Saturday, November 25, 2006

Thanksgiving Is Christian

As I come out to the porch today my tummy is full. My taste buds have been revived. And, the warmth of friends and family in my household has refreshed my spirits. Our God is so good to us! We have so much to be thankful for.
It is my belief that this is the only true Christian holiday recognized in the United States. Think about it. All other American holidays are about our freedom, our soldiers and workforce. Sweetest Day, Valentine’s Day, Groundhog’s Day, President’s Day, Halloween, Christmas and Easter are all marketed by sales. It is amazing to me how a christian country could have only one Christian holiday. It’s true.
I suppose the things that keeps Thanksgiving a Christian holiday is the idea of giving "thanks". In the very essence of the idea is the question, "Give thanks to whom?" I guess you would have to admit then that there is a God, Creator of the universe. If your going to be thankful from the heart then you have to admit gratitude for a gift that was receive. Gratitude is expressed when the gift is something we could not do for ourselves. There goes the idea of humanism and evolution.
I also suppose you might ask, "Be thankful for what?" Now the answer to this question points towards God’s blessings or benefits to us. That also includes salvation, which points out Jesus Christ. You see the greatest thing we have to be thankful for is the promise of eternal life, which only comes from having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Finally, a person may say, "Why be thankful?" The answer to this question implies you recognize that God Almighty, is bigger, greater, and smarter than you. And because of this, you humble yourself to say, "Thank you, God, for Your blessings to me and thank for your Son that gives salvation."
For a person to humble themselves before God like that is distinctively christian. I figure that’s the reason Thanksgiving is our only Christian holiday. You see it is the only holiday that requires humility… and that is Christian!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

God’s Blessings

Meet Baby Kayrin
It is obvious to me that God’s blessings can be found everywhere. Those blessings are all around us and are just for us. I am reminded of this by a little story, a true story at that!
In our little plot of a garden just a few square big, my wife decided to plant potatoes. Now this may not seem peculiar to you, but we just happen to live in an area surrounded by 1000’s of acres of potato fields. We are usually given 100 times more potatoes than we can raise. However, she wanted to grow her own.
So we planted and tended a potato garden this year. When the time came to harvest what she had planted, My wife grabbed her shovel and headed for the garden with our 4-year-old in toe. She had her little shovel in hand and she was determined to help.
Well, as the job got started, my wife was as proud as punch of herself for the success of growing potatoes. She would say to Kay "Look, there’s another one. Go put it in the bucket!" She was so excited about her venture that she just had to tell our neighbor lady what she had done…with the 4-year-old tagging along. In her conversation, she shared how she watered, weeded and tended to those potatoes and how God had blessed her with a "big crop" for her "little garden". Not to be out done, my little girl had to break in the adult chatter. "Hey…Hey…Hey..." she said interrupting until our neighbor stopped to listen her.
"Yes, hon. What do you want?" was her reply.
Taking her hand and pulling her toward the garden Baby Kay said, "Do you want to see what we found in the dirt?"
Gods blessings are planted by Him, watered by Him and tended by His own hand for our good pleasure. They are not mistakes or chances. His blessings for us are intentional.
I hope you can find them cause they are planted all around you. And when you do… be thankful!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

About Sadness…

I’m sorry I missed you here on the porch last week. I had some very sad business to tend to. Our church lost a friend. She was just 51 years young.

(One of the sweetest things in my daughter, Emmali)
Her life ended… too soon. It was sad.
In my very short existence here on Earth, I have learned something about sadness. First and foremost, I have learned that sadness is not from God. He doesn’t give sadness. However, sadness, heartbreak, the "hankies of life" (as I call ‘em) is a gift. I know that sounds strange. But as strange as it may sound, it is true.
Let me see if I can explain with a story.
I love hot drinks… hot apple cider…. Coffee… and old fashion hot chocolate. I was at my grandmother’s house one day when I decided to try my hand at hot chocolate. Now, you have to understand that at Grandma’s house you cannot find "instant" hot chocolate mix. At Grandma’s house everything is made from scratch.
So, I pulled the Hershey’s® cocoa of the shelf and read the recipe on the side. 4 cups of milk, 4 tablespoons of cocoa, 1 /2 cup sugar, 1 /2 teaspoon vanilla (optional) and 1 /2 teaspoon of salt. Salt! Who wants salt in your hot chocolate? I want sweet and creamy. I
love sweet and creamy, and in that order. So, I skipped the salt and added a pinch more sugar. Scald milk and stir in ingredients. I did that. I watched that white whole milk turn to a reddish brown and I dumped in all that white sugar...minus the salt. I stirred with slow heat until I saw steam rising off the top. This was going to be good. My mouth was watering in anticipation of this sweet and creamy concoction. I placed a large soupspoon in the pan and dipped out some brown goodness. I blew on the spoon. I didn’t want to burn my tongue on the first sip. If so, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the rest of it. I raised the spoon to my lips and slurped what I had been waiting for. Oooooo! It was awful…strong and bitter. So, if it was bitter then the remedy must be to add more sugar. So, I added another quarter cup. I sipped. It was still bitter. I did it again and again.
I did this until I had added 2 cups of sugar to the mixture. My hot chocolate was still nasty and the recipe only called for 1 /2 cup of sugar. Perplexed with cooking, I did what any sensible grandson would do. I asked grandma for help.
Her one and only question was revealing. "Did you put in the salt?" She instructed me to go back and put in the salt that was required and then taste. I did and the hot chocolate was to sweet for even me to drink. The salt made it sweet.
So I have learned that it takes the bitter to make things sweet. I also learned that I have a lot of sweet things in my life given to me by God Himself. Now when the bitter things of life come along, it makes the sweet things even sweeter!
Enjoy what you have.

Friday, October 27, 2006

My Computer….

I have discovered that I have a relationship with my computer. My wife is aware of this so it’s o.k. It is a love-hate relationship. When my computer works, I love it. When it doesn’t…I hate it!
I believe my computer to be an aesthetic adolescent…really. Let me explain. It sits on my desk looking stately and intelligent. Then, when I go to use it, it doesn’t want to work. We all know teenagers just like that. When I make it work, it gets an attitude. It will slow down, or not display all the information. And just when I think I have it under control, it starts correcting me. You can’t do this. You can’t do that. Line error. Then my computer will mock me by speaking in code. "Error 17". It knows that I don’t know what error 17 is. If I listen really hard, I can hear my computer snickering when I turn my back.
I also don’t like the company it keeps. My computer hangs around this other adolescent called "internet" and gets my computer into trouble. Internet behaves in front of me because it knows that I’ll pull the plug on ‘em. However, when I’m not watching, Internet will coerce my computer to go anywhere. I can usually tell when they take one of those trips together because my computer will get sick and come down with a virus. Of course, I’ll have to be the one to pay the bill for it to get better.
I can’t discipline my computer for its behavior. It has no feelings. So, it won’t do any good to spank it, or speak harshly to it. The only sense of satisfaction comes when I exercise the only real power I have over my computer. I turn it off. And that my friends, is a power that no one has over a teenager!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Things I Never Thought About

As I sit on the porch this morning, I am at peace with God and myself. That’s a good place to be. My coffee is hot and in hand. The sun is coming up and the light hues of pink in the crisp autumn clouds tell me that the rest of this sleepy little town will be waking up soon. These times are too short. The gentle sway of my rocking chair is comforting. If you don’t have one, you should get one. Then, you will see what I mean. Rocking chairs are one of the finer things in life. My grandmother had one, and all of the grandkids use to fight over who would sit in it… when grandma wasn’t.
As a kid, I was a dreamer. I use to try and imagine my future, plot my courses. In my youth, I have seen myself in many different situations doing many different things being many different things. However, as I have endeavored to follow God with my whole heart, retrospectively, I have seen, I have done, and I have been things that I never thought about as a kid.
I never thought about being 40 years old. I mean, back then, that was old! I never thought about having 5 children. I never thought about having twins. I never thought about earning a living or paying bills. I never thought about becoming a teacher or starting a school. I never thought about financial hardship and having to do without. I never thought about all the powerful people I would meet. I never thought about making enemies without trying. I never thought about having daughters or the names “Emmali” or “Kayrin”. I never thought about living in Wisconsin. I never thought about being so far away from my dad. I never thought about being removed from the lives of my brother and sister. I never thought about my children not being close to their grandparents. I never thought about my mate’s parents growing old. I never thought about my own parents growing old. I never thought about nieces or nephews. I never thought about retirement. I never thought about investments. I never thought about my children’s occupations or mates. I never thought about their salvation either. I never thought about the power in spiritual purity. I never thought about honesty and integrity. I never thought about the power of a kind word. I never thought about the power of influence. I never thought one girl could love me this long. I never thought about marriage being this sweet. And even though there are disappointments, heartaches, longings unfulfilled and an uncertainty about the future, I never thought about the satisfaction that comes from the longevity of following Christ. I never thought about my life being this good.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Thoughts On Child Violence in Our Country

"As the snow flies….
On a cold and gray Chicago morn
Another little baby child is born
In the ghetto
And his mamma cries…"
The words to this song are haunting to me this morning. I woke up with the snow flying all around (no accumulation) and my world cold. It seems that the children and I mean children, in this country are committing or contemplating heinous acts upon others. There is no way that we can make everyone’s life a fairytale. But I can’t believe that this many kids have it that bad.
I am keenly aware that we adults do not know the intensity of the pressures that our kids face at school. This is a different day and age. Computers, Internet, television, music, video games, radio, billboards, magazine ads on and on…. Our kids are overwhelmed with immorality. It is "…in their face…" every day. If we could only take them back to a simpler day...
Remember when sexuality wasn’t spoken of on TV? Remember when there was no cursing allowed? Homosexuality was unheard of? My dad had to explain it to me. Isn’t that how it is suppose to be? Remember when jokes were funny and witty and not connected to sexual innuendoes? Remember when songs spoke of love as an emotion and not an act? Did you ever think that modern music would promote incorrigible, immoral, drunken, suicidal and irresponsible behavior? Did you ever think that we could have technology in our homes that could be used by our children to learn how to make bombs, view pornography, show how to make illicit drugs or how to steal other peoples writings and use it as their own? Did you ever think that we would live in a society that openly produces almost-naked pictures of women and men just to sell a product?
How did we get to where we are? We’re the adults. Let’s quit pointing a finger at everybody else and be keenly aware that these things exist because of us. Yes, us! These things exist because we allow them to exist. I speak of "us" as the society of adults.
The adult society doesn’t want to be regulated. Freedom of speech. Freedom of expression. Freedom to know. All the "freedoms" that the adults want for themselves is killing our kids.
You see adults should know how to regulate themselves. Kids don’t know any better. They don’t know the end results for getting involved in immoral things. Stick a kid in a candy store. When will he quit eating? Most likely after he gets sick from stuffing himself with candy. He’s a kid. What else would you expect? But, an adult knows better!
Can we get this society under control? I don’t think so. Immorally, we are out of control. The only thing that will bring our society back for our children is God, and an immoral society doesn’t look for God.
So, our nations bored, overweight, spiritually depraved and empty-soul children search for meaning in their parents "stuff". They will find nothing of value. They will then turn to what they have seen, heard, and learned. They will try drugs and alcohol, pornography, sex and homosexuality. And when they get angry enough they will take a gun to school to settle their issues for them. Why will they do all this? Because they can…
"People don’t you understand, the child needs you helping hand
He’s gonna’ grow to be a young man someday
Take a look at you and me, are we to blind to see
Or do we simply turn our heads and look the other way…"
"Then one night in desperation the young man breaks away
He buys a gun, steals a car, tries to run but he doesn’t get far
And his mamma cries
A crowd gathers ‘round an angry young man
Face down in the street with a gun in his hand
In the ghetto
As her young man dies…
On a cold and gray Chicago morn
Another little baby child is born
In the ghetto…"

("In The Ghetto" written by Nick Cave)

Friday, October 06, 2006

Felicam Tibi Natalia Diem

I’m not real big on birthdays. When I was a kid, a birthday celebration was a song and a cake at dinner. That’s a nice birthday. My wife, on the other hand, thinks differently. Since we have been together, my wife has tried to celebrate every birthday. She thinks they’re "special"…. I don’t.
Last year my birthday fell on a Wednesday. Wednesday is youth nite at my church. I am the youth pastor. Wednesday is busy! In the middle of youth worship, I noticed some of our adults from the church slipping in for the youth contemporary worship service. I was so pleased. I had been trying to get adults to come for weeks so that they could see what was going on during Wednesdays. You could only imagine my surprise to find out that they had come to celebrate my birthday at the request of my wife.
So I ate cake and ice cream had punch and said "thank you" for the gesture. Then came the cards. Of course, I had to sit and open them all in front of everyone. That’s when I discovered a harsh reality.
Not one, not two, not three, nor four…. Yea five cards wished me a happy 40th birthday. I am humbled. For you see, I was turning 39. After the 3rd card I finally commented that I was only turning 39 to which one of my parishioners responded, "ah, come on pastor. We all know you’re older than 40!"
I guess the best roasts are the ones that don’t realize their roasting you. I suppose since I had my 40th when I was 39 that now when I am about to turn 40 no one will remember. And to make matters worse, the very next week (the one after my non-fortieth birthday surprise party) I got my first pair of bifocals. The next week… my first letter from A.A.R.P.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Just Do It!

I’ve been looking at my waist lately. Can’t miss it. I’ve been thinking that I need to get back to that exercise thing I use to do. So, I’ve been wondering when I can fit it in. Let me see. If I got up earlier on Mondays I might be able to get in a twenty minute work out before I have to get the kids up. But then again, I wouldn’t be getting a quality work out and it wouldn’t be worth it. Monday evenings are family time. I won’t touch that. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday morning are already spoken for so I can’t go there. Tuesday and Thursday evenings are for study and research for the classes I teach. Wednesday ooohhhh, that day is already so long I could write a book about it. Friday is for writing, bloging, and sermon preparation. Saturday is to catch up around the house day. I am already so far behind on this day that I could use two weeks to catch up. Sunday is the Lord’s Day. I try to leave that day for worship and spiritual edification. It doesn’t always work but I try. That’s my week. There just isn’t time to work on my growth problem. Actually, instead of a problem, you could call it an investment. It would make me feel better.
Some time ago NIKE had a slogan. “Just do it” This becomes the definition for discipline. When we accomplish anything thing in our lives it comes down to the slogan “Just do it”. If I am going to read that book, work on my prayer life, learn more about God, earn my degree or burn this fat off my middle I have to just do it!
We all have excuses that keep us from “…doing it”. The fact of the matter is the “thing” hasn’t hit high enough on the priority list for us to do anything about it. True. All those other things that clutter my life are a higher priority than sweating and burning calories. I know this and yet I can’t get my "self" to embrace this new priority. It sounds and feels too much like work. Yet, I know after I get started that I will feel better and even enjoy it. But still…..You know they make pills for everything these days. Maybe they can make a pill for guys like me, a pill that will remove all my obstacles so that I can…”git ‘er done”.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Rainy Days & Fridays… In A Small Town

As I stepped out on the porch this morning with my coffee in hand, it was raining. Autumn’s chill is in the air… here in Wisconsin. Unlike the song, rainy days and Fridays don’t get me down. O.K., I know the song says Monday, but today is Friday and the rain is soothing to my soul. I sip my coffee, listen to the creaking of the runners on my rocking chair and the soft patter of the gentle rain. Life has slowed down, at least for the moment.
Before I came to live in Wisconsin, I asked around "What’s it like to live in Wisconsin?" I got a lot of different answers. The one that influenced me the most came from someone who lived here as a child. He said, "Wisconsin is a great place to raise kids." I don’t know if it is so much Wisconsin. Our tax burden is among the highest in the country. I think it is because most of Wisconsin is rural, small town-ish.
I have had the privilege of living in a metropolis with over two million people and a town with over 10,000. I now live in a burg with only 400.
Besides goods and services, the biggest difference from the largest place I’ve ever lived to the smallest is pace. The city just can’t seem to slow down. Not like here. I am reminded of this every time I get caught behind some piece of farm equipment on an impassible road going 3 miles per hour. Ain’t no since gettin’ in a hurry there.
I have traveled back to the city many times in the 5 years I have lived in this little burg. Each time I go, I notice more and more how difficult it is for me to keep up. Traffic is way too hectic. The malls are to crowded. The days seem to long. You can do just about anything 24 hours a day. The cell phones are always ringing, the computer is always running and you can always get something to eat. Go, go, go! People forget to "whoa".
Maybe that’s why folks come up here to vacation. Here you can’t go, go, go. There ain’t nuttin' to go to! Shoot, we roll up and put away the side walks by 5 p.m. And on a Friday like this, we don’t even get ‘em back out. So when you get out of the city, because there doesn’t seem to be anything to do. You just relax. For some folks, it is unnerving because we have poor cellular service and they’re cell phones don’t work very well. While I have met others who travel here for the peace of mind that comes from their cell phone not working.
I have tasted both sides. I must admit that I miss the goods and services. I miss a good steak. I miss the ability to run to the store to get whatever I think I need. I miss 2 a.m. coffee shops and breakfast anytime. It agitates me a little to have to drive an hour in any direction to go to a movie.
So I have traded all that for mornings like this. And I would gladly make the same choice again. You can’t put a price tag on this. Lets see… how does that commercial go? Cup of home brewed coffee - .50 cents. Comfortable rocking chair on the front porch - $55.00. Sound of gentle rain – free! The cost of having these few moments to reflect on my soul and drink in God’s goodness – PRICELESS.
TO THOSE OF YOU WHO LIVE IN A METROPOLIS: I hope that someday you would have the opportunity to leave and experience the peace and simplicity of a small burg (like the one I live in). It is a change. But, it’s a good change! Well, my time is up. My wife is telling me it’s time for breakfast. This morning is biscuits and gravy.

Friday, September 15, 2006

…About Sunshine & Labor

…About Sunshine & Labor
This morning I came out to the porch early. I made my cup of coffee and sat in the porch swing. I am tired of the rat race I have been running. So, I thought I would steal me a few moments on the front porch swing with a cup of Jo, singing birds and sunshine. What a gorgeous morning! I know I can’t sit here all day. But at this moment, I had better not be disturbed.
You know…it’s really about the sunshine. It makes you feel better. Did you know that Seattle, Washington has the longest rainy season of any major U.S. city? Did you know it has the highest mental depression rate of any major U.S. city? Did you know it also has the highest suicide rate of any major U.S. city? And yes, it is related to sunshine. Sunshine is one of our major sources of vitamin D. You have probably guessed by now that vitamin D helps fight depression. Do you ever feel blah after getting stuck inside the house or office all day?
It’s not just the sunshine, but also the satisfaction of accomplishment. Follow with me here. My wife is a stay-at-home mom. From the time she gets up until she goes to bed, her schedule looks the same. She feels like she spinning her wheels because when she wakes up tomorrow, she will do it all over again. As for me, my job is the same as a broker. I invest in people’s lives. Some days the stock values go up. Some days they go down. I don’t know if I have accomplished anything until I have tracked the investment for 5, 10, or even 15 years! So for me there’s no real sense of accomplishment.
That’s where we help each other out… the laundry. For a family of 7, the laundry is a never-ending mountain of work. And, I do mean a never-ending mountain. Therefore, I have relieved my wife of the monotonous task of the laundry… she is happy. That alone is worth it! Now, this is where I get my sense of accomplishment. Have you ever waded through a week of laundry from a family of 7? It can’t be done!
I am proud to announce that I have conquered a mountain of dirty clothes… and my wife is proud of me. She is happy… yes! Seriously, I can’t begin to tell you the satisfaction I get when I look around the basement and the mountain has been removed. My wife tells me of her sense of satisfaction that she doesn’t have to face it. You see, I think we all have a need to be satisfied with our accomplishments.
I hope that you can accomplish something today or this week. Stick with it until you do, then get outside and soak up some sun even if you live in Seattle (you might have to get a sunlamp). Well, gotta’ go. I just heard the wash machine finish the rinse cycle.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Thoughts On Vacations

I'm sorry. I've been away from my desk for a couple of weeks now. It has been literally impossible to write. So, now I'm back. For a few moments anyway to sit on my own front porch and catch my breath. Wow, it feels good to just sit here a minute. You see over the past two weeks I've taken teens on a 3 day two night canoeing trip and on an over-night trip too a Major League baseball game. At my church we have a school and we are currently doing placement testing for new students. We have had a special baptism service for 8 people. Through all this, our beloved churuch treasurer has had emergency open heart surgery at a hospital 64 miles away. Praise the Lord she came home this Tuesday (9/5/06)
I'm Tired
People say when I go on the youth excursions,"Did you have fun? Was it a nice vacation?" Let me see...running around with 16 teenagers 4 hours away from home... no! it wasn't nice. And you can't use the word vacation and teenagers in the same sentence. It's an oxymoron. In fact most people I know have to go back to work just to get rested up. Know the feeling?
So, I think I'll just sit here on the porch for a minute and ponder...what!? It's the car horn. I forgot something I was suppose to do. That's the other problem with going. When you get back you have to work twice as hard to catch up on the things you didn't get done because you were gone. It makes you wonder why you left in the first place. Oh, well I gotta' go.

Friday, August 18, 2006


I’ve been pondering an old theme. As I deal with people on a day-to-day basis, I wonder, "Is it the situations that we find ourselves in that shape us?"
I don’t know how you would answer. However, I do know that you would be foolish to answer quickly without circumspection.
As I ponder this question, many situations come to my mind. I’ve counseled with the pregnant teenager, the disappointed parent, the heartbroken housewife, the angry husband, the frustrated grandparent, the suspicious employee and the grieving loved one (just to name a few). In every case, the pressure from that situation left a mark on the person. No exceptions! At times, the mark is hard to see because the individual is trying to hide it, but it is there. All have markings and scars caused by the squeezing pressures of life. You have yours and I have mine. If the discussion were dropped here, it would be very depressing due to the nature of situations.
Have you ever noticed that some people are controlled by their situation and some people aren’t? The situation of life is applying pressure, and it will leave its mark, but the one who doesn’t get controlled by the situation chooses their response instead of just reacting. I think this becomes a great lesson of life. The situations that God allows us to handle in life will shape us. The difference is will you choose to allow the situation to control you or will you choose to respond to your situation?
In the 1800’s, the Africans brought to America in the slave trade found themselves in a situation that was harsh. They didn’t bring it upon themselves. Nevertheless, they were made slaves. Yet, despite the oppression, certain ones succeeded because they chose a response to their situation. The same is true for Jews in Europe in the 1930’s and 40’s and for South Africans in the 1980’s. Countless stories of inspiration are told about people who chose to respond to their personal situations.
Is there a situation of life that’s gotta’ hold on you, and its whipping you around like a dirty dishrag? What you probably need is a response to that situation. Handle it. Don’t let it handle you.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Time Is a Funny Thing....

Time is a funny thing....
I could start a thousand times with that phrase and come up with some different variation every time. I am amazed by time. Time…an intangible thing that we measure. Lets take a moment and consider the influence of the clock as it runs our society and our lives. Business and retail stores open and close by the measurement of time which in turn dictates working hours. It is how we set appointments and meetings. It runs our diets…i.e  when we have breakfast, lunch, dinner, midnight snack etc. School classes are ran by the clock. The clock dictates when classes start and stop and even awards you a degree when you accumulate enough hours. Church services need to start on time. Woe unto the preacher that goes to long and causes their congregation to miss the brunch specials or the kickoff of their favorite team...which starts at a specific time!
We all have the same amount of time to work with, but there never seems to be enough it. I am always trying to find more time, of course I can’t. And neither can you. I go to bed tired a lot of the time. I wake up tired a lot of the time. While I am trying to go to sleep, my mind is reeling thinking about what I didn’t get accomplished, and how I’m going to make that fit into the next day that already has a time schedule of its own...know the feeling?
The older I get, the more I understand the old saying...
"A woman’s work is from sun to sun
But a man’s work is never done."
Now don’t go ballistic on me. I know I miss quoted that "old saying". However, it doesn’t matter. Man or woman, young adult or retired, once we enter into adulthood, as human beings, we are never done with our tasks.
I knew this guy, Carl, who absolutely amazed me. He laid off from his good, well-paying job. He packed up everything to go to bible college. That’s where I met him. He also attended my church where I met his family. He had a wife and two elementary age children. Carl carried a full load in school and was aggressive about it. I mean he was on his schoolwork like bulldog on a bone! He worked two jobs (I can’t remember if full-time or part-time) to make up for the lost wages of his other job, paying college tuition and supporting his family. He and his family never missed a Sunday in church. Carl was a straight A student. I was struggling to make B’s. He wasn’t any smarter than me, but being older, Carl was more mature and understood about this thing called time. He knew how to handle it much better than me. I remember he showed me some cards he made that had our New Testament Greek vocabulary. He punched holes in the cards on kept them on a ring. While he was driving he would have his wife or kids help him memorize his Greek vocabulary. I think Carl got better grades in New Testament Greek than I did too. I bet his wife and kids would have gotten better grades than me too!
So many things would be different in all our lives if we all would  learn to handle our time better. If you think about it, how we handle our time affects our finances, our diets, our accomplishments, our failures, our dreams and even our relationships, physical and spiritual. It is intentional that I don't give examples. I want you to use your imagination and think...."What would my life look like if I was better at utilizing the time that I have?"
So, instead of wishing for more time (‘cause that’ll never happen) I should learn from my friend Carl and learn how to handle the time I’ve got.

Friday, August 04, 2006

…About Our Children
This morning my 3-year-old crept into my bedroom with the stealth of a rhino. As she climbed upon my chest, I laid there with my eyes closed pretending to be asleep.
"Daddy, are you awake?"
She took her little finger and began to pry my eyes open. With both my eyes painfully forced open, she shoved her tiny face into mine and ordered, "Wake up!"
God love her. What a start to the day that was.
I love my kids. They are my life. They’re suppose to be. It is no mistake that my world revolves around theirs. They won’t learn if I don’t teach them, and I do mean me. I can’t pass that job off to somebody else. My oldest son, a teenager, asked me, "Is sex really as good as people make it out to be?" I don’t want him getting that answer from anyone else but me!
Some may say I’m over-protective. I don’t think so. There are other parents that feel the same. Not long ago, I spent a week with a couple, Mike and Tina, at a youth camp. They were there because their son was there. They want to be apart of his life. That my friend is called "child rearing", and not enough parents do it.
Think about the amount a time you spend with your kids. Do you see them before they leave for school? What time do you see them when they get home? Do they hang around their friends more than you? Do you even eat a meal a day together? How long has it been this way?
Child rearing, just like a marriage, is work… hard work! It is not for wimps. It takes courage, fortitude and whole lot of love. As I look over the years of different parents that I have known, I think a lot of them just got tired and quit. Don’t do that. Hang in there and guide your children to be the adults that will make you and God proud of them.
If you get tired just think of my 3-year-old. Maybe we could work it out to have her wake you up some morning.

Friday, July 28, 2006

About Truth

As a minister, it is part of my job to listen. So, I listen to a lot of things, and I must say what I hear can be confusing. In politics, I hear from one group that our nation's president is a wonderful leader. But, with the turn of a channel, I hear that his presidency is a sham and that the man is a liar. If I listen to the happenings of state and local issues, I can hear that a certain social suggestion is a horrible idea from one group of people while another will sing of its virtues. My own household does the same. I could have a simple incident between two of my children and if so, I will have two different versions of the truth about that incident. The church is not immured from such vacillations. The pastor can preach from the Word of God on an issue, and while most in the congregation will agree with the message, there will still be others who would say, "I just don't see it that way."
The oldest piece of New Testament manuscript (about the size of a mans hand) has one statement written on it in ancient Greek.. ."What is truth?" This is the question that was asked by Pilate in the Passion story of Christ. It is still a relevant question today.
What is truth? It seems to me that truth is tenacious, unyielding. Truth is unchanging. Truth is a rock! It is more than a sure bet. It is firmer than any foundation. And, when everything else fails to exist, the truth will still remain.. .unchanged.
I listened to an interview of a popular celebrity. He was telling of his desire to speak to others of his race and tell them to "...change their ways..." or their lives will be in ruin. The interviewer reminded the celebrity of his improprieties, shortcomings and sinfulness. Then she asked the aged, and famous man, "Why should people listen to you?" He responded with an analogy that I have never forgotten. He said, "Let's say on a dark and rainy night, you and I were driving separately out on a road that had a bridge over it. I went to cross that bridge first, but the rain had washed out the bridge. I climb out of the wreckage, battered, bruised, clothes torn, soaking wet, and start back down the road to warn others about the danger. You come along and see me waving my arms, and hear me shouting, 'the bridge is out'. You look at me and the way I am, a real mess, and decide to proceed. Just because of the way 'I am" doesn't change the truth about the peril that lies ahead.
WOW! I thought that was an excellent description for truth. But still, even with truth being such a constant, there are so many variations of the truth. I have discovered that the problem isn't with the truth. The problem is with our handling of the truth.

With our God given ability to rationalize, we can twist the truth. With our natural, self-centered nature, we can bend the truth. With our sinful, deviant behavior, we can seem to make the truth disappear. However, the twisting, bending and disappearing are only an illusion. The truth is still the truth no matter what you do to it.
Our society in America is on a great slide downward when it comes to truthfulness. I believe it is due to the way we handle the truth. Our national politics would be respected more if the political leaders would quite bending the truth for their self-centered interests. Our communities would be whole and undivided if civic leaders would quite twisting the truth about social agenda's and rationalizing why they do it. There would be more love in my household if the deviant behavior would disappear instead of the truth. Our character is no better than the way we handle the truth. Because even if you show only half of a truth when you handle the truth, that's a half-truth, and everybody knows that a half-truth is a lie.