Sunday, April 06, 2014

Noah - Genesis - Book and Movie

I did go to see the new Noah movie, starting Russell Crowe.

Like most people, I quickly recognized the most obvious fictional component - the three-armed  rock monsters.
My guess is that the screenwriters and producers thought no one would believe that human beings could build such a big ark on their own.  But they would believe three-armed rock monsters.

For the rest of the movie there's an ad-hoc mix of biblical references and Hollywood movie plot creativity.
On balance, it's a pretty entertaining action movie that will mostly disappoint viewers who really like the original book.

Here's an excerpt from a review from worldmag.com by  Sophia Lee

" [Noah movie] reflects a rough understanding of sin as moral wickedness evidenced through rape, murder, pillage, and bad stewardship of the earth, all of which are dominant in Noah’s mankind. But the film fails to capture the more dangerous sins: nuanced, hidden, deceivingly beautiful, flesh-and-ego-pleasing sins that first tempted Eve in the Garden. When Noah finally starts recognizing his own inner wickedness, he descends into a lunatic and irrational state that victimizes his terrified family—revealing a rather biblical truth of what happens to a man who becomes “enlightened” without the promised hope and grace of the gospel."

It did prompt me to go back and flip my bible open to the 6th chapter of Genesis...there's was quite a bit I had not thought of in quite awhile...its worth the read.

What do you believe?


Thursday, April 03, 2014

Career Advice - God is my #1 Referral Source

One of my young business friends was talking to me about looking ahead for his next career move.
How best to narrow down options and choose the best job direction - at least when the economy and circumstances allow for choices!

I looked back on how my own work life has progressed across 3+ decades - for which I am very grateful and aware of God's blessings.
I started to write a few notes about the intentional prayers I had offered to God - and then realized that there has been quite an extensive running dialog with Him on this topic. God has blessed and never failed, including times when I was sadly out of work.
Here is what I recalled for my young friend:

Lord, I pray...

  • That you grant me a humble heart that is open to your perfect will.
  • That you cultivate spiritual depth and growth in my relationship with you, that I might recognize your Holy Spirit of insight as it transcends my own.
  • That you lead me to the best possible future, for our entire family, not only this generation, but all generations to come until you return...for eternal purposes that are beyond what I can know.
  • For divine appointments, every day, in every situation, to be met with wisdom and discernment, that I might not hinder or block what you make possible. For restraint when my impulses or reactions could disrupt what is the better path. For a straight path to your ways...without detours that I create. For Holy Spirit course corrections when I have done so.
  • For divine patience and a Spirit of peace to wait as you lead and align, but also a Holy Spirit of appropriate action and sense of urgency when you have provided the opportunity.
  • For forgiveness when I put myself first, or willingly ignore what I know to be Godly influence or guidance.
  • For Godly confidence and assurance to keep career in its proper perspective, never to be daunted or in doubt about what You can accomplish without the help of men.
  • For a lifetime of Godly people and circumstances in my path offering help, accountability, encouragement, example, protection, nurturing.
  • For specific, tangible insights that help with decisions and choices. Especially those that diverge from what I believed most evident or assured. For a recognizable, Holy Spirit sense of affirmation in all matters that transcends the ‘milestone’ situational needs.
  • For a Holy Spirit continuum of what is our marriage, our family, our work, our outreach, our friendships...that they are Spiritually one with you and your purpose in our lives - to the point that we more readily see and understand what directions or choices are of you, and of what we are with you.
  • Philippians 2:3 - That I do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.
All this I ask in Jesus' name, Amen.


What do you believe?

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Where's That Bible Verse?

I started reading the bible for real when I was in my late 20's.
Up until then it was too overwhelming for me in its entirety. Too many books, too many words, too unwieldy.
I couldn't make sense of it.
Ironically, I had written and recorded over 30 contemporary Christian songs by then - matching verses to themes that fit my melodies, and vice versa. It was solid, God-inspired work that has stood the test of time. But I was no bible scholar, just a capable, creative, verse browser.

When curiosity and the Holy Spirit finally got hold of me, I was on fire to learn more of the details.
I took notes, highlighted verses, made flash cards, and attended studies with heartfelt enthusiasm. It was a spectacular surge of spiritual growth and insight that surprises me to this day for its intensity.

Some of that motivation came from growing awareness of the competing spiritualities and non-spiritual philosophies surrounding our young family. My wife and I had experienced an eye-opening, and unsettling, tour of the mormon church's HQ in Utah. I had also been frustrated and embarrassed by my inability to converse intelligently with Jehovah Witnesses and even Christian evangelists who knocked on our six-paneled front door. I didn't know exactly what I believed, or "should" believe about Jesus. I was woefully unchurched, having attended church regularly for over 25 years.

But God made up for lost ground, with a flourish. And it all started with reading His inspired and revealed words in the bible. It turned my life upside down and nothing has ever been the same - for which I will be eternally grateful. Quite literally.

After all these years spent with my favorite book, I can recite quite a few of the most commonly referenced verses by memory. Others are starting to fade a bit, but I can triangulate the book or chapter and track them down. "Its somewhere in Matthew 24, I think."
For all the rest, there are word searches with my iPad app or....with Google!
That's right, you can no longer say, "I wish I knew my bible better," and let somebody do the heavy lifting. Just type it into your computer or tablet browser. Or download a bible app like Tecarta.
http://www.biblegateway.com
http://biblehub.com

As easy as it is now to find a bible - a Gideon pocket bible, a hotel version, or online browser -  there are still two camps of people who make the "I don't know where the particular bible verse is," statement.
One group is sincere, despite being without plausible reasons. It would be more accurate to say, "I'm really not motivated enough to actually track down where the verse and context might be."  Or, "I'm content enough to know some reference is there without having to see it."  Fair enough.  True enough.

The other group is less genuine - with a side agenda to let general bible references serve their own purpose, but without actually seeking the truth.  These are people who point out that the "bible says not to judge anyone," or "plenty of people have used the bible to say that slavery is acceptable." But will quickly change the subject if you offer to crack open a bible and discuss the details.

I spent many years listening to - and offering up - countless versions of both conversations.
Then I simply read the bible for myself. And everything changed.

2Tim 3:16
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.

What do you believe?

 




Saturday, January 11, 2014

Call Your Own Fouls

When you play a game of pick-up basketball, or playground hoops, as we say here - you call your own fouls.
Its basically an honor system.
If the player shooting the basketball is fouled (illegally blocked or grabbed on the body or arms), that player can say, "you fouled me," and either get the ball back again, or shoot a free throw. And its bad form for the defensive player to deny it or argue. The offense gets to "call your own foul," and it balances out when the other team gets the ball and they then call their own fouls.
You play this style when there are no referees to be had - hence with playground ball. Its usually for a casual game, or your league is simply saving the cost and hassle of referees.

Its surprising how well it works.
Overall, when you're in a one-on-one situation and the other player slaps your wrist as you shoot, you both know it. They don't disagree when you call the foul, because they know its true, and so do you.

It's different in a formal game with official referee's. Now the crowd is watching. You are cheering for your team to win and you don't want the referee "hurting" your team by calling fouls.
And, if the referee seems to be harsher with the other team, and even calls a mistaken foul, that's ok with you. Because you want your team to win.

It's hard to deny your sins one-on-one with God.
You lied about oversleeping for church.  Foul.
You secretly enjoyed seeing a politician fall from grace after an embarrassing  extra-marital affair. Foul.
We know when we've sinned. And its an easy thing to read through the New Testament to learn what God considers to be the rulebook.

On the other hand, when we assemble as groups with referee's around, we lose sight of the ball.
More and more, people are finding judges, parties or politicians who will declare a certain morality or activity to be acceptable in legal terms. The spectators cheering for that point of view are delighted. And to some degree - at least in the comfort of their group, they may even have some vague sense that they are "in the right."
But one-on-one with God, the Holy Spirit helps to make very clear what is true, and what is right.
Most of the widely debated "conflicted and complex" issues of our time are neither.
We recognize a foul when we see it.  Granted, its harder sometimes to admit it when you're sitting in the stands with the rest of your cheering section - when they desperately want their team to win.
But a foul is a foul.  

Romans 1:19-20
"...because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse."

Playground basketball wasn't always pretty. It could get rough around the edges. We ran hard and it was a gritty, sweaty battle from one hoop to the next.
But we called our own fouls. And win or lose, we each knew there was truth in that. 

It may be now, that we've got too many referees making calls on the essential spiritual matters of our day - and too many of us cheering from a distance. 

What do you believe?



Sunday, November 17, 2013

Because God is Merciful

There has been a nice surge of online inquires since the recent My Hope broadcast by Billy Graham.
I volunteer as a chat counselor for people who respond to the web site with questions.

Some inquiries are from people seeking God and some from Christians with doubts.
It's a humbling and encouraging opportunity to share the Good News of Jesus.

This week a man used the occasion of our online chat (both of us are anonymous to the other online) to ask about God's forgiveness in Christ.  He was stuck on the basic tenant of Grace - that God forgives us even though we do not deserve forgiveness. This, because Jesus died in our place on the cross, for the forgiveness of our sins. I explained that God then looks at us and sees no sin - Jesus having redeemed us.
The gentleman asked pointedly, how could God be so easily fooled - to see no sin when it is simply with Jesus.  We went back and forth on this for quite some time, the man clearly struggling with God so easily re-directed, so as to overlook our sin.
This is not an unusual conversation. This man and many others have a hard time accepting God's willingness to forgive and love, because of what Jesus did on the cross.

I finally typed back to him..."its not that God is foolish to see past your sins...it is that he is merciful."

And that is what broke through for this man.
"Merciful."    Ah, that made sense where the pure logic of retribution in our world did not.
Mercy is a foreign concept today. Especially mercy with no payback. Mercy without justice. Mercy with humble thanks.

The bible says "God saved us, not because of anything we did - but because of his mercy." Titus 2:5

For at least one person I met this week - that made all the difference.

What do you believe?

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Seeing in the Dark

I woke up the other morning just as my wife was leaving for work.

She left the lights off so as not to wake me, and was finding her way from the master bath to our door.

Since I'd woken in the dark, my eyes were already adjusted and I could survey the scene.
She had one hand extended out in front of her, moving slowly left to right. And her feet were carefully shuffling one step at a time.
To her, stepping out of the lighted master bath, all was darkness in the room.  Her hand was out in front to protect her from hitting the doorway. Her feet were shuffling so as not to trip or stub a toe.

To me, I saw someone cautiously trying to find their way through what I could see clearly. What she could not see, I could see.

Light and darkness.

The first chapter of John's Gospel says a lot about Jesus being the Light of this world.

"In him was life, and that life was the light of mankind. the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." John 1:4-5

and of Jesus' birth, John said,
"The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him."  John 1:9-10

Knowing Jesus is like flipping on life's light switch.
You worry less about holding your hands out in front of you, worried about what you may encounter. You plant your feet more confidently, less concerned about stubbing your toe.
There is great joy and confidence walking in the Light of Jesus.

There is also great joy when you can see someone who used to walk in the dark, now walking in the light. Especially when it is someone you care about, someone you love.

Is there anyone you love enough to empower with the Light of Jesus?  Or, will you let them walk in the dark, hoping they "find their own way?"

"For you have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before God in the light of life."  Psalm 56:13

"Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, Lord." Psalm 89:15

"Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on their God."  Isaiah 50:10

What do you believe?




Healthy Grass Crowds Out Weeds

I fired my lawn service again last year.

After 5 years or so, my lawn wasn't any better and I was getting even more weeds.
"You just have to water it more," the service kept saying while my neighbors' yards looked beautiful.

So the new guys came in, very confident in their approach.
They recommended aeration, fertilization and something new...a compost top dressing.
The top dressing layer would be applied in the fall, about a 1/4 to 1/2 inch of rich organic matter to complement aeration and over seeding.

The lawn got off to a good start in late spring and summer.
The grass looked more consistent, although the same thin spots and patches of crab crass were there.
Then the weeds roared back in August.
"What are you going to do about this?" I asked.  "It looks worse than before with all the weeds?"

The lawn guy confidently held his ground and explained his process.
"Sir, we're about to aerate and over-seed your lawn. We can't put down weed killer or we'll hurt the new grass that germinates."
Sounded like same-old, same-old to me, but he persisted.
"Sir, you have to think about what makes healthy grass. If you don't have a good base layer of soil throughout for healthy roots, then you'll never get out of this cycle. You'll have just what you have now. Patches of good grass and patches of bad. Its your lawn, but this is what I recommend."
I still didn't see how this would get rid of weeds. Wouldn't they just grow faster and healthier too?

But no.
Two months later, with a new base of soil and over seeding, the lawn looks fabulous.
And the darn weeds have been crowded out by...healthy grass.
I honestly would never have believed it.

A strong base helps the good thrive together and crowd out the bad. Just turn in your bible to the gospel of Mark, chapter 4 and read Jesus' parable of the farmer sowing seed.

But what got the job done for me? This young man was steadfast in his belief that a firm foundation would conquer the weeds. He risked his lively hood by NOT telling me what I wanted to hear.
"Sir, you could do it your way, but you'll just continue in the cycle that you have now..."

We have to be willing to tell people the Truth of the Gospel.

"Sir, Ma'am, you will not fix hate, envy, pride and corruption with weed control alone."
You must first build up the healthy layer of humility, honesty, mercy, forgiveness...and Grace.

We see ever encroaching patches of unhealthy philosophies. Thin layers of false hope. Ugly bare spots where past experiments have failed and withered - with nothing left to even build on.

Sir, Ma'am, without Jesus, we will simply continue in the ever worsening cycle we are in now.
With him, we are only a season away from renewal.  I've seen it with my own eyes.

What do you believe?







Yahtzee Imposter

Yahtzee is a game we've played since I was a kid.

It involves shaking multiple dice and trying to score a list of combinations - three of a kind, series, highest combined value, etc.

There are many other dice games out there. We walked through a game store recently and saw a different brand's version. Generally the same - shake the dice and accumulate various combinations to build your score.  In both games, highest score wins. Pretty simple.

Standing there in the store, we were trying to decide whether we should try the alternative game. Nice packaging, lots of exciting, fun statements on the box. Pictures of happy, laughing people. Not too expensive.

But without additional information, we weren't convinced that it would be that different. And we weren't really dissatisfied with our old reliable version.
Back home, I typed both game names into an internet search and asked, 'which is better?'
Several blog posts described how they each worked, and how much the person liked their game of choice. But none of the authors made a compelling case to stay or change.
We still plan to ask our friends what they know about both.

Then just this week we encountered a spiritual version of the same dilemma.

One of our young, 20-something friends moved to a new neighborhood and decided to attend a nearby church.
He told us about the nice people there and how he enjoyed the service. They told him the roots of their church were Christian-oriented, although other faiths were welcome. "They call it Unitarian Universalist," he said.
We were able to explain to him that this was not actually Christian - that beneath the "packaging" and nice people was a philosophy, but not salvation in the sufficiency of Christ. He was grateful for the personal insight from people he knew. Better equipped to now make his own informed decisions.

This is why we need to be more openly engaged in conversations about spiritual matters. Do you have a young person or friends in your life who are talking about knowing 'god' or going to 'church?'
"What is it that you are looking for in a church?"
"What is it that you hope to find in a relationship with god?"
These are good starting points to help people understand the love and mercy of God, in Jesus.

"In your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to to give an answer to everyone who asks for the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect."  1Peter 3:15

What is it that you are hoping to find in a relationship with god?
Find some answers here:
peacewithgod.net 

What do you believe?




God in the Rear View Mirror?

Yesterday I was merging into a two lane stretch of highway about a mile from home. I make this merge 100's of times in a year, coming back from work or shopping.
This two lane very quickly collapses to one lane before the curve. You have to jockey for position to get over from right to left. If you are patient and polite, you accelerate slowly and simply slip into the back of the line. If you're aggressive or impatient, you hit the accelerator and try to jump out in front of a few cars before the merging lane ends. Of course, if the other lane's drivers are aggressive, THEY may accelerate to squeeze you out of the merge, forcing you to back off and slip further back in line.

The time difference to anyone involved is a few seconds at best.

Yesterday I was distracted with other thoughts and automatically looked left to judge the oncoming traffic speed before starting my entry to the two lane section. I toyed with the idea of accelerating ahead of one more car before changing lanes, but I did not. However, I smiled to see the car ahead of me do just that, and he almost got pinched out by a left-laner accelerating to close the gap and block him out.

Seconds later, we all rolled to a stop at the red light. It was then that I looked in the rear view mirror.
The guy behind me looked familiar. He was wearing a distinctive white collar with his black shirt. It was my church pastor!

I immediately blushed and quickly recounted the previous 30 seconds of my life.

In vivid color I recalled my merge in front of the oncoming car, and how I had gaged his speed before sliding left in front of him.  That was ok, there had been plenty of space, so he didn't have to brake. And how about my last minute consideration to pass the car in front of me, could pastor have detected my latent aggression simmering right below the surface? Probably not. And most likely he had no idea it was even me in that car. Or did he?

Sometimes that's exactly how I replay scenes in my life when I finally think about God in my rear view mirror. Did I treat that person at work unkindly?  Was I wasting too much of my spare time when I could be volunteering?  Am I praying and reading scripture as diligently as I follow the news? And I do blush to think he knows of my willful "merging tactics"...

Better that I drive life like God is always beside me, not to "catch me" doing things wrong, but to help me stay strong on his path of righteousness.

"Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you.
Give careful thought  to the paths for your feet
and be steadfast in your ways.
Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil."  Proverbs 4:25-27

What do you believe?





Sunday, September 08, 2013

A Simple Box of Memories

We've spent the summer preparing a 65 year old home for sale.

My dad decided it was time to leave the home he'd literally built with his own hands, and move into a more manageable apartment. It was good timing and a wise decision for all of us.
At age 85, he is nicely settled into his place and already making new friends.

His move to the apartment triggered a sometimes overwhelming set of tasks for us 'youngsters' to attend.
None of us had space to absorb 60 years of furniture, decorations, tools, equipment, household items and...memories.
So little by little, item by item, we had to wrestle with the decisions of keep, give away, or discard.
Countless families have had to deal with this, so I won't waste any words feeling sorry for us or our process.

What I did learn very quickly was that items aren't just items. Each of us have attached (locked) certain memories to the acquisition of, or use of certain items. Other items represent an event or time period.
It was very interesting to see how one person's "give away" was another person's "keep" or "discard" and why. Ok, 'interesting' doesn't even begin to describe it. The stress levels we reached over these decisions was excruciating at times. Surprisingly, most of the angst was not over who got what. It was more about "how can we somehow keep" things that had been in the family for so long...no matter their value to the rest of the world.

In the end, we have imperfectly endured the process as I'm sure other families have.
For me, the essence of the family home - other than photos, our most precious resource - is now comfortably resting here on a simple oak table.

One of my mother's crosses and one of her rings.
The cuff links and tie clasp that my dad wore to their wedding.
The hospital wrist band from my birth.
All tucked into my favorite wood music box. A simple, unremarkable item that I always enjoyed seeing in the living room of our humble home.

Faith, family, fidelity and simple pleasures.

My bride and I are looking around our own home with a different perspective now. What will our daughter and son most value some day when it comes time to keep, give away or discard.
I sincerely hope that their choices will somehow reflect elements of those same four themes.



What do you believe?

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Strike Down Hail Stones upon that Ugly Red Truck...

The ugly red pickup truck has been making me crazy.

Its an unspoken contest among early arrivers at work to claim the 1st parking spot.
It's directly across from the main entrance, just in front of the flag poles.
Honestly, it doesn't affect your walk by more than a few seconds, but it's still the first spot filled on any given morning. You have to arrive before 6 a.m. to even have a shot at it.

Normally I couldn't tell you the brand or color of the car that parked there if my life depended on it.
But the rusty red truck's driver has been regularly backing into the first spot and crossing the yellow line for the 2nd spot as well. That forces everyone to the third spot and puts the old red beater on clear display across two prime spots.

These are very bad parking manners. I might understand it with a shiny new vehicle - but even then a new owner would park in the "back 40" to protect their new paint finish from flung doors and swinging brief cases.
My inside voice sounded something like this:

Day1: "...sloppy parking, you shouldn't back into a spot if you can't line up correctly."
Day2: "...how rude, somebody should leave a note or something, don't they know they're doing it?"
Day3:  "what an idiot - I bet they're doing it on purpose - an in-your-face to the rest of us with nicer cars. Probably a liberal who thinks the world owes them an extra space."
Day4:  "I'm going to squeeze my car into the 2nd spot, right up against their door and see how they like it."  (I didn't, figured they had nothing to lose by losing some red paint on my nice car)
Day5:  "There's no excuse for this. By now they realize what they're doing and just don't care. Total disrespect and selfishness."

And so its progressed with each day I saw that fat red truck hogging those spaces. While I waited for the behavior to change those first few times, I soon gave up and simply believed the worst of them. The driver is ill-mannered and will always be ill-mannered. Leave them to their miserable, selfish existence.

That's when I had an 'aha' moment.

I sensed God smiling at me in a bemused fashion. Not unkindly, or disgustedly.
More like he was sitting in a lawn chair watching the whole scene unfold, and waiting for me to get it.

Its me in that ugly red truck of my own pride and selfishness.
How many times do I carelessly back into life's parking spaces and hog the next one too?
Spend money on an expensive latte and then steer clear of a panhandler.
Indulge myself in weekend sporting events without pre-planning the prime time with my lovely bride.
Skip my morning bible reading because I slept too late and wanted to read the news before work.

It's not that I do these things one time and learn from them. I keep backing into the same parking space and covering up the second one. Over and over again.  Rude to those who deserve better from the gifts God has given me. Worst of all, rude to my Creator.

Yet there He was, smiling at me. Loving me. Willing to forgive me.
Even as I walked past the stupid red truck and yet again castigated the driver for their repetitive character flaw. The driver who could well be my neighbor. Could well be me.

Lord God, please forgive me for my sins. Please don't give up on me.
Please bless me with the Grace to forgive others and for us all to realize how much we need you.
I ask this in Jesus' Holy name, Amen.

What do you believe?






Sunday, May 05, 2013

Planned Parenthood Celebration

Should the government really be funding Planned Parenthood?
Should anyone?

What do you believe?


Obama shouldn’t support Planned Parenthood

May 4, 2013
On April 26, for the first time in United States history, a sitting president addressed a Planned Parenthood "gala." The dictionary defines "gala" as a festivity or celebration. I wonder what they were celebrating. Planned Parenthood reports that in 2011, they were responsible for snuffing out the innocent lives of 333,964 babies via abortion. I might add here that this is federal taxpayer-funded abortion. This president assured the group that Planned Parenthood wasn't going to go away or be denied federal funds for their "cause" and that they have a president who will be there to support them all the way (my words). Reminds me of Proverbs 6:16-18: "These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren."
I will say in that 12-minute span, another 7.6 abortions took place. He concluded his remarks by stating, "God bless you, Planned Parenthood." Reminds me of another verse of scripture in Isaiah 5:20: "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil ..."
Jeanie Lane

Protect your children with your Votes


Our votes are making a huge difference in the culture. Choose (more) wisely.
What do you believe?


Obama approves ‘morning-after’ pill for 15-year-olds

ABORTION

President Barack Obama and Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto arrive for their bilateral meeting at the Palacio Nacional in Mexico City.Enlarge Image
Associated Press/Photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais
President Barack Obama and Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto arrive for their bilateral meeting at the Palacio Nacional in Mexico City.


President Barack Obama said late Thursday he was comfortable with the Food and Drug Administration’s decision to lower the age limit for buying the so-called “morning-after” pill without a prescription

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Going to Surgery - How, What to Pray?

One of my neighbor friends was going to have a cardiac heart cath procedure done this week. That's where they check for coronary artery blockage and can choose to insert a stent to improve blood flow if  necessary.
He and I have a running dialog about God in the general sense, but I gather that he has not invited Jesus into his heart as Savior (although I'm not sure). I've enjoyed our ongoing neighborly friendship and we ride bikes together during the summer months. We talk about the gamut of life's topics - sports, family, yard work. But I've stopped short of inviting him to consider a prayer of salvation. I always figure that might happen at some future time when he's curious, which is fine with me.
So when we chatted on the sidewalk this week before his  procedure, things took a different perspective for me. Heart cath procedures are generally very safe (I work in the industry), but in the unlikely event that things go wrong, you may not see the person afterwards. So the immediacy of our conversation was not lost on me.
I won't share the specific conversation I had with my friend this week - but he's fine after the procedure, thank you Jesus.

For the next friend or family member, this situation did help me to boil down the essentials of salvation into two very simple phrases. I thought of these as the "walk-away" reminders for a friend or loved one with whom you've had conversations about God and His Son, but aren't sure you'll ever have another opportunity...
1. Tell God your sorry.
2. Tell Him you accept Jesus as your Savior.

"God, I'm sorry for my sins, and I accept Jesus as my Savior"

There's more to this conversation - realizing that God has always had a plan for our lives (Romans 5:1), and that we're saved because of His mercy, not our good deeds (Titus 3:4-5), and that Jesus chose to die for us on the cross, as a way to reconcile us with God (1Peter 2:21-25).

But if you're ever having to help someone who is facing the toughest moments of life:
Lost a job
Terribly sick
Lonely
Divorced
Addicted
Hopeless
In danger
Tired

Tell God your sorry for your sins. Tell Him you accept Jesus as your Savior.

If there is the blessing of another minute or hour or years in your life after that, then find me on the sidewalk and I'll tell you the rest.   Or go to that church down the street and ask the pastor.  And believe.

What do you believe?



Monday, April 29, 2013

Coarse words - anyone hear me?

I finished a phone call on my way home from work last week, clicked off and dropped the phone in my lap. More work! More deadlines!  And right before the weekend.
I was also irritated because the car in front of me had been straggling along below the speed limit. Hurry up already!
Just before the stoplight he finally decided to speed up, make the amber, and leave me stuck waiting for the next light.
Expletive Deleted !
I uttered a coarse set of words without thinking.
But then I did think - had I really turned off my phone?!
Blushing bright as the red light, I reached down and picked up the phone to check.
It was off - and I was relieved - saved the embarrassment of somebody hearing me at a weak moment.

You know where this is going, right?

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."  Ephesians 4:29

God heard me loud and clear - and my words would not have benefitted anyone who might have listened, let alone the creator of the universe. I had every reason to be embarrassed, phone or no phone.

There are too many things I let myself "get away with" in the course of some days simply because no one is there to hear or see my actions - or read my thoughts!   But reading the bible helps to keep me honest, because I come across verses like Ephesians 4:29. And more often than I'd expect, a recently read verse will even help to pre-empt a traffic light moment (just not this time...).

"Whoever loves a pure heart and gracious speech will have the king as a friend." Proverbs 22:11

I believe I can do better. And I like having as a friend, the King of Kings.

What do you believe?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Gosnell Abortion Murders Trial

A very insightful article from Andree Seu Peterson at Worldmag.com


Broken scales and death at the Gosnell trial

ABORTION


Abortion centers definitely need better inspecting to assure that records are accurately kept and cleanliness is maintained. The goal, after all, is to kill babies, not mothers.



What do you believe?

Monday, April 01, 2013

Clear Varnish - Stained Colors

I finally got around to re-boxing our outdoor Nativity figures (its Easter weekend).
It's a bit of a chore to fit them back into the foam core packing, plus I wanted to first re-apply the weather protective varnish.

I made space in the basement, found a brush and opened up the gallon can of varnish.
It looked a little murky while I was stirring it, like muddy brown creek water. But it was the same can I used when I first bought the set a couple years ago, so it must be alright. It probably goes on murky and then clears up, I thought. Varnish is funny that way sometimes.

But no, by golly. I drew the first long brushstroke down Mary's shawl and dirty brown swirls made an immediate stained contrast to her beautiful off-white, original covering. Yikes!  It was going to look awful. What to do?

I frantically grabbed the nearest clean cloth I could find and began wiping off the liquid. To my great surprise, the varnish - and the color - came right off. None of it seeped permanently into the finish. The previous coat of varnish had done its job and made this clean up quick and manageable. I was so relieved!

Turns out that the brown stain had mixed in with varnish because I also used it to treat the wooden stable backdrop after the figures. I'd forgotten that part. It looked muddy brown this time around - because it was!

Lots of lessons compared here.
Once we acknowledge our belief in Jesus, we are covered - head to Soul - in the protection of the Holy Spirit.
"Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered."  Romans 4:7

We are sealed.
"...the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you are sealed for the day of redemption." Ephesians 4:30

And sins wiped away,
"Repent then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord."  Acts 3:19

But if we do let ourselves get back into the mix of sin - even after seeing its obvious murky stain trying to blend in - God gives us a way to clean up, thanks to that protective covering we have:

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness."  1John 1:9    God does this for us, in the name of Jesus.

I was so relieved to see that dirty varnish wipe off the protected surface - like it hadn't even occurred.
I tell myself to be more vigilant next time, on the alert before letting sin come into contact with what God has already made righteous - but somehow there does always seem to be a "next time..."

What do you believe?





Friday, March 29, 2013

I let a sparrow die and I am so sorry

This happened more than 25 years ago, but it bothers me to this day.

We lived in a wooded area and kept a dry stack of split wood in the garage for our fireplace.
This inevitably attracted wood mice during the winter and I sometimes placed glue traps near the wood stack.
There were a few seeds on each trap, the mice would come by to investigate, get stuck and be easily disposed of. It didn't bother me that much to be rid of rodents, although a couple of friends did suggest that glue traps were not the most humane method available.  Still, it was expedient and effective.

Then one day in spring I was working on the driveway and heard something rustling in the garage. It took me a second to trace the sound over to the wood stack. "Ugh, a mouse," I thought.

But it wasn't a mouse. It was a tiny, brown flecked sparrow. It had somehow smelled the seeds and gotten stuck on the trap. Its toothpick leg was bent across the glue and it was fluttering in a circle, trying desparately to get away.

I was sick and horrified. Unlike the occasional dead mouse I usually found, this poor creature was alive and looking at me. I tried to work through the mechanics of extricating its leg, but that was going to do more damage, and the poor thing was frantic. I walked away at one point just to collect my thoughts - maybe I should jump in the car and drive to an animal shelter. But then I would be admonished for my glue trap - bad enough we were using them for mice. By the time I got back to the bird it was dead.
I am so sorry that I had anything to do with that.  That was one of the cruelest, saddest events I ever contributed to in my life. I've asked God to forgive me. I believe He has.  I still regret it.

25 years ago.
If I had participated in one sparrow death like that per minute - every minute of every hour - of every day - of every year - for the last 25 years...that would have been 13 million deaths. What a horrifying thought that would be.

There have been over 50 million abortions in the USA since a determined group of people chose to push through Roe v. Wade - and countless others have actively contributed to advocating and expanding the practice. People who fund the ACLU or work at and fund Planned Parenthood, or elect enabling politicians.    50 million lives as helpless as a sparrow on a glue trap.    God will forgive any of the people involved who are sorry and seek his forgiveness.  But what a heartbreaking grief to overcome.

Abby Johnson did just that - overcame her role as a professional abortion enabler at Planned Parenthood.  Linking to her website here - and encouraging anyone else who needs to reconcile with God on a past mistake. He loves you and will forgive you.  Tell others and help stop the madness.

"Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God."  Luke 12:7

What do you believe?




Grab Your Own Oxygen First

Have you ever actually listened to an airline's pre-flight safety talk?

In the event that we lose cabin pressure, the yellow oxygen masks will drop from the overhead.
Airline quiz:   Who is it that they instruct you to help first with oxygen?
Is it the child seated next to you?  Or the worried looking person across the aisle?

It's you.  "Place your own mask first, before assisting those around you."
It makes sense. You might pass out while starting to help someone else. And if everybody did that, there would be no one left to help!
The child and the anxious person across the aisle might figure it out on they're own, or they might not.
Be sure of yourself - so THAT you can help those around you.

I think of the airline oxygen sometimes when people pose the distracting spiritual conundrums...
"How will that remote culture's people ever be able to find about your Jesus?"
"How can you expect people to accept God when he lets these terrible things happen?"
"Why would anyone want to follow a God who did all those terrible things in the old testament?

Place your own mask first, before assisting those around you.

I've learned to ask, "but what do you think about Jesus?  Why do you think terrible things happen? Do you think its the same God in the old testament and new testament? "  Before we talk about what other people think, let's resolve what questions you have - that will give us the best perspective. And then maybe you can breathe easier.

This "what you believe" question is a good starting point for more productive, honest conversation. If the person asking these questions is sincere about seeking answers, they may then be able to explain them to the child in their care. Or the anxious neighbor next door. It's too easy for skeptics to throw out casual challenges about why "other" people should or should not believe. Its save them the trouble of having to make their own spiritual decisions.

What about God and all those other people out there who are struggling to find Him?

What do you believe?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Right Path - Wrong Direction

There's a highway near my home town.
It runs about 75 miles in an east-west line between Madison and Milwaukee.
Madison is the home of our magnificent state capitol building. Milwaukee overlooks Lake Michigan.

Imagine if I were to meet a visitor to our area somewhere in the miles between.
She asks me if she is on the road for Madison.
"Well, we both are on the very same road," I confirm.
"Well, I think I'll continue on my way then," she answers, and hops back onto her bicycle.

However, she is heading in the direction of Milwaukee. She is, in fact, on the road for Madison, only she will be getting farther and farther away from it with every push of the pedals.
I call out to tell her, but my friend says, "what are you doing?"
"I'm going to tell her she's headed in the wrong direction," I say, "what do you think I'm doing?"
"Don't be so arrogant," my friend rebukes me. "she seems like a very thoughtful, confident person. Who's to say she won't get to Madison her way, same as us?"  And he hops back on his bicycle toward Madison.
I think about how I would feel if it was me and I eventually rolled up to the beach in Milwaukee. What would I think about the people who could have steered me in the right direction? At the very least, I could have ignored their advice. But what if I really wanted to find Madison -- and what if I no longer had the energy, confidence, or courage left to change my direction?

I hop on my bike and go after her - I'm going to tell her what I know. Then she can make her own decision.

"Peter proceeded to speak and said.....they put him to death by hanging him on a cross...he commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness, that everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name."  Acts 10:34-43

If your path is leading you away from Jesus, turn around. I don't think you're heading in the right direction.

What do you believe?


Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 Music Celebrity Passing

End of year publications devote quite a bit of space to celebrity passings.
Astronauts, writers, movers and shakers. Entire lives efficiently summarized with one or two sentences about their "best known for" moments.

One of the true musical giants of our generation quietly passed this year and did not make the pages of Time. In fairness, he never performed at Madison Square Garden or Albert Hall (at least as far as I know).

Ed Doemland  was a brilliant keyboardist and percussionist who worked out of the West Allis, Wisconsin area from 1963 until his death in August.  I write "until is death" because even during my last visit with Ed in hospice - a few days before his passing - he was still busily notating melodies that would otherwise reach only a very exclusive, heavenly venue.

I can't summarize everything Ed accomplished because I saw only the part of him that so richly blessed my own life. I just watched the DVD tribute to another  celebrity musician, George Harrison. In it, Eric Clapton observed that he always felt especially close to George. But at Harrison's passing, and as friends gathered to honor the ex-Beatle, Clapton was surprised at the diversity of people who felt just as close as he did to their friend. Not just musicians, but 'regular people', spiritual people, race car drivers, actors, business associates and family.

That's the same diversity of appreciation I saw for Ed.

I knew Ed as the kind man who taught me about church music. How to organize and lead musicians and congregations in meaningful worship. Ed was famous for his last-minute, printed lyric inserts and contemporary music arrangements. He often removed entire pews from the church to make room for guest musicians. On other occasions he simply called out hymn numbers for the congregation to turn to. And as a guitarist, Ed would frequently slip me new chords or lyrics during the sermon because it would "work better" with the preacher's message that day. When I started writing my own music, Ed was my biggest cheerleader, generously helping to notate music, and evening sitting in with my band for live performances and recording sessions.

Outside of our tiny congregation though, Ed was in constant demand. When he wasn't playing solo piano gigs at the best restaurants in town, he was sitting in with some of the top bands or playing timpani with the symphonic orchestra. His own music was published and he was widely recognized as a gifted pipe organ player.

But the outpouring of love for Ed wasn't limited to musicians. 40 years of high school science students pointed to his motivation and passion for knowledge as well.  And many people recounted how they remembered his phone number digits.   Simply the words...   Kid Soda.

The others words I'll always remember are from the simple refrain to one of Ed's favorite original songs.

"We may all have different gifts, but the same Spirit.  The same God working in us all !"

Ed always made me feel like my gifts mattered. And I think everyone else that got to know him felt that same acceptance and encouragement.  It made a difference - and I hope I can continue to share what I learned from him.

You can probably summarize the "best known for's" of a lot of famous people in two or three sentences.   But not Kid Soda.

And I've got a feeling that the story continues....wouldn't we all love to hear the session he's got going now!

I'll miss you Ed.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Do What He Tells You

This has been a very special Christmas season for me.
In the midst of so many troubling world events and culture shifts, the encouragement of Christ's coming has really touched my heart.

I've thought more diligently than most years about the courage and selflessness of Mary and Joseph.
Mary, who could easily have been stoned for her admission of pregnancy and Joseph, who could have condoned it. Beyond the miraculous birth itself, they someone survived a relocation to Egypt with an infant. This, at a time and place where resources were nil for the likes of them. They took personal responsibility in a way that few of us can fathom.

I was particularly moved by a line spoken by Mary's character in the movie, The Nativity, which I highly recommend and watch each year.  Sitting next to her cousin Elizabeth, Mary wonders, "Why would God have chosen me?  I am nothing."
It's just a movie line, but you can imagine the thought crossing her mind, "I am nothing."
I've wondered the same thing about my own redemption through Jesus' death on the cross.

I am nothing. A speck on the this earth and in the continuum of time. Truly a miserable sinner. And yet God loves me. Amazing.

There is another line spoken by Mary. Not a movie script. This one is documented in the Bible.
Mary says this to a few workers at a wedding in Cana.
"Do whatever he tells you."    John 2:5

Perhaps the most insightful bit of advice ever uttered.
"Do whatever Jesus tells you."

Read the four gospels. Read the words of Jesus quoted by the apostle John in Revelation.
And then "Do whatever he tells you."

Mary and Joseph were probably the two most courageous, humble and selfless people in history (after their son).  With all that could have been rehashed and aggrandized about inns, stables and wise men, Mary summarized the precursive nature of their roles with stunning simplicity,

"Do whatever he tells you."

Merry Christmas.  What do you believe?

Jesus, Love and Crisis Pregnancy

I don't know what you'd expect to find at a crisis pregnancy center.

We've supported a local pregnancy care ministry for years, and this Christmas we delivered some items they'd requested in an update newsletter.

We parked our car right in front of their street-side doorway, adjacent to the barbershop, just across from the local pharmacy. Its a few blocks south of the state university extension campus, with over 20,000 students. A nearby high school had just let out and their kids noisily jostled by on the sidewalk as we unloaded the car

My wife and I made a few trips carrying items up the staircase and into the cheerfully windowed waiting room. The walls are painted a comforting shade of light blue, and the fresh scent of baby powder reminded me of our own daughter's long ago nursery.

We set up the new card table and chairs next to the play area with its basketful of toddler toys. Some of the women who come already have younger children.

It would have only taken several minutes for Sarah to walk us through the simple suite of rooms. But she also paused to describe a "typical" day in her ministry there. The first small room is lined floor to ceiling with wrapped packets of baby items. Sara noted that she sometimes receives cribs and basinets. She lovingly showed the hand-knitted receiving blankets that are made and donated by women from local churches.

In the next room was a clean, spare office with table and chair. Sarah explained that she meets women or couples to understand their need. Some have already given birth and are seeking items like those stored in the adjacent room. Others need a pregnancy test or are seeking an ultrasound (a licensed volunteer visits the center and uses the donated ultrasound system). Still others just need to talk, and Sarah listens.

Sarah offers to pray with her visitors and also provides bibles to those who are interested. Many are.
Some are "exploring options" and Sarah provides factual counsel on the baby created by conception - ultrasounds help to visualize what could otherwise be dismissed as tissue. Her newsletter is filled with names and photos of babies who her clients have chosen to birth.

I don't know exactly what happens in the other "pregnancy" centers that are funded with hundreds of millions of dollars from public taxes. Recent undercover video stings suggest that instead of wise, Godly counsel, some women at Planned Parenthood are simply enabled to abort on demand. Their ultrasounds aren't linked with open, candid dialog to support evidence of life that begins at conception. Planned Parenthood doesn't have Sarah.

Sarah listens and offers to help. She and the ministry provide reassurance, resources and hand-knitted blankets for the babies they pray to see born. Before we left, I helped Sarah position the sturdy new step stool we brought for the ultrasound table. There in the room of the cheerful second floor office that provides pregnancy care - and much more.  I wonder what her ministry could accomplish, and how many lives might be saved, with a million dollars?  Ten million dollars?

We believe in Sarah and the local pregnancy care ministry.  What do you believe?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Can You Re-Tune That Piano ?

I'm converting some old cassette music tapes to .mp3 format.
One cassette is an album of original gospel songs I recorded with friends back in 1985.

This was a dream team of local artists who teamed up with me for the studio project.
Pat played flute, sax and clarinet. Jimmy on drums. Joe and Ed on keyboards. Jack on lead guitar and Larry on bass.  Our combined expertise spanned jazz, fusion, rock, folk and sacred music. Their unique perspectives and talents pushed my simple acoustic guitar arrangements to an entirely new (and improved!) level.

Lesson number one for studio recording is to tune your instruments to a standard tone.
You may have heard orchestra's play that "A" tone as the violins tune before a concert.
Back then I just had a pitch pipe for one guitar string, and then I'd tune my other strings from there. But that wasn't efficient with all the other instrumentalists having to tune as well.
Larry the bass player had a new-fangled electronic "tuner" so we could play a note and a light came on to say you were in tune. Simple.
So before recording the ten basic song tracks we all tuned to Larry's box.

Eight hours of studio time later we were ready to begin the much longer process of adding solo instrument and vocal harmony tracks. About this time, the keyboard players convinced me that we needed a full "acoustic" sounding piano...not just the synthesized keyboard we'd planned to add on separate tracks. The studio's piano needed repair - but no problem, one of the guys had a 77 key upright that we could "carry in."  We all had day-jobs of course, so it was another Saturday before we could haul in the upright and set up to record again.

One problem.  The piano sounded "out of tune" as they started playing it with our recorded tracks.
Argh. A quick call to a piano tuner and some negotiations with the recording studio owner (since I was paying by the hour...).
Good news and bad news once the piano tuner arrive. Good news, the piano was in tune.
Bad news, our recording was slightly out of tune...enough to clash with the piano.

Why?  Larry the bass player's tuner had not been properly calibrated to the music standard of "440 Hz for middle C."  
We all tuned to Larry's box - we were in tune with each other - and we were all wrong.  Since that day, for the last 25 years, I've been in the habit of asking fellow musicians, "are you tuned to 440?"  And I carry my own tuner - set to the standard "440" of course.

The Bible is our spiritual calibration to "440."  Sometimes we can start running with spiritual ideas that "sound right" amongst a small group of friends, family or even fellowships. But if these ideas clash with the bible...if you're not in tune with what Jesus said...then something is "off."
In our case, we had to either re-tune the piano to be "wrong" and in tune with our recording....or we could start over with the "right" tuning.  We had drifted off the mark and impacted everyone involved.

You can't re-tune the Bible.  God's Word is the standard.  If our beliefs shift out of tune, we need to somehow come back - or start anew.  The Holy Spirit within you will often sense the "dis-chord."

Malachi 3:6 "For I am the LORD, I do not change"

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.  

What do you believe?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Xmas Hymn #416

I was so happy to be back playing guitar at church this week!

Work and travel had kept me away the previous two weeks.
Sometimes I just breathe an "ahhhhhh...." to be back sharing music, especially with our stellar music director/keyboardist.

On some Sunday's she leaves the offertory song listed as "instrumental" and simply plays a piano or organ piece, which I really enjoy listening (or praying) to.   We also team up and play piano-guitar duets if a particular song has elements that favor our instruments (i.e., not too many sharps or flats for the guitar player). On this Sunday we didn't have a song picked, so she would play a piano piece.

But as I listened to the sermon, I really felt moved to add some worship music.  I picked up my hymn book, still opened to #412, the previous song.
Now realize, that immediately following the 10 - 15 minute sermon is our offertory....not a lot of time to choose new music and run it by my co-laborer and keyboardist in Christ!

A quick, silent prayer...."Lord, would you have anything in mind for us to play?"
The very quietest of Holy Spirit-nudges moved me to flip the pages forward (and not backward, though I can't explain how that was clear to me).
Somewhere in the background, as I began studying key signatures and chord structure, I heard some of the pastor's sermon.  :-)      He was speaking of God's ability to surprise us.  We can't put God in a box of our own expectations, limiting what we believe He can accomplish. He is God after all.

Or something along those lines, I only had a few minutes left to look at music!

When I got to Hymn #416, it looked like it had good possibilities...chords and melody that I could sight-read (our music director can play anything!), and enough variety in the verse and chorus to give us something interesting to work with as an instrumental.
But now there were literally only minutes to spare. I had to stand up and walk out the side door to get back to the choir room and ask her.  I waffled there in my chair for a few moments - was this really a good idea?  But yes, I really sensed a Godly inspiration to do this.

At that very moment, our music director walked back in and handed me a note on her way back to the piano. Without reading it, I lifted up the hymnal and started pointing....I mouthed a few words...."I think I found a song" and she just pointed back to her note in my hand...all this as the pastor's post-sermon prayers were in progress before the offertory.

The handwritten note from our music director simply said.....   "Hymn #416."

And we offered up some beautiful music to God.
"With man this is not possible, but with God, all things are possible."  Matthew 19:26

What do you believe?


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Mayan Deadline - Many Roads to Jesus ?


I used my cell phone GPS navigator to get from the hotel to my business meeting last month.
There were at least three possible GPS routes. One took roads through some farm land and another through a suburban town. The third crossed over between the two.

I chose the farm land GPS route because I wanted to avoid stop lights and traffic. My colleague was frustrated.  He went through town and said there were more turns and traffic going his way. But he arrived. Some of our co-workers took a shuttle bus and didn't care which route their driver was taking, they were indifferent.
So we all took multiple routes and ended up at the same place.

However,  arriving at the meeting place did not mean "entering the meeting."
There were lots of cars in the parking lot of the meeting place, but at the front door they asked for your company ID. This ID affirmed that you had previously understood and accepted our company guidelines.
Anybody could arrive and park, but there was only one acceptable way to enter.
Nobody said anything bad or intolerant of those choosing to park outside, but they remained separated for the duration.

People tell me there are "many routes to God."
They consider belief in Jesus as nothing more or less than GPS Route #3 on their cell phone.
I don't think they've thought it all the way through.

We're all going to arrive at the same place eventually.  Death.
But that's nothing more than the parking lot outside heaven. An Almighty God can still ask for your ID.
The Bible explains that ID to be "Believer in Jesus as Savior". [John 14:6, Acts 4:12; Matthew 25]
Plenty of people in the parking lot....Believers in Jesus attend the meeting, according to the Bible.

You could just as easily claim that the ID will be Believer in Islam. Or, Believer in Tao. Believer in Vishnu, etc.
Or....All ID's welcome, of any kind. (Believer of nothing in particular).

It's our choice, and free will to do so.  But you are making (not choosing is choosing) a Spiritual decision.  When The Day comes, most people don't want to be in a parking lot somewhere, wishing they could go inside.

There was a burst of web site activity this week at peacewithgod.net   One person after another joined the web chat stream asking, "Is the world going to end on Dec. 22?" because they had heard of the Mayan calendar ending.  Some people I chatted with were sincerely frightened and seeking spiritual answers. They wanted immediate insight - for themselves, and some for their kids.

"How can I know....for SURE?"  they asked me.    Jesus.    There is no waffling on that in the bible. Believe on the name of Jesus, and so be saved (Romans 10:13)  from whatever end comes to your life, or to the world.
With the 21st of December, 2012 looming...many were eager to learn about Jesus. Today, on the 22nd, that sense of urgency will have diminished, but the choice is no less stark. Christianity's answer is the same as it was yesterday - Jesus loves you, and is ready to welcome you!  (Revelation 3:20)

In the meantime, I'm really enjoying this route with the country roads...winding through fields of mercy, past groves of forgiveness and Grace. The breeze of Blessed assurance. It's not just the destination, its the journey that is also rich with blessings.  When I finally do arrive, I can't wait to go in and meet Jesus.

I believe in Jesus.   What do you believe?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

No Cross for You !

I am a Christian living in America.

In the years to come we will experience increasing levels of hostility and intolerence.

But my joy is trending up!   Why is that?

Because I am even more clearly reminded to rely on God.
There is great joy in our daily bread - the unrestrained unfolding of God's plan.
While our culture asks us to compartmentalize Jesus - and keep Him far away from them -
We know that His power cannot be harnessed by ACLU donors or judicial nominees.

Praise....God!

I am encouraged and energized to share the Good News even more vigorously - and to not whine in the desert of our once great nation.  This is the time to share Jesus.
Here is a great example, as reported by Angela Lu :

http://www.worldmag.com/2012/11/a_promise_kept

Excerpt:

After the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the ACLU, the veterans group figured that the only way to allow the cross to stand was to swap the federal land the cross was on with private land owned by the group. The 9th Circuit ruled the compromise faulty, and the case was taken to the U.S. Supreme Court 
In 2010, high court ruled 5-4 that the land swap was permissible, with Justice Anthony Kennedy writing, “The goal of avoiding governmental endorsement [of religion] does not require eradication of all religious symbols in the public realm.”
James 1:2-8 
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

What do you believe?

Restoring that Cable for God

Two years ago I accidentally cut the end off of an outdoor extension cord.

These aren't cheap. It was a heavy duty, thirty foot cord that I could use with outdoor lights and lawn tools.
I stored it on the garage wall and intended to buy a replacement plug - the kind where you re-trim the three wires and screw on the new plug end.
Other things came up and the damaged cable languished on that garage wall hook. I think I even bought an extra extension cord in the meantime when I needed some power.
Finally, after a year had passed, I remembered the cable during a hardware run and bought the replacement plug.  Locating the now-dusty cable, I carefully trimmed the wires and reassembled the plug.
Pleased with myself for rescuing the cable, I uncoiled the rest of it and looked for a wall plug.

This is where I had to smile, in spite of myself.

My memory of which plug end to replace was incorrect. I now had a very nice outdoor extension cord with two, three-pronged plug ends. No receptacle!  So I could plug it into the wall (on either end), but it was without use for its intended purpose of delivering electricity.
Nothing wrong with any of the components, and I could use it for something else - as cable to bundle cardboard or something - but not for electricity.

And that is how I am with some of the blessings and gifts God provides me. I know how to explain the gospel, but I often shy away from opportunities to do so.  Maybe I'd be of more use just 'living' the gospel on a hook in the garage and hoping people will see the example and learn.  But I know in my heart that I would not be applying the full intent of God's purpose.  Ephesians 2:10

I took the extra time and patience to work with the extension cord. It would have been easier to just hang it back on the wall and ignore it, or throw it away.  God knows better. He loves you and knows the purpose for your life. Ask Him!


"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11


What do you believe?




Saturday, October 27, 2012

Andree Sue and Worldmag.com

I enjoy much of Andree Sue Peterson's writing for worldmag.com
She is one of those gifted writers who seems to effortlessly turn excellent prose with Godly insights.

Her recent post titled Key Turning Point got my attention. An unknown assailant damaged her car. An excerpt:

"The keyer of my car (Is that a proper noun?) “never will speak word” to me about his rationale—which is perhaps a delightful collateral bonus for him, a milking it twice. Or perhaps he even forgot he did the deed five minutes later. Emperor Caligula once had a few seats of spectators at the arena thrown into the tiger’s pit because there were not enough condemned criminals and he was bored. 
“In the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, … ungrateful, unholy, heartless, … without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, … lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:1-4). 
Keying is a very little thing that tells a lot. It is the silver serving trolley that rolls a couple of feet, unnoticed, on the Titanic. It is the old collie looking up from his nap a half hour before the tornado. It is the dead canary warning miners there is methane in the shaft. It shows, ahead of the pundits and philosophers, that civilization has taken a decisive turn."
What a spot-on insight concerning our culture. So many of the things we shake our heads at today--thoughtless selfish behavior, refusal to take personal responsibility--they are not just disturbing. They are early warnings of what has yet to manifest itself.
Sharing the Gospel is an eternal gift to the single lost lamb who hears and believes. It is also a gift to everyone who then shares community with that Holy Spirit-empowered person.  Changed lives in Jesus bring with them God's love, mercy, forgiveness, kindness, compassion. Not senseless destruction. 
Help protect Andree Sue Peterson's car...share the Good News of Jesus.
What do you believe?

Paying for the Empty Lot

We were driving back from a family funeral last month and I heard an interesting insight on a local pastor's radio show.  (sorry, we were out of signal range before hearing the name of the pastor!)
He made this simple observation:
There is construction going on in his town to build condo's on a vacant lot.
People who want to live there have already entered into contracts and put money down to "hold" their position.
He explained to the radio listeners that there is nothing there yet. It is a vacant lot. Maybe it has a great view or a prime location. But it takes a lot of faith to make such a financial commitment to something that doesn't exist.

He...and we... run into people all the time who can't get past the fact that God and heaven are "invisible."  Heaven is a vacant lot.  God is the unmet project owner.
What compelling confidence do we have to express a downpayment of faith and trust in God?
On the other hand, the upside is huge. Talk about a room with a view !   And an eternity with no condo fees.  Plus, there are many immediate returns...blessings, peace, and guiding wisdom of the Holy Spirit.

People are naturally suspicious of deals that are "too good to be true."  Grace must somehow seem like that.
But it's the real deal. I'm all in.  Totally invested and trusting my eternal life in the name of Jesus.

Learn more about the compelling reasons at www.peacewithgod.net

What do you believe?