not sure at this age if any of that can be corrected. Chaos has become normal and so I have, over time, gotten comfortable with chaos. Hey, there's a title for an article, "Comfortable with Chaos". Anyway, I won't bore you with nothing, because that's what this post is, but I just realized that as I try to use my life and experiences well I have perhaps tried to do too much. I may have to cut this all down to just a few sites, what do you think?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Around the world in 60 seconds

Someone worth dying for

There's a new song playing on Christian radio titled, "Someone worth dying for" by MIKESCHAIR. I heard it for the first time this morning. I couldn't believe this song was on the radio! It has to be some of the worse lyrics I have ever heard in a Christian song!

I tried to call the radio station, no luck there. Who is reviewing this stuff? Who is writing this kind of song? Do they read the bible before they write their songs?

Here's part of the song lyrics,

"Yeah I wanna believe, Jesus help me believe that I am someone worth dying for"

Frankly, I have to say, that Jesus will never help you believe such a thing!


Because it's not true! My worth has nothing to do with why he died. In fact, he died when I was least worthy, completely and totally unworthy. I had no worth to offer for my redemption at all! My worth had nothing to do with Jesus' death. He died because of HIS worth, HIS love, HIS grace and mercy for men and women who deserved none of it. That's the gospel!

Here's the passages that came to mind this morning as I heard this song on a Christian station,

Eph. 2:4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.

Rev. 5:1 Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” 3 But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. 4 I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. 5 Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”

9 And they sang a new song, saying:

You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased for God
persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.
10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth.”

11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12 In a loud voice they were saying:

Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!”

I'm so glad that my salvation has nothing to do with my worth! I'm so glad that another, a worthy one...Jesus Christ....came when I was most unworthy and died for me. Thank you, Lord, that I am not worthy. It makes grace that much more amazing....but that's another song.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Important people

Yesterday was our granddaughter's 11th birthday. I am amazed at how quickly she has grown up. It's really a little scary how fast time is moving as we celebrate another year with our sweet Lucy. It's hard being the first-born, but she handles it all pretty well. I'm thankful for this sweet girl. She is a beautiful young lady who is, even at 11, making good choices. It will be exciting to see what God does in her life in the years ahead.

Around each of us are important people, people we need to invest our time, our lives into. We can't help everyone, we can't be with thousands to make a difference, but if you could be with a handful of people and help them in their lives how great would that difference be? I often think our desires for influence miss the most important point- your life will only touch a handful of other lives. Invest in those few lives and be content that a few friends and family will remember you fondly. Don't try to change the "world," focus your attention on those around you. That will be enough reward for anyone!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Least Miserable Cities In America

#1 Buffalo, New York

Unemployment: up 2.2%

Employment: down 2.1%

Gross Metropolitan Product: up 6.7%

Home prices: down 7.9%

I couldn't resist. This is the highlight of two lists I found online today. The lists are "The least miserable cities in America" and "The most miserable cities in America." The common ingredient? Everyone is miserable! It's just a matter of degrees, but for Buffalo, New York to be listed as the least miserable? It must be much worse out there than I thought!

Monday, September 19, 2011

The faith of others

"If you just had enough faith..."

I've heard this phrase used a number of times over the years to "help" someone with an illness, a financial need, a problem. The implication is that the solution, or rather the lack of one, is your fault because you don't have enough faith to get God to act.

But what if you had no faith at all? Would God do something if you weren't even trusting him? Would he help you if you are simply paralyzed by sin and unable to ask, unable to believe, unable to go to him for help? Would God respond then? Many would tell you, "NO! He wouldn't."

May I offer a different picture of God, his love and work in our lives?

Here is the passage from the gospel of Mark. It's a great picture of God's grace and love for us wounded and broken people,

"A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

Here is a man, paralyzed and unable to walk, but what we don't know is how pervasive this paralysis really was. We know he couldn't walk, but did it paralyze his speech? Did it handicap him in other ways? Really, we have no idea. All we know is that Jesus did not act based on his faith. We don't know if he had faith in Jesus at all, in fact through this whole story we hear no words from this man at all. What caught my eye as I read this passage is that his faith was not necessary for Jesus to respond.

Did you see it in the passage? "When Jesus
saw THEIR faith, not the man on the stretcher, but the men lowering him, he acted, he forgave, he healed. It was the faith of others that moved Jesus to action. If we were to judge the sick man's faith we might conclude he had none at all, but Jesus acted because of the faith of his friends.

These are encouraging words for me as I pray for others who may be paralyzed by their sins and unable or unwilling to trust God on their own. As I bring the friend, the family member to Jesus it's not necessary they have faith at all. It's the Lord, and my faith in him that brings mercy and grace to the one in need. The actions, prayers and love of others are often important ingredients for someone paralyzed by the sins of their life or the problems they face. They don't see God as the solution and would never approach him on their own, but when I bring them to the Lord, as these friends did, Jesus responds, forgives, and heals.

"When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

I pray that I will be such a friend to someone else, carrying them to the Lord in prayer, trusting him to do what they may never ask for on their own.

Friday, September 16, 2011


Last night my wife and I went out for dinner at one of our favorite restaurants. Our young waiter, a very nice young man, had a bible verse tattooed down the length of his right arm. His verse reference was 1 Corinthians 16:13 "Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong." We asked if he knew the verse (since he just had the verse reference as his tattoo) and he immediately recited it. It was obvious this verse was important to him and part of his life.

I see a lot of people with bible references as tattoos. I can't wait to ask, "why that verse, what does it mean to you, how has that verse so impressed you that you wanted it as a permanent reminder?"

In the old days we used to memorize the verses, now we are getting them tattooed in visible places as a reminder and as a witness. For other Christians it will open up a discussion. For those who are not Christians it will generate a discussion about what it means and why it's important to you. It's a very interesting development in the Christian community and frankly I like it.

So, here's the quiz for the day. This will be easy for some of you because you have already done this, but if you were to get one verse as a tattoo reference what would it be and why? Why would that verse be something you have or would want as a permanet reminder of the words of that passage?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Do what?

It strikes me that some of the things that Jesus said are just as hard for us as they were for the first ones who heard his words. It strikes me that most of us will have a difficult time with the words I'm about to quote. I have to admit they are words that have been bouncing around in my head for days. I'm still trying to figure out what to do with them, what they mean for my life, how I should respond.

Here are Jesus' words,

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me."

The part of this passage that has been working on me is this, "he must deny himself." I'm not sure what that means entirely. I know theologically and I can tell you all about it, but when all the theology is on the table what does it mean that I deny myself? Deny myself of what exactly? It seems to me, as I work through this, that it's all about setting my wishes aside in favor of his. This whole idea is not a popular one in a culture where everyone you meet lives by the motto, "Indulge yourself!" It's a me society and to live in a different way is not only foreign to us, but difficult to sort out. What do I deny? How do I do it? Am I to be an ascetic? Do I sell everything and live in a tent?

The whole discussion about denying myself makes us feel uncomfortable, because comfort is what we are all about. The very idea that I might have to give some of that up, whatever that might look like, is uncomfortable for us.

I don't have all the answers, but bouncing around in my head are these words, "deny yourself." I'll let you know what that looks like when God is done with me.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The purpose of Messiah

Luke 1 tells the story of the gospel from the beginning. Luke did a wonderful job describing details of the gospel we don't see in the other books. As I read chapter one this morning I was captivated by the prophetic words of John's father, Zacharias, as he spoke about the birth of his son and the events that would follow. Here are his closing words, spoken through the Holy Spirit's inspiration,

"To give to His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high will visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death. To guide our feet into the way of peace."

The whole purpose of Jesus coming is encapsulated in these few words. They are amazing words. Notice the keys to these few sentences- to give, to shine, to guide. Let me use these three keys for my thoughts today.

To give- "To give to His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high will visit us,"

Everything happens because God is a giver, it all comes from his tender mercy. God is the initiator. God starts it all by giving. His gifts come from his tender mercies. That very phrase captivates me- his tender mercies. Out of his tender mercies he acts, he gives, he provides forgives He gives us knowledge of something we desperately need based entirely on something he does to solve our need. He gives us knowledge of salvation. It's a salvation based on forgiveness of sins. What does it save us from? The penalty of those same sins. God's tender mercy brings a solution and provides the knowledge of that solution to us.

To shine- "to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death."

The one thing darkness needs is light. The one thing we needed is light to see, to know, to realize where we were. I love the commercial where they have sprayed a room fragrance in a horrible place and brought blindfolded people in to "smell the air." They take off the blindfold and cannot believe where they are! This is what happens when the light of Christ shines on our sin soaked lives and worlds. We suddenly see how horrible the place is where we had made home. It's his light that shows us our need. We have no idea how close we are to death until the lights come on and then, suddenly, we see how horrible this place really is.

To guide- "To guide our feet into the way of peace."

The one thing we need most is peace, but to find it we need two things- light and a guide. Thankfully God has provided both! How amazing that he has provided all we need; knowledge, light and a guide to the way of peace. There is so much to be written on these simple verses, but for today I just wanted to spend a few moments on these words and invite you to meditate on them for your own walk with God. To know that God has provided all we need to go from ignorance to knowledge, from wrath to mercy, from darkness to light, and from fear to peace is more than I can comprehend. It's wonderful for me personally to realize that God has made such great provision for us through his great mercy.

To give, to shine, to guide. All we need to know Him. How wonderful!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


There is nothing like family.  Grandchildren are one of our rich blessings in life.  As one man told me, "grandchildren are the reward for not killing your kids while they were growing up."  Family gives us great joy in our lives.  I have friends who have moved from wonderful parts of the country to be near grandchildren.  We give up a lot for them and do it gladly.  What a blessing they are, and here's one of our great blessings.  Thanks, George, for being such an awesome guy!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Out of left field

There is an old baseball term that comes from the old New York Yankee days.  The term, "out of left field"  describes a runner's surprise as he approaches home base to find the ball flying in from behind him to bring about the out.  It would come "out of left field," out of his sight, and would be a surprise because he couldn't see it coming.

The attacks from the enemy rarely come from our line of sight.  You rarely see them coming when they hit.  They are almost always "out of left field."  As we studied Genesis 20 last night in our home group it struck me that this was an attack from the enemy that for Abraham was "out of left field."  He didn't see it coming, he didn't know what to do about it, he basically was out at home and would have failed if God had not intervened.

In the passage are the two most wonderful words in the bible, but they only appear when all else has failed...they are these, "But God..." and with those words the creator of the universe steps into the story to turn an "out at home" into a home run.  I love it when God steps into the game and changes everything to bring about his plans and keep his promises.

Abraham was out at home in Genesis 20.  He failed. He almost destroyed God's plan and promise because the attack from the enemy was "out of left field" and caught him off guard.  I wonder, when the ball beats you to home plate, and seems to come "out of left field" in your life do you give up or trust God to accomplish his great plans in your life?  Just because the umpire says you're out doesn't mean the game is over.  Just because the enemy blind sided you from left field doesn't mean you failed.  There is this amazing thing that happens as God gets involved....our apparent failures are turned into a home run and a winning score for the home team.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Quote of the day

"Oh, that I could spend every moment of my life to God's glory!" 
David BrainerdDavid Brainerd

10 years ago today

10 years ago today all was calm.  10 years ago today life was good.  10 years ago today people were touring the trade towers, people were working in them.  10 years ago today life was good. 10 years ago today no one imagined how life would change in just 24 hours.  

10 years ago tomorrow everything changed...

Suddenly our sense of security was gone.  

Thousands died.  

Children lost parents.

10 years ago today none of us imagined what would happen in just a day, in just 24 hours.  Everything would be different.  Nothing would ever be the same again.

What a difference 24 hours made.

There is another day coming. It will be just 24 hours away from another normal day.  It will be an unexpected day. It will be a day when everything will change once more.  It will be that final day.  Suddenly everything will change.  Nothing will ever be the same again.

We never imagine such a day will come, but it did just 10 years ago. 10 years ago tomorrow was a day we couldn't imagine.  It changed everything for us.  There is one more day like that, a day that is life changing.  It's called "the day of the Lord" when God will wrap up all the affairs of men and bring a conclusion to this part of history.  It will only be 24 hours away from a day that seems completely normal.  It will be just like this day 10 years ago today.  No one could imagine such a day coming in only 24 hours, but the bible tells us such a day is coming. Perhaps tomorrow.

The Sunday after 9/11 our church was packed (as were most churches), but the urgency died down quickly.  After a time of grief we all went back to sleep.  We all fell back into our "normal lives."  

But there will be a day coming when the Lord returns.  We may only be 24 hours away from that great day when nothing will ever be the same again.


Friday, September 09, 2011

What I'm reading

A good friend recommended this book by Kouzes and Posner on the topic leadership.  He said it's one of the best he has read.  As the eternal student I got a copy and agree with my friend. It is a great book.  I think it's a good book for everyone, even if you don't think you will be in leadership.  I realize, as I read, that all of us are in leadership roles of some kind and will all have to respond to a leader.  It's a great help for anyone wanting to excel in any field of endeavor.  

Wednesday, September 07, 2011


 We all search for something.  We seek happiness, love, peace, companionship, friendship, security.  We are born seekers.  But it's easy to get confused about what is really important to seek after.  Our search for the things that satisfy the heart and meet our real needs is often unfulfilled.  Our search for meaning and happiness often ends in frustration.

As I read this morning I came to these words in the book of Zephaniah, 

"Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands.

Seek righteousness,

Seek humility;"

I was struck by the invitation to seek and the direction in which way to look.  It's natural to be a  seeker, but we don't always know where to look.  

As children we all played "hide and seek".  We are seekers by nature. There is a natural thrill in the hunt, the quest, as we seek out that hidden treasure.

It was interesting to notice that God is not only inviting us to seek, but he helps us with where to look.  And so I thought, is this seeker invitation in other places?  Does God invite our search and does he help us with clues to the quest?  If seeking is part of who we are and invited by the God who made us, does he also help us with our quest?  Here are just a few of the clues that I found,

Psalm 53:2
God looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.

Matthew 6:33
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Hebrews 11:6
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

As I went on my own quest for this theme of a seeker it was all through the bible!  To be a seeker is natural, to be invited by God to be a seeker fits well with how we are made, but to help us he gave us clues about what to seek. 

We are, by nature, seekers of things.  God invites us to be seekers of relationship.  We search out external happiness.  God invites us to seek internal happiness.  We make our search about US.  God invites us to seek HIM.  

Seek Him.  In our quest for happiness, peace, comfort, joy, and a hundred other things we find ourselves exhausted with our quest.  It's simply not enough to fill our empty hearts, but God invites a much simpler search...a search for him, and in that quest for him we find everything else we were seeking after.  It is, finally and ultimately, all about him.

Seek Him, and in that quest you will find everything else as well.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Never give up, never surrender!

I love campy, funny movies.  The silly ones are the best.  A good laugh,  a fun story and I'm there.  One of my favorite movies is "Galaxy Quest" with Tim Allen as the star character.  It's a science fiction parody and it's great fun.  One of the things I've noticed is that some of the best quotes come from these campy, silly movies.  Tim Allen's character has a line in the film that is his motto, "Never give up, never surrender!"  It's a great line and often used by him at the worse possible moments.  I love the quote because it could have been a verse from Paul's writings.  In fact he says the same thing in different ways.  Jesus repeats the theme and idea as he writes to the churches in Revelation.  It's the big idea behind a walk with God....don't quit, don't stop, don't give up.

Now, I know many have given up.  The walk of faith is wonderfully easy, but it's also very difficult.  It demands a commitment to keep going even when it gets tough.  It is a walk that must be done with God's help. Many that I meet are bitter, angry and disillusioned with God and faith,  They have come to a difficult time in their life and simply given up.  They may have prayed and not seen the answer they wanted.  They might think this shouldn't be this hard.  But, for whatever reason there are some who have surrendered.  There are many who have given up.  They are the battle wounded of the faith all around us.

So, what do we do?

There are two tasks for us,

1. Make a personal commitment to walk with God and grow in faith, and

2. Stop along the way and help those have have stumbled and lost their way. Tim Allen, throughout the film, understands that as the captain of his team he's responsible to help everyone get through the battles together.  This thing called Christianity is a team sport.  We can't, we shouldn't do it alone.

As I thought about Tim's battle cry, "Never give up, never surrender!" my mind raced through scripture to find similar rally cries and realized there are many.

To Joshua both God and Moses said, "Be strong and courageous!"

To the people of Judah Jehoshaphat said, "Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed."

To Gideon God said, "Go in the strength of the Lord."

To us Jesus said, "Go, make disciples of all men and I am with you always."

There are many more challenges to endure in scripture.  As you read the bible watch for them.  They are everywhere.  The rally cry for the church, as we live through these difficult days, is at the very end of the book.  Jesus says, "Surely I am coming soon." And the reply from the reader is this, "Amen, come Lord Jesus!"  There is a day, it's coming closer each day, when King Jesus will return and reign.  It will happen.  It's not a dream or illusion.  It's not fantasy or the silly words of crazy men.  It's the sure future of us all.  Jesus is coming, it could be today. Our response?  "Come, Lord Jesus!"  Even saying that out loud makes you aware of this soon realized event.

And so, Tim's words from a silly movie give direction as we look to that day,  "Never give up, never surrender!"  Why?  because the king is coming!

The challenge from Jesus as we approach that day? "Watch, be ready!" (Never give up, never surrender!")  It might be today.

(Read Matthew 25 for more on this theme of endurance from Jesus.)