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Showing posts from 2015

Where Do You Look for Help When It Seems God Isn't Paying Attention?

Psalm 121:4: Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep If you've ever had a difficult day, or week, or month, or year; you know that it can't be hard to find comfort in words like Psalm 121:1-2. These verses were made famous by the Von Trapp family, "I lift my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth." You might read those verses and say, "Great. But I don't have any hills to look up to, and I don't feel like anyone is coming to help." We can't all be Maria. We don't all stumble into the perfect family and the perfect solution for our problems. So, what do you do? How do you find hope, when all you see in front of you is despair? This morning I stumbled out of verses 1 and 2, sidestepped verse 3 and then got tackled by verse 4. Indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep Look! Israel's protector does not sleep or slu

Do You Have A Talking Problem?

I recently read somewhere that if you can't go an entire day without saying something negative about another person, then you have a problem. Imagine someone says, "I like to drink, but I don't have a drinking problem." You might ask, "How often do you drink?" If they respond that they cannot go a day without drinking, you might suggest that they do indeed have a drinking problem. Consider the person who says they never go a day without getting angry at least once. Would you recommend anger management? So then... If a day never passes in which you don't say at least one negative thing about one other person; do you have a "negative speech" problem? I do. Remember what James said. "And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself." (James 3:6) He also said, "For if we could control our to

5 Things Every Christian Can DO In Response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis

Since I already stuck my nose in this, I thought I'd follow up last night's thoughts with a more practical post. Vast amounts of bandwidth have been used in recent days as American Christians debate what other people (namely the government) should do in response to the Syrian refugee crisis. I am fascinated by the intensity of outrage some direct toward others because of their opinion about what someone else should or should not do. Realistically, most of us have little to no impact on what our country will do in response to this crisis. So where our national policy finally lands seems like a really silly thing to get angry about. This comes back to a simple principle I express quiet often. "Don't allow the things you cannot control to control you." You cannot control what the Senate, the House or the President does. So don't allow their actions to control your behavior or your relationships. Instead, consider these five things EVERY CHRISTIAN CAN DO

About the Syrian Refugees: It's more complicated than you're saying it is

I've watched for the past couple days as the Starbucks cup outrage has been replaced by refugee rage. I'm sure by next week, the outrage will have moved along. Frankly, I'm a little surprised so many people are so focused on the refugee issue this quickly after the Russian plane, Lebanon bombings and Parisian terrorism. The refugee question is really not connected to these occasions of terrorism. (I know it seems like it, but it really isn't) Anyway, I've been wrestling with this for a couple days and feel like I might as well throw some thoughts out. More than anything else, I hope anyone who reads this can recognize that I'm calling for EVERYONE to think through this a little bit more. There are lots of sides to this issue, and not all of them line up neatly into one concise talking point.  So, here are 8 things I think about the stuff I see going on around me... God loves a cheerful giver.   When we use the gifts God has given us to help those in

8 Habits to Ensure a Successful Life

Benjamin Franklin said, "Your net worth to the world is usually determined by what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones."   Habits drive our behavior and our behavior drives our life. By creating a series of healthy habits in which to engage every day, you lay the groundwork to become the person you were created to be. 1.  Every morning write the words, "I am a child of the king. He has purchased my freedom, ensured my adoption and commissioned me into His service." (if you don't like these words, create your own) 2.  Every morning, devote at least fifteen minutes to uninterrupted reading of the Bible. Follow a systematic plan. Don't pause, don't take notes, don't overthink what you are reading. When you are done ask yourself, "So what should I do now?" 3.  Every day, sometime during the day, give away a material item. It might be something you already home. It might be something you purchase specifical

Whether you know it or not; You Are A Slave

"This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus..." (Romans 1:1) Slavery is an ugly word. Yet Paul embraces it, claiming it as his own identity. All of us choose to enslave ourselves to something or someone. Whatever that thing is which controls us, is our slave master. Many are enslaved by the need for approval or acceptance. Many serve the master of popularity or social success. Some are chained to their desire for advancement and success. The list is long. We are all slaves to something. Paul chose to be a slave of Jesus. Following Jesus meant Paul would not be accepted. He would not receive approval. Following the true Jesus likely extinguishes the possibility of being popular. Jesus' full body of teaching is not socially acceptable. Jesus' followers are content to be last, not first. Success in Jesus kingdom is the polar opposite of success in this world. We are all slaves to someone or something. Every master but one seeks to control us. Only

7 Realities of Living in this Present World

Currently I'm preaching through 1 Peter. Central to this book is the idea that we are not citizens of this present world and our allegiance should be elsewhere. Below are seven thoughts from this Sunday's sermon... You may not be a superhero, but if you are a child of God you have a secret identity. Although you live IN the world and AMONG the people of the world; you are a   SECRET AGENT   for the future Kingdom. As a Secret Agent, you are tasked with living IN this present world but FOR the coming world. In this present world, you are expected to submit to all authority. Submission is not an indication of weakness, nor is it something that is forced on others (we are never commanded to force someone to submit). Submission IS an intentional decision we make to proactively turn ourselves over to someone else. We make the choice, not to exert our own power but to place ourselves under the power of someone else. We submit so that everyone will know that Chri

What would Jesus say to a pedophile?

On Monday, the Salon website ran an editorial entitled: I'm a pedophile, but I'm not a monster. (you can read it here .) What is your initial reaction to this? Then, once you've grabbed your breath, what is your secondary reaction? Any different? More importantly, how do you think Jesus would respond to Todd Nickerson (the author of the story). I'll be honest. My first thought was, "This isn't real. This is satire. It's a modern rendering of "A Modest Proposal." I even spent time googling the story to figure out if it was a joke. I don't think it is. So I began trying to process what this means. More specifically, I asked myself the question, "How should Christ's church respond to a person like this? What does it mean for Christians to embrace someone who is sexually attracted to little children? (if you have little children, these questions take on a whole other dimension)" We ALL have value and worth IN SPITE OF o

Who is more evil: Harry Potter or Frodo?

I originally posted this about 8 years ago. It still seems incredibly relevant to today. Enjoy a little light reading. Both "heroes" have a fiercely loyal and slightly simple companion with reddish hair. Grima Wormtongue and Peter Pettigrew (aka Wormtail?). Most of the blonde elves look like Malfoys. Magic. Gimly and Hagrid are pretty much the same, except for a seven foot difference. Nazguls and Dementors make the exact same sound. Way too much wide-eyed, wistful staring into nothing by both Frodo and Harry. Gollum or Dobby? You pick. The ring is essentially a horcrux, isn't it? Dumbledore and Gandolph look alike. *Now watching LOTR III and realizing I should have added in another one. Big Spiders.

What To Do When Your Country Is Crashing Down Around You

This month I'm reading in Lamentations and last night I was back to chapter one. This is really a fascinating book as it is incredibly depressing, yet hopeful. Jeremiah certainly wrote from a place of despair. The world he knew had ended. His agony and grief bleed across the pages. The most glorious city every built lay in ruins and for Jeremiah there was no hope of restoration or rebuilding. Yet there is hope. There is hope because Jerusalem was not the first city to be destroyed, neither would it be the last. Throughout the history of the world, great empires have risen and fallen. Today, on every continent, we can walk in the ruins of once great cities. The Mayans, the Incas, the Romans, the Persians and many more have come and gone. No kingdom lasts forever. This doesn't sound hopeful? Today's kingdoms will fall also. America is just a baby. At a little over 200 years old, we've been around a far shorter time than Israel or Judah lasted. But just as Je

Everyone Needs A Faithful Beagle In Their Life

This is something I wrote about 10 years ago. I still miss my beagle greatly. We have new dogs now, and they do the same thing as the beagle did... For the last 30 minutes, I've been sitting at my dining room table working. My dog has been sitting at the door waiting for Marianne to get home. She did this last night as well. She just quietly sits there and waits. I wonder if that is what God does for us sometimes? Just quietly sits and waits for us to come home...

What the Bible Actually Says About the Things God Loves

There has been much talk lately about the things that God HATES (the Bible does say there are some of them). I've also stumbled upon many conversations about what the Bible DOESN'T say about different issues. It seems to me that it might be nice to spend some time thinking about what the Bible DOES say... particularly, what it says about the things God LOVES. Recently I came across this infographic which is all about the things God loves, specifically, the things the Bible says God loves. Check it out. It might surprise you what is not included, but it will certainly encourage you when you discover that you're included... Discover more infographs at OVERVIEWBIBLE.COM

Sometimes Christians Need to Quit Their Jobs

Photo by NBC News Kim Davis is the government worker in Kentucky who spent a night in jail because she refused to provide marriage licenses to same-sex couples. My desire here is not to take sides or make political points, but rather to point out that sometimes our perspective as Americans might be different than our perspective as Christians. When that happens, my default is to choose my Christian perspective rather than my American perspective. How you respond... Is your choice. As a Christian If you claim to follow Christ, you regularly find yourself asking, "Will I be representing Jesus well if I do this...?" Sometimes the answer is an obvious "yes" or "no" and sometimes it is far less obvious. If I were in Kim Davis' shoes my answer to this question might be different than hers. There comes a time in many people's lives when they are forced to make difficult choices. Despite what Michelob light commercials might say, you can't

4 For Friday: Everything You Need for a Super Awesome Weekend

AN INIQUITY LIST! Who doesn't love a good list of sins, right? Maybe these aren't really sins, but this list of 13 Sins of a Dying Church is interesting. My guess is that every church will exhibit at least one of these characteristics. Very few will exhibit all of them. http://www.malphursgroup.com/13-deadly-sins-of-a-dying-church/ USE YOUR HEAD, NOT YOUR HEART! The Bible says the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. "Following your heart" almost always leads to disaster. Wisdom is the foundation of the successful life, and a critical piece of the wise life is a choice to use your mind. Here are 4 Ways to get your gut to shut up and your brain to speak up when making decisions . http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/248429 IF 10 COMMANDMENTS IS TOO MANY FOR YOU, FORGET ABOUT THIS LIST! A list of 17 small habits to make you more productive seems a bit like overkill to me. However, some of the items on this list are great ideas to help you

19 Ideas to Help You Let Go

I often talk about the necessary endings we all need to embrace if we are to grow. When we breathe, we must exhale before we inhale. Exhaling eliminates harmful toxins from our bodies and makes room for the new and fresh oxygen we need. In the same way, we must sometimes remove habits, relationships, expectations and more from our lives in order to make room for the fresh, new things God will do in us.  Necessary Endings is one of the few books I recommend to everyone I know. You can buy it here . We all have dead things in our lives which need to go away. We all have unhealthy habits, patterns or imbalances which need to go away. Sometimes we need to let go of good things so that we can make room for the best things. Every rule has exceptions. Marriage is the exception to the rule of necessary endings. Marriage is a covenant among two people and God. Ending the marriage is almost never the best solution. Ending unrealistic expectations or unhealthy patterns wit

A 5 Step Equation To Grow Your Wealth

Last Sunday was my last sermon on Proverbs. I'll miss those sermons as they were always so relevant and practical. Digging up the right application was easy, it just jumped off the page at you. I'll close this sermon series by posting some thoughts from today's proverb. Chapter 21 has much to say about wealth. These are five simple truths which will enable anyone to have more tomorrow than they do today. Wealth doesn't just happen, it is the result of planning ahead. Winning the lottery is a poor strategy for growing wealthy. Proverbs 21:5 says, "Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity." Set income goals and work hard to achieve them. Create spending guidelines and are disciplined enough to stay within them. Today may not be easy, but tomorrow will be secure. Shortcuts rarely get you where you want to go. The only people who get rich from "get rich quick schemes" are the original schemers. There are no shortcuts to wealth. About

16 Principles of Effective Communication

Pause before you speak to be certain you are using the right words at the right time with the right tone. The right words are always true. False words may provide temporarily feel good but they have no long-term benefit. Some words are true but are not appropriate for every situation. The truth and power of your words can be lost if your tone isn't helpful. Every word you speak carries incredible potential. Your words can be weapons of mass destruction. Your words can be tools of monumental construction. Kind words can encourage those who are unsure of their own ability. Attractive words can empower those who are under-performing. Pleasant words can heal wounds from the past. In marriage, kind and gracious words are a deposit which builds a healthy marriage. Angry and destructive words are withdrawals which bankrupt relationships. Your children need to know that you are their biggest cheerleader. Corrective words can be attractive if they are th

3 Habits to Help You Resist Temptation

Yesterday I talked about temptation. The primary point was that  Contentment is the antidote for temptation.  One idea I didn't get to talk about (time constraints) was the role discipline plays in our battle against temptation. Discipline is not just punishment for wrong-doing. Discipline is the creation of positive habits which help to form us into the person we want to be (or that God created us to be!). The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy: "discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness." Those who follow Christ should discipline themselves for the pursuit of godliness. These habits are God-centered disciplines. They are not me-centered. Our aim should not be self-centered but God-centered and Christ-exalting. When discipline becomes a measure of "how I am doing," it is no longer a spiritual discipline. The more we focus on honoring God and becoming Christ-like, the more victory we will have over temptation. Below are three "spiritual disci