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Thursday, December 30, 2010


Today is my birthday. I want to thank all my facebook friends for their birthday greetings.
The reason fir this post is due to a comment I heard from a co-worker yesterday regarding birthdays. He made the statement that a birthday just means you're one year closer to being dead.
How is that one goes from counting down the days to our birthdays (and half-birthdays) as children to dreading them as a reminder of our mortality? Personally, I love birthdays, and not just mine. I enjoy celebrating with friends and family the day of their birth. This past April, my wife and I attended a birthday party with a theme based upon one of my favorite shows, "The Office." Every year, our kids telll us what kind of birthday party they want, usually a comic book hero or action character for the boys and princesses and Barbie for my daughter.
How do I view today? I view it like any other day. Today is a gift from God. I need to make the most of it. As the psalmist said " This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it (118:24, ESV)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to everyone. As many of you are off spending time with family and wrapping the last of the gifts, don't forget to take some time to reflect. This is the day we celebrate God taking on human form. The one whom the prophet Isaiah saw and as a result pronounced a curse upon himself came to earth as a baby. The same Yahweh who declared to Moses that no man may see and live, came to earth.
Let us also remember that Jesus was born to die. The same prophet declared this baby would one day be beaten, abused, and ultimately put to death to pay the penalty for our sin.
In our celebration, let us remember that Jesus, the God-man, lives!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thoughts on Losing a Pet

We woke up this morning to see our dog Ella had escaped from her cage and was hit by a car overnight. I used to wonder how in the world people could mourn of the loss of a pet. I mean it was only a dumb animal, right? I get it now.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sometimes I Think of Abraham...

The title for this post comes from "Sometimes By Step" by the late great Rich Mullins. A short while ago, I was reading about Abraham in Courageous Faith by Ed Hindson. Jews, Muslims, and Christians all point to Abraham as the father of their faith. We cannot deny the importance of Abraham in history.
As much as Abraham is to be admired figure, i can't help noticing how God tells what a screw-up he was. He was promised a son, so he and his wife, Sarah work it out to give him a son through Hagar. While it seemed to be the perfect solution to Abraham's heir problem, it opened up a can of worms, as Ishmael's descendants, the Arabs, have a radical hatred for the descendants of Isaac, a son later born though Sarah.
In order to save his own skin, Abraham told Sarah to lie twice about being his wife.
Example of faith? Father of the faithful? Why is this screw-up heralded as a great example? Maybe to show the rest of us screw-ups that it doesn't take perfection to honor God. Sometimes it takes believing that God is who He said He is, and He will do what He said He will do.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

When To Slow Down

When I woke up this morning, I had a sharp pain in my left shoulder. It was so bad that when I attempted to get a coffe cup out of the cupboard with my righ hand, the pain got worse on my left shoulder. Throughout the day, I had to do everything slower than I'm used to doing it. walking, turning in my chair, eating lunch all had to be done much more slowly and deliberately today.
For those of you who know me, I don't do too much slowly. I'm usually a charge-ahead, get-up-and-go type of person. While it still hurts, I am learning the benefits of slowing down. Slowing down allows you to really hear others, because you are actually listening. In Ps 46:10, God reminds us through the psalmist to "be still, and know I am God" (ESV). When you take the time to slow down, you are able to hear what God is telling through His Word, through circumstances, and through His people.
Am I enjoying the pain i my neck? No, but I was able to get a taste of learning to slow down, and listen

Monday, November 1, 2010

Faith and Works

For those of you who were unaware, yesterday was Reformation Day. It commemorates October 31, 1517, the day a friar named Martin Luther walked up to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenburg, Germany, and nailed his 95 Theses there. Although originally written in Latin, and meant to be debated amongst theologians, they were soon translated into German and distibuted among the people.
One of the primary aspects was how the Roman Catholic church and protestants teach being justified before God. The tension is the interpretation of Paul's writings, and the writings found in the book of James. Over and over again, Paul affirms that justification comes by trusting in the perfect obedience of Christ on our behalf. This is also the Protestant position. Catholics point to James' statement that a faith devoid of works is dead.
So, is the Bible contradicting itself? Absolutely not! Paul is referring to the basis of being declared just. James is referring to the outward manifestation of a life surrendered to Christ. These are hardly contradictory. They are complementary

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Dangerous Class

In the Bible class I'm taking, I've learned something very important. I've learned this class is dangerous. Dangerous? How can a simple overview of the Bible be dangerous?
It's a dangerous class because it can be so easy to make the Scriptures just another book to study, like the Iliad or Shakespeare's plays. It is so much more than another work to be analyzed. It is a record of God's dealings with the human race. It is story of God reaching down into this world, sometimes in redeeming grace, others in terrifying wrath.
God's Word is not to be taken lightly, but with deep reverence.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

One Piece at a Time

Many years ago, Johnny Cash had a song called "One Piece ata Time." It tells the story of an auto worker who devises a plan to build his own Cadillac by smuggling parts to his garage. After many years, when he gets around to building his "dream car," he discovers that the parts are not fitting together as he had hoped. By the time he finishes and drives his car downtown, people are looking at him and laughing.
We may laugh at this poor fool's mishap, but we may do similar mistakes in striving for our long-term goals. We think we have worked toward achieving our career goal, and then find out that there was more involved with this career than we thought. You are getting ready to graduate from college, only to find the job market for your major dry up.
These are not examples of poorly thought out goals. But our long-term goals must have some degree of flexibility. Before you set out on a career path, do the research, and see if there is an area in that field that would be better suited for you. As you work on your degree, see how many career fields line up with your major.
Remember, goals should not be set in stone, but rather with pencil. That way they are written, but not permanantly.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Learning From Others

I'm a huge fan of the Cleveland Indians. Through the ups and and downs, I've stuck by the Tribe. The writer of Proverbs must have had Tribe fans in mind when he wrote, "Unrelenting disappointment can make you heartsick" (13:12, MSG). Both World Series they've played in within the last 15 years were heartbreaking. Those two Fall Classics could make me very bitter against the players and managers of the opposing teams. As I get older, I grow less bitter, and more respectful of those men. Greg Maddux was magical. Jim Leyland was, and is, an amazing manager. Chipper Jones has had an amazing career, as did Bobbly Bonilla and John Smoltz.
When I think of the players for the Atlanta Braves and the Florida Marlins in 1995 and 1997, I think of the church. I think of all the great men who weren't Methodists that I have learned so much from. I learned to laugh at myself from a Presbyterian named Steve Brown. Another Presbyterian, Scotty Smith, helped me learn how God absolutely delights in me. A Baptist pastor from Minnesota named John Piper taught me that I was created to enjoy Jehovah, and a Reformed theologian named R.C. Sproul taught me how God demands and deserves my worship. A church of Christ minister, Max Lucado, taught me the importance of God's mercy, while Jonathan Edwards reminded me to never forget God is just. One Anglican, C.S. Lewis, reminded me that Jesus is either who he says He is, or he's a liar, or a madman. Another Anglican, J.I. Packer, taught be the difference between knowing about God and actually knowing Him. I learned the relevance of Scripture from a dispensationalist named Chuck Swindoll, and the sufficiency of Scripture from another dispensationalist, John MacAthur. From James Kennedy, I learned that evangelism is close to the heart of God, and Charles Colson reminded me that impacting the culture is equally pleasing to God.
A friend of mine once said he would never read anything that was written by someone from a different theological camp. I'm so glad I didn't follow his advice.

Monday, June 7, 2010

After God's Own Heart?

You know what gets me about King David? It's not how he committed adultery with Bathsheba, or even that he put a hit out on her husband to cover up the resulting pregnancy. It's not he seemed to just ditty-bop along as Absalom took his women, his army, and almost his kingdom. It's not that David defied God and counted his army. It's not that David had more wives than you could shake a stick at. What really gets me about David is that after all the crap he had pulled, he's described as a man who " had lived an exemplary life before God all his days, not going off on his own in willful defiance of God's clear directions (except for that time with Uriah the Hittite)(1 Ki 15:5, MSG). HELLO? What about nearly killing Nabal? What about all the stuff I've already mentioned?
But then, I look at my own life. I call myself a Christian. Have I obeyed perfectly? Have I loved God with every fiber of my being, and loved my neighbor as myself? Man, it is so easy to be self-righteous. It is so easy to look at David, at all his failures and shortcomings, and then puff myself up with pride. But then, when I get that way, I have to remind myself to look to the cross. Jesus took the sin of David, just as he took my sin. I fail. I fall short. I miss the mark on a daily basis. But God dealt with my sin at Golgotha, and I, too, can be called a man after God's own heart.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Where Are the Leaders?

This past Thursday, I was privileged to take my three sons to a tea party rally featuring conservative Michael Reagan, son of our 40th President Ronald Reagan. Michael had mentioned something that I've been mulling over since then. He had mentioned many people have said to him, even liberal Alec Baldwin, that they wished they had his Dad back. In a larger sense, I believe we in the conservative camp want to know where our leaders are. On the right we have many wonderful authors, such as Ann Coulter and Dick Morris. We also have amazing show hosts, such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. But aside from our celebrities, leadership seems to be missing. Aside from possibly Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich, conservatives are severly lacking in leadership. We often bemoan the fact that we do not have a Ronald Reagan.
Michael then gestured to the crowd and reminded us that we are the leaders. We are the future of the conservative movement. Future governers, Senators, Congressmen, and Presidents are coming out of this movement.
To answer the question I titles this entry with, the leaders of tomorrow may be looking back at you in the mirror.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A Time for Celebration!

Happy Easter! Today, we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Today we celebrate the fact that God accepted the sacrifice of His only Son. Today we celebrate Christ's triumph over death.
This is what life is all about. In this blog, I talk about the key to life is in goal-setting and living with passion. Among other things, I've talked about overcoming debt, doing whatever it takes to achieve your goals, and maintaining your focus. All these can be seen in Easter.
In his death and Resurrection, Christ paid off you sin-debt to God. Our sin, among other examples, can be seen as a debt. A debt we have absolutely no chance to ever pay. Jesus, in laying down His life for us, paid that debt. In fact the Greek term that has been translated, "It is finished," was a phrase used in commerce, and could be better rendered, "Paid in full."
God's ultimate goal was to redeem for Himself a people. God is holy above all things. All of humanity is completely sinful. God told us many times that in order to be aligned with Him, perfect obedience is required. If God were only just, He would simply destroy us all in one swipe. But God is also infinitely gracious. The problem is how to show grace to a rebellious humanity without violating His perfect justice. The crucifixion of a perfect substitute, His Beloved Son, was the only way it could be done. the Resurrection of that sacrifice showed that God accepted the substitute.
In the redemption story, Jesus maintained His focus. I didn't say never wavered. At Gethsemane, Jesus prayed so fervently that he began sweating blood. He plead with His Father three times that night to find another way. Ultimately, the Nazarene knew this was they only way, and once the garden was a memory, so were all objections.
Easter is a time for celebration. The access to God, which had been denied to humanity for so long, was now open to all. The vast chasm of sin that separated us from Yahweh is now bridged by a bloody cross. We have every reason to celebrate!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Dealing With A Grudge

Ever had a grudge with someone? Can you feel your blood pressure rise at the very sight of that person? Haven't we all? Did you know that the Bible speaks to this very issue?
In Matthew 18, Jesus instructs his disciples:
If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you've made a friend. If he won't listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won't listen, tell the church. If he won't listen to the church, you'll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God's forgiving love(15-17, MSG).
Unfortunately, we have a habit if mixing it around. Someone ticks us off. The first thing we do is go tell our friends. Or we spiritualize our gossip and "share" it among our small group so we can "pray" for this individual. Before long it is well-known throughout the congregation.After this, we finally go to the individual and deal with the issue.
How many relationships could be restored if we just dealt with disagrements as Jesus instructed? How many divided congregations could be united by behaving biblically? How many church splits could be avoided by humility?
The most troubling part about a grudge is the one we harbor the grudge against probably doesn't even care! They are not obsessed with this apparent wrongdoing. In many cases, they are completely unaware of it.
Again, if we were to deal with this biblically, and go to them first, then they would be aware of it.
The best strategy for conflict resolution? Go to to the person first, and possibly avoid the pain of gossip, and the humiliation of being ostracized.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Necessity of Rest

There are times when you just need to relax. There needs to be times when you need to set aside time to just rest. Goals are important. We need to work to achieve them. But we also need to have the strength to strive for them. This is where rest comes in. Relaxation is possibly the most important aspect of achieving goals. You cannot achieve your goals if you do not have the strength to run for the finish line.
As I'm working on my degree, I have to keep reminding myself that spending 8 straight hours studying for a final or hammering out a term paper is much less productive than punctuating that study or writing with times away from your work. Taking time to play a video game with my kids. Going fishing. Enjoying some time alone with my wife. Getting together to have some coffee with an old friend.
My wife is a stay-at-home mom who homeschools our children. There are times when she just wants to be alone in our room to watch Dr. Phil or take a nap. That's how she recharges her batteries
It does not really matter how you relax. Some people get recharged by spending time with others, while others require times of solitude. What matters is you take time away and just relax.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Do or Die

Have you had it? Have you had that moment during the process of achieving your goal when you're just not sure you can do it? I know I have. You are trying to attain a goal you knew from the start would not be easy. At a certain point in striving towards that goal, you have that twinge of doubt. "Maybe I'm not cut out for school." "Is it even realistic to live debt-free?" "Is this marriage even worth the effort anymore?"
Look, we all face it. I call it a "Do or Die" point. We all come to a point where we either give up, or we grit our teeth, square our jaw, and continue to progress toward the goal we have set out. This is the point where we have the mentality of not being denied our goal.
Some of you may be there right now. I know I was last week. If you are, let me encourage you to tell your doubts "NO!" This is not the time to quit. This is the time to bear down and do it! To quote Dave Ramsey, now is the time to act as if "nothing's moved unless it's shoved!"
You have come too far and worked to hard to give up now! You can do this! Finish that degree! Pay off that debt! Fight for your marriage and family as if your life depended on it!
Some of you may be wavering, thinking you don't have the strength. You may thinking you don't have what it takes to win. Trust me: YOU HAVE GOT WHAT IT TAKES! All you have to do is do it!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing

I often wonder about this quote. I first came across it in reading a book by Dave Busby over 15 years ago. I can't explain why I'm thinking about it now, but it gets me to thinking. It makes me ask myself, "What is my main thing?" Is it finishing college? Is it having a great marriage? Is it having positive kids in a negative world? Is it having good friendships? What is it that makes me tick? Why do I exist? What is, "the main thing?"
This question was answered about 2000 years ago by Jesus of Nazareth. According to his pal Matthew, Jesus told his followers to "[s]teep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met" (Mt. 6:33, MSG). That's it! That's the main thing! Focus on Jesus to start with, and everything else will fall into place!
Now, before your start laughing too hard, I also want to remind you that Jesus was no ivory tower philosopher. Shortly before His unjust murder, He reminded his friends that "[i]n this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I've conquered the world" (Jn 16:33, MSG). Jesus wants us to remember that even though life can get really hard, He is still really good, and He really loves you, a lot.
So, when that term paper becomes almost unbearable, or you woke up with one nerve left, and your spouse is getting on it, or it seems no use to raise your kids according to principles rather than pragmatism, you too can take heart. Jesus is the mighty conquerer of this world.