Posts

Showing posts from 2014

A Confident Old Guy

Image
When baseball legend, Ty Cobb, was seventy years old, a reporter asked, "What do you think you would hit if you were playing these days?"

Cobb, a lifetime .367 hitter, said, "About .290, maybe .300." The reporter said, "That's because of the travel, the night games, the artificial turf, and all the new pitches like the slider, right?"

"No," said Cobb, "It's because I'm seventy."

-- From Developing the Leaders Around You (John C. Maxwell)

Bible Reading Plans for 2015

Image
A friend, explaining her recent burst of spiritual growth said, "Bible study.  I've read casually it all along -- but this year, I started studying it, and that's when I began to grow."  What is your plan to read and study the Bible in 2015?  If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Nathan W. Bingham has posted several excellent Bible Reading plans at the Ligonier website.  Anyone interested in digging into Scripture will find something good here: Bible Reading Plans for 2015.

Bible Gateway also offers several outstanding plans that can be sent directly to your smartphone or computer:  Bible Gateway Reading Plans.

Other Bible study tools can be found at Bible Hub.

A Bible that is falling apart is usually owned by somebody who isn't.

What Are Your Plans?

Image
The launching of a New Year is a good time for new resolutions.  Real resolutions are not wish lists, "I should's" or "Wouldn't it be nice?"

Resolution literally means "wholehearted commitment."  Every river has bedrocks, and the water flows around the rocks.

The only way to make significant change is to implement your commitments like rocks -- and then let the rest of life flows around them.  

Many well meaning people depend on inspiration to keep their spiritual resolutions.  Now, inspiration is a good booster to get the rocket off the ground -- but won't keep it flying.

Resolutions won't stick unless accompanied by solid plans!  These plans, when embraced, are the rocks -- the priorities -- and everything else flows around them.

With this in mind. . .

1.  What is your Bible Reading Plan?
If you don't have one, you won't do it.  You may intend to read the Bible regularly, but your efforts will be feeble at best.  Scripture is our spirit…

Keeping Christmas

Image
Let me not wrap, stack, box, bag, tie, tag, bundle, seal, keep Christmas.  Christmas kept is liable to mold.  Let me give Christmas away, unwrapped, by exuberant armfuls.   Let me share, dance, live Christmas unpretentiously, merrily, responsibly with overflowing hands, tireless steps and sparkling eyes.  Christmas given away will stay fresh—even until it comes again."

--  Linda Felver, "Let Us Not Keep Christmas"

The Reason for the Season

Image
In the midst of the hectic shopping season, a frustrated fellow grumbled, "They ought to kill the guy who's responsible for this!"  Another shopper quietly replied, "They did."

The significance of Christmas does not lie in a cradle, but in a cross.

The angels proclaimed his birth saying, "Unto you is born this day, a Savior. . ." He came to save us!

If the world had just needed a better education, God would have sent a teacher.

If the world had only needed some encouragement, God would have sent a motivational speaker.

If the world merely needed emotional stabilization, God would have sent a psychotherapist.

If the world needed a better social order, God would have sent a politician, or perhaps, a general.

But God sent Jesus to this earth as a lowly little baby -- to be our Savior. He came to save us -- from our sins, our situations and ourselves.

Forgiveness is the greatest need of the human soul, and Jesus Christ entered our world to bring it.

My nephew, Rod…

The Best Lip-Sync of the Worst Rendition of O Holy Night

Jesus Was a Small Town Preacher

Image
The majority of protestant churches are in small towns and rural communities. Many pastors, upon graduation from seminary, find themselves in one of these "ends of the earth" assignments.

Their attitude is "I'm stuck here in this one horse town until I learn the ropes.  Then, I'll move on and do something important."

Today, as Christmas approaches, I'd like to challenge the assumption that small places are insignificant.

Jesus, God in human flesh, came to the earth on a mission from heaven to transform humanity. He looked the whole world over and picked the perfect place to launch his global and eternal enterprise.

Where did he go? What was his strategic missional selection? A small town!

"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from old, from ancient times." (Micah 5:2)

You won't get any Christmas cards with pictures of …

How About Giving?

Image
Santa asks, “What do you want for Christmas?”   Little kids bring their lists while parents eavesdrop.

That’s precious, and I certainly don’t want to detract from the Christmas wonder little ones experience.

But, at the essence, Christmas is not for getting – it’s for giving!

'Tis the season of unselfishness.  'Tis the season to share with those you love. 'Tis the season to be compassionate for those less fortunate.

It’s not about spending money you don’t have on stuff they don’t need.  This year, especially, with financial squeeze we’re feeling – how about simplifying? How about being creative, spending a little less, and giving a little more of yourself? How about shopping locally, so you bless your neighbors by your spending, helping them put food on their tables?

How about giving something homemade? How about giving your time?

How about remembering those in need? Did you know that Americans spent $450 billion on Christmas spent year and that we could provide safe, clean drin…

ABC's of Gratitude

Image
Alphabet Soup For the Soul

A lthough things are not perfect

B ecause of trial or pain

C ontinue in thanksgiving

D o not begin to blame

E ven when the times are hard

F ierce winds are bound to blow

G od is forever able

H old on to what you know

I magine life without His love

J oy would cease to be

K eep thanking Him for all the things

L ove imparts to thee

M ove out of "Camp Complaining"

N o weapon that is known

O n earth can yield the power

P raise can do alone

Q uit looking at the future

R edeem the time at hand

Your Thorns Have Roses Too

Image
Happiness is a decision -- a choice.

If you wait for "happenings" to make you happy -- you'll be waiting
most of the time.

Life isn't easy. It brings a measure of pain, as well as joy. The thorns come with the roses.

There's no such thing as a thornless life.

John Calvin said, "We must develop a better and deeper concept of happiness than that held by the world, which makes a happy life consist of ease, honor, and great wealth."

Now, it's a wonderful thing when somebody pushes the "easy button" for us. When plans go better than anticipated, we all rejoice.

It always feels good to be appreciated and honored. We are all glad to be recognized for "extra mile" effort.

Having extra money is always nice. "Money doesn't buy happiness, but it sure comes in handy!"

Nevertheless, if we must depend on ease, honor and wealth to make us happy, we are doomed to misery

When we chase happiness by these avenues, we'll never find it. It…

Are You Running on Positive Juice?

Image
What kind of juice do you have in your tank?

Lawnmowers and cars run on gasoline.
Chainsaws and weed eaters run on a gas/oil mixture.
Sailboats and kites run with the wind.
Campfires run on wood -- And you run on one of two kinds of energy:
positive or negative (or, more likely, a mixture of both.)

What's the difference between running on positive vs. negative juice?

1. Negative juice is the "default" mode. If you don't deliberately choose the positive path, you'll end up operating in the negative. We are grumpy by nature -- and cheerful by choice. Nobody is positive by accident -- It requires a strong commitment and a new way of thinking.

2. Running on negative juice is easier at first -- but much harder in the long run. Since it is the default mode, you don't have to work at becoming negative -- it just happens naturally! No extra effort is required. However, those who operate with negative energy find that life is much more difficult. Positive energy takes more ef…

Anointing

Image

Are You Ready for Christmas?

Image
December is here -- bringing the dreaded question everybody hates: "Are you ready for Christmas?"

Whenever that question is asked, the response is always a groan -- "Are you kidding? Don't remind me!"

The assumption here is that "Are you ready for Christmas?" means "Are your decorations all up, your cookies all baked, and your gifts all purchased? Are you finished with all of your Christmas preparations?"

Of course, the answer to that question will most likely be a resounding "NO!" (Unless you are one of those rare breeds who plans way ahead and finishes your Christmas shopping sometime around
Halloween. Many of us are "adrenaline" shoppers. We wait until the last minute, and then scurry off in a shopping frenzy.

I wonder what would happen if we moved being ready for Christmas from the "finished" side of the holidays, to the "beginning". Instead of thinking we have to be done with everything before we…

The Exchanged Life

Image
Recently, in a sermon, I shared this beautiful letter from the great missionary,  J. Hudson Taylor to his sister, Amelia, dated October 17, 1869.   It expresses the joy and depths of what it means to be one with Christ:

My own dear Sister— So many thanks for your long, dear letter... I do not think you have written me such a letter since we have been in China. I know it is with you as with me—you cannot, not you will not. Mind and body will not bear more than a certain amount of strain, or do more than a certain amount of work. As to work, mine was never so plentiful, so responsible, or so difficult; but the weight and strain are all gone. The last month or more has been perhaps, the happiest of my life; and I long to tell you a little of what the Lord has done for my soul. I do not know how far I may be able to make myself intelligible about it, for there is nothing new or strange or wonderful—and yet, all is new! In a word, "Whereas once I was blind, now I see." Perhaps I…

God's Blanket

Image
Awakening to a beautiful blanket of snow this morning, I was reminded of these words from Edwin M. Johnson, legendary Northwoods poet:

God laid a blanket on the hills last night,
A quilt all fluffy, downy and white,
He tucked the edges round flowers asleep,
Warned the litte one burrowed down deep,
Not to awaken until the Spring,
When thrush and robin and bluebird sing.

Yes, God unfurled a blanket last night,
And He looked on earth and loved the sight,
The spruce and the flowers fell asleep with a nod,
I think they were thankful for the goodness of God.
When I saw how He tenderly cared for a tree,
I just knew He would care for you and me.

(This beautiful picture of the trail in winter woods was taken by my friend, Sue Bartz.)

Seven Ways to Cultivate a Thankful Heart

Image
Do you have a tank-full of thankful?  Here are seven ways to cultivate gratitude in your heart:

1)  Be grateful for what you have, rather than ungrateful for what you don’t have.
2)  Declare war on petty negativism.  (Most of our pet peeves are just petty.)
3)  Keep Jesus at the center and refuse to focus on garbage.
4)  Look for the blessing  (You might have to dig, but you will find it somewhere.)
5)  Quit comparing yourself with others.  (The only person you should compare yourself with is the person you used to be.
6)  Change the channel.  (Life's situations are being interpreted by two broadcasts in your mind --
Channel P -- the Postive Channel and Channel N -- the Negative Channel.  You possess the remote control.)
7)  Go out and bless somebody.  (When you make others happy, you make yourself happy.)

Alphabet Soup for the Soul

Image
A lthough things are not perfect 
B ecause of trial or pain 
C ontinue in thanksgiving 
D o not begin to blame 
E ven when the times are hard 
F ierce winds are bound to blow 
G od is forever able 
H old on to what you know 
I magine life without His love 
oy would cease to be 
K eep thanking Him for all the things 
L ove imparts to thee 
M ove out of "Camp Complaining" 
N o weapon that is known 
O n earth can yield the power 
P raise can do alone 
Q uit looking at the future 
R edeem the time at hand 
S tart every day with worship 
T o "thank" is a command 
U ntil we see Him coming 
V ictorious in the sky 
W e'll run the race with gratitude 
X alting God most high 
Y es, there'll be good times and yes some will be bad, but... 
Z ion waits in glory...where none are ever sad!

(author unkown -- sent to me by my sister-in-law, Sandy Wilson)