Monday, October 29, 2007

Today marks the day that I break another habit. Habit to me is something that you loved to do or say at one time and then it got carried away. It become something you didn't want to stop and then something you could not stop.

I believe this is what has happened to my and my love for ice cream. I love ice cream and I love it so much that if I don't have it every couple of days, well, you know what happens. I start thinking about it. Make excuses why I should have it. Don't care how much it costs. Will go out in rain, snow any kind of weather conditions to get some ice cream. Then when I do buy it, I eat a half a gallon at one sitting. Now that is OUT OF CONTROL.

It happened last night, again. Tin roof was the flavor. Excellent stuff made by Blue Bell Ice Cream. They make great ice cream. I tried the small potion but as always I ended up eating a little more than half of the half gallon. Then ALL NIGHT LONG I PAID FOR IT. Stomach turned over every 30 seconds for a couple of hours followed by the mad rush to the throne room to - well do I need to say more.

So today I am going cold turkey. No Ice cream. I say this now, the morning after - I sound like a alcoholic saying that was my last drink. Ask me by Friday. I need to learn control and balance. Neither is easy for me when it comes to ice cream. We all have an 'ice cream' in your life.

To some it is TV. To others it's chocolate or fast food or potato chips or M&M's or Coke or Pepsi or COFFEE (Here is a big one) or cars or motorcycles or work or Internet. These are the ones we joke about. How about drugs - prescription and over the counter - or alcohol or porn.

You know what yours is. You may not want to admit it but if you got honest with yourself you would know it. My ice cream one is no worse than some. But I still need to learn balance and control. Neither one is popular in our society. Hebrews 12:11 NASB All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

Discipline never seems good at the time but it's reward come with time and patience and endurance. You got to see it through. The best way to see it through is to set a goal to reach that will come about by the discipline you are going through. 1 Timothy 4:7 NASB . . . On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness;. Sometimes the only goal I have from the disciplines I set in my life is freedom from being held hostage by something.

This all sounds good on the morning after. Ask me Friday about ice cream and I may have a different answer for you. Proverbs 19:20 NASB Listen to counsel and accept discipline, That you may be wise the rest of your days.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

End of Days

Yesterday I was at a memorial service for an 81 year old lady who was a mom, grandmother and friend. It was a really nice service. The kind you don't mind attending.

Hebrews 9:27 GW People die once, and after that they are judged.

As I sat waiting my turn at the pulpit [I opened and closed the service in prayer] many thoughts went through my mind. Here are few of them.

1. Everyone will die. - That's the way it is. God's original intent was for us to live with Him. But we decided to do it our own way. Take matters into our own hand, (Genesis 3) Thought we knew better than God and bingo - everyone now will physically die once. This onset of physical death was brought about because of spiritual death. So if we accept Jesus as our savour the spiritual death [eternal separation from God] is stopped and we are rescued from it [we are eternally connected to God]. Like the first death, spiritual death is still our choice, we choose. I for one chose life in Christ.

2. Life is a gift. It is a gift that is to be spent. John Ortberg writes in his book, "Everything goes back in the box." . . . life is a gift, every day is an unpurchased miracle, every second is overtime. . . . I know it (life) is not something we earn, create, control, or sustain. I know that one truth about us is that we forget we are going to die. The other truth is that we forget we are alive."

3. Family and friends are what really makes life worthwhile.
My Pastor told a story at the service about one of his friends who visited a nursing home with a fellow minister. As he went from room to room saying hi and spending a few minutes with each person in the rooms he found that everyone invited him in. They seldom to never had anyone visit them. No friends or family or church family came by to keep them company from time to time. You see these folks never had time for people. They were movers and shakers of their day. Corporate giants, company owners. You know the type far to busy making money. No time left for people. I read it somewhere and made a plaque out of it, "Get involved in the lives of people, knowing that the only thing God will rescue from this plant is people."

4. When old people die, what you see is really not who they were. This ladies son talked about the times she would dance with the family. This lady had tap shoes and would dance and sing and laugh. All I knew about Maria was I saw her at church walking in very slowly with her cane. Not able to walk very good. You would never know that she could ever dance. We forget that old people weren't old all their life. So I wondered, if I live to be old, say 81, and need a cane to get around, will people around me really know who I was and in my mind still am.

5. What will they say at my memorial service? My wife always cries at funerals. One time I asked her why she was crying. She knew the person but not really that well. It was one of those services you go to out of respect to the family more than anything. She said she was sitting there thinking about her funeral and it made her cry. I still LOL when I think about this.

What will your funeral/memorial service be like? If you invest in family, friends and people it will be full of people, family and friends. People will laugh and cry about things that you used to laugh or cry with them about. They will smile and talk about things that you used to smile and talk about. But if all you did is invest in this world, well, then you will have flowers that will whither and die and a really nice coffee that will be buried along with you. And probably you will have very few people at your service. I have been at this kind of funeral also. Not a pretty site.

I know this is not a fun or funny or maybe even an encouraging topic. It was part of my life this last week and I stopped to think. Funerals are a very interesting time. One of sorrow and self reflection. Reflect now - change now what you need to change now. Time is short.

James 4:14 NASB Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Slow Down You Move Too FAST

Yesterday I was out driving running some errands. Now driving in Tulsa is always an experience. I used to work in northern Illinois - Chicago. Now there, people know how to drive. It's survival - put on your signal and take the lane. Not my fault if you didn't see the turn signal. On ramps had signs that read merge - which means as I zoom on to the highway LET ME IN. Rush hour didn't have speed limits it was either stop or full throttle. Everyone understood the rules and obeyed. It was survival.

Tulsa is different. No one uses turn signals. On ramps are the worse. First of all they're like 20 feet long. Many are 'U' shaped coming right off the side streets so you have little to no time to see the traffic coming and get up to speed. The worse thing about them is the sign on the ramps which read 'YIELD.' Yield to the guys attempting to get up on the highway. Folks driving on the highway are not willing to let you in since you must 'YIELD' to them. So what you will see is people STOPPED on the on ramps waiting for an opportunity to enter traffic. Good thing we are praying people here in the bible belt. It is a experience every time you drive here in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Of course, my wife tells me that I drive pretty crazy. I threaten to put a blindfold on her. "Slow down" "You see that guy is stopping" "Use your turn signal." "If you get another ticket..." And of course there are the looks that she gives me - no words can explain those but every married guy knows what I mean.

Now I have had my share of tickets. I always felt that a $80 to $100 speeding ticket every couple of years was kind of a fee I paid for the right to speed. Say 10 to 15 miles over the speed limit.

Now the problem with driving is everyone is some persons annoyance. If you are bugging me because of the way you are driving then I must be bugging someone with the way that I am driving. When I am driving and my wife is with me I 'drive' her nuts. The reverse is true when she is driving. I'm thinking, "Go faster." "Get in the other lane." "Don't slow down speed up." "Turn here." And so on.

Matthew 7:3-4 NASB "Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 "Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye?

It is SO easy to see the wrong in others. Much easier than noticing the things that we do that need changed. It is human pride to think we are always right and the other guys is wrong. But we are all guilty of this. Honestly, it's hard not to. There is someone out there that see us as the bad driver on the road. I know there are some saying right now, "NOT ME." but it is true. That's why Jesus said what he said. Don't go looking for the wrong in others when you have enough of your own to think about. BIG JOB for most of us. Did I mention I have had my share of tickets - worse thing is my wife has never gotten a ticket. RATS - that's not fair.

So today as you drive around and get behind someone going slow or driving crazy. And as you start to yell about them, look around - I'll bet you will spot someone yelling about you.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Was it a Morning Like This

I am going to climb on a soap box. I don't want to offend anyone but I guess if you climb on a soap box you are going to offend folks. So here we go.

In church we seem to find more things to get upset about than we find God. That's weird but true. You would think that in church you would find God more than any other place on earth. I know we all have challenges in life. One person in our class asked us to pray for a family with more things going wrong in their life than I had fingers to keep count. Cancer in two family members, pregnancy problems, lost jobs PLUS half of their house was damaged (blown away) by a storm. Problems in a big way. However, we seem to be more concerned about the music, coffee shops, building programs, lights, how old is old, are we contemporary or traditional, should we allow tattoos and the list does go on, and on, and on, and on.

This morning I downloaded off of itunes an album by Sandi Patty. I can already hear some of you saying she is from the 80's. Her music is history. Well, anointed songs stand the test of time. I started listening to her music - In the Name of the Lord - Via Dolorosa (this one is incredible)- I've Just Seen Jesus (sing with Larnelle Harris) and then my ipod came upon her song, "Was It a Morning Like This." Humor me here for a minute

Was it a morning like this
When the Son still hid from Jerusalem
And Mary rose from her bed
To tend the Lord she thought was dead
Was it a morning like this
When Mary walked down from Jerusalem
And two angels stood at the tomb
Bearers of news she would hear soon

We seem to have forgotten that we are serving a risen Lord. NO other religion or belief can say that. NOT a God of the dead. A God of the living. A living God who is all about LIVING! Singing, dancing, laughing, playing, loving and yes, at times crying.

Was it a morning like this - When Peter and John ran from Jerusalem
And as they raced toward the tomb - Beneath their feet was there a tune

We don't run to God any more. Peter ran. Peter ran at the news he heard. Jesus had risen. He ran to see for himself. His excitement was greater than any obstacle this earth could place in front of him. He ran like he never ran before to see for himself the promise had become real. Jesus was alive and Peter ran to see it. His heart was pounding so hard he couldn't just sit there - he had to run or his heart would have exploded from his chest. Can you feel that kind of excitement - energy- joy - hope coming to fruition? To many of us have lost that heart pounding joy of our salvation.

Chorus 1
Did the grass sing - [I will not be out sung by grass]
Did the earth rejoice to feel You again - [I will not let dirt rejoice more than me at the feel of my Lord's presence. ]

Over and over like a trumpet underground
Did the earth seem to pound he is risen [Is your heart pounding for God]
Over and over in a never ending round He is risen hallelujah hallelujah

When this verse came on I was smacked in the face with the feeling I haven't experienced in a while. The feeling I had when I accepted Jesus as my Savior. The feeling that only comes when you stand toe to toe with the living God - Face to Face with your Creator - so close, as one writer put it, that you could see into His eyes and feel the warmth of His face and the soft movement of his breath. Man that was good, no that was GREAT. I was no longer working out in the middle of a gym. I wasn't sitting on a machine waiting to do my next set. I was in the presence of God.

Jesus was alive and standing right next to me. My heart was pounding. Pounding so hard I couldn't just sit there - I had to get up and move or my heart would have exploded from my chest. I could feel the excitement - energy- joy- hope coming to fruition that Peter felt. At least I thought that the rush I was having had to be close to what Peter felt. I was experiencing the heart pounding joy of our salvation, in the presence of my God.

I know next Sunday morning I will go to church and run into people who - seem to be more concerned about the music, coffee shops, building programs, lights, how old is old, are we contemporary or traditional, should we allow tattoos and on, and on, and on, and on. That's OK. Because when they come up to me and they start to play this same old record - I will think to myself, "Was it a Morning Like This" - -AND my heart will start to pound and . . . . well I think you get the picture. I just hope I don't hurt anyone as I run down the halls!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Teach us to live well

Today is my birthday. I am not very good at remembering and doing something for other people on their birthday. It's not that I don't love or care about other people, I do. I like doing something of others on the off days, when they least expect it. Seems to me to be more special.

I love making a big deal out of my wife's birthday. I have put big signs in the front yard. I brought a 6 foot high inflatable birthday cake one year and put in the front yard. I filled the hallway in our house with balloons, that was fun. I have done a number of things. I never seem to run out of ideas on how to celebrate her birthday.

But I am not one for celebrating my birthday. I have always been that way, so age has nothing to do with it. My wife says I don't like being the not-in-control center of attention. That's true and it is probably the reason for my wanting to just say nothing about my birthday.

Psalms 90:10 ESV The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.
People quote this verse to say how long we will live. The Internet has a bunch of sites you can go to figure how long you will live. One site said I would die in the year 2029 (my age would be 75.) When you are 20 you don't think much about the end. You are just starting. In one of my favorite Star Trek movies, Generations, the Captain said, ". . there were fewer days ahead than there are behind" I guess I am different at that point. But some how that does not bother me. At the end of the "Rocky Balboa" a young girl who Rocky was helping came to him before the big fight and said, "Tonight you will show everyone that the last thing to age on someone is their heart."

Proverbs 4:23 NASB Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.

In my life I have tried to watch over my heart. Keep it always thinking about what to do, what can be done, what is positive not negative, looking for the challenge ahead not the failure behind. I know our bodies get older but we can stay young in the heart and in the mind. New ideas, fresh starts, vision, goals, progress, passion for life and people and new experiences. Retirement is a curse to many because they stop living. God gave me one life on this earth to live and I will spend it well. More often than not a good movie is based on the ending more than anything else. So it is with life. I'm going out as BIG as I can.

Psalms 90:12 MSG Oh! Teach us to live well! Teach us to live wisely and well!

SO this is my prayer today - Lord teach me to live my life, how ever long or short it is - WELL and WISELY. Help me to make the most of every moment, spend each second like it was made of gold, love each day whether it is a Monday or Friday, enjoy the journey that life is and make my last moments on earth my best.

Friday, October 19, 2007

GOOD to GO Day or NOT

Some mornings you wake up feeling great - sun's up, grass is green and everything looks summery. It a GOOD to GO day!

And then there are....................

. . . . . some mornings your wake up and it's a not so "GOOD to GO DAY." They feel like a dark, cold day. Sun may be up, grass might even be green and everything may look like a GOOD to GO great day but it feels to you cold, dark and wintry. Being human, how we feel or see things is based on more than just the environment around us but by our emotions and relationships and even the chemical balance that drives our bodies. So GOOD to GO days are based on more than just the weather. They truly are complex days based on many complex things.

Since God made us He knows what we are like. He knows that we will have GOOD to GO days and NOT SO GOOD to GO days. He is not angry or upset or even disappointed that we have these NOT so GOOD to GO days. That is why He has given us verses in the Bible like this one:

Psalms 69:2-3 NASB I have sunk in deep mire, and there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and a flood overflows me. 3 I am weary with my crying; my throat is parched; My eyes fail while I wait for my God.

Now isn't that a great verse? Ever feel like that? I think we all do at one time or another. What God does want from us is to chose not to stay there. To look to Him.

Psalms 3:3 GNB But you, O LORD, are always my shield from danger; you give me victory and restore my courage.
Psalms 3:3 MSG But you, GOD, shield me on all sides; You ground my feet, you lift my head high;
Psalms 3:4 NASB I was crying to the LORD with my voice, And He answered me from His holy mountain. Selah.
Psalms 34:4 NASB I sought the LORD, and He answered me, And delivered me from all my fears.

Every winter has a spring, every valley has a mountain, every night is followed by a day.

Psalms 30:5 NASB For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning.

SO don't feel bad about waking up in a NOT SO GOOD to GO day. JUST DON'T STAY THERE. Life is 10% what happens to you and 90 % how you react to what happens to you.

A few weeks ago I spoke on a Wednesday evening at our church. I taught on the spiritual lessons we learn for the movie "Rocky Balboa." Yes there are spiritual lessons in this movie. The one lesson that really applies here is this:

Life is not about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit & keep moving forward.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 AMP 8 We are hedged in (pressed) on every side [troubled and oppressed in every way], but not cramped or crushed; we suffer embarrassments and are perplexed and unable to find a way out, but not driven to despair; 9 We are pursued (persecuted and hard driven), but not deserted; we are struck down to the ground, but never struck out and destroyed;

Galatians 6:9 NASB Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary

SO shake off the winter time feeling and keep going. And oh by the way "Have a GOOD to GO Day!"

Thursday, October 18, 2007

In the DARK

I used to be afraid of the dark. I always had a night light when I was a kid. I would go into my room about 2 hours before I went to bed and check to make sure the light still worked. I would turn on the light, see that the light came on, sigh a sigh of relief because I thought it was still good, turn the light off and leave. I didn't realize the bulb had a life span and after so many hours it was going to burn out. I didn't realize that it didn't matter that it worked two hours before I went to sleep. Youthful ignorance is pretty funny. I was afraid of the dark, that was the issue. Fear causes us to do things and believe things at are really not true.

Matthew 14:23 MSG With the crowd dispersed, he climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night.

This morning like many mornings I sat in the dark and prayed. Quiet and alone I sat and enjoyed the moment. I really enjoyed the moment. I enjoyed it so much - feeling the closeness of the Lord - that I decided to forgo my workout at the gym and spend the time in the dark quiet of my office at home alone with God.

Most of us don't spend quiet time alone just talking to God. I think the reasons is that we are still afraid of the dark. The dark removes the distracts and being alone removes the interruptions. Just you and God, a scary place for some. Afraid that God will tell us to do something that we don't want to do. Afraid that God will expose an area in our life that He wants us to work on, Afraid God will say enough is enough I want you to stop smoking, gossiping, cursing, drinking, watching a TV show. Or maybe God will ask us to start doing something like go the church, visit the sick, give to the poor, pray for an enemy. You know, all those things that Christians are suppose to do but don't. We are afraid of the Dark - a quiet place of solitude where we we find ourselves alone with God. BOO!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Fight it OUT

We have two dogs.
Blu2 is an Afghan and Harley is a Newfoundland. Now Blu2 is always making sure that Harley is not getting something that he is not. This includes dog biscuits, water, attention of any kind or even the best sitting spot in the room. This continual competition or fighting, if you like, can and does get on our nerves.

I, being the big dog and the pack leader which both dogs know, have to step in every once in a while to stop the competition/fighting. However, there are times when they lay down and sleep next to each other. They play together and truly do enjoy each other. Remember dogs are pack animals and need to be around other dogs.
Now, every one of us lives around others. Family, the office, the neighborhood, the city, the country and so on. And there also seems to be a continual competition/fighting that goes on. One day we get along, the next day we are competing of the best spot, last cup of ice cream, the best office, job, attention of others, the list goes on.

James 4:1 MSG Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves.

Wanting our own way. My way or the highway. I like the way it was put in a movie a few years ago. “My way, the highway is not an option.” That’s how most of the fighting starts. No discussion, mutual agreement or even listening. No, it’s my way, what I want and everything else is no good or even just stupid..

1 Peter 2:1 MSG So clean house! Make a clean sweep of malice and pretense, envy and hurtful talk.

This is were it eventually goes. Envy, hurtful talk, hurt feelings, frustration, disappointment, discouragement and even hatefulness. This verse says clean it up and sweep it all away. This is not an easy thing to do. I might be successful to do this myself. The problem arises when other folks don’t follow this verse. This is when you would like to put a blindfold on God and go for it. But you can’t blindfold God.

Here are a few things we can do in this kind of situation

1. Take the high road. Be the HERO and NOT a VILLIAN. Hero’s are those who have done the right thing when it wasn’t easy – villains are those who do the wrong things because it’s easy for them.
2. There is a reward in doing right – it’s know as a clear conscienceous.

And finally:

Romans 12:21 MSG Don't let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.

3. You never overcome evil with evil. It just gets worse. Do good and you will collect back good. Sometimes it takes awhile but believe me you will.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Instant Replay

Good MONDAY morning. It's raining this morning. Rainy days and Mondays always get me down was the lyrics to an old song that I remember. I guess I really can't say the same. But I do know that continued cloudy days can bring me down. I love the sunny, blue sky and maybe just a few clouds kind of day.

Psalms 118:24 NASB This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

If this is Monday then it goes without saying that yesterday was Sunday. Sunday was good. I messed up a couple of times yesterday but other than that it went well. Since my duties put me in front of numbers of people messing up carries a little different weight. As I was thinking about my mistakes, I turned on TV to watch some football. I watched highlights of good plays and bad plays. They showed relays of one player who had the opportunity to intercept the ball five times in one game. That would have been a new NFL record. The problem was three times he had the ball in his hands and JUST DROPPED IT. Now they didn't show it just once but over and over again. Then they put all three dropped interceptions together and ran then over a couple of times so we could get the real sense of what it must have felt like to drop the ball three times like this poor guy did.

How would you like to be this football player. The announcer said, "He had the chance to set a new NFL record. No one has ever intercepted 5 passes in one game. A couple of players have intercepted four but never five. And this guy missed the chance." Now I started feeling pretty good about my mess ups since first of all we don't have instant reply of them. My mess ups didn't cause me to miss an opportunity to set a new record in anything. You won't see them on replayed on Monday or read about them in the paper or on the Internet. No, probably by today and I would think certainly by next Sunday most will not remember them. There will be a few but most won't. So what do I learn from this.

1. I learn, at least I am reminded, I am human and I make mistakes. I haven't gotten used to this but I would like to think I have learned to handle them better.

2. I learn that the only thing you really learn from some mistakes is how to handle failure. It is much more difficult to handle failure than success.

3. Most of the time my mess ups appear BIGGER in my mind than others.

4. Why do I feel the mess ups that I do in front of people are worst than the ones I do in private. The truth be told it's because other people see them and I get embarrassed - that boils own to pride.

5. I am glad I am not a NFL player. I don't have a camera that records my every mistake and plays it back for the world to watch.

1 John 1:9 GW God is faithful and reliable. If we confess our sins, he forgives them and cleanses us from everything we've done wrong.

We forget just how powerful this verses is. God forgives our mistakes, mess ups. He doesn't record them to play back later for us. In fact, when God forgives, He absolutely, totally, and completely forgets it. So if you confess your mistake [sin is what I am talking about] God forgives and forgets. So if you try to bring it up again, call for a replay, God doesn't even know what you are talking about. The tape has been erased. God has chosen to FORGET the mistake. In God's mind there are no instant replays after you ask for forgiveness.

Now then let me quote the first verse again. Psalms 118:24 NASB This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

OOH Yeah, end zone slam dunk time.

Friday, October 12, 2007

It Took 33 Years

Thirty Three. That is the number of years I have been married. Today marks our anniversary. October 12, 1974 at the age of 19, I had 9 days until I turned 20, I said yes to a life together with a women I had been dating since High School. It was the next step for us, as natural as putting one foot in front of the other when you walk. I always knew we would stay together. So thirty three isn't a surprise. How fast we got to thirty three is. Maybe that is one of the indicators of how much we love each other. When you really are having a good time you never notice time pasting by. It didn't go any faster or slower it just seems like it did.

I said our marriage was the next step, as nature as putting one foot in front of the other when you walk. However, you do have to learn to walk. So I needed to learn to be a husband, I wasn't very good at this in the beginning. Ask my wife and she tell you if I have improved since then. I had to learn to be a father, another role that was harder to learn than I first thought. All good things, things worth something, things of value, take time and effort and investment.

So what have I learned from thirty three years of marriage. Here are couple of things.

1. I really didn't know what love was when we started this journey. I realized that I barely knew the lady that I married. But I did knew she was the one for me.

2. I learned to love more the things that she does that I liked and forget quickly the things that she does that I don't like. In the end it's not the things that are important it is the "love more" and the "forget quickly" that is.

3. Married life changes because we change. If you don't roll with the change you get crushed as it passes you by.

4. Life is a roller coaster and being married is like sitting next to one person for the whole ride. Sometimes you hang on together and sometimes it's "Hands Up" and sometimes you scream. Sometimes you ask, "Why did we get on this thing?"

5. I never knew I could love a person as deeply as I do my wife, miss someone as much as I do when she is not around me, talk as much as we do when we are together, laugh as much as we do at times, enjoy someone so much for who they are, and never get tried of their company.

6. I could go one but I will end with this one things that I have learned about marriage in the past thirty three years - Marriage is about helping the other person become all the God desires for them to become and in doing this you will become all God desires for you to become.

I haven't been a perfect husband and I needed to learn many things but one thing I do know, I made the right decision and married the right person thirty three years ago. So today I will celebrate that decision knowing God put it together and I believe He is celebrating with us.

Proverbs 5:18-19 MSG . . . Enjoy the wife you married as a young man! 19 Lovely as an angel, beautiful as a rose-- don't ever quit taking delight in her body. Never take her love for granted!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

On The Road Again

I must say I love riding my Bike. It is a 2001 Dyna Super Glide modified many times over so as to create a bike that speaks of me. Lots of chrome, increased horsepower from its stock and very comfortable to ride. OK, you fill in the blanks after that. Today on my third day of vacation I spent about 4 hours riding around town. I went down the street made a left went for a mile of two and made a right and so on and so on and so on. After about four hours I looked to see where I was and then I headed home. I find this living in High Def. Calculated RISK. Some call me crazy for riding a motorcycle. They say it is too dangerous and not safe. What I find is that most people never really live life. They play it safe all their lives and at the end they really don't have anything to speak of. I have been blessed to take mission trips to every continent on this earth. Visited some more than once. I have been to Mongolia and looked at the night sky over the desert from the back of a moving train. I have helped with Tsunami relief in Thailand and Hurricane Katrina in Mississippi. I have prayed with lepers in the Philippines and spoke to a small crowd or two in Russia. God has taken me to many places some people find too risky to go. All I know is that Jesus said to go into all the world and preach the Gospel, the Good News. I have followed that command and will continue to do so until God tells me to stop. I do know that following Jesus to the ends of the earth places me in a safer place than people who hide in their homes hoping nothing goes wrong in their life. You see, in the middle of God's plan for your life is the safest place you can be. No matter where that may take you.

Jesus said, in Matthew 10:39 GW The person who tries to preserve his life will lose it, but the person who loses his life for me will preserve it.

OK- motorcycle riding may not seem scriptural to some but it is living. I have experienced things that some will never experience on a bike. Early morning sunrise and evening sunsets that were incredible. Riding along you can smell life happening, fresh cut grass, someone BBQ'ing, cattle on a farm. I have even smelled meals being cooked, breakfast to dinner as I rode along. I felt the cold to a very hot wind on my face. You can not ride a motorcycle and not fall in love with life. Life that happens day by day, hour by hour.

Our church's motorcycle ministry is based on Daniel 7:9 NASB "I kept looking until thrones were set up, And the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like white snow And the hair of His head like pure wool. His throne was ablaze with flames, Its wheels were a burning fire." Now this is the best description of a Harley Davidson cruising down the road that I have ever read. And YES, you guessed it - Jesus would ride a HARLEY.

Lean on Me

I had lunch yesterday (10/10) with my best friend, Bob. Always a fun time. Always an encouraging time. Always a challenging time. Always leave feeling better than when I came. Now I am not one for making or having close friends. My wife tells me I am kind of a loner. [My wife is more than a close, close friend - she is in a different catagory. Tomorrow is our 33 anniversary and I'll write about the years and her tomorrow.] What I am talking about is someone not of your family or your spouse. Someone God has brought along side you who has filled this "Close Friend" slot. The Biblical example is Paul and Barnabas. That would be Bob.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NASB
v9 Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. v10 For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. v11 Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? v12 And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.

These are great verses. They speak of having a friend that you can talk out ideas with, be creative and discuss the issues you face, good and bad. Synergy type stuff - the result is greater than the sum of the parts. Verse 10 speaks of being there to help one another when you mess up and we all mess. Verse 11 talks about encouraging each other and we all need to be encouraged. Finally, verse 12 tells us we need people who will pray with you and help fight our battles with us. I am blessed to have a friend, Bob, who is all this for me.

Proverbs 18:24 MSG Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family.
So, Bob (and all the other 'Bobs' out there), this one's for you.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Today begins six days of vacation. This excludes Sunday (10/14) since I will work that day. I like Sunday's, being a minister that is mandatory but for me this is also very true. I really do like Sunday. Everyone must take a vacation. Definition of "Vacation" is a lengthy time away from work or school, a trip abroad, or simply a time away from home, such as a trip to the beach that lasts several days or longer. This vacation doesn't include a trip away from home physically but I will take a mental vacation away from my day to day routine. I will sleep when I want - take a few long rides on my Harley - maybe stay up late to watch TV (something I never do when I am working) and walk around my favorite places to shop. Route 66 Harley Davidson, Lowe's, Home Depot (although yesterday when I visited Home Depot they had their Christmas trees and decoration up - therefore I must avoid Home Depot now until at least December 1. Sorry Home Depot.) CompUsa, Ultimate Electronics, and New Apple Store in our local mall.

In today's world be are WAY to BUSY. We seem to be proud of how busy we have become. We compare our schedules and talk about how tired we are because we didn't take time to rest. We schedule 26 hours worth of stuff in a 24 hour day. Some think it is a sin to rest. From where I sit our business is the real sin. The devil can attack our families, health, finances, you name it and we will unite and stand against any attack we may be under. Yes, the devil found out that attacking us like this is foolish. But what he did find out was that if he can get us to get busy. Really busy. So busy we forget to pray, not just read the bible but spend time mediating on the Word, skip church because we are to busy running from one sports event to another. Well, he has found that through a busy schedule he can make most Christians totally ineffective to doing anything for the kingdom org God. Yes, the devil is pretty smart, he knows that our soft under belly is our schedules. Get us busy and he can stop us. DEAD IN OUR TRACKS.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NASB 1 There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven-- 2 A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted. 3 A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up. 4 A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance. 5 A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing. 6 A time to search and a time to give up as lost; A time to keep and a time to throw away. 7 A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; A time to be silent and a time to speak. 8 A time to love and a time to hate; A time for war and a time for peace.

OK, take time - put up your feet and rest. I know it will be difficult for some. Try it. Even God rested.

Genesis 2:2 MSG By the seventh day God had finished his work. On the seventh day he rested from all his work.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Monday Monday.... My day off. After a busy Sunday it is a welcome moment.

Church is about God. But it is also about people. All kinds of people. This Sunday was a particularly interesting Sunday. Many technical challenges. Worship service has become a complicated event of sight and sound. Media worship and High Tech praise is GREAT and exhausting. Fortunately, there are people who do a really good job of keeping these things going. Most people in church on Sunday will never know what goes into making Sunday morning a experience for them. One where they feel the presence of God and get renewed for the week.

Outside of the worship service exists an enormous amount of activities. Security, greeting at the doors, information areas, children's church, youth services, bookstores, coffee (yes, coffee seems to have become as important to some as the communion table.) handouts at the door and the list goes on. In our efforts to help people enjoy church we have created SO MUCH activity that at times it become the thing that stops us from enjoying church and worshipping. Here are just a few of the comments I heard this Sunday as I stood in the main entrance and attempted to be the hands and feet, legs and arms of Jesus. “Bill (names were changed to protect the innocent) don’t shake my hand. The usher didn’t smile. The children’s minister wasn’t as nice to my children as I think they could have been. I don’t like the bulletin. To many lights flashing, not enough lights flashing. Haze (some would call it smoke – that very cool theatrical look you have seem used on stage.) NOTE: People have left our church over having haze in the service. Funny, I remember people leaving church because we added a guitar. Church can’t be church; they said if we used a guitar. And then we added drums, OOHH the devils beat I heard some say. An organ or better yet the old pipe organ was the only thing that we could worship God with. You know what is even funnier than this, the same people who wanted to add the guitar and the drums are now the ones that are upset over adding the lights and the haze.

You see church is about God but it is also about people. Saved, redeemed, set apart by God, bride of Christ, Spirit filled believers. Now there are some of you who don’t understand what all this means. If your one of those email me and I will do my best to explain it. But my point to all this is church is about a God who loves people. Church is full of imperfect people trying to walk out life the best they can. And God loves them. They complain and God still loves them. They argue but God still loves them. They fight but God still loves them. They even curse, drink and smoke but God still loves them. They love guitars and hate haze but God still loves them. They wear suits, jeans, dresses, pants suits, spike their hair, get tattoos, pierce ears – eyes- nose- lips- and assorted other body parts but God still loves them. They get upset over the little things but God still loves them. They love coffee and God still loves them. They go to movies but God still loves them. You can’t stop God from loving you. I have tried and it didn’t work.

I thought as I stood in the main lobby of our church if Jesus heard people saying things very much like what I heard. I think He did. People haven’t changed much. But then again, Jesus hasn’t changed either. Hebrews 13:8 MSG For Jesus doesn't change--yesterday, today, tomorrow, he's always totally himself.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

I am an early riser, like 3:00 A.M. early. Some would call that crazy. That's OK. My job every morning is to let the dogs out. These are the dogs. Bean head is on the left; also know a Blu2, Afghan hound. The other guy is Buffalo head, also known as Harley, Newfoundland Landseer. Two dogs on the opposite ends of the energy scale.
Since this is Sunday morning, I spend these early hours finishing and going over my teaching. I teach a Sunday school class for Adults. Today we start a new series called, "the Four Seasons of Marriage", by Gary Chapman. Great book.
Every Sunday morning people come to church for a variety of reasons. Social, religious, family, always have, spouse pressure, really looking for answers, really looking for God, really love God. This morning I will meet numerous people who fit into one of these categories. My job is to not try and change their reason for being in church. My job is to help them meet Jesus. I do that through a word, a handshake, a hug, a smile, a laugh and sometimes through a tear.

Hebrews 10:25 GNB Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more . . .

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Newfoundlands are really interesting dogs. They seem lazy but know how to conserve energy. I heard someone use the term, "Living Rug." That's a good description but I got to tell you I love the breed. Big, love people, easy to get along with and they love their owners to a fault. I guess that is why I love dogs, they love their owners no matter what. They are always glad to see you and appreciate any attention you give them. GREAT companions. Here is picture of my Newf right after we got him. He has bad elbows and couldn't be shown. I got him because I wanted to take care of him. He did need to have surgery to fix one of his legs but he is doing great. His name is Harley, named by my wife after my motorcycle which is a Harley Davidson. Some poeple say dogs don't go to heaven. In my mansion in heaven there will be many dogs.