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Showing posts from 2011

Merry Christmas!

So I had this idea and then I saw it wasn't original. Buuut, that isn't exactly new to me. I'm often slow to the hip things. For instance, have you seen this deal called the iPhone? I hear it's got some great application. I went looking for one online and discovered that they just keep upgrading these things.

Sorry for that lttle tangent. Let me get to the idea. I'm going to take a break from blogging. Before you thank me, hear me out...

I'll be breaking until the new year. For starters, you're much too busy to be reading all these blogs. Second, I've once again left Christmas shopping for my wife until the home stretch. Sooo, add it all together and you'll see I'm doing this for both of us.

Now, I've seen where some blogs will post their most popular blogs during their off-time. Here's why I won't be doing that. Again, if you're too busy to read blogs, why would I assume that you have time to read a better blog? If I assumed t…

God First, Man Second: Christmas Edition part 4

This is part 4 of my God First, Man Second: Christmas Editions. You can find the other 3 here, here and here. No matter what you do at Christmas time, no matter what your traditions, I hope that you will take some time to remember why we even get to celebrate this season.

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” ~Luke 2:14
This is what it all comes down to. The whole heavenly host come out just to sing it. Glory is given to God. This is right, because God is deserving of our glory. In fact, God is the only One deserving.

What do we get? Peace. This is beyond our undertanding. We can think we understand it. But we know, deep down, we don't.

See, we come to this God-man relationship offering nothing. I could sugar-coat that for you since it's the holidays and all, but let's be honest. We're in a big heap of trouble and we have no actual solution.

But God, planning as only He can, prepares and foretells and gives us Jes…

Practicing the Way of Jesus

To say that this book was read would be a misnomer. This is a book that you experience. That is on purpose by author Mark Scandrette. The title of this book is Practicing the Way of Jesus: Life Together in the Kingdom of Love.

I experienced this book with a small group at my church. The book comes complete with study guide in the back, giving a schedule for which chapters to read and in what order. There was thought put into this. The basic premise that Mark puts forth is the idea that the Christian life is not one lived while sitting in a pew, but one that is lived out.
Mark divides the book into 5 main sections. These are areas that he believes all of us must work on in growing deeper in our faith. Those areas are: Identity, Purpose, Security, Community and Freedom/Peace. He wrote one chapter on theory and one on practice for each area.
One of the first things I said when I read the first chapter was that the book scared me. I believed it was gong to be too fanatical in its approach…

God First, Man Second: Christmas Edition part 3

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” ~Luke 2:10-12

Even as a baby, God comes first. It's really amazing when you think about it. The God of the universe, in a way that only God can fathom, left Heaven, a place we can only imagine, and came to Earth.

But Jesus did not come as a grown man, regal and ready to rule. He did not come as an adult.

Jesus came as a baby. He entered the world, yes the world He created. He came as a mortal and left as a Messiah. The good news for us, in fact the only reason we are a part of this story, is that we receive a Savior. We are on the receiving end of the greatest gift ever given.

God gives. We get. We no longer have to fear. We have received good news. We now get to live with great joy. God lo…

Neglectful Parents

Each child is a gift. They are to be prized and protected. They should never be mistreated or neglected. (Did a tear just shed? I was going for a tear...)

If we're up on our Bible-reading, then we'll be familiar with Bible verses that say "with painful labor you will give birth to children" and "he will not give to one of them any of the flesh of his children that he is eating." Wait, not those verses.

These verses. "I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be a blessing" (Psalm 37:25-26). Oh, and "And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them" (Mark 10:16).

It would seem that children are, in fact, the future and should be valued as such. All of them. (Any tears yet? Dang, you are a tough crowd.)
Given all this, it makes this one little story seem a bit odd. We're told a…

Church Outside the Walls

I received an ebook copy of Church Outside the Walls by Raj Samuel. Raj is a house church planter who is committed to education and church unity.

Raj has written this short book, just over 100 pages, for the purpose of educating Christians back to their original purpose. But he begins his whole book with a quote by a Hindu. "Christianity has failed in the West. Christians should not try to promote their religion in other parts of the world when it has not worked here in the West."

There are so very many things wrong with thsi remark, none the least of which is the fact that Christianity did not originate in the West, so it is philosophically unsound to argue for it not to be spread farther from here. Since Christianity was begun in Jerusalem and the spread everywhere from there, we should not be so elitist in the West to assume that our successes or failures have any bearing on Christianity worldwide.

Leaving that thought for the moment, Raj spends the rest of his words ta…

Always Be Prepared

Always be prepared. It's a lot more than just a slogan for the Boy Scouts. It's great advice for anyone hoping not to get caught off guard. Hey, it's even a command given by the Apostle Peter when he tells us to always be ready with an answer for the hope that we have.

My senior pastor was prepared this past Sunday when he discussed being prepared. It would have just been ironic if he hadn't been prepared. But thankfully he was as he discussed the many ways that God prepared Mary for being the mother of the Son of God. That's a tall order.

Aside from being prepared to play the role of such an important mom in history, her and Joe were first time parents. Have you ever considered what it was like for them in this regards? For instance, when they had to flee to Egypt, how hectic was that?

I remember packing up for trips with my first child. There was the diaper bag, complete with enough baby food for 3 days, in case we got stuck someplace where Walmart has yet to fin…

God First, Man Second: Christmas Edition part 2

“My soul glorifies the Lord
 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,   for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.” Luke 1:46-55
Well, here we are in week 2 of the Christmas series. God should come first all year long. Christmas is no different. But this isn't how we always deal with Christmas, it is? When it's our birthday, we get gifts. And when it's Jesus' birthday,…

The Perfect Gift...For Me

Have you ever thought about the perfect gift for that special someone you love? You know, the person you hold most dear? That person that you spend hours just wondering what the absolutely best gift could possibly be? And, of course, I’m talking about me.
I’ve wondered about what I would gift to myself. This is despite childhood training that runs in the opposite direction. See, growing up in my family, gifts only happened on 2 occasions. Christmas and birthdays. This worked out alright for me because my birthday is in June. So I was showered with gifts every 6 months. But one of my sisters has a birthday 4 days before Christmas. (Read: short end of the stick.)
If it wasn’t Christmas and it wasn’t our birthday, our days were marked with rations and needs, but not gifts. Long, arduous days until the next season of gifts appeared. (When you read this, Mom, I’m kidding.) But seriously, we were raised that gifts were for special occasions. You shopped for the other members of your family …

The Chronicles of Narnia; The Silver Chair

While Mr. Lewis certainly needs no review from a 'son of Adam' like me, I did just want to comment on my favorite line from the book.

Fear not, I will offer no spoilers if you haven't found time to read book 6 in the series. I would just say that you are missing out until you have read them all.

This line is sandwiched in a scene with a Marsh-wiggle and a Witch. (That line makes no sense to anyone who has never heard of Narnia.) The Witch is trying to convince the heroes, including the aforementioned marsh-wiggle, that the world they thought existed was only an illusion. The Marsh-wiggle, called Puddleglum, says the following:


One word, Ma'am. One word. All you've been saying is quite right, I shouldn't wonder. I'm a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won't deny any of what you've said. But there's one thing more to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things - t…

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

God First, Man Second: Christmas Edition Part 1

I've decided to take my Monday morning focus and zoom in on some scriptures that surround the birth of Christ. The same rules apply. It's God first and man in a distant second.


The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. ~Luke 1:35-38

Here we have an angel delivering what has to be, like, the biggest news any teenage girl has, like, ever received. But this is more than just telling a girl she's miraculously pregnant. We learn about God in these verses. The power of God overshadows. God has actually made a way for His Spirit to be in us!

We can always trust God's Word. It neve…

In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day

Mark Batterson has taken a somewhat obscure couple of Bible passages and made a whole book about it. Yes, he's that good. The book is called In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day. The subtitle is How to Survive and Thrive When Opportunity Roars.

The story has to do with one of King David's mighty men, a man by the name of Benaiah. There was this one time when he chased a lion into a snowy pit. Then he killed the lion. End of story. If you're looking for more details, you won't find any. But if you combine that with other references that tell us about Benaiah becoming the leader of ol' Dave's army, and you can can start to put together a few details.

Benaiah was one bad dude. And you can be too. That's what Mark tells us....sort of. Even though there isn't much to the story, Mark does a fantastic job of inspiring us to embrace the tough times in life and realize that God has many plans for us. Only some of the experiences will be filled with rainbows and…

What About Them? What About Me?

As I was applying discipline to my son (yet again), his older sister said, 'This is going to be good.' My first thought was that I had not seen such bloodthirsty behavior in my children. Then I took a second to ponder. Isn't this what they seek every time they tattle? Aren't they looking for justice to be meted out in quick fashion? Could it be that my children stand back in giddy excitement whenever a sibling is in trouble?

Sigh.

So, after finishing with my son, who indeed did deserve punishment, I moved on to his sister. We had a conversation about what loving our brother really means. We talked about how we should want good for one another, not bad.

It was later that I realized how very human their response is.

The fact is that we all cry out to God for justice to be delivered to our enemies. We're not the first generation to be like this.You can just about flip blindly through the book of Psalms and land on a song where David wishes punishment on his enemies. …

God First, Man Second; 1 Corinthians 10:30-31

If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for? So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. ~1 Corinthians 10:30-31

It's turkey time this week. So I wanted a verse that focused on thankfulness. Or at least contained the word. Because, as you know, I'm nothing if not current with the times. Who knows, I may even mention Rebecca Black in an upcoming post sometime soon. Has her 15 minutes already passed?

Anyways, I know I could have chosen a more basic verse on being thankful, however, that's not how I roll. I chose this scripture from 1 Corinthians simply because Paul is in the middle of an impassioned plea for Christian brothers and sisters to get along.

I agree. We tend to complain about a lot of stuff that just doesn't matter. Or, if it matters a little bit, it won't by next week. That's just how fickle we are. We are very much like seventh grade girls, majoring in the …

God's Story, Your Story

It has been about a decade since I have read a book by Max Lucado. (Max, I'm sorry.) It wasn't for any dislike I had for his books. In fact, quite the opposite. I had probably spent the previous decade reading every book he published.

I guess I just needed a break. But the title alone intrigued me enough to lure me back. I'm glad it did.

Jumping into a book by Max Lucado is like putting on your comfy pants on a rainy day. Being the lyrical wordsmith he is, his writing just warms you instantly.

This particular book is about our story being more than just a one-chapter tale. We are not destined to fail. Yes, the subject matter may be familiar, in a day when we're constantly prodded to be more than we are. The difference with Lucado is that you can read without feeling lost in technical jargon, made-up schemes or quick-fix ideas.

More than mere pop-phsychology, this book offers a genuine look into how we are called to be part of the greatest story ever told. Let it be…

The Truth is in the Mirror

Last Friday I posted a story about a meal with my kids. Luke (8 years old) forgot his manners. Jacie (10 years old) called him out. Luke (still 8 years old) did not like it. It was a good time and you can read about the details here.

As funny as I though Jacie's comment was, I did feel bad for my son. After all, he already has to live with two sisters. That's not easy. I know this all too well. (Feel free to comment, sisters.) But he had just been called out cold on something that he already finds frustrating.

Shouldn't we all be able to sympathize? Or maybe you're some super person that enjoys having others call out your faults. Perhaps you're the type of person who enjoys sitting around while others list, in detail, all the things about you which annoy them.

Oh, you're not one of those types of people?

Maybe we don't have to enjoy it, but I think we should expect it. And, in our experiences, it won't be somethig relatively harmless like talking wit…

God First, Man Second: John 3:16-17

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. ~John 3:16-17

This one is real simple. Each Monday I like to start out the blogging week with a reminder of how God comes first in scripture. We figure out who God is and then we realize who we are. It's kind of like basing all other Indianapolis Colts quarterbacks on the performance of Peyton Manning. You realize really quick that there is no comparison.

In John 3:16-17, we have a clear vision of who God is and what He has done. Our part, by comparison, is quite simple.

God loves. God gives.

We get to not be condemned.

God is love. God is giving eternal life.

We are not condemned. Wow. Think that through. We are not condemned. That is simply amazing! God is the life giver and we are the recipients. That is why God comes first and we come in second...…

Immaturity Times Two

It's not an uncommon event. With 3 children 10 and under, immaturity happens quite frequently in my house. My wife would be quick to add that said immaturity is not limited to the 10 and under crowd. Oh well. Here's what happened;

My 8-year old son, Luke, was just making noise in his younger sister's general direction. This happens a lot, but this time it was at the dinner table, always a precarious time with children without the need for further distractions. My wife was bringing over his second helping of food and suggested he put some in his mouth and stop annoying his sister.

My oldest daughter, Jacie, then aptly commented, 'He'll just talk with food in his mouth.'

I hated to admit it, but she was totally right. Even as he screamed in protest, I could see some of his first helping still in his mouth. Seriously, we're working on him. I'm sure after 8 more years of teaching him table manners, he may be presentable to other people. But then again, I …

Seven Spirits Burning

So I have another book today by John Crowder.

This one is called Seven Spirits Burning and is about the seven-fold nature of the Holy Spirit. Some of you may have heard all you wanted to hear. Others have just had their curiosities piqued. Either way, I would say that for the one who wants to learn something, this book is worth the read.

Crowder is detailed. That can be a very good thing, for someone who hadn't just read another book of his. Early on Crowder uses much of his own material from his book Mystical Union. He said he was laying a foundation. I get that as important as well. I wasn't quite sure this was all foundation that needed to be laid for the subject at hand. It felt at points that we'd left this book and entered another. Indeed, I kept checking the covers.

Once we got past the very in-depth review it was very informed. Although there were still parts where it felt like rabbit trails, albeit smaller ones, were taken. But in the end, the book is organized …

There is a 'Meat' in Team

There is no 'I' in team. But there is an 'I' in win. And if you rearrange the letters in the word team you could spell me. Yeah, we could go round and round like this. Did you realize there is meat in team. Does that do anyone any good? I doubt it. 

I think our spelling gymnastics are beside the point. The fact is that we can make everything about us, which is the exact opposite of what a team should be.

I believe there are two important things to remember when it comes to teamwork.

Teamwork has a price. So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.”
   “Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?”
So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered th…

God First, Man Second ; Hebrews 7:18-19

The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. ~Hebrews 7:18-19

It seems like such a simple equation. Create something good + man's involvement = imperfection guaranteed.

Don't get me wrong. It's not that I dislike us humanoids. I'm a fan...really. It's just that we have a tendency to muck things up. It's not really a problem as long as we have the right expectations.

For example, if I come home from work expecting a steak and lobster meal and my 3 children to be dressed formally, my wife would guess there is something drastically wrong with my expectations. For starters, she's never cooked lobster. Ok, that's actually a stupid place to start for starters.

The point is, my expectations would not be anywhere close to the reality I live in. Not even in the same zip code. However, if I come home expecting supper to be somewhere close to…