March, 2012

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TwoSides

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Have you ever seen the movie Dark Knight?  I know one person who has.  This guy will tell you it is his favorite movie.   While it is a good movie, everyone who knows me will say my favorite is this one.  Anyhow…back to my idea.  If you have seen Dark Knight then you will know that one of the habits of the District Attorney, who eventually become known as “Two Face” because of a gruesome accident, is flipping a coin and saying, “Heads or Tails.”   He always wins.  Near the end of the movie we find out why:  the coin is the same on both sides.

Everyone knows there are  two sides to every story.  There are two sides to every coin.  Any good counselor knows there are two sides to every story.  Every wise pastor knows there are two sides to every story.  A wise friend will listen, but will also listen with both eyes open, because…there are two sides to every story.

You have seen it, as have I.  Two people, sometimes from the same family, living and working side by side, take different paths.  Same parents. Same love.  Two different characters and two different results.   We have that in the Bible.  More specifically, in the life of Jesus.  Two men who lived, laughed, ministered, cried (maybe), right alongside Jesus…but with two different results.

PETER…AND…JUDAS

Names ring a bell?  I’m sure they do.  One man failed miserably and ended it all. One man failed miserably and turned it around.  One man sold his soul for cheap money. One man traded his during a moment of fear.  One man lost out.  One man won.  I am sure you know the difference between the two.  Judas, the traitor, sold his Lord and his soul for 30 pieces of silver.  Eventually realizing the destitution of his act, he returned the money, but refused to see the life of forgiveness Jesus offers.  He went out and hanged hung dangled himself from a tree.  Peter denied his Lord and any connection to Him (as Jesus said he would), but when he heard the cock crow, went out and wept bitterly.  But repentance is a funny (not haha) thing: it restores your soul.  It gives hope.

TWO SIDES. ONE HOPELESS.  ONE HOPEFUL.  ONE LOST. ONE FOUND.

This Sunday, Palm Sunday, will feature Peter and Judas.  My series,  Transformed by His Presence, is taking a look at people transformed by being in the presence of Jesus.   No two people give us a better picture of the reaction toward Jesus than these two.  I know you have a ton of things to do and pray for, but would you please include me in those prayers?  Thanks.

What is your take on Peter and Judas?  Do you see yourself in either? Do you have trouble with repentance? 

Cycles

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

NO. NO. NO. PLEASE. DON’T. LEAVE!  THIS. IS. NOT. ABOUT. CYCLING. 

However, if you want me to talk about cycling I can surely do that.  I thought about calling this Circles, but then someone may start singing The Circle of Life or You Got Me Going in Circles or Spinning Wheel.

Seriously, I am going to talk about Cycles.

Have you ever studied or read the Book of Judges?  I have found where I pastor that short bursts of studies actually work better than long, drawn-out affairs.  What I mean is a study consisting of maybe 2-4 months works better than to say, “We are going to go through the book of Numbers until we are done.”  🙂  So, beginning February 1, I started a “Take a Trip on Route 66” class.  You probably have figured out that the class is a trip through the 66 books of the Bible.  Tonight, Wednesday, we are in Judges.  Can I say this bluntly?

THEY ARE ONE MESSED UP GROUP OF CHRIST-FOLLOWERS ISRAELITES!!

Yeah, that was a Freudian slip there.  🙂  If you have ever studied the book, you know that it is “built around” cycles.  There are six of them, and they go like this:  Sin, Slavery, Shout Out, Salvation, Sin.  Explanation:

Sin- “Everyone did what was right in their own eyes.”

Slavery- God raises up a foreign nation to overtake and make the Israelites a captive audience.

Shout Out- They get tired of being slaves and living in rotten conditions so they whine cry out to God.

Salvation- God raises up a judge to lead the Israelites against the foreign enemy that is holding them captive. 

Sin- They enjoy the freedom and stick with God as long as the judge is alive. The judge dies and it repeats itself over again: “Everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” 

It hit me how much like the Israelites Christ-followers I tend to be.  I am fickle.  I am hot/cold more than I like to admit.  I waver.  I  compromise.  I sometimes find myself doing “what is right in my own eyes.”   So the message of Judges hits a bulls-eye located in the center of my chest.

Yep, nothing like God’s Word  taking a shot and hitting its mark.  Something else…maybe the Older Testament is not so dry and dusty after all.  What about you?  Do you find yourself in circles?  Is there a favorite part of the OT that speaks to your heart?  I’d love to hear from you. 

WhoRU?

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Who are you?/ Who? Who? Who? Who?/ I really wanta know.  {Cue music from CSI: whichever}

This has been a zoo of a week already and it is only Tuesday (as I write this).  Honestly, the past couple of weeks have been like that.  I am not looking for sympathy.  Money, maybe, but not sympathy.  😉  The secretary has been gone for almost a week taking care of things in Florida after the death of her aunt.  My days have been full with visitation and last minute “I need to see that person.”  Lunches (yum!).  Meeting with people about our possible renovation of the building (depending on the Easter Offering meeting our goal).  Cutting and treating the lawn twice already (and it is only March). Preparing for a Seder presentation by Jews for Jesus.  Plus there is that little thing of spending time with my wife.  And…oh yeah, cycling a few miles, because  all work and no play makes Bill a very edgy guy.  🙂  But I am not complaining.  I would rather be busy than bored.  However, there are certain seasons that the busyness takes over.  Reading has had to take a back seat.  My response to comments on this blog has backed up.  I do appreciate your patience with that.  So…in an effort to take advantage of what little time I have right now, I thought we would revisit “WhoRU?”   It is an effort on my part to get to know my readers better, and for you to see others as well.   Here are today’s questions:

What profession was your father/mother/both in as you grew up?

What one thing did you want to be when you grew up?  Are you?

What one place, if money was no object, would you like to visit?

Wild card: What is your favorite TV show of all time?

I will start it off and hopefully you will join in the conversation.

My father worked on the railroad until he was laid off, then worked in computers (when they were as big as a house). My mother was the domestic engineer.

I always dreamed of being a professional baseball player.   Somewhere along the line I decided to be a preacher. No. Yes.

Alaska has always been my dream vacation.  Australia, now Ukraine, would follow a close second.

Hands down: MacGyver.  What he could do with a paper clip, duck tape, and a knife still has me watching. 🙂

Okay…now it is your turn.   Would you mind taking some time to answer?  Thanks. 

Adoption

Monday, March 26th, 2012

ADOPTION: LUCY

Thanks to all of you who prayed for Lucy’s surgery.  I checked with Reed & Amy and it is Number 5 for the cleft palate. She had one for her lip while still in China. The doctor was pleased with the surgery and thought she would do a lot better.  Lucy was born with basically no  cleft palate so has been unable to talk understandably.  She now has 2 small holes and he feels she will do so much better.  One thing: she sure hasn’t allowed this to keep her down.  She is a spitfire!  🙂

ADOPTION: LUCY

I feel like someone who really has nothing to say, but has everything to say.  Know what I mean?  Jo and I have had two daughters naturally.  We are now at the age where having another child (adoption) is not much of an option.  But if we were younger… My brother, Garry, and his wife adopted Lia in 2003 after (I believe) a two year wait.   Besides Lucy, we also have another couple who have adopted two Chinese girls. I have friends who just adopted a boy from Africa.  This blogger can sure tell you about foster parenting and adoption.  In fact, he is running a regular post about what they learned and are learning.  Here is one and you can look for the others. Another blogger and her husband have taken in a “house guest” for however long it takes.

I admire those who adopt-whether here in the states or foreign country.  It takes a special couple to do that- to take on someone from a unique background, someone who has not been raised (most likely) with the same values as them-and to make them one of their own. Same foods. Same house. Same rules. Same love.  Same benefits.  Reed & Amy.  Chad & Terri.  Tracy & Julie. Jason & Andrea. Harry & Susan.  They all have my utmost respect.

ADOPTION: GOD

Yeah, I know…we don’t adopt God.  He adopts us.  Romans 8:15Galatians 4:5. Ephesians 1:5.  Being adopted by God is woven into the very fabric of Scripture.   “The term adoption is filled with the ideas of love, grace, compassion, and intimate relationship. It is the action by which a husband and wife decide to take a boy or girl who is not their physical offspring into their family as their own child. When that action is taken by the proper legal means, the adopted child attains all the rights and privileges of a member of the family.” (MacArthur commentary on Romans-p.435)

It goes without saying how important that is to the follower of Christ.  We know we have been adopted into His family and received all rights and privileges associated with that adoption.   I don’t know about you, but that makes my heart sing!

Adoption.  Such a cool word. Such a way cool act.  Has an adoption affected your life in any way?  How so?  I would love to hear your thoughts.

Comparisons

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

In his book, Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life, Chuck Swindoll revives a quote from the 14th century:

COMPARISONS ARE ODIOUS

First made by Sir John Fortescue, that little three-word quote packs quite a punch.   If you look up odious in the dictionary, you would find it means “disgusting, detestable.”

CAN. I. GET. A. WITNESS. ON. THAT?

If you really want to be miserable…consider comparing yourself to another….especially someone who excels in what you do, while you flounder in “just getting by,” or in mediocrity.

I cannot even begin to tell you how many years, and how many times, I spent comparing myself to others.  “If I could just preach like him.”  “If I could just be that type of leader…just like so-and-so.”   Wasted years. Wasted life.  Don’t get me wrong though.  I am not against improving.  Reading. Studying. Seminars. Mentoring.  Everyone is in need of improvement, and yours truly is the one greatest in need.  But learning and comparing are two different things.

Comparison pits my abilities against someone else, and pulls out the measuring stick.  As I have already stated, most generally we take our weakness and compare it to the strength of someone else.  ‘Course to do the opposite can also cause problems.  It can lead to pride.  Self-glory.  False sense of security.   Both are dangerous.  Both need to be avoided.

So…what got me thinking like this?  I read this post over the weekend.  Frankly, you would do well to read it also.   Honestly, I don’t care one whip-stitch about football, and who plays where, and for how much.  What struck me was that Matt Hasselbeck knows who he is, and is comfortable in his own skin.  I know a pastor (looking in mirror) or two, or three, who could stand to learn that lesson.

What about you?  Are you happy in your own skin?  Do you find yourself playing the comparison game?  If so, how do you plan to stop?  I’d like to hear your thoughts. 

I will be spending a good part of the morning at the Peyton Manning Center for Children while Lucy, a 7 year old girl, has her 3rd or 4th (or more) cleft palate surgery. Reed & Amy adopted her from China before I knew them. Would you please say a prayer that this one will work? Thanks.

Accepted

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

 

Have you ever noticed that no matter how hard we try not to, there are certain people we want to avoid?  I know, I know, that is not very “Christian,” but it happens.  Certainly more in the church than I would ever like to see it happen.

Love, acceptance, forgiveness-those three things are absolutely essential to any ministry that will consistently bring people to maturity and wholeness.  If the church is to be the force for God in the world that it should be, it must learn to love people, accept them and forgive them.  Jerry Cook in Love, Acceptance & Forgiveness (p.11)

I read that book back in the 80s and it rocked my world.  Love is the ultimate gift we can give anyone.  A church that can make a commitment to love is a force to be reckoned with.  With that love comes acceptance of people for who they are, not for what we think they ought to be.  Acceptance is not a license for sin though.  Forgiveness is the willingness to stop playing God.   Chuck Swindoll wrote:

Acceptance is the fruit people taste when we show them love.  It means allowing others to be who they are without disapproving of or losing patience with them.  Luke Study Guide (p.18)

Please understand I am not condoning sin.  What I am saying, though, is that some people are so “hell bent” on condemning a person’s actions, they forget about the person who is doing the action.

Take a gander at Luke 7:36-50 here.  Jesus’ reaction to the whole scene totally blew the self-righteous Pharisees out of the water.  They were so “hot under the collar” they lost sight of her for a few minutes and set their barrels on Him.  He was okay with that.  🙂   Jesus looked beyond her exterior to know her heart.  I believe by His reaction that He saw a heart that was searching, and KNEW that He was the One to give her what she was desperately seeking.  He didn’t turn her away.  He didn’t proposition her.  He didn’t degrade her.   His eyes didn’t avoid her, scoping out the room.  He accepted her.  HE ACCEPTED HER!

I reckon I wonder how we can do any less.  What about you?  Do you have trouble accepting people as they are?  “I’m Accepted” is my sermon topic for Sunday.  I will also be using the following video as part of my introduction.  Enjoy.  But don’t let the truth of the video wash on by you. Any thoughts you care to share? 

Bio

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

To be totally honest: I have never felt my life would be worth writing about.  I can sum it up in several phrases:

Raised by a godly mom in church.

Went away to college after less-than-stellar high school years.

Married at 20 and was a father at 22.  Father again at 26.

Drifted moved a lot from church to church.

Has a passion for preaching, his family, and cycling (but not always in that order).

Approaching senior years with no retirement (which means he will have to work the rest of his life).  You’ll probably find me at Wally World. 🙂

Made some smart choices and some not-so-smart ones.

Loved Jesus.  Loved his family.  Loved life.  Lived it fully.

Huh.  There’s more there than I thought.  🙂  All this came to mind as I read a devotion from Our Daily Bread in which the author found an idea for his writing class: write a biography in six words.  He gave some examples.  You can read his devotion here. 

I thought about his challenge and decided it would be cool to do.  So I wrote down a couple:

Messed Up.  Set Straight. Flying Right.

Son of Thunder.  Apostle of Love.  (came after reading John 20)

I thought we could have a little bit of fun today.  Let’s do that exercise.  Your challenge is to write a biography in 6 words.   Here are your prompts:  What six-word description would best describe me?  Would it be positive or negative?  What would your bio say?  Have at it.  Here’s one of mine:

Grace-Filled.  Passion Driven.  Life Lover.

And now…it is your turn.  I can’t wait to see some of the creative ways this blog community expresses their bio.

 

 

Treatment

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Some say I need treatment of the mental kind.  Not funny.  🙂

I recently had minor surgery to remove a mucous cyst on my finger between my knuckle and fingernail.  I had to go back to have the packing removed and receive a splint AND some treatment (therapy).

I go to a chiropractor more than I would like (twice a month).  Each time I go I receive an adjustment (treatment…and I love the massage).

All that to say…wipe that idea of treatment out of your mind for this post.  😀  Thanks.  Now, put your mind onto another plane.  You are Zaccheus.  Jesus has healed many people who were unable to see Him perform the miracle (blind man), but Zaccheus was the victim of a cruel joke.  He couldn’t ask Jesus to cure him of his affliction.  There is absolutely no scriptural evidence for healing the short.  Sorry to do that to all the short people who are reading this.  Besides, short is all in the mind.  You may actually be the normal ones.  It is the 6’5″ ones (like yours truly) who may be the abnormal ones.  See…told you I needed treatment.   But Zac had bigger problems that height.  I read that it could be argued that it was easier to make a short man tall than a tax collector (politician) likable, or honest.  Do you think that applies today?  I’m just saying….  🙂

Jesus’ treatment for Zac was not to chop him up one side and down the other.  No, His treatment was, “Zac, come on down.  I’m going to your house today.”  It was after his encounter with Jesus that Zac changed.  Other than being despised by everyone, he had no other afflictions that we know of.  Jesus doesn’t say, “Zac, come on down and I will cure your ‘crossed-finger’ syndrome or your ‘turn-a-blind-eye’ syndrome.”  You see…Jesus did not treat Zac like he treated others.  He didn’t cheat him.  He didn’t lie to him.  He didn’t get even with him.  He didn’t play favorites.  He didn’t overcharge him.

I was speaking with someone today (Tuesday) who said, “I know I have to forgive.”  I said, “You are absolutely right.  If you don’t, then you are their slave.”  We need to consider those whom we come in contact with and look at how we treat them.  Do we treat them with disdain?  Do we treat them with hostility?  Do we treat them with anger?  Do we treat them with a get-even attitude?  Do we treat them with a “I’m not even going to give you a chance to get my other cheek” approach?  Or we do do what Jesus did?  Check out His suggestions here and here.  Enough for now.  Reckon I better go and practice what I preach.  🙂

What are your thoughts?  How do treat others?

Honesty

Monday, March 19th, 2012

WHAT A TANGLED WEB WE WEAVE WHEN AT FIRST WE PRACTICE TO DECEIVE.

How true Sir Walter Scott’s words have turned out to be.  I suspect every one of us, at some time or another in our lives, can say we either deceived, were a victim of deceit, or both.  People’s lives have been turned upside down in so many ways, all because the truth was not forthcoming.  I certainly don’t need to list possible illustrations of that truth-from history or even from my own life-to state my case.

It has come thundering home to me again since last Thursday.  I am not at liberty to share with you (at least not yet) what I am dealing with, but suffice it to say, that what I had thought was coming to an end has now been regurgitated.  It has done so because my role in the scenario has come back around.  Before I go anywhere else, let me just say it is NOT an affair or anything shady involving me or my family.  It involves a sensitive issue with people I know and love, and people I knew and loved.  Maybe some day if the thing ever gets cleared up, I will be able to share God’s part in all of it and how He has been supremely faithful in every way-from helping to get through the emotional drain (and therefore physical drain); and holding my arms up when I got too tired to hold them up myself.  I have seen God Himself do it.  He has sent people along to be my Aaron and Joshua.

But it hit me today again how all this mess could have been avoided if honesty had prevailed from the very beginning.  Residual effect will be felt for years to come.  That is the thing about lying and dishonesty.  It just keeps on “giving.”  Or is that “taking?”  I can remember my mother saying, “Don’t tell a lie.  If you tell one, you have to remember what it was you said the first time.”  I had a friend once who was fighting for his children and each time on the stand told the same story.  The other lawyer couldn’t get over it.  “Mr. Jones (not real name).  You have said the same thing each time. Something is wrong.”  As I sat in court it was all I could do either not to laugh out loud or call the dude a (not so nice) name.   Aaaah NO!  Could it be that truth has no need for  cover-up?  Meanwhile, his client could not get the story straight.

Proverbs 10:9 seems to be a good place to wrap this up: “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.”  

What about me? You?  Are you a person of integrity?  How important is honesty to you?  I’d like to hear your thoughts. 

Pain

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Tim Hansel was a friend of mine.  When I say friend, he was more than a casual acquaintance, but not really a bosom buddy.  Let me explain.  I heard of Tim through a book he wrote called You Gotta Keep Dancin’.  It was the story of his life following a mountain climbing accident in 1974, and from that moment on had him living in chronic pain.  I corresponded with Tim and then was thrilled when he came to the church I pastored in Terre Haute.  I had a chance to meet a living, breathing hero.  I lost contact with him after that, since he went through a major surgery, and we both moved.  I was uninitiated on the internet so had no clue how to find him.  I found out about a month ago (by surfing) that he went to be with Jesus in 2009.  He lived over 30 years in chronic debilitating pain, but he never let it get him down! He wrote:

One of the big problems with pain is that it is so myopic.  Nothing robs one’s strength and vitality so much as self-absorption.  There is no greater waste of time than self-pity, preoccupation with self; it fragments and dissipates that which you want to be about.  Oh, God, you seem to have the only key that can unlock me from myself.  (written in his journal-p.42 in Dancin’)

Later on the same page he says:

Faith isn’t really faith until it’s all that you’re holding on to.

As you read his book, you will find the pain didn’t decrease as he had hoped it would.  But he did begin to learn new ways to respond to it.  We all have pain of various degrees.  Some have emotional pain. Some have physical pain.  Some have mental pain.  Some have relationship pain.  The list goes on.  I reckon what really matters is how we respond to that pain.  Perhaps you are one, or know someone, who is struggling with pain these days (or have been).  I pray peace for you.  I pray rest for you.  I pray faith for you.

What are your thoughts?  Have you ever heard of or read Tim’s book?  What do you think of the two quotes from his book?  I’d like to know your thoughts on faith.

*****************************

I was basically incognito over the weekend.  It will not always be like that, but during the summer my Friday time on the computer is limited.  I struggle with staying inside, especially on nice days…like this past Friday when we had a rare 70+ degree March day.  Thanks to all who commented on my last post.  I was not ignoring any comment or being indifferent.  Special thanks to Larry the Deuce for mentioning me in his Saturday post.  I am honored he would do that.