Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sign-Up Sheets in Heaven

Funny Chinese Man with Angel Wings from China
Pardon me for having some Christmas jet lag, but this verse hasn't left my thoughts since the holidays.

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:13-14
Why did a whole company of angels show up to the shepherds? It doesn't say they sang. It says they praised God. Why did this ad hoc praise service get shown to the shepherds?

The angels are always praising God. Why did this one instance get revealed? Would the shepherds not have listened to one angel?

So many questions. I have only one answer. I think God realizes that when you are God, you do things like only God can. This is a God-sized event, His son coming to Earth. Yeah, in case you've forgotten, that was kind of a big deal. 

And I also imagine that, if there are sign-up sheets in Heaven, this event needed a few of them. When one comes to realize just how big God is and how worthy He is of praise, why wouldn't you sign up to bring Him praise?

Perhaps that is the better question. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A New Reason to Dislike Country Music

One night I mentioned to my kids that a song had 'twang'. My son asked what 'twang' was. I decided to introduce him to country music by the decade. (In case you're wondering, country music is not something that's listened to in our house.)

To Spotify I went and looked up country music of the 70's and 80's. I figured my children needed to develop a disdain for the genre like I had, only quicker and with less pain.

By the time we listened to a few faves by the Oakridge Boys and Alabama, I had almost lost them entirely. Garth Brooks did nothing to bring them back. But as we progressed to more current hits, I almost won them back with Rascall Flatts' hit Life is a Highway from the movie Cars

Alas the kids soon lost all interest in my ad hoc country music lesson. But then I started looking for current artists and songs and was floored by the craziness of the song titles. At first it was just an attempt to annoy my wife with more twang, but then it became a study in stupidity.

Toby Keith is the #1 perpetrator that I found. Being that I am not a country music fan, he could be the only one. What do I know? It's kind of like judging all of China based on the plastic toys they make for Happy Meals, but here I go anyways.

Red Solo Cup
Beer for My Horses
Beer with Jesus
Beers Ago

The amusement of measuring time in beers, rather than in the sober tradition of year, notwithstanding, why do all his songs have to be about beer? I'm assuming the contents of his red solo cup. 

I realize I could be causing some country music fans out there to think I am a mean-spirited jerk. But slow down. It's not you. I think you're just fine, most likely intelligent, based on the blogs you choose to read. It's just your music that's stupid. 

I did find a hidden gem by Trace Adkins when I found Honky Tonk Badonkadonk. My son asked what a badonkadonk was. 

Thank you country music, for giving me yet another reason to detest you.

Your turn. What music of mine would you like to dis? 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

This Pew Smells


I'm not the type to throw my children under the proverbial bus simply because they make great sermon illustrations. 

Wait a minute...yes I am! So here we go again...

My children, in some areas, have joined a long list of people who have uttered the words, "But we've always done it that way!" Their specific dilemma was when their mother chose not to sit in the same pew that we often frequent. She thought it was a minor decision, until she heard the great outcry that resembled a great heresy whispered in the Holy of Holies. 


People that attend our church may wonder if my family is part of a yearlong experiment in which we measure which pews in our sanctuary are more comfortable. Of course, I'm not saying this would be unnecessary. Think of some of the questions that could be answered by such a study. 

  • Which pew has a better angle for hiding from the pastor when he's looking for you?
  • How far front does one have to sit before there'll no longer be tall people directly in front of you?
  • Which pew smells so bad it actually causes you to speak its name?
  • Perhaps most important, which one has the most padding for my comfort?


Although, some things would be obvious. For instance, everyone knows the farther forward a pew is, the more padding would be left in it, because most people dart for the back rows. My theory is that they must be afraid to have a little too much Jesus spill on them if they are up front. It's sort of a Holy Spirit splash zone up front.

But the reason my family moves around is to keep our children from claiming a particular pew as their own. It's an important lesson, but not the last we are teaching our children. We listen intently to the sermon because we can learn about God from the pastor's teaching. We give money to support the work that brings glory to God. We read and pray and respond, not because we're in the mood that particular Sunday. 

We also discuss how singing is an act of worship we give to God, not because we like the selected song. It's something we do for God, because He is God. 

A couple of years ago, our church preschool had a very special young student. Maddux was physically blind, but after one small conversation with him, I knew he had eyes that could see what many of us are blind to. While entering the Sanctuary where the rest of the children were already practicing a song, Maddux declared, "I bet Jesus really likes this song."

I imagine we should all be spending more time thinking about what Jesus likes than what we prefer. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Woo the New Year: Excerpt 4

I am part of a blogging for books program at Waterbrook Multnomah. With keen insight, they realize that this time of year is often used for reflecting and planning. So they have offered five excerpts from books that can help with that process. This is part 4 of 5. Enjoy! 


greaterword-2

This Year: Dream Bigger, Start Smaller by Steven Furtick

I’ve met a lot of people who knew what it was to burn plows and set out to live for God but didn’t know what to do next. They prayed, they made a commitment—and they got stuck. As a pastor, I’ve seen it over and over again. As a man trying to live for God, I’ve experienced it over and over again.

I’m guessing you’ve made plenty of resolutions about stuff you needed to start doing or stop doing. Maybe you were going to start praying or reading your Bible more.

Or maybe you were going to stop smoking or boycott carbohydrates or stop looking at pornography or stop saying mean things about family members behind their backs. Maybe you decided to break away from a relationship you knew was unhealthy for you.

The way I see it, there are two major reasons why well-intentioned people like us get stuck after we burn our plows.

One, we don’t think big enough. Two, we don’t start small enough.

I’m not trying to talk like Yoda here. Thinking big enough and starting small enough are two sides of the same coin. So I not only want to motivate you to dream bigger dreams for your life. I also want to challenge you to take realistic steps of obedience that can actually make God’s vision come to pass.

After all, our God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20). It is true that we often settle for dreams and visions that are far less than those God has for us. And He wants us to experience much more. If I didn’t believe that, the title of this book would beSamer.

So of course God wants you to believe big—it’s in His very nature. I’ve devoted my whole ministry to inspiring people with this truth. Preacher Dwight L. Moody made a statement that I love: “If God is your partner, make your plans big.” That way of thinking makes my heart race.

But we’re not going to see God’s bigger vision fulfilled in our lives just because we spend more time thinking transcendent thoughts. We don’t attain greater things simply by lying on the couch and concentrating on the possibilities of a better life. Alas, sitting for thousands of hours with my headphones on listening to Guns N’ Roses and imagining I was Axl Rose didn’t translate into my being the lead singer of the world’s most dangerous rock’n’roll band.

You do have to be willing to think big. But the active ingredient of God’s greater work through us is our willingness to start small.

I want to show you an incredible image in one of the first main-stage miracles Elisha performs after Elijah departs and leaves the ministry in his successor’s hands. It demonstrates the principle that small steps and hard work precipitate a move of God. That human action prepares the way for supernatural favor.

It comes from 2 Kings 3, and it goes like this:

King Joram is ruling over Israel during the years when the kingdom is divided. When the king of Moab rebels against him, the frightened king enlists King Jehoshaphat of Judah and the king of Edom to help him. Their combined military force should be fearsome against the Moabites—but they almost immediately run out of water for their armies and animals. Now they are preparing to face a terrifying foe while facing an even more terrifying fate: dying of thirst.

Par for the course in Israel’s history, the crisis drives King Joram to look for divine help. He isn’t desperate for God, but he is desperate for a solution. King Jehoshaphat asks if there is a prophet who could consult God for them. A servant reminds him of Elisha, the artist formerly known as Mr. Plow. So the three kings and their entourages go looking for Elisha.

Elisha confirms to the kings that water will flow from Edom by the time the sun comes up the next morning. Their armies and their animals will have plenty to drink. The drought is almost over. God is going to deliver Moab to His people just as they prayed for. Hallelujah, somebody?

But he tells the kings to take a small, ludicrous step first.

This is what the Lord says: Make this valley full of ditches. (verse 16)

Why would anybody in their right mind dig ditches to hold rain that isn’t even in the forecast?

Because that’s the way faith works. When you know God has promised you greater things, you don’t wait for a sign to appear before you respond. The kings wanted a miracle. They would get their miracle. But first they got a work order: This is no time for the power of positive thinking. Tie a bandanna around your head and pick up a shovel.

It would have been great if all the army had to do was sit around thinking hydration-related thoughts or had a few guided exercises to help them visualize the water. But that’s not how God operates.

It’s as if God says, “If you really believe I’m going to do what I told you I would do, get busy. Show Me your faith, and then I’ll show you My faithfulness. Do your part. If you will do what I asked you to do, I will be faithful to My word.

“If you’ll dig the ditches, I’ll send the rain.”

The entire nation must have pitched in and dug all night, because they got it done. The next morning the water arrived. As promised. As always. The newly installed ditches were full of water, the armies and animals were refreshed, and the joint army easily overtook the Moabites.

I think Elisha used the process of ditch digging to teach Israel this important paradox of great faith:

Only God can send the rain. But He expects you to dig the ditches.

It really comes down to this: What small steps and practical preparations is God asking you to make for the greater life He wants you to live? What ditches is He asking you to dig?

You can’t expect God to entrust you with a big dream if He can’t trust you to make a small start.

You can’t have the apostle Paul’s walk with God overnight. Big dream.

But you can pray ten minutes a day beginning tomorrow. Small start.

You can’t entirely mend a broken relationship overnight. Big dream.

But you can have a conversation and open the door, write the letter, make the call, say, “I’m sorry.” Small start.

If your kid is far from God, you can’t bring him back overnight. Big dream.

But you could start praying for him every day. Small start.

Notice what Elisha doesn’t say; he doesn’t tell the kings to dig one ditch. No singular ditch digging on this prophet’s watch.

Instead, make this valley full of ditches. Plural.

Believe that God is going to send a lot of rain.

If we really believe God is an abundant God, ready and willing to bless our lives in greater ways than we could ever imagine, we ought to be digging all kinds of ditches. In our relationships. In our careers. In our ministries. In every area of our lives, there ought to be heavy-duty equipment on site. Moving dirt. Making preparation.

And we ought to dig ditches using every means available. We can dig ditches with our words. With our prayers. With our expectations. Even with our thoughts.

How many ditches are you willing to dig? How deep will you dig them? You’re not digging alone. And it’s not in vain. God has a downpour scheduled in your near future. The deeper you dig, the greater the rainfall has the potential to be.

Adapted from Greater by Steven Furtick with permission of Multnomah Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.

Friday, January 25, 2013

I Am Not But I Know I AM


If ever there was going to be a perfect blend of blog and book review, today is that day, my friends. It would be like getting just the right amount of fudge on your ice cream, not so much that you're licking fudge off your spoon long after the ice cream is gone. But not so little that you're left eating plain vanilla ice cream at the end of the bowl. That would just be sad. 

Louie Giglio, author of I am not but I know I AM can come pray at my inauguration anytime he would like. I have only heard Louie preach before, but I was pretty stoked to grab a copy of his latest book. In this one book, Giglio does a great job of explaining why it's all about God and how that makes it not about us at us all.

Along the way, he also explains why it's okay for us to be uncomfortable with this truth. 

If this fact makes you feel a tad bit uncomfortable, you're not alone. Invariably, when I talk about the vastness of God and the cosmos, someone will say, "You're making me feel bad about myself and making me feel really, really small," as if that's the worst thing that could happen. But the point is not to make you feel small, rather to help you see and embrace the reality that you are small. Really, really small.
But that's not where the story ends. ~Louie Giglio, pg44

Indeed, that is not where the story ends. Louie weaves many a story into the vast truth of God. Honestly, this should be required reading for any believer. It was not required reading for me. I received this book for free from my good friends at Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing. They give me books and ask me to tell people what I think.

You can check out some more by following these links;


If you've never taken the time to consider just how big God is, let this book be your tour through the cosmos. Because in discovering how big God really is, we'll also discover just how small we are. But this is not to our shame. We are what God created us to be. The knowledge of how small we are, coupled with the fact God created us, should leave us focused, not on our smallness, but on the glory of God. 

After all, I am not, but I know I AM.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Insignificant Control

Maniacal Laughter!

I don't know if you could hear my maniacal laughter. It was just last week....on Thursday, I believe. It was in the evening sometime.

It wasn't the deep and throaty laughter, like the archnemesis of Inspector Gadget, Doctor Claw. Although there was a cat nearby.

It also wasn't high and crackly, like some sort of evil stereo-typical witch.

It was the kind you'd write out like bwa-ha-ha! Can you hear that? Do you want to know why I was laughing? I guess, even if you said no, you can't stop me from answering.

AND THAT'S JUST IT!

I was laughing at my complete and total control to write whatever nonsense blather I so desire on this blog. Some of you are assuming that's what I've been doing. Perhaps, but I digress. I don't co-write this with anyone, so when it comes to creative decision making, there is a committee of one.

If I want to write about ducks, I write about ducks. (You can search, but I don't think I've written about ducks.) Onions, religion, cupcakes, The Office, or scary facial hair on women. The gamut is wide open. I can write anything and nobody can stop me.

However...

You, of course, have total control over whether or not you will subject yourself to what I write. So my maniacal laughter died down fairly quickly once I realized how insignificant my control was. You have equal yet opposite control. So, basically, none of us can really accomplish all that much. At least, not on our own.

The sooner we realize how much we need one another, the better off we will be. So tell me, what area do you feel you have total control over? Where do you have no control?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Jesus the Teenager


They say teenagers aren't paying attention to the Bible and the example Jesus left us. I'm not so sure about that. Luke 2 seems to be a story they might be paying attention to.

Joe and Mary are making the yearly trek to Jerusalem for Passover. On the way back home, they play a game of I-thought-you-had-Jesus. Retracing their steps back to Jerusalem, they find Jesus at the Temple. Jesus, what's going on?

“Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he was saying to them. ~Luke 2:49-50

You can almost hear the 'Duh!' coming towards Joseph and Mary. And we see evidence that the teenager seemed to know more than his parents. With teenagers on the way in my own home, I read this with a bit of concern. 

What about you? Do you have any examples of teenagers getting the wrong idea from Jesus?


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Lies Within Lies

feeldesain-Truth and Lies poster series

It seems to me that much of what we are fighting against are not lies. Let me rephrase that. We're not fighting against the original lies. We are fighting against the lies that have been created by other lies.

Let's back up a step.

Some Pharisees came to [Jesus] to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”
“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”
“Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”
Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.” ~Matthew 19:3-9

This is an example of  a lie created by another lie. Do you see the assumptions in this question by the Pharisees? 1. Divorce is something that will happen. 2. Divorce is normal. 3. There are good reasons to divorce.

They kept asking about Moses and the Law and Jesus kept pointing them back to Creation. To original purpose. Jesus barely acknowledged their distractions and pointed out things that should never be forgotten. In this instance, two becoming one was the idea, with no thought to becoming two again.

Divorce is clearly not the only area where people say things that often distract from the original God-given purpose. There are many others, most of which are seen as big deals in today's society. I believe that many of the things we see being argued about over the blogosphere are items in which we have lost sight of God's original purpose. 

This is something that will need to change if we are ever going to do what God wants us to do. What would you add to this? What discussion do you think people are way off about?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Woo the New Year: Excerpt 3

I am part of a blogging for books program at Waterbrook Multnomah. With keen insight, they realize that this time of year is often used for reflecting and planning. So they have offered five excerpts from books that can help with that process. This is part 3 of 5. Enjoy! 


sparkword

Learning the Art of Self-challenge by Jason Jaggard

Through taking healthy risks that make you a better person or the world a better place, you begin to develop a deeper appetite for good. At first it might not be very tasty. Taking even a small risk can be more difficult than it sounds. And that is why we have to practice. We have to develop the skill of challenging ourselves.

We want the act of making healthy choices to become a natural and authentic part of who we are. But before something can become a habit, it often is a hassle. Put another way: if we want new habits to become instinctual, then they must first be intentional. And in order for that to happen, we have to practice the sacred art of self-challenge.

I don’t want to freak you out, but what we’re really talking about is obedience. Obedience to God is the path that leads to Life. It’s the path that transforms you into the person you long to be.
And obedience always requires risk.

What’s amazing is that much of our obedience is instinctual. In at least some areas of life, we naturally make healthy choices. We naturally smile at a stranger, or perhaps we have a great work ethic or are naturally curious or easygoing.

Yet we can’t define obedience solely in terms of what comes naturally. Often our greatest moments of obedience come when it is least natural. Perhaps our natural tendency in certain situations is unhealthy or hurtful. Or perhaps what we naturally want to do is nothing, to avoid taking action when action is called for. In these moments we have to choose something else, something we don’t want to do, something that, most likely, will move us into the space of the unknown.

I want to be a person who is able to act—who is able to obey—even when it’s unnatural.

Intentionality and risk are the ways we develop a greater capacity to obey. When we say, “I’m going to do this thing that I wouldn’t normally do,” we are developing the capacity to grow into the people we were meant to be.

When Jesus invited people to follow Him, He was inviting them to obey Him. There are parts of you that already reflect God’s character, parts of your uniqueness that are expressions of something God wanted to say when He created you. Those are already consistent with following Jesus.

Maybe it’s your smile.
Maybe it’s your way with people.
Maybe it’s your work ethic.
Maybe it’s your sense of right and wrong.
Maybe it’s your intelligence or your curiosity for life.
Maybe it’s your sense of responsibility or your flare for fun.

These things are good just the way they are. It’s easy to obey when God calls us to things we naturally love. When God calls us to the stuff we already like (which happens a lot more than we realize), it’s one of the great pleasures of life.

Risk is the central narrative of the scriptures. When I do Spark Group trainings with faith communities, I always have participants do this exercise:

1. Pick any person in the scriptures that comes to mind.
2. Identify the risk God called that person to take.

This is surprisingly easy. And once people get going, it’s hard to get them to stop. Abraham: stopped living with his parents at age seventy and moved into no man’s land to start his own nation. Moses: even with a speech impediment, he stood up to the most powerful man in the world to liberate an enslaved people. Mary: endured the shame of people assuming she had been unfaithful to her fiancé. Joseph: remained committed to a teenage girl, his fiancée, who in the eyes of their neighbors and extended family was almost certainly an adulteress.

Samson.

Ruth.

The apostle Paul.

Rahab.

The twelve fellas who quit their jobs to follow Jesus, most of whom were later killed for doing so.
The people whose stories are recorded in the history of the scriptures all took risks—often huge risks—to be a part of what God was doing in the world. It seems like a prerequisite for being mentioned in the narrative of the movement of God is the willingness and courage to risk.
Like God’s people throughout history, we can jump into life in ways that only we can so that God can move in ways we cannot. Call it faith if you want, but in terms of everyday life, it’s risk. And it’s through risk that God can change our lives.

Faith. Love. Hope.

Risk. Compassion. Optimism.

When we begin to live out these values, we create a context that is thick with potential. When we have the courage to take risks of compassion that produce optimism in others, we create space for God to move and work. We begin to form our souls into the kind of textured lives that gives God traction to guide us into the future He dreamed we could participate in. And we become fully alive.

This is what Jesus did two thousand years ago. He assembled a team and spent three years with them, throwing them into the deep end of serving humanity. Coaching them. Teaching them. And then He kept saying weird things, such as “Have faith in me and you will do greater things than what I have done.”

And then, before He turned His followers and friends loose to serve humanity on God’s behalf, He said: “Go, create cultures of servant leadership, of risk, compassion, and optimism out of every society.”

He looked into the eyes of folks like you and me and said, “Go.” Risk. Care. Create.
Just like the people you’ve read about in this book, you have ideas that need to be set free. God has placed potential inside you, potential for creative joy and love, strength and peace. And all of that needs to be unleashed.

So risk. Choose something. Do something. Partner together with God and others to pull off something beautiful that serves humanity. It will be hard. You will experience failure. But I promise, you will never regret it.

As Steven Ma put it: “It’s definitely a challenge. It’s definitely a risk. But most important: it’s fun.”
This is the way the world heals. It is the way God has chosen to move through the contours of history. He has chosen our hearts, our feet, our fingertips. Some people will hear God’s voice only if it sounds like ours, inviting them into the adventure of hope that we have been invited into.

This is how we spark our world. When we begin to realize that learning is a verb and that life is the best classroom. When we begin taking risks of compassion in the context of community. When we start intentionally leaning into our relationships, our careers, our faith. When we step outside of our comfort zones and experience a life that can exist only if God is with us.

Our world will begin to change.

One small risk at a time.

Adapted from Spark by Jason Jaggard with permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Rick's Rants: Half the Evidence

I have begun a new series where I rage against the injustices in life that others simply won't get behind. While they are busy fighting things like world hunger and gun control, I'm going to reveal things that I think we could all agree on. So far, I've tackled the Christmas spirit and the Tooth Fairy. Today, I tackle sporting events.

From about November through February is one of my favorite times of year. It's not the snowy weather and lack of sunlight that I enjoy. But as long as I'm going to be stuck inside, I might as well enjoy some sporting events. My preference is turning to the NBA and the NFL. You can have your amateur athletes if you like, but I want my sports heroes to be overpaid babies who have all but forgotten the fundamentals of the game. 

But there's something worse than the athletes. It's the commentators. Specifically it's when the analysts start voting on the shot (or play) of the game with 8 minutes left in the game. I know its just an excuse to advertise a product, but perhaps the whole game should be played before we decide the shot of the game. 

Here's the shot of the game. It's almost like telling us that it's all missed lay ups and bad defense from here on out. Why would we do this? Would we do this in other areas of life? 

You wouldn't award the bite of the meal before you had dessert, would you? That would be silly. 
You wouldn't hand out student of the year after the first week of school. 
You shouldn't discuss a book's worth after reading only the first couple of chapters. 

It's like life. The whole story has not been told. The last shot hasn't been taken. The last paragraph hasn't been written. 

It's not over just yet. Don't make any decisions on a matter when there is still time left on the clock.

Who's with me?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Significant Lies

I use the word significance often here on this blog. Unfortunately auto-correct doesn't catch the may ways I misspell it when I get to typing too fast. Alas, the topic intrigues me.

I think it should be fairly clear I have no problem with my own insignificance when compared to the uber and only significant God. That's philosophical. Of course, accepting that in real life is a totally different matter, which is why many stories are told here of my search for insignificance.

Having said that, what isn't insignificant is truth. I believe that without truth, we have nothing solid with which to compare...well....anything. Which is why I am not as pleased with recent survey revealing a drop in lying by teenagers.

You can view the report right here. Here's just a glimpse of the larger report.

LOS ANGELES, CA (November 20, 2012) -- A continual parade of headline-grabbing incidents of dishonest and unethical behavior from political leaders, business executives and prominent athletes suggests that we are in a moral recession. But a new report — the 2012 Report Card on the Ethics of American Youth — suggests that a robust recovery is underway.
The survey of 23,000 high school students, which was conducted by the Los Angeles-based Josephson Institute of Ethics, reveals that for the fi rst time in a decade students are cheating, lying and stealing less than in previous years. The Institute conducts the national survey every two years.

CHEATING: In 2010, 59 percent of students admitted they had cheated on an exam in the past year; in
2012 that rate dropped to 51 percent. Students who copied an Internet document for an assignment dropped 2 percent, from 34 percent in 2010 to 32 percent this year. Other good news:

LYING: Students who said they lied to a teacher in the past year about something significant dropped
from 61 percent in 2010 to 55 percent in 2012. Those who lied to their parents about something signifi cant
also dropped from 80 percent to 76 percent. In 2012, 38 percent of the students said they sometimes lie to save money; that is a drop of 3 percent from 2010.

STEALING: In 2010, 27 percent of the students said they had stolen something from a store in the past
year. In 2012 that number dropped to 20 percent. In 2010, 17 percent said they stole something from a
friend in the past year compared to 14 percent in 2012. The percentage who said they stole something from a parent or other relative in the past year also decreased (from 21 to 18 percent).
if you tell a lie big enough...

I'm not convinced these are good figures. The lying section is most troubling to me. First of all, I think we need to define what 'significant' means. Significant to the teens? Or to the one being lied to? One is trying to stay out of trouble while the other is a victim.

Secondly, how do we know that teens perspective on what is significant hasn't dropped? If they have adjusted to certain levels of lying on a habitual basis, then they will begin to lose their concept of what should be viewed as 'significant'.

Of course, depending on how we view the lying stats, it brings into question every other answer the teens are giving. After all, what if they don't find the surveys to be of significance? 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Copy Cat

Copy Cat


Remember when your brother or sister would copy everything thing you said or did. That was annoying. Especially when you had the sister that didn't mind copying you even when you said things like, "I'm a big dork." 


But there's no stopping a person from copying you when they are a 6-year old and they are unafraid to say anything and willing to laugh their way through anything you come up with. My daughter did this to me the other night. It was actually kind of fun.

She said she was a silly girl.
She said she like smelling her own farts.
She may have even picked her nose. 

Yeah, I'm a bit extreme in playing with my children. She wanted to copy me. She copied me even when I said, "Stop copying me." So I went for self-deprecation. It didn't work. 6-year olds have no pride. 

But God asked to be copied. 

Ephesians 5:1 tells us to be imitators of God. He doesn't get annoyed by it. He doesn't ask us to do stuff that is pointless. It may make us feel silly or awkward at points, but imitating God is always for a purpose. 

When little kids, annoying sisters, or other socially awkward people mimic others, it is to get a laugh. When we imitate God, it is to live the life. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I Wish It Would Be Less Ironic

Last year I was travelling to a conference. The whole six hour drive was mostly uneventful. I had audiobooks and an iPod full of music, my cruise control and very little traffic. So I would listen to authors read their book and then rock out to some chick rock for a while. Yeah, I can admit it.

Hard Rain

About 20 minutes before I arrived at the conference center, the sky opened up and it rained hard. Ironically, I was jamming to Phil Collins. Of all the songs I enjoy by him, the song playing was I Wish It Would Rain Down.

I guess I got my wish.


It struck me that listening to a song wishing for rain, while driving in the rain, is like continuing to ask for blessings from God while being blessed. It's ironic.

I habitually pray for safety, while living in a world behind locked doors. I pray for peace and rest, in my life of leisure. I pray for God to provide, while having seconds of my favorite meal. I ask for more in a world that has everything I need or want everywhere I turn.

Perhaps we should spend a bit more time thanking God, instead of asking for more of what we already have.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Woo the New Year: Excerpt 2

I am part of a blogging for books program at Waterbrook Multnomah. With keen insight, they realize that this time of year is often used for reflecting and planning. So they have offered five excerpts from books that can help with that process. This is the second of five. Enjoy! 


gospelword


Starting the New Year with a Fresh Perspective by Mike Glenn


In the story of the prodigal son, Luke uses a curious phrase when the younger son realizes what he has lost and determines to go home. The King James Version translates the phrase, “He came to himself.” That phrase has always fascinated me. How do you come to yourself? Can you set yourself down somewhere and then forget where you left yourself? Actually, it is something like that. We can become so buried under mistakes and failure, stuffed under grief and regret, that we get to the place where we no longer recognize ourselves. But God’s “yes” changes all that. When the Spirit changes our true identity in Christ, we leave behind everything that is false and start walking toward the truth of Christ and who he created us to be.

Changing your mind
Walking away from the lies and destruction of sin is very close to the practical meaning of biblical repentance. It goes far beyond feeling bad about your sin—all the way to literally changing the direction of your life. And to change your life, you have to change the way you think. A change in your life’s direction means you stop fighting the current of God’s grace that flows in your spirit. Now you start flowing with the current of grace. As you reorient your life in the direction of God’s leading, you find your efforts are amplified through the Spirit’s presence in the same way an ocean current enhances the work of a ship’s sails.

When we talk about Christian conversion, we emphasize feelings of conviction and a decision to confess our sins and seek forgiveness. But we don’t stress the essential role played by our thinking. The problem that results is we don’t change the way we think, so we end up not changing our behavior. For a total transformation of a person’s life, the mind as well as the heart must change. We live the way we do because we think the way we do. The mess is in our heads before it is in our lives, but it moves from the mind to daily life.

This changes when we ask Christ to renew our minds, to alter the way we think. We need to allow our minds to be completely transformed. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” When your mind is transformed, your life will follow.

I am not naive. I understand the lure of sin and the effectiveness of its deceptions. And I am familiar with the consequences of sin. I have sat with large numbers of people and listened as they recognized and talked through the harmful consequences of their actions. When the cost of their failures sinks in, it is devastating. A man’s infidelity cost him his wife and children. For a few minutes of pleasure, he traded away a future with his family. It takes only one incident to disrupt a friendship, a career, a family, a life. Lies are told, discovered, and confessed in tears, but how can a person regain trust? Sin looks good in the moment but only because it’s hiding the future consequences.

I’m convinced we don’t understand the total impact of salvation. We make it about feelings or a one-time decision to confess our sins and trust in Christ’s death and resurrection. But to live a new life, to be completely transformed, our salvation has to be about the total person, including our minds.

Changing your frame of reference
If in obedience to Christ we are going to make different choices, we have to adopt Christ’s way of looking at things. God will create a new mind in you and me, but we have to join willingly in the process. And part of thinking differently is letting go of old assumptions and preferences and accepting the preferences of God.

In Acts 10 we read the story of the early church hearing from God a “yes” that led to its dropping of ethnic barriers. A Roman centurion named Cornelius was praying, and in his prayers he was told to find a man named Peter. Peter, in the meantime, also was praying. In his prayers Peter saw a vision of a sheet holding all kinds of animals—and they weren’t kosher. Although Peter was told to kill and eat, he refused. Again the vision came, and again Peter refused to eat. Each time, Jesus confronted Peter with the following rebuke: “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” Only when Cornelius’s messengers appeared at his gate did Peter begin to understand the message of the vision. Nothing created by God, people most of all, can ever be called unclean.

God created Gentiles just as he did Jews, and no one—Gentiles included—was inferior to anyone else. God loves those outside the nation of Israel on a par with the descendants of Abraham. Having grown up under the influence of Jewish traditions and biases, Peter must have had difficulty processing this. But to his credit, he was obedient to Christ and changed the way he thought about these matters. And not just the way he thought, but his life and his preaching as well.

Free of condemnation
There are two reasons we should not condemn others or ourselves. First, we all are created in the image of God. And second, Christ died for sinners. This is the price God was willing to pay for our redemption. We are called to live in the glory of knowing what we are worth. And when we don’t, we damage ourselves, one another, and the world we live in. Sin devalues us as people and causes us to see others and all creation as lacking worth. Sin negates the good work Christ does in us and in the world. Where Christ speaks “yes,” sin says “no.”

We have things in our lives that cause shame or grief, and they act as a giant but to the good news of Christ. He promises us new life, which sounds great, but…“my family business went bankrupt after I misspent some accounts. I was going to pay it back, but then everything collapsed.” And suddenly we forget the promise of Christ. He promises forgiveness and second chances, but it’s hard to believe the second chance could still apply after the things we’ve done.

Why do we think that we alone committed a sin so horrible it exceeds Jesus’s ability to forgive? This kind of thinking is the ultimate heresy. What we are saying is the death of Jesus was payment enough for everyone else’s sins, but our sin is so monstrous that his death isn’t enough to cover it.

Let Christ change the way you think so you can let go of that lie. Jesus paid it all. No part of the debt has been left for you or me to pay by working hard to clean up our own lives. On our own we can’t get clean enough to impress God. Whatever we might try, we will always be unworthy of his love. The gift of God’s “yes” in Christ is unearned, given to us freely. Our relationship with God is not a contract; it is a covenant, a bond of mutual love and commitment. In this covenant the parties are not equal, but the arrangement is mutual. Christ died for us and offers us his salvation, and we accept what he did for us as a free gift—on his terms.

Christ opens the door; we need only to walk through it. We then live our lives in loving response to God’s grace expressed in Jesus. This is the mutual love and commitment of the covenant. Yet, for some reason, we have a hard time believing the gift of salvation is free. Who would give away something like that? So we think we have to earn it.

Adapted from The Gospel of Yes by Mike Glenn with permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Rick's Rants: You Want Money For That?

Last week I began a new series, this one focused on the many things wrong with our world. You can read about the first one here. But you won't find me ranting about the government or gun control here. There's plenty of people yelling about that. I'm going to find the causes that no celebrity is taking the time to get behind.

This week, it's the tooth fairy!


Yeah, you read that right.

What is the deal with the tooth fairy? Parents come up with a story of this fairy who hands out quarters for teeth. And some of you reading this are part of a serious problem with inflation, as my kids think we have a tooth fairy giving them the shaft since all their friends are getting $5 per tooth. Are you kidding me?

But my real problem isn't with the money. The real problem is where we place the tooth. Where should we put the tooth? Underneath the head of the sleeping child whom you are trying not to wake?!?? Whose idea was this? I fight every night to get these wiggly midgets to lay down and go to sleep. Now I have to go play a high stakes game of Operation as I try to reach beneath their head, remove the little baby tooth and replace it with coins. 

That sounds fun!

Why didn't we just tell the kid they should be holding the tooth in their hand? At least with Santa the parent could eat a plate of cookies!

And has anyone ever thought to ask what the tooth fairy is doing with all these teeth? Is there some sort of cloning experiment going on that we should be asking questions about? After all, the fairy is paying out cold hard cash in exchange for these bicuspids.

I guess my beef is with the parents, from long ago, who had nothing better to do than give their kids money for lost body parts. If this is how it was supposed to work, then I'd like to have seen at least $20 when the doctors took out my rupturing appendix. Never saw a dime for that. I didn't get to put that under my pillow. I bet if I had, we would have gotten to the bottom of this tooth fairy story real fast. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

God First, God Last

X American Idol

I'm a dad. As a dad, I find myself repeating myself many times. Don't hit your sister, don't go near the oven when it's on, don't stick your finger there. All. The. Time. 

So I can appreciate a guy like the Apostle John who repeats himself seemingly over and over in his first letter. Love this, love them, love God and don't stick your finger there. John has a message that he wants to get across and he makes sure it is simple and clear. 

So it's not totally surprising when he ends his letter with a warning against idols, Billy or otherwise. The letter ends abruptly, but it does sum it up.

Dear children, keep yourselves from idols. ~1 John 5:21
It's the last verse of his letter, almost a passing thought. But as if he might not see or write them again, he turns the focus clearly between God and anything else that might take God's place. 

This might be the best way to end any encouragement to anyone. Yes, there is a lot to our Christian faith. There is much to be taught and much to be learned. There are things to debate and things to practice. There are standards to be sought after and much praise to be sung. 

But, in the end, after all is said and done, it is about a choice. Between God and not-God. Anything that isn't God is an idol.

"Dear children, keep yourselves from idols."

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Working Like You're Going On Vacation


Just before Christmas came, I was working hard. I was checking things off my own list and checking it twice. Unlike other years, it was not my shopping list for my wife. Her brand new Snuggie and bottle of lotion for dish pan hands was wrapped safely under the tree.

If anyone thinks that is true, they should be wondering how I survived to write this post.

Nevertheless, my shopping was done. My list was a to-do list and I was making sure it was complete because I was taking a vacation until the New Year. WooT! As Type-A as I am every week, I am doubly so when about to take some vacation days. The reason is simple; I don't want to leave anything left undone where someone might have the need to contact me.

Don't get me wrong. I love the people I work with and I love what I do. But when I'm breaking, I plan to disappear and be invisible. Like a high-tech spy, I am gone and good luck to you finding evidence of my existence.

So back to those last days before vacation. It was amazing how simple decisions became. As the time ran out, I simply made a call on lots of things that had sat for weeks on my list. It wasn't that the decisions were life-altering or Earth-shattering. They weren't. But I had gone back and forth on the list of pros and cons and the time was now.

So the decisions were made. Just like that. Every day should be like the day before we go on vacation.

Should we make snap judgments on every decision? No, but we make it seem like choosing a flavor of ice cream could ruin the next few months of our work.

Is this like working yourself out of a job or like you're never coming back? As much as I appreciate those who have offered that people, especially in ministry, should always be working themselves out of a job, this is not what I am saying. As someone who values longevity in ministry, I'm not sure I totally agree with that line of thinking.

But beyond that, we think differently when we think we're never coming back. Unlike retirement, I know I'm coming back. I know the decisions I make will affect others...and me. But here's the thing. Not every decision is going to be the best one. Even if they were, there would still be more decisions waiting.

So don't get stuck on which topping your pizza needs or how many 2-liters of pop to bring. Make the call. Move on. Enjoy your vacation, or perhaps just a good night's sleep. Then come back and do it all over again.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Woo the New Year: Excerpt 1

I am part of a blogging for books program at Waterbrook Multnomah. With keen insight, they realize that this time of year is often used for reflecting and planning. So they have offered five excerpts from books that can help with that process. I'll be posting one each week right here on my blog. This first one is from a book I just reviewed yesterday. Enjoy! 

unstoppableword

Putting Your Faith in Action by Nick Vujicic
Having faith, beliefs, and convictions is a great thing, but your life is measured by the actions you take based upon them. You can build a great life around those things you believe and have faith in. I’ve built mine around my belief that I can inspire and bring hope to people facing challenges in their lives. That belief is rooted in my faith in God. I have faith that He put me on this earth to love, inspire, and encourage others and especially to help all who are willing to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. I believe that I can never earn my way to heaven, and by faith I accept the gift of the forgiveness of sins through Christ Jesus. However, there’s so much more than just “getting in” through the Pearly Gates. It is also about seeing others changed by the power of His Holy Spirit, having a close relationship with Jesus Christ throughout this life, and then being further rewarded in heaven.

Being born without arms and legs was not God’s way of punishing me. I know that now. I have come to realize that this “disability” would actually heighten my ability to serve His purpose as a speaker and evangelist. You might be tempted to think that I’m making a huge leap of faith to feel that way, since most people consider my lack of limbs a huge handicap. Instead, God has used my lack of limbs to draw people to me, especially others with disabilities, so I can inspire and encourage them with my messages of faith, hope, and love.

In the Bible, James said that our actions, not our words, are the proof of our faith. He wrote in James 2:18, “Now someone may argue, ‘Some people have faith; others have good deeds.’ But I say, ‘How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.’ ”

I’ve heard it said that our actions are to our faith and beliefs as our bodies are to our spirits. Your body is the housing of your spirit, the evidence of its existence. In the same way, your actions are the evidence of your faith and beliefs. You have no doubt heard the term “walking the talk.” Your family, friends, teachers, bosses, coworkers, customers, and clients all expect you to act and live in alignment with the beliefs and convictions that you claim to have. If you don’t, they will call you out, won’t they?

Our peers judge us not by what we say but by what we do. If you claim to be a good wife and mother, then you sometimes will have to put your family’s interests above your own. If you believe your purpose is to share your artistic talents with the world, then you will be judged on the works you produce, not on those you merely propose. You have to walk the talk; otherwise you have no credibility with others—or with yourself—because you, too, should demand that your actions match your words. If they don’t, you will never live in harmony and fulfillment.

As a Christian, I believe the final judge of how we’ve lived is God. The Bible teaches that His judgment is based on our actions, not our words. Revelation 20:12 says, “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” I act upon my beliefs by traveling the world and encouraging people to love one another and to love God. I am fulfilled in that purpose. I truly believe it is why I was created. When you act upon your beliefs and put your faith into action, you, too, will experience fulfillment. And please, do not be discouraged if you aren’t always absolutely confident in your purpose and how to act upon it. I have struggled. I still struggle. And so will you. I fail and am far from perfect. But deeds are merely the fruit—the result of the depth of a true conviction of the truth. Truth is what sets us free, not purpose. I found my purpose because I was looking for truth.

It is hard to find purpose or good in difficult circumstances, but that is the journey. Why did it have to be a journey? Why couldn’t a helicopter just pick you up and carry you to the finish line? Because throughout the difficult times, you will learn more, grow more in faith, love God more, and love your neighbor more. It is the journey of faith that begins in love and ends in love.

Frederick Douglass, the American slave turned social activist, said, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” Your character is formed by the challenges you face and overcome. Your courage grows when you face your fears. Your strength and your faith are built as they are tested in your life experiences.

Adapted from Unstoppable by Nick Vujicic with permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Unstoppable


If you're into making resolutions, then Unstoppable by Nick Vujicic is a good book to pick up. He is a Christian motivational speaker and if you can walk away from time spent with him and still feel bad bout your life, then you may indeed have some big problems.

You see, Nick was born without arms or legs. But that hasn't stopped him from doing what he wants to do. In his book he shares his own story, both the good and the bad, along with many other people's stories.

I don't think reading a book like this will make your problems simply disappear. They are still your problems. However, I think reading Nick's story will help put your problems in perspective and give you hope that your problems can be overcome. And hope is what keeps us looking and moving forward.

I received this book for free from my good friends at Waterbrook Multnomah. They give me books. I offer what I think.






Friday, January 4, 2013

Rick's Rants: Festivus Is On!

Christmas is past. The New Year has begun. If you're into celebrating everything, then Hanukkah and Kwanzaa are also in your rear view mirror. But one holiday I'd like to celebrate all year long here on the blog is Festivus.

Any self-respecting Seinfeld fan will remember this made up holiday, in which the Costanzas gave up the trappings of Christmas and put up a Festivus Pole instead of a tree. They also had the airing of grievances, a special time when people told each other what they really thought.

It is in that spirit that I introduce a new series to my blog. I will rant, I will rave, I will tell you exactly what I think. Some topics will be serious, the others perhaps not so much. Hopefully you will be able to tell the difference before you post a comment that could leave me weeping bitterly.

To get us started, and since we're just now leaving the holidays, let's meet the first topic I'd like to go all rage against the machine on.

It's Christmas. Say what? Yes, Christmas!

Before you assume I'm a Grinch or really want to celebrate Festivus, allow me to clarify. Some people say they want to have the Christmas spirit all year long. That's just stupid. How will stores know when to put stuff on sale if we celebrate Christmas all year long?

You might think we can just have stuff on sale all year long, but apparently you slept the day they taught retail in Economics. We can't have people shopping all year long based on actual need instead of being swept up in a whirlwind of toys they never knew they needed. And don't go talking to me about boosting profits and all that. Millionaire moguls have to feed their golden spoon-fed children too.

Contentment you say? Bah, antiquated notion, says I.

Some might argue the spirit of Christmas is not about what we buy with credit but about the love we share with family and friends. I scoff. The receipts say otherwise and the spirit of Christmas is simply unaffordable the entire year long.

So keep wanting the Christmas spirit all year long, but I say let's pack it up with the decorations and put them all back in the attic until after next Thanksgiving.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Did You Hear That?

There is some scuttlebutt around the church office that a ghost inhabits the church building. I'm not sure if you should be more surprised about a ghost in a church or my sick use of the word scuttlebutt. Either way, I speak of what I hear.

There are reports of a whistling noise, heard often at night and, predictably, when there's not a crowd. It's not a wind or a train but the mystery remains. I wish I could tell you more, but alas, that's all I know.

It does make me wonder if someone is watching me while I work. I detest the thought of someone being over my shoulder, so I guess I could use that as an excuse when I'm distracted. It also makes me second guess when I'm checking my teeth after lunch or my nose for a stray hair.

Yeah, this post is going a little crazy...just like some of those nose hairs.

I suppose the thought of a ghost watching us shouldn't be all that alarming. We serve a God whom we cannot see. This causes questions and doubts for some and fears for others. We're not alone. Job had this to say many years ago.

“But if I go to the east, he is not there;
if I go to the west, I do not find him.
When he is at work in the north, I do not see him;
when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.
But he knows the way that I take;
when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. ~Job 23:8-10

But rather than simply feel in the same despondent boat as Job, I read this and feel encouraged. I think you should as well. Because when I read this, I hear;

You can't always see me, but I can see you. ~God

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Windows 8 and The Pew With My Name On It


Recently I got a new computer. New! That's exciting, but it comes with a cost. I'm not talking about the price tag. I don't know about you, but the process of transferring everything from one computer to another can be tedious. 

For starters, you got a new computer most likely because the old one wasn't working well or it was working about the speed of a 1950's secretary who didn't know shorthand. Now that it knows you're replacing it, what makes anyone think it will transfer files with any proficiency at all?

When you finally get the new computer on, you suffer from what can only be described as a first-world problem. It seems our good friend Billy Gates has decided the latest operating software was working too well, so he decided to make a new one. In this case, that was Windows 8. 

Hooray, change!

When it comes to computers, though, I don't fear much change. Just show me where I can find Minesweeper and I should be okay. 

But we have a lot of areas in life where change scares us. Just think about your opinion on the following:

·         When your grocery store rearranges where they put everything.
·         When somebody decides to remake your favorite classic song.
·         Writing the new year as you date your checks.
·         Realizing that many people don't even write checks anymore. 
·         Any Facebook update.
·         When someone sits in the pew with your name on it.
That's right; it infects the Church as well. From updating classic hymns to rock choruses and tweaking the worship schedule to changing the color of the carpet, we just don't adapt very quickly. 

This is too bad. After all, God has been quoted as saying He is doing a new thing. (Isaiah 43:18-19) And what else is like the call to follow Christ, changing from our former way of living to a new standard? (Acts 14:14-16) 

We should get used to change. The fact that things change seems to be the only thing that doesn't change. As Christians who look forward to a new home in Heaven, we should be comfortable thinking about change. After all, if Heaven is like Earth, I'm not sure what we’re looking forward to. 

So, Windows 8 has removed the start button entirely? Bring it on. I can't find the cheese slices anymore at my grocery store? That's okay. Mark Zuckerberg has changed the entire Facebook website? No problem. Someone new has sat in my pew? It's probably time I made a new friend.

I am ready to be rattled. The God who made everything and is remaking everything will still be around to help me. At least God stays the same. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Best Of...Posts That Mention My Wife

Today I bring in a new year and finish my Best Of series. From time to time, I post about my wife. I love her, but sometimes she is Blog-Gold! The bet part is that she doesn't read me regularly, so I can normally post what I want about her. She doesn't know about it until people start commenting,...so thank you for that my faithful readers. 

But here's the post (about my wife) that has received the most hits.


Ham on a String

Even though I saw it happen, I actually could not believe my eyes. There was no ESPN instant replay, but I didn't need it. My wife had just tore her hamstring. She was coming to third base in a church-league softball game when the coach told her to go home. Little did he know he would soon be sending her to a couch in her home. She turned on the speed, rounded third and almost instantly pulled up lame. 

If she had been a horse, I would have grabbed my rifle. Did I just compare my wife to a horse? Neigh!

Being the competitive woman that she is, my wife limped home, scoring the first run in what would turn out to be a losing effort. But at least she scored, right? Don't worry, the jokes wouldn't last long, as the pain got worse that night and the next day included a couple trips to doctors, a purchase of crutches and the realization that her softball season was over.

That's when the real pain started. Not for her, but for me. Because despite the fact that I said and did all the right things, aside from the reference to an old gray mare, my head was not where it should have been.

Because here is what went through my head:

My wife can barely walk right now. What will this mean for household order? The cooking? The cleaning? Can the kids fend for themselves? Probably not. Bah. Oh, and the kitty litter is downstairs. Should I offer to help my wife down there so she can clean out the box? Would that be wrong?

Well, outwardly everything was done correctly. I cooked for a week (sorry, kids). I took care of the cleaning and the kids and even the kitty litter. It would be almost 3 weeks before Jen saw the basement again. We won't discuss what it looked like in the meanwhile.

So the real pain was not that I was having to pull double-duty. That was tiring, but you can accomplish more than you realize. The real pain was looking in the mirror and asking myself what kind of man even thinks about stuff like that when his wife gets hurt like she did. Like I said, I did and said all the right things. But then again, so did the Pharisees. Here's one reminder from Jesus on what He thought of those guys;

For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. ~Matthew 5:20

Have you ever been there? Your mom is sick and you have to figure out how to grill cheese? Your sibling gets hurt and yo have to help with his chores? Your coworkers call in sick and you have to do their job as well as yours? This list could go on and on.

Basically it comes down to this. When have you made someone else's problem your problem? And not in the compassionate way where you really really care for them, but in the way where you manage to get more sympathy than the person who is actually hurt. When have you made it about you?

Update:
After 2 days, my wife was planning a Willis Reed type comeback for her softball team. When I mentioned this possibility, my wife asked who Willis Reed was. Then my 8-year old son gave all the facts on this 1970's New York Knickerbocker. I love my boy!