My oldest son recently got this t-shirt for me for my birthday. It is from one of my favorite TV shows. I have shared before that I am a fan of the TV show Seinfeld. While I fully accept the fact that sometimes the show is a bit…bawdy…for my money, it is one of the funniest shows in TV history. There is an episode where Jerry’s best friend George is unemployed and trying to work the unemployment system for all he can. He has to check in with the Unemployment Office regularly, telling them where he has been applying for jobs. The problem is…he really HASN’T been applying for jobs!
April 29th…an important day in my life! On this date, ___ years ago (Yes, that is intentionally blank! I’m NOT going to publicly reveal my wife’s age! I mean, I was born at night…but it wasn’t LAST night!), my wife was born. She wasn’t, of course, my wife when she was born…but she was destined to be! And I do believe that. We both dated other people in our lifetimes, but I believe with all my heart that we were meant to be together!
A few years ago, my older son was performing with his high school marching band at the then TWA Dome in downtown St. Louis. At time, we lived near St. Louis, so I jumped on the Metrolink train and headed over so I could watch him perform. After he was done, I walked out of the dome and headed to the train platform to catch the next train back to my car at the station in Illinois.
Today we begin a new Wednesday devotional series called Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Bible. Each Wednesday we will look at a section of books from the Bible- this will literally be an overview of the Bible as a whole. Today’s devotional is called Beginnings, and it deals with the 1st 5 books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. These books, the writing of which is attributed to Moses, are the foundation upon which the rest of the Bible rests- they are very important books.
My younger son has some issues with allergies. We aren’t really sure what he’s allergic to, despite extensive testing…but’s it’s clearly…something! One thing that seems to affect many people who suffer from allergies is the sting of a bee or wasp. I know folks who have HORRIBLY bad reactions to them. (Horribly like, “If I don’t get treated for this in a timely manner…I might die” horribly!) Recently, my wife, younger son and I went to a community in Southern Illinois to visit a family grave plot and place (actually RE-place) some artificial flowers that decorate a couple of the stones.
If you know me at all, you know what a
lover of music I am. I love many different genres of music, but “classic rock”
would have to be at the top of my list. And the Eagles (Don Henley, Glenn Frey,
Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmidt) would have to be one of my favorite bands of
all time. They had MANY hits over the years (Already Gone, Best Of My Love, Desperado,
Hotel California. I Can’t Tell You Why, Life in the Fast Lane, Lyin’ Eyes, Take
It Easy…the list goes on and on!), but there is one song that didn’t get much
airplay but has much to say to up right now. It’s called After the Thrill Is
Gone, and it says, in part: “The flame
rises but it soon descends- empty pages and a frozen pen. What can you do when
your dreams come true and it’s not quite like you planned? Time passes and you
must move on. Half the distance takes you twice as long. Same dances in the
same old shoes. You get too careful with the steps you choose. You don’t care
about winning but you don’t want to lose…after the thrill is gone.” Time
passes and you must move on. You don’t care about winning but you don’t want to
lose- after the thrill is gone.
Easter has come…and gone. There is SUCH anticipation
about Easter. The excitement and joy are nearly palpable. We can hardly wait
for it. But then it’s here, and in the blink of an eye, the whole thing’s over.
And, for many, there is a notable, measurable let-down. It’s like the joke that
everyone says is the funniest joke they’ve ever heard. They tell you that and
they tell you that…and then they tell you the joke itself, and it can’t POSSIBLY
life up to the hype. Easter is much like that. So where do we go from here?
What do we do…after the thrill is gone? Do we simply go back to…ordinary…just let
our relationship with God slide, let our church attendance slip, let our prayer
life stagnate? Or do we commit to NOT letting that happen? Do we dedicate
ourselves to being all that God had called us to be? Ultimately, it is a
conscious choice on our part. We can choose to simply…exist…and wait for NEXT
Easter season to get “juiced up” again, or we can step out in faith and be on
the leading edge of a resurgence of faith.
How about you…is the thrill gone? Are you
feeling a bit…blah…about your faith? Here’s my challenge to you- come to church
EVERY Sunday, participate in the life of the church, be about the business of
Jesus Christ…and see if it doesn’t reset your “thrill” meter! Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!
A woman was at work when she received a phone call that her daughter was very sick with a fever. She left work and stopped by the pharmacy to get some medication. She got back to her car and found that she had locked her keys in the car. She looked around and found an old rusty coat hanger that had been thrown down on the ground, possibly by someone else who at some time or other had locked their keys in their car, but she didn’t know how to use it. So she bowed her head and asked God to send her some help. Within five minutes an old rusty car pulled up, with a dirty, greasy, bearded man who was wearing an old biker do-rag on his head. The woman looked up and whispered, “This is what you sent to help me?” But, she was desperate, so she was also very thankful. The man got out of his car and asked her if he could help. She said, She told him her situation and asked if he could help. “Sure”. He walked over to the car, and in less than a minute had it opened. She cried and hugged him, and through her tears said, “Thank you SO much! You’re a very nice man.” The man replied, “Lady, I’m not a nice man. I just got out of prison…today- I’ve only been out for about an hour. I was in prison for car theft.” She hugged the man again and with sobbing tears cried out loud, “Oh, Thank you God! You even sent me a professional!”
re they put him.’” Well…if the tomb’s empty, then why is she still there? If you’ve ever lost a loved one who meant more to you than life itself, you know why she was there. She was there because death couldn’t destroy her love for Jesus. She weeps because the tomb is empty. What should have been good news broke her heart! We see the empty tomb as one of the greatest proofs of the Resurrection…but Mary weeps. Evidence alone won’t persuade anyone. Unless the evidence is accompanied by proper understanding and an open heart, no one will ever be changed. Mary had all the right facts…but she still jumped to the wrong conclusion. Then, she turns and sees Jesus standing there…but she doesn’t recognize Him. “Woman, why are you crying? Who’re you looking for?” Mary thinks he’s the gardener and says, “Sir, if you’ve carried him away, tell me where you’ve put him and I’ll get him.” Why didn’t she recognize Jesus? The text doesn’t say, but here are some possibilities. She wasn’t expecting to see him. It’s a contextual thing- you see the checker from the grocery store at a restaurant and you don’t recognize her. He was out of context. But I think the main reason is that Jesus deliberately veiled his own identity. He didn’t want Mary to recognize him so that he could teach her an important truth. She had to learn that he’s always present…even when he’s invisible to the naked eye, that he’s often closest to us when we feel the most alone. Just because we don’t see him doesn’t mean he isn’t there. Then Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She instantly recognizes Him and calls him Teacher. Mary clings to Jesus and He tells her not to. Her clinging meant, “I think everything is the same as it used to be.” But Jesus says, “No, many things are different now.” Then He tells her to go and tell the others. So she goes to the disciples and tells them she has seen the Lord. The mourner becomes the missionary! So it is with all who meet the risen Lord. We are called to do as Mary did- run and tell all who will listen that we’ve seen Jesus!
nge it over night. But we have to start somewhere. I have a suggestion as to how we might begin to stop it- here it is. Before every committee meeting, ask this question: “Is what we’re about to discuss worth the price Jesus paid on the cross? Is what we’re doing right now, or fighting over right now, worth the shedding of Jesus’ blood? Did Jesus die on the cross so that we could be this kind of church?”
I don’t know about you, but to
this day I can NOT smell vinegar without immediately being transported to the
kitchen counter of my boyhood home, newspapers spread out, glasses of pastel-colored
water scattered about, decorating Easter eggs. We would use those little wire
utensils to dip the eggs into, and ladle them back out of, the dye mixture. My
dad would then hide them out in the yard for us to find. (I still remember,
being the youngest and therefore having the hardest time finding eggs, that he
would hide some in really obvious places and tell the other kids to leave them
alone for me to find!) We would eat a few of the eggs, but eventually there would
be the obligatory egg salad laced with multi-hued stripes! As I got older, the
Easter gifts I received changed. (I remember one year get the “Superman: The
Movie” soundtrack…on 8-track tape!) I remember so many Easters over the years.
I also remember having no real clue what
Easter was all about. Growing up, Easter was simply a time to get candy
and take a break from school. Even as a younger adult, Easter was little
more than another time to see the wide-eyed wonder in my son’s eyes. And
then I met someone, and all that changed. Who did I meet? Jesus
Christ. (My wife introduced Him to me!) And as I got to know Him better, I
began to understand better the true meaning of Easter. Easter is the
celebration of the greatest gift ever given. It commemorates the most
amazing sacrifice we can imagine. It is the foundation upon which
Christianity is built. I have heard it said that without Christmas, there
is no Jesus. True. However, without Easter there is no Christ, no
Christianity. Jesus willingly laid down his life for us- no one took it
from Him. But the grave could not contain Him. On the third day, He
rose! He died for our sins, and lives for our eternal souls.
This year, enjoy the eggs, the baskets,
and the chocolate (don’t forget that plastic Easter grass!), but make sure you
take time to acknowledge the greatest gift of all. Make sure you come to
church to celebrate a risen Savior. Bring someone with you who doesn’t
normally come (Easter is the safest day of the year to bring a visitor) and let
them look into the tomb for themselves. Jesus is not there; He is alive
and well, living in our hearts! We are Easter people!
Thanks for stopping by today. Have a
blessed day and a GREAT Easter. Please share this with someone. Make sure and
stop by tomorrow for a special Easter message, and stick with Jesus!
Thanks for stopping by today…GOD BLESS YOU, each and every one of you! Please stop back by tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!
I have heard it said that if you love something, set it free. If it comes back…it was (and always will be) yours. If it never returns…it was never yours. II would add that if it just sits in the living room and messes up your stuff, eats your food, uses your phone, takes your money and never behaves as if has been set it free…then you either married it…or gave birth to it!
reigniting our hearts. The 1st week we talked about the lost heart. The 2nd week it was the proud heart. The 3rd week we considered the turned heart. The 4th week it was the disciplined heart. In the 5th week we turned to the trimmed heart. Last week it was the giving heart. Today we finish the series with the burning heart. On this journey of the heart, where do you find YOURSELF?
Day, the inevitable topic is, of course, love. So…let’s pretend it’s Valentine’s Day, and let me ask you a question. Do you love God with all your heart? Consider your answer as you read today’s Scripture-
Deut. 6:3-6– “Hear, O Israel, and be
careful to obey so that it may go well with you and you may increase greatly in the land
flowing with milk and honey, just as the God of our fathers promised you. Hear, O Israel:
Love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you
today are to be upon your hearts.“
A couple was not speaking to each, but the man realized he needed his wife to wake him up at 5AM so he could catch a flight. He didn’t
want to be the 1st one to speak and lose the argument, so he left her a note- “Please wake me up at 5AM.” The next
morning, he woke at 9AM…he had missed his flight. He was furious…until noticed the piece of paper on his nightstand. “It’s
5AM. Wake up!” Ah, such heart!
The word “heart” refers to the center of an object. In the Hebrew it means “the kernel of the nut”, and it has
to do with feelings, the will, and the intellect. Did you know that more people die from heart attacks than any other
killer? The same is true spiritually. God always begins with the heart and works His way outward- but the heart comes 1st. Therefore, the heart needs to be guarded at all costs. The reason there are so many spiritual casualties is that the heart is ignored. It
should receive the greatest effort, the most attention. We
protect our homes with security systems, dead bolts and motion detector lights, yet we ignore our hearts. Too many people try to live a Christian life with no effort being made. But
life is a constant warfare, so it requires spiritual energy.
OK, that sounds great and it makes sense…but how do we do that? Here are 5 guidelines…5 things to keep our hearts right:
I. Keep your mouth right– what comes out of your mouth has a profound bearing on what is in your heart. Mean-spirited
speech is a big indicator of a mean-spirited heart. I love it when people cuss and then say to me, “pardon my French, Reverend!” My response? “Gosh…I didn’t realize that was French!” The connection
between our mouths and our hearts is strong. Our mouths can do more heart damage than anything else. Keeping your heart right means keeping your mouth in check. The wrong
mouth and the right heart can’t occupy the same body, so don’t let your mouth overload your heart.
II. Keep your eyes right– what your eyes see affects your heart. Keep your eyes straight
temptation is brought in through the eyes- they are incredibly influential on the body. Most of our memory is formed by our eyes- most of us remember more than 80% of what we see, while we remember only
11% of what we hear. What our eyes see…our heart wants. When we allow our eyes to run freely without control, we risk a “heart attack”.
Keep your feet right–
where your feet go…your heart goes also. Don’t
turn your feet loose anywhere they want to go. Don’t make rash decisions. Be careful whom you walk with- use wisdom in choosing your path.
Keep your ears right– your ears hear things they should…and shouldn’t. There are times we should plug our ears and simply serve God.
Keep your heart right–
if you don’t keep your heart protected, you face serious spiritual injury.
Has your heart
become sluggish in your relationship with Jesus? Have you lost that personal connection, that “lovin’ feeling”, if you will? One
thing that will help you regain that connection is revival. Revival
has one chief aim- to cleanse us of sin…to purify our hearts. Revival is God’s surgery for those who have grown spiritually hard of hearing. Revival
creates a burning heart, and then it burns out complacency, discouragement and despair. Burning
hearts are filled with the presence, power, purpose and protection of God. But how do we turn up the flame on our heart? How do we regain that bright flame? If you want your heart to burn for God- you have to stoke it…feed the fire. Getting
closer to Jesus sets our hearts aflame, and the closer we get, the brighter and hotter our heart burns.
This week, ask
Jesus to take over leadership of your life. Give your life to the One who gave you life; the One
Who gave His life for you. Would you rather
have a heart as cold as ice…or a heart burning with passion for God? The choice is truly yours.
United methodist founder John Wesley said,
“If I had 300 people who feared nothing but God, hated nothing but sin, and were determined to know nothing but Jesus…I could set the world on fire!” We are each on our own road, heading somewhere. And Jesus has one desire- to meet us on the road to somewhere…and make something very clear- He
died and rose again to set our hearts on fire. Where is your heart today? Is it on a depressing spiritual walk? Do you have all the information…head knowledge, but it doesn’t seem to make much difference? Is your heart
on fire because of Jesus…or has the “PILOT” light gone out? Life is short…and Jesus is here, ready to re-ignite you! Will meet Him on your road to somewhere?
Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!
Yesterday was my birthday- I turned 50! That’s right…I was born in 1961. What was the world like 50 years ago? Well, John F. Kennedy succeeded Dwight Eisenhower as President of the United States. The Beatles performed for the 1st time at The Cavern Club. The Peace Corps was established. The trial of Nazi Adolph Eichmann began in Jerusalem. Ham, a 37 lb. male chimp, was sent into space aboard Mercury-Redstone 2. Russian Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. Alan Shepard became the 1st American in space. Kennedy announces his goal of a man on the moon by the end of the decade. Russian ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev defects will touring in France. Construction of the Berlin Wall begins. The Vietnam War officially begins. Yankees outfielder Roger Maris hit 61 home runs, breaking Babe Ruth’s single-season record. 6 Flags Over Texas opened. Comic book superheroes The Fantastic Four debuted. Barbie gets a boyfriend- Ken appears for the first time.
Recently, I visited the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. It is truly a fascinating place- great displays, interesting things to learn, and more to see than you could manage in a day. As you 1st walk in the building (at least the entrance we used!), you are confronted by a T-Rex skeleton…a FULL-sized T-Rex skeleton. It is truly amazing how big those bad boys (or in this case bad girls…her name is Sue after all!) are when you see them up close. For instance, the REAL skull that goes with the skeleton you see in the picture is too heavy to mount with the rest of the body; it is in a case on the 2nd floor.
Do you know where the Willis Tower is? Don’t feel bad if you don’t! What if I said the Sears Tower? Ah…Chicago! Well, the Sears Tower is no longer the Sears Tower…it’s the Willis Tower. A Large British insurance company (coincidentally named Willis!) became the largest tenant of the Sears Tower in July of 2009. Part of their deal was that they got to re-name the building. Guess what they named it? Good guess! The Willis Tower. And on the 103 floor of the Willis Tower is the Observation Deck. And the same month that it became the Willis Tower, The Ledge was added to the Observation Deck. The Ledge is actually 4 boxes…glass rooms that jut straight out from the side of the 103rd floor…1,353 feet above the street below. These boxes, designed to hold 5 tons each, give you a…unique perspective of Chicago. I’m not afraid of heights…in fact, I kind of ENJOY them. But as you prepare to step off of the comfort of the “solid” floor and onto the clear glass floor of The Ledge…you pause. You think to yourself, “What am I doing? I’m about to step onto…glass…that is 1,353 stinking feet off the ground. Am I NUTS?” Sure…it’s safe. Sure…it’ll hold FIVE TONS. But that matters not a whit when you stand there on the threshold. When you DO step out, you do so gingerly, not so much stepping as sliding out onto the glass, walking as if you are on thin ice that could crack at any moment. Ultimately, like Indiana Jones in the Last Crusade, as he prepares to make the leap from the Lion’s Head, it is a leap…or step…of faith. In the end, you simply have to trust that it will hold you. That is the mindset that we will look at today.
niversity was listed the short-term evening adult education classes. In huge, bold headlines, two courses were listed: “Overcoming Divorce”, and “How to Handle Handguns”! Some things just don’t seem to go together! Take, for instance, the Cup and the Cross. They just don’t seem like they should go together…but they do. Jesus’ drinking of the cup is intimately connected to His death on the cross. He completes on the cross what He began in the Upper Room, where He promised that He wouldn’t drink of the fruit of the vine until He drank it in the restored kingdom. Through his death the kingdom comes and He drinks the final cup as He enters it.
103 stories up. 1,353′ in the air. AND…sticking four feet out AWAY from the building! AND…not only the walls and ceiling but the FLOOR are glass! I was in the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower in Chicago recently. The elevator takes you from the basement (literally- you enter the building on the 1st floor…makes sense…and then go DOWN a floor to get the elevator to the SkyDeck!) to the 103rd floor in 60 seconds. I don’t know about you, but in MY book…that’s fast! You get out and are immediately struck by the view. (We were fortunate enough to have picked a bright, sunny, clear day- we could supposedly see 4 states from where we stood…although try as I might I simply couldn’t see ANY of the lines that make up the borders that I see on the maps!!)
On this date in 1947…a remarkable…and long overdo thing…happened. The 1st African-American debuted in Major League baseball. before that, some of the best players in the country played in what was called The Negro League…because they weren’t allowed to play in any other league. We will never know what Josh Gibson, Cool Papa Bell or Satchell Paige would have done if they had played their peak years in the majors. All 3 of them, along with several others, are in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. But they were denied the right so many other players took for granted.
I was in Chicago recently- my wife, youngest son and I went on a mini-vacation. We had a a marvelous time! We stayed at the Best Western on Ohio in downtown Chicago. (They have FREE parking, an indoor pool, and are close to the things you would want to see. I would recommend it!) We saw all sorts of things (you will hear more about them in the days and weeks to come). But there was one thing that stood out as…odd. The decor of the room in general was…fine. It was pretty much what you would expect out of a motel. It wasn’t nearly as…tacky…as in many rooms I’ve stayed in- it was…fine. But then there was the shower. It was fine, all in all. It had decent water pressure, as well as one of those cool rounded shower curtain bars that brings the curtain out a bit farther from the back wall- thereby keeping it from sticking to your body while you shower!
The pastor told his church they needed to give more money, needed to be more generous. He said they were going to pass the offering plates and whoever gave the most would be able to pick 3 hymns. After they were passed, and elderly woman was identified as the top giver- $1,000! She was invited to come to the front and pick her 3 hymns. She made her way to the front, turned to the congregation, and with a twinkle in her eye, said, “I choose him, him and him!” Today, we continue our Lenten season Wednesday devotional series- The Burning Heart: Unmistakable Fire. This series is aimed at reigniting our hearts. Today we look at the giving heart. In this journey of the heart- where will you find yourself?
I can tell Spring is here…my yard is COVERED in sticks and limbs. Well…it WAS covered, that is! Recently my 10-year old and I spent part of the morning out in the yard, filling up the wheelbarrow with sticks. We FILLED that wheelbarrow FOUR times…just in our yard! We have the benefit (I GUESS it’s a benefit) of living in a neighborhood FULL of big, mature trees. (You know the type- they don’t do childish things, they have IRA’s, they stay home on the weekends, stuff like that!) So picking up limbs is a regular, on-going job around here…especially right after Winter.
I have, just perhaps, truly seen it all now! I THOUGHT I had already seen it all…but NO! Let me explain. I was driving down a rural county road recently. It was about 5:30 PM- in other words…broad daylight. I turned onto another rural county road and was on my way to a parishioner’s house when I noticed, quite a ways up ahead of me, a vehicle. At first I thought it was simply driving. As I drew closer, however, I realized that it was a van, at it wasn’t moving. Then I realized that the driver’s door was open. Then I realized that there was a guy standing next to the van…with the door opened. Now you might be thinking, “So what, preacher? A guy stopped his van and got out…big whoop!” Well, I haven’t yet gotten to the part that had me saying I have now seen it all…but here it is!