Monday, March 31, 2008
There is an old saying that says, "Don't bite the hand that feeds you" that this cat hasn't heard. Of course I am foolish enough to ignore her rudeness and I just keep taking care of all her needs. I treat her like the queen of the house. Why? Because I love her and have since the day she came into our home.
I guess the same thing must be true of God. We treat him so badly at times. We ignore him. We neglect him. We call him all kinds of names and yet he still loves us and keeps blessing us. I'm so glad that he does. Maybe I need to stop being like my cat and start behaving more like a child of God. Then I can enjoy God's presence and his blessings too.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
The man who usually runs the sound for the group had another commitment and he asked me to fill in. He told me all I had to do was hit the pause button in between numbers and them hit play when the girls were ready. Sounds easy right?
As I stood behind the curtain I got very nervous. It dawned on me that no matter how prepared or how perfect the girls did on stage, if I messed up the sound they would look bad. No one would know it was me. A good sound man should not even be noticed. The more you goof up, the more you stand out and the focus comes off the performers and rests on you.
It made me think about our role as ambassadors for Christ. It is an important calling. But the key ingredient in being effective is to simply be open to Christ and let him shine through us. We don't have to have an special talents or abilities for Jesus to use us. All we have to do is remain faithful. He will do the rest.
I am happy to report that I didn't mess up last night. The girls looked great and everyone went away with a smile on their face. I pray I can do as well when God calls on me to do something for him.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
It made me think about the number of people who use that same excuse when it comes to going to church. They think about going but they remember some embarrassing situation and decide that they just won't chance that happening again. Whether it is not knowing when to stand up or where to find the reading, or not knowing which door to go in, we often make these excuses the reason we don't even bother trying any more.
Well here's the good news and the reason why we shouldn't let these things intimidate us. I got my pictures back today and they were great! I couldn't believe I waited so long to have them printed up. And it was easy too, much easier than I previously thought. The same is true with going to church. Once you go you will be blessed and it will make coming back easier each time you go.
So what are you waiting for? don't just think about going to church this week. Go be blessed.
Friday, March 28, 2008
Tonight when we got back from the movies I checked again and something definitely was wrong. I went down to check out the furnace and after a little bit of investigation, I discovered that the water level was low. So I opened the valve and in a few minutes the furnace fired right up. Now we have heat.
It made think about the fact that every once in a while we get in a funk. Nothing seems to go right and we begin to wonder if God is paying attention to us. We wonder where God went. Usually upon further examination we discover that we have let our worship and devotional life go. Our "Holy Spirit level" is low because we haven't taped into God's power by hooking up with Him. If you want to turn the heat on, then make sure you are spending a little time with Jesus.
This movie was very good and I hadn't heard of any of the actors. It made me think about the fact that this is the same way God works in the world. He uses the Rick Warrens and Joel Osteens, the T D Jakes and Billy Grahams, the Mother Theresas and Martin Luther Kings to do his bidding. But more often than not, he uses unknowns like you and me. We are the ones that are in the middle of the action. We are the ones who everyone sees. The work we do may not draw rave reviews from Christianity Today magazine but it is powerful and important.
So don't think that just because you aren't a celebrity no one will be moved by your witness. It may be just the opposite. There will be more eyes on you because God is directing your life and putting you in the scenes where you can bring him to life.
This poem was in my inbox yesterday. It was a beautiful day and it felt like Spring was here. So I want to pass it on. It might come in handy today because snow is predicted for us here in southern New England. It's entitled, "Spring." Enjoy.
I'm swinging through trees
I'm winging sky-high
With the buzzing black bees
I'm the sun
I'm the moon
I'm the dew on the rose.
I'm a rabbit
Is twitching his nose
I'm kicking my heels.
I'm crying "Come dance"
To the freshwater eels
I'm racing through meadows
Without any coat
I'm a gamboling lamb
I'm a light leaping goat
I'm a bud
I'm a bloom
I'm a dove on the wing
I'm running on rooftops
And welcoming spring
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
I'm whispering "I was lost," Now I'm found and forgiven.
When I say..."I am a Christian" I don't speak of this with pride.
I'm confessing that I stumble and need CHRIST to be my guide.
When I say... "I am a Christian" I'm not trying to be strong.
I'm professing that I'm weak and need HIS strength to carry on.
When I say... "I am a Christian" I'm not bragging of success.
I'm admitting I have failed and need God to clean my mess.
When I say... "I am a Christian" I'm not claiming to be perfect.
My flaws are far too visible but, God believes I am worth it.
When I say... "I am a Christian" I still feel the sting of pain.
I have my share of heartaches, so I call upon His name.
When I say... "I am a Christian" I'm not holier than thou.
I was a simple sinner who received God's good grace, somehow.
Monday, March 24, 2008
By yesterday afternoon I was dragging a bit. So this morning I decided to stay home. I cleaned up a bit. Went and rented a movie and decided to curl up on the couch and relax. The only problem is that I got a little bit bored. For the last two hours I have been getting up and checking out the cupboards for something to snack on. I had a pop tart. Then I had some pistachios. I keep looking at the deviled eggs from yesterday but so far I have avoided them. There are also a couple of cupcakes left over from Sunday school yesterday. They have my name on them.
It's funny but it is a lot easier to avoid temptation when you are busy and focused on something good. When I get wrapped up in a project for church or am working on something at the house I can turn aside the temptation and ignore it. When I am sitting around with nothing to do, I get in trouble.
I think this is always true. That's the reality from where the saying "The idle mind is the devil's playground" came from. The devil seems to know when we are bored and looking for something to excite us. That's when he steps up the attacks. It is true for adults and for kids as well.
This is not to say that we should keep busy for the sake of being busy. It is simply a reminder that we should continually be striving to do meaningful things. As we seek to follow Christ, we can focus on activities and events and projects that will not only glorify him, but they will keep us healthy and safe.
Well, I think I am going to get up and go to the gym to exercise this temple. Have a good day and God bless!
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Friday, March 21, 2008
So my blog will reflect that as well. Here is a song that I found on a blog called "Notes from the Soul." It talks about trading in our sorrows and giving them to God, the Man of sorrows.
Or how about this one. It is powerful and I may use part or all of it in my sermon on Sunday.
Finally there is this one. If I can figure out how to play it on Sunday, I will. I will already have the screen and projector up, so I am going to play tomorrow. Any idea how to project this?
I watched as people came and went. Many of them seemed to know each other and I figured that was because many of them have been in programs together. I sat there for a while and then I watched as one young girl came out carrying a packaged that looked like a gift box. As she got in her car and began to pull away a man came up to her and stopped her. They talked for a few minutes and then she showed him her package. He began talked in a very animated fashion as if trying to convince her of something.
As the interchange went on I saw her reach for her glove box and then she was holding money in her hand. Over the next few minutes I saw something that could surely have been a drug deal. She gave him some money and her new package and he gave her some smaller packages and a couple bottles of pills. I was praying that a op would come by at that moment.
My heart sank as I thought about what I saw happening. She went in there trying to break free from the bondage of drugs. This predator came along like a shark and attacked her at her weakest moment.
It made me think about the way Satan attacks all of us. He knows where we are vulnerable. He goes for us when we are down and out. He tries to bind us with whatever it is that can cause us the most pain. The Bible is quite clear. The devil wants to destroy us.
Our hope comes from God and God alone. Most AA and NA groups are based upon a twelve step program which looks to a high power for help. Many acknowledge that the higher power is God. When we are tempted and tried, we need to get on our knees and pray. God will send someone to help us get through.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
I KNOW WHO I AM
I am God's child (John 1:12)
I am Christ's friend (John 15:15 )
I am united with the Lord(1 Cor. 6:17 )
I am bought with a price(1 Cor. 6:19-20)
I am a saint (set apart for God). (Eph. 1:1)
I am a personal witness of Christ. (Acts 1:8)
I am the salt & light of the earth ( Matt.5:13-14)
I am a member of the body of Christ(1 Cor 12:27)
I am free forever from condemnation ( Rom. 8: 1-2)
I am a citizen of Heaven. I am significant ( Phil.3:20)
I am free from any charge against me (Rom. 8:31 -34)
I am a minister of reconciliation for God(2 Cor.5:17-21)
I have access to God through the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:18)
I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realms (Eph. 2:6)
I cannot be separated from the love of God( Rom.8:35-39)
I am established, anointed, sealed by God (2 Cor.1:21-22)
I am assured all things work together for good (Rom. 8: 28)
I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit (John 15:16 )
I may approach God with freedom and confidence (Eph. 3: 12 )
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13)
I am the branch of the true vine, a channel of His life (John 15: 1-5)
I am God's temple (1 Cor. 3: 16 ). I am complete in Christ (Col. 2: 10)
I am hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3). I have been justified (Romans 5:1)
I am God's co-worker (1 Cor.. 3:9; 2 Cor 6:1). I am God's workmanship(Eph. 2:10 )
I am confident that the good works God has begun in me will be perfected. (Phil 1: 5)
I have been redeemed and forgiven(Col.1:14).I have been adopted as God's child(Eph 1:5)
I belong to God
Do you know
who you are!?
People ask me, What is the purpose of life? And I respond: In a nutshell, life is preparation for eternity. We were not made to last forever, and God wants us to be with Him in Heaven.
One day my heart is going to stop, and that will be the end of my body-- but not the end of me. I may live 60 to 100 years on earth, but I am going to spend trillions of years in eternity. This is the warm-up act - the dress rehearsal. God wants us to practice on earth what we will do forever in eternity.
We were made by God and for God, and until you figure that out, life isn't going to make sense. Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you're just coming out of one, or you're getting ready to go into another one. The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort. God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy.
We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that's not the goal of life. The goal is to grow in character, in Christ likeness.
This past year has been the greatest year of my life but also the toughest, with my wife, Kay, getting cancer. I used to think that life was hills and valleys - you go through a dark time, then you go to the mountaintop, back and forth. I don't believe that anymore. Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it's kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life. No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on. And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for.
You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems. If you focus on your problems, you're going into self-centeredness,"which is my problem, my issues, my pain." But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others.
We discovered quickly that in spite of the prayers of hundreds of thousands of people, God was not going to heal Kay or make it easy for her. It has been very difficult for her, and yet God has strengthened her character, given her a ministry of helping other people, given her a testimony, drawn her closer to Him and to people.
You have to learn to deal with both the good and the bad of life. Actually, sometimes learning to deal with the good is harder. For instance, this past year, all of a sudden, when the book sold 15 million copies, it made me instantly very wealthy. It also brought a lot of notoriety that I had never had to deal with before. I don't think God gives you money or notoriety for your own ego or for you to live a life of ease.
We need to ask ourselves: Am I going to live for possessions? Popularity? Am I going to be driven by pressures? Guilt? Bitterness? Materialism? Or am I going to be driven by God's purposes (for my life)?
When I get up in the morning, I sit on the side of my bed and say, God, if I don't get anything else done today, I want to know You more and love You better. God didn't put me on earth just to fulfill a to-do list. He's more interested in what I am than what I do. That's why we're called human beings, not human doings.
Happy moments, PRAISE GOD.
Difficult moments, SEEK GOD.
Quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD.
Painful moments, TRUST GOD.
Every moment, THANK GOD.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
There was a group of kids standing in front of the library smoking cigarettes. They were trying to get out of the rain. The entrance to the building had a "No smoking" sign and so they were forced out of there and under the ledge.
I saw a man with a fishing pole come along with a plastic bag. I presumed it was filled with fish. He stopped at the Chinese Restaurant and left it for a moment to go inside. He came out a few minutes later with a man. The man looked in the bag and it looked like they were haggling over the price. The man ended up taking the fish inside and a few minutes later the fisherman came out and strolled away with a smile on his face.
It's funny but I drive through town every day and never realized so much was happening. It made me think about God and the fact that he watches us from on high and never misses a beat of our lives. He sees our coming and going and sometimes he even makes an appearance to offer us a blessing. He looks at our lives differently than we do. He can see the roads we have walked down and he can see what is on our horizon. Too often we only see what is right in front of us. That is why we get scared.
I think we need to remember the big picture and see things from God's vantage point. When we do that, we will no longer be afraid and we might even worry a little less.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Unfortunately for those who promote this philosophy, there are absolute truths in the world. There is a right and a wrong. God has established certain truths that form the foundation of life together. Just because you don't like them doesn't make them untrue. Just because you a good debater doesn't mean that the points you bring up are valid because they have some truth in them.
Listening to some of these folks on television tonight reminded me of the serpent in the Garden of Eden and his lies to Eve. They were smooth talkers speaking deceptively. No wonder I don't watch talk TV.
I think we would all be better served spending time in Bible Studies and small groups in our churches and synagogues. We would really learn something there, something that would bless our lives.
Monday, March 17, 2008
I laughed and a couple of thoughts hit me. First it was cool to think that they were running that movie just for me. I know they hadn't intended it that way but it worked out as if it was meant to be. I thought about this being holy week and the fact that although Jesus gave his life for the world, his death impacted me in a personal way. His death on the cross took away my sins. One theologian suggested that if I were the only one with sin, he would have still went to the cross for me. That is awesome.
Second, I realized that I almost missed going to the movies and my private screening because I knew was running late. I was tempted to turn around and go back but something called me to keep going. So often we don't follow through on things and rationalize all kinds of good reasons for not doing so. Today reminded me that when we don't answer the call to do something we often miss out on unexpected blessings.
Even on my day off, God had something to teach me. Praise God.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
I'm reading more and dusting less. I'm sitting in the yard and admiring the view without fussing about the weeds in the garden. I'm spending more time with my family and friends and less time working.
Whenever possible, life should be a pattern of experiences to savor, not to endure. I'm trying to recognize these moments now and cherish them.
I'm not "saving" anything; we use our good china and crystal for every special event such as losing a pound, getting the sink unstopped, or the first Amaryllis blossom.
I wear my good blazer to the market. My theory is if I look prosperous, I can shell out $28.49 for one small bag of groceries. I'm not saving my good perfume for special parties, but wearing it for clerks in the hardware store and tellers at the bank.
"Someday" and "one of these days" are losing their grip on my vocabulary. If it's worth seeing or hearing or doing, I want to see and hear and do it now
I'm not sure what others would've done had they known they wouldn't be here for the tomorrow that we all take for granted. I think they would have called family members and a few close friends. They might have called a few former friends to apologize and mend fences for past squabbles. I like to think they would have gone out for a Chinese dinner or for whatever their favorite food was.
I'm guessing; I'll never know.
It's those little things left undone that would make me angry if I knew my hours were limited. Angry because I hadn't written certain letters that I intended to write one of these days. Angry and sorry that I didn't tell my husband and parents often enough how much I truly love them. I'm trying very hard not to put off, hold back, or save anything that would add laughter and luster to our lives. And every morning when I open my eyes, tell myself that it is special.
Every day, every minute, every breath truly is a gift from God.
"People say true friends must always hold hands, but true friends don't need to hold hands because they know the other hand will always be there." Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we are here we might as well dance
Saturday, March 15, 2008
THE MAYONNAISE JAR AND COFFEE
When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24
hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar... and
the coffee.. A professor stood before his philosophy class and
had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly,
he picked up a very Large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded
to fill it with golf balls.
He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that
it was the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them
into the jar.
He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas
between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the
jar was full. They agreed it was.
The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the
jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once
more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous
The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the
table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively
filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.
'Now,' said the professor, as the laughter subsided, 'I want you
to recognise that this jar represents your life.
The golf balls are the important things. Your family, your
children, Your faith, your health, your friends, and your
Things that if everything else was lost and only they remained,
your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things
Your job, your house, and your car. The sand is everything else.
The small stuff.
If you put the sand into the jar first,' he continued, 'there is
no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for
life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff,
you will never have room for the things that are important to you.
Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.
Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take
your partner out to dinner Play another 18. There will always be
time to clean the House and fix the disposal. Take care of the
golf balls first, the things that really matter. Set your
priorities. The rest is just sand.'
One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee
The professor smiled. 'I'm glad you asked. It just goes to show
you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always
room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.'
Thanks for being a friend! Drop me a note if you want to have a cup of coffee, even if it is a virtual one over the internet.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
When I arrived for choir tonight I came into the room and saw that the tables were pushed aside and the chairs were set up auditorium style. I scratched my head and wondered what had happened. Then our choir director came through the door and said, "I don't know what was going on but I came in and set the chairs up for Sunday." They were all over the place and I thought I'd give you a hand."
It made me think of the way God lays out his plans and opens doors for us and we go around closing them and rearranging things to suit our needs. We miss so much because we aren't communicating with God on a regular basis. We need to spend a little time with God every day, studying His Word and learning his plans for us. We will get so much more accomplished and find more blessings coming our way every day.
Monday, March 10, 2008
She looked at me and said, "No. I'm right there. Can't you see me?" Then I noticed a shadowy figure off in the wings. Suddenly it dawned on me that Patty was there on stage at the Miss America Pageant. It was as clear as day but you could only see her if you were looking for her.
I have to explain. Patty has served as the voice coach for the last three women to serve as Miss Connecticut. Each year she has made the trip to the Pageant in Las Vegas. This year the contestants got to have a member of their state committee on stage with them during their performance. Patty was chosen and was there when that particular photo on the cover of the brochure was taken.
As I thought about this it struck me that for people of faith, Jesus is always in the picture when the spot light is on us. A lot of people will only look hard enough to see us doing whatever we do. But when people look with the eyes of faith they can always see Jesus standing in the wings. That is good news. Our Lord is always there to root us on and encourage us. Thanks be to God.
Sunday, March 9, 2008
A woman in her fifties took that question and shared a shocking statement. She said that she had gone to church her whole life. Then a few years ago she and her husband began attending the Baptist church in Wallingford. She looked at us and said that for the very first time in her life she heard someone say that Jesus loved her.
The truth is that the world can be an unforgiving place and so can the church. Thanks be to God that we have a savior who loves us. It is our job to let the world know that. If you haven't heard it before I want to tell you today that God loves you.
It doesn't matter where you come from or what you have done in your past, God wants to forgive your past and invite you to spend the rest of your life with him. He wants to bless you, encourage you and use you to get the word out that he loves all of us. So rejoice and let the knowledge of God's love flow over you the rest of today.
Saturday, March 8, 2008
Thursday, March 6, 2008
I followed up on Coach's comments and told them how proud I was of their play and their commitment. Most of these boys have been with the program for three or four years. I have come to know and like them. I encouraged them to listen to Coach and forget the score and to remember the other team had to have some dignity left when the game was over.
As the team went back into the gym, and older man came up to me and told me how much he appreciated our words. His grandson played on the other team. He said it was nice to know that even though they got beat, it was by kids who had a Christian attitude led by Christian coaches.
I didn't know anyone was listening. I would not have said anything differently if I had known. But my heart was touched by his words. I know I try to live by what I preach. On the other hand I know that too many times I have stumbled and said unkind words and done things that would make God shake his head.
We never know what impact our words or deeds may have on another. I guess that is why it is important to always think before we speak and think before we act. The scriptures say that we were bought with a price. That means we belong to Christ now. I pray that you may be blessed to find out that your words have touched another even when you thought no one as listening. It comes back to you as a blessing.
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
When I was in California I got a sneak preview of the documentary "Expelled" starring Ben Stein. Ben goes around asking a lot of scientists and atheists about creationism and intelligent design. The documentary begins by noting that several prominent professors at major Universities who taught or even simply recognized the possibility of Intelligent Design were expelled and subsequently blackballed. The film goes on to explore both the theories of evolution and intelligent design. In the end Stein looks at things like we've seen in the above video and just shakes his head at those who can't see an intelligent creator behind it.
I hope you will see this film when it comes out next month. It is not Johnny Depp in Pirates but it is every bit as exciting.
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Monday, March 3, 2008
I had been at a conference for church pastors with a focus on sharing your faith to an unbelieving world. I was on my way home to share all I had learned. When faced with my first test I didn't have anything to say to this man. I fumbled around for words. All I could think of was nice platitudes. Where were the witty and funny anecdotes that the speakers shared from the stage. Sharing the truth is a lot harder in real life than the lecturers make it.
As I listened to him talk, I couldn't think of anything to say that would change his mind. He already had a basic sense of reality that excluded God. I tried to make all kinds of excuses for why I should just keep my mouth shut and they worked. We arrived at the airport and I gave him a tip and said "God bless you." "God bless You!" That was all I could up with and I walked away feeling as though I had missed an opportunity.
The truth is that I couldn't have said anything to change his mind in the ten minutes we had together, but I could have planted a seed or two. Hindsight is 20/20 and now I realize that I could have simply shared that in my experience God had been a real presence in my life. Who knows where the discussion would have led from there. Maybe I could have shared a few stories where I felt god had been with me. It may have shut down the conversation but it may have also opened a door. Even if it closed down the talk, I would have at least expressed an opposite point of view, a new reference point for his next discussion.
Who knows? He may say to the next person riding in his shuttle, "I just had this guy in here who said he believed God talked to him?" The truth is that most of us will never see the results of our sharing. We plant seeds here and there and the next person com,es along and moves it a little further along. I like what the apostle Paul said, "I planted. Apollos watered and God caused it to grow." That is the way it happens. God never expects us to finish the conversation. We just engage others in it and watch what God can do.
It's never a failure if you learn from it. I think I'll be ready next time. How about you?