Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Dead . . . and the Living

How ominous a title. Think about the 4 stars who died last week.

  1. Ed McMahon - Johnny Carson's sidekick. I grew up with Johnny and Ed; along with Doc Severenson. Ed knew his place, he knew when to laugh, he knew when to get Johnny going, he fully understood his role and purpose. I'm never sure if he liked it, but his wallet must have liked it.
  2. Farrah Fawcett - Every girl wanted to be Farrah, and most every guy wanted Farrah, or her look-alike. She parlayed one year of being an Angel into a lucrative career. She came back in her career and seemed to thrive for a time. Yet, I wonder if she was ever truly fulfilled with what she was doing.
  3. Michael Jackson - He was an amazing performer and artist. His moves astounded people then, and still do today. He was magic when he performed, yet he had so many issues. Mainly he never grew up. He had talent in abundance, but he never seemed to be at peace with himself or life.
  4. Billy Mays - He lived off of his voice. He understood what he had, and he used what he had to his benefit. It seems his fame was short lived, but he seemed to enjoy his work.
When I think about these four, it causes me to reflect about my own life and what God is doing in my life, what I am doing about what God is doing, and what it will look like in the end. The one thing I don't want to waste is God's gifts and blessings in my life.

We are called to live by His grace, we receive His unmerited favor, undeserved forgiveness . . . how sweet that is, but there is more that we just don't grasp. We are supposed to live our lives with His grace imputed in us and we are to be changed people, from the inside out, but are we? Therein lies our dilemma. We want it all, but we refuse to, as Paul said, "work out our salvation."

God calls us to be holy, because He is holy, but we push aside His holiness so we can do our own thing, assuming forgiveness is just around the corner.

Some late night idle ramblings.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Vanishing Sculptor

Unfortunately I did not have the opportunity to read this book. It sounds fun and interesting. I enjoy fantasy books, and if you do, I would recommend you try it out. Below is a summary of the book, and a link where you can purchase it online.

Summary

Donita K. Paul’s 250,000-plus-selling DragonKeeper Chronicles series has attracted a wide spectrum of dedicated fans–and they’re sure to fall in love with the new characters and adventures in her latest superbly-crafted novel for all ages. It’s a mind-boggling fantasy that inhabits the same world as the DragonKeeper Chronicles, but in a different country and an earlier time, where the people know little of Wulder and nothing of Paladin.

In The Vanishing Sculptor, readers will meet Tipper, a young emerlindian who’s responsible for the upkeep of her family’s estate during her sculptor father’s absence. Tipper soon discovers that her actions have unbalanced
.the whole foundation of her world, and she must act quickly to undo the calamitous threat. But how can she save her father and her world on her own? The task is too huge for one person, so she gathers the help of some unlikely companions–including the nearly five-foot tall parrot Beccaroon–and eventually witnesses the loving care and miraculous resources of Wulder. Through Tipper’s breathtaking story, readers will discover the beauty of knowing and serving God.

Author Bio:

Donita K. Paul is a retired teacher and author of numerous novellas, short stories, and eight novels, including the best-selling DragonKeeper Chronicles, a series which has sold more than a quarter million books to date. The winner of multiple awards, she lives in Colorado Springs , Colorado , where she spends time mentoring and encouraging young writers. Visit her online at donitakpaul.com.

http://www.amazon.com/Vanishing-Sculptor-Donita-K-Paul/dp/1400073391

or

http://www.christianbook.com/vanishing-sculptor-donita-paul/9781400073399/pd/073399?item_code=WW&netp_id=604657&event=ESRCN&view=covers


Monday, June 22, 2009

The Grinch who Stole a Homer

I read this article this morning and it reminded me about what I was talking about yesterday, regarding 'noble people making noble plans and doing noble deeds.' Ultimately leading to what will our kids learn from our actions.

With that in mind I wish I had read this before yesterday's message. An amazing story in a sad and pathetic way.

The Grinch who Stole a Homer
One coach followed the rules when they should have been broken
ESPN The Magazine
By Rick Reilly

This column originally appeared in the June 29 issue of ESPN The Magazine.

Some things are so small, so minuscule, so atomically insignificant, they can be seen only from three feet away using the Hubble telescope. The heart of Jean Musgjerd is one of these things.

She's the women's softball coach for Rochester (Minn.) Community and Technical College. Here's what Coach Musgjerd did -- and try to keep your lunch from rising up as you read:

It's this past May's Minnesota College Athletic Conference state tourney, and Central Lakes College is tied with Rochester, 0-0, bottom of the seventh and final inning. Central Lakes pitcher Olivia Graham has her first no-hitter going. Now, with Central Lakes at bat, she just has to hope her team can score a run to lock it up.

Sure enough, Central's freshman first baseman, Ashly Erickson, rips one over the fence. Game over. Madness erupts. As Erickson and her cantaloupe smile round third, some teammates high-five her. It's the greatest moment in her short softball life.

But when she touches the plate, the Rochester players begin shouting, "That's an out! She's out!" Then Musgjerd helpfully tells the ump that Erickson should be out since, according to the rules, teammates aren't allowed to "touch a batter or baserunner legally running the bases."

Central Lakes' interim coach, Heidi Rogge, was flabbergasted. She'd taken over only two weeks before, when the head coach suddenly quit. "I can't imagine a coach thinking that way," says Rogge, 28. "I couldn't be that petty. How can someone feel good calling that?"

The head ump for the tournament listened, shrugged and said, "Batter's out."

It was a walk-off-walk-back-on homer -- the first game ever lost by congratulations.

Erickson was crushed. "I thought, How can that not count? I hit it over the fence!"

So you can guess the rest. Graham lost her no-no in the ninth and Rochester won, 4-0. Musgjerd's integrity was in the Dumpster, but hey, her record improved. She didn't return my calls but did tell the Minneapolis Star Tribune: "You don't want to win in that way, but you have to play by the rules."

No. You do not want to win that way. Period. It's lower than mole excrement.

Worse, the Rochester players yelling "That's an out!" as soon as Erickson crossed the plate suggests the move was a stink bomb Musgjerd had been saving in her purse, ready to throw in the middle of somebody's parade. Who thinks that small?

I hate this kind of crap. There's nothing cheaper than using some tiny, unconnected technicality to rob somebody of her rightful moment of glory, won fair and square. It's the cheapest thing in sports: an adult pencil-whipping some kid just because she can. And my e-mail box fills up with these kinds of stories all the time.

I lost the pine box derby because a den master said I didn't fill out the form right.

They DQ'd our team because the coach found out I failed math class two years ago.

They said the goal didn't count because my jersey was out.

Makes me want to chew a hole through my desk.

For another thing, that's not even the rule! The rule states that the first infraction calls for a warning. Erickson should've just been warned, not called out. Would love to know what the umps were thinking on this. But they won't call back either.

It just didn't have to happen.

Remember what transpired just over a year ago in women's softball? A Western Oregon player hit a home run but, in her jubilation, ripped her knee touching first. Nobody knew what to do. Because of this stupid rule, her teammates and coaches couldn't help her round the bases. And that's when two kids on the other team -- Central Washington -- decided to carry her around the bases. Imagine that: sportsmanship.

The whole thing still leaves the 18-year-old Erickson wondering what the adult world is coming to. If she ever becomes a coach, will she make the same call to save a win? "No. No way. They would have earned that home run. That should be their glory. I'd let it go. 'Cuz that's not right."

No, it isn't. And if Coach Musgjerd has a thimbleful of self-respect left, she should call up Rogge today and forfeit the win, because both she and the umps had it wrong. She should say, "Turns out it should've been a warning, not an out. You win. Congrats."

Because, after all, you have to play by the rules.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day words from Zachary

Zachary is creative and wrote these words this morning at church on some post it notes, then put them on the back of my office door --

"One day I was sleeping and I heard knocks on the window. It was a beast. My daddy jumped out of bed. He fought the beast till it was gone. He is my HERO."

It's just a story, but I have not been referred to as a hero on many occasions in my life. It was a powerful statement from Zachary. It's a great thought to receive from your son. What a lofty image to stand up to, and a great Father's Day present for the heart.

As the day ended he said he wished time didn't fly so we could keep celebrating Father's Day. He knows how to butter one up.

Softball

I played softball last Thursday night and my body still feels the effects of it. My legs hurt and my back is tender. I'd play in a moments notice again. It was fun and I accomplished my three goals -
  1. Don't get hurt
  2. Don't embarrass yourself
  3. Play reasonably well.
I accomplished all 3, even though my body hurts. I even slid into third base. Adrenaline and instinct took over on that one. I thought I played well for a 50 year old who has not played in a couple of years. Statistically I caught all balls hit to me, running and catching them (I impressed my boys on that one). And was 4 for 6 hitting. I was very happy.

Next game is Monday night and barring any rain, I'll risk it again.

Someone asked me about a women's league. That would be cool to have the women play in their own league, as well.

Saturday Breakfast

Enjoyed a great time of community and discussion about having an adventure in life. Brent Henderson did a great job talking about men and the need for Christ in their lives.

Much of what he said was familiar to me, as I think Brent and I think alike and have read the same authors. As he left, Brent and I had a good discussion and I'll be calling him to talk more about ideas as we move forward in our men's ministry.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Sir Dalton and the Shadow Heart

Chuck Black writes about knights, and in this tale, Sir Dalton is a knight of Arrethtree in training, but he lacks the heart and passion of his peers. Part of the problem is that he is in some respects a Doubting Thomas. It is a story of inner conflict as Sir Dalton is well liked, is handsome, but has his inner doubts.

This is a fast moving book, geared to young teens, in the 9-13 range. I will give it to my 11 year old for his review as well.

After he is captured in a prison nobody escapes from, Sir Dalton does escape and meets Master Sejus who explains to him about the Code, the King and the Prince until the young knight in training feels the passion in his heart and becomes one of their most loyal supporters. He knows he must challenge Sir Prox in order to liberate the prisoners as he now believes he can win with the Prince in his soul.

This is a story of GOOD vs. EVIL. The story has a good amount of religious symbolism throughout it.

You can find this book by clicking on the title in the first paragraph, or clicking on the link below. It may be good summer reading for a 4th - 8th grader, or for adults who enjoy these tales.

http://www.amazon.com/Dalton-Shadow-Heart-Knights-Arrethtrae/dp/1601421265

Eyes Wide Open

In Jud Wilhite's book, Eyes Wide Open: See and Live the Real You, he is encouraging us to reveal the real person within us so that we will experience the real power of God in our lives.

He states, "I had it all backwards. The main thing was not my love for God, but his love for me. And from that love I respond to God as one deeply flawed, yet loved. I’m not looking to prove my worth. I’m not searching for acceptance. I’m living out of the worth God already declares I have. I’m embracing his view of me and in the process discovering the person he created me to be."

In Eyes Wide Open, Wilhite guides the reader to discover real spirituality from the fake entrapments of our modern world. Interestingly, and what gives him more authority is the fact that Wilhite pastor's Central Christian Church in LAS VEGAS. Talk about a ministry where people are different, yet in need of what we all need . . . a real relationship with Christ.

Wilhite's book is an easy to read book, which would be great for a small group study, as he attempts to tell stories about the many ways we mess up in life, about our pasts and longing for God's grace. THe bottom line hope for Wilhite is that we will see ourselves and God with new eyes – eyes which are wide open to the God of love.

You can find this book by clicking on the title in the first paragraph or going to this link:

http://www.amazon.com/Eyes-Wide-Open-Live-Real/dp/1601420722/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1245417738&sr=8-1

or

http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/product?item_no=420722&item_code=WW&netp_id=604712&event=ESRCN&view=covers

The Disappearance of God

Reading "The Disappearance of God" was an enlightening book as Mohler attempts to look at exactly what the subtitle states, "Dangerous beliefs in the new spiritual openness." Whether Christians like it or not there has been a movement in the works for the past 20 or so years in evangelical Christianity which is very alarming.

Mohler's thesis is to look at the different views and theologies which are abounding in conservative and liberal Christianity. At times the book lacks a solid flow, which I believe is the result of trying to include so many different topics. It is not too difficult to read, although he assumes the reader has some prior knowledge of different movements within Christianity.

The title of the book does not come from the fact that the world believes God has disappeared, rather the God of the Bible has disappeared, or in my words, has become irrelevant. We live in a spiritual age, however, the spiritualists of the day are not leading people to the Word of God, but to some unknown and nonexistent God, and it is occurring within Christianity.

He discusses issues of Christian orthodoxy, hell, church discipline, nature, preaching, sin, the emerging church movement, and what is called the post Christian age.

Overall, it is a good book, worthy of reading if you are interested in what is happening in the conservative theological world and what it means for you.

You can purchase this book online at ~

http://www.amazon.com/Disappearance-God-Dangerous-Spiritual-Openness/dp/1601420811/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1245417225&sr=8-1

or at

http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/product?item_no=420817&item_code=WW&netp_id=604713&event=ESRCN&view=covers

MEN'S BREAKFAST

Men, remember the Men's Breakfast tomorrow. I am certain it will be a great time!!

Be at the church at 8:00 a.m. to start your day right!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Joshua

The boy has bronchitis and was better for most of the day but tonight he has been nonstop coughing. I made a 12:45 am run to CVS to get a prescription. Now, it's 1:51 and I have not heard a cough for about 5 minutes.

Keep him in prayer.

Men's Breakfast

Hey MEN -

Come to a great Men's Breakfast this Saturday from 8:00 - 10:00 a.m. at First Baptist Church off Route 9 in Alexandria.

We'll eat great food and have the opportunity to listen to Brent Henderson. Brent is a great speaker, singer and avid hunter. Check out his website at http://mentransforming.com/

Brent has a great passion for Christ and for men.

I hope to see you there. You will find strength and courage and a great time!!

Friday, June 12, 2009

FOOTBALL?

ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?

Isn't that how the MNF song goes?

Just keep me in prayer as I was asked to be the 6th grade football coach.

It's a daunting task, a fun one, but dealing with parents and kids makes it a little scary, but I'm excited because there is such a great opportunity to help the young boys begin to grow into young men as they learn about life . . . and hopefully experience mentoring and guidance.

Decisions!!

The end of the school year was rather anti-climatic for us. The boys did great, all A's for Zachary, who I never expected to be the student, and all A's and one B+ for Joshua. And here came my dilemma, I thought Joshua deserved an A, and honestly, I thought his teacher let him down. She didn't post grades, didn't give us a clue where he was, when in reality he was 2 points out of 150 from an A. The principal at their awards ceremony spoke about the importance of school and the need to strive to do better and better. It's what we instill in Joshua and Zachary, yet we have a teacher and her aide who are "Christians" (I'm not denying their salvation - so let's not go there!!)

But I felt they let Joshua down. I felt they let us down as brothers and sisters in Christ. I thought their attitude was poor. Are we complainers? No. We ask questions, we want to know what is going on in our child's life and education. We will back him when he's in the right, and we will discipline when he is wrong. Our children are not perfect, no way!!

So, what do we do when we've experienced this hurt, and are trying to teach our child to be responsible, yet have come to realize the school system is filled with a lot of politics and to say something only digs a deeper hole for my children to climb out.

We have come to understand that when someone has an issue with one person, it is taken out on the whole, so my kids will suffer because of the fear of conflict/confrontation, when that does not have to be so.

The deeper issue for all of us is who are we as Christ-followers? Will the world know us apart from the non-Christ-follower? How will we be identified? When we make decisions, how will we make them . . . with Christ in our heart or with an empty and cold heart?

Thanks for listening on a Friday afternoon.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Lazy . . . Hazy . . . Dazy

We have entered the lazy, hazy daze of summer.

I have been struck by the carefree attitude of so many people when it comes to faith in Christ. It seems that Sunday mornings are becoming that catch up day. A day when we don't have to 'come' and worship the King of kings and Lord of lords.

Frankly, I'm not sure what the answer is. Well, actually, I do, but to put it into action is always more difficult than giving the answer. For example, I was praying and asked for wisdom, which on the surface is always a good prayer request, but as I spit those words out, I knew there was a secondary request which had to be made . . . for courage to put the wisdom into motion.

You see, wisdom by itself is great, but it goes nowhere if we don't have the courage to do something about that wisdom God is imparting to us. My point is that when it comes to worshiping God, we all would agree it is the right thing, the best thing to do on a Sunday morning or a Saturday night; however, other things get in the way and we forget about the need to give ourselves to God in the holy and precious act of worship.

Summer brings vacations, trips to the lake, extra day excursions, and more. I'm not against vacations and taking a weekend trip, I am wondering how we would explain to God that we really don't need to worship Him on a Sunday, so we do something else. What if God took one hour off from His day? How would that impact your life?

As I say all this, I also know that I am at church about 48-50 Sundays per year. So, maybe you are thinking I am all off base on this. If I am just delete this email. If I'm not and you think I've got something, then consider what God is calling you to do in your life as it pertains to worshiping Him. He is awesome, He is our rock and our fortress. Praise Him! Praise Him! Do it today!

Tough Message

This past Sunday, I had the pleasure of speaking about adultery. Yikes!! What a fun topic. I really was not sure about the reaction of the people, since it is not one of those common preaching topics. Overall, I thought the reaction was very positive.

It was one of those topics where you want to speak bluntly, yet because there are children in worship who are kind of listening, I needed to make sure I didn't get to explicit. At night we spoke more about temptation. Paul reminds us of the great gift God gives to us when we are tempted. Listen to the words of Paul from 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 ~

12So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! 13No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

Paul's reminder is that we should not think we are immune, don't think you are so good, so tough, so spiritual that you cannot fall; but when you are tempted, understand that the temptation that grabs you (and nobody is immune to temptation) is common to humanity. What grabs me will grab some of you. But, God is faithful and he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. He is not going to overwhelm you with so much that you can't handle it (but you must call upon your main resource . . . God). And God will always provide a way out, which is usually just saying NO.

Remember God is the vine and we are the branches. We must remain in Him if we want to bear fruit and have a life where we experience the fullness of the life He offers us.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

POSTINGS

I have let a lot of blogging go in the past couple of months to spend more time on reading and writing the Bible Thoughts / Devotions.

But, I have to admit I miss a little of the blogging, so I am going to try to blog a little more, not a lot more, but about two to three times per week. I think it is healthy for others to know what I am up to and what I am thinking as it pertains to life and the church.

The Nursery

On May 24 I had the privilege of hanging out in the nursery with the infants and toddlers.

It was the first time I had spent time in the nursery during a worship service. I had two people tell me it was the first time a pastor had taken nursery duty. I didn't think about it that way, but I thought if I was asking others to take the nursery, I should take my turn.

So, what did I think!

It was fun and I would do it again. Not every week, but I enjoyed playing on the floor, hanging out with the kids, playing with blocks, helping them to share and not getting to stressed out over Joshua and Zachary trying to play with the kids. Fortunately, there were no major episodes of crying, screaming, barfing, pooping . . .

All children left the nursery in one piece and in peace . . . and so did I.

It was fun and I highly recommend it for anyone who can sit on the floor or in a chair and have some hands on time with the young children.