Monday, November 28, 2011

Thoughts on a day with the disciples

This last week I have been thinking about the disciples and their time with Jesus. Their heads had to be spinning most of the time as they lived with him. What an experience, one that would be hard to describe or commentary. They spent three years with God in flesh and yet, like me, they didn't get it. Here is a portion of their dialogue in Mark 8,

"...the disciples were finding fault with each other because they had forgotten to bring bread. Jesus overheard and said, "Why are you fussing because you forgot bread? Don't you see the point of all this? Don't you get it at all? Remember the five loaves I broke for the five thousand? How many baskets of leftovers did you pick up?"

They said, "Twelve."

"And the seven loaves for the four thousand—how many bags full of leftovers did you get?"


He said, "Do you still not get it?"

What an interesting question from Jesus, "Do you still not get it?" In other versions the wording is, "are your hearts hardened?" It's clear, from these miracles, they were supposed to understand something but they had completely missed it. They were right there in the middle of miracles and missed the purpose of it all!

A little earlier in Mark, as they struggled with the oars on the lake, Jesus came to them walking on the water and said to them, "Courage! It's me. Don't be afraid." In that brief statement is the thing they were supposed to get. It's right there in the middle of three short statements. Between his admonition to take courage and "don't be afraid" is the "secret" they (and we) are to get. Here it is- "It's me!" In the English we miss it entirely, but in the Greek it's once more a declaration of who he is, the very thing they were to learn from all the miracles.

"It's me." The two Greek words are ἐγώ εἰμι. In English Jesus is saying "I am". It's the same claim he made in John 8:58 and was nearly stoned for. It's the same name God told Moses to use to describe himself in Exodus 3. It's a claim to deity. As he walked on the water to these weary fishermen Jesus encouraged them. Between their lack of courage and their fears he reassured them with this- "I am" is here.

Some say that Jesus never claimed to be God, but standing on the sea of Galilee he proclaims it loud and clear, "Take courage, I'm God, don't be afraid." It's the same thing he says to us, the same thing he wants us to know, because he's God we can be courageous and abandon our fears. God is in our midst.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Quotes of the day

A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell. -C.S. Lewis

Saturday's cartoon

Thursday, November 24, 2011


"In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." -1 Thes. 5:18

Today is Thanksgiving day in our country. It started with a group of men and women pausing to thank God for his care and provision. It continues as a tradition that has lost much of its initial purpose.

Today it's a day off, football, turkey, family, pumpkin pie, a nap.....

Today God will find only a brief mention for those who give thanks for the meal, but there is so much more to say. Paul's exhortation to the church speaks volumes for us. All that we have, all that happens, all we experience gives us opportunity to thank the one who gave it from his great kindness. Let me share a portion of my list as I begin this day of thanksgiving.

I'm thankful for God's great goodness to me, for the day, for sight, for health, for family, for a warm home, for salvation...oh how wonderful is that, for purpose, for hope, for love, for food, for clothing, for God's love in my life, for his constant care, for feet that work, for grace to experience, for friends...oh what a blessing they are, for a God who hears when I pray, for my bible...I so love God's word, for my wonderful wife, for children I dearly love, for grandchildren, for glorious parents, for life itself, for this moment to celebrate a good God, for stars that show me how grand God really is, for thousands of other things, moment by moment, I say thank you, God. You are glorious!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Quote of the day

"Every single person is important." -Joye Messerli

God sees

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

Bunni, Azgad, Bebal, -Nehemiah 10:15

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

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

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

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Hard hearts and stiff necks

There are two things I see in scripture that cause us problems- hard hearts and stiff necks.

Hard hearts describe people who are insensitive to God's voice and untouched by his work in their lives. They simply don't see or sense him, his voice, or his conviction.

Stiff necks describe people who are, even knowing what God wants from them, unwilling to change directions, unwilling to repent. They have set their course and will not "turn their necks," change their minds or direction.

I'm thinking about this because I'm reading a passage, studying a portion of scripture where I see the disciples witnessing some of the most amazing miracles of all history and seems untouched, unaffected by them. They had hardened their hearts. They had become insensitive to God's amazing work in their midst.

I wonder....I wonder how hard my heart is. I wonder what God is doing in my life, around me, speaking to me and I simply don't hear it, sense it, feel his presence. This is a dangerous place to be because we don't realize that a hardness has developed in our lives and our relationship with God. I wonder if my stiff neck, my unwillingness to change my course is made worse by my hard heart?

These are my challenges. These are your challenges. I pray that my heart will be soft to God, sensitive to his touch, responsive to his voice. I pray that I will not be so stubborn that I can't change, can't turn my neck to God's directions in my life. I'm thinking about this because 12 men who lived for three years in the very presence of God on earth struggled with it. I know I do to.

Lord, soften my heart, massage my stiff neck. Help me to respond quickly, to hear well your voice and respond to your leading in my life.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

An explanation

I'm sorry for my absence. It's been quite crazy lately. I have much to talk about, but am trying to work through a number of issues right now. I will be soon as I can. Thanks for your patience.

Monday, November 14, 2011


God is amazing! His creation is beyond beautiful! That is all, enjoy your day in the creation of a wonderful artist and God.

What I'm reading

I just started a new book by Dave Hunt, "The Cosmos, Creation and Human Destiny." It's proving to not only be challenging, but also fascinating. If you or your children are interested in creation, evolution and how we got here this book will sure make you think. It might even change the way you view everything!

I'm only a few chapters in, but am really enjoying Dave's work. I'll keep you updated.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

What's inside?

Some of the best wisdom comes in fortune cookies. Often the simple observations are the most profound. This is one of them. When you get "squeezed" what comes out? Pressure, stress, problems, and the "squeeze" of life will bring out what's inside.

So, when you get squeezed what comes out? It will tell you a lot about what's inside, what you have been putting into your life. Make sure you put good things in so when the squeeze comes the right things will come out.

Saturday's cartoon

Friday, November 11, 2011

Christian Cliches

Like many of you I am constantly hearing Christian cliches that have become common in the Christian world, but are simply not true. Over the next week I'm going to accumulate a list of cliches and talk about them. If you have a favorite or not so favorite cliche would you share it with me and we can discuss it together?

Here's one we will be talking about- "Hate the sin, but love the sinner."

This should be interesting. Thanks!

Veteran's Day

For all of you who have served in the military, Thank you.

Your sacrifice and service to our country is greatly appreciated by so many.

Thank you.

Quote of the day

"Good judgment comes from experience, and often experience comes from bad judgment." -Rita Mae Brown

61 years ago today

My parents sent this photo to me yesterday. In my failing memory this was the first time I had ever seen this picture. It's a picture of my parents (at the end of the table) hosting Christmas dinner in 1950. It's also my first Christmas dinner. If you can see it (and yes this is an old photo...dates me, doesn't it?) I'm the baby at the end of the table. Many of the people in the photo are gone, but this brief glimpse of life in 1950 is my first holiday.

They sent this photo to me because today is my birthday. I'm 61. It's painful to say that because I can't believe I'm that old! How did this happen so quickly? I can't be THAT old! But here I am. It passes so quickly. We finish with a flurry and admit it was all too short, too quick. I understand James' words as he writes in chapter 5 that we are just a vapor that appears for a moment and then is gone. In a small corner of this planet, for a brief number of years we will each live out our lives. It passes so quickly. I have no idea how many more years I have, but I want to use every moment well, for the Lord, to love people and enjoy life. I want to finish well. So today I'm going to pause, enjoy and reflect on the joys of life, family, friends and ministry.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011


I found the following blog title on another site very interesting,

"Atheists do not need to have all the answers"

It made me smile. My first thought, "Really? You claim to have all the answers." If this is new ground my atheist friend is giving up then maybe he needs to change his affiliation to agnostic. At least, not knowing everything, this would be a more honest description of his beliefs.

The claim of the atheist is this- there is no God. And with that declaration he has claimed absolute knowledge of all space, time, dimensions and history. It's an arrogant place to stand, a foolish one.

David wrote of these men when he said, "The fool has said in his heart there is no God." David considered such an arrogant man a fool which puts such a person far from omniscience. All of creation screams there is an intelligent designer, there is someone who made all this. To deny that is the height of arrogance and foolishness.

I'm glad my atheist friend has given up some territory in his admission he doesn't have all the answers. Maybe one day he will realize that in those answers he doesn't have is the God he doesn't want.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

There are no aliens!

"The White House responded that there was "no evidence that any life exists outside our planet"."


I thought this interesting. With all we can know there is still so little we actually do know. It's humbling to know how little we know. For me this highlights the absurdity of the atheist who declares, "There is no god!" My question- how do you know that since you know so little? It's humbling to know we don't know and must trust one who does. For me it makes God necessary. Without him my universe makes no sense.

Trusting God

Ezra 8:21 Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God to seek from Him a safe journey for us, our little ones, and all our possessions. 22For I was ashamed to request from the king troops and horsemen to protect us from the enemy on the way, because we had said to the king, “The hand of our God is favorably disposed to all those who seek Him, but His power and His anger are against all those who forsake Him.” 23 So we fasted and sought our God concerning this matter, and He listened to our entreaty.

Ezra was an amazing man. He was a priest descended from Aaron and he had a passion for God, his word and sharing it with others. I know I would have liked this guy, but he got himself in a situation where he had to live out what he had told the king. He had to trust God because he had told the king that God would watch over him. Now, facing the trip back to Jerusalem, he is keenly aware of both his statement to the king and the dangers that lay ahead. This trip would travel the major trade routes of the day. Along these routes were pirates and thieves waiting to steal from anyone who didn't have armed forces to protect them. It was a dangerous thing to travel in that day. Everyone knew that. But Ezra had told the king that God would watch over those who seek him so he had a decision- go back on his words about God or trust him.

Ezra decided that what he knew about God was too important to trust man, so they fasted, they prayed and off they went into the lion's den this journey would be. No army to protect them, no swords to defend them, just a faith in God. Because of their faith they arrived safely in Jerusalem with their treasures of gold and silver untouched by thieves.

I wonder what the bandits and thieves saw as this troop of Jewish travelers passed them on the road. Did they see an army? Did God hide them from the view of those waiting to pounce on them? I don't know, but what is known is that Ezra spoke of his trust in God and had to live that trust out in a very dangerous place. I love what Ezra did, he verbalized what he believed and that testimony was his benchmark for how he then had to live out the journey ahead. He was too embarrassed to go to the king and ask for troops to protect them because he said God would protect them.

What do I verbalize about God that then convicts me to live it out? Does my faith in him give words to my beliefs? Do I trust him enough to tell others what I believe and live it out? What a great example of a testimony lived out, to a faith walked through. This simple story challenges me to verbalize what I believe about God. Do I really trust God enough to talk about what I believe and then live it out even when its dangerous? I wonder.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Little things

This week is my birthday and I'm already getting birthday wishes on Facebook. I am a year away from being able to draw social security! How did this happen, I can't be that old? How does life pass by so quickly and suddenly we are in those last years? It's amazing, from this vantage point, to realize how quickly these few years pass. This morning it strikes me that the secret, at least for me, in living well is in the little things. Some might strive for wealth and fame, but I'm finding that the best parts of life and the grandest successes come in the little things. Let me give you a list and feel free to add your own to this short list of little things that make a difference,

A hot cup of coffee
Watching the sun rise
Quiet time to think
A dog to pet
A God I can talk to
Time to read his word
People to love
Good food
A laugh
A cup of cold water
People to pray for
A good God

Little things, insignificant by themselves, but they are the colors of life, the richness that make the days worth living. Little things we don't think about because they are little, they are moments and pass so quickly. Savor the little things today, say thank you to God for the little things. It might surprise you how many of them fill your days.

Saturday, November 05, 2011


Matthew 7:12
“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets."

Years ago I heard this story. It's one I have repeated often. It comes to my mind at times as I interact with people,

A family was moving across the country after many years in one location. They stopped at a gas station to refuel as they got close to their new home. The father asked the gas attendant, "What are the people like here? We are moving from across the country and don't know what to expect." The attendant replied, "What were they like where you came from?" The father said, "Oh they were unfriendly, mean and hard to get along with." The attendant said, "Oh, I'm so sorry, well, that's pretty much the way they are here too."

A few hours later another family stopped at that same gas station to get fuel and the father asked the attendant, "What are the people like here? We are moving from across the country and don't know what to expect." The attendant replied, "What were they like where you came from?" The father said, "Oh they were wonderful! Everyone was friendly, sweet and cared about each other. We so hate to leave them." The attendant replied, "Well, that's pretty much what they are like here, I think you will love it."

How much of what we get from others is what they sense they are getting from us? More than we know. How do you view other people? Do you see them as kind, wonderful and a blessing or are they an annoyance, irritating and in your way? The way you treat others is the way they will treat you. Jesus made it clear that we model the responses we get from other people by how we treat them.

“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you."

Deep and wide

There's a big difference between a long life and a broad one. Some simply live out their years with little impact on those around them. Others cut a wide path as they live each day, touching other lives, using every moment well.

Let us be people who not only have length of days, but breadth of days as well. Live long, live deeply, live well. You only get to do this once, don't waste your life with a focus on years, live it with a focus on moments.

Saturday's cartoon

Wednesday, November 02, 2011


Last night I had an "aha moment."

You know, one of those "light bulb moments" when I suddenly realized something I know, but didn't really know.

How can you describe this to someone who hasn't had this happen to them? It's as if, for the first time, I got "it!"

Here's the "it"-

A dearly loved family member came in to our home and started to talk about a big need they had. It was a need that was critical. If they didn't pay this bill it would mean a big loss. There was a sound of desperation, "what will I do?" in the discussion.

As I listened I thought, "why don't you ask?" You might respond, ask what? But I'm thinking, as I listen, this person knows we love them, they are sharing a real need....why don't they ask for help? Why don't they ask if we could help them?

They didn't.

Later I wrote a note and said, "If you want help just ask."

The reply, "I didn't think you were able to help.....but would you? could you?"

I responded, "I have already gone by the bank in case you asked...."

And then it hit me, this is the "it"- why don't I ask?

Why don't I go to my father as I wanted my loved one to come to me? I'm sure he listens and thinks, "why don't you ask? I love you and am more than willing to help. Why don't you ask?" And so, my big aha moment is this....often my problems that are too big for me need to be taken to a loving father in prayer who has already been to the "bank" and awaits my request.

Why don't we ask?

Tuesday, November 01, 2011


What you read, what you watch, who you spend time with, the ones you listen to impact you more than you know.

Intake = Identity

What we take in changes us, molds us, impacts us. We are, whether we believe it or not, changed by the content of our input.

Input = Impact

The fascinating thing about all this is that the bible talks about this in a hundred different ways. Proverbs tells us that if we hang around with angry people we will become angry. It affects us.

I love meeting and talking with people. I love getting to know them and very quickly you know what they have been imbibing. It shows in how they think, what they say. We are molded, changed by what we absorb. Impact is not about changing the world, it's about changing you. When you know that what you put into your mind, your thoughts, your life changes you, impacts you, influences you, and creates your identity. It makes these words even more important,

So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

Thinking about how God works

"God is subtle but he is not malicious." -Albert Einstein

As I start reading Ezra it strikes me that God works through kings and rulers in ways that often surprise me. His work at times mystifies me, but he is directing the affairs of men to accomplish his goals. Here's an example from the first verses of Ezra,

Ezra 1:2 “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says:

“‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. 3 Any of his people among you may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the LORD, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem, and may their God be with them. 4 And in any locality where survivors may now be living, the people are to provide them with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem.’”

5 Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and Levites—everyone whose heart God had moved—prepared to go up and build the house of the LORD in Jerusalem. 6 All their neighbors assisted them with articles of silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with valuable gifts, in addition to all the freewill offerings.

7 Moreover, King Cyrus brought out the articles belonging to the temple of the LORD, which Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem and had placed in the temple of his god. 8 Cyrus king of Persia had them brought by Mithredath the treasurer, who counted them out to Sheshbazzar the prince of Judah."

The reason this caught my attention is the fear I hear so often from my Christian world friends. They fear the world is doomed, we are "going the wrong way," all is lost! And yet in this story of a pagan Persian king God moves him to send the Jewish people back to build the temple and he funds the whole project!

We waste so much time worrying about things that God says he is in charge of. We worry about the direction our government is taking when God says he directs those affairs, he moves the hand of the king. How is it that we worry about things that aren't our responsibility and neglect the things that are?

Our job, our main role as Christians, is to love one another and make disciples of all men. The rest of this is God's job. And besides, how will my worrying change anything in Washington? How will my protests make a difference when this is not my job or my responsibility? Pray, love, disciple. The rest is Gods. Pretty simple when you sort it all out, isn't it?

Who said it?

"Imagination is more important than knowledge."

Who said it? And, what do you think about this statement?