Friday, December 20, 2019

Hey Everybody! Let’s stop talking about impeachment

Almost everyone has something to say about impeachment. Very few people are still forming an opinion, yet very many people are vigorously trying to change everyone else’s opinion.
I think it is time to stop talking about impeachment. In fact, I think it would do all of us a great amount of good if as many people as possible committed to not talk about impeachment at all for the next 30 days. Not only would we have fewer arguments and hurt feelings, we would all be a little bit happier I think.
Consider first, these three reasons why there is no reason for you to talk about impeachment. Then, I’ll suggest ten things more important than talking about impeachment.

THREE REASONS YOU DON’T NEED TO TALK ABOUT IMPEACHMENT

  1. No matter how much you talk about impeachment, you aren’t going to change anyone’s mind.
  2. No matter how much you talk about impeachment, you aren’t going to change what the House or the Senate does next.
  3. No matter how much you talk about impeachment, you aren’t going to change the final outcome.
Regardless of whether you are a part of Trump’s America or are a Never-Trumper, you aren’t going to change anything by continuing to talk about impeachment. You are going to get more frustrated, you are going to make others more frustrated, and you are going to create a further divide between you and those with whom you disagree. But you are not going to change anything.
So, instead of talking about impeachment, consider these more important pursuits.

TEN THINGS MORE IMPORTANT THAN IMPEACHMENT

  1. Christmas cookies. You can never have too many Christmas cookies, so when you feel the urge to talk about impeachment, make a batch of Christmas cookies instead.
  2. Common Courtesy. If you don’t know what courtesy is, google it. You can make your world a better place by smiling at others, holding doors, saying “please”, “thank you”, and “I’m sorry” and by patiently waiting in line.
  3. Silence. Silence really is golden. When you choose silence, you have the opportunity to listen to others and learn from them. At the very least, you have a moment to observe what is going on around you and you can learn to appreciate the intricacies and goodness of the world in which we live. Since talking about impeachment only leads to problems, choose silence instead.
  4. Cleaning up. Nobody has a spotless house. We all have that one room or hallway that needs attention. Next time you have a hankering to talk about impeachment, go spend fifteen minutes cleaning up instead.
  5. Your neighbors. Most people either don’t know their neighbors well or don’t know their neighbors at all. Don’t go talk to your neighbors about impeachment, but do bring them a batch of those Christmas cookies you made. You will make your world a little sweeter and you might make a new life-long friend.
  6. Family hugs. Whether it’s your children, parents, brothers, sisters, cousins, nephews, nieces, or crazy uncles; most people need a hug. Make it your commitment throughout the holiday season to be generous with hugs and stingy with political opinions.
  7. High Fives. For those who are uncomfortable wit hugs, rewrite the previous point inserting “high fives” in place of “hugs”.
  8. Your car’s tires. Winter is coming. The roads are likely to be a little more slippery. Even if you have a four wheel drive vehicle, you still need good tires. Four wheel drive becomes four wheel slide on a patch of icy road. Every time you sense a conversation about impeachment coming on, walk outside or to the garage and check your tires for proper inflation and tread (YouTube can teach you how to use a penny to check your tires).
  9. Coworkers. You need the people you work with to be on their game. If they are not hitting on all cylinders, neither will you. Why would you want to drive a wedge between yourself and those you need in order to make a living. Don’t talk about impeachment at work. Just don’t.
  10. Your sanity. That’s right. Your sanity is more important than impeachment. The morning after this whole thing is resolved, you will have to wake up and go on with your life. Very little will have changed. The degree to which you have made this issue important in your life will determine the degree to which you are devastated when it doesn’t end like you expect. It’s not important enough to lose your mind or your friends or your family over. Just don’t talk about it.
Thirty days from now, the impeachment drama will likely not be over, but the holidays will. Even if the propaganda and spin are still hurtling out of Washington at a record pace, you don’t have to be part of it.
Turn off the news and pick up a book. Put down social media and go out for coffee with a real-life friend. Stop liking and sharing posts and start sharing liking people and sharing joy.
Or just share this post. Let the world know to stop talking to you about i*********t.

Christmas Is For Everyone

PSALM 146:8-9The Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the sojourners;
he upholds the widow and the fatherless,

but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

Why was Jesus born in a barn? Why did God choose to have Him be the child of blue-collar parents? Why were smelly shepherds the first to announce his arrival to their neighbors? Why did He grow up in Nazareth, the place from which “nothing good comes”?

I think God wanted to be certain everyone knew that Jesus was for everyone. No person and no class of persons was excluded.

Jesus was for the Jew and the Gentile.
Jesus was for women and men.
Jesus was for servants and for kings.
Jesus was for adults and for children.
Jesus was for Red, Yellow, Black, and White.
Jesus was for democrats and republicans.
Jesus was for those who watch Fox News and MSNBC.
Jesus was for immigrants and CEOs.
Jesus was for shepherds and wise men.
Jesus was for everyone.

So this Christmas, before you write someone else off because they look differently than you, speak differently than you, or even vote differently than you. Baby Jesus came for everyone and Adult Jesus died for everyone.

If Jesus died for them, what does it mean for you to die to yourself for them?

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Jesus' light pierced the darkness already, and soon will dispel it completely!

ROMANS 13:12
The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.


Sometimes, at night, I maneuver through the dark house using the light from my cellphone's flashlight. It isn't ideal, but it provides just enough light for me to get where I need to go. The light pierces the darkness but doesn't eliminate it. If I wasn't concerned with waking my family, I would simply flip a switch and turn on the lights in the hall or room where I am. Those lights don't just pierce the darkness, the dispell it. The darkness is eliminated.

At Christmas, Jesus pierced the darkness. He was the light that came into the world and showed us what we needed to get to where He wanted us to go. His life was our example, His death was our substitute, and His resurrection was our salvation. He showed us the way back to our Heavenly Father.



At His second coming, Jesus will not just pierce the darkness, He will dispell it. He will right all wrongs, He will make all things new, He will eliminate evil and its power.

Jesus is the light and if we are His, we are children of light. When He comes into our life, He ends a lifetime of darkness and empowers us to live a new life of light.

Therefore, let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light!

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

I am not a fan of Bath and Body Works

PHILIPPIANS 4:18
I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.

Marianne loves Bath and Body Works. She has some kind of membership/rewards deal which allows her every so often to get incredible discounts in the store. We often do a lot of our Christmas shopping there (we did much more when we were still buying gifts for our kids' teachers).

I don't care for the store. The cacophony of smells is overwhelming, even for someone like me who has a poor sense of smell. Recently, they've added some "male scents" with names like Bourbon, Graphite, and Teakwood. This makes it a little more manageable for me, but I still don't like it. Usually, I'll hang out with Marianne for about 5 minutes, then I'll drift out into the mall and look for a massage chair.

The overwhelming fragrance is just not something I enjoy.

In Philippians 4:18, Paul describes the Philippians gift to him as a "fragrant offering." What do you think he meant by that?

I am quite confident the Philippians didn't send Paul a gift basket with some Teakwood body wash from Bath and Body Works. In fact, Paul wasn't even saying that their gift smelled good to him. He was saying their gift smelled good to God!

This is Old Testament imagery. When the Israelites would offer up their burnt sacrifices to God, the aroma would fill the air. If their hearts were right when making the sacrifice, God said that it was a pleasing fragrance to Him.

Paul is transferring the concept from the burnt offerings of the Israelites in the Old Testament to the generous giving of the Gentiles in the New Testament.

What does this mean for you? When you give to others out of a heart full of gratitude toward God... your sacrifice is a pleasing fragrance to your Heavenly Father.

So at Thanksgiving this year, don't stop at being grateful. Let your gratitude spill over into generosity toward your fellow man. You will be offering a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

9-9-9 Updated.

I love making lists. I made these three lists back in 2011. I guess some things change and some things stay the same.

2011

9 Teams I Prefer to All Others:

  1. Michigan State Spartans
  2. Detroit Tigers
  3. Detroit Lions
  4. Liverpool FC Reds
  5. Detroit Red Wings
  6. Sailor Soccer
  7. Cedarville Yellowjackets
  8. Detroit Pistons
  9. Cincinnati Reds

9 Teams I Love to Hate:

  1. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
  2. Chicago Bears
  3. Minnesota Twins
  4. Colorado Avalanche
  5. Manchester United Red Devils
  6. Green Bay Packers
  7. Chicago White Sox
  8. Dallas Cowboys
  9. New York Yankees

9 Athletes I Admire:

  1. Steve Yzerman
  2. Barry Sanders
  3. Lou Whitaker
  4. Steve Smith (MSU basketball)
  5. John Stockton/Karl Malone
  6. Greg Maddox
  7. Isaiah Thomas
  8. Brandon Inge
  9. Andy Pettitte

2019

9 Teams I Prefer to All Others:

  1. George Fox University Bruins Soccer
  2. Liverpool FC
  3. Detroit Tigers
  4. Detroit Red Wings
  5. Detroit Lions
  6. Michigan State Spartans
  7. Dutch National Team (Soccer)
  8. Taylor University Trojans
  9. FC Cincinnati

9 Teams I Love to Hate:

  1. University of Michigan
  2. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
  3. Manchester United
  4. Green Bay Packers
  5. Chicago Bears
  6. Minnesota Twins
  7. Colorado Avalanche
  8. Dallas Cowboys
  9. New York Yankees

9 Pro Athletes I Admire:

  1. Steve Yzerman
  2. Barry Sanders
  3. Lou Whitaker
  4. Steven Gerrard
  5. Pavel Datsyuk
  6. Matthew Stafford
  7. Justin Verlander
  8. Lionel Messi
  9. Jordan Henderson

Don't be a trouble-maker. Be a trouble-taker.

Every year around Christmas, my small Christian school had a roller-skating party at the local rink. The first time I attended was in third grade and I think it was only the second time I had roller-skated in my life. I wasn't very good, and I was afraid of falling, so I crept around the rink with one hand on the wall. I was more shuffling than skating.
Then Jimmy came alongside me, grabbed my hand and said, "Come on." Slowly we skated around the rink over and over and over until I started to get the hang of it. Jimmy was a great skater, he could dart in and out of people, flying around the oval faster than almost everyone else. He won the age-graded races and the limbo competition every year. I imagine it was incredibly boring and a little frustrating to skate beside me when he could have been gliding around the rink at a much faster rate of speed.
But he chose to share my trouble. For many years (until I moved away), Jimmy and I were the best of friends. Today, we're still Facebook friends with plenty of great memories.
The Philippians shared Paul's trouble. In Philippians 4:14-18, Paul spilled over in gratitude for the contributions they had made. 
Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.
Although they probably had no idea what the outcome would be, these generous people chose to simply invest what they had for the benefit of someone else. We know the outcome was the spread of the Gospel across the known world!
When you choose to share in someone else's trouble, you have no idea what the outcome will be. What you know for sure is that you are living like Jesus. He came to earth, specifically to share in our trouble so that He could ultimately rescue us from our trouble.
Your words and actions can either make trouble for others or take trouble from others. You make the choice!

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Good Ingredients = Great Products

Marianne bakes amazing chocolate chip cookies. She has the whole process down to a science. A while back, we needed to make a batch of cookies and she didn't have time, so she asked me to make them. She gave me her recipe and left me on my own.

They turned out ok. Not great. Edible.

She understands better than I do the perfect ratios in the ingredients. She has a deeper and more accurate experience with the recipe because she has made the cookies so many more times than I do.

Simply put, the better you understand and utilize the ingredients, the better your final product will be.


Do you understand the proper ingredients to bake a spiritually healthy life? Paul gave us a recipe in Philippians 4:8.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

This verse follows Paul's instructions to not be anxious or fearful about anything. His main point is that we need to fill our minds with God's ingredients instead of the world's ingredients.

Take a moment and think about how you fill your mind.

  • What radio shows or podcasts do you listen to?
  • What do you watch on TV or Netflix?
  • Which movies do you go to?
  • What thoughts fill your imagination?
  • What music is on your playlist?
  • With whom do you have the longest conversations?
  • Whose advice do you most often follow?
  • Which books shape your decisions?
  • What events do you replay in your mind?
  • What conversations do you dwell on?

Now apply Philippians 4:8 to all these inputs. The ingredients with which you fill your mind will determine whether or not you honor God with your life.

Before you go to bed tonight, take a moment and evaluate how well you filled your mind during the day. Then take a couple minutes and refill yourself with the truth of God (read your Bible, meditate on a verse you know, give thanks for His presence, provision, promises, and power).

Every morning, plan intentionally to fill your mind with ingredients that lead to hope, peace, joy, righteousness, faith, and love.

Bake a life that pleasing to God!

Thursday, October 31, 2019

You don't have to feel joyful in order to live joyfully (Philippians 4)

PHILIPPIANS 4:4Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
"Rejoice" means "to demonstrate joy." It is an active word. More than something you feel, rejoicing is something you do. 
Nat King Cole sang about rejoicing.
Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it's breaking
When there are clouds in the sky, you'll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You'll see the sun come shining through for you
Light up your face with gladness
Hide ev'ry trace of sadness
Although a tear may be ever so near
That's the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what's the use of crying
You'll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile
He was mostly right. What he didn't mention (but Paul did) is that we can rejoice IN THE LORD. Circumstances change, emotions fluctuate, relationships struggle but Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Sometimes we struggle to live joyfully because we are rejoicing in the wrong thing. If your greatest joy derives from your team winning a game, you'll not always be joyful because they won't always win. If your greatest joy is gleaned from your job, you won't always be joyful because your job will sometimes be miserable. If your greatest joy is in your children, or spouse, or significant other, or a pursuit of a significant other; you'll not always be joyful because people will let you down.
Paul says to ALWAYS live joyfully because of Jesus! In every situation, remind yourself that He is present, He is powerful, and He is passionate for your growth. Then, regardless of what is happening and regardless of how you feel...
REJOICE!

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Can't We All Just Get Along? (Philippians 4)

PHILIPPIANS 4:2-3
I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

We don't know much about Euodia and Syntyche. We know they were both followers of Jesus. We know they worked alongside Paul. But the thing they are famous for is that they couldn't get along with each other.


Paul doesn't mention who was right or wrong, and he gives no details about their dispute. He simply begs them to AGREE.

Do you have someone in your life with whom it is difficult to agree? Here are 5 actions you can take to increase agreement with disagreeable people.

A -- Assume the best of the other person
G -- Give the benefit of the doubt to the other person
R -- Recognize the good in the other person
E -- Engage in gracious conversation with the other person
E -- Emphasize alignment instead of dissent

Remember, it takes two to disagree. You cannot control what anyone else does, but you can always control what you say, what you do, and how you do it!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

How Low Can You Go? (Sermon Leftovers From Philippians 2)

1. Relationships often get upside-down because we feel like we aren’t receiving what we expect or deserve.

2. I must replace selfish ambition (what is good for me) and vain conceit (what makes me look good) with humility (what makes others look good) and a concern for others (what is good for them).

3. The truth about who Jesus was and what Jesus did should define how we view ourselves and how we live our lives.

4. Jesus was God. He created all things, needed no things, and deserved everything.

5. Jesus chose to not hold tightly to what he deserved but to humbly lower himself so He could lift us up.

6. "Humility" means to make oneself lower. Or to place oneself "underneath", not in a demeaning manner, but in a supporting role.

7. A humble person never looks down on anyone and always finds reasons to look up to everyone.

8. A humble person recognizes that everyone around them is better than them... at something. Humility causes us to find the good in everyone.

9. Jesus' humility is amazing because we are not better than Him at anything. He didn’t “find” good in us, He “empowered” the good in us at the cross.

10. Satan's agenda is the opposite of Jesus' agenda. Jesus didn't cling to what He deserved. He let go of His expectations. He descended and lowered Himself. Satan grasps for all He can get. He holds tightly to His desires. He sought to ascend.

11. WHEN WE ASSERT ENTITLEMENT AND GRASP FOR WHAT WE DESERVE, WE ARE FOLLOWING THE AGENDA OF SATAN, NOT THE AGENDA OF JESUS.

12. Turn your life and relationships right side up by releasing your expectations and embracing the mind of Jesus

13. Let go of what you deserve. Stop keeping tabs on what everyone else owes you.

14. Sacrifice for others. Humility is a great sacrifice. Sometimes the greatest sacrifice we make is finding the good in someone who doesn’t deserve it.

15. Trust your Heavenly Father. Satan elevated Himself and God brought Him low. Jesus made Himself low and God elevated Him.

16. Life seems upside-down when we aren't getting what we think we deserve or what we expect from others. But we have a loving Father who has promised to give us what we need. He allowed His own Son to be humiliated and killed so that we could be reconciled to Him. That is the depth of His love. If He loves you that much, He can be trusted to do what is best for you when it is best for you. Trusting Him means believing that He will exalt you when the time is right, so while you wait you can assume the agenda of Jesus. You can take the mind of Christ. You can humble yourself and you can sacrifice yourself for the good of those around you. God will take care of the good for you.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

My joy cannot be linked to my football team's success or failure.

PHILIPPIANS 3:1
Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord.
I woke up on the wrong side of the bed, largely because I went to bed in the wrong kind of mood. I was disappointed.

You probably know that I am a Detroit Lions football fan. We are really the most unfortunate fan base of all professional sports throughout the world. Our team is not only perpetually losers, but on rare occasions, when they have opportunities to win, something or someone always intervenes. It happened again last night. I am so disappointed.

A few highly questionable penalties were called and cost the Lions a much-needed win. Had they won, Detroit would be the first place team in their division. As a result of losing their game, the Lions are in last place this morning. I am so disappointed.

There is a part of me that would prefer to spend my day rage-scrolling through twitter, reading all the sports' pundits who agree with me for once. Everybody saw it, the Lions got robbed. I am so disappointed.

Instead of wallowing in my disappointment, I decided I needed to start my day like I normally do, so I opened my Bible to Philippians and discovered today's reading begins in chapter 3. I only had to go one verse in to discover the truth I needed to here.


FINALLY, MY BROTHERS, REJOICE IN THE LORD.

The command is not to rejoice in your successes, or your circumstances, or the people who make you feel good, or because your team was victorious. The command is to rejoice IN THE LORD.

My joy is not the result of what I have done or what is happening around me. My joy is in the fact that God loved me enough to send His Son (the Lord) to pay the penalty for my sin and purchase eternal life for me. My joy is in the fact that because of Jesus, God has adopted me and I am a child of the king. My joy is in the fact that God has promised me a place in His kingdom where all we be made new and there will be no more sadness, or death, or disease (or bad referees!).

Are you disappointed? Did someone not live up to your expectations? Did you fall short of your own standards?

The disappointments of life have nothing to do with our joy. Our joy is rooted in an event that already happened (Jesus' resurrection) and in an outcome that has been promised and is certain (our resurrection)!

Rejoice!

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

CONFIDENCE IN THE CHAOS: Sermon Leftovers From Philippians 1

PHILIPPIANS 1:6
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

1. Reasonable confidence is often based on knowledge of past performance.

2. God has begun a work IN you.

3. God is changing you. He is not changing your situation or your circumstances.

4. God never promises to change our situation or circumstances. He changes us so that no matter where we find ourselves, we are empowered to handle it.

5. The work God has begun in us is GOOD work. When His work doesn't feel good at the moment we must remember that He is not finished.

6. God always finishes what He starts.

7. Confidence about the future is developed through gratitude for the past.

8. Gratitude is our way of filling our minds with God's record of success.

9. If you are struggling to be grateful, think about the people who have blessed you, the provisions you have received, and the possessions with which you have been entrusted. The more you consider, the more you'll discover.

10. Every day, tell three people one reason why you are grateful.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

More Time Means More [fill in the blank]

I'm still dragging a bit this morning as I cajole my body to join me back in the Eastern time zone. Marianne and I had a great time visiting with Liam this past weekend in Washington.

A few days before our trip, we discovered we could change our flight and arrive in Seattle 12 hours earlier than our original flight. Excitedly, we began to make plans for our extra time in the Emerald City. More time meant more Seattle.
  • More Pike Place Market
  • More Coffee
  • More Smoked Salmon
  • More Views of the Puget Sound
  • More Street Walking and Looking for Cool Shops
  • More Time Together!
In Philippians 1:21, Paul says that more time on earth meant more Jesus. I've always considered this verse to be a comforting verse, reminding us that death is not the end and is not to be feared as it is the pathway we take into eternity. As I read the familiar words this morning, the first half of the verse grabbed me.

"For me to live is Christ."

More Jesus means more time together with Him. More Jesus means more time to walk like Him. More Jesus means more time to look like Him. More Jesus means more time to enjoy what He enjoys. More Jesus means more time to go where He would go. More Jesus means more time to treat others as He would. More time means more Jesus!

None of us know how much time we have, but all of us know that we have the time right in front of us. God has given you today. Will more time mean more Jesus or more of you?

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

REFRESH: 10 Sermon Leftovers From John 4 (The Woman at the Well)

1. Jesus came to earth to refresh people.

2. Jesus refreshes people by providing relief.

3. Jesus refreshes people by providing a new life.

4. People who have been refreshed by Jesus, seek opportunities to refresh others.

5. Jesus' disciples were so focused on physical needs and desires, they couldn't understand Jesus' deeper spiritual teaching.

6. When a farmer plants a seed, the harvest must wait. When God plants a seed, the harvest is immediate.

7. Jesus commissioned His followers to do for people what He was already doing for people.

8. Jesus desires His followers to refresh people by providing relief.

9. Jesus desires His followers to refresh people by pointing them to new life.

10. Jesus desires His followers to refresh the people they know, the people who are like them, the people who are not like them, and everyone else in the world.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Relax. You're In God's Slow Cooker.

PHILIPPIANS 1:6 -- And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
I just dumped two pounds of meat and several other ingredients into a crockpot and set the timer for 9 hours. Once the meal is COMPLETED, we are going to enjoy a delicious dinner.
This afternoon, the house will fill with the smell of our impending feast, and we may be tempted to sample the food early. However, we'll remind ourselves that it might smell good now, but it isn't ready. Give it time, and it will be even better.
As I stirred all the contents in the crockpot this morning, I had no desire to eat any of the ingredients. On their own, before being cooked, they are not appetizing and they are not safe to eat. Time, heat, and pressure will form them into the perfect meal for tonight.
God does the exact same thing with us. He puts us in the crockpot (or pressure cooker sometimes), and uses time, heat, and pressure to COMPLETE His work in us. 
Philippians 1:6 reminds us of two powerful truths.
1) All of God's work in us is good.
2) All of God's work in us gets finished.
You may be tempted to quit or despair because life isn't what you think it should be or isn't moving at the pace you would choose. Remember... until the meal is finished, the food is neither appetizing nor safe. Give God time.
You may be tempted to try your own route because serving God isn't bringing the results you had hoped. Or perhaps it is bringing results you don' want. Perhaps these uninvited life circumstances are the time, heat, and pressure needed to conform you into the image of Christ. Give God time.
Slow-cooking always beats the microwave. In the kitchen, and in life. Give God time!

Monday, September 9, 2019

STAY CONNECTED TO JESUS: 10 Sermon Leftovers from John 15

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (JOHN 15:1-5)
  1. The thing (or person) to which you are most connected is the thing (or person) from which you draw your life.
  2. The source from which you draw your life will either nurture you or poison you.
  3. A good source provides healthy life. An evil source provides certain death.
  4. Possible sources of life: Friends, family members, significant other, teacher, social media, Netflix (and other streaming sources), music, employment, hobbies, etc…
  5. Only Jesus is the source of TRUE life.
  6. To experience true life, we must STAY CONNECTED to Jesus.
  7. To “stay” means to not wander, to not withdraw, and to not race around looking for fulfillment everywhere other than Jesus.
  8. The word “stay” indicates that you are already where you need to be. Jesus knows where you are and He has you in that specific place for a specific purpose.
  9. Wherever Jesus is asking you to stay… He is there with you.
  10. It is impossible to stay connected to Jesus if you are not connected to Jesus’ people.

Grateful People Have Selective Memories

PHILIPPIANS 1:3
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you,

Paul's time in Philippi wasn't exactly a vacation at the beach or a walk in the park. You can read all the details in Acts 16, but among other things, he had to deal with a heckler, he and his friends got beaten up, and he was even thrown in jail.


Yet, in Philippians 1:3, Paul wrote that he was thankful every time he remembered the people who lived in Philippi. Was he thankful for all the bad times? (not that he shouldn't be as God helps us grown in difficult circumstances) Actually, verses 4-5 clue us in as to why he was grateful.

PHILIPPIANS 1:4-5
always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.

Paul was grateful for the good times. He had warm memories of partnering with the Philippians to see the Gospel spread throughout their time. He was thankful for the support they had given as He proclaimed the truth.

GRATEFUL PEOPLE HAVE SELECTIVE MEMORIES.

You can choose which memories you dwell on. Only you can decide which story from the past you will play on repeat in your mind. If you choose to focus on the worst of times and the worst of people, you'll be depressed, bitter, and tough to live with.

If you choose to focus on the blessings and the blessed people, you'll be grateful, hopeful, and a joy to be around.

What will you put on your memory playlist today?

Thursday, September 5, 2019

What do you love most about God?

A few times each week I send out a short devotional email from my own study. We just finished up a short look at some "Bible Lists". Now I'm jumping into Philippians. If you would like to receive the email, you can sign up at this link: http://bit.ly/SermonLeftovers

The character traits of God which we most love and appreciate are often the same ones we are most slow to emulate.

I'm talking about GRACE and PEACE.

Image

Most of Paul's letters begin with him sending "Grace and peace" to the recipients. I think this is because Paul most associated these concepts with the person and work of God. At the same time, these two inter-related gifts should be traits which we embrace and pursue in our own lives. This morning, I've been mulling over the many ways grace and peace are made manifest by God as well as by God's people.

1. God extends GRACE to us while we are still sinners.
2. God made PEACE between us by sending Jesus to pay the price for our sins.
3. When we accept God's gift of GRACE, we, who were God's enemies, are at PEACE with him.
4. God's GRACE means forgiveness of my sins which empowers me to be at PEACE with myself. I no longer need o wallow in the shame and guilt of the past.
5. You cannot experience PEACE until you've received GRACE.
6. Those who have received GRACE should extend GRACE.
7. Those at PEACE with God should be at PEACE with others.
8. You cannot live at PEACE until you've extended GRACE.

Do you love that God has extended GRACE to you?
Extend GRACE to others.

Do you love that God has pursued PEACE with you?
Pursue PEACE with others.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
(EPHESIANS 1:2)

Thursday, August 29, 2019

When Life Is Tough, Use These 4 Ingredients Of Christ-Like Prayer

Gethsemene was one of the darkest moments of Jesus' life. He knew He was about to be betrayed. His closest friends had fallen asleep rather than support Him. He was beginning to anticipate the coming separation from His Father.

Gethsemene is also the moment of one of Jesus' most famous prayers. Mark's gospel records it like this (Mark 10:36)
“Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
What can we learn from Jesus' prayer? I noticed four specific movements in this short verse. I believe we can discover four important truths about prayer from each movement.



1. He addressed God as Father. "Abba" is an intimate word, similar to our English word "Daddy". This is the same way He began the Lord's Prayer. We should take heed. Because God is our Father we can depend on Him to always give us GOOD GIFTS.

2. He acknowledged God's power and sovereignty. By saying "all things are possible", Jesus acknowledged that nothing would or could happen to Him that was outside God's plan or ability. God is never surprised, worried, or stressed about what is going in our lives.

3. He asked for what He wanted. Jesus knew that God would likely not "remove the cup" of suffering. Yet, He asked anyway. God loves when we bring our requests to Him. He wants us to tell Him what we want and what we feel (He knows that it is good for us to open up about these things). Remember, He wants us to pray in Jesus' name, which means as much as possible try to offer requests with which Jesus would agree.

4. He submitted to God's will. This also is similar to the Lord's Prayer. Jesus acknowledged that God always knows what is best and does what is best. Even though God's will may not initially be our will, we can be sure that whatever He allows in our life is exactly what we need at that moment so that we can become the people He created us to be.

FOUR STEPS TO PRAYING LIKE JESUS (summary)
  • Address God as your good Father
  • Remember and acknowledge that He is in control
  • Tell Him whatever you want to say
  • Trust Him to do what is best

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Here's a tool guaranteed to make your life better

Psalm 19 is one of the great works of poetry in the Bible. The entire psalm is about how God reveals Himself to us.

The first half describes God's revelation of Himself in nature. David uses examples from creation to highlight God's creativity, orderliness, and reliability.

The second half lists the benefits of God's written revelation. David was speaking mostly of the Law (Genesis-Deuteronomy), but the principles can also be applied to the entire Bible. Below are 6 ways God's Word can change your life:
  • God's Word can Revive the Soul
    • (get a fresh start)
  • God's Word can Make the Simple Wise
    • (make better decisions)
  • God's Word can Rejoice the Heart
    • (find joy in hard times)
  • God's Word can Enlighten the Eyes
    • (gain a healthier perspective)
  • God's Word can Warn your Servant
    • (avoid bad choices)
  • God's Word can Bring Great Reward
    • (live as God created you to)

Psalm 19 is a motivational chapter (it's much better than any motivational speaker who may be living in a van down by the river). I hope you'll be motivated to get into God's Word on your own!

*If you want a helpful tool for studying the Bible, you can use the reNEW journal. It gets updated at this link every Friday:
http://bit.ly/renewjournal

Thursday, August 15, 2019

4 Leadership Lessons to Learn From King David's Failure

2 Samuel 6 tells the story of David's efforts to move the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. His first effort failed miserably. He didn't take the time to consult God or God's regulations for transporting the Ark. Instead of having the Ark carried by priests, he placed it on a cart pulled by oxen. In transport, one of the animals stumbled and Ark began sliding off the cart. The man who reached out his hand to steady it was immediately struck dead (no man was allowed to touch the ark).

After a time of repentance and mourning, David tried again and did it the right way. The day began with sacrifices and ended with celebration.


Wise people learn from the mistakes of others. What can we learn from David's mistakes? As I read this story, Here are

4 LEADERSHIP LESSONS DAVID LEARNED TOO LATE.

1) Listen to God. Check His Word for wisdom.

2) Pay attention to details. Obey in small things.

3) Think of the people you lead before you think of yourself.

4) Take responsibility and learn from failure.

Whether you are leading a major organization, a small team, a family, or just yourself; these principles will help you become a better leader.

Monday, July 29, 2019

How To Avoid Spiritual Obesity

PROVERBS 29:19
By mere words, a servant is not disciplined,
for though he understands, he will not respond.

I was sitting around a table with several other pastors, talking about how to disciple our people more effectively. One of the other pastors was lamenting the reality that many in our church had been long-time members with significant biblical knowledge, but their lives weren't reflecting the love of Christ. In frustration he said:

Too many people are 100 verses overweight.

His statement is a great summary of Proverbs 29:19. Head knowledge alone doesn't lead to growth. If more information doesn't lead to greater transformation, it's wasted effort.


James told believers to not just be HEARERS of the Word but to be DOERS.

Jesus didn't tell His followers to "make disciples, teaching them all my commands." He told them to "make disciples, teaching them TO OBEY all my commands."

God's Word teaches us what we need to know, and we must implement it in our daily life! Discipleship requires discipline and discipline requires action. What will be your next step today?
  • What do you need to start doing?
  • What do you need to stop doing?
  • What do you need to do more?
  • What do you need to do less?

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Sermon Leftovers From The Fourth Commandmement: Remember the Sabbath.

1) We all face the temptation every day to wear our busyness as a badge of honor. We feel more important when we claim that our "busyness" is an impediment to connection with others.

2) Too many people claim to be "busy" in order to avoid conversation, authenticity, or deeper relationships

3) Much of our busyness is caused by our proclivity to fill the empty spaces of life (waiting in line; riding in planes, trains, and automobiles; bedtime) with technology. Instead of serving us by making us more productive, our gadgets have become our masters. Look around, everyone is bowing to their phone.

4) The deeper reason for our busyness is a desire to prove something to others or ourselves. We take on more and work harder in an effort to prove we are worthy or to disprove the judgment we perceive is directed toward us.


5) The Sabbath command is the only one of ten which demands a repeated ritual. It is a proactive command requiring intentionality and discipline.

6) The Sabbath command is the first of the ten which connects our vertical relationship and our horizontal relationship. God not only expects us to observe Sabbath, He expects us not to violate the Sabbath of others.

7) The Sabbath is a timeless principle that had specific application for Israel.

8) Physical rest requires us to eliminate the unnecessary, unhealthy, and unhelpful; and to intentionally schedule time for rest, reflection, and refreshing.

9) Just as God worked for six days, rested, and invited us to join Him physical rest; Jesus worked on the cross, rested, and invited us to join Him in spiritual rest.

10) When I rest in Jesus, I no longer work to prove myself. I am not a "self-made man". I am who He has made me.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Assumptions and Excuses Will Destroy Your Life

PROVERBS 22:13
The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside!
I shall be killed in the streets!”

This is one of my favorite proverbs because it paints such a vivid mental image for me. I used to imagine a young man, lying in bed and refusing to get up. His father tells him he needs to get out and get a summer job. Having exhausted every possible argument for why he cannot get out of bed, the son exclaims, "There is a lion in the street!"

Today, the mental image has changed slightly. No longer is the son in bed, now he's in the basement playing video games. And he might be 30. And it might be his mother (or even wife) telling him to get out and find a job.

Sluggard-Lifestyle has become an epidemic in 2019.

DISCLAIMER: Men are not the only creatures who behave like sluggards. Women are also capable (although perhaps not as likely) of finding reasons why they shouldn't do what they know they ought to do.
The foundational truth of this proverb is that the sluggard is supposed to be DOING something. Whether it is going to work, visiting a neighbor, or meeting a friend, he has somewhere he is supposed to go and something he is supposed to do. For some reason, he doesn't want to do it.

"THERE IS A LION OUTSIDE!"


Since the sluggard is likely still inside, he doesn't actually know there is a lion in the street. He's making it up. This morning, I can think of two reasons why he would do this.

1) He assumes it's true. Perhaps he heard a rumor or perhaps he is a person who always assumes the worst. Either way, he has painted a picture in his mind and no one will convince him otherwise. He is now paralyzed with fear because he has assumed his doom is imminent. His assumption has destroyed the life he was created to live.

2) He is making excuses. He knows there is no lion in the street. He simply doesn't want to do what he needs to do. This is perhaps the final in a long line of excuses, "I'm really tired", "Nobody there likes me", "It's boring". Excuses are never helpful and always harmful. His excuses are destroying the life he was created to live.

Today is a great day to follow the advice of Robin Williams in Dead Poet's Society. SEIZE THE DAY.

Do what you were created to do. Take the path you know God has prescribed for you. Grab responsibility and live up to your potential. Fulfill the duties of the roles God has placed you in. Be proactive. Be intentional. Work hard.

Assume the best. Make no excuses.

There is no lion. Get 'r done!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Your intentions may not be as pure as you think!

PROVERBS 16:2
All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,
but the Lord weighs the spirit.

Our dogs have a terrible habit. At least three or four times a day, they will begin barking at the neighbor's dog (actually, the neighbor's dog may be starting it). Their barking becomes so intense that they are all at the fence, clawing at it (sometimes even biting it), trying to get through to the other side.

We have a command for them to stop. We say, "Leave it!" If they stop barking and follow us inside, they get a treat. If they don't, we scoop them up (they're quite small), carry them inside, and sentence them to 15 minutes in their cages.

Every time this happens, I feel like Mylie (the smarter of the two dogs) looks up at me and her eyes say, "But master, I was protecting you!"

She believes that her motivation was pure. I know she was simply acting on her beastly instinct.


We do the same thing. We tend to assign ourselves the best motives. Even when we do something we know to be wrong, we justify it by telling ourself that our intentions are good. In conflict, we tend to judge others by their words or actions but want others to evaluate us according to our good motives.

God actually sees our heart. He weighs our spirit. He knows we are often motivated by selfishness, greed, vengeance, anger, etc. The Bible tells us that the mouth speaks (and the person acts) out of the abundance of the heart. If the output of your life is bad, that means the input was bad.

This is a good opportunity to examine your heart. Take a moment to second guess your motives. Don't immediately default to the excuse of "good intentions." Be ruthlessly honest with yourself.

Then...

Ask yourself what it would look like to always be motivated by love. Fill your mind with reasons why you love God. In every interaction, use your energy to discover reasons to love other people. Choose to modify your motivations. Choose love.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

10 Leftovers From The First of Ten Commandments

EXODUS 20:1-3
And God spoke all these words, saying,
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
“You shall have no other gods before me.

1) God is a PERSONAL God. "He is the Lord YOUR God". He is not absent, passive or unconcerned. He is present, active and full of compassion.

2) God sets captives free. God's path does not enslave us, it liberates us.

3) Because God is the ONLY God who delivers, He is the ONLY God we should worship.

4) Everyone is devoted to something. The outcomes of your life are determined by the devotion of your life.

5) To be devoted to God is to offer Him the first and best of every part of your life.

6) We offer God our first and best because He gave us His first and best.

7) Too often we are to our self. Self-devotion manifests itself in the pursuit of  POSSESSIONS, PLEASURE, POPULARITY, or POWER.

8) I cannot be devoted to myself and to God.

9) My devotion can be measured by evaluating how I schedule my CALENDAR, how I utilize my CAPABILITIES, or how I spend my CASH.

10) We can change our devotion my moving our treasure. Wherever we invest our treasure is where our heart will move.

A Fool Proof Plan For Personal Protection

PROVERBS 2:11
discretion will watch over you,
understanding will guard you,

Discretion is the practice of making decisions according to a predetermined plan. I show discretion when I choose not to purchase Swiss Cake Rolls because I am following a plan to save money and lose weight.

Understanding is the practice of thinking deeply and investigating carefully before reaching conclusions. When I react without thinking, or when I believe the first thing I hear, or when I assume the worst about a person; I am demonstrating a lack of understanding.

Discretion and understanding will protect you in life. Discretion is best when your predetermined plan is the path God has laid out in His Word. Understanding is most effective when your primary consideration is whether or not something aligns with the truth of Scripture.

Don’t make snap judgments today. Don’t act quickly or without thought. Because you are living in a sinful world, your instincts are sometimes tainted by sin. Instead, choose discretion and wisdom.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

You Cannot Win. So Don't Try.

PROVERBS 26:4-5Answer not a fool according to his folly,
lest you be like him yourself.
Answer a fool according to his folly,
lest he be wise in his own eyes.

This is one of my favorite proverbs. At first glance, it appears to be two contradictory statements. Both cannot be true. They are mutually exclusive.

BUT...

If you read them together and understand them as one larger proverb, you get the real meaning:

Don't argue with a fool. You cannot win.

Some people simply do not want to have a reasonable discussion. Some are completely unwilling to consider a change to their position or point of view. Some are interested only in fighting, not finding solutions.

Don't argue with them. You cannot win.

This feels like a pretty good description of political discourse in America today. It seems to be a fairly accurate snapshot of what happens on social media every day.

Here's your challenge. Don't be the fool. Don't be the person who can't engage in a productive conversation with someone who has a different perspective. Here are three simple rules to remember to help you avoid being a fool:

1) Listen intently.
2) Don't interrupt.
3) Use questions to gain clarity and understanding before you respond.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Are You A Creator or a Destroyer?

PROVERBS 18:9
A lazy person is as bad as
someone who destroys things.


1) As image bearers of God, we were made to be creators. We create with our hands, with our actions, with our words, etc.

2) Creating takes action. Lazy people don't create anything (victimhood and apathy are synonymous with laziness).

3) What you create doesn't have to be tangible or physical. You might create joy or peace for someone else. You might create hope by meeting the need of your neighbor. We all have different gifts which enable us to be creative in different ways.

4) What will you create today?

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

You Can't Fix Everything For Everyone. But You Can Do Something.

PROVERBS 12:25
Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down,
but a good word makes him glad.

Stop.

Before you do you anything else, find a piece of paper or a sticky note or a notebook or something you can write on. Now, write down the names of three people you know you will see today.

You have no idea what is going in these people's hearts. You may know some of the situations they are dealing with. You may understand some of their hurts and some of their joys. But you don't know it all. None of us do.

Something is causing anxiety in these people. You may have an idea of what it is. You may not have a clue.

None of us can know everything that is going on in the hearts of the people around us.

What we all CAN DO, is offer a good word to everyone we encounter.


If you aren't sure how to offer a good word to someone else, here are ten suggestions:

  • encourage
  • compliment
  • motivate
  • inspire
  • praise
  • admire
  • appreciate
  • commend
  • congratulate
  • applaud

You can't fix everything for everyone. You can brighten their day and lighten their load by offering a good word.

Go back to your list now. Take a moment and pray for each person on the list. Before you see them today, commit to offering them a good word. If you aren't sure what to say, review the list above and something will come to you.

Jesus said you are the light. Brighten the world of the people around you.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Life Is About More Than Turning A Profit

PROVERBS 10:2
Treasures gained by wickedness do not profit,
but righteousness delivers from death.

I don't watch it much anymore because I don't seem to have time, but when "The Profit" (a tv show about entrepreneur Marcus Lemonis) was first released, I watched almost every episode for a couple of seasons. I was intrigued by Lemonis' approach to business, particularly the firm but compassionate manner in which he dealt with people.

He was also a very good businessman, and he was very successful in turning around family businesses that were failing.

In business, success and failure are measured by a simple standard... PROFIT. If your money is increasing, you are winning. If your money is decreasing, you are losing.


Proverbs 10:2 challenges our understanding of profit. Not all financial (or material) gain is good. Not all who appear successful are righteous. Temporary gain is not the same as an eternal reward.

Jesus had something to say about this in Mark 8. He said, "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?"

My goal today is to pay more attention to people than to profit. I'm going to think more about righteousness than reward. I will try to give more than I get.

Will you join me?

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Try this one simple trick to become a wise person!

PROVERBS 4:7
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,
and whatever you get, get insight
.

Becoming a wise person is surprisingly simple. Pursue wisdom.

Wisdom can come from other people such as parents, teachers, friends, and even pastors. More importantly, wisdom comes from God's Word (particularly Proverbs).

I have this picture in my mind of a person who never pursues wisdom and then wonders why life is not going well for them.

Wisdom is not found on the couch in a bag of potato chips. It is not found in a secret level of Fortnite (does Fortnite have levels?). It is not found in the fifteenth episode of whatever Netflix show is being binged.

Solomon began chapter 4 by telling his son to "be attentive." If you don't pay attention, you won't get wise. So pay attention!

I just heard Andy Stanley say, "We get in trouble, not because we don't take advice. We get in trouble because we take OUR OWN advice." Those who don't pay attention, don't gain wisdom. Those who don't gain wisdom, get into trouble.

This is precisely why I read Proverbs every day. I want to get wisdom. I want to get insight. The journey begins by paying attention to what someone else (namely God) has said.

So try reading all of Proverbs 4 today.
Choose one verse as your "wisdom nugget" of the day.
Look for an opportunity to live out the wisdom you've gained.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Don't Cling... Go!

JOHN 20:17 - go find my brothers and tell them.

When you have good news, you love to tell people. Couples go to incredible ends to create elaborate pregnancy/gender reveal parties. Parents love to brag on their children. Major accomplishments are nearly as much fun if they are kept secret.

Jesus' resurrection was the best news ever. He didn't want anyone to keep it a secret.

When Mary saw Jesus, her first inclination was to embrace Him. That is good. Closeness with Jesus is important. But Jesus had a more important task for her. He said, "Don't cling... GO!"

We ought to embrace Jesus and seek closeness with Jesus. We do this through personal study, prayer, meditation. We get closer to Him by attending church services and small group meetings.

But Jesus has a more important task for us. He doesn't want us to cling, He wants us to GO!

Who will you tell about Jesus' resurrection today?