"...and I will dwell in the House of the LORD forever!"

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Effects of “PCDD”?

One of the more serious emotional disorders of life is PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). PTSD occurs after an individual sees or experiences something traumatic such as death, threat, or injury. Symptoms of PTSD vary, but all of them are disheartening and critical. It causes vivid flashbacks of the traumatic event. It causes emotional “numbness” to everything and everyone. It can even cause problems in sleeping, eating, and socializing with others. PTSD is very real and troubling!

But do you struggle with PCDD? PCDD is very common this time of year. It can even be seen in some of the happiest people you know. PCDD (Post Christmas Depression Disorder) wears on every festive soul. The Christmas Season brings hype, excitement, a spirit of giving, priceless time with friends and family, and then in a matter of hours, it’s over! All of the presents that took hours to purchase and wrap are unwrapped. All of the food that took hours to cook has been eaten. The roads that carried Christmas travelers become crowded with travelers returning home. We always finish “Merry Christmas” with “…And a Happy New Year”, but New Years really isn’t that special. We simply stay up late and celebrate as another tick of the clock turns another page of the calendar. What’s the cure for PCDD? There’s no therapeutic activity; there’s no powerful prescription. Just give it time! We get back into our daily routines. We endure the cold of winter. Blooming flowers bring us the warmth of spring. Hot sunshine provides the relaxation of summer. Changing of the seasons brings the thanksgiving of fall, and before we know it, “Seasons Greetings” are greeting us again!

But during these next few weeks, instead of fighting this emotional disorder, why don’t we attend to those who crave to feel the symptoms of PCDD! While we try to pick ourselves up and go on with the New Year, many struggle with serious depression. They had no one to spend the holidays with. With tears, they remembered their loved ones who passed from this life. When it should have been the best time of the year, for them it was the worst.

During the next few weeks, you can experience PCDD in two different ways. You can fight Post Christmas Depression Disorder”, or you can “Portray Christ through Devoted Discipleship.” Paul wrote in Romans 12:10, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.” Show your devotion. Show your discipleship. Spread the “Christmas Cheer” one more time and love those who need to be loved!

Learning to Listen

I love the story about the cowboy who came upon an Indian who was lying on the ground with his ear pressed to the earth. The Indian motioned for the Cowboy and said, “Wagon. Two miles off. Drawn by two horses. One black. The other gray. Four people on board; man in a red flannel shirt, his wife, and two kids.” The cowboy was very impressed and told the Indian, “It’s amazing that you can know that just by listening to the earth.” The Indian said, “No. They ran over me thirty minutes ago. Go after them!”

You might be thinking, “What in the world does that have to do with anything?” Well, I haven’t seen any Indians recently lying on the ground listening for a nuance from Nature. Even if I had, I probably wouldn’t trust their testimony. But I do wonder how quick we are to listen to God! God has so much to tell us and there is so much that we must learn! Do you realize that if the apostles had not listened to Jesus, if Paul had not listened to God’s instructions on the road to Damascus, we wouldn’t fully understand Christian discipleship today? They listened, they told us what they heard, and now we reap the benefit of their undivided attention!

Learn to listen to God! You never know what He might tell you! And fortunately, we don’t have to put our ears to the earth to do. Just open His holy word!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Taking “CHRIST” out of...?

It’s the time of year when we strive to spread Christmas Cheer! Malls, banks, and city buildings are adorned with Seasons Greetings. City sidewalks are dressed in Holiday Style. Thousands and thousands of dollars are being spent in Retail Stores across the country, but shoppers continue to swipe their credit cards with a gleam in their eye! Why? People are more thoughtful during the Christmas Season. Well, most of the time…

Last Saturday, Natalie and I made the trek to Lakeline Mall in Austin for twelve blissful hours of Christmas shopping. It was the usual holiday shopping experience—huge crowds, long lines, lack of parking, and “stuffy” department stores. However, I saw something that I had never seen before! Two women got into a heated argument over a parking place. Now, this is not unusual. It was not my first time to witness an argument over parking! Some people think the best way to spread Christmas cheer is to holler for all to hear! But as I was walking past one of the women’s cars, I saw this bumper sticker, “Don’t take CHRIST out of Christmas!” I’m so glad this woman was influenced by her own bumper sticker theology! If she hasn’t already taken Christ out of Christmas, she has a great head start on the task!

Christmas is known for many things, but one of the staple segments of the season is Christian uprisings. Concerned Christians preach, “Don’t take CHRIST out of Christmas!” or “Remember the REASON for the Season!” Before we worry if America takes “CHRIST” out of Christmas, let’s worry if WE take “CHRIST” out of Christian! We wouldn’t be Christians without Christ, and if we really claim to be followers of the Savior, we must live as He lived, do as He did, and lead as He led! Paul informed us how to imitate Christ this Christmas Season in Philippians 2: 5-7, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant…”

And that’s not just the “REASON for the Season”; that’s the “MEANING for our Being!”

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Waiting for a Reward!

The NFL Football Season is throttling along at full force! Each week we get one step closer to deciding who will play in the Super Bowl. Different teams bring different stories to the media marketplace. To the pure disappointment of some, and to the indescribable excitement of others, it has taken the Dallas Cowboys 13 weeks to get 4 wins. We’ve seen College Champions like Colt McCoy rise to the position of Professional Playmakers. Two weeks ago, the Houston Texans’ Wide Receiver Andre Johnson was illuminated by the beam of limelight. He received the game ball from Coach Gary Kubiak. Johnson didn't make a game winning Touch Down. He didn’t break any famous record. Johnson got into a fight and was ejected from the game! What a guy!

It seems like our society constantly rewards bad behavior. Actors receive millions of dollars and distinguished awards for starring in ethically, morally, and sickening roles. The Golf community still envies the golf swing of Tiger Woods, even though he’s a man infested with infidelity. Some of the richest people in the world maximize their bank accounts through questionable, if not detestable, ways. All the while, Christians sit back and wonder, “What about us? When will we get our reward for doing the right thing?”

But I don’t worry, because I KNOW the DAY is coming! I’ll give up the game ball. I’ll give up the Oscar or the Emmy. You can have the monstrous drive and all the money in the world! Just give me a seat at the Lord’s Table. Let me fall down at the throne of God. Let me spend eternity surrounded by heavenly glory!

That’s the REWARD I’m waiting for! I hope YOU will join me!

Monday, November 29, 2010


We frequently refer to our youth as the “Leaders of Tomorrow.” With fear and anxiousness, we think about who will be our leaders in the coming years, but we love to critique the habits and the education of these young people! It’s often said that the younger generations, “Don’t understand the importance of hard work, have everything handed to them, and walk through life as uneducated and unrealistic dreamers!” I usually disagree with that evaluation of our youth, but this time I might actually have to jump on the bandwagon. West Potomac High School in Alexandria, Virginia is doing away with “F’s” (Fail) on report cards. That’s right, it will be impossible for their students to fail classes! What’s their alternative? “F’s” will be replaced with “I’s” (Incomplete). An “I” will let students redeem themselves because they can learn the lesson, get caught up over the next year, and then be given a satisfactory grade acknowledging the fact that they “mastered” the material! In first grade, we got “E’s” for effort, but even effort doesn’t always cut it! Why don’t we give them “R’s” for RIDICULOUS!

Now, the administration of West Potomac High School does offer a convincing rebuttal. They say, “Students learn better when the learning is not complicated by grades.” Possibly, but the only reason they would learn “better” is because they don’t worry about failing! And if that’s the motivation, I’m not sure the students are actually “learning.” Grades give stress, but stress pumps adrenalin that makes students work hard! When the students grow up and enter the real world, they can’t tell their employers, wives, husbands, children, or the government, “Please erase any standard that evaluates my performance. It causes me stress, and when I have stress, I don’t do my best work!”

I pray that we never forget that even on the Day of Judgment, we can receive an “F.” God is gracious, He is full of bountiful mercy, and He gives us every opportunity to succeed. However, if we don’t do what He asks, and if we don’t work hard for Him, God will say, “You have failed!”

I suggest we remember the advice that Paul gave the young preacher Timothy. “Study to show thyself approved…” We must prepare for our evaluation, because the only “I” we will receive is when God says, I, and only I, am the Lord,” And that “I” is COMPLETELY SANE!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Behind the Uniform

As we walk through the church doors, we’re always greeted with the same question, “How are you today?” When churches ask that question, do they really want to know? Some churches would say “yes”; unfortunately, some churches would say “no.” Truthfully, people probably won’t be honest. They say, “I’m fine, how are you?” but they walk away thinking, “Can’t you tell I’m not?”

Churches aren’t the only ones who neglect to be “real.” Recently, commercial pilots around the country were surveyed to see what they thought about air travel and the passengers they transport. These were just a few of my favorite responses:

1) “Some FAA rules don’t make sense to us either. Like the fact that when we’re at 39,000 feet going 400 miles per hour, in a plane that could hit turbulence at any minute, flight attendants can walk around and serve hot coffee. But when we’re on the ground on a flat piece of asphalt going five to ten miles per hour, they’ve got to be buckled in like they’re at NASCAR”

2) “Please don’t complain to me about your lost bags or the rotten service. I simply fly the plane, and my retirement was taken to subsidize your $59 airfare!”

3) “We don’t make you stow your laptop because we’re worried about electronic interference. It’s about having a projectile on your lap. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to get hit in the head by a MacBook going 200 miles per hour!”

4) “Passengers want their pilots to be rested and ready, but the truth is we’re exhausted. The hotels they put us in are in bad neighborhoods, they’re loud, they’ve got bedbugs, and there have been stabbings in the parking lot. Our work allows us to be on duty for 16 hours without a break. That’s more hours than a truck driver. And unlike a truck driver, who can pull over at the next rest stop, we can’t pull over at the next cloud.”

Did you realize that’s what pilots felt? Behind the Uniform, they’re much different than we think!

If the church really is a body, working as a unit, connected by the blood of Jesus, let’s do more than casually ask, “How are you?” Let’s say, “We want to help and know you better!” Get behind the “Sunday Best Uniform” and GET REAL!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Solving the Puzzle

Do you ever watch Wheel of Fortune? I’ve never enjoyed the show governed by a wheel, but something happened last week on Wheel of Fortune that grabbed my attention. Contestant Caitlin Burke solved a 27 letter, 7 word puzzle, with only the letter “L” and an “apostrophe” as clues! With Burke’s amazing accomplishment, she received a Caribbean vacation, but also the awe of Pat Sajack, who was completely astounded. It’s not completely unusual for contestants to solve puzzles without many clues, but when they do, the puzzles are much smaller! But a 27 letter, 7 word puzzle; who does that? Some have said that Burke cheated! Was the puzzle solved through cheating or intelligence? I’ll let you be the judge!

But when it comes to religion and understanding the nature of God, sometimes it seems like we are faced with an unsolvable spiritual “puzzle.” Everyone has their own opinions, interpretations, and ideas. Post-Modernism argues that to find the solution, “Solve the puzzle by forming your own image of what it should look like, and make the pieces fit together anyway you can.” As students of God’s word, we know that’s not right. So we respond, “Well, it’s not too difficult to solve the spiritual puzzle. God has given us His word to follow, and with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can understand it correctly.” However, when the world hears our solution for solving the spiritual “puzzle”, they see us like Caitlin Burke and say, “It can’t be that easy. You need MORE clues to solve THIS puzzle!”

I realize there are some teachings in scripture that are pretty “heavy.” At times, we need the help of scholars to piece the “clues” together for us. Even Peter gave this evaluation of his fellow inspired colleague Paul, “His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort…” (2 Peter 3:16) But Karl Barth, one of the most respected and prominent theologians to ever live, brought the “puzzle” into focus for us! In 1962, Barth was lecturing at Princeton, and he was asked, “After everything you have studied and learned, how can you summarize the theological meaning of life?” Barth answered, “Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so!”

At the end of the day, we can solve the “puzzle” by dwelling on that famous song from our childhood! “Jesus loves me, this I know!” That’s the most profound thing I’ve ever heard!

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Passion of Pontiac

With a tough economy, we have witnessed many products go by the way side. This month, Pontiac will strengthen that statistic. The last Pontiac was built in May of 2010, and there are only two dozen unsold Pontiacs lingering at dealerships around the country. One of them is a G5 coupe near Little Rock, Arkansas, which has sat on Greg Orr’s lot for more than 700 days. I wouldn’t label the G5 in “high demand.”

It’s hard to believe that one of America’s famous car lines will no longer cruise the road. Pontiac has been a stable company with an 84 year history, but Pontiac has also faced many problems. When Pontiac began in 1926, it built cars for working class Americans. This strategy was profitable until 1950, but in the 1950’s, Pontiac sales dropped off a cliff. GM revived Pontiac by connecting its “image” to auto racing. Pontiac became known for muscle cars that drag-raced after Friday night football games and roared across movie screens! Remember the Firebird Trans Am that raced through the 1970’s famous movie, “Smokey and the Bandit”? This repertoire for racing boosted sales to $1,000,000 in 1968. Today, in 2010, sales haven’t even reached $250,000! That’s less than 1% of the 2.2 million cars and trucks GM has sold.

You might ask, “What happened? How did this muscle car money maker minimize to muck?” I think Bill Hoglund, a retired GM Executive who led Pontiac during its “hay day”, said it best, “There has been no passion for the product. The product had to fit what was going on in the corporate system.” When the car industry made the switch from power to practicality, Pontiac decayed in the dust. Sure, Pontiac tried to keep up by changing its personality, but in doing so, it also changed its passion!

I’m afraid that many Christians follow in the steps of Pontiac. When we “miss the mark”, it’s not because we have forgotten Christ, it’s because we convince ourselves that we need to look like everyone else, and in doing so, we lose our passion! I’m so glad that Paul reminded us how to keep that from happening! “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Romans 12:2) Like Pontiac, when we decide that our Godly “image” is no longer effective, that’s when we make our biggest mistake! That’s when we lose our passion!

God has given us the promise of Jesus, and with that promise, we should be passionate people! But when we lose our passion, that’s when we lose our promise! So take a lesson from Pontiac. Protect your Passion!

Monday, November 1, 2010

“Get Your Facts Right!”

Llano, Texas is filled with historical structures and symbolism. It’s no mistake that the Marquee on the square portrays this motto: “The Way Texas Used To Be!” In some ways, when you drive through Llano, Texas, it feels like you’re driving back through time!

A few weeks ago, Natalie and I toured the old Red Top Jail that sits by the Llano River. It was built in the 1890’s, and it was actively used until 1980! As you walk through the narrow metal doors, it’s almost like you can see the shadows of the town drunks and hear the voices of bank robbers. Narrow and steep stairs climb to the third floor where the gallows are still located (Though they were never used). You’re consumed with the aura of yesteryear. Throughout our tour, the information we received from the tour guide seemed a little bit “fishy.” I kept saying to myself, “I’m no Llano history buff, but that just doesn’t sound right!” The tour ended in the living quarters of the warden and his family, but the climax of the confusion also came to the surface. The tour guide pointed at some pictures on the wall and said, “These are the pictures of some of the wardens of Red Top Jail.” I walked up to the pictures, and I quickly realized that these were pictures of William Travis, James Bowie, and Santa Anna. I turned to the tour guide and asked him a question, just to clarify that I didn’t misunderstand what he was saying. “So you’re telling me that two Alamo heroes, and a Mexican President and General, served as wardens of the Llano jail?” With no hesitation, the tour guide replied, “Yes, I believe so!” William Travis, James Bowie, and Santa Anna must have been men of many talents!

This little incident got me to thinking, “I sure hope we tell the story of our Savior correctly.” I hope we don’t confuse what Jesus did with the things He didn’t do; what Jesus believed, with the things He didn’t believe! After all, Jesus said that He was, “…the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6) I hope we don’t turn His crystal clear integrity into a haze of lies.

Can we know EVERYTHING about Jesus? Obviously we can’t be certain about every detail. But when people press us for information about the things which are unknown, I pray that we will rely on the words from the “disciple whom Jesus loved” when he wrote, “Jesus did many other things. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” (John 21:25) You see, this plea for ignorance keeps our integrity intact!

Let’s hold onto that plea, because it would be terrible to hear God say “My child, GET YOUR FACTS RIGHT!”

Monday, October 25, 2010

A World Series Wonder

I love the World Series! Fans watch for six months, 162 games, plus playoffs to see which team will win it all! The World Series really does prove which team is the BEST in Baseball. Unlike the Super Bowl, the winning team must win at least four games in a seven game series. To win four games, the words “off day” are no longer relevant.

Every year, stories about the stars of the series seep to the surface, and this year, it’s no different! Bengie Molina, the veteran catcher for the Texas Rangers, will receive a World Series ring regardless if Texas wins or loses. Molina played with the San Francisco Giants from 2007 to July 1st of this year. He will be the first catcher in baseball history to play in the World Series against a team he played for earlier in the season. Since Molina played for the Giants the first half of 2010, Major League Baseball has decided to award Molina with a ring since he contributed to the San Francisco Giants’ winning record, which consequently gave them a playoff birth. Many will see this as “wrong” or “unnecessary”, but I say give Molina the ring; he’s a superstar! Both ball clubs had great things to say about their catcher. Tim Lincecum, the Giants’ “ace” pitcher gave these remarks, “He knows batters’ tendencies and he put the right fingers down for me to throw the right pitches. He knows every hitter in the game.” Ron Washington, the Texas Rangers’ manager, spoke of Melina in this way, “We have benefited from his experience. When he says something, everybody listens.” Maybe Melina will give the Rangers an “edge” since he knows the San Francisco hitters so well!

But what I think is so special about Molina are his memories of San Francisco. He said, “When I was with the Giants, I became a brother. I became a father. I became a guy who took aside a lot of the young kids and talked to them not only about baseball, but life itself.” Any man who realizes there’s more to life than baseball, and decides to make a difference with his maturity, deserves any ring that baseball will give him!

Unfortunately, even as followers of Jesus Christ, we might play for “both” teams. Some days we give God what He desires, but other days we give into what Satan desires for us. (Not that I’m comparing the Rangers to Heaven and the Giants to Hades). But isn’t it amazing to know that at the end of the “season”, if we hold fast to the Gospel, and if we have the blood of Jesus flowing through our veins, we will receive the “ring”? It’s called the “Crown of Life”, and only the “redeemed” will receive it.

Now that’s a World Series worth winning!

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Truths of Time

I’m a big fan of statistical studies! Statistics keep us attuned to the movements and habits of our culture. A recent study was just published that analyzed the amount of time children spend in front of TV’s, computers, or video games every day. The study researched 1,013 children between the ages of 10 and 11 across the nation. It reported that children who spend two or more hours a day looking at screens are more likely to develop psychological problems (difficulty relating to peers, emotional issues, poor conduct, etc.) when they get older. Now, the study about children and their “screen time” is not a new study! In previous studies, researches claimed that if parents made their children exercise more, the physical exertion would balance out the effects of media. If that “prescription” is the “cure”, some children would have to train for a triathlon to be healed! Two hours of TV is just their warm up! However, according to this most recent study, physical exercise will not solve the trauma that too much “screen time” can cause!

It gets back to one simple rule of life; it’s all about balance! It doesn’t matter how “good” something is! Too much of a “good” thing can be “bad!” But isn’t it great that we can never spend TOO much time with God’s word? Even when we completely absorb ourselves into its message, we never have to worry about psychological problems, but only psychological positives! In fact, the Bible teaches us how to understand and relate to others, rely on God during emotional heartache, and be people of upstanding character!

There’s only one concern! How much time do YOU actually spend with God’s word? You don’t have to spend two hours every day, but you must give God something! And trust me, any “time” that you spend with the “truth”, God will always bless!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Captured by a Camera

Can you believe that photo? No, it’s not staged. It’s not “Photo Shopped” by a computer. That’s a REAL picture of Tiger Woods hitting a golf ball into the camera at the Ryder Cup.

You might ask, “How in the world did the photographer capture that picture?” Well, the camera man was not trying to capture this type of image. He set up on the side of the 18th green with many other photographers. But, Tiger missed the green on his approach from the fairway, and then he “duffed” his next shot right into the camera! Yes, even the former #1 golfer in the world makes embarrassing shots from time to time. What is the best part of this photo? Check out the man on the right with a cigar in his mouth. Who let that guy on the golf course? He certainly doesn’t fit the golfer “mold.”

It’s a great photo that gives us a new image of professional golf that we have never seen before! We can see EVERYTHING; even the rotation and compression of the golf ball! Do you realize this is how God sees us? He sees things we do not see. He captures every thought, every emotion, every action, and He doesn’t even need a camera! He doesn’t worry about having a High Power lens, because He reigns on high, and He has all power in heaven and on earth!

Are you pleased with what God sees in you? Remember, He sees EVERYTHING! Even the things that no one else sees! So smile for the Camera!

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Trivial Lesson from the Titanic

It’s almost been 100 years since the Titanic sank to the floor of the Northern Atlantic Ocean. In my opinion, Titanic is easily one of the most heartbreaking stories in North American history. Titanic was known to be “A Palace on Water”, a “Gift of the Gods”, and “Unsinkable.” But if Titanic was a palace it was very fragile, if it was a gift from the gods the gods didn’t shop very long for the perfect “gift”, and it certainly wasn’t unsinkable. Some have even said, “The great thing about the Titanic is there will never be a sequel!” In the early hours of the morning on April 12th, 1912, Titanic struck an iceberg. And in 2 hours and 40 minutes, it was completely submerged. 2223 people were travelling on the ship, and only 706 survived. (1,517 people died!) When the story reached the newspapers, it covered EVERY front page. It even trumped the grand opening of Fenway Park, the home of the Boston Red Sox, which held its first game that same day. It was the “Pearl Harbor”, the “JFK assassination”, the “9/11” of the early 1900’s.

But do you know the REAL story? Louise Patten, an accomplished author and a granddaughter of a Titanic officer, brought some crucial details to the table. Apparently, when the ship industry made the transition from sails to steam, there were two different steering systems. Robert Hitchins was on duty and steering the ship when Titanic struck the iceberg. When he saw the iceberg, he panicked and he steered the wrong way. By the time he realized what he had done, it was too late to steer the ship to safety! Louise Patten also gave us a few more details from her grandfather, who attended an emergency meeting with all of Titanic’s officers before the ship sank. According to Patten, J. Bruce Ismay, the CEO of White Star Line which owned Titanic, persuaded the captain of Titanic to keep sailing, even though they had struck the iceberg. Years later, Patten’s grandfather made this statement: “If Titanic had stood still, she would have survived until the rescue ship came and no one would have died.”

What a tragedy! If Titanic would have waited for help, just think how many more innocent people would have lived! I can’t guarantee this new information is 100% credible, but what a lesson it teaches us! When we are faced with problems, and then when we strike the iceberg, we want to keep “sailing” and rescue ourselves. How much “safer” would we be if we grasped for God? How much “stronger” would we be if we sought after the Savior? How much “calmer” would we be if we waited on the Lord?

Let the Titanic teach you a trivial lesson. Don’t keep “sailing”; just wait! The LORD will come to the rescue!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Airport Atmosphere?

This past week I spent many hours in airports across the country. My sister- in-law married a US Navy Sailor in Groton, Connecticut, and they asked me to perform the ceremony. My journey began in Austin, Texas where I boarded a flight to Dallas. The next morning, I boarded a flight in Dallas where I flew to Washington D.C. In Washington D.C., I boarded another flight for Hartford, Connecticut. The following day, I left Hartford and landed in Charlotte, North Carolina where we were delayed for hours due to weather. Finally, I boarded another flight in Charlotte where my final destination was Dallas. With all of these different flights and beautifully scenery of terminals, I made some interesting observations.

When we left Dallas, for the most part everyone was very friendly. I was one of the last passengers to board the plane, but another man ran up to the gate gasping for air. It was obvious that he was running late and having a stressful morning. The agent took his boarding pass and said, “It’s ok sweetie, everyone is going to make this flight.” When I landed in Hartford, the “southern charm” had disappeared. People were as cold as the weather. At Thrifty rental car, the agent did not say, “Can I help you?” but rather, “What do you need?” Even at the hotel in Groton, I was speaking with the concierge and she said, “You’re so nice, I’m probably coming across very rude. I apologize, it’s just natural.” Apology accepted! As I was sitting in the terminal in Charlotte, exhausted and delayed due to weather, I made some more observations. The flight we were waiting on arrived from JFK airport in New York. The passengers de-boarded, ran through the airport, and pushed slower travelers to the side. I also noticed that the passengers waiting to come to Dallas were tired, but fairly up beat. Needless to say, I was ready to get back to “Chicken Fried” everything.

Now, I believe it’s wrong to be “stereotypical” people, and I think the Bible warns us against it. I’m only making observations from what I saw; it’s not always that way. Many of my friends at Harding were from the north, and they were some of the friendliest people you could hope to meet. But, it did get me thinking, “How do guests see us when they visit our churches?” I’ve heard different metaphors to describe the church. Some will describe it as a “Country Club” where everyone fits into a mold that only a few can match. Some view the church as a “Pep Rally” where everyone’s happy beyond reality. Others see the church as a “Hospital” where everyone’s broken beyond repair.

I don’t think the church can ever display only one “image.” But, why don’t we make this “image” our goal? We’re a group of imperfect people who love another, and love our God even more! That’s an “atmosphere” where everyone will feel welcome!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Do You Have Any Power?

“Do you have any power?” It’s a question that’s often asked by greedy or ambitious people, wanting to know whose coat tails they can ride to reach new heights of success. An interesting article was published this past week in US NEWS that gave seven ways young professionals can gain ground in their careers through power. Unfortunately, some of the tips resemble many problems we see in the Lord’s church today. Here are just a few of them:

1) Gain power through What You Know (Have you ever seen those members who always want to “impress” others with how many verses they can quote, or remind people how many books they have at home which they probably haven’t read? It’s great to have deep Biblical insights, but it loses its greatness when it’s flaunted for others to see. Remember what Paul told the Corinthian church, who thought they were as smart as they could be? “Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” Remember, what you know doesn’t even compare with what God knows!)

2) Gain power through Who You Know (Ok, so you have a lot of friends! That’s wonderful! But are those friends more important than any other members in the Lord’s church? The first century church really struggled with this issue. Books such as Galatians and Romans show us the hierarchy system which was created between Jews and Gentiles. Your brothers and sisters in Christ won’t give you any power, and having an exclusive relationship with them won’t strengthen your resume with God. In God’s eyes, everyone is viewed the same. Learn to see as God sees!)

3) Gain power through Position (Some members love to “rub elbows” with the Elders and Ministers because they are people of “authority.” Even though the Elders might have the “authority” to watch over the affairs of the church, they still bow their heads and knees to the authority of Almighty God! And Preachers might be in the “spotlight” to deliver the sermons, but they are still members of the “Priesthood of ALL believers.” “Authority” is found in Christ Jesus!)

You see, as servants of God yearning for His grace, the only “power” we should strive to attain is the power that’s found in the blood of Jesus Christ, and the power that’s found in the Holy Spirit! Do you have these powers? Trust me, it’s ALL the “power” you need!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Stripped of Success

College Football season is here! For many households, Saturday cartoons have been replaced by Saturday Game Day broadcasts. “Tailgaters” are tailgating across the country, bands are marching with pride, and avid fans are already making their “picks” for Bowl Season. America watches with admonition as Student Athletes perform at the highest level. However, there is one former Student Athlete, a recent Super Bowl Champion, who isn’t receiving as many accolades. According to the Heisman Trophy Trust (the foundation who administers the Heisman Trophy Award), Reggie Bush, the 2005 star running back for the University of Southern California, will be stripped of the Heisman Trophy by the end of September. Bush will lose the award because he played the entire 2005 season as an ineligible player. It will be the first time in the 75 year history of the Heisman Trophy that any player has been stripped of their success!

The Heisman Trophy is the most prestigious award in College Football. Many argue that it’s a bigger honor to receive the Heisman Trophy than to win the National Championship! To receive the Heisman Trophy, a player must earn it! He’s the best player on the field every game! The words “off day” don’t exist in a Heisman’s vocabulary. He knows nothing but perfection! It must be devastating for Reggie Bush to be kicked off the list of Heisman heroes. I guess he will get over it, since he just won a Super Bowl, and since he has a multi million dollar contract with the New Orleans Saints!

I am unaware of Reggie Bush’s spiritual life, but I am aware that Christians face the same danger. We can lose our biggest achievement, our salvation! It’s very prestigious to be called a “Heisman Winner,” but there’s nothing more prestigious than to be called a “Child of God.” And to become a “Child of God”, we don’t earn it. Rather, we obey the gospel and we’re forgiven by the blood of Jesus Christ! For years, there’s been a debate in the religious realm known as “Once Saved, Always Saved!” The debate poses this question: Is there anything we can do to lose our salvation? In my opinion, we can toss verse after verse into the debate dungeon. But simply put, when we reach the attitude that there’s nothing we can do to be stripped from the Savior, that’s when we find ourselves “lost.” Reggie Bush’s legacy will be taken away because he disobeyed NCAA eligibility rules. And in the eyes of the NCAA, that offense is unforgivable! As Christians, if we willfully disobey God’s rules all the days of our life, even the blood of Jesus won’t help us!

Don’t be “Stripped of Your Success,” but be “Sure of Your Salvation!”

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Lesson from Burger King?

As the pace of American life continues to get faster, American’s eating habits keep up the trend! Fast food franchises have become a billion dollar industry in the last several decades. Even towns that used to be defined by the number of stop lights and gas stations, most likely have the “Golden Arches” hovering over the metropolis; or at least one place to drive through and order cardiac complications in a sack!

However, one franchise that isn’t producing profitable numbers is Burger King. Burger King Executives won’t publish the exact deficit numbers, but they do report that the company lost “millions” in 2009, and unfortunately that detriment of decrease is staying strong in 2010. The company offers many reasons as to why the “King” no longer rules with authority. They say Burger King is overpriced (compared to McDonalds and Wendy’s), the “Flame Broiled Burger” is no longer an “innovative” concept, and they can’t compete with the “Eat Fresh, Stay Fit” market of Subway. However, the biggest reason for loss is fascinating. Burger King blames it on the notoriously fickle group of customers they have always targeted, young men between the ages of 18 and 34. All of Burger King’s meals appeal to that “appetite”. But simply put, the men may or may not come! And without these men purchasing meals, the company is struggling to survive.

Even though I wouldn’t diagnose Burger King as a fountain for spiritual insights, I do see a lesson for the church from this fast food enterprise. When we consider the demographics of the Lord’s church, it seems like older members are very faithful in their attendance and involvement. However, with our younger members, that statistic doesn’t always hold true, particularly with the men!

Fathers, it is your God-given responsibility to be the spiritual “leaders” of your home. With that responsibility, it’s vital that you AND your families gather together with the family of God! Remember, the pace of life moves at lighting speed, and don’t expect it to slow down any time soon. However, just because you’re busy, that doesn’t mean you can’t prioritize what’s really important! On the other hand, unlike Burger King, the church will survive without you because the Lord always watches over it! But don’t ever think that YOU will survive without the CHURCH!

Monday, August 30, 2010

“A Perfect…Forgiver?”

Two outs, bottom of the ninth, one batter away from making history. It’s the IDEAL plot for any pitcher, and on Sunday, August 8th, Toronto Blue Jays’ pitcher Brandon Morrow was embedded in the scene. He threw a four seam fastball to Evan Longoria, who hit a sharp groundball between the second baseman and short stop. Toronto Blue Jays’ second baseman, Aaron Hill, dove powerfully for the ball, but the ball trickled off his glove into centerfield. The “No Hitter” was No More! How did Brandon Morrow handle the heartbreak? He regained his composure, and then he struck out the next batter to earn the first “Shut Out” of his career. Interestingly enough, Morrow never blamed his second baseman for missing the play. In fact, he told reporters, “He did the best that he could. That’s just part of the game.”

It’s been a very interesting season in the world of Major League Baseball. Several “No Hitters” and “Perfect Games” have been thrown which is HIGHLY unusual. But what is even MORE odd? It was the second time this season these amazing achievements have been lost in the LAST out of the game! Earlier in June, Armando Galarraga, pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, was robbed from a “Perfect Game” because of a blown call by the first base umpire. Replays show without any discrepancies that the throw beat the runner to first base. Even after the Detroit Tigers challenged the call with the Commissioner, the call stood, and Galarraga did not receive the “Perfect Game” he EARNED! How did Galarraga handle his heartbreak? He publicly forgave the umpire and said, “Being an umpire isn’t easy. They have hard calls to make all the time. We all make mistakes!”

It seems like our society is quick to place professional athletes and celebrities on pedestals that only few can reach. And most of the time, professional athletes have nothing to offer beyond the world of sports! However, it appears like Brandon Morrow and Armando Galarraga are men of different caliber. Even with all of the glamour and fame of professional baseball, they remembered one of the most important facets of life, forgiveness!

Surely as people who have been FORGIVEN by the blood of Jesus Christ, we can FORGIVE others! How much healthier would our families be if we chose to forgive? How much happier would our relationships be if we always forgave? How much stronger would the church be if it favored forgiveness? Instead of us “dreaming” what it would be like, why don’t we find out? “...Forgive as the LORD forgave YOU.” (Colossians 3: 13)

Monday, August 23, 2010

“Preaching with a Paper”

We're living in a day and age where the church is viewed as irrelevant, boring, and useless. Many ask the usual 21st century question, "What's the point?" For any student of the Bible, this question is heartbreaking! Even a quick study of the text will show that the church is vitally important to God, and it should be vitally important to followers of Jesus Christ! What do you think about this story?

A church-goer wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper and complained that it made no sense to go to church every Sunday.

He said, "I've gone to church for 30 years now, and I have heard probably 3,000 sermons. But for the life of me, I can't remember a single one of them. So I think I'm wasting my time and preachers are wasting theirs preaching sermons to me."

Well, this started a real controversy in the "Letters to the Editor" section of the paper. With the interest this one letter stirred up, the letters flew back and forth for weeks, much to the delight of the editor. Then one day, someone wrote the clincher letter. He said: "I've been married for 30 years now. In that time my wife has cooked some 32,000 meals. But for the life of me I cannot recall the entire menu for a single one of those meals. But I do know this...they have nourished me and gave me the strength I needed to do my work. If my wife had not given me those meals, I would be physically dead today. Likewise, if I had not gone to church for nourishment, I would be spiritually dead today."

Even coming from a Preacher, I admit that I couldn't have said it better! So let's thank God for His foresight in planning for our spiritual nourishment to happen in worship every Sunday! And you know, if you aren’t there whenever you have the opportunity, you might be slowly dying!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Tragic Typos?

As the “First day of School” fever is gearing up around the nation, there is one story that I can’t help but share. High Schools all around the country have been waiting for the school year to officially begin. Athletic teams have been running “Two a Days” in the scorching sun, bands and drum lines have been practicing like professionals for the “Friday Night Light” stage, and even School Administrations are preparing properly by getting necessary maintenance completed. A High School in North Carolina contracted with a Road Painter to paint the word “SCHOOL” on a new road leading into the campus. Look at the picture very closely! Here is something to make your old English teacher gasp in horror! Other companies have offered to correct the “typo” with a moderate $1.7 billion dollar bid.

But even in the church, we are guilty of making “tragic typos!” In school, our teachers always told us to “check over our work” before we submitted the final copy. Why don’t we try “checking over our work” in these areas?

1) In what we Say (We are so unbelievably talented at criticism! But before we show everyone our “talent”, why don’t we consider how it will make them feel?)

2) In what we Show (Sure, we can’t ALWAYS worry about what other people will think. But before we make any “questionable” decision, why don’t we consider how that choice will affect our influence for Jesus Christ?)

3) In what we Sanction (It’s never fun to be that “guy” who always makes every moment dull because we “disapprove” of what’s going on. However, sometimes if we don’t even say a word, it’s worse than ruining the “excitement” of the evening!)

Remember, some “typos” can’t ever be fixed; they will sear people’s hearts and memories forever. “Check over your Work!” Sometimes, you can’t afford the “tragedy” of “typos!”

Monday, August 9, 2010

Psychological Purchases?

This past month, the Real Estate “gurus” conducted some very interesting studies. After a few years of Real Estate depravity, many feel like Real Estate sales are getting stronger. With optimistic hopes for a competitive market to re-surface, Real Estate companies wanted to know what their client’s psyches were preaching. The studies produced some interesting statistics, but here are two stats to remember.

1) Choose Your Words Carefully! (A study was just conducted in the great state of Texas. This study showed homes that advertise new paint jobs, new carpet, and roof work, on average sold for less money than another home of equal value which did not advertise these “updates.” What made this happen? Real Estate experts say a new coat of paint or a new color of carpet won’t “fool” the serious buyer that the house is still full of problems. I guess it’s like putting lipstick on a pig! But even if there’s nothing wrong with the house, calling attention to updates could set off alarms in people’s minds. )

2) Welcome “Out of Towners!” (Another study in Arizona showed that out of towners will give anywhere from 5-10% more than in-state buyers. This is particularly true when out-of-state buyers are used to paying more for equal Real Estate in “higher markets.” Therefore, advertise in ALL adjoining states and on ALL Real Estate Internet sites.)

I don’t know if you’re trying to sell or purchase a home, but if you are, you might want to tuck these tips in the back of your mind.

Are there psychological effects on Christians when they consider their eternal home? Well, the good news is that we don’t have to worry about Heaven needing “repairs.” From what we read in scripture, this home was built by the hands of God, and even HE is pretty proud of it! But that second statistic still holds true; when we get to Heaven, ALL of us will be “Out of Towners!” Heaven will be a home prepared for us, but it will be home that none of us have ever seen! Therefore, how much will you give to make that home yours? There’s no competition, but the price is non-negotioable! It will cost you everything!

Dig into the “wallet” of your life. Ask Jesus to get you approved at the bank—God is a reasonable loan officer, and Jesus has A LOT of pull! Remember, the home called “Heaven” has a tremendous cost and the down payment is your life, but the “housing” is UNREAL! It’s not a “Psychological Purchase,” but a “Palpable Procure!”

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Has Your House Been Cleaned Lately?

Children hate to hear their mothers say, “It’s time to clean house!” This means that the toys must be put up, beds made, food put in the fridge, carpets vacuumed, and all the furniture and desks must be dusted. But this “cleaning period” is a double-edged sword. It also means that company is on the way!

Long ago, Hezekiah king of Judah had visitors from Babylon. Hezekiah was eager to give them a tour of his palace. He arrogantly showed them his silver, gold, spices, fine oil, armory, and his other treasures.

Later, the great prophet Isaiah asked Hezekiah, “What did these men see in your palace?” Hezekiah proudly replied, “There is nothing among my treasures I did not show them.” Isaiah then prophesied, “Hear the word of the Lord: The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your fathers have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the Lord” (2 Kings 20:17). This prophecy predicted the “Babylonian Captivity” that Judah would soon experience. Hezekiah’s grand tour of his palace proved to be his undoing!

Now that’s ancient history, but we aren’t always proud to give a tour of our homes. At least we aren’t eager to give a tour if we haven’t cleaned first! In fact, we might be ashamed of the things we don’t want our company to see. Whenever we have people into our homes, do we clean more than just the daily dusting? What drinks do we “hide” in our refrigerators? What magazines do we desperately “sweep” off our coffee tables? What secret possessions do we “bury” among our clothes? What questionable items do we hastily “push” under our beds? Like Hezekiah, showing everything in our homes might be our undoing!

The Lord sees all! We may be able to “clean house” before our guests arrive, but we will never be able to hide our secrets and baggage from our omnipotent Father!

Let’s resolve that there will be nothing in our homes that we aren’t willing to show!

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Helpmate from Heaven

One year ago this coming Sunday, Natalie and I began the “bliss” of marriage. I was scared, but I was excited. I was anxious, but I was calm. This decision was for life, but what a wonderful decision it was!

I always heard the “wisdom from the wise” when they said “When you know she’s the one, you know!” That never seemed logical, but with Natalie, it was different. Even in the beginning stages of dating, I knew she was the girl that God had prepared for me, and I prayed earnestly that I was the guy He had prepared for her! She was everything I was looking for: nurturing, compassionate, competent, friendly, funny, and extremely intelligent. But as soon as we said “I Do”, I learned that my wife had another talent than MANY women don’t have. She is a FABULOUS PREACHER’S WIFE! It’s extremely stressful to be a Preacher’s wife! Not only does she strive to please her husband, but she also strives to please the entire congregation! She learns what it means to always “live in the public eye,” and that any decision she makes, good or bad, will affect the ministry. She understands when “date night” gets cancelled because someone is sick, someone has died, or there is an emergency in the congregation. But one of the biggest challenges a Preacher’s wife faces is listening and watching her husband get criticized, but knowing there is nothing she can really say or do!

But what makes Natalie SO special? She loves the Lord our God with all of her heart, with all of her soul, and with all of her strength. When I was at Harding, I knew it was a good chance that I would find my wife on campus, and so there was one special persona I was looking for, “Ms. Proverbs 31.” In Proverbs 31, the author describes the “ideal” wife. He writes, “A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.”(Proverbs 31: 10-12) I certainly have found that wife of noble character, and I have full confidence in my beautiful wife. And with that confidence, I know without a doubt that she possesses the most important quality of all. “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30)

Are you looking for the perfect girl? Sorry guys, I already found her, and there’s NO WAY I’ll ever let her go! But in your search, let me give you the key to success: Marry someone who will help you get to heaven. If they aren’t that someone, that marriage is NOT for you! Thanks be to God, I found my “Helpmate from Heaven!”

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Cost of the Queen?

Economic setbacks have caused budget cuts and “pennies to be pinched.” We often convince ourselves that the difficult financial situation is an American crisis. While America has been hit hard the past few years, tough times aren’t confined to American soil!

In fact, Great Britain is currently swimming upstream as they begin to budget for the Monarchy in the upcoming year. Recent reports show that in 2009, 38.2 million pounds of English tax payer’s money was given to the Queen. (That is the equivalent of $57.8 million in American currency). From those 38.2 million pounds, the Queen used 7.9 million pounds for her staff. Experts believe that she will ask for MORE money in 2011, and that Parliament will most likely say NO, because the British government has been fervently trying to cut costs. In 2009, 15 million pounds were spent on the upkeep of Buckingham Palace and 4 million pounds were spent on travelling for the Royal Family! How about cutting costs from these “funds?” I can only imagine the conflict that will arise when the Queen gives her demands!

But have you ever thought about how much it costs Christians to have our King? Dollar for dollar, He’s a bargain! We don’t have to worry about budgeting for Him year after year, because He’s been around since the beginning of time (“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1), and He isn’t planning on going anywhere either! (“The Lord reigns forever…” Psalm 9:7) In addition to that security, the “Royal Family” isn’t too concerned with thrills and frills. The King’s Son, also known as the “Prince of Peace,” is a man of humble fruition. He didn’t begin His life in a palace made of gold and silver; He entered the world by means of a lowly manger. When the time came for Him to leave his “legacy”, He didn’t enter with trumpets, riding on a stallion horse fit for a king; He rode on a mere colt, with just a few of his closet friends shouting, “Hosanna!” As the King’s people, we don’t have to grumble over the expense of luxury for our King!

But just like anything else in life, there has to be a cost, so where does the cost come in? It costs us NOTHING to make him KING, but it costs us EVERYTHING to be His people! His tax doesn’t come out of our pay check. We pay Him our dues every single day by living the way He’s told us to live! But if you “count the cost”, you will quickly say, “He’s my KING, and Oh I dearly love him…!”

Monday, July 12, 2010

Life AFTER the Game?

For the past few days, Basketball conversation has been seasoned with LeBron James, but have you ever heard of Ray Williams? If you answer “no”, don’t be concerned. You join about 75% of America who doesn’t have a clue! Ray Williams was a NBA (National Basketball Association) star in the 1970s and 1980s. He played for six teams during his career, but his most impressive feats was serving as Captain for the New York Knicks and Guard for the Boston Celtics 1985 NBA Finals team. His name may not ring out with today’s fans, but “Sugar Ray” averaged 20 points a game during his career, and he was even compared to the great Walt Frazier!

Where is Sugar Ray” Williams now? Every night Williams locks the doors of his home; a broken-down 1992 Buick, rusting on a back street where he ran out of everything. Williams is homeless! Williams’ lack of success is not due to drugs, alcohol, or gambling. He hasn’t even been arrested for any charges! His homelessness just kind of happened!

How did Williams move from the Five Star Hotels on the road, elite company with Larry Bird, and fame and popularity to a house on wheels? Williams made over $2 million a year when he was in the league (An UNEBELIEVABLE salary for professional athletes during the 70’s and 80’s), but he never prepared for the day when he would no longer be paid to dribble a basketball. When he retired, Williams invested in a few business opportunities, but all of those investments went south, and Williams was left with nothing! I guess we could blame his coaches, teachers, and mentors for not setting a better example. But regardless which way our sympathies run, the biggest fault was his own! He didn’t realize there was more to life than basketball!

Even though Williams’ legacy fell apart, his mistakes teach us valuable lessons. There is much more to life than our jobs, our homes, and our everyday concerns. What looks so great in the PRESENT may or may not help us in the FUTURE! The lives we live today prepare us for tomorrow! How should we prepare? Jesus gives us the key to success when he says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21)

Where is your treasure? Ask Ray Williams where his was, and he will tell you where he WISHES it would have been! Prepare for “Life AFTER the Game!” It’s the only preparation that really matters!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Never Too Late?

On November 24, 1968, Pena Soltren and two of his cohorts boarded and hijacked Pan American Flight 281. The aircraft took off from JFK airport in New York, but landed in Cuba after Soltren and his accomplices demanded it to land. While the plane was in the air, Soltren claims that they “terrorized dozens of passengers with pistols and knives.” The hijackers cleared security with the weapons by hiding them in diaper bags! Security has come along way since 1968!

However, a few months ago, Soltren voluntarily returned back to JFK airport to surrender and face prosecution. Soltren had been secretly living in Cuba since 1968, but he decided to call the FBI and make arrangements for his arrest. As soon as Soltren landed at JFK from Havana, Cuba, the FBI arrested Soltren and prosecution procedures were underway. He was expected to be arraigned in Manhattan for a 1968 indictment.

What can we learn from Pena Soltren? Well, he gives us an example of what not to do, but he also paves the way for what we should do as Christians. Through his confused life, Soltren teaches us that it is never too late to repent of our sins. The guilt in Soltren’s life eventually overtook his psyche. He knew it was time to do the right thing!

When the guilt in our own lives buries our sense of justification, we should make the choice to once again become justified through our acknowledgment of sin. James tells us, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16)

When was the last time you confessed your sins? Hopefully, it won’t take an airplane hijacking to convince you it’s time!

Monday, June 28, 2010

“Plugging the Hole”

For the past two months, we have been hearing A LOT about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Americans, and environmentalists around the world, are outraged that British Petroleum (BP) has not solved the problem. Without a doubt, the oil spill is a catastrophic crisis. Pictures of crystal clear water that has turned to muck, white sand beaches which have turned to muddy marsh, and Endangered Species who look like they have flown, swam, or walked through an oil field, testify to the critical situation at hand. There are many technicalities about why the problem can’t be fixed, but the main reason everyone STILL gives is that the hole which is allowing the oil to spill cannot be plugged!

It’s mind boggling how even an oil spill in the Gulf can demonstrate for us the catastrophic crisis of OUR sin! Every single day, sin seeps out of our lives and pours into the world. Our families, our friends, and our neighbors see the results of the sin which has spilled into their surroundings. And unfortunately, like British Petroleum, we are faced with the same problem—we can’t fully plug the hole, because our sin is inevitable!

Thankfully, we have Jesus Christ to “plug the hole” for us. With Jesus, we have hope! With Jesus, we won’t be covered in oil, but we will be washed as white as snow.

However, if we DON’T have Jesus, the sin will continue to spill! And eventually, GOD will plug the hole on His own! But it won’t be with His precious Son—He will “plug the hole” when he says, “Depart from me into the eternal fire.” And once that hole is “plugged”, the “plug” will NEVER be removed!

What will you do about the spill of your sin? The world is watching, the environmentalists are waiting, and the critics are criticizing. Look to Jesus! HE will “plug the hole!”

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Perfect Preacher?

I’m fortunate to serve as a preacher for a very loving church, but not every preacher is as fortunate!

After hundreds of years, a model preacher has been found to suit everyone. He preaches exactly 20 minutes and then sits down. He condemns sin but never hurts anyone. He works from 8:00 A.M. to 10:00 P.M. in every type of work, from preaching to custodial service. He makes $60.00 a week, wears good clothes, buys books regularly, has a nice family, drives a good car, and gives $100 a week to the church. He also stands ready to contribute to every good work that comes along. He is 26 years old and has been preaching for 30 years! He is tall, short, thin, heavyset, and handsome. He has one brown eye and one blue; hair parted in the middle, left side dark and straight, the right side brown and wavy. He has a burning desire to work with teenagers and spends all his time with older folk. He smiles all the time with a straight face because he has a sense of humor that keeps him seriously dedicated to his work! He makes 15 calls a day on the church members, spends all his time evangelizing the un-churched, and he’s never out of the office!

Amusing isn’t it? Every church has their perception of what they want their preacher to look like. Unfortunately, for the preacher, it’s impossible to “fit the bill” for EVERYONE’S needs!

But have you ever noticed that everyone also has their own opinion of what God should look like, how God should think, and how God should be “God”? Some want their God to be “loving, compassionate, merciful, and forgiving.” Others want their God to be “powerful, accountable, and concerned with justice.” With all of these different images surfing through our minds, it creates a real dilemma when we try to paint a picture of God on the canvases of our hearts.

So how should we view God? He is not your God, He is not my God, but He is the ONLY God, the “Great I Am”, “Who was, Who is, and Who is to come!” And since He’s the only God, we should do everything that He has told us to do! God will be God, and He will rule as He decides to rule!

Perfection will never be found in a human, even if he’s a preacher! But I wouldn’t recommend going back to the drawing board to illustrate the Creator of the Universe. After all, He did say, “I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me, there is NO Savior.” (Isaiah 43:11)

Monday, June 14, 2010

A Hero from Home

Have you ever had a “hero?” You know, that image in your mind that encourages your mouth to say, “I want to be like him?” Young children grow up with their favorite “heroes.” Some children cheer for the reporter by day, and rescuer by night called “Superman.” Other children idolize the champion of Gotham City known as “Batman.” And still other children prefer heroes who aren’t “fictional”, but suit up in the uniform, make millions of dollars, and win championships in their respective arenas. But when I grew up, and when I thought about the one who could “conquer the world”, I always thought about my Father!

Dad has ALWAYS been my hero. In my opinion, he is one of the most successful men to ever live. He served as a Pulpit Minister for many years and through his service inspired me to preach the Gospel. He then chose to go into business, and he’s done very well as a business man. He’s also a very dedicated Elder, teacher, and friend to many. When people think about Danny Hawk, they can’t help but think about love for God, love for the church, and love for his family. But what makes him so successful is his commitment to serve God all the days of his life.

Father’s have a very special way of impacting their children. I can honestly say without the influence of Dad, I wouldn’t be who I am today. Without a doubt, “Fatherly influence” was molded in the mind of God. For those of us who experience the love from our earthly fathers, we know how much of a blessing they can be. But regardless if our earthly Fathers fill the roles that God intended them to fill, (which very often, they don’t), we know that we have a Father “beyond the sunset” who would love to be our “hero.” He will always love us, and He will never let us down. Even when we don’t feel close to Him, He gives us the invitation to become family, when He says, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters.” (2 Corinthians 6:18)

Will you accept His invitation? Do it quickly! Your “Hero” is waiting in your eternal home!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

How Long Do You Plan To Live?

Recently, an article was posted in a leading health magazine by Dr. Maoshing Ni entitled, “How to Live to 100”. Dr “Mao” says that our bodies are designed to live at least 100 years, as long as we get out of the way.

Here are his top six ways to live through a century:

1) Drink more water (Not just water, but 8 glasses of filtered water, which will prevent the buildup of toxic wastes in cells)
2) Eat like a “centenarian” (Eat mostly fish, vegetables, mushrooms, seaweed, and buckwheat. Avoid ALL sugars, MOST saturated fats, and eat COLORFUL fruits and vegetables)
3) Restoration through regular rest (7 to 8 hours of sleep a night, every night)
4) Take the stairs! (Find an exercise activity that works for you, and practice it at least 4 times a week for no less than 30 minutes)
5) Manage stress (Stress is the root causes for most diseases. Meditate at least 5 minutes a day, and work up to meditating at least 15 to 20 minutes a day)
6) Detoxify your surroundings (Avoid dangerous chemical compounds by buying organic foods, and undergo periodic detoxification treatments with dietary and herbal regimens)

Dr. “Mao” gives a pretty demanding list. And to be honest, some of the recommendations I wouldn’t consider beneficial! If I have to commit myself to eating seaweed and buckwheat, I have no interest in living 100 years!

The quest for the “Fountain of Youth” has been molded into the human mind for thousands of years. Even 3,000 years ago, King David told us how long we could expect to live. In Psalm 90 David wrote, “The length of our days is seventy years—or eighty, if we have the strength.” Now some are blessed to live 100 years, but if they do, they are definitely in the minority.

However, there is another way. Jesus told a troubled man named Nicodemus, “For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Do you want to extend your life? Listen to Jesus!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Hazy Etiquette?

Last month, America was served a small piece of the Baseball pie that has been cooling in the oven for years. Dallas Braden, the star pitcher for the Oakland Athletics, called out Alex Rodriguez, the star third baseman for the New York Yankees, for poor etiquette. As “A-Rod” (Alex Rodriguez) was returning to the Yankees’ dugout, he ran across the pitchers mound. Braden, outraged by the disrespect, charged out of the dugout and told the Yankee Millionaire, “Get off my mound!” Both players were interviewed after the game. Rodriguez said, “I didn’t know it was a big deal—plus, he’s a rookie with a hand full of wins.” Braden said, “I was shocked that a veteran of Rodriguez’ character would have such poor etiquette and pay such a disrespectful tribute to the game.”

There are many “unwritten” rules that govern the game of Baseball. Here are just a few that don’t receive publicity…

1) “When hit by a pitch, don’t rub the mark” (This is the batter’s way of telling the pitcher that his best shot—intentional or otherwise—didn’t hurt! Even though it always hurts—don’t let him know it!)
2) “Don’t help the opposition make a play” (When infielder’s dive into the stands or dugouts to catch foul balls, the other team should not brace them. Even though bracing another player is something a “nice guy” would do, you’re a competitor! Don’t help the opposition to win in anyway!)
3) “Pitchers stay in the dugout to the end of the inning, even if they were pulled!” (This is out of respect for your teammates. Sure, you might be having a tough day, but don’t show your teammates you think the game is lost if you aren’t playing!)

You know, there is an understood “etiquette” that Christians are expected to follow! But sometimes I worry that we push these guidelines into the back of our minds and they transition to dormancy. Here are just a few we need to remember…

1) “You shall not take the Lord’s name in vain” (Sure, we love to “chit and chat” with our friends and family. But please do not mention God in conversation, unless you plan to glorify Him for the God that He is!)
2) “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give…for God loves a cheerful giver.” (You love the programs at church, the outreach , the fellowship, even the building! But you don’t give money to support them! Something doesn’t “add up” in that equation!)
3) “Forgive, as the Lord forgave you” (You don’t deserve the harsh treatment you receive from others! Probably not, but you also don’t deserve the forgiveness God gave you! How about “paying it forward?”)

Yes, even Christians need to follow etiquette. It’s not hazy; it’s clear! Pay tribute to the game called life! We’re all players!

Hazy Etiquette?

Last month, America was served a small piece of the Baseball pie that has been cooling in the oven for years. Dallas Braden, the star pitcher for the Oakland Athletics, called out Alex Rodriguez, the star third baseman for the New York Yankees, for poor etiquette. As “A-Rod” (Alex Rodriguez) was returning to the Yankees’ dugout, he ran across the pitchers mound. Braden, outraged by the disrespect, charged out of the dugout and told the Yankee Millionaire, “Get off my mound!” Both players were interviewed after the game. Rodriguez said, “I didn’t know it was a big deal—plus, he’s a rookie with a hand full of wins.” Braden said, “I was shocked that a veteran of Rodriguez’ character would have such poor etiquette and pay such a disrespectful tribute to the game.”

There are many “unwritten” rules that govern the game of Baseball. Here are just a few that don’t receive publicity…

1) “When hit by a pitch, don’t rub the mark” (This is the batter’s way of telling the pitcher that his best shot—intentional or otherwise—didn’t hurt! Even though it always hurts—don’t let him know it!)
2) “Don’t help the opposition make a play” (When infielder’s dive into the stands or dugouts to catch foul balls, the other team should not brace them. Even though bracing another player is something a “nice guy” would do, you’re a competitor! Don’t help the opposition to win in anyway!)
3) “Pitchers stay in the dugout to the end of the inning, even if they were pulled!” (This is out of respect for your teammates. Sure, you might be having a tough day, but don’t show your teammates you think the game is lost if you aren’t playing!)

You know, there is an understood “etiquette” that Christians are expected to follow! But sometimes I worry that we push these guidelines into the back of our minds and they transition to dormancy. Here are just a few we need to remember…

1)“You shall not take the Lord’s name in vain” (Sure, we love to “chit and chat” with our friends and family. But please do not mention God in conversation, unless you plan to glorify Him for the God that He is!)
2)“Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give…for God loves a cheerful giver.” (You love the programs at church, the outreach, the fellowship, even the building! But you don’t give money to support them! Something doesn’t “add up” in that equation!)
3)“Forgive, as the Lord forgave you” (You don’t deserve the harsh treatment you receive from others! Probably not, but you also don’t deserve the forgiveness God gave you! How about “paying it forward?”)

Yes, even Christians need to follow etiquette. It’s not hazy; it’s clear! Pay tribute to the game called life! We’re all players!

Monday, May 24, 2010

A Memorable Memorial

Several years ago, I visited Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. I was amazed to see the thousands of crosses lining miles of rolling hills. Each cross tells the story of someone who gave their life in dedication to the United States. I don’t remember much about the tour guide’s speech because I couldn’t get past the images before me, but his conclusion will always stick on the surface of my memory. As he ended his speech, he said, “These crosses were placed here so all Americans can remember!”

God set a priority on memorials. At the close of Israel’s wilderness wandering, God told His leader Joshua to have the twelve men who were carrying the ark of the covenant, to take one stone a piece, representing the twelve tribes, and to cross over the Jordan and set up the stones on dry ground. God then told Joshua that when the children asked their fathers what those stones meant, the older were to tell the younger, “…These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.” (Joshua 4:7)

In my mind’s eye, when I return to Arlington, I see miles of white crosses. These crosses should strike a chord in every American’s heart, but society continues to cheapen the meaning of Memorial Day. They do not realize what Memorial Day really means. It’s not a day to honor all who have died. Memorial Day honors all who have lost their lives in service to this country!

For the Christian, there’s an even more important Memorial Day. It too is symbolized by a cross. However, there aren’t thousands of crosses for the eye to see, but only three for the mind to remember. On the day of Calvary, three men were sentenced to death, but only the man in the middle was giving His life for an important cause!

May we always remember those who valiantly gave their lives for our country. Likewise, may we never grow weary in remembering our Lord!

Praise be to our Lord, Jesus Christ, for His memorable memorial!

Monday, May 17, 2010

“Will Your Name be Added?”

Washington D.C. is full of amazing architecture. Government buildings lined with marble stretch several city blocks. The colossal Washington Monument stands proudly over the city, honoring “The Father of our Country.” President Abraham Lincoln stares with sternness as he sits in his giant chair of justice, honoring the hero who strategically held our nation together during one of the worst periods of American history.

But one monument which dampens the eyes and plucks the heart of every American is the Vietnam Wall. It’s a simple design, yet profound in theology. The wall made of granite stretches 380 ft (longer than a football field). It holds the inscribed names of 58,195 valiant American soldiers who lost their lives in the line of duty. But recently, one more name was added to the Vietnam Wall. Lt. Colonel William L. Taylor, a hero of the Vietnam War, passed away. His family, along with the United States Army, requested that his name be added. The family, the media, and a skilled craftsmen gathered at the memorial to witness the Colonel’s legacy be transferred to a memorable wall. After the inscription was complete, the media interviewed the family. The family replied, “It just looked like magic! I don’t know how the craftsmen did it, but now people can come and touch his name. And when they do, they can remember what it means to be a good man, a strong soldier, and a GREAT American! Only the best of the best deserve to be on this wall!”

The Bible tells us that our names will “added” at the end of our lives. The Vietnam Wall is a structure housed with honor, but our names will be added to something even more honorable. John writes “…our names will be written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Revelation 21:27)

How will our names be “added?” Our names will be in the Lamb’s book because of our years of service to the King. Our names won’t appear there by magic! Tourists won’t touch our name and remember what it means to be a GREAT American! But on The Day of Judgment, Jesus will flip through the pages, God will read our name, and we will receive the highest honor when he says, “Well done, thy Good and faithful servant!”

Will your name be “added?” It doesn’t just happen! That book is reserved for the best of the best!