Thursday, April 8, 2010
Sunday, March 21, 2010
How does the level of sacrifice effect a fast? I can tell you that I could give up spinach for a year easier than fasting from coffee for a single day. Although I have practiced limited fasting somewhat regularly, I am certainly not an expert on the subject. I have not studied it nor have I read any books devoted solely to it's topic. Perhaps I should.
Imagine your fasting from all food, it's the second week and you have two more to go. I'm not asking you to think about how famished you're feeling, because the hunger is likely much easier by now than at the beginning, but rather what are you expecting from your fast.
I'll admit that most of the times I fast is because I really want God to do something for me. Answer my prayer...now,...please! Fasting is a way of showing our commitment to a cause or desire. King David said that he would “not sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.” 1 Chronicles 21:24
Can we fast to change ourselves? If I fasted for 40 days, you bet I would want to be changed because of it. Education, study, exercise and diet are all purposed for the betterment of ourselves. Why are we willing to devote four or more years of our life, tens of thousands of dollars for an education, if we didn't value the outcome? A specific career or higher financial opportunities are our rewards.
If an extended fast, an overnight stay in a homeless shelter or a trip to a third world country could change our lives then why aren't we doing it? Are we willing to invest in Gods kingdom here on earth? Are we pursuing a life that is at the foot of the cross. Do our hearts break over the lost people we know? Do we long for just 30 more minutes of prayer before we have to go to work. Are we wanting a life that looks more like Jesus or are we doing OK for ourselves now? I personally want more, I want His kingdom to come here on earth and I want to be a part of it. This is not about legalism or works, it's about putting on the mind of Christ and walking in step with the Spirit. It's about falling in love with Jesus.
Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him. Each time Peter responded yes Lord you know that I love You, and each time, Jesus followed with “then feed my sheep”. When I get real honest, I think God wants a lot more from me than what He's been getting. He wants all of me and all of you.
We are all quick to Quote Matthew 6 to justify our spiritual motives. When giving, praying or fasting don’t be like the hypocrites…for they have received their reward in full.
As “good” Christians we sometimes fail to do what is good for the sake of our humble image.
Which is better; to do good even though others may see, or to do no good so that others can’t see?
To train for an athletic event you will have to condition your body for whatever sport you are preparing for. Lifting weights, exercise and diet can make you feel proud and arrogant with a much leaner and stronger physique. Making a big show of your efforts may give you temporary gratification. On the other hand, failing to prepare and not doing the work at the risk that others may take notice, gets you absolutely nothing. At least the first man will come prepared to compete.
Luke was told that this week everyone would be getting an unexpected bonus check in addition to the regular paycheck. He could wait to call his wife and tell her the good news. Things had been a little tight for them financially, and they both agreed that God was blessing them. Luke tried to plan how they would spend their bonus money, not just for bills but maybe something special like a plasma TV. On Wednesday Luke began feeling a nudge from the Holy Spirit to give it all away. They could bless others in a way they couldn't normally do. After all this was bonus money, they could go on as if they never even received it. He thought about the mission team going to Haiti, or a man from church that just lost his job again. Luke then remembered the verse about the left hand knowing about what the right hand was doing. You’re not supposed to let people know when you do good things, right? He was troubled because they had already told several people about the money. So because Luke did not want to receive his reward in full and make a show of his generosity, he said nothing and kept the money for himself.
Friday, March 5, 2010
At the end of the night there wasn’t really anything I could disagree with as far as the information or concept. I can concede that most of the junk we feed ourselves with is lacking nutritional value and filled with counterproductive ingredients. I know that eating healthier would no doubt improve my quality of life. Having said this I was not ready to say yes to this new and improved way of life.
Here are a few of my objections.
1.It sounds too good to be true
2.None of my friends are eating healthy and they seem all right, if it were really good everyone else would be doing it.
3.I don’t fit in with the “healthy” lifestyle. Would I have to start hugging trees or plaster my bumper with anti-war and animal rights propaganda?
4.This was just an infomercial trying to get me to cough up some of my money.
5.I not ready to give up a good steak for spinach and or tofu.
6.If I really got sick, I would change then.
Aren’t these the same excuses that non-believers offer to the church? We can talk a good talk, but at the end of the day are we really all that different from them? Knowing logically that eating better is a good thing, I can’t say I am ready to change my way of eating. There are only two things that I can think of that might persuade me to convert. The first is that I am diagnosed with cancer; after all desperate times call for disparate measures. The second is if a friend had been cured and was now living without disease, without aces and pains, and full of energy. I could be drawn to change myself and if my friend shared that giving up actually meant getting so much more in return I think I would want to change.
“There is no greater sermon than the evidence of a changed life.”
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Who is it that gets to decide what we find acceptable in our culture? In this world of political correctness and socially acceptable ideas we are often confronted with the realization that we aren’t being tolerant of others. Miss California recently discovered this when she was asked a question during this years Miss America pageant. The question was her stance on the controversial topic of gay marriage. Unfortunately it wasn’t her opinion of the topic that was challenged but rather her right to have that opinion. The onslaught of internet attacks began just minutes after the words left her mouth, and the mainstream media quickly followed. Many very personal and hateful things were printed or aired about Miss California without any rebuttal from any other viewpoint. The common theme was her intolerance and the intolerance of those who share her support of traditional marriage between one man and one woman. Why is it that she has been labeled intolerant for believing in traditional marriage while at the same time those who are vigorously attacking her are deemed tolerant for their openness to alternative lifestyles?
Truth is always exclusive. For something to be true, then there must also be something that is not true. Truth is either true or isn’t, and if it isn’t then it isn’t true. Truth is not an opinion. An opinion can easily exist among opposing views. “This room is too hot” this is a statement of opinion. You may be comfortable or even cool, but that too is just your opinion. You can challenge someone’s opinion with more information or creditable persuasion but they still have the right to consider the temperature to be hot. If the statement was “it is 77 degrees in here” that is a true statement. Your opinion of what 77 degrees feels like is up to you. If the room is 77 degrees but the thermostat is reading 84, you may agree with the reading or not agree with the reading but the truth will still be 77 even if you believe it is 84. The truth didn’t change. Additionally, find your favorite fishing pond in the dead of winter. Is the ice thick enough to support the weight of your car? You may conclude that based on your past experience and the cold winter that the ice is 4-5 inches thick and that should be more than adequate to support that weight. You trust your knowledge and drive your car onto the lake, it holds. Did your prior experience and knowledge make it possible to drive onto the lake? Nope. At the end of the day it didn’t matter what you thought, how you came to your conclusion, or if you believed or not. The ice was a specific thickness anyway. It didn’t change based on your trust, it simply was what it was. What is actually true and your opinion of that truth may not always agree, but truth will always be true anyway.
There are many truths about God. God created this world. It wasn’t created by a committee of Buddha, Mohammad or anyone else. One God one Creator. As God, He is who He is regardless of what we think. He is not defined by our concept of Him. He is who He is, period. Can we agree that when we say, “my God is this or my God is that” these are opinions of who we think He is and may or not be accurate? Can we also agree that when God speaks, He speaks what is truth? There is right and there is wrong. Truth is always exclusive and we need to stop apologizing for it but rather embrace it.
John 3:11 I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Tonight I was watching our local news and before going to a commercial break they announced the winning Powerball numbers. I couldn’t believe what I heard;
7 – 15 – 28 – 43 – 44 powerball 20.
Do you have any idea the chances of them calling these exact numbers? What an incredible, beyond belief, never happen again in a million years chance that they pick these numbers. Wow. Have you ever just sat and let it settle in for a minute. Unless you’ve won then of course you haven’t. Because although the odds of winning the jackpot is only 1 in 195,249,054, the odds of powerball picking 6 random numbers is 100%. Again we don’t get to excited about it unless we have hit a number or two and will be getting some cash. Can you imagine what would happen if they ever drew 1,2,3,4,5,6? I guess it could happen. The odds of drawing 1-6 are exactly the same as drawing any other numbers. But just the fact that there is pattern or order to the numbers would make it a huge news story. Even better yet, what if the very next drawing was 7,8,9,10,11,12. Not only would this ignite a 24/7 global coverage from every network, cable news channel, and newspapers. There would likely be hundreds of class action lawsuits filed within days. Congress would issue an injunction and establish a full investigation. Accusations of corruption and scandal would forever plague the reputation of Powerball. Never again would they be allowed to sell another ticket, without even one shred of evidence of any wrongdoing. What kind of evidence would you need other that the fact that two consecutive drawings produced 1-6 and 7-12. The odds themselves prove that there must be an outside influence or tampering that goes well beyond a reasonable doubt.
Reasonable people would agree that these odds are proof enough that this wasn’t random.
Let’s do our own lottery and instead of 59 white balls and 39 red balls as in the Powerball lottery we are going to use 1000 white and 1000 red. We also draw 1-6 our very first drawing 7-12 on our second and 13-18 for our third. This continues drawing after drawing until we have successfully gone through every number up to 1000 without ever drawing even one ball out of turn. I have no idea what the mathematic odds would be for this to happen but lets assume they are unbelievably high. Impossible? Yes this would be impossible unless you have and intelligent designer orchestrating every draw of every ball. Take out the “chance” and now what was “never in a billion years” is easy. Amazingly Darin has sold us a similar story of evolution. The odds and the evidence for life evolving out of nothing are just as unrealistic as my new lottery. Add God as the creator and all things are possible. God is our creator, He is infinitely wise, He has ultimate power and yet he has done great things to have a personal relationship with each one of us.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
My family grew up with Parker Bothers in our home and like most kids began to learn to love the time we spent around the dinner table with family and friends playing games like Sorry, Probe and of course Monopoly. We didn’t play Monopoly as often because of the time it took to play, but there was no doubt that it was the favorite. I remember as a kid keeping as many small bills as I could and then making a pile out of them to make me look as rich as possible, although I never fooled anyone it was my way of staying competitive.
Today I look back on my childhood with fond memories of those times. As a child I thought and reasoned as a child. I can clearly see now just how naïve I was to have been spoon-feed all the struggle, hurt and pain associated with the quest to conquer and destroy my fellow game players. The game may start out relatively fair, but in no time it quickly chooses to bless one or two and condemn the rest to struggle and fight for survival. It has no mercy on those with the misfortune of several poor rolls of the dice. I’ve turned my back on what I once considered a friend. Parker Brothers is nothing more than a big cruel corporation, inflicting pain and suffering on the innocent.
In my compassion and on mankind I’ve created my own game. It’s fair. It treats every one equally. It doesn’t reward or punish. It is easy to play. Everyone gets the same amount of money to start. Because taking turns is unfair to the person going last, my game lets everyone go together at the same time. Each turn everyone gets the same amount of money. No rolling of the dice or going around the board. Just fun and equal rewards for all! Does this sound fun to you? I didn’t think so.
This is silly. But this is how some think God should run this world. No pain. No suffering. No rewards or consequences. God has blessed us with His ability to know what we need and not what we want. If we lived without struggles, trials or stress how would we grow, learn or mature? How would we know joy if we had not also known sorrow? Can we know satisfaction without first experiencing discontent? I can’t answer all the hard questions about why bad things happen. You’ve heard the analogy, Paul uses about each of us being a part of the body. A friend of ours once suggested that our family must be the knees because we are always getting scraped up. I’ll admit that sometimes it feels as if the dice never roll in our favor, but as for me and my house we will serve the Lord, and we will praise Him because he alone is worthy.
James 1:2-42Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Closing your eyes while reading this may not be practical but it is much safer than closing your eyes while driving. Seriously, if I were to read this to you, I would ask you close your eyes and concentrate on the feelings and emotions you experience. To often I can see, hear or read a story while detaching myself from it. A horrible traffic accident is easier dealt with if it is in another state, rather than just down the street from my house.
The small conference room you are sitting in is quiet. Your family is there and the doctor will be coming through the door at any moment. Although things have progressed quickly, it’s been an eternity since last weeks test. The symptoms came slowly with no real concern. Like a cold that you just couldn’t kick. Consequently, today there is a small group of our close friends lifting me up in prayer as we sit here this morning. Waiting for the doctor. Waiting for news. Sounds from the hallway brings everyone to attention, sitting straight up in your seat the doctor enters as your heart pounds, and anxiously you greet him with a handshake. Surely things are going to be all right, but you’ll feel so much better after hearing him say it. Your wife slides her hand onto your lap and grasps your hand; her grip is firm and tightens as the doctor begins to speak. It’s a tumor, it is actually more than one; there are several, and they’re malignant. It’s cancer.
Imagine your emotions. What are you thinking, how do you feel?
It doesn’t get better as the doctor continues. The cancer is advanced and is at stage four, spreading throughout the abdomen and into both of your lungs. Surgery, radiation and chemo are all ruled out as probable strategies. How much time will it take? How long do I have?
You find yourself taking in the details of this moment. The size of the room, the color on the walls, the furnishings, all ordinary like you would find in any office waiting area. Indeed there was nothing special or unique here, and yet this will be the place, this room and this moment will always be the day your life changed. Thirty minutes later, climbing into your car brings feelings of foolishness. Remembering just a year earlier how we just had to have a new car. The time we spent shopping and how every drive became an opportunity for us to covet another suv, and all for what? Another four and a half years of huge payments we didn’t need. It seems so foolish today.
You’ve been given about three to four months, how will you spend it? What will you do? What is important to you now? Perhaps you will withdraw into your home; close the curtains, take the phone off the hook and spend your day sleeping it away. Maybe curl up in a favorite chair, get a new plasma TV and watch movie after movie or could you finish reading all of your favorite books. What would you do? Travel? Live it up; go on a wild spending spree? Would you seek out only the best doctors chasing down every possible cure. Maybe you would pursue those whom you could blame for your currant fate? Lashing out at those who don’t understand how unfair this is, or how bad you feel. Do you blame God? This could be a good time to seek reconciliation from those in your past that need your forgiveness. Would you share praise to those whom you respect? Would you like to give advice or share wisdom from your life? Would it be friends and family only or would you open up to neighbors and community? How would you pray and for what would you pray?
Certainly, I don’t think everyone should respond to such news uniformly. We were all created unique and our lives have conditioned us in many different ways. I would hope that if I were faced with such a challenge, my priorities would narrow and focus to better reflect my values rather than unravel into a self-destructive pity. Having said this, why must I wait? Can I seek reconciliation now? Could I share my appreciation to those I admire today? Couldn’t I spend quality time with those I love now? Do I really need all the stuff I have and do I really need all the stuff I want?
If this were your last hour, what would you have wished you had done? Don’t take life for granted, get the most out of each day and don’t loose sight of what is important.
James 4:14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
A college student disappeared while she was jogging early in one morning.
Joe was picked up for questioning.
He was pulled over in a car matching the description of the car she was last seen in.
He was picked out of a lineup as being seen with her soon before her disappearance.
He was shown pictures of the missing girl and denied ever seeing her.
He was given her name and denied knowing her.
The victims shoe with several drops of her blood was found in the back seat of his car.
All of the above statements are true.
Are you ready to convict Joe for her disappearance, rape or murder?
Joe was driving along a county road in heavy rain when he came up on a young woman who had fallen with a broken ankle and scraped knees. He lifted her into the back seat of his car and sped off to the nearest emergency room. She was drenched from the rain and with much shorter hair and contact lenses there was no resemblance to her photo shown to him at the police station. He only knew her as “Missy”. The cops referred to the missing girl as Melissa. Melissa was reported missing after a friend saw her being thrown in the back of this mans car as they sped off. The friend called the police after confirming with her roommate that she was over an hour late from her morning run.
The addition of more information quickly brings the story into a new light. Missy hasn’t gone missing and can easily confirm Joe’s innocence.
So what’s the point? Both paragraphs are technically filled with true statements, yet only one actually tells the truth.
In the mist of this political campaign it is easy to listen to an ad and think this person is good or bad and then two minutes later hear a different ad , and think that his opponent is the good one or the bad one. Where is the truth and whom can you believe? We shouldn't choose our candidates based on ads. Nor should we choose them based on what the media thinks. Yes, politicians are politicians and they all spin things to make themselves sound good, but they also have very different ideas about where this country should go and how it should be run. Look at what they done in the past, not what they are promising to do in the future.
Do you want the freedom to succeed or fail on your own, or would you rather have the government hand out your share every month. If socialism is important to you, then choose your candidate, you have that option. Do you cherish life? Do you value every life? If so, you have an obvious choice as well.
What about national security, taxes or our economic crisis, again, I would say look at their record what have they done, not what they are saying or promising to do in the future.
I have never understood the polls that go up and down, back and forth. Are there really people out there that keep changing their minds every other day? I urge you to do a little homework and make an informed decision. It is our right and I believe, our responsibility to make a clear and intelligent choice in this years election.
Please vote responsibly or someone could get hurt.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
The body parts have all been painted and reattached now and it is finally beginning to look like a truck again. Regardless how much more work there is getting truck running, it looks neat. At this point, we don’t know if it will start once the key is turned. We don’t know if it will smoke, cough, choke, leak or die. In any case, it still looks neat. Just think how much time and effort could have been saved by just giving it a good coat of paint and leaving it sit in the garage to be admired.
As a Christian I am confronted by the same dilemma. I certainly have my share of dings and dents, but check out my cherry red color and the cool racing stripes. That’s all I’ve needed so far, no one is expecting any more from me. A personal relationship with my Savior has easily taken a back seat to performing the dos and don’ts of our church culture.
Why build a truck that doesn’t drive? Why be a Christian without loving Christ? The greatest commandment had nothing to do with following rules or keeping social standards. It has everything to do with loving a God who first loved us.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
My strategy was the same every game, buy everything I landed on, hope for complete sets and trade after that. Some games things would just click. Complete sets fell into place, cash was readily available with red or yellow sets producing cash flow every round. Eventually, I would be crowned real estate tycoon for the evening. Another game, I would be plagued by luxury taxes, unproductive properties and several trips to jail. Twenty minutes into the game I would be begging for mercy and any hope for survival was quickly disappearing.
What if as an adult my life was still shaped and confined by what had happened the first and only time I played the game?
What if I were living with the consequences of that game good or bad, forty years later.
That is silly of course. Having a two-hour board game effect an entire lifetime is foolishness.
How does our lifetime effect eternity? In relationship, it is infinitely smaller in its proportion.
To win at Monopoly you have to have the most money at the end of the game, or be the only one left with any money, depending on how cutthroat you play the game. The game has lots of rules but only one objective. It doesn’t matter that your money was always set in nice straight stacks or that your property cards were organized by color or even alphabetically. At the end of the game only one thing was asked, “how much money do you have?”
In a similar way, we will also be questioned at the end of our life. The question will not be in regards to the amount of money we have or how neatly we kept our stuff. It won’t matter if things always fell into place for us, or if we were always struggling. Did we love Jesus, and what did we do about it?
A lifetime may seem like an eternity to us, but its not. We have got to get into our heads the urgency of Christ. How much of our world is dying every day without Christ because we’ve taken our eye off the ball? Our careers, our stuff, and even our families can all be distractions unless they are being used to further Gods kingdom here on earth.
Matthew 25:39-40 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'