Thursday, April 30, 2009
Here's my version...if only they had asked me, I'd have done the picture for free!
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Hmmm...could it be that our trust in our Father through Christ is meant to be "expressed" to others in love? Think about it. If we truly trust our Father, we will do what He tells us, and He tells us there is nothing more important than loving Him and loving others....and loving others can take a lot of forms...like it did in the little town of Gander, Newfoundland.
Here is one of my favorite stories from the past decade about light shining in the darkness. If it can happen in Gander, it can happen where you live! Click here to see what I'm talking about!
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Did you know that when you judge others as I've described, you are in grave danger of holding God's "riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience" (v. 4) in contempt. Ouch! God's kindness is slow to judge to allow time for a person to wake up and repent. Are we "kind" when we judge others?
Are we praying and hoping for that person's redemption, or are we focused only on our needs, feelings, motives, etc.? Finally, when we judge someone, we can miss seeing deeper into that person's, and may miss a treasure. Don't believe me? Ask the judges of this year's Britain's Got Talent.
They (and the audience) pre-judged Susan Boyles something fierce, but she blessed them anyway, and learned something the in process! And, yes, she reminds me of Paul Potts who wowed people with his opera on the same show several years ago.
Just click on Susan's picture to view this unexpectedly amazing performance!
Oh, and even after wowing the crowd on the 11th, Susan was back at her church celebrating the resurrection of her Lord...way to go Susan. Here is that article:
Finally, here is a great quote from a British newspaper blogsite:
Even before she appeared before the judges she was written off by Ant and Dec - I thought someone was going to have to revive the Geordie duo when she said she was a singer. But everything about Susan, from her amazing performance to the fact she didn't even seem to realise she had made it through to the next stage afterwards, was captivating. And now we learn she's never had a boyfriend, or even a kiss on the cheek. Could it be more of a fairytale? If she weren't so down to earth, I'd say she's probably sized up her dress for the Royal Variety Performance already. But who would blame her, or any of the other contestants we were all too quick to judge, for getting a bit excited? While the likes of The X Factor and Pop Idol are searching for a star, a brand even, Britain's Got Talent is something different. This is a talent show where anyone can win, regardless of what their cover might look like.
For more acts on Britain's Got Talent go here:
Sunday, April 12, 2009
May this help you today and every day celebrate the true miracle of the resurrection, that our Father would love us enough to raise Christ from the dead that He might seek us when we were not seeking Him, to bring us into the Family of God, not as servants or slaves, but as dearly beloved children, and co-heirs with His Son, Our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. May all that we say and do this day, and every day, bring Him the glory He is due!
With All My Love, Andy
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:3-9
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Of course, there is another use for coal...it becomes a diamond after years and years of extreme pressure. This reminds me that God gives us the "flame" of His Spirit and allows us to experience the pressures of life to mold us into the image of Christ.
We neglect this reality to our peril. So often Christian get duped into believing the Christian experience is one only of compliance to a set of rules (like every other religion)...it's not...at its heart is a relationship. So take Paul's wisdom to Timothy...PAY ATTENTION TO GOD'S FLAME WITHIN YOU, and don't try to escape all the pressure around you....first ask your Father to grant you wisdom and power to respond to your circumstances to His glory and for the good of others, after all, God is working to create in you an amazingly powerful and beautiful representation of His grace and glory to a world so greatly in need of it!
Oh, here's what Paul said to Timothy and to us: 5I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. 6For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:5-7
I think part of the reason for the fascination is my continuing pursuit of finding God's truth reflected in human events. My collection reminds me to keep focused on things that matter. If I ramble, you won't read this...heck, you may have already skipped it. At any rate, the thing that grabs me today is how the Titanic reminds me of the world....people are confident in their safety and in their indifference to reality.
The "reality" of that Thursday, 97 years ago, was that the passengers had complete confidence in the ship, its designers, and its crew. So much so, they didn't notice or care that: there were lifeboats enough only for half of them, that the lookouts the night of the collision did not have binoculars, that the captain and crew ignored six iceberg warnings the day of the collision.
They were having a good time, eating great food, on a brand new ship...no need to worry about the future, and certainly not to worry about their death.
The reality was, however, the ship was not on a safe journey, but on one that would end in tragedy. Sort of like life now. As I read some posts on Facebook, sometimes I get the sense that we are...forgive me..."twittering away" our lives (NO, I am not saying we have to be profound every day, or in every post!). How much of what we're doing or saying on a given day matters? Really matters?
I hope everyone takes time regularly to encourage each other, to help each others, to speak words of truth and love to each other. So many in our society seem not to take time to focus on the realities of the journey of life....especially the reality of a living God Who is God and Who is offering a view of reality that IS reality...so that our journey will not end in tragedy, but in arriving at THE destination for which we were created.....our eternal home with Him.
We will all collide with death (if Christ doesn't return in our lifetime) some time in the future, including everyone you know, so I hope we all can remember to live each day following the only One Who is qualified to guide us home....our Savior and Lord.
One parting dose of reality from James, who didn't seem to have a problem communicating the nature of reality: 13Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." 14Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." 16As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. 17Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins. James 4:13-17
Though the death of my father was very painful, there were many things to think about that were "good." I've been around a lot of death in my ministry, and a lot of families. I knew that in our situation, we had many, many things to be thankful for, even in that valley of the shadow of death, especially the fact that the Savior my father trusted as a young man made good on His promise to take care of him...in this life, and in the next!
He had done it many times before, through World War II (he was award a Purple Heart with a bar for two separate wounds, including shrapnel from a shell that killed almost 40 members of his battalion), and through his numerous medical battles mainly with diabetes and his heart. Still, his last day was filled with well-wishers, both family and friends, and then, as I prepared to leave, I prayed with him and my mom, thanking God for both of them, and, then, like he had done so many times before, he said, "Be careful." I said, "I love you both." And he responded, "Love you, too."
In an hour, he had one last heart attack and was gone. Who gets to have that kind of last moment with a parent?
So I thank God for giving me my earthly father, for his bravery in serving his country, for his love for my mom (and for giving them 54 years of marriage) my brother and me, for his impact on everyone who knew and loved him, and for so many other things. Mostly I'm thankful he is okay, and is home, happy and whole. Pray for my mom as today will have its own special dose of sadness, and I am, too, but I praise God that's not all I have today!
I have the memory of my father, the hope of seeing him again, and I thank God I was allowed to deliver the message as we laid Pa's body to rest on Good Friday, the same day we remember God's burying His Son...I'll never forget that amazing privilege of celebrating my father's life, and proclaiming the hope we have in Christ that death is no longer to be feared, for He has conquered it, not just for Himself, but for us, too!
So if you are grieving the loss of someone you love, may the message of Resurrection Sunday carry a special reminder of the living hope we have in the One Who became our Way through death to life everlasting.
Oh, and one more shot at "thinking" effectively. Paul to the church at Colossi: Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (3:1-3)
I wonder if Christ's followers were thinking on the good stuff that Sabbath between Christ's death and His resurrection, scheduled for the next day. Well, they didn't know that, did they. Wait, didn't Christ try to tell them? Maybe they, like us, tend to think in terms of "our" schedule, not God's. One of the many reasons I don't cook (you can't tell my looking at me can you?) is that I can't stand baking anything for any length of time greater than 3.5 minutes (most Campbell's soups fall in this range). 20 minutes for a pizza? Forget it. I thank our Father that He's more patient than I am.
God knew what He was preparing that sad, sad Saturday when the disciples had to be in a bad way...the loss of their Master, their hopes, their dreams. They didn't know it, but some of their dreams needed to be lost! They were dealing with "their" reality (a limited view at best), while God's reality was about to be revealed that would change everything. I bet the Father was excited about the gift He was about to reveal the next morning. It's amazing He could wait.
So for everyone struggling with loss, or frustration, or fear. Don't forget that your view of "the way things really are"is limited, so I hope as you anticipate the joy of tomorrow morning, that you'll remember to trust the One's whose view of reality IS reality! If you trusted Him once to save you forever, then trust Him with whatever you're struggling with, afraid of, etc. How do you do that...well, a step is to start thinking about all that noble, pure, praiseworthy, lovely, excellent stuff Paul was writing to the Philippians about!
PS...do you remember what Peter Pan told the kids was necessary to fly?
Friday, April 10, 2009
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
Proverb 25:25 Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land.
Sunday, April 05, 2009
"How is that possible?" asks John Claypool. After all that Judas and Peter and the other disciples did to Jesus on Friday, how is it possible that when Jesus is raised to life on Sunday, Jesus would say, "Go and tell the disciples, and Peter, that I want to see them again"?
How is that possible? On Friday, Judas had used a sign of friendship to point Jesus out to the authorities. On Friday, Peter, in order to save his own skin, had denied he had ever laid eyes on his best friend. On Friday, the others had scattered in fear, abandoning every principle they had promised to live by and leaving Jesus alone at the mercy of the mob, who, in a kangaroo court, condemned him for a crime he didn't commit, then spat on him and mocked and humiliated him, and then executed him in one of the most hideous ways possible.
How is it possible that Jesus, after all of that happened on that ugliest of days, would ever want to have anything at all to do with people who would behave like that?
Father Claypool says he can't imagine it, in human terms. He says that one time when he was thinking about the truth of Easter, he presumed to fantasize himself in God's place. In his fantasy, he imagined that there was a new family in town that was having difficulties fitting into the neighborhood. They weren't educated people, which was part of their problem in that sophisticated part of town. They were a rough, suspicious, uncouth bunch.
But, in his fantasy, Claypool and his son hoped to do what they could to help the family feel at home in the neighborhood. So one day his son said, "Dad, I think I know a way we can help the neighbors, but let me go see them instead of you, because I'm closer to their age, and perhaps I can relate to them." So, in his fantasy, Claypool sent his son off to the neighbors' house.
But when he got there things didn't go well. The neighbors, suspicious of this young man on his mission of good will, began to taunt and mistreat him. And then, Claypool says, in his imagination, he watches as the neighbors overpower his son, and grab him, and hold his hands behind his back, and then stab his son to death and take his body out and throw it in a ditch. As time passed, in his story, Claypools becomes concerned and goes looking for his son. When he reaches the house, it is dark, all lights are out, and he gets his flashlight and goes down the path to the front porch. To his horror, the shaft of his light fell upon the brutally mutilated corpse of his dear son.
And Claypool says that as he stood, in his imagination, over the dead body of his son, he realized that if he had the power to bring his own son back to life, never in a million years would he have the kind of love and mercy that would lead him to send his son back to those who had mistreated him in such a horrible way.
But that's precisely what happened on Easter Day, because that was the day on which God acted. And that's what makes Easter Day a Day Born Beautiful. The miracle of Easter is not only that God restored his Son to life. That in itself is indeed a great miracle, but that's not what makes the miracle of Easter so great. Raising Jesus to new bodily life is not, after all, any greater a miracle than Creation itself, no greater a miracle than the fact that we are here to begin with. It's not so hard to believe that God, whose Word had power in the beginning to create life and everything that is out of nothing at all, also has the power to bring to bodily life again that which has already lived and has died.
Such creative and recreative power is, literally, wonderful, awesome. But what is more wonderful still, more awesome yet, is the fact that on the Sunday after that ugly Friday, there was Jesus back with his friends, sending the women to tell the disciples, and Peter, that he still cared for them, that he loved them and wanted to see them again. More wonderful still is the fact that later that same day Jesus is there in that room with the disciples, where they were still locked in fear. And then there he is again with them on the road to Emmaus, and later by the seashore. More wonderful still is the fact that Jesus seeks them out again and again to share with them what he had shared so many times before, the good news of God, showing them his hands and his feet, showing them with his presence as well as his words, the wonderful news: that God is not only a God of power, but a God of such great love and mercy that he never abandons you, never gives up on you, no matter that you have given up on him. END OF EXCERPT
Saturday, April 04, 2009
Then tonight I was scanned photos from my trip to Mauritius back in '97. I called Randy Trail, who I had gone to visit in Mauritius in '97. He answered, "Well what are you doing?" I said, "I'm looking at photos of Mauritius." He said, "We are, too!" He and his wife were showing pictures of their time in Mauritius to visiting friends at the same time! What are the odds?
Maybe a little bit better than this video....just maybe....
Hmmm....this probability has to be higher than that of DNA and life itself evolving without intelligent design from a mysterious Big Bang, where an explosion just happened to coalesce into us over a finite time.