Thursday, September 23, 2010

Lord, give me a new heart

I have a funeral this morning for a woman who had a heart transplant nine years ago. I've never met anyone who had that procedure done. It is a miracle of modern medicine. The funny thing is that from everything I heard about her, this woman had a heart of gold. She was a loving compassionate person. Her husband, like the husband in Proverbs 31, called her blessed. He said they never argued. They got along so well and their love flowed naturally to and from one another.

This woman didn't need a heart transplant. At least not the one associated with the center of feelings and emotions. Some of the rest of us can't say the same thing. One of the things that makes me sad about the church today is the fact that so many in the church have become critical, judgmental and hard hearted. When the average person on the street thinks about the church today they tend to think of the fundamentalists who claim God is ready to judge everyone and everything for their sins.

Now I can't debate the fact that we are all sinners. I don't know too many people who are perfect and the ones I do know are probably humble enough to admit they have their faults too. God has every right to judge us for our moral failures and our tendency to ignore him and do what we think is best.

Yet God has decided to give us a second chance. The apostle John says, "For God so loved the world that he gave us his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him, shall not perish but have everlasting life." To me, that means that anyone who believes in Jesus, who puts their faith in him and love him, will receive the gift of forgiveness and new life.

It is like getting a second chance. It is like getting a new heart. That was King David's prayer when he confessed his sin to God. He said "Create in me a clean heart, O God." Give me a heart transplant so that my love for you will take priority.

That's my prayer every day and I hope it will be yours too. Once you decide to walk with Christ your whole world changes. Your life becomes a continuous blessing. It is like have a new lease on life.

Be blessed. Cal

Changing your focus

Since my accident last week I have become a little gun shy behind the wheel. I've noticed how many times I day dream a little bit or get distracted behind the wheel. I used to joke about the fact that we drive on "auto pilot" a lot of the time but now I am becoming more and more aware of it. I'd say a good 30% of the time we are behind the wheel we are not concentrating on driving.

You think I'm crazy. Think about this next time you are behind the wheel. What happens when one of your favorite songs come on the radio? Don't you immediately either think of images from the music video, remember back to a time or place when you heard the song before, or conjure up images of somebody or something that you associate with the song? That's what I am talking about. You don't consciously take your attention away from what you are doing. It just happens.

What happens when you engage in a conversation with someone in the car or on the telephone even when using a hands free device? Most of the time your brain is working over time to think of what you are going to say next or to listen to what they are saying. How many times have you missed your exit or missed your turn because you were engaged in a conversation? Worse yet, have you ever had the other person say to you, "Aren't you supposed to turn here?"

Our brains are amazing. It is almost too much to comprehend when you begin thinking about the number of thought processes that can happen simultaneously. No wonder I had an accident. I am a deep thinker with a computer like brain! Don't I wish.

The truth is that so much of our behavior is automatic. We develop patterns in our lives and we often just follow the same routines day in and day out. Some are good and some are bad. The habit of going to worship every week is good. Smoking is bad. Going to bed at a reasonable hour is good. Eating at fast food restaurants is bad. Yet we follow these patterns unless something happens that forces us to stop and think about what we are doing. The accident did that for me. A health crisis does it for others. A break down of a relationship also works in this way.

The apostle Paul tells us in the book of Romans that all things work together for good for those who love the Lord. I think this is what he was talking about. Even bad things can be turned around and become blessings. When an unfortunate event occurs in life it forces us to stop and reconsider every aspect of our lives. It gives us a chance to turn off the auto pilot and begin charting a new course.

No one is happy about losing their job yet it may lead to a new opportunity in our life that is more fulfilling and can rejuvenate our spirit. no one ever wants a relationship to end but sometimes it can force us to look at our priorities and help us reorient ourselves to the most important people and thins in our lives. A health crisis may help us get rid of bad habits and push us to adopt a more healthy life style.

Our brains are incredible but sometimes we need to reprogram them and start over so that we can insure that we are receiving the blessings God intends for us. So next time there is a bump in the road on your journey, take the time to talk with God and see if there is something you need to change in order to get what god wants for you.

Be blessed.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Worth the wait

My daughter, Rachel, got her driver's license today. Well she didn't actually get it. She went to the Department of Motor Vehicle. She took the test and passed. She came out of the test with her papers but she couldn't get her actual driver's license because the main computer was down. The tester told her that she could come back tomorrow and complete the process and get the license.

Waiting isn't easy, especially if you really want something badly. Rachel was hoping to be able to drive out of the DMV with the ability to go it on her own. She wanted to drive herself to dance class but she was going to have to wait one more day.

It struck me that the same thing is true for us when it comes to our salvation. Once we accept Christ we receive the gift of eternal life. Yet, we have to wait for it to become a reality. We have to live with the promise.

Just like my daughter has been assured that she will receive her license at the appointed time, all of us who believe in Christ will realize our salvation in due time. That's God's promise and you can depend on it.


The truth that transcends time.

Where do popular sayings come from? You've heard expressions such as "it's raining cats and dogs" and they were "Dirt poor." These common phrases arises out of our every day experiences. The problem is that life has changed so we don't always recognize them for what they are. Here is a little history lesson that will explain where some of the common phrases you and I know come from.

The next time you are washing your hands and complain
because the water temperature isn't just how you like it,
think about how things used to be. Here are some facts about
the 1500s:

Most people got married in June because they took their
yearly bath in May, and they still smelled pretty good by
June. However, since they were starting to smell . ..... .
Brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor.
Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man
of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then
all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the
children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so
dirty you could actually lose someone in it.. Hence the
saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the Bath water!"

Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no
wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get
warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs)
lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and
sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof...
Hence the saying "It's raining cats and dogs."

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the
house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs
and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence,
a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top
afforded some protection. That's how canopy beds came into

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other
than dirt. Hence the saying, "Dirt poor." The wealthy had
slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet,
so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their
footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until,
when you opened the door, it would all start slipping
outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance-way.
Hence: a thresh hold.

(Getting quite an education, aren't you?)

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big
kettle that always hung over the fire.. Every day they lit
the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly
vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the
stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold
overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew
had food in it that had been there for quite a while. Hence
the rhyme: Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas
porridge in the pot nine days old. Sometimes they could
obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When
visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show
off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could, "bring home
the bacon." They would cut off a little to share with guests
and would all sit around and chew the fat.

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high
acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food,
causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with
tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were
considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt
bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests
got the top, or the upper crust.

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whiskey. The combination
would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days.
Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and
prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen
table for a couple of days and the family would gather
around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake
up. Hence the custom of holding a wake.

England is old and small and the local folks started running
out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins
and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the
grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins
were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they
realized they had been burying people alive. So they would
tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the
coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell.
Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night
(the graveyard shift.) to listen for the bell; thus, someone
could be, saved by the bell or was considered a dead ringer.

The Bible may seem antiquated and hard to understand. That's because it was written in another time. Long before automobiles and computers, the talk of horses and mention of a day's walk may not connect to a younger generation.

That's why it is always good to share a little context when teaching the Bible to people. Help them understand what was going on at the time of the passage you are reading about. Put it in context and then use examples of what is happening today to help your friends relate to the what God is trying to say.

You see the Bible is filled with eternal truths that is captured and clothed in language and terminology of a given time. Our job is to share the truth and help others understand what it means for them in the year 2010 so they can know God.

So go ahead and chew the fat. They may think you are upper crusted and a dead ringer for the Lord when you are done. That's okay because you got your point across.

Be blessed.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Setting your GPS for God

On Sunday I talked about the fact that you have to adjust the settings on your GPS if you want to get where you are going in a timely fashion. I noted that all of us have GPS (God positioning systems) built into our being. We want to follow God but we often get side tracked and wander far from our destination.

So the best way to stay close to God is to make sure that you have the following settings straight.

First you need to give God the first part of your day. Spend it in prayer and devotions. Take the time to talk to God, and to listen for his response. Too often we neglect this and think it will come naturally during the course of the day. It doesn't. WE need to program it in.

Second we need to give God the first part of the week. We need to devote ourselves to giving God a time of worship every week. We need to make it a part of our life, not only for our benefit, but as a practical witness to the world around us. When we set aside Sunday morning to worship God we are telling our friends and neighbors that God is important enough to do it for. We are also telling God too. Doesn't he deserve it? The truth is that the fellowship is an encouragement and the worship helps us draw near to God. We need this to stand tall the rest of the week.

Third we need to make God the beneficiary of our money. Jesus talked about money and possessions a lot. He knew that we would spend our money and resources on the things we thought were most important. God asks us to invest the first fruits back into his ministry. He calls on us to give him the very best. As a matter of fact he even calls on us to test him. He says try me. Give me your best and watch me give it right back to you. t is the only time in the Bible where God says "Test me!"

Finally we need to set God first in all of our relationships. We need to let him use us to do his ministry within the church and out in the world. I shared a couple of stories about what happens when you listen to that still small voice and do what it says. You bless others and that blessing comes back to you again too.

So is your GPS set on God or are you still wandering around trying to find your joy? Follow these tips and you will soon be home again.


Heaven help us!

I was shocked, confused, bewildered
As I entered Heaven's door,
Not by the beauty of it all,
Nor the lights or its decor.

But it was the folks in Heaven
Who made me sputter and gasp--
The thieves, the liars, the sinners,
The alcoholics and the trash.

There stood the kid from seventh grade
Who swiped my lunch money twice.
Next to him was my old neighbor
Who never said anything nice.

Herb, who I always thought
Was rotting away in hell,
Was sitting pretty on cloud nine,
Looking incredibly well.

I nudged Jesus, 'What's the deal?
I would love to hear Your take.
How'd all these sinners get up here?
God must've made a mistake.

'And why is everyone so quiet,
So somber - give me a clue.'
'Hush, child,' He said, 'they're all in shock.
No one thought they'd be seeing you.'


Remember...Just going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in your garage makes you a car.

Every saint has a PAST...
Every sinner has a FUTURE!

Praise God for this reminder that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We need to encourage each other and spend time in His word and in fellowship and worship. Leave the judging to God and let's let his love and grace clean us up and prepare us for his service.



Monday, September 13, 2010

God so loved the world

Very moving music video.


Monday, September 6, 2010

The devil made me do it.

Sometimes we forget that the fighting that takes place in churches isn't only because we are human. It is because we have an enemy that goads us on and confuses us. He takes scripture and uses it against us and makes us choose up sides. He makes us think that our brothers and sisters in Christ are against us.

This video helps point out this truth.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Looking for the signs

Everyone was talking about Hurricane Earl today. It was on the news and alerts were flashing every fifteen minutes. The schools sent the kids home early. You would think it was the end of the world.

Everyone tunes into the weather. It is easy to talk about. Everyone is a closet weatherman spouting off their theories. I knew a man who enjoyed this time of the year because he studied hurricanes. He tracked them and predicted where they would go just for the fun of it.

I think it must have been true during Jesus' day too. On a couple of occasions he calls the people out for being so good at predicting the weather but clueless when recognizing the hand of God in their midst.

I think that holds true for us today too. Time after time God has revealed himself to us and we keep looking right past the obvious and calling it coincidence, good luck or our own ingenuity. We ignore the fact that God provides for us and intercedes for us. We ignore the gracious moments that bring us joy. We are worse than a blind man or woman in that we have no excuse.

The sad part of this reality is the fact that we miss out on embracing and celebrating God when is he near. When you invite Him into your life, everything becomes sweeter and hope blossoms to make every day a holiday.

If you have been walking around like a zombie lately, stop and look around you. Look for the grace moments and note them. When you start looking for God, you will see him everywhere and life becomes one continuous zippity-do-dah-day!


Slow down - Enjoy the dance


Have you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round?
Or listened to the rain slapping on the ground?
Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight?
Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?

You better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

Do you run through each day on the fly?
When you ask How are you? Do you hear the reply?
When the day is done do you lie in your bed
With the next hundred chores running through your head?

You'd better slow down
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

Ever told your child, "We'll do it tomorrow?"
And in your haste, not see his sorrow?
Ever lost touch, let a good friendship die
Cause you never had time to call and say,'Hi'

You'd better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last..

When you run so fast to get somewhere
You miss half the fun of getting there.
When you worry and hurry through your day,
It is like an unopened gift.... thrown away.

Life is not a race.
Do take it slower
Hear the music
Before the song is over.

I received this in an email that reports it was written by a young lady with cancer. It was submitted by her doctor for others to read and pass on. I'm not sure if it is true or not. I like it though because it points out the simple truth that we need to slow down and enjoy the gift of life that God has given us.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What if Jesus came to live with you?

What if Jesus came to live with you? would your life change at all? Here is a funny look at how one family's life changed.


God is there for you and me

God is a rock, a source of strength in our time of trouble. He lifts us up and carries when we are about to fall. I found this video tonight and it spoke to my heart. The video quality isn't great but the message is wonderful.


Closed for repairs

I drove by it and couldn't believe that the lot was empty. I had just gotten gas there a few weeks earlier. Now there was a fence around the property and bulldozers sitting over a dirt lot where a gas station and pumps had been.

The funniest part of the whole scene was the sign that stood over the property. It said, "Closed for temporarily for repairs." That's one major repair.

It got me thinking though. Some of us need to do the same thing. We need to shut down for a while so we can tear everything down and start over. We've gotten into some bad habits. We've fallen prey to some bad decisions. We need to do something radical.

Jesus invites us to follow him. He wants us to learn from him and to rise to a new level of love and faithfulness. For most of us it won't be as radical as that gas station. But we might have to stop doing some of the usual things while we get our life in order. When we do, we will be blessed and those blessings will be passed on to all we know.