Monday, February 18, 2008

Stop Complaining and Make Some Music!!!!

I caught Extreme Makeover Home Edition last night and it was very, VERY convicting...not something I get a lot of on network television. They built a house for the family of Patrick Henry Hughes, a blind and wheelchair bound college student in Louisville, KY. Patrick and his father are nothing short of amazing. Since I can't post a two-hour episode of EMHE, here is a condensed report on Patrick and his father from ESPN:

Paul, who had his tormenting thorn in the flesh; who learned that God's grace was sufficient to handle whatever life throws at us, wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:9,10: But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

And he also wrote in Philippians 4:8: Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

So what are you boasting in, or complaining about, or thinking about? Patrick Hughes and his dad are boasting in their weaknesses gladly, thinking about the right things, and making beautiful music together for the world to hear. If only we could learn to play their kind of music; the kind that embraces life and grace and love and laughter and joy. What melody is your life playing for others to hear? May we all seek the clarity of vision Patrick Henry Hughes has, and may we know that the greatest joy we can experience is always in close, continuing relationship with our Father!

What's "Really" Not Fair! World Hunger!

After bemoaning the calorie content of chocolate cake (see below), another thought about food hit me. A good friend sent me an email recently about what families around the world eat in a week. It concerned a project undertaken by photographer Peter Menzel and his wife, writer Faith D'Aluisio for their new book, Hungry Planet: What the World Eats.

Basically, they inviting themselves to dinner with 30 different families... in 24 countries. They then participated in shopping, farming, cooking and eating with those families... taking note of every vegetable peeled, every beverage poured, every package opened. Peter and Faith wanted to see how globalization, migration and rising affluence are affecting the diets of communities around the globe. Here is the link to the NPR article about what they found, including more pictures of different families and their diets:

Remember, next to idolatry, oppressing and overlooking the poor was the most frequently condemned sin in the Old Testament. If you would like to contribute to a relief agency, try World Vision which consistently receives high ratings as a charity. They are a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. Find out about their rating and a link to their website at:

Fellow Baptists might want to contribute through The International Mission Board's World Hunger Fund at:

It's Just Not Fair

As I was exercising on my stationary bike the other night, I was struck by how unfair our metabolism can be. My oh-so-smart bike tells me how many calories I'm burning at whatever setting I have it on, and on this occasion I was burning 480 an hour. Well, earlier this week I was checking out the website of one of my favorite restaurants which will be opening in a few days in my hometown. I was surprised that the website had the calorie count for all their menu items including their desserts.

My favorite is the "Great Wall of Chocolate" (Yes, it's a Chinese restaurant), which is a huge piece of chocolate cake that three people can easily share. The calorie count? Just 2240, with 89 grams of fat, and 376 grams of carbs. OUCH! Now I could (but to date I haven't!)eat the whole thing in 10 minutes (or less), but then it would take over five hours on the bike to burn that many calories! I guess God build our metabolism that way so we could learn discipline.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

An Almost Late Valentine

I have 14 minutes before Valentine's Day is over, so here's my valentine for anyone who has stumbled upon my blog. It's Rob Bell's Nooma ( video about love. It is entitled "Flame." As I have told the teen-agers in my church as they consider who to date: BE PICKY! True love is worth it! Another thing we believers might want to reflect on in the wake of Valentine's Day, is our passion for the Lord like a match, or on the way to being a bonfire. Here's the video:

Monday, February 11, 2008

Get SKYPE If You Don't Already Have It

I am NOT doing this as an advertisement, but just in hopes of sharing with you all a great way to keep in touch. I recently got a cheap webcam ($20) and it works great with Skype. It's just too cool to be able to talk (and see) friends across the country and in Africa for nothing! If you have broadband internet and a microphone, you can SKYPE. The webcam is not required, though it does make it more fun. Most webcams come with a microphone, too. So try it. Just go to:

Everything you need to know is there. It is absolutely free to make calls to any other SKYPE user. (You can buy skype minutes at .02 in $10.00 chunks charged to your credit card if you want to call regular phones, but no credit card is needed for regular Skype to Skype calls.) I've had friends overseas who have used it for years, so it's trustworthy. They even sell SKYPE enabled phones. Go ahead, extend your boundaries, conquer the internet, and connect with someone today!!

The Danger of Judging Others

I'm preaching on Romans, and have come across two compelling reasons in chapter 2 to leave the judging of others to God.

Reason One: We lack perfect truth and perfect character. Compare how God judges people to how we tend to do it. Verse 2 states, "Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth." God judges people based not just on truth, but on absolute, perfect, all-encompassing truth, with no mixture of error, and no mixture of selfish motives, or imperfections in His character. His judgments are always on the mark, perfectly.

I, on the other hand, usually judge on the basis of "me," not on perfect truth. (Thanks to Rick Mckinley of Imago Dei Community Church in Oregon for that thought.) We tend to judge people based on who we are, and what we want, and how well this person matches up to what we like, what we think, etc....not a great basis for making judgments.

Read the post below, which I wrote before this one, for more on how prone we are to commit "fundamental attribution errors" when we judge others.

Reason Two: When we judge others, we can, without realizing it, hold God's kindness, tolerance and patience in contempt. To hold something valuable in contempt is to treat it as if it has no value. This reason to withhold judgment is much scarier than the first. In verse 4, Paul writes, "Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?" Think for a moment what would happen if God carried out His holy judgments right when we messed up? McKinley paints a great pictures of what a world would be like if God inflicted painful boils on us at the moment of our sin. Everyone would be lying on the ground in pain most of the time.

God is waiting, however, to allow people to realize who He is, and how judgment can be avoided (through Christ!). Paul is writing about judgment to everyone, to the "obvious" sinners, and to the us all. No one gets a free pass. When we pass judgment on people now, we're, in a way, telling God He's wrong in waiting, in being patient, kind and tolerant as He works to draw people to Him. It's like we're saying, "God, we have a better way of dealing with sin than You do."

As an aside, some may say, "Why should God judge anyway?" Well, can you imagine a world without consequence? What if the world operated where everyone could do anything they wanted to do with no consequences? People could drive as fast as they wanted, steal what they wanted, kill who they wanted. Actions have consequences. It's how the universe works. It's how God works, but He withholds the ultimate consequence of man's rejection of Him...He waits to give people the opportunity to know the truth, and to know Him.

What does God want us to do when people hurt us, betray us, or disagree with us? Simple. He wants us to be kind, patient and tolerant, praying for them, loving them, and doing good to them. He wants us to put their need for Him before our need to be right, or comfortable. If you've forgotten how this looks, just read how Jesus treated "sinners." Funny thing is that the only people Jesus REALLY got angry with was those religious people who took great pleasure in condemning people. The Bible is clear that even with regards to our enemies, we are to forgive them, pray for them, and even do good to them.

So the next time you're tempted to judge someone, take a little time to reflect on a more appropriate response, one that honors and imitates God's way of dealing with people, and one that communicates His patience, His kindness, His tolerance and His love.

Maybe The Amish Commit Attribution Errors, Too!

Somehow I doubt the Amish have much trouble with road rage (you can click on the picture to enlarge it). Most of us non-Amish types probably don't have much of a problem with it either. More of us probably suffer more from "Road-Simmer" or "Road-Mutter," or maybe an occasional "Road-Condemnation," where everyone who passes us at excessive speed (that would be anything faster than you're going!) is a "maniac," while anyone impeding our progress is an "idiot." Some of us don't want to put that much thought into it, and just call anyone driving in a manner below our standards as a "moron."

We must be careful, however, that we are not committing a "fundamental attribution error," which is basically an incomplete (and often erroneous) judgment of someone else's behavior. It involves our well-documented tendency to explain people’s behavior in terms of their character, abilities, intelligence, motives (all their "internal" stuff!) while overlooking the way that their situation (their "external" stuff) may have influenced their actions.

This error is further compounded with how our judgments of ourselves tend toward the inverse of this problem. When we do something wrong, we tend to over-emphasize the role of external forces on our lives. An example: "I cut that guy off in traffic because I was late for an important doctor's appointment. He cut me off because he's a selfish jerk." For more info on this prevalent human mechanism responsible for a fair amount of our own unhappiness, go to:

Or you could just remember the following:

Cut the other guy some slack, you don't have all the facts.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. (Pretty "golden" advice isn't it?)

Be careful. Luke6:37-38; 41-42 states, "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you...Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, "Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye," when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."

Maybe the next time someone does something that offends you, or just bugs you, maybe a quick prayer for them would be a good idea before you let loose with your judgment. They might not be a "moron" after all!