Tuesday, July 31- Are You Watching the Olympics?

     I remember it like it was yesterday- my mom and I, watching the Olympics. We watched HOURS of Olympics. And it didn’t matter whether it was the Summer Games or the Winter Games- we watched what they were showing! (And by the way, do you remember when the Summer and Winter games were in the same year? Every bit of Olympics, “one and done”, and then nothing for 4 years? I must confess, I think the way they do it now, rotate the Summer and Winter games so that ONE of them happens every two years, makes more sense!)
     I remember that we would quickly develop our favorites- the teams or individuals who caught our attention. We would watch whatever was being shown, but we would sit up a bit straighter when our favorites came on. We would cheer for them and get all giddy when they won! And then…they would be over, and we would wait another four years for them to come around again.
     For me, the funny thing about this whole story is that my mom was NOT a huge sports fan. She liked to watch basketball, but that was about it. Unless it was the Olympics, that is. They would always serve as the backdrop to a special “bonding” time between me and my mom. We didn’t sit and hold each other close as we watched or anything, but those were special times for us. 
     This has all been on my mind during these current Summer Games from London. It has struck me that I have watched VERY LITTLE of this year’s Olympic coverage. Even when I have had the time to sit down and watch TV, it has rarely been the Olympics. And I think, for me, the reason is not a proud one. At its core, the Olympics is about patriotism and national pride. Yes, we sometimes cheer for an athlete from another country, either because they are just that good or because there are no Americans competing against them! But for the most part, watching the Olympics is about chanting, “USA! USA!” as our athletes compete. And I find that patriotism, that national pride, is lacking in me and, I fear, many others as well. 
     Now, don’t get me wrong, when I say “lacking”, I DON’T mean I have none, that I could care less (or is it “I COULDN’T care less”?) Instead, that whole notion of “our country, right or wrong” has been kicked to the curb. We as a people no longer automatically support our country in everything it does. Don’t believe me? Look no further than the Chief Executive of our nation. Used to be, people respected the OFFICE of the President, whether they liked the particular man or not. Now, MOST people either love or hate whoever is in office. If they wear your political party pin, they can do no wrong. And if they don’t, “get that bum out of office!” 
     That is, of course, painting with a broad brush…but not TOO broad. We seem to have lost that national pride, and I wonder if that’s something you can recover once it has been lost. We, as a nation, need to pray about that. We need to ask God to help us set aside our petty differences as unite as one people for the betterment of our country…and the world.
     Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!
  Tomorrow- The Rewards For Contagious Christianity

Monday, July 30- Daily Bible Verse

Philippians 1:9-11 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God.

Monday, July 30- This Just In…

     I was recently interviewed for a newspaper in the area. The idea is that they will run an article about “the new pastor” in the area. It was set up as a phone interview- he was going to call my office number. When the day came for the interview, however, I needed to make a 45-minute drive for a hospital visit. So I called the reporter and left my cell number on his answering machine. I figured I could “kill two birds with one stone”- drive and participate in the interview.
     He was a great guy and we had a perfectly good conversation. (He first insisted on knowing that I, in fact, could talk on the phone “hands free” while I drove….I could…and did!) He asked me all of the “usual” questions. He also asked me some interesting questions as well. He wanted to know my favorite Bible verse. (Isaiah 43:18-19- Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.) He wanted to know what brought me to my new church. (A moving van!! And God, through the Bishop!) He asked all sorts of things as I drove that day. And when I was about 15 minutes from my destination, we ended the conversation with the promise that I would email him a “head shot” of me to include with the article. Now I wait to read the article!
     I wonder…what would YOUR article say if someone wrote such a piece about you? What would an article about your life say? Or, let’s get right down to it- what will your obituary say? I read a lot of them (it goes with the vocation), and I find that they fall into 3 general categories:
     1. “nuts and bolts” obituaries. They are the Jack Webbs of the genre- “just the facts, ma’am.” They very matter-of-factly list dates, names, etc. They are short and sweet.
     2. “historic fiction” obituaries. They are long and flowery- they make the recently deceased sound like the 2nd coming of Mother Teresa intertwined with Billy Graham, with a liberal sprinkling of Gandhi. 
     3. “we loved them even though they weren’t perfect” obituaries. These are the obituaries that ACTUALLY talk about what the recently deceased was ACTUALLY like. It focuses on their better qualities, but doesn’t shy away from the fact that they were stubborn, or bossy, or impatient, or whatever. They are genuine.
     So, again, what would your obituary say? What would people say about you? Is it what you would WANT them to say? If not, what can you do to change that- to be the person you WANT to be so that those folks will say what you WANT them to say? Think about it!
     Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!
  Tomorrow- Are You Watching the Olympics?

Sunday, July 29- The Church at Pooh Corner

      The Peanuts cartoons are among my favorite. I remember one where Lucy demands that Linus get up and change the channel for her. Linus asks, “What makes you think you can just take over?” Lucy replies, “These 5 fingers. Individually? They are nothing! But when I curl them into a single unit, they become a weapon terrible to behold.” Linus pauses and then says, “Which channel?: As he walks toward the TV, he looks at his hand and asks, “Why can’t you guys get organized like that?”
     Cartoon characters hold a special place in society, and none more so than Winnie the Pooh. Written by A.A. Milne, the story features all types of characters. Today, we will ask, “Which one are you?” as we walk through them all. But first let’s look at some Scripture-
     Exodus 4:10-12 Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord?  Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”
     So, which character are you? Maybe you’re-
     Pooh- He’s a chubby little bear with an old red t-shirt. he’s stuffed with fluff, easy-going, likeable and not easily upset. He’s quiet, slow moving and philosophical. He seems intellectual, but it is really simplicity in disguise. he describes himself as “a bear of very little brain”, but he has uncommon wisdom. He loves to play games, go on adventures, humming/poems, songs and eating honey. And what does he hold dear? His friends’ happiness is his chief concern; there is no better friend than Winnie the Pooh. Is that you?
     Piglet- he’s a small, timid pink pig with a long striped shirt. He is soft-spoken and skittish, constantly wringing his hands and stuttering. His ears twitch to convey his nervousness and fear. But inside his small frame lies a big heart; his generosity and humility far outweigh his meager size. He wants to be brave, and often conquers his fears. He is eager to experience the world, and he is a good friend. He loves adventures, bright colors and balloons. He loves to blow dandelions and always sees the silver lining. Is that you? 
     Eeyore- he’s an old grey donkey whose tail keeps coming off and whose house keeps falling down. He is  intelligent, quiet,  methodical, melancholy and gloomy. But he doesn’t see himself as gloomy. He has low expectations about anything and anybody so that when his friends help, his expectations are surpassed and he is grateful. He pretends to help because he has nothing better to do, but he is always there for his friends. The bright pink bow on his tail is a kernel of joy. Is that you? 
     Tigger- (pronounced T-I-Double Guh-er”)- he is a very bouncy striped tiger. He’s active and fun-loving. His top is made of rubber and his bottom is made of springs. He is cheerful, outgoing, competitive, confident and exuberant. He undertakes tasks with gusto and is always eager to share his joy with his friends, even when they don’t want him to. He is one of a kind and acts on every impulse- often leaping before he looks. He is larger than life. But underneath that happy-go-lucky exterior beats a surprisingly sensitive, gentle heart that loves finding lost friends. His bouncing is an expression of his zest for life. Is that you? 
     Rabbit- he is pushy, decisive and a good speller. His life’s made up of Important Things. He likes to organize and take charge. He is the self-appointed leader. he is stubborn, often overreacts and gets disoriented very quickly in unfamiliar surroundings. He is arguably the smartest, most responsible and most practical, but underneath his bristly exterior is a good heart. His know-it-all attitude is tempered by his ability to admit when he’s wrong. He is loyal to friends he knows, but is reluctant to welcome newcomers. Is that you?
     Owl- he is a large bird who speaks eloquently. Everyone thinks he is the wisest, but sometimes he’s a real bore. he is always happy to offer his opinions, advice and anecdotes, whether they are wanted or not. Is that you? 
     Kanga- she is a mother kangaroo. She is also the tenderhearted voice of reason who is a symbol of security. She takes great care, has a great sense of humor, offers gentle discipline, is full of mother’s intuition and automatically knows the “right thing to do” w/out thinking. She likes to keep things clean, likes to count and organize things, is kind to everyone and will help anyone who needs it. She is also the fastest animal in the woods. Is that you? 
     Roo- he is a joey, but don’t let his age and size fool you. He lives life large, is extremely curious and fun-loving and constantly gets in trouble. But he always learns his lesson, is cheerful and enthusiastic, curious, fun and loving. He takes great joy in discovering the wonders of life and is capable of expressing his thoughts and feelings. he approaches life in a loving, sympathetic manner. His greatest influence is his mom. he is wise beyond his years and thinks he can do anything. Is that you? 
     Gopher- he is a builder and excavator. he is generally hard-working, but doesn’t look where he’s going and therefore often falls in his own tunnels. he is smart but lacks common sense. He also has a habit of whistling when he talks. Is that you?
     Which one of these do you most connect with? Which type aggravates you the most? Since I know you wonder, I am the ADHD, energetic Tigger in an uneven mix with the OCD, take charge Rabbit! So why did Milne create so many types? And what does the Bible say about it?
     Romans 12:4-8 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
     Question- What do John the Baptism and Winnie the Pooh have common? They have the same middle name! There are 3 truths about the Hundred Acre Wood:
      #1-  Each member is essential- we are NOT the same, but we are all essential to the whole. A little girl wanted a starring role in the school play but only got a small role. As she cried, her mom dried her tears and handed her a watch, asking, “What do you see?” The girl said, “Gold plating, a face and hands.” Her mom opened the back and then asked, “Now what do you see?” The girl said, “Wheels and gears.” Her mom said, “The watch is useless without all the parts, even the ones that are hard to see.” We do not&
nbsp;all have a leading role, but we DO all have a purpose and a place.
     #2- Each member is interdependent- without cooperation, vital tasks become impossible. The act of speech requires the brain, nerves, tongue, jaws, lips, larynx, lungs, diaphragm, heart, veins, arteries and capillaries all working together. A European nobleman wanted to leave a legacy, so he built a church. When people first visited it, they all asked, “Where are the lamps? How is it lit?” He explained that there were brackets on the walls, and each family was to bring their lamp to worship. “When you are here, the church will be lit. But when you are not, the church is dark. If you don’t come, your part of God’s house will be dark”.
     #3- Each member is interconnected- what affects one is felt by all. Have you ever smashed your pinkie toe? Every part joins in on it- your leg jumps up and down, your back bends, your hand massages and you moan and groan. No part is untouched- all are affected. 
     If you are going to be a vital part of the body, you have to do your part- you must be connected with others. Get to know the various parts, but don’t wait for them- take the 1st step. Winnie the Pooh says, “You can’t stay in your corner of the forest, waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.” God calls us to focus on the needs of others.
     Each member is indispensable, interdependent and interconnected. We need each other. Pooh also says, “Before beginning a hunt, it is wise to ask what you are looking for…before you begin looking!” God is looking for people to go with Him; to follow His plans and purposes, make Him a priority. He wants people He can use, who will submit and be useful. God has placed each of us here in a strategic role, for such time as this! 
     1Corinthians 12:27-30- Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But eagerly desire the greater gifts.
     You are an important part of the overall effectiveness. God depends on you to be here and use your gifts to the glory of God. 
     At the end of Milne’s book, Pooh and Piglet are walking home. Piglet says, “Pooh, when you wake up, what is the 1st thing you say?” Pooh responds, “What’s for breakfast? What do YOU say?” “Piglet says, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?'” Pooh agrees, “That’s the same thing!” But with all due respect, it is NOT the same! Breakfast dreams are dreams of mere survival, of burying your talents in the ground. But excitement dreams are dreams of flourishing, of investing your treasure for an abundant return.
     What kinds of excitement dreams can we dream? Dreams take substantial effort and they carry a risk of failure, but they are not impossible. How can we grow to meet people? How can we enter more fully into the will of God?What dreams can YOU dream? What dreams can we dream?
     Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

  Tomorrow- This Just In…