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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I Found Him

"I found Him!"

I will never forget those words.

We had just finished one of our Christmas services, and I was standing in the atrium of our church this past weekend greeting folks and catching up with people.  One of the members of our youth group came up with their mom displaying a slight smile on their face.  The mom was smiling too...and they both politely waited to speak as I finished my conversation with a couple other folks.

This youth has spent the last seven months really searching and struggling with God.  They held off on getting baptized last spring because they weren't sure about God.  Their family loved and supported them, but they continued to struggle spiritually, slowly moving further and further away from God.  They still came to church and I had the honor of praying with and talking with them several times.  They just chose to not accept Christ, and eventually let their family know that they didn't want anything to do with Him or God...period.  It was a decision that had slowly been made over the past six-seven months, but it was very purposeful.

This decision was made aware to me at church a few weeks ago after a Sunday morning Bible study.  I was saddened, but still kept praying for them, not knowing how, where, when, or if God would ever become real to them.  I had no quick answer...no miraculous statement...not really any idea at all.  All I had was prayer and love.

So there they stood on Christmas Eve.  They had just finished attending the worship service with their family, and there they were, three weeks removed from respectfully informing me that they wanted nothing to do with God.   I smiled, said hi to them and their mom, and gave them both a quick hug.  Mom softly said they had something to share.  I looked down at the student, and the tears welled up.  Same with mom.

"I found Him."

That's all they were able to say as they smiled and gave me one more quick hug.  The mom thanked me and they both moved on.

WOW!  I have no clue when, where, how, etc...absolutely no details.  They admitted several times that they didn't feel anything from God no matter how long they searched...how many times they prayed...how many Bible verses they read.  What I do know is here's a young person who had less than a month ago publicly denied Christ, and somehow He was now a reality to them.  I also know I will never forget that moment...that look on their face...that statement:

"I found Him."

Sometimes God feels far away.  Sometimes we question if He even exists or what good following Him really is.  Even when we don't feel anything from God, He's still there.  Philippians 4:7 says that "the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your heart and your mind."  That's powerful.

There's plenty of things that we can pursue; plenty of options out there; plenty of things to find.  There will never be someone or something larger or more important for you to find than a relationship with God the Father Almighty.  Never give up trying to discover Him.  Never stop learning about Him.  Never stop depending on Him.  Never stop serving Him.

When everything seems hopeless or lost, there are three words we can find comfort and strength in.

"I found Him."

Stay strong.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Fear God

I struggle with fearing God sometimes.  I'm a pretty positive person.  I usually look at the bright side of something, even in tragic situations.  I respect God, love Him with everything I am, and try to serve Him often.  But do I fear Him?


Every week I have the privilege of attending a campus ministry at Piper High School.  It's a public school that has a tough reputation, but it has done a decent job of cleaning up it's act over the past 5-7 years.  It still has a long way to go, but has a lot of good students walking the hallways.


This past Tuesday, I got into the classroom that we use a little early and got to chat with a few of the students that don't normally come to the campus ministry meeting.  As each conversation drew to a close, I told the student we'd love to have them stay.  We had pizza, soda, and Christmas cookies!  Woo-Hoo!  Most students politely said they had plans.  One student I've been chatting with for a few weeks now laughed as I invited him to stay (again) and said he already had something going on.  When I asked him what that was, he laughed again and said, "I'm already going to hell so I don't think I can stay."  I assured him he could stay, but he again reminded me that he was going to hell and that there was no hope for him.  I smiled and told him that I disagreed with him and briefly explained that everyone can be forgiven.  He laughed, said, "Not me!", then gave me a big smile, high five, and wished me a Merry Christmas (kind of ironic I guess) before he left the room.


I don't know if you've ever encountered someone that flat out claimed they were going to hell and were excited about it.  It breaks my heart when I see people willingly choose that as their destiny.  I'm positive this young man does not have a proper understanding about hell or a proper fear of God or he would surely not be joking about hell the way he was.


Jesus knows fear. He was tortured, mocked, and murdered on the cross...experienced every sin imaginable on the cross and was separated from His Father as a result. There's no doubt Jesus knows fear better than any of us can imagine. Listen to His words in Luke 12:

“Dear friends, don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that.  But I’ll tell you whom to fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, He’s the one to fear."

Strong words from the Son of God. However, if anyone had the right and knowledge to offer such advice, it was Jesus.

Does your life have a proper fear of God? Do your words and actions show respect/reverence/love for a Father that has done everything He can to prove His love for you? Do you take Him for granted? Do you forget about Him until you need something? Does your life mock Him in any way? How often does sin enter your life? What do you do about it when it shows up? To what lengths are you willing to go to make sure you properly fear the God who gave everything to share a relationship with you?

I can't wait till school starts up again next year so I can see this young man again. I'm praying for him often and hope/pray that somehow he will see Christ this Christmas. Maybe you will be the one who shows Him Christ in such a way that He finally makes sense.

Fear God enough to accept His love and share it with those around you. Never stop displaying Christ to the people God surrounds you with each day. Stay strong.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Reputation

On Thanksgiving, Ndamukong Suh stomped on an opponent's arm during the Detroit Lions' loss to the Green Bay Packers.  He was called for an unsportsmanlike penalty, ejected from the game, fined, and suspended.  Feel free to disagree, but I believe that play really cost the Lions any chance at winning.
Last Sunday, Stevie Johnson caught a touchdown pass against the New York Jets defense.  His touchdown celebration started with a little dance, but then he proceeded to pretend "shoot himself in the leg," mocking Jets wide receiver Plaxico Burress, who spent time in jail and was released by the New York Giants after he accidentally shot himself in the leg at a nightclub.  Johnson was penalized, which ended up costing his team field position and a touchdown, and was eventually fined by the NFL.
Bob Costas gave a very nice monologue during Sunday Night Football about excessive celebrations.  You can watch it here: 
I love sports.  I hate losing.  I love celebrating wins.  I'm all about intensity and being as competitive as possible.  However, the heat of battle...the middle of the competition...that's where you can often get a glimpse of the heart of a person.

How often does "winning" make people forget priorities, character, class, grace, etc.  At what cost are people willing to go to win?  How about you?  When you find yourself in a competitive situation, whether it's on a field/court somewhere, in the classroom, at work, dealing with relationships, wherever; will you sacrifice your character and your reputation for a "win?"

Proverbs 22:1,  "Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold." 

You are the only person who ultimately chooses what your reputation will be.  So don't stomp on people.  Don't mock other people's mistakes.  Don't sacrifice who you are or your future for a temporary "win."  Stay strong.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Forgiveness

Last Sunday night I preached a sermon about conflict.  Conflict is going to happen.  The closer the person that you have conflict with, the more difficult the conflict is going to be.  Ugly things can be said.  Hurtful things can be done.  Sometimes months or even years of silence follow as a result of conflict.  Conflict destroys opportunities for personal growth and it also destroys relationships with others.  Most people focus on themselves during conflict, but conflict impacts and influences several other people around you as well.

Conflict almost always carries with it an opportunity for forgiveness.  Forgiveness is tough.  When I find it hard to forgive someone (especially someone who doesn't deserve it), it's helpful for me to remember how Christ approaches me.

Check out what King David writes:

Psalm 32:5 
"Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt.  I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the LORD.”  And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone."

Remember what John writes:

1 John 1:9
"If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.  But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness."


God loves us so much that He approached us with a solution for the conflict our sins cause.  He is willing to forgive!


So here's some advice from the apostle Paul:

Romans 12:17-19
"Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.  Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the LORD."

 Ephesians 4:26-27
“Don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil."

Colossians 3:13
"Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others."

Bottom line, don't throw away the plans God has in store for you because of conflict.  Make every effort to love folks around you like God loves you.  Who can you approach today?  Who do you need to forgive?  Don't waste the time God has given you to be a light for Him by allowing conflict to remain.  Forgiveness can be a powerful gift that you give during this holiday season.
Love Him.  Love others.  Stay strong.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Good Character Part 2

 The Josephson Institute established a youth ethics program called CHARACTER COUNTS! that teaches 6 foundational pillars of character.  They are:

Trustworthiness

Be honest • Don’t deceive, cheat, or steal • Be reliable — do what you say you’ll do • Have the courage to do the right thing • Build a good reputation • Be loyal — stand by your family, friends, and country

Respect

Treat others with respect; follow the Golden Rule • Be tolerant and accepting of differences • Use good manners, not bad language • Be considerate of the feelings of others • Don’t threaten, hit or hurt anyone • Deal peacefully with anger, insults, and disagreements

Responsibility

Do what you are supposed to do • Plan ahead • Persevere: keep on trying! • Always do your best • Use self-control • Be self-disciplined • Think before you act — consider the consequences • Be accountable for your words, actions, and attitudes • Set a good example for others

Fairness

Play by the rules • Take turns and share • Be open-minded; listen to others • Don’t take advantage of others • Don’t blame others carelessly • Treat all people fairly

Caring

Be kind • Be compassionate and show you care • Express gratitude • Forgive others • Help people in need

Citizenship

Do your share to make your school and community better • Cooperate • Get involved in community affairs • Stay informed; vote • Be a good neighbor • Obey laws and rules • Respect authority • Protect the environment • Volunteer

Some great stuff to consider and remember.  Stay strong.

Good Character

This past Sunday was the closest finish for the championship in NASCAR history.   Thirty-seven races (not including the All-Star race) over 10 months, and the top two guys ended up tying!  Tony Stewart ended up winning the championship because he won the race, which was the only possible way he could have run since the points leader, Carl Edwards, finished the race in second.  Carl Edwards had a 3 point lead on Stewart going into the night, and had the best average finish over the past 10 races (4.9...9 total top ten finishes out of 10 races) ever.  Carl would have won every Championship in NASCAR history...except this one.

1.306 seconds.  That's how far back Carl Edwards finished to Tony Stewart.  For the last 37 laps of the race...Carl Edwards did everything he knew how to do.  He pulled out every trick he could to try to catch and pass Tony Stewart, only to finish 1.306 seconds behind him...1.306 seconds away from a championship.  This is what 1.306 seconds looks like:
Here is Carl Edwards response after the race:

“I told myself, I told my family that the one thing I’m going to do is I’m going to walk back to that motor home, win, lose or draw, and I’m going to be a good example for my kids and work hard and go be better next season,” he said. “I feel like personally, I passed the test. I didn’t fall into the trap of the trash-talking – I didn’t change the person I am to go compete at my highest level. I felt like I did it my way, and I’m proud of that.”

Last night, I was on the phone with a good friend who was in a very important golf tournament a week ago.  The stakes were pretty huge, and this was something he had been practicing and working towards for years.  It was a four day tournament, and he had three good rounds, but ended up missing the cut by 3 shots.

One hole.  He described to me that he had one nightmare hole, and it cost him everything.  He hit the right clubs at the right times and told me that everything felt right...it just wasn't.   Total disaster was the result.  One hole...11 shots...tournament over.  One hole.
He said he apologized to his caddy and the other three guys in the tournament right there when he finished that hole and then finished out the round.  At the end of the day, he again apologized to the other three guys he was playing with that day.  Instead of being angry with him for taking so long to finish out a hole, each one of the guys complimented him on how he handled himself during the nightmare.

"Character" can be defined simply as, "reputation."  You either have good character or you don't.  I believe pressure situations bring out a person's true character.  Winning doesn't show who someone truly is...losing does.   

1.306 seconds...3 shots.  Reasons for anger, frustration, choice words, out of control behavior, etc.    Winning championships (or even just winning) can cause people to do pretty terrible things, especially when they lose.  Neither Carl Edwards or my friend ended up with the win they were hoping for, but they both walked away with something much more important:  Good Character.

"You must have the same attitude that Jesus Christ had."
Philippians 2:5

Who will you be remembered as?  What is your reputation going to be?  Only you are in charge of the answer.  Consider your character before you speak or act.  Stay strong.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Worship

worship |ˈwər sh əp|

noun
the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity : the worship of God | ancestor worship.

verb ( -shiped , -shiping ; also -shipped, -shipping)
show reverence and adoration for

A couple weeks ago my wife and I had a chance to be up in the New England area and spend time with Heather's brother (Kirk) and sister-in-law (Maura).   It was an incredible time.  We spent a lot of time laughing together and enjoying each others company.  We were also able to spend a good amount of time outdoors hiking and seeing some beautiful fall leaves.

Two Sundays ago, Kirk, Heather and I drove up to the White Mountains in New Hampshire so we could do some hiking.  He found a great hiking loop that would take us over the top of two mountains (Welch and Dickey).
It was a great hike...not too technical but definitely challenging for the legs of a Florida boy used to flat, sea level ground.  It was a little chilly (37 degrees) at the bottom of the mountain, and during the 4.4 mile loop that took us over the top of Welch and Dickey Mountains we climbed 1,694 feet up and back down.  We were able to see some beautiful views and see patches of snow and ice (rare in South Florida...fun to see) while feeling the muscles in my legs remind me that I live in South Florida.  One of my favorite views was from the top of Dickey Mountain where we were able to look back down to the top of Welch Mountain that we had just ascended as well as the rest of the valley.
All day long, we were treated to incredible views.  The more I hiked, the more I felt surrounded by God.  The crisp breeze...the sound of the birds..the chipmunks and squirrels...the views of the valleys, mountains, trees, snow, ice...the beautiful blue sky...they were all constant reminders of a God that surrounds me, provides for me, and loves me.  

Psalm 19:1-4
"The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
The skies display his craftsmanship.
  Day after day they continue to speak;
night after night they make him known.
  They speak without a sound or word;
their voice is never heard. 
Yet their message has gone throughout the earth,
and their words to all the world."

I wasn't in a church building, at a convention, summer camp, or large retreat.  I was simply outside, and yet that Sunday was an incredible day of worship for me.  Everywhere I looked, I couldn't help but think about and thank God for His amazing creation.
 Thank you to my brother in law and wife for being awesome hiking partners.  It was an honor to spend the day with both of you in the middle of this beauty.

Next time any of you get a chance...get outside spend some time.  You might be surprised how close to God you can end up feeling.  Keep pursuing Him.  Stay strong.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

History & Passion

History is an awesome thing.  Yesterday, I had the chance to tour arguably the most historic ballpark in all of America...Fenway Park.  I learned a lot of things about Fenway.  I've always known and respected the Green Monster (the giant wall in left field), but that was about it.  I didn't know things like it's the third smallest ballpark in all of MLB, the Green Monster was built to keep unpaying fans watching the games from the roofs of their houses and buildings, Ted Williams hit the longest homerun in the ballparks history (502 feet) into the right field stands and the seat where it landed is commemorated by a red seatback (http://www.boston.com/sports/redsox/williams/stories/in_right_field_its_a_true_seat_of_power.shtml), the five streets that surrounded Fenway when it was built in 1912 are the same five streets that are there today, the curse of the Bambino (when the Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees) also involved a sell-off of over 20 top notch players that made the Red Sox go from champions to bottom feeders for decades to come, the Yankees were the first team the Red Sox beat in Fenway, the first 10 rows behind homeplate are closer to the batter than the pitcher is (very intimate park...everyone seems close to the field).
It was very cool to stand inside of Fenway and soak in the history.  Our tour guide was a lifelong Red Sox fan and it was evident.  He loved his team.  He loved his park.  He loved his job.  He really knew his stuff.  It was his life!  It was refreshing to spend time with someone who was that authentic!  He respected everyone around him no matter the team they rooted for (even for the 3 or 4 Yankee fans that were on the tour), but there was no doubt that he was part of the Red Sox nation through and through.  He knew them.  He shared them.  He loved them.  He lived them.  

Mark 12:30, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength."  

Love is the foundation of everything that is God.  He is love.  He commands love.  We (Christians) are set apart from the world through our love...at least that's the theory.  Love is a command found everywhere in the Bible...Old Testament (Deut. 6:5) and New Testament (see above).    Is love for others the foundation of your life?  Does it define you?  Do you know it...teach it...display it...live it?  Let love be your passion and your life.  That's the history and power of God that should be evident through us!

Thanks for the passion Red Sox nation!  Go Tigers!  Stay strong!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Friends

The people you choose to surround yourself with will shape who you are and will become.  Are you being purposeful in choosing to surround yourself with people of character, grace, mercy, love?  Not satisfied with who you are right now?  Take a look at who's around you.

Do you have people that put you first?  Do you put others before yourself?  Check out these guys:

Luke 5:18-19,"Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a sleeping mat. They tried to take him inside to Jesus, but they couldn’t reach him because of the crowd. So they went up to the roof and took off some tiles. Then they lowered the sick man on his mat down into the crowd, right in front of Jesus."

These might be the best friends of all time.  They literally carried their sick friend to the one person who could heal him.  When they got there, the place was packed.  There was no way they were getting in.  Time to go home, right?  WRONG!  Time to climb up onto the roof of a guy you don't know, haul your lame friend up there, and then dig through the roof (interrupting the teaching time of the Son of God) so that you can lower your buddy down in front of Jesus.

What are the people around you willing to do for you?  More important question...what are you willing to do for those around you?  Are you willing to be that friend?  Are you willing to do anything it takes to get people to Jesus?  Are you willing to have tough conversations?  Are you willing to ask them to come to church?  Are you willing to put your schedule second to show love and build quality relationships?  Are you willing to dig through someone's roof?  That's pretty extreme, but that's literally what happened!

At the end of this story, Luke 5:26 says, "Everyone was gripped with great wonder and awe, and they praised God, exclaiming, “We have seen amazing things today!”

Amazing things...No KIDDING.  You listened to the Son of God, Creator of the universe talk.  You watched some dudes dig through the ceiling and lower in a guy who couldn't walk.  Jesus then forgave the guys sins.  Everyone disapproved, so you watched Jesus prove His Authority by healing the man!  All this because some dudes loved their friend so much that they left the excuses at home and proved they were true friends.  

How about you?   There are plenty of excuses out there.  Will you let them stop you or will you step up and be a friend to someone like these guys were?! 

Never stop showing the love of God to those around you.  Stay strong. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Public Service Announcement!

Ephesians 5:25, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her..."

Calling all men!  Please do this!  

That is all!  Stay strong.
  

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Turkish Delight

I've never eaten Turkish Delight, but according to a little bit of research, it's a candy, dessert type deal that was originated by a dude named Bekir Effendi in the late 1700s.  It can be made up of several things, mainly a type of gelatin that has different fruits, nuts, and sweeteners in them.  It eventually became a dessert for royalty throughout Europe. 

I've never tried it.  Some people have told me it's great.  Others have told me it's terrible.  In C.S. Lewis' masterpiece The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, turkish delight was offered to one of the children in order to distract them from what they truly needed to be focused on.  It was his downfall.  When we delight in things that aren't meant for us to delight in, we get in trouble spiritually, socially, and materialistically. 

Psalm 37:4, "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." 

This is a powerful verse from King David.  He knew what it was like to allow himself to delight in things outside of God's will.  I'm pretty sure he didn't wake up one day and just decide to become an adulterer and murderer.  Wrong delights are dangerous.  

God promises to give us our desires if they match up with His desires.  If we "delight" in Him, our hearts, souls, minds, and bodies are consistently focused on the will of God in any and every situation.  


Where does your mind take you?  Do you allow yourself to stay wherever that is if it's not God's will?  


Romans 13:14, "Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires."


Temptations are going to come.  Everyone gets the "Turkish delight" thrown in front of us from time to time.  Will you allow yourself to focus and dwell on that or turn towards Christ?


A few suggestions to "delight in the Lord:"
  • Read the Bible often.  If you've never read the Bible consistently before, start with the gospel of John.  Philippians is good too.  Check out www.youversion.com and sign up for a Bible reading plan.  Something as simple as a verse a day can really give you something to hold on to and think about as you encounter life.
  • Watch a sunrise and/or sunset.
  • Spend some time in nature.  Mountains, oceans, forests, vast plains...God created all this.  It's amazing!  Soak it in.
  • Find somewhere/someone you can serve.  Check out a local nursing home, hospital, homeless shelter...somewhere you can put others first.
God loves you.  Delight in Him.  Stay strong.  

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Renewed!

Things break.
Exhibit A:  The tailgate handle of my truck.

Right now my truck is in the shop...leaking antifreeze.  It's old...parts break.  My dad taught me to take care of it back when he bought it in 1988.  I remember him teaching me to change the oil, lube the chassis, change out belts/hoses.  He taught me how to take care of a vehicle...wash/wax/preventative maintenance.  It's old now, but still runs pretty well, and looks all right when I get a good detail job on it.  Renewing my truck is a fun and rewarding thing.  I know it's temporary and will eventually break, but until it totally dies, I'm going to do my best to preserve it
Glades Rd. and the Turnpike...the spot where Ol' Gray hit 200,000 miles.
Material things aren't the only things that break down over time.  We do too.  I'm not just talking about our physical bodies.  We all know that's the case.  I believe our spiritual lives...our relationship with God Almighty...it has the potential to break down.  I see it happen all the time.  People get excited about God, and then the things of this world battle for top spot in our lives...and man what a battle it is.

What/Who is going to be #1 in our lives?  In a world that attacks us with opportunities to focus on something besides God, we need to be renewed on a consistent basis.  Note: not all these "things" are horribly evil in and of themselves.  Church/religion could be one of them.  Family could be one of them.  Barbecue could be one of them.  Jobs could be one of them.  Bowling could be one of them.  Satan tries to insert things into our lives that could potentially take the place of God or become an excuse for not pursuing God.

Life becomes difficult for everyone.  If we aren't renewing our relationship with God, we are setting ourselves up for failure.  How do we do that?

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, 
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. 
Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is–
His good, pleasing and perfect will."   
Romans 12:2

Paul tells us to purposefully focus our minds on God.  When you look at this world, learn to look at it through the eyes of God.  Have Him in your thoughts constantly.  Study about Him purposefully.  Serve Him abundantly.  If you fill your mind with Christ, you will be reminded often of what God wants you to do.  You will be able to know His will.  You will be able to stand against temptation and have the strength to pursue God in any situation.

Here's the bottom line:  you are going to do what you want to do.  Are you in God's Word?  Are you seeking Him in prayer?  Are you serving Him?  If not, ask yourself why?  Do you truly want to? Are you willing to do/give your best in order to preserve and protect the relationship God has made available to you?

God loves every one of us.  He is waiting to renew us.  His Word is available to all of us (www.youversion.com).  The world is telling all of us what we should pursue.  Christ told us to pursue Him.  Let Him become your sole purpose in all that you do.  Make Him a priority so you can "finish the race." (2 Tim. 4:7, Acts 20:24)  Stay strong.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The most important thing

John saw it.  John watched it.  John studied it.  John sacrificed for it.  John cared for it.  John defended it.  John fought for it.  John taught it.  John loved it.  


TRUTH

Here's how it's defined.


truth |troōθ|
noun ( pl. truths |troōðz; troōθs|)
the quality or state of being true 

     • (also the truth) that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality 
     • a fact or belief that is accepted as true

John was one of Jesus' original 12 disciples...probably the "disciple whom Jesus loved." (John 21:20). John gave and devoted his life to following Jesus.  He watched Him heal the sick, hurting, dying, and dead.  He saw Jesus display His power over nature by walking on water and calming storms.  He listened to Jesus teach incredible truths to the most intelligent men.  He was one of the few disciples to watch His beloved Savior be transfigured into His glory and suffer as He prayed in the garden the night of His betrayal.  He followed and listened to Jesus' accusers and was there on Golgotha with Mary to watch Jesus die.  He was one of the first to witness the empty tomb, and also witnessed the resurrected Jesus numerous times before Jesus ascended to heaven.  He watched and heard the commands of Jesus impact and change the lives of thousands of people, and he dedicated the rest of his life to teaching the truth that Jesus taught.


He heard Jesus claim to be the truth (John 14:6), and also listened to Jesus proclaim this:


John 8:31-32, "Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachingsAnd you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Bottom line...John cared about the truth because Jesus cared about the truth.  All through 1 John, John battles and argues strongly for the church to hold on to the teachings and example of Jesus (the truth) instead of settling for the ways that seem easy or right to the world.  John spends 5 chapters challenging the church to embrace, protect, and proclaim the truth of Jesus.  He finishes his book with one simple phrase:

"Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts. 1 John 5:21

Battle for the truth in your lives.  Let is change you.  Protect it.  Proclaim it.  Don't settle for anything else that tries to squeeze it's way into your life.  Stay strong.


tim

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Insignificant?

Ever feel like you're nothin'...nobody notices you...you're mediocre on your best day...you'll never make an impact no matter how hard you try!?  I know what you mean.  I think deep down everyone dreams about being somebody.  I've never met a person who's life goal was to be a nobody.  Our society overwhelms us with this concept that we all have to try as hard as we can and do whatever it takes to be noticed/heard/to be important! 

Jesus tells us the opposite:
  • to strive for humility
  • to be quiet, mild, and gentle
  • to care about virtue...not stuff or fame
  • to show mercy
  • to pursue peace
Matthew 5:3-10:  3 God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. 4 God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth. 6 God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied. 7 God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God. 9 God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God. 10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs."

Jesus taught people to have a mindset opposite that of the world!  Wanna make a big splash?  Wanna do something big?  Wanna change eternity together?  Get yourself out of the way and put God and others first.

Example:  21 years ago, a small group of students in the town of Burleson, TX decided that they were going to make a difference:  not by being the most popular, not by being the captain of the football team or cheerleading squad, not by getting the best grades, having the most money, the best clothes, the funniest one-liners, the coolest car...but by simply praying

They prayed for a few schools during a weekend youth retreat, and word spread for students in local youth groups to gather together on their campuses when school started and pray.  That September day in 1990, over 56,000 students on 1,200 different campuses met to pray at the first See You At The Pole Rally.  Today, millions of students all over the globe will CONVERGE and pray for their friends, schools, and nations at their school's flagpole...all because 10 students over 20 years ago decided to put their wants and desires aside and simply obey the calling of God. 



Never underestimate the significance obeying God can have...make the most of every opportunity He gives you.  Stay strong.

tim

Monday, September 12, 2011

Get Up!

I love riding bikes. This past Saturday, I had the opportunity to take my son Jude (7) on a bikeride. It was a great daddy/son time. We rode about a mile from our house down to a little dirt hill along the side of the bikepath. The kids call it "the hump," and we've been to it a few times. It's a 4-5 foot tall dirt pile, but has a narrow pass through it created by people riding their bikes over it. The pass is probably 2 foot tall and not very steep. It's fun to ride over, and a neat challenge for little Judester.

He got a good run at it and made it over and back on his first run. He was pumped. He made it over the second time, and was so excited to try it that he turned his front handlebar too quickly in order to turn around...causing him to launch over the handlebars.  ENDO time!  Well, little Judester caught himself with his right forearm and left knee, causing a nice scrape on his arm and a decent roadrash/cut on his left knee. 

The crash was followed with a quick yell and immediate crying.  As I got to Jude he was sitting holding on to his leg crying.  He deserved to cry...it was a great crash.  He settled down after a bit, picked up his bike, and just stood next to it...still crying softly.  We both stood there for a bit.  I could tell he was weighing his options...shifting his gaze between myself and the bike.

"Should I get back on the bike or not? "

It was one of those foundational...defining Daddy/Son moments.  I knelt down beside him and started to talk to him about the two options.  We made sure all his bones were all right and that the only injuries were the scrapes and cuts.  He tested his leg and arm and said he was good to go as he wiped the tears from his face, but he still didn't want to get back on the bike.  I asked him why, and he said that he was scared he might wipe out again.  We chatted about that for a bit, and he eventually decided that he wasn't going to let a wipeout rob him of the joy and happiness he had experienced in riding his bike. 

So, he checked his arm and knee one more time, slowly slid into the saddle, and not only pushed off, but aimed his bike at the hump!  He quickly gained momentum and zipped right through...stopping on the other side to look back and smile at me. 

Wow...I was so proud he didn't stay down.  He got back up!  He got on his bike!  He tried again...and this time he succeeded.  What a tough little dude.

So, I put my feet in my pedals and started slowly over the hump to meet my son.  I misjudged the amount of speed I would need and came to rest near the top of the hill and slowly started to lean to the right.  I went to put my right foot down, and it caught in my pedal, leaving me falling in slow motion to the right with no way to catch myself.  Yup...I wiped out going less than 1mph!  Awesome.  I tumbled down the hill with my bike rolling over the top of me. 

Jude ran over and asked if I was ok.  He helped check me out, made sure my arms and legs worked and helped brush off all the grass and dirt.  He smiled at me, and then, as I picked up my bike, he looked me in my eyes and said, "Don't worry dad...you don't have to be afraid...go ahead and get back on your bike!"

How about that?!  Not only did Jude experience and grow through an important life lesson, he taught it back to me.  I thanked him as we exchanged smiles.  We hugged, hopped on our bikes, and had a fun trip back home.

Jesus often warned about how tough life would be...especially if we choose to follow Him.  Everyone gets knocked down.  The question is, will we continue to pursue Him?  Will we love and trust that God is in charge or let fear keep us from pursuing God's will and opportunities.  Don't stay down.  Go ahead and get back on your bike!  Get up!

Stay strong!
Tim

Monday, January 10, 2011

hey...I have a blog

So I've been a slacker and haven't written anything over the past month and a half. Time to get back on the right track.

I'm sure you've seen the videos of the homeless guy with the "golden voice". If not, check out this link...it sums up the story so far.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrBkxcztA_o

It's a pretty powerful story of second (and third, fourth, fifth, etc.) chances. We all make mistakes, but at some point, are we willing to take responsibility for them and do something with the life God has continued to bless us with or will we mope around feeling sorry for ourselves. Ted decided he had to start somewhere to get his life back on the right track, even if it meant holding a sign at a stoplight. In the interviews I've seen he's seemed sincere and incredibly thankful for anything. Sure, he could be putting on a show to make a buck, but I like to give people the benefit of the doubt.

Jesus is an amazing example of making things happen. Everywhere He went He gave people second chances. He gives you and I second, third, innumerable chances. The question is what are we going to do with those chances?

Ephesians 5:15-16, "Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity..."

Take a look around you at what your opportunities look like today. What has God given you and what will you do with it? Have fun serving the Kingdom. Stay strong.

tim