Saturday, October 31, 2009

Focus on your goal, not your obstacle

Have you ever received a phone call in the middle of the night? If you are like me your first thought is not a good one. I immediately think something must be wrong. I even hate to answer for fear of what I might hear. The news has to be bad.

Or Someone says to you, "There something very important I need to talk to you about." I immediately think, "this can't be good." But often it wasn't at all what I thought it was and most often not near as bad as I had figured it would be.

Why is this? Why are we so negative in our thinking? Well, it's not just you and I that do this. It seems that everyone does this as we can clearly see from several passages in the bible. Must be the way God wired us. It must be because we simply can't see what God knows. He knows already what the call is about. He knows already what's so important on the mind of our friend that needs to talk. When we face difficulties that overwhelm us... we can't see our way out, but God simply speaks and the problem is solved or goes away. So saying all this and understanding that we are weak and He is strong. The only way we can overcome those obstacles that are in the way of our goals would be to depend on God to remove the obstacles in the way of our goals.

Trust in God's provision and power is the answer. I'll give two examples in the bible, one being a lack of trust or understanding of God's power and the inability to see how the goal or objective can be obtained while the other being one of faith and trust that everything will be worked out even though we may not know how.

Doubt... This illustration comes from the book of Mark 8:1-4 The disciples were concerned about the well being of the large crowds that we're following Jesus.

(1) About this time another large crowd had gathered, and the people ran out of food again. Jesus called his disciples and told them,
(2) I feel sorry for these people. They have been here with me for days and they have nothing left to eat.
(3) If I send them home hungry, they will faint along the way. or some of them have come a long distance.
(4) His disciples replied, "How are we supposed to find enough food to feed them out here in the wilderness?

The disciples did what we do. They couldn't see past their own intellect of what was before them. Jesus is saying we need to feed them, but they say, we can't. We don't have food out here... it's not possible. But Jesus did it and he did it with only seven loaves of bread and a few small fish. By contrast look at this next passage of scripture...

Mark 16:2-4 These women had their minds set to anoint the body of their crucified Lord.

(2) Very early on Sunday morning, just at sunrise, they went to the tomb.
(3) On the way they were asking each other, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?"
(4) But as they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled aside.

Not knowing how they were going to roll that huge stone away from the entrance of the tomb, they went anyway. It could have been very easy to see the impossibility of the task and just stay home and say it's not possible. But they did it, they went! When they arrived the stone was already moved away so they could enter. God took care of it for them. The obstacle was not their focus but rather the objective or goal was. That's how they were able to stay the course and press on even as they wondered among themselves how it was going to be possible.

It's too bad that so many times we go forth, only when we clearly see how it's possible. We need to keep our eye on the goal and less so on the obstacles in our way. We need to see past the obstacle. We need to peak over or look around whatever it is that blocking our view and even then we still may not be able to see or understand how. The good news is... God sees it. He can get you to your goal. There is nothing that stands in the way of God, and when we have God's power with us, that means we have nothing that can not be overcome that prevents us from accomplishing our goals or objectives. Lean not on our own understanding, but instead trust in the Lord.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Witness without saying a word

Today as I was driving to work I heard someone on the radio say something that hit me like a ton a bricks. Being Sunday morning the program I was tuned to was a message about spreading the "Good News" of Jesus Christ to others. Whoever was speaking this morning Quoted a person that said...

"Go ye therefore and spread the Gospel to all the ends of the Earth, and if necessary use words."

Our actions do speak louder than words don't they? How we live for Jesus says a lot about our commitment to our Lord doesn't it? It's important to know how to tell others about Jesus using our speech but to live for Jesus gives credibility to our words. Often we don't have to speak at all for others to see Jesus. Our loved ones and friends pick up real quick that we're different and although they may not fully understand they see it and they are curious about it.

As I said earlier, this message hit me like a ton of bricks this morning. Yes, a reminder that I'm not living my life for Christ as I should. I think it's important to understand that there's not a magic list of do's and don'ts that define me as a Christian. What defines me a s a follower of Christ is my realization that Jesus loves me and He wants to save me. It's my knowledge that without out Christ's forgiveness of my sin I'm a lost sinner destined for the fiery pit of Hell. Sure it's good to tell people about Jesus, but I believe it's better to show them Jesus. One things for sure, it's really confusing if we say one thing but live another. If our life doesn't match up to our beliefs , then how effective are we really? What kind of witness are we?

Look at the skies, they display the craftsmanship of God almighty. Without even a word spoken God is made known just by looking around at all that He created. Do we, through our lives, make Him known?

PSALM 19:1-4
(19) The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftmanship.
(20) Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known.
(21) They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard.
(22) Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world.

Dear Lord Jesus, forgive me for living my life without putting you first. May your Spirit fill me today and overflow to others through my actions and love. My I spread the Gospel to everyone I come in touch with without even saying a word. Thank you Lord Jesus, Amen.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

4 man scramble

Yesterday I played in a golf tournament to help raise money for the local Lions club of Smyrna TN. The idea was to have several 4 man teams to go out and play their best ball for each stroke of the game. Usually this is a lot of fun because surely one out of the four people on your team is going to hit a good shot and this allows the others to pick up their ball and shoot from the spot where the good shot landed.

I'm not a very good golfer. On my best day I might shoot an 85, but usually I shoot bogey golf and end up around a 90 most days. I just don't play often and as with any sport you have to play and practice to get better and more consistent. When I signed up to play in this tournament I wasn't too worried however about my score or my inability to really score high, because I knew this was a team effort and although I may not be consistent... occasionally I do make some great shots, so I'm sure I could help the team once in a while.

Well, when I got to the tournament, all the teams showed up except for the other three individuals on my team! Ouch! I waited till the last minute hoping that maybe someone else's team would be short a player then I could play with them. No such luck. Everyone showed except for my team. This left me with a unique opportunity. I was my own team.

It was decided that I would be allowed to hit the ball twice and take the best of the two shots to play. Ok, I'm thinking, hey this might be a lot of fun. I mean how often do you wish you could play that swing over again. If I only could hit that ball again there's no telling how much better my score would be! This was going to be great!

One of the Lions club members felt sorry for me riding around the golf course by myself so he decided he would ride around with me to keep me company and be my driver. I got to know Leon very well and I was thankful I had someone to visit with for the next 18 holes of golf.

After about 3 or 4 holes, I realized one very important fact. I don't like myself as a partner! You'd think my partner would have helped me out a little better than he was, but you know what... He shot about as inconsistent as I did. I'd hit it poorly, then he'd step up and do the same thing. I hit a shot to the left side of the fairway instead of the right side of the fairway, and he'd step up there and hit it the very same direction... no help at all to our game. I'd take a stroke to sink that putt and just barely miss the hole, the next stroke he'd leave it short. Yes, I realized that I made a very poor partner for myself. It was funny really. While other teams were achieving scores under par, my partner and I kept getting bogeys! I finally ended the game close to the score that I normally shoot when I'm playing by myself.

The good news was this... I went into this tournament without any false hopes of winning it big anyway and I also had a lot of fun playing golf and getting to know Leon, my new best friend.

As I think about this experience, I realized how important it is to have other people than just yourself on your team. I've always heard that the team is only as good as it's best performer. The team usually can not rise above the level of the best talent among the group. In my case my team was me. To prove that a team is only as good as it's best player... I did that! It's amazing that my score reflected what I was and how I normally played. Shocker? No, not really, but how often do we forget that we need other people to help make us better? I think sometimes we think we can do things on our own. But the truth is, if we want to improve our game, we need others on our team that are better than we are, or it just doesn't work. So what did I learn from this little golf outing today?

  1. If you want to become better, then surround yourself with better players. Maybe I want to be a nicer person, then I should hang out with nice people. Maybe I want to develop a better work ethic, then I should surround myself with ethical people. You get the point, figure out what you want to become, and get people that represent that on your team. When you play with them, you become better. Not only in your own skill level, but in your social group as well.

  2. To apply this to my Christian walk... How can I become a better Christian, if I'm playing all alone on my team? How can I become more like Christ, if I don't walk with him daily, if I don't surround myself with other Christians? The sad truth is... I won't change. There's very little I can do by myself. To be more like Christ, He's got to be on my team. I must watch Him and learn from him, and the best part is... even though I still have a long ways to go with my own skill level and abilities, I win because of who's on my team. Once in a while I get in a good shot or two, but at the end of the tournament of life, I'm going to be better, and a winner, because of my association with Christ.

So I ask you this question? Who's on your team? I certainly hope you aren't playing by yourself. It's not very pretty and the outcome is not good. God bless you in your life adventure and don't forget to surround yourself with other great players.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

God's way is the HIGH way

If you're like me you find yourself confused and uncertain sometimes of what God's direction and will is for your life. We all try to understand and piece together what God's word is saying to us, how we should apply His word to our lives, and how we should live or what we should do. So many people interpret scripture in so many different ways. Just look at all the commentary on particular verses by bible scholars and you'll see even they can't agree on what scripture is saying to us. But this should not be at all surprising. God's ways are not our ways. His ways and His thoughts are so much higher than ours. God says there are somethings we just won't understand or know.

Have you ever heard anyone say, "It's my way or the highway!" Usually that person means to say that it doesn't matter what you think or want, we're doing it my way. If you don't like it, hit the road! Well God doesn't say it quite like that, but basically the same is true. God's way is the high way. His way is far above and beyond what we can even imagine. So no wonder we argue over the meaning of scripture and see things differently than the next guy. God's thoughts are way beyond us.

Isaiah 55:8-9
"My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts," says the Lord. "And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts."

God's word always produces fruit. God's word always does what God wants it to. God's word always prospers. In spite of our differences and our misunderstandings, God's word cuts through all that and accomplishes what God wants it to accomplish. (Isaiah 55:10-11) God promises that we will live in joy and peace. His word is so powerful that mountains and hills will burst into song, and trees of the field will clap their hands. (Isaiah 55:12) Kinda weird isn't it to hear God say that mountains and hills will sing and trees will clap their hands? Might not make a lot of sense to you and I. We might all have different opinions as to what this scripture means, but one things for sure. The world of God is nothing like anything we can imagine. We are so limited to our own understanding and we often limit our understanding to our own personal experiences. But God says... our ways are nothing like His ways, our thoughts are nothing like his thoughts. The good news is, we can take comfort in knowing that God knows our weaknesses. He knows of our very limited ability to comprehend and understand his ways, and yet... His word accomplishes all that He wants it to in us.

Back in the day, the people of Israel were foolish and they acted as if they knew what God was thinking and planning. Today we have to be careful not to do the same thing. God's word tells us that we don't know His ways or thoughts because they are so far above and beyond us. We have to be careful not to fit God into our mold or our limited box of understanding but instead, be willing to fit ourselves into God's plan.

I thank the Lord that God's provision and plan for me is not dependent upon my ability to do anything or understand His ways or thoughts. God's word accomplishes all He wants it to and that's all I need. I will live in joy and peace as will you, simply because we've put our faith and trust in Him. So lets' live life with joy in knowing that we don't have to know what tomorrow holds for us. God knows! We don't have to understand how everything works out, because God already knows. All we have to know is... God.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Do Not Fear

Because you belong to the Lord, you don't have to fear anything. Sure we may be concerned, or even uncertain of our future, but fear should not have it's grip on us because we are the Lord's child.

Isa 43:1-3
Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; and you are mine. When you pass through the waters I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you; when you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

My children (my sons) have both grown up and are now adults. They both still live at home and even though they hope to move out soon and be on their own, in today's economy, well it's tough. Now as their father there's no way I'm going to let them fall on their own. I'll always be there for them and as long as it takes until they are on their own, I'll help them out and provide a safe haven for them. Even when they leave, if they need help, I be there. They are my children and I will always be there for them.

Isaiah 43:1-3 helps us to see that the Lord is our Savior and Protector. No matter what we go through, He's always there with us. We won't be swept away by the rough waters. We won't be carried down the stream of the raging rivers we face. Even fire won't be able to burn us. Why? Because we belong to the Lord, our God, our Savior. We've been redeemed and He knows us by name, we are His.

Just like I will always watch out for my children, imagine how much more our Lord watches out for us. So the next time you face difficulties in life... remember who you belong to. Remember that Jesus gave his life for you and God would not give His life to save you only to let you slip away and perish. Don't fear! You are the Lord's Child! You are protected. Go in faith and live life without fear of tomorrow. Even though you never know what tomorrow brings, one thing you do know is that you are God's child and He will be with you always, leading, guiding and protecting you. What love He has for us that we can live without fear of tomorrow, what love He has for us that we don't have to fear what happens after death. What love He has for us!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Everything changes... but God, Hebrews 13:8

The truth be known, everything changes but God. God is always the same. He's never changing. We can trust in Him and his faithfulness. We can believe in His promises in scripture. He's trustworthy, all knowing and Holy. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). So in this constantly changing world we live in, we can rest assured that God is unchanging. He's our anchor in the storm, our rock on which we build our lives. Although the world changes moment by moment, God doesn't and that's comforting.

I think the danger many churches fall into is assuming that since God doesn't change, we as a church shouldn't change either. Sometimes it seems that to change the way we do church would be, well, sinful in some way. Is our church here for (the body of Christ, Christians?) or for the lost (unchurched, living in sin without Jesus as their Savior?) You answer the question. If we as a church are here to reach the lost, then should we not structure ourselves to be able to actually reach the lost. The ways of the past won't work today. Some of yesterdays traditions might still work today, while others will not. Differences in generations make these changes a challenge. Most people resit change and if we resit changing when change is happening all around us, we run the risk of living in the past where no one is anymore. I know the older I get the more of a challenge it is for me to accept change, but I know it's necessary and vital that I always be prepared for change and even strive to see ahead of it if at all possible. Think about the differences in society today verses just a few years ago.

Families are not just husband and wife and children anymore, they're broken up! Divorce is common place and single parent homes are very common. Today we might stop and pick up something to eat on the way home from work rather than cook supper at home. We as a society have become very tolerant of diverse backgrounds, sexuality, cultures, and even religion. Years past only one person worked to bring in the household income where as now, everyone in the household works and the hours are not Monday through Friday with weekends off and businesses closed on Sundays so everyone can go to church or have family gatherings. Instead we're working evenings and weekends. With technology today we live inside more than outside as in the past. People are displaced and living all over the US and the world. Living in the same town your whole life is a rarity anymore. Loyalty to one Company or vocation is a thing of the past. Everything is fast paced these days compared to the slow and steady pace of yesterday. Communication is instant through the media and Internet. I could go on and on. Change, whether we like it or not or whether we agree with it or not has happened and I think it's safe to say, will always happen.

Why would we not change things as we see things change? Probably because we like things the ways they are or even better said... the way they were. Problem is... those days are gone and the reality is this... how effective are we today with yesterdays programs? Is the church growing by people giving their lives to Christ? Are people being baptized? Are we meeting the needs of not only church members, but of the community as well? Are we a light in a dark world? Do we have a mission statement that aligns with God's word and relevant for today's society in our community? If not, how long do we expect to carry on? If we live in the past, eventually we die and so do all our old programs and procedures. There's nothing wrong with traditions that work and are effective for today's issues, but hanging onto them because they worked in the past is not a good reason to keep it. If it's not working today, it needs to be challenged, and re-evaluated.

Think about these things...

Too many programs that the church can't support... we try to do it all rather than focus on the programs that we have enough volunteers for and supports our goals and mission statement as a church.

Visitation... it doesn't work like it did then. Going door to door and visiting is not as effective as it used to be. People don't want you coming around to their homes. Many will not even let you in and in today's society, who blames them. Maybe we need to think about this differently.

What do we offer for the divorced person, the recovering addict, the single parent, the unemployed, the depressed, children or youth... etc. These are the people that need the body of Christ in their lives.

Do we hang onto the King James version for our benefit, when we know that many folks today don't understand it? We say we don't want to destroy the true meaning of scripture by changing the translation, but we all know that King James was not the original translation of scripture back in Jesus day. So even our Kings James version is a translation of scripture and the reason it was translated to King James was so that more people might be able to understand what they were reading. Yet we won't accept a new translation of scripture now, so that people today can understand what they're reading? Where's our focus?

What about dress... do we dress up in suits and ties for church when our neighbors or those in our community don't even own a suit? Are we like the Amish who would rather make people conform to us rather than us conform to them so we can be accessible to say to them... Hey do you know Jesus? Or are we trying to protect our way of life, rather than give others new life in Christ? The latter is scary, because when we we bring in people that are different than us into our church, guess what, the church changes and are we ready for that?

Worship agenda and style, music style or theme, times of worship or discipleship training or teaching methods, evening worship effectiveness, all these things and many more are subject to change. Who says we need to have worship from 11-12 noon. Maybe if worship was at 10am instead of 11am we could get people home to watch the ball game they want to see on TV at noon? You see we don't thing about what people are doing or thinking, we just automatically think they should come to church when we have traditionally had church services. Maybe we should ask this question. What time is best for our targeted audience, those we are trying to reach? Why are we still having church in the evenings when we only have 20 people come and they are already Christians? maybe we could meet another need in the community during this time. Is it a sin to not have evening services and just spend time with our families instead? Maybe we need to ask why don't people come on Sunday evenings like they used to? Are we still doing an old program rather than identifying why we should change, what we should change, or how we should change?

I guess what I'm trying to say is that when it comes to the church, we should never compromise the word of God. We must build on Christ our solid unchanging rock, while at the same time changing constantly to meet the demands of today's society if you really want to reach the lost. Thinking this way will not only help us to look at new ways and new structure, but also understand that the things we do today won't be the right things in even four or five years from today. We must be ready to change again as society changes. We can not miss this. We need to take God's unchanging word into an ever changing society. We can still reach the lost, but we need to go where they are if we really want to tell them about Jesus.

Would it not be a shame if our unwillingness to change, prevented people from coming into a new relationship with our Lord and Savior. How can we answer to Jesus for that? "Well Jesus... I knew you would expect me to hold fast to your word and protect the church at all costs so we were very careful not to change anything this way upon your return your church would be just as you left it. I think Jesus might say... you wicked lazy servant, you knew that I would come back looking for my church to be effective and growing. You buried what I gave you under a rock yet look at these other churches. They took what I gave them and reached out and multiplied reaching those that needed help and bringing them into my family. I'll take what I've given you and give it to the churches that are effective.

Let's be the church of today with an eye on being the church of tomorrow. We can not be the church of yesterday... it's gone and over.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

To mow, or not to mow?

I wrote this about 2 months ago when we had lots of rain... it's quite different now! When I wrote this devotion, it spoke to me as most of my devotions do and I've been going faithfully to church every Sunday since then. Kind of sad when I have to write myself a devotion to get me motivated isn't it? Anyway...maybe these words are just the words to motivate you as well.

To Mow, or not to Mow

The grass gets higher and higher with each passing day. Everyday that passes I think to myself, "I need to mow this evening after work, or it's really going to be a tough job." Then I get home and begin to relax and visit and the next thing I know, it's too late in the day to begin mowing because it will get dark halfway through. I'm not really that disappointed though, almost relieved in a way that I didn't get to it. So I convince myself I'll get to it tomorrow!

The next day it rains, so I can't mow anyway... again relived really because I didn't really want to mow anyway. Again rain the next day... I'm beginning to realize that all those other days that I should have mowed are catching up with me, I now regret not mowing when I had the chance... I should have never procrastinated. I make a commitment to myself that tomorrow I will mow after work, I've checked the weather forecast and it's not going to rain... I even tell my wife my plans (maybe this will help hold me accountable you know). I don't get off work on time and work late, when I get home it's time to eat. My son Ryan shows up with his girlfriend and we all begin visiting... You guessed it! Too late! Can't mow now, it's getting dark. I WILL MOW TOMORROW!

It's Sunday morning and I'm sleeping in rather than going to church. I wanted to go and even told myself I was going to go, but then I slept in instead. Last week the same thing. It's kind of like my lawn. It's needs attention but I'm not doing anything about it. It's easy to find excuses isn't it?

Luke 14:16-20
(16) Jesus replied with this story: "A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations.
(17) When the banquet was ready, he sent his servant to tell the guest, "Come, the banquet is ready."
(18) But they all began making excuses. One said, "I have just bought a field and must inspect it. Please excuse me."
(19) Another said, "I have just bought five pairs of oxen, and I want to try them out. Please excuse me."
(20) Another said, "I now have a wife so I can't come."

As in the case with this story found in Luke 14:15-24 our excuses can really hurt us. This parable of the great feast shows us how our excuses can keep us from joining in the feast that Jesus has prepared for us. Eternal life is ours if we'll simply accept the invitation and go. But too often we give excuses as to why we can't go.

If you don't know Christ... it's not to late! The invitation still stands today. All you have to do is say yes... I'll come. If you do know Christ as your Lord, then your place at the table is secure, the feast awaits you. However... if you make excuses like I do, then you'll miss out on the blessings that God had in store for you. What did I miss by not going to church today? Did God have a word for me today from the Pastor? Who may God have had me interact with today? Could I have helped someone, could they have helped me? I'll never know because I made an excuse not to go.

Dear Lord Jesus, forgive me when I fail you, forgive my disobedience. May we all realize and know that time is short and may we make the most of every opportunity and not procrastinate. Amen.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

God speaks... do you hear?

For the last couple of months my wife and I have been visiting several different churches. Every week we go to another one. Some are huge and others are not. Some are lead completely with contemporary music while others are more traditional hymns or a blended mix of traditional and contemporary music. The order of worship, although similar, is still different in every church. The Pastors vary in age, style and experience of preaching. It becomes very easy to begin comparing one church to the other, It becomes too easy to begin creating a list of what I like or don't like and make many comparisons. All this can distract my attention away from what is really important.... Do I hear God speak?

Worship is a time for not only our praise and adoration to our heavenly Father, but also a time to listen and hear what it is that God wants us to hear. In each church I visit I hear from God. I have not been to one yet that I haven't heard God, and if I did attend one where I didn't hear from God it could quite possibly be a problem on the receiving end (me) rather than on the delivery of the message or the worship service. I guess what I'm trying to share is that I need to focus less on the differences and more on what I'm hearing God say to me. Am I connecting and is the Spirit of God moving within me to allow me to become more like Him through the message. Am I more concerned about the songs, or the Preachers ability to preach, or the order of service... etc. Or am I going with an attitude of Worship and praise and an expectancy of hearing from almighty God?

I've almost come to the conclusion that it's not the church as mush as it is what's being said and am I listening? God's word has a way of penetrating our heart and soul even in spite of a preacher or music getting in the way of it all. Man can stumble but God's word is greater than all that. What is being preached and am I listening, that's what's important.

As I visit churches lately I see God at work in all of them. I sense the Holy Spirit in all of them. Yet they are all different! The decision on where it is that God would have me serve is still undecided. Until then, pray for me and my family and may I always be sensitive and open my heart and mind to listen carefully for God to speak.

You may not be searching for a new church like I am, yet you may have days where your worship experience was lacking in your own church. Something was missing or maybe you were distracted by other things that really are not that important yet intrude on your ability to focus on Christ during the worship service. May we all be focused on Christ and go prepared to listen, expectantly waiting to hear from God. God is there, we just have a difficult time seeing or hearing him sometimes. How can we live for God if we don't listen? If we don't hear? God wants to speak to you and I. Are we listening, or are we talking? Are we experiencing God, or are we making a list of things we like or don't like? Where's our focus during the worship service? Jesus Christ must be the focus and may we be ready to hear from Him today.

God bless you in your service and the next time you attend your church, go with a different attitude of why you are there. Go expecting to hear from your heavenly Father and you'll experience true worship. Focus not on the things of man, and completely on the things of God. You may leave seeing your church in a different way. One things for sure... you will be different and after all, isn't that what church is all about.... a body of believers lead by Jesus? All focused on Him and his direction?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The wrath of man

What is the wrath of man? It's easy to understand the wrath of God. If we're disobedient and go against God's will and direction we can experience his wrath. But what about the wrath of man? Basically it can be the same way... if we go against what another man directs us to do and we disobey we might experience the wrath of that man. There's a problem however with the wrath of man. That is that man does not reproduce God's righteousness when he dishes out his wrath. God is all powerful and creator of all things. The world and everything in it are His to do with as he pleases. As for man, it's on loan to us. Whatever has been given to us is temporary. I know of no one that took all of his possessions with him when he died and if by chance they buried it all with him, you could go dig it up and it would still be there today. Nothing goes with us after we die. Yet we work so hard to gain possessions while we're here.

Relationships instead of possessions are what's important to God. To build relationships we must be sensitive and good listeners. The bible says to be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath. (James1:19) It's hard to listen if we're doing the talking. Be slow to speak and instead be quick to listen. This way we'll keep our anger in check and we'll think twice before we unleash our frustration, angered speech, or actions onto someone else... or as the bible calls it... our wrath.

In James 1:20 it says... the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
It's pretty clear isn't it? When we unleash our wrath on another person, the righteousness of God is not produced. Our anger never represents a loving God, instead it shows our true thoughts and feelings. Just remember, when we do lose our temper and unleash our wrath, be quick to know that's it's wrong and be quick to apologize for the error of our ways. Usually people are quick to forgive if they know we truly regret our actions and ask for forgiveness. We're all going to get upset with other people, it's our natural tendency within us, but through God's power and strength within us we won't unleash our wrath but instead calmly listen and redirect. Only God's people can endure trials and still remain calm during the storm. It's not from us, but from God. When someone wrongs us in some way our reaction is to retaliate, that is unless the Spirit of God is at work in you. With God it may be to forgive and restore the relationship instead of fighting.

Remember, be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to wrath.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Growing Good Corn

Author unknown for this story:
A co-worker gave me this story today at work and I thought I'd share it with you.

The story goes...
There once was a farmer who grew award-winning corn. Each year he entered his corn in the state fair where it won a blue ribbon.

One year a newspaper reporter interviewed him and learned something interesting about how he grew it. The reporter discovered that the farmer shared his best seed with his neighbors.

"How can you afford to share your best seed corn with your neighbors when they are entering corn in competition with yours each year?" the reporter asked.

"Why sir," said the farmer, "didn't you know?" The wind picks up pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field to filed. If my neighbors grow inferior corn, cross-pollination will steadily degrade the quality of my corn. If I am to grow good corn, I must help my neighbors grow good corn."

This farmer was very much aware of the connectedness of life. He can't improve his corn unless he also helps to improve the quality of his neighbors corn.

Proverbs 11:24-25
(24) Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything.
(25) The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.

Just as this farmer shared his good corn with his neighbors, we too need to share with our neighbors. When I read this proverb and think about this story we can apply this lesson in many areas of our lives. To live in peace, maybe we need to help our neighbors to live in peace. To live well, maybe we need to help others to live well. It is possible to give things away and become richer and it's also possible to hold onto to tightly and lose everything. As the proverb says... those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed. In other words, if we want to grow good corn, we must help our neighbors grow good corn.

Think about what you can do to help your neighbors and don't be surprised if you receive refreshing blessings in return. By watering others, we water ourselves. So today... start watering!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Scattered Showers

The weather forecast for today was partly cloudy with scattered showers throughout our area. The scattered showers must have been somewhere else most of the day because we hadn't seen any rain so far. So about 1PM I decide to take a motorcycle ride through the country side. The weather was perfect... partly sunny and in the mid 70's. My ride was fantastic, no wind, mostly sunny, just perfect until... the scattered showers hit me. I was about 45 minutes from home when I felt the first drop of rain. The sun was still shining but in the distance I could see the darker clouds coming. I decided to take a detour on my ride and I thought I might be able to avoid this scattered shower. I did really well, I got into a very light rain that quickly went away after only 2 minutes. I wasn't wet at all. As I was making my way back home I saw another dark cloud in the distance. I could see that it was raining by the way the clouds streaked towards the ground. This one looked a lot worse than the last shower so I made another detour and tried to avoid this shower. Again I did well. It rained on me for about 5 minutes and very lightly. Not bad at all! By now I'm only 15 miles from home. Looks like I'm going to make it home without getting wet. 5 miles from the house I encounter a down pour like none other. One moment I'm in the sun, the very next I'm soaked! I drive the 5 miles in a downpour and arrive at home just as the rain stopped and the sun come out again. Of course when I walked in the house my family thought it funny to ask me if I had an enjoyable ride as I stood there dripping wet. (actually it was a great ride, it was just the last 5 minutes that was bad)

What makes me think is this... Today's ride was fun, it was a great time of relaxation and the country side was beautiful to look at as I rode the back roads of Tennessee. Taking the detours took me on roads I'd never been on before and it was wonderful to explore new roads in this way. I thought, "Wouldn't it be a shame to allow the last five minutes of my ride to ruin the whole experience?"
Have you ever let the negative things that happen to you take your focus off of the good or positive things that happen? Have you ever had a great day at work, or a great day off work, or a wonderful Sunday afternoon, but then a single phone call can change the whole outlook on the day?

I saw a sign today outside of a small country church on one of my detours to avoid the rain showers. The sign read, " Weather Forecast... The Son is always shining!" As I read that sign it made me smile as here I was trying to avoid the rain, but even when the rain got me, I was still able to smile because I was reminded that even when the weather is bad, "The Son is always shining."

Lord, help me to always see past the current rain clouds and bad circumstances in each day. May I never forget that you are always shining upon me. Also thanks for the quiet reminder that life contains both dark clouds and clear sky's and even so; thank you that everyday contains... "Son Shine."

Memorial Day

One of my greatest achievements in life was my service to my country while serving in the US Army. I joined when I was 17 years old. My parents had to sign a release form for me to be allowed in because I was not yet of age. I had my 18th birthday while in Boot Camp at Fort Gordon GA.

Why did I join? Well it wasn't to fight wars or become a hero or anything like that. I joined because I really didn't know where else to turn. I knew I wasn't going to college, couldn't afford it. So when I heard that I could attend college while serving in the service, I thought this would be my ticket. Maybe I could still go to college after all. So my reasons for joining the Service was not due to growing up as a child with aspirations of serving in the Armed Forces. In fact I knew very little about the military at that time. Like I said, this was my opportunity to go to college.

On the 2nd day of Boot Camp, the Drill Sargent selected squad leaders from the men in the platoons. Four were chosen and I was one of the four. How he determined that I was a leader within only the first two days of Boot camp I'll never know but never the less I was chosen and given the task and responsibility of leading my own squad of about a dozen men. Pretty scary for me when you consider I knew no more than the other guys but now I'm in charge! I found this new role very difficult because not only was I learning a whole new way of life but I was responsible for other men learning as well. After a few weeks I began to feel more comfortable in my new role as Squad leader and had even earn the respect of the men in my squad. After 12 weeks of Boot camp, we graduated, and I was given a commendation and certificate tiltled... the "most distinguished gentleman's award." I'd come along way since day one of Boot Camp but more importantly I grew up and matured a lot during those days. I learned about honor, respect, discipline, and sacrifice. I learned more about commitment and hard work than I ever dreamed I could. I began to see myself as a leader, and not just a leader, but a leader that was recognized as someone that was a gentleman during the process (Didn't see much gentleman leadership in those days, it was more along the lines of a dictatorship) so I was very proud of this award.

Later I did go to college during some of my tours of duty but in the end I never finished. After four years of service and making it to the rank of Sargent, I finally decided to get out of the military and go back to civilian life. I'll never forget when I announced to my commander that I would be getting out after making the decision not to re-enlist. He couldn't believe it and many thought I was kidding. You see, to everyone else that I served with, I was know as a "Lifer." In other words, I was in the military for life! I was very Gung Ho, and committed in my service and I truly did enjoy and loved serving my country. What had began as a way to get to college, actually turned into a love for my country, my flag, and what I stood for as an American Soldier. I may have started this journey in the military with other motives, but in the end, it was about service to my Country.

Why did I get out? Unfortunately for my wife, the service was not her love and joy. I spent many days away from her on training missions and honestly my career in the Army was rough on our marriage. I felt that if I stayed in I might lose her, so I chose my wife and our commitment to each other over my life in the Army. I've never regretted getting out, it was the right thing to do at the time. I've also never regretted my time of service in the US Army. I would not trade those four years of active duty service for anything. The values and discipline I had learned while in the Army, I have used everyday of my life as a leader. To this day I can't hear the National Anthem without getting teary eyed. When I see the Amercian Flag flying high on a flag pole I get a feeling of pride within me. When I see soldiers in uniform, I'm so thankful for their service.

Memorial Day for me is a special day. It's a reminder to me and all of us, that our freedom comes at a cost. The freedom we take for granted... was paid for with the blood of soldiers. On Memorial Day we stop and reflect on that for a minute, and I hope it moves you as it does me. But I suspect for many people, this day could be difficult to understand. Maybe even have very little meaning to you unless you have been touched by it in some way... either knowing someone that has served, knowing someone that has died in their service, or maybe like me, you have served. Hopefully you realize the price for freedom and appreciate and can show your respects to the fallen soldiers that paid that price. Men and women that have given the ultimate sacrifice so that others may live free.

Seems freedom always comes at the spilling of blood. Jesus Christ gave the ultimate sacrifice. He gave his life and shed his blood so that we could have eternal life (freedom from sin). To live free, cost so much doesn't it? Maybe this Memorial Day we'll not only remember the fallen soldiers, but also the One that fought the ultimate battle for each and every one of us. The One that died and shed His blood so we all could live as free people. His name is Jesus Christ. May every day be a Memorial Day for Christ.

God bless the men and Women that serve in the our Armed Forces, and may we remember with gratitude and respect, those that gave their lives for our Country. Amen.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Not everything is as it appears

I found this draft that I had written on 1/9/2009.

As I sit here and write, I'm looking out the window and the sky is gray, the trees are without leaves, there's a slight breeze that makes the limbs on the trees and bushes move slightly. From all appearances while sitting here in my house it looks like it could snow at any minute. But when I walk outdoors onto my porch, it's a warm beautiful day. It's 65 degrees outside right now... but from the inside of the house it looks like it's freezing outside and ready to snow.

This reminds me that not everyone is as they appear either. From where we stand it may appear that someone has everything going their way. From our vantage point... it seems their world is great. But in reality, their world may be falling apart. Most of us are very good at disguising what's really going on in our lives. We do this because when you think about it... the last thing you want to do when your life is a mess is talk about it with others. Sometimes were embarrassed or too hurt or ashamed to discuss it with anyone. So to avoid this pain... we hide. Just like the weather outside that had me fooled today, so it is with the people in our lives that are going through tough times. Not everything is at it appears.

Everyone is going through something. A death and loss of a loved one, a serious illness or injury or other health issues, a time without income from a loss of a job, maybe they're going through a divorce or break up, an addiction of some kind and the consequences of that, dealing with legal issues, the point is we don't know what's happening in the lives of those around us. But the chances are... from where we stand, things appear better than they are because people are good at covering up their problems. So what's all this mean to us?

Be ready to listen, to try and understand things from their perspective. Assume that everything is not as it seems and be a support rather than a judge for their problems. Keep in mind that they already feel bad about their situation and our role needs to be one of support and encouragement. We can pray for them and just be there for them, without putting our shallow two cents worth in the mix of things. Every time someone asks me for my advice I wonder... who am I to give advice... Have you taken a look at my life lately? Or maybe I've done a good job of covering up my problems so that things appear different than they really are. The truth is... we all are suffering in some way, and we all need help. I praise God that he loves me no matter what I do, no matter the circumstances I've gotten myself into... God always loves me! God's love is the only love that is unconditional. How can we help others? How can we be an encouragement to others? Share the love of God with them. God is the only one that truly knows what they are going through. He is the only one that you can not hide from. He is the only way to find peace when your life is a mess. Sometimes people can't see God's love, unless they see it through you.

May you be filled with the Holy Spirit and ready to share the love of God with others when the time is needed. Don't assume that just because things appear to be good, that they are. God may be using you to reach out to someone He wants to help.

Romans 13:10-13
(10) Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.
(11) Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.
(12) Rejoice in confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.
(13) When God's people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.

The weather report

I don't know about your neck of the woods, but if you live in mine, you're wet! It's been raining a lot lately. The weather has taken it's toll on our area in many different ways. Over the last few weeks we've experienced tornados that have destroyed many homes in our community. We've expereinced a lot of rain and flooding. Gardens are usually put in by now, but many folks have yet to be able to get their gardens in the ground because it's been so wet. Today we had another storm come through our area and as I was watching the radar screen on my computor I was saw warning idicaters showing me that we were in a severe Thunderstorm warning for our area. I decided to put a loop action on this map so I could observe the behavior of this storm and see where it had been and watch it move accross the screen to where it was now. This loop shows me about an hours worth of storm movement in just a few seconds time. What I noticed was as the storm moved through the state, the yellow boxes that indicate severe thunderstorm warnings would pop up as the storm moved. I also noticed that about 100 hundred miles after the storm had passed there were green boxes popping up on the screen indictaing flash flood warnings for those areas that had just experienced the severe weather. Watching this map and seeing these storms build up and then hit us followed quickly by flash floods, well it reminded me of how similar the weather is to our own lives.

We face storms all the time don't we? They suddnely come into our lives, often without any warning, and they hit us hard. Some storms can be destructive, like tornados, while other storms just make us uncomfortable, like Thunderstorms or rain, but as with any storm that brings a lot of rain, there's usually flash flooding to follow. It's like a double whammy.

I don't know what storms you are going through, I don't know what flash floods you have experienced from the storms you've endured either. All I know is that God does. His word promises comfort during the storms of our lives.

Psalm 107:26-29
(26) Their souls melt because of trouble.
(27) They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits' end.
(28) Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses.
(29) He calms the storm, so that it's waves are still.

If the weather has any similarity to the personal storms we experience in our own lives then there's good news. Storms always pass through! Some storms are worse than others but they don't last forever and the sun will shine again. We just need to learn to protect ourselves during these storms. God is our protection, He is our shelter, and with him we can and will endure the storms we encounter and flash floods that follow. May we all remember to cry out to the Lord in our distress and allow Him to calm the storm.


Have you ever been faced with a decision and you weren't quite sure of what to do? Should I do this? Should I do that? Should I move or not? What about taking that next promotion or job? Everyday were faced with decisions that can change our circumstances and as Christians we want to be in God's will when we take those steps that move us in a new direction.

Sometimes our fear of making the wrong decision prevents us from moving at all and we never really know if we should have pursued or not? We make the decision not to go, not to move, not to take the next challenge because we are not sure of what to do, so we do nothing.

Read Acts 16:6-16:10 (The Holy Spirit prevents Paul from going into Asia to preach the Gospel)

Sometimes to see if you are making the right decision... you need to begin the process. Take the first step of faith and allow God to direct you from there. Look at Paul for example. He sought God's will and direction for his life. He knew he was to take the Gospel to everyone he could so that others had the opportunity to have eternal life. So he planned out a course and went about spreading the good news. It wasn't until he got ready to go into Asia that Holy Spirit prevented him from doing so. So Paul didn't go there. A vision then appeared to Paul during the night and this is when he experienced the call to go to Macedonia. You see Paul could have thought it strange that the Holy Spirit wouldn't let him go preach in Asia, after all they needed to hear the Gospel too didn't they? I'm sure Paul thought it would have been in God's will for him to go there and that's why he thought about going there. But God prevented him from going there and then redirected him.

We'll never have peace about the entire plan or course, rather the peace comes from knowing that if we do go the wrong direction, as long as we are seeking God's will, and listening to His Spirit, then we will be lead through the course and have opportunities to change course as we're lead. Just as Paul did, we need to pray about it, seek direction for the first step, then step out in faith leaving the road Map to God.

Have you ever used a GPS for directions. It gives you precise directions, telling you to turn left or right at the exact moment. And when you don't listen or make a wrong turn, what do you hear? "Recalculating." Don't you think that God can recalculate your every wrong move to get you back on track. Of course he can. So begin the journey and step out in faith instead of fretting over what to do. Seek a closer relationship with God. Pray and seek God's wisdom and guidance and then go in peace as you take that first step. It's when we step out in faith, that we get the directions for the next few steps. God will guide you and redirect you if you're going where He doesn't want you to go. Just be sensitive to those words, "recalculating."

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Missing Words

There is an email going around that really catches your attention. "The US government has omitted the words "In God we Trust" off the new Presidential $1 coins. The email suggest we boycott the coins and refused to accept them as change when we get them handed to us.

I did a little research on this and the link at the end of this post will help you understand what happened. I am relieved to understand that these words are not omitted from our US coins. As you can read there were some coins that were printed without those words on them but it was minting error and was not intended to be printed that way. The original design had these words printed on the outer edge of the coin rather than on the front side of the coin as usual but now it appears that the coins made this year have gone back to having the words back on the front side of the coin. It appears, at least for now, that we will still be seeing the words "In God we Trust" on these coins.

It's good to see that so many Americans are bothered by the possibility that our government would mint coins without the words "In God we trust" on them. If that were the case, I'd boycott them as well.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Looking to the future

Sometimes, when things seem hopeless, it's good to focus on the future. Looking forward to a better time, and better day. I know when I was in the Army I spent 2 years overseas in Europe. I was stationed in Stuttgart Germany, and even though it was wonderful living there and experiencing life in Europe, I also missed home and America. I remember on those days that I was homesick, I would think to myself, this is only temporary and it's not going to last forever, it won't be long before I'm back home and this would always make me feel better and even help me be able to endure whatever I was going through or feeling at the time.

The day before my oldest son Eric was to go into jail for the next 2 and half years of his life, I was riding my motorcycle and thinking about how difficult this was going to be for him. How difficult this was going to be for his Mom, his brother, and myself. I was pained at the thought of this separation for so long. Remembering how it helped me to look forward to the future when I was stationed in Europe I thought to myself, "I need to give Eric something to look forward to in the future when he finally gets out. A carrot "so to speak" that will await him when he gets out in a few years. Eric had always wanted to learn to ride my bike so I went home and had Eric join me on the bike and I spend some time with him his last free day teaching him how to ride. He absolutely loved riding the bike and he did very well. After our short time together I made Eric a promise. I told him to remember how good it felt to ride and never forget it while he's in jail, because when he gets out... the bike is his. I told him I wanted him to have my bike and look forward to once again feeling the freedom you feel when your riding a bike down the road. Of course he was excited about this and as I had hoped, over the next few years while I'd visit him in jail we talk about one day getting to ride again. I believe this helped him more than I ever dreamed. It's in times like these we need something to look forward to, helping to take our mind off of what we're going through at the moment.

Yesterday, Eric got his bike! It's taken a few months since he got out but he practiced riding and took his test to get his motorcycle licence and after getting insurance yesterday he finally got his bike. It's his! I wish that I had planned better, because right now I'm without a bike, but Eric doesn't seem to mind me riding whenever I want until I get another one of my own.

You know, I find it very helpful to look to the future when times get tough. Looking forward can pull you through because you always know there is a better day ahead. Don't let today's problems ruin your hopes for tomorrow. You know when you have Jesus as your Lord and Savior, there's always a better day ahead. This has always helped me through the tough times in my life. I hope you too have Jesus in your life. Because I promise you... when you go through trials, when you go through set backs or struggles, you won't be alone and it doesn't last forever. What you are going through is only temporary and it helps to look to the future and take your mind off of the present. Yes... there is a better day ahead.

John 14:1-3
The Way, the Truth, and the Life

1 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

Prayer: Dear God, no matter what we go through, we can have the assurance that it's only temporary. You have promised us eternal life in a special place that you have prepared for us! Just as I looked to the day I'd return home and Eric looked to the day he'd ride free again, we can look to the day when we'll live forever with You in paradise! Knowing this can get us through anything we face today. Thank you Lord for your loving kindness and for reminding us that this is not all there is. It's in Jesus name I pray. Amen

Friday, April 3, 2009

Where's your Spark?

It's hard to stay upbeat and energetic when you just don't feel like it. Today I was asked by an associate if I was ok? She says that I'm tired looking and I just don't have that spark the last couple of weeks. She says I'm still professional and friendly and all that, but I just look, well, stressed and tired!

News flash... I am stressed! My job is stressful in nature. Budgets to achieve, along with operational expectations and demands, can take a toll on you. No one really cares that it's stressful either... those above you just want results and after all you are in a position to figure those things out. I accept full responsibility for my career and I hold myself to a very high standard. Basically, I can stress myself out by holding myself accountable, rarely do I need someone else to do it for me. I know if I'm meeting expectations or not, and when I'm not... I'm stressed!

Saying that however I realize that if I appear stressed I can affect the people that I supervise into feeling stressed just because I'm stressed. My stress, my anxiousness, unsettles others around me and I understand the affect this has on others. I appreciate her saying something to me so I can be aware of this. I know she's concerned about me and that means a lot to me. The problem is however, even after she said something to me, I was still stressed!!!! Sure I was more aware of it, but the stress is still there to be contended with and my only hope today was to try and cover it in someway, which honestly I'm lousy at doing. My face always has reflected how I feel. I can't really hide it. So what course should I take now? How do I eliminate my stress so that I once again have that "spark" in my eyes that my co worker misses seeing in me? And quite frankly... needs to see in me as her leader.

I believe most of my stress comes from worry and the bible has a lot to say about worry. There are many verses that help us on the subject of worry and I know in my life, when I miss budget, when I miss sales projections, when I miss the mark on expectations or goals, I worry about the consequences of it. Worry comes from fear and God says we should not be afraid but rather but our faith and trust in him. those of you that know me know I struggle in this area and you know what? I'm not alone. You know how I know I'm not alone in this issue? The bible speaks too much about it for it not to be something all of us are going to struggle with from time to time. The good news is, that this worry, this fear can be overcome and it's something that should not take the spark out of our life. My focus is in the wrong place for me to have lost my spark.

My first plan of action needs to be... "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness."

Jesus teaches about worry... Matthew 6:25-34
25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

My job has always had a lot of stress in it, but lately I've been really worried and concerned about my results. I've always believed and know that I must strive to do my best and use my God given mind to think my way into improving my results. But sometimes everything you try just doesn't deliver the results you had planned. What do you do in this situation? I don't know about you but my tendency is to work harder and harder and before I know it, I've left God out of the equation. Not completely of course, but to the point I'm focused more on what I can do rather than what God can do. The points is this, God promises comfort, peace, and security in all situations and circumstances. My problem is to be mindful of that and seek God's kingdom and His righteousness, and God will then meet my needs. he will guide my steps and encourage me on my journey of ups and downs.

Prayer: Dear God, forgive me for forgetting to seek You first. I ask that You give me strength, energy, and the desire to seek Your will in my life and then through my obedience, You will provide. Whether I ever accomplish all the goals and expectations I set for myself at work, one thing I do know, I don't need to worry about my life. Worrying only makes me sick and unhealthy. My hope and prayer is that as I seek You and follow You I will perform as I live for You. May others see a spark in me, and that spark reflect the light of Jesus. It's in Jesus name I pray. Amen

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Recently I took a vacation trip to Vegas. Yes I know of all places to go, Vegas (sin city) would not have been on the top of your list for vacations but this trip had been planned for a long time. You can see from the picture at Hoover Dam, my son Ryan went with me. This trip was special in that this was a Father/Son trip.

Years ago when Ryan was around 10 or 11 years old, I'd take him to a convenience store and buy him a 20oz. coke. He'd always go for the bottles that had the "You can win" lid's on them. When we'd get in the car he'd take off the cap of the coke bottle and look at the inside of the cap and sure enough! Most times he'd win a free bottle of coke. I can't tell you how many times this happened. Over and over again he'd win those free cokes. One day I told him, "As lucky as you are when you turn 21 I'm going to take you to Vegas." Well Ryan, even at this young age had an Idea of what Vegas was like, because he'd watched the Griswalds (Chevy Chase and family) go to Vegas on their vacation. He loved that movie and of course we joked with each other about only having to buy one way tickets to Vegas because we'd drive back the cars we won (just like they did in the movie.) We'll we had fun for several years joking about this, then as Ryan got a little older he mentioned, "Dad, we really ought to go to Vegas as a Father son trip when I turn 21." I think he may have been 16 maybe when we decided to really do this. So I made a commitment that we'd do the trip when he turned 21. So for many years after that we would occasionally speak of the trip joking again about winning it big. For me the excitement about the trip was different than I suppose Ryan's was. I was excited about spending time with my son.

Well Ryan turned 21 in November of last year and with his school and my work we couldn't arrange to go on vacation until March of this year. Well as you can imagine... were not gamblers, but we did plan all kinds of other fun things to do while we were there for four days. We stayed at the Paris Hotel (pictured above), which I would recommend to anyone wanting to go to Vegas. It's centrally located on the strip and close to many other shows and hotels. We wanted to play golf, but decided against it when we realized just how expensive the courses were there. We went to see Lance Burton the magician. This was a great show and we enjoyed going to his show and then out to eat our first evening. The next day we went to see Terry Fader the ventriloquist. You may have seen him win on the TV show, "America's got Talent." Now this was a great show, lots of fun and he;s so talented, and again we went out to eat. The next day we went on a tour bus out to Hoover Dam and enjoyed our day there. Of course our Dam tour guide enjoyed telling us telling us several Dam jokes as we went on the Dam tour. You can imagine.

The good news is we didn't lose a lot of money, because you have to bet to lose it. Every hotel has a casino and you see many people betting money, and losing it. I didn't see anyone win big, and if they did win and collect a stack of chips, it wouldn't be long before that stack disappeared as they continued to play. Ryan and I played a few slot machines, yes we ventured out with our 10 to 20 dollars here and there, but it was short lived and I was thinking to myself it sure is good that we bought round trip plane tickets, because we certainly were not driving back in new cars that we won playing the slots in Vegas. Save that stuff for the movies!

The reason I even mention this trip however is because I will never forget this trip as long as I live. What began as a joke when he was 10 years old turned into a wonderful Father/Son trip that gave Ryan and myself a chance to spend some quality time together. I was telling someone at work about this trip my son and I took together and he said... "It's great that you have a son at the age that would want to spend time like that with his Dad." I really never thought about it much, but I am so blessed that my boys (both of them) love being with their Mom and Dad. they show great respect for us as their parents and both love spending time with us.

Another thing that I believe is so important is that I made a promise to my son and I kept it. This trip was so important to him and he thought about it constantly throughout the years and now that we've gone and come back we talk about the fun time we had together. It's also kind of fun to watch the expression on my Christian brothers and sisters faces when I tell then I went to Vegas for my vacation. I guess most see the worst in Vegas, the drinking, gambling, and exotic shows, but that's not all there is to do there. There's so much more to see and do. Wonderful restaurants, great shows, and fantastic tours around the area. You don't have to go there with the slogan in your head... "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" you can go and come back and tell everyone what you did. Sin doesn't just abide in a city called Vegas, you can stay at home and find it as well.

I thank the Lord for the time Ryan and I had together.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Rescue, our only hope!

Recently we watched the Television in amazement as the news of "The Miracle on Hudson" played out. We see this plane full of people making a quick detour to make an emergency landing in the Hudson River after hitting a flock of Geese. This plane suddenly lost all engine power and basically became a huge glider that had no where to go but down. The pilot, capt. "Sully" as we've come to know him, stays calm and glides that plane into the Hudson River and the end result is all the passengers and crew survive the crash landing. He's a hero in the eyes of all of us who watch this take place and especially to those that were on board that airplane. Sully", in his humbleness gives the credit to his crew as well. When we hear him speak of the event, he says he doesn't feel like a hero, he was just doing what he's trained to do, and he never forgets to remind us that he could not have done this without his crew. Getting the plane down safely was his responsibility, but after they landed in the river... what next? Fortunately for those on board, a Rescue was on the way. Recent pictures show people standing calmly on the wings of the plane with their feet in the ice cold water, awaiting rescue. Rescue now being their only hope!

You see, just as those folks survived the crash, they still were not out of the water. If they had not been rescued, they would have perished even though they made it through the crash landing. Let me ask you this question... Have you been rescued? You may be asking, "Rescued from what?" The truth is you can live your whole life and survive all the crashes and wrecks you go through, and still perish in the end. God rescues people everyday by offering them the gift of eternal life. God is your Hope. God is your rescuer. To live life without Jesus Christ as your Savior, is to like surviving the crash landing in the River and thinking, whew, that was close, I made it! I'm alive! But even during this time of celebration, the life threatening dangers are still there. The plane is slowly sinking and unless you get rescued you will die in that icy cold water.

Don't live your life surviving events only to drown in the end because you didn't see the danger and refused to call out for help. God will answer your call for help. Once your realize that you need to be rescued, then it's easy to call out for help and accept being rescued. Those refusing to be rescued do not realize the danger around them.

Again, have you been rescued? I have. No matter what happens in my life, I've been rescued from a place called Hell. I will not go there. God gave me eternal life the day I gave my life to him. The day I surrendered to Him and asked Jesus to become Lord of my life. I was saved! I was rescued. I didn't change my lifestyle first, I didn't clean up my act, I didn't try to become someone I wasn't, I simply realized that I was in trouble and that Jesus was the only one that could save me.

Joel 2:32
Acts 2:21
Romans 10:13
Psalm 68:20

Rescue, our only hope!

Monday, February 16, 2009

What will tomorrow bring?

What will tomorrow bring?
I don't know, but God does!

For every question in life that we have... God knows the answer!
For every fear that we face... God is always with us!
For every challenge we endure... God knew we'd make it!
For every friend or loved one we've lost... God helped us through it!
For every time we didn't understand... God did!
For every time we didn't know which way to turn... God showed us the way!
For every time we were in the dark... God gave us light!
For every time we felt hopeless... God gave us hope!
For every sickness we have... God is the cure!
For every sin we commit... God forgives!

For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord... God gives eternal life!

What will tomorrow bring?
Put your trust in the One who knows... God.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Stay focused

There is only so much you can do. There is only so much that you can control. If you want to be frustrated beyond belief then try and do everything and control everything. Seems the hardest thing to learn is realizing that you can't fix it all. The next thing that you must learn is that it's not always up to you to fix. You see as a leader that's hard to swallow. Leaders are fixers. We see the problem and then develop a plan to get it fixed. We're used to dealing with action plans, achieving budget goals, and taking the steps necessary to get the results we need. But I think it's important to always remember, some things are under your control or supervision, while others are not. Realizing what is and what isn't can help determine the level of our involvement and focus. Once we know what it is we can fix or control, then stay focused on it and don't get distracted by the things you can't do anything about. Doing this will help you to stay focused to achieve better results and leave behind what's not yours to deal with.

In the movie "Apollo 13" the crew in outer space has very little battery power left to power up the space module. They must determine the exact amount of amperage needed to power it back up and then by flipping switches in a specific order they begin to turn on the equipment. We watch as each piece of equipment powers up and the amperage usage creeps up and up until they come dangerously close to overloading the amount of power supply available to them and risk not being able to start the space module back up. If they go over the amount of amperage they have available to them, nothing will work. Kinda like us isn't it. Sometimes we extend ourselves too thin, we drain ourselves of our energy worrying, concerned about, and even stressing over things we have no control over. Then nothing works! We don't have the energy or stamina to deal with the responsibilities we are accountable for. So we don't perform, we don't achieve, we don't accomplish our goals, and we wonder why life is so hard. We can worry about the news and what we hear on it, yet most of it we have no control over.

Many people today are worried about many things. The news will scare you to death. The economy is in rough shape. We're probably all in for a rougher ride before it gets better. Focus on your life and what you can do to impact your situation. God is with you and believe it or not, He's aware of all that is happening... let Him take care of all the stuff you can't or shouldn't. Focus on what He'd have you do for your family, in your job or career, in your church, with your friends in your community. Be ready to serve wherever God leads you, but remember this... Don't spread yourself so thin that the great gifts that God has given you today become lost because of your lack of focus on what's important to you now. Love your kids, love your spouse, work hard and ethically for your employer and seek God's relationship and direction in your life. God promises not to give us more than we can handle... so if you feel overwhelmed, maybe, just maybe it's not God that piled the plate so full. Think about it.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

"Father, forgive them"

The following words were spoken by Jesus at the time of his death on the cross. Luke 23:34 "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." Jesus knew the weight of this moment in time. The whole world needed forgiveness of sin even if we didn't realize it at the time. Even though we were crucifying Jesus, even though we were hurling insults at him during his death, even though we turned our back on him, he knew and understood that we had not a clue as to what was going on. We did not know or understand the significance of this event in history. Jesus knowing this... called out to his Father God to forgive us for what we were doing and God in his graciousness forgave us and gave us new life through his son Jesus. God forgave the Jewish leaders, the Roman politicians and soldiers, all the bystanders, and everyone that participated in the murder of his Son because Jesus asked for us to be forgiven. God answered Jesus prayer and opened up the way of salvation through the sacrificial death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ.

I've always been amazed at God's love for us. The fact that he would sacrifice his son as an atonement or payment for our sin. Even more amazing is even though Jesus was being killed and suffering so greatly during this painful death, he sees past the moment and the pain and asks God to forgive us. I must think that the suffering was so great for both Jesus and God, that a reminder from Jesus to his Father was needed. Seeing the hate from the people, seeing the satisfaction that these people must have had on their faces, would be enough to think... forget it! They don't deserve eternal life, look at them, ungrateful, unappreciative, terrible, evil people! God could have easily poured his wrath out on the world at that moment and said forget it all! But Jesus said... Father forgive them, they don't know what they're doing. A reminder of our ignorance. So God allowed it to happen and raised his son up from the dead three days later and provided a way for us to have eternal life. To live in the presence of almighty God forever forgiven and free of sin.

God does forgive! But we must ask just as Jesus asked for our forgiveness during his crucifixion. You see if we ask for His forgiveness it means that we trust that He can forgive us. You wouldn't ask God for forgiveness unless you truly believed that He had the ability and authority to forgive you. God has proved his unfailing love for us because even in his misery of seeing his Son dying on the cross He forgave us as Jesus prayed for us. We can see another example of God's love and forgiveness during Jesus death on the cross. Luke 23:39-43 shows us again the love and forgiveness of God. As this man, this criminal was dying, he turned to Jesus Christ for forgiveness and Christ accepted him. You see, even in his misery, Jesus had mercy on this criminal who decided to believe in him. It's never too late to turn to God for forgiveness. This also shows us that it's not our works that save us but rather our faith in Christ. It's in our belief that God can forgive us of our sin and it's when we come to Him asking for forgiveness that we see the love of God poured out on us. Instead of getting what we deserve (death and separation from a Holy God) we get eternal life. It's not earned, it's not deserved, it's simply a gift of love because of our faith and belief that God can forgive us if we ask.

So the next time you realize you've sinned against God, take it to Jesus and ask for forgiveness. When we ask for forgiveness we are actually saying, I've wronged you in some way and I know you don't have to forgive me but I'm asking for your forgiveness. Please forgive me. The result is one or the other. Forgiveness or not. When you deal with people... sometimes they choose not to forgive you when you ask. They can't get past the fact that you've hurt them and they refuse forgiveness. But when you ask God for forgiveness remember that he will always forgive you because the ultimate test was during his Sons death on the cross. Even though we drove the nails through Jesus hands and feet, even though we drove the spear through his side, even though we hung him on the cross, and even though we whipped and beat him, God forgave us.

Don't you think that God will forgive you of the sins you committed today? You see there is nothing that you can do that God can't forgive you for? The worst thing we could have ever done, we did already, and He forgave us for it. So don't carry around guilt for your sins of today. Acknowledge those sins and take them to Jesus for forgiveness. Just as Jesus saw the ignorance of the people that were putting him to death... He also sees our weaknesses, our foolishness, and our sinful ways. Just as he did then, he does today... he stands ready to pray on our behalf before almighty God. Again he will pray... "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do."

What do you need forgiveness for? Take it to Jesus and be forgiven.