Monday, October 28, 2013

Why I Like R2D2.

I posted this pic today on Facebook...
Some of my friends who are not "into" things like Star Wars, wondered what that thing was in the middle of the pic. Many of my friends, however, did recognize R2D2, one of four characters in all six Star Wars films. For anyone not familiar with R2D2 (R2 for short), here is a better idea of what he's like:

Wait! Wait! That doesn't give a clear picture of R2D2's character which is why I like him. In short, he is probably THE unsung hero in the Star Wars universe. In each of the six films he saves the good guys at least once.
  • He's saved his friends from being crushed in a trash compacter.
  • He delivers the plans to the Death Star to the rebels so they can destroy it.
  • He introduces Luke to his mentor, Obi Wan Kenobi.
  • He saves the queen of Naboo by fixing her ship while she's under attack.
  • He even puts his best friend C3PO back together a couple of times.
That's his mission, to be the ultimate servant, never, ever wanting something for himself.and there are many more such examples.So I admire this character because of his completely lack of selfishness, and his complete devotion to good. We could learn a lot from R2.

If you really want to know about R2 check here:

And, yes, he does remind me of a Bible verse: "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." Galatians 6:9,10

For those of you wondering what R2's been up to since Star Wars, well....he's done some advertising work:

And a couple of PSA's like these:

And this one...

What a great little guy!

Keep That Fervor! Keep on Plowing Through those Obstacles!

I saw this clip on Youtube on a Monday morning, and thought about how some people don't look forward to Mondays. As I watched it, I thought of this passage: "Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." Romans 12:10-12 So keep on "plowing" through whatever obstacles are in your path! Keep your spiritual fervor! Remember you have power beyond what you can muster on your own! The journey is worth the work!

Friday, October 04, 2013

During Dark Times It's Important to SHINE!!

One of my secrets of taking pics is having my camera with me. I caught this yesterday in Orangeburg. I don't think he was vandalizing the Bi-Lo sign....just changing light bulbs. This reminded me of Matthew 5: 14-16: “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." 

So make sure your light is shining today! May our lives be beacons pointing others to the greatness of our Savior. This will NOT happen if you hide your light under a bowl of being petty, selfish, impatient, mean, rude, mean, hyper-critical, unnecessarily negative, ungrateful, ... well, you get the idea! Shine people, shine! You get to decide today whether or not it will be a good day. No, I don't know what circumstance you'll experience today, but I do know as far as Christ followers go, we are supposed to count on our Father's Spirit to make 1 Thess. 5:15-18 a possibility (and an imperative at that) every day: "Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." 

I just want us all to have the best day we can since so much sorry stuff is going on around us. The people you meet today need for you to live out Matthew 5:14-16 and 1 Thess.'ll be better off, too!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Adolescent Christianity? You decide!

I found this video thought-provoking. He makes some very valid points about what makes for a maturing faith vs. an "adolescent" one.

 So, what kind of faith do you have? An "adolescent" faith that focuses mainly on how you "feel" about God, yourself, and what's happening, or a maturing faith that goes far beyond what you feel. Paul writing to the church plagued with divisions caused by people's preferences (over different church leaders)states: "Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?" (1 Cor. 3:1-3) 

So how are you doing? Some questions might help you decide....
  • At the end of the day, how much of your behavior, thoughts, words, and interactions with others would you consider merely human? 
  • How much would be reflective of your faith in Christ.
  • Is your life characterized by a faith for "all" circumstances, even the mundane? 
  • Do you have to experience an emotional "high" to call an experience "worshipful?" 
  • Do you think and/or speak negatively of others who differ in their preferences for corporate worship styles? 
  • Are you focused on maturing in your faith, becoming more and more like Christ in His character with a desire to treat others as He did? How much do you talk about Him with others?
  • Do you love Christ's church as imperfect as it is, with a desire to contribute to its health, vs. merely criticizing it for its problems? 
  • Are you connected to a church family beyond merely attending services? 
  • Are you willing to follow Christ where He leads, even if the route He takes isn't as pleasant and appealing as you'd like?

Just some things to think about...

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Let's Glorify God by Being Good, Not By Being Mean!

Yes, I really, really enjoy people surprising people with their talent on national competitions. Some of the most moving moments I've seen have been on Britain's Got Talent (remember Susan Boyle?). Here is such a moment when a special "choir" shocks ever cynical Simon Cowell and the other judges. This "pastor" pulls a fast one, and the crowd loves it.

Did you hear judge David Williams' comment:"It made me want to go to church." This reminded me that we are called to glorify God through our people a reason to investigate the goodness and greatness and, yes, GLORY of God. Glorifying God basically means to live in such a way that it gives others a reason to praise and honor Him. One of the earliest Hebrew words used in the Old Testament to denote "glory" was kabod, originally means "weight" or "heaviness." So one way to think of glorifying God is to live in such a way that others realize He is the One Who "carries the most weight" in your life; i.e. is THE ultimate, and MOST important influence in your life. 

Getting mad because someone doesn't agree with you is not glorifying to God. How many churches have been divided because someone (or group) becomes mean-spirited about some non-essential issue. One of my favorites (sadly) was the story I heard once of a church splitting over the color of new street lights in their parking vs. amber.

How important is it that we are focused and intentional about glorifying God through love and good works? Well, the Bible is pretty clear about this:

  • Love is not easily angered. (1 Cor. 13:5) 
  • Love is THE most important thing a person can do. (Matt. 22:34-40) 
  • Love is the central virtue of the Christian life. (Col. 3:12-14)
  • Love is the best sign to others that you belong to Christ. (John 13:35) 
  • Love: no matter what you possess, or how many great things you do, without it you have nothing. (1 Cor. 13:1-3) 

 Sounds important to me! Sounds pretty "weighty" to me. Sounds like a great way to sing with all your might! Sounds like a great way to glorify God in all that you do or say!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

You Are What You Eat! Avoiding Over-Processed Christianity!

Hey, would you like to see something that looks great, but is a bit creepy. It just came out today. It's an animation video that Chipotle's has released that takes on the "Big Food" industry. The thing that is grabbing people's attention is how Chipotle's is going "low-key" on inserting its name in the video. It's releasing an app at the same time, aimed on getting consumers to think more about the foods we eat. Click the video:

On the spiritual level, it reminded me of how close we modern Christians might come, sometimes, to consuming a "human-processed" Christianity that could provide a dangerous substitute for the real thing is people aren't careful. Before anyone jumps on me for favoring one style over another, I can see how either a contemporary or tradition form of worship on Sundays can become "over processed" to the point that we reduce true worship (living a life that values Christ and His truth ultimately to the point that we are becoming more joyfully obedient every day) to attending services, and listening to sermons/music that make us feel a certain way. If someone who calls himself/herself a Christian yet can justify being mean to a brother or sister in Christ (either younger or older) simply because he or she differs in personal preferences for church service "styles," something is wrong.

Worship is ascribing/recognizing the ultimate worth of God through Christ. True worship occurs in an person's life through the work of the "organic" (vs. programmed) Holy Spirit, Who uses the truth of His word and the encouragement of the church to transform a person's mind (i.e. Romans 12:1,2) into a mind that thinks, decides, and ultimate acts more and more like Jesus and less and less like the  world.  If you want to know what "fresh, real" Christianity looks like, 1 Cor. 13 (what love looks like), and Galatians 5:22,23 (fruit of the Spirit) would be great places to start.

How big a deal is this? Christ said loving God and loving others were THE most important commands of all, and that ALL the law and the prophets revolved around them. (Matt. 22:34-40) Paul says that if we can fathom all mysteries and  all knowledge but  have not love, I am nothing. (1 Cor. 13:2). Sounds important to me!

Of course the Spirit can use church services (regardless of music style) to draw people closer to Him and to renew a person's commitment to follow Christ. However, if a person's commitment to Christ is a silent, invisible thing throughout the week (or worse, if he/she is an active, destructive, mean-spirited hypocrite), then it might be time for that person to consider his/her spiritual diet.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Lexus Reveals My Hypocrisy!

When I first saw this commercial, I was amazed at how quickly I judged Lexus as a company that was promoting casual sex. That got your attention didn't it? Watch the video...if you haven't seen it before, pause it at 24 seconds then read the rest of the post then play the rest of it.

The first time I saw it I thought, "Great, another company pushing how great it is to have casual sex after a date." After all, the first scene looks like the guy is just meeting the woman. Then the couple seems to get to know each other in various locations around the city, only to return to (what I assumed) her house where she "invites him up." That thought lasted a second or two in that the last 5 seconds revealed my error in "processing the available data" WITHOUT knowing ALL of the available data! How often do we do that in life?? Have you ever heard of jumping to conclusions? You can play the rest of the video if you went for the "full effect" of this post and paused it!

Those last few seconds cast the story in a totally different light.  Now it seems this is a happily married couple who is enjoying an evening out. I had been had! In an instant I moved from being a self-righteous judge to a humbled hypocrite! 

In addition to my "humbling," I was able to see an even better message inherent in the commercial. To me, the family "angle" changed the message of the commercial from being an endorsement of sex without commitment, to a reminder that married couples should, like Lexus, engage in the "pursuit of perfection." The voice-over even says, "Here's to a life less routine." Sure, the commercial's "main" point is to buy a Lexus, but I know couples who don't seem to pursue anything to enhance their relationship as the years pass. This commercial reminded me of two important life lessons:

Lesson One: Take Matthew 7:1-5 seriously. Our Savior said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and 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, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye." 

Lesson Two: We should seek to have our love for each other (including our spouses) increase as we mature in Christ. We are not to settle for a love that is merely "routine." Paul reminds us of this in 1 Thessalonians 3:12: "May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you." So don't judge a commercial by its first 25 seconds, and don't go looking for specks in other people's eyes until you make sure your eye is "board free!"

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Tonight I'm joining my Methodists brothers and sisters down the street for a prayer service for our country. I've been asked to pray about the church in America. I plan to read Paul's prayer for the Ephesians in Eph. 3:14-21. Here it is: "14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."

I pray that God will answer this prayer for my church and for your church....that's what America needs...more healthy churches, and less "ME churches" like the one advertised in this video:

Instead may we who call ourselves, "Christ-followers," pray for our churches to be more like this...

It's the National Day of Prayer - Pray to be More Loving!!!

It's the National Day of Prayer! Exercise your freedom to pray! Exercise your freedom to obey 1 Timothy 2:1-8: 1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the manChrist Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. 7 And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles. 8 Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.

Ouch....I guess I could have left out verse 8, but I didn't because God wants us all to be aware about how much anger and disputing can cripple a person's relationships with Him and with others. It can even cripple a nation's ability to move forward. Make sure you're being the best American you can be by being serious about your walk with Christ. Don't use your precious freedom as an American and as a Christ-follower to just sit there griping and being mad. Do the most important things today (as Christ told us in Matt. 22:34-40):love God and love others, especially those who might not be so easy to love!

Check out this video to remind you as you pray to be thankful for the freedom you have!!!!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Seeing the Poison of Stagnation

I read this quote today:

Expect poison from the standing water.
   -- William Blake
I sent it to a friend today who is grieving the loss of his wife with the following thought to encourage him, for though he is in great pain, he is also trusting Father to sustain him...and Father is doing that, and more...He is growing him. I wrote:

Though your pain is great, there are many around you who are experiencing the unknown (to themselves) pain of stagnation...some even putting effort into maintaining their stagnation, never seemingly aware that there is much more before them if they would only open their eyes.

Revelation 3:15-18:I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

Open your eyes; see what Father is showing you; and grow!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

101 Years Ago Today - A Titanic Collision

Note: Yes, I know this post is too long, but I got carried away with Jesus' invitation to join Him in His great mission. I hope you will, too.

I don't know why I became fascinated with the Titanic when I was in middle school, I just did. As a pastor, I have joked that my church limits me to one Titanic illustration a year in a sermon. Well, it will be hard not to do that today. Not only is today the 101st anniversary of the Titanic's collision with the iceberg at 11:40 pm on April 14th (It sank two hours and forty minutes later.), but April 14th, 1912 was also a Sunday.

Here is the best computer animation of the collision and sinking (make sure you view it in at least 720p; you do that by clicking on the video and you'll see a control strip at the bottom of the frame with a little "gear" icon. Click on that and it will give you the view options, click on the little box in the bottom right corner and you can view it full screen, which I also recommend!):
Today I'm preaching on the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20), with a focus on some of the "details" believers tend to overlook. It's easy to think of the Great Commission in terms of going into all the world to share the Gospel, often defined in narrow terms of sharing some kind of "plan" of salvation. Though witnessing to the gift of salvation through Christ is essential, Christ's words clearly indicate becoming a Christian is the beginning of the "commission," not the completion of it.

Of the four "verbs" in the commission, the only clear imperative (command) is the Greek verb meaning "make disciples." The other three verbs (GO, BAPTIZE and TEACH) are all participles which describe the main command "to make disciples." In other words, "making disciples" Christ's way includes "going," "baptizing," and "teaching." All are essential to the goal of transforming people from being outside of God's family to being adopted into that family through Chist, and then GROWING UP IN THAT FAMILY TO BECOME MORE AND MORE LIKE know, like being a "disciple!"

All members of the family are "called" to be a part of helping other people to either grow in their faith and obedience if they are already family members, or to help them see (as the Holy Spirit works on them) that they are not adopted, but can be through Jesus Christ.

It's easy to see the Great Commission as focused only on evangelism; i.e. saving people and then  moving on to the next lost person. Think about it: how cruel would it be to adopt a new baby and then leave him or her alone. The Great Commission means that as we live, as we go, we should be so enthralled with Jesus Christ and what He's doing in and through our lives that we want to help others become Christ-followers, too. This means we must GO (across the street or across the planet), to share Christ (BAPTIZE), and then TEACH what it means to FOLLOW HIM. Every member of the family of God is called to this amazing privilege, and every member is equipped to function in the family for that purpose.

So, are you "enthralled" with Jesus Christ? Are you doing your Spirit-empowered part of God's mission to "make disciple makers?" Are you sharing and teaching Christ to your kids and grandkids? Are you encouraging your spouse in his or her walk with Christ? Are you modeling a life of love, grace, patience, and KINDNESS that draws others to Christ?

What does this have to do with the Titanic? Well, here are two illustrations.

First, one of the many factors that contributed to the disaster was that the lookouts in the crow's nest did not have binoculars that moonless, calm night when it was difficult to see icebergs. Later it was discovered that the original officer in charge of the binocular locker was replaced at the last minute before Titanic's last port of call (the company wanted a more experienced office on the maiden voyage). He inadventantly forgot to give the key (They only had one key???) to his replacement. 

Some speculate the lookouts didn't want to break open the locker and damage company equipment on the first voyage. At any rate, it is estimated that if they had seen the iceberg 15 seconds earlier, they would have missed it! 

So a small omission can have huge consequences. A small distraction on any given day might keep us from sharing with someone at a pivotal moment, missing an opportunity to participate in God's great mission of rescue and redemption. In other words, we need to be intentional about being involved in "disciple making."

Second, each of us needs to ask what kind of church member am I? On the Titanic I see three main groups of people: the crew, the rich (and reasonably rich), and the poor.
  • The crew was on the ship out of duty and for a paycheck.
  • The rich (then the first and second class passengers) were on the ship to be pampered on a trip that many repeated throughout their lives
  • The poor (then called third class) were on a one-way trip to America to start new lives, full of hopes and dreams. Their tickets were often bought with most or all of their savings for a chance at a new, fulfilling life in America.
Which group would more closely fit your "connection" to your church?
  • Like a crew member, do you show up out of duty, just hoping to get something out of it?
  • Like a richer passenger, do you look to be pampered, attending more out of habit than faith?
  • Or like a third class passenger, leaving all behind to follow Christ as His disciple on an amazing journey to new life. 
I would hope all who call themselves Christ-followers, would be connected (not just attending) to a church as a vital, contributing part of His family with the purpose of being on a journey to the New World of eternity, leaving everything else behind because it's worth it. On this journey, we have the joy of inviting others to join us in following Him, that they may not just "end up" in Heaven, but so they can fall in love with Christ right now. 

As we continue to grow in our love for our wonderful Savior and Lord, we become more and more like Him BY FOLLOWING HIM and we follow Him by OBEYING His commands. Jesus Himself said in John 14:23: “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching." This is why He said in the Great Commission that we need to teach (using our deeds and our words) all He commanded us.

This is the life, the journey that matters, that's filled with joy, love, peace, faith, hope and purpose. The Great Commission is Christ's GREAT invitation to a life that matters; to a life that's going somewhere and doing something great along the way...LOVING PEOPLE and pointing them toward Christ! 

One last thing: don't forget His promise: I WILL BE WITH YOU ALWAYS. His Spirit and His word and His church all empower, equip and enable us to be Christ-followers and disciple makers! It's not something you do for Him out of mere duty, it is your joining Him on this great quest to love, save, and adopt people!

Don't let anything cause you to forget the wonder of your journey, your purpose, or your wonderful Savior and Lord!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Christ is Alive! ....ARE YOU?

Happy Resurrection Sunday! As you watch this video clip, ask yourself, "Am I awake?" "Am I alive, truly alive, spending my life loving my Father through Christ and loving everyone else?" He died that we might live forever, but also so that we could be awake and alive RIGHT NOW loving Him and everyone (even our enemies)! Make it a Happy Resurrection Sunday for our Savior by being alive in Him, showing the world what He's really like as people experience His love through your fully awake life!!! Click on this right now!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Blessings are Meant to Be Shared...

I am a Golden Retriever fan. I had one, some day I'll have another. Here, this "gang" of Goldens remind us that blessings are meant to be shared.

We are reminded in 1 Peter 3:15,16: "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander."

Tomorrow Christ-followers celebrate the victory of Christ over death, a victory that brings adoption into God's family for all who believe. As God's children, we are equipped daily to say "no" to selfishness, and "yes" to love, generosity, grace, mercy, peace, joy and a whole lot of other Christ-like qualities. Why keep the best thing that has every happened to you to yourself!? Share it with someone! If Goldens can share their blessings, so can we!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Video Clips to Help Celebrate Easter

Here are a few video clips to help you to have a meaningful Resurrection Sunday! Though it's Friday...Sunday's a comin'! Every day two voices call to us...which one will you listen to? Your relationship with God as Father didn't come cheaply. Though grace is free, it cost Jesus Christ. This will remind you of what He went through so you could know Him! What do you do with your regrets? Believe's your best option!

What Makes Good Friday "Good"

Today is the day we remember the price Christ paid that we might know God as Father, both now and for eternity. Circumstantially, Good Friday was horrible for Jesus Christ. Added to his torture and death was the treatment He received from many of the religious leaders of the day, the Romans, the crowds, and from his friends and disciples who deserted Him in fear for their own safety. He's been through that once, so may we never again act like those disciples, choosing safety over worship and obedience. To help remind you of why Good Friday really is "good" (for our salvation), click on this:

 Also, almost seven years ago I had the privilege of officiating at my father's funeral, on Good Friday. It reminded me that it was a great day to have a funeral, for, like Christ, and because of Christ, my father lives today in Heaven. Read the original post here:

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Never Underestimate The Influence of Your Life...

Joel is much more like a brother than just a friend. We met at Clemson University as students back in 1976. In 1985, I was in his wedding, as he married his best friend, Patty. He was sick as a dog with the flu and missed his rehearsal dinner and didn't feel better until he and Patty, started home from their honeymoon. Though they didn't have the best honeymoon, the did have one of the best marriages I've ever seen. They had three boys, Matthew, Robert and Benjamin, who have grown into great young men. During the mid-90's, I had the amazing gift of having Joel and his family join my church family  in Denmark.

It was a great honor to ordain Joel as a deacon, and to baptize his oldest son, Matthew. During those  three years, I got another gift...I got to know Patty. Oh, I knew her from those sporadic visits during the first decade of their marriage, but those three years gave us an opportunity to become really good friends. (It also helped me to have a better foundation with the boys, too!) 

Since that time, whenever I had good news to share with Joel and Patty, I'd call and ask to talk with Patty if Joel answered, because she had a much easier time getting excited about my good news. Patty was definitely the Tigger to Joel's Eeyore (not that he's "that" Eeyore-ish, but he'd admit his "style" is a bit more on the sedate side compared to Patty's.) Just as they had done in my church, Joel and Patty became very attached and involved in their new church. Three and half years ago they were serving as Sunday School Co-Directors. Three and a half years ago on their wedding anniversary, they got the news that Patty had lung cancer. 

Patty and Joel valiantly fought the disease for these three and half years, and on Friday, March 8th, a week and a half ago, Patty passed from her suffering to the life Christ promised her many years ago. Though we know she is healed,  and home with the Lord,  she has left a huge hole (crater!) in the lives of those who knew and loved her, especially in the lives of Joel and his family. The hole is huge because the love between Patty and her husband and children was huge. 

I was honored to be a part of the service which praised and thanks God for giving us such a wonderful gift in Patty's life and love. Today as I was looking at videos for Easter, I came across this one. It made me think of Patty, and about how many people Christ touched through her life....people who were moved closer to Christ because of the way her life impacted them, either directly or indirectly. This film is true because we won't know until we get to heaven, how far the love in our lives have traveled to "complete strangers," who may surprise us in heaven as part of our "family" because they were links in the chair of our influence.

I believe one of the joys Patty experienced when she arrived in heaven was to find out how far that love has spread. It is still spreading, even as I am sharing part of her story here. So as Easter approaches, remember that Christ died not only to get us into heaven, but to make us part of a wonderful chain of transforming love, a chain that Patty so wholeheartedly embraced. Her life is a powerful reminder of the reason we're here: to love God and love others. If you are willing to be a part of this amazing chain of love and redemption, you, too, will have an unexpected surprise in heaven to find out just how far that love has gone, and just how many lives it changed. 

This is the best life a person can live, and Patty's life is further proof of that. So may we honor the gift Christ gave us through His death and resurrection by passing the gift to others, so they can pass it on to more people, who will, in turn, be able to pass it on to others....just like this video on it and find out!

Palm Sunday - Your Way or His Way

Holy Week is upon us.  This is not just a time to remember the most amazing event in human history, but also a time to make sure we are in a healthy relationship with Christ. Click the video for a powerful reminder of how Palm Sunday is an excellent opportunity to take a reality check about what's more important in your life: doing things your way or God's way.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Reminder of the Opportunity You Have Today!

Rarely do I use this blog to talk politics, and that is true today, too. Still, I think Governor Chris Christie has an important reminder for all of us as we face today. Click video to hear his response to the question of an eight-year-old girl, "What's the best part about being governor?"
I loved his "serious" answer. "Today I get a chance to do something great for others." His response reminded me that each of us has been given that same opportunity every day!

In John 14:11-13, Jesus makes a phenomenal statement: "Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son."(NASB)

WHAT? Jesus clearly states that His followers would do "greater" things that He did while He was here? Remember, He did NOT say His followers would be greater than He is, but that they would be involved in greater work.

I like how the commentator William Barclay explains it: "When it came to a matter of numbers and extent and changing power, the triumphs of the message of the Cross were even greater than the triumphs of Jesus in the days of his flesh. It is of moral re-creation and spiritual victory that Jesus is speaking. He says that this will happen because he is going to his Father. What does he mean by that? He means this. In the days of his flesh he was limited to Palestine; when he had died and risen again, he was liberated from these limitations and his Spirit could work mightily anywhere." 

Christ was obviously pointing to the future work of His Holy Spirit through the body of believers...a work that would not be limited to one life for three years in a little corner of the world in the Middle East. Christ wasn't just talking about healing the sick and feeding the poor, but about seeing, as Barclay says, "the triumphs of the message of the cross" spread throughout the world resulting in the salvation of millions upon millions.

Every day we can enter, if we choose,  in to these greater works, being used by the Spirit of God to be a part of the greatest works, loving God and loving others (See Matthew 22:34-40).  Remember, our witness consists in much, much more than mere words, it is in the visible fabric of our lives, lived in an attitude of acting in the best interest of others, with the ultimate goal of showing others the Way to be adopted into God's family....the Way being Jesus Christ.

Jesus in the passage I just quoted, also said that if we ask for whatever we need to glorify the Father (that is to shine the spotlight of our lives on the greatness and goodness and love and grace of our Father that others might know, love and praise Him, too!), that we will be given it. So don't waste today being a victim of circumstances, look for an opportunity to do something GREAT!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Love Wins

I like those two words together. I also like it as a "life strategy." No matter what happens to you, if you really trust Christ, love will ultimately win. Love, according to Scripture, is the greatest thing (I Cor. 13:13). Surely we should pay attention to the greatest thing. My brother shared a video link with me some time ago and I forgot it, but today I ran across this short animation of Disney (it's up for an Oscar in the short film category) called "Paperman." Watch it. It's simple, very simple, beautifully rendered, and reminds us that love is a force that moves us, transforms us, and can give us courage and hope to rise above the ordinary.
 Love is something that still has a lot of mystery to the mystery of whatever was guiding the paper airplanes in the video. To me the greatest mystery of all is described in 1 John 3:16: This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. 

Christ died not merely as a way to get us to heaven, but as the way to defeat our own self-destructive selfishness and to empower us to really love God and people. An article from ( reminds us of the core of agape love, namely the welfare of the beloved. The article states: 

 "Agape wills the objective good of the beloved," writes Peter Kreeft (author of The God Who Loves You). "Thus it wills or tolerates suffering when suffering is necessary for the beloved's true, objective good." He goes on to explain that this is why loving parents discipline their children, and why God does not wipe every tear away until his return. While agape often overlaps with kindness, and is always teeming with emotion, God still takes a long-range view of the beloved's best interest. God's pure self-forgetful gift-love has a perfect view of the beloved's needs and true fulfillment.

Is your life working well for you? It might be a good time to look at how much agape love is flowing through you from our Father's heart to those around you. What does that kind of love look like? Check out 1 Corinthians's VERY specific! One of my favorite definitions of love is: acting in the best interest of another PERIOD. That's a bit of a paraphrase of 1 John 3:18: Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. So let love MOVE the Savior Who loves you, and to the people you meet everyday who need your love!

Friday, February 01, 2013

The Power of Words

Saying the Best Words in 2013. It never ceases to amaze me how powerful our words can be. Lives can be destroyed or saved by words. Wars are started with words. Lives are saved in emergency rooms as doctors give orders to staff that can make the difference between life or death. It is amazing how often we use our words carelessly, without thinking about the power of words. The Bible is crystal clear about the power of words. James reminds us that just as a small spark can set a forest on fire, the small tongue can cause great destruction, too. The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to give a simple, direct command to use our words to help others, not hurt them when he wrote: "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." (Eph. 4:29-30) These two verses pack a lot of punch! Consider the three commands:

1.  Don't say ANYTHING unwholesome (words that hurt, destroy, or rob people of God's grace).
2.  Be intentional about saying things that are beneficial and helpful.
3.  Do not grieve the Holy Spirit, which obviously happens when you choose to say UNWHOLESOME words instead of HELPFUL ones.

The Holy Spirit takes very seriously the words we say, and we should be serious, too. A week and a half ago, a church member blessed me with words. Charles was eighty three, and vibrant. He was faithful at church, and loved serving, especially in the kitchen. We shared the kindred spirit of liking a good bargain. As I shared with the church this past weekend, on the Sunday before Charles passed away, I was called to the nursing home because he wanted to talk to the family and me about having his feeding tube removed because the doctors had said they had done everything they could. He was adamant about it being time for him to go home to be with his Savior and to see his wife. He passed away four days later. I had time to pray alone with Charles that Sunday, and when I said "amen," he said five little words that I will forever remember, and cherish: "I'm glad I met you." Five little words...thirteen letters from a man who would not be here much longer. They were simple, sincere, loving and powerful. Charles had no idea what power he was radiating in that moment, and it reminds me of how many opportunities we miss to be truly encouraging and helpful to others.

Someone once said, "be kind to everyone you meet for everyone you meet is waging a great battle." So let's give the Holy Spirit something to be joyful about. Saying something truly encouraging and helpful to someone. Think about the people you talk to who could use an encouraging word; pause before you say a cutting word, a gossipy word, or a hurtful word. Remind yourself that God's Spirit can be grieved by what we say to others, but He will be overjoyed to hear helpful words come out of our mouths, especially words that point people to Jesus Christ! Go and say something GOOD to someone today!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Caine's Arcade 2 - What a Door Handle Can Do!

Last year I posted a video from YouTube called Caine's Arcade. It is the amazing story of how one encounter between a thirty-seven-year-old filmmaker and a nine-year-old boy can become a worldwide movement benefiting children from forty countries. It all started back in 2011 when Nirvan Mullick stopped by a used auto parts store in Los Angeles look for a door handle for his 1996 Corolla. In case you are one of the very few people on the planet who hasn't se en it, you can see it here:
Recently I came across "the rest of the story" in this video. What happened to Caine in the first video was amazing and wonderful. The second video shows how the effects of Nirvan's decision to get a used door handle for his aging Corolla and a $2.00 arcade "fun pass" not only changed Caine's life, but his as well, not to mention the thousands of other lives the two of them changed! See what happened here...

The moral of the story: be aware of you own power of encouragement!!! The power of words to bring great good is still given to each individual by God to bring good to those we talk to. I love the clarity of Ephesians 4:29: "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." We pick and cut up, and often fail to cease the moment to truly bless and encourage another person. Our world needs fewer complainers, and more encouraging people like Nirvan Mullick! Today, be intentional about blessing your spouse, kids, parents, co-workers, neighbors, acquaintances, or anyone else you can....even a kid making something special out of cardboard!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Want a better 2013? Your choices can make it happen!

I came across this quote from Max Lucado from an online devotion:  "I CHOOSE PATIENCE . . .  I will overlook the inconveniences of the world. Instead of cursing the one who takes my place, I’ll invite him to do so. Rather than complain that the wait is too long, I will thank God for a moment to pray. Instead of clinching my fist at new assignments, I will face them with joy and courage." 
                                                                                Max Lucado 

As God's people prepared to finally enter the Promised Land, God gave them final instructions through His spokesman, Moses: "This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." (Deut. 30:19,20) 

So that's what you get on a given day...lots of blessings and curses, but the good news is that you get to choose which will be the focus of your day, and your life. Choose wisely, don't waste time merely "hoping" circumstances will bring you blessings, when you can choose to "BE" God's blessing to someone else. You've been given the power through Christ to be a GOOD NEWS generator! But you have to choose to be that... every day! I hope you will! 

Link  to Max Lucado devotion: