Wednesday, October 31- High Voltage Faith- Auxiliary Power

      (Wednesdays are Bible Study Day here at Stick With Jesus. Today, we begin a new study about power called High Voltage Faith.)
     When I was a kid, my brother had a car stereo with an 8-track player. He wasn’t using it so he had it on a shelf in the basement. Well…I thought it would be totally awesome to have a stereo, so I cut the plug off of an extension cord and hardwired it to the car stereo. (Can you see what’s coming?!) I then went to plug it in…to the wall! It NEVER dawned on me that there were no speakers in the system, so even if the whole power thing HAD worked, there would be no sound! I plugged it into the wall…and a huge blue fireball flew out of the wall! It made a horrible GRRBBNT sound and a charmingly acrid smell poured out of the outlet! Oh yeah, and the power went out! As I stood there, stunned to the point of paralysis, I heard my dad yell my name! Aaaaawwww SNAP, son!
     Today we will look at auxiliary power – the power that is required for correct operation of an electrical device. Auxiliary power is supplied by an external auxiliary power source rather than the main line. It is an energy that is supplemental to the main power source- imagine a car battery. 
     So, an external auxiliary power source rather than the main line. Let’s look at a Biblical example of that. The background to this particular story is this- Abraham leaves his home for a land God is going to show him and his nephew Lot tags along. There is, along the journey, some strife and the two decide to go their separate ways. Lot heads to the fertile Jordan Valley, while Abraham goes to the desert hills of Canaan. Then there is an uprising from the 4 northern kings in the area of Sodom and Gomorrah and Lot is captured. Abraham hears of this “revoltin’ development” and goes out and rescues Lot and his family.
     The situation in Sodom and Gomorrah becomes critical and God intercedes! 2 angels arrive in Sodom and Lot is sitting at the entrance to the city. He sees the angels and bows with his face to the ground. He invites them in for dinner and they agree. Some men from the city come and want to do so bad stuff with them. The angels have seen enough.
    
Genesis 19:12-26-  12 The two angels said to Lot, “Do you have anyone else here—sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here, 13 because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the LORD against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it.” 14 So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters. He said, “Hurry and get out of this place, because the LORD is about to destroy the city!” But his sons-in-law thought he was joking.  15 With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.” 16 When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the LORD was merciful to them. 17 As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!” 23 By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. 24 Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the LORD out of the heavens. 25 Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, including all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land. 26 But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
     In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus says, “Remember Lot’s wife. Those who try to keep their lives will lose them. But those who give up their lives will save them.” Wait…remember her? We don’t even know her name. Why would we remember her?
1. We should remember her because who you hang around with is important. Do you think your friends and acquaintances are a positive influence? Willie McGee was a rookie outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals and all-star shortstop Ozzie Smith was his roommate. McGee ended up being a league Most Valuable Player and a World Series hero. When asked about what had helped him get where he was, he said that hanging around with a future Hall of Famer strengthened his game. But the opposite is also true- hanging around “worldly” people weakens our faith.
2. We should remember her because our lifestyle has a direct impact on others. If we fuss, fight, argue and have a bad attitude, what will we expect our kids to do? If we attend church sporadically, focus on ourselves, never pray, study the Bible or talk about Jesus, what do we expect will be the logical outcome? If we never evangelize, never get involved, what will our kids do? But if we lead Godly lives, then perhaps the next generation will, also.
3. We should remember her because the 10 commandments are not trivial. We should take God seriously. Is God serious about worship? Hebrews 10:25 says, “You should not stay away from church meetings, as some do, but you should meet together and encourage each other.” Is God serious about prayer? 1Thesselonians 5:17 says, ?Pray continually”. Is God serious about priorities? Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek first God’s kingdom and what God wants. Then all your other needs will be met as well.” Is God serious about evangelism? Mark 16:15 says, “Go everywhere in world, tell the Good News to everyone.” Is God serious about repentance? Acts 2:38 says, “Change your hearts and lives, each one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” We should stop always questioning the process and start enjoying the product. We want to know the why and how so bad that we often miss the result. God wants to take us to a better, more prosperous place, so why would we choose not to move?
     Lot’s wife was warned, yet…how could this happen? How could there be such a horrible end to life when she was so faithfully warned?
1. She didn’t fail because of unbelief- When the angels came, it never says that she laughed at them or made fun of them, so she must have believed!
2. She didn’t fail because she didn’t respond to the message. She LEFT with Lot…but she lingered. It is easy to understand- we often linger, let our best years slip away. Some Christians come service after service, week after week, year after year, Pastor after Pastor, and yet they never take 1 step toward repentance! Lot’s wife did what some never do- she started. But…she looked back.
3. She failed because she had a divided heart! God was calling her to the hills, but Sodom was screaming at her from the valley. She wanted to follow God, but she didn’t want to let go of the world. She hears the rush of the water. She feels it lap at her feet. It’s decision time. But her divided heart says, “Don’t change, go back”. Then she’s in up to her ankles. God says, “Come on, reach out, there’s a new day ahead.” Then the water is up to her waist, her chest, her neck. And then, as it threatens to go over her head, she looks back…and turns to a pillar of salt. All because of a divided heart.
     And what is the outcome of a divided
heart?
A. A divided heart robs our joy! Faith does not have be a painful pilgrimage but can be a joyous adventure.
B. A divided heart slows our forward progress! God is moving, the church is growing, things are happening- that’s forward progress. But a divided heart cripples our walk, weakens our power and slows our forward progress.
C. A divided heart costs us our spiritual life! Every step becomes slower than the last, then we grind to a halt. 
     So, auxiliary power is an external source rather than the main line. It is us…without God. Do you have doubts about that? Listen to Jesus when He said, “Remember Lot’s wife”. In one ear she heard, “Turn back, just over your shoulder are the good times”. Meanwhile, in the other ear she heard, “Move forward, climb to new heights, keep going-  better days are ahead.” We want to quote Lennon and McCartney who said, “Get back to where you once belonged.” But God wants to quote REO Speedwagon who said, “Keep on rollin’”!
     Lot’s wife looks back and becomes a pillar of salt. Lot could have follow her, but he had to choose not to. The choice is ours; how well we listen determines the outcome.
     Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!
  Tomorrow- Trunkin ‘ and Treatin’!

Tuesday, October 30- A PLEASANT Charge Conference…Who Knew?!

     Two words- Charge Conference. You are, right now, having one of 3 reactions:
1. if you are either not a United Methodist or haven’t been one very long, you are saying, “Charge WHO?”
2. If you have been a United Methodist for a while but haven’t been a part of Charge Conference, you are saying, “Oh, I think I remember hearing about that!”
3. If you are a United Methodist and HAVE participated in Charge Conference, either as a pastor or a lay person, you are saying, “Where’s the nearest baseball bat so I can club myself senseless in a vain attempt to avoid…Charge Conference?!”
     Charge Conference is an annual event in the life of any United Methodist church. It’s purpose is to celebrate the ministries of the churches and finalize their ministries for the coming year. Or at least that is the STATED purpose. I fear the REAL purpose is to slowly drive people insane, much like the Chinese Water Torture! As the pastor, I HAVE 
to go- it’s part of the job description. But I’ll be honest: if I didn’t HAVE to go…I probably wouldn’t! 
     The process begins every early fall with about 3.9 BILLION pieces of electronic paper that need to be filled out. (At least it’s electronic paper- it used to be REAL paper!) Some of them are mere carbon copies of last year’s form…and the year before that and the year before that! I would NOT be surprised to find that the information that I am dutifully transferring word for word from last years’s form to this year’s form was originally put on paper in 1943! While 3.9 billion MIGHT be a SLIGHT exaggeration, there ARE a lot of forms! And each form requires about 14 different committees, each meeting about 14 different times, in order to produce the information necessary to complete said form.
     Then, suddenly, out of the blue, all the paperwork is due…TOMORROW! (OK- it’s NOT out of the blue! It’s due 10 days prior to the date of Charge Conference and had been due at that same time since Lincoln was in office!) So finally…ALL the paperwork is done. All of the “i’s” have been dotted and all of the “t’s” have been crossed. And all of it has been electronically submitted. And then…you’re done! Wait…no you aren’t! You still have to ATTEND Charge Conference!
     So you suck it up, cajole a handful of faithful parishioners to attend with you…and off you go. You sit in a hot, stuffy church and try desperately to stay awake while you pray to God above that you have completed the paperwork properly. And inevitably…you haven’t! And finally, painfully, mercifully…it ends. You celebrate the completion of this United Methodist Boot Camp- one that happens on an annual basis- and then head home and try to forget that the whole thing happened!
     Well, I went to Charge Conference on Sunday. Counting me and my wife, there were 14 of us from my church in attendance. (There were a total of 4 churches represented there.) The folks who went were great company…seriously! The setting was comfortable. And my new District Superintendent, who is A. an old friend and B. dislikes dry, boring church as much as I do, was in charge. And it…was…great! We sang a few songs. We walked through a church service (I got to preach, which ALWAYS makes the service more enjoyable for ME!), we “voted” on about 2.5 things, ate some cookies, and then went home! It started at 2PM in a neighboring town and I was sitting in my favorite chair in my own living room by 3:10PM. Oh. My. Goodness!
     So…thank you new District Superintendent for the best Charge Conference I have attended in the past 16 years! I pray that this was a harbinger of things to come!!
     Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!
  Tomorrow- High Voltage Faith- Auxiliary Power

Monday, October 29- A Major Milestone…a Million!




     A major event happened yesterday in the life of this website! I started this site on the 19th of December, 2009. (I actually started it on the 14th of September, 2009, but I didn’t “migrate” the site to its current hosting home at godaddy.com until 12/19/09. That means the site, as it now sits, has been in existence for just shy of 3 full years- about 34 months. I have NOT posted EVERY day for all of those months…but I have come PRETTY close! I have tried a variety of things- some have stuck, some have quietly gone away. I now post two things each day- my regular post and a Bible verse of the day. 

     stickwithjesus.com got off to a very slow (one might say glacial) start! (And it wasn’t even stickwithjesus.com for quite a while- it was .net. But then .com came available and I was on it like white on rice!) There were days when I was lucky to reach double-digits on site hits. But I just kept on plugging away. Establishing a DAILY look at life forces you to do one of two things: 1. give up and quit or 2. just write, write, write…regardless of whether you feel like it or not. I chose the latter! And because of my stubborn refusal to give up, a major milestone in the life of stickwithjesus was reached yesterday. How appropriate that it was a Sunday! The milestone is that yesterday, Sunday, October 29, 2012, stickwithjesus.com experienced it one millionth hit! Yep! This site has been visited one million times! I must confess- I had NO idea what to expect when I started this, but I never imagined it would reach a million hits in less than 3 years! 

    I would like to take this moment to say, “Thank you!” The ONLY way I was able to reach this milestone, the ONLY way this site is still active and thriving is because of…YOU! You have been so steadfast in coming back again and again to read the goings on that emit from my rather odd mind! And I greatly appreciate it!

     So, this milestone begs the question- what next? Where does stickwithjesus head after a million? Well, at least for the time being, it’s “stay the course, full speed ahead”! I don’t necessarily plan on changing anything. BUT- if you have a suggestion or a request…let me know! I can’t promise I will be able to do it, but I will sure give it the consideration it’s due. Again…thank you. Please share this through social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) or email a link to a friend. 

      Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

  Tomorrow- A PLEASANT Charge Conference…Who Knew?!

Sunday, October 28- Peace Train

          Dr. Phil is an…odd duck! He has been wildly successful…and owes absolutely every dollar he’s earned to Oprah Winfrey! He is very colorful and very quotable.  Here are just a few things he’s said:

1. “That dog don’t hunt!” It means that the excuse being offered won’t fly. 
2. “I don’t have a horse in this race.” It means I don’t have a vested interest in the situation.
3. “Don’t wet on my leg and then tell me it’s raining.” It means don’t lie to me.
4. “This ain’t my first rodeo!” It means I’ve been around a long time and know what’s going on. 5. “How’s that working for you?” It means what’s being tried is failing.
     He also has offered some good, solid, simple advice, like this nugget about inner peace. “You want to know the way to inner peace? Finish what you’ve started.” So I’ve given that a good, hard look and have begun to do just what Dr. Phil suggests- I have begun to focus on  things that I have started and not finished. So before leaving the house to come to church this morning, I intentionally finished what I started- I finished a box of doughnuts and a pot of coffee! You want to talk about inner peace? Let me just say- you have NO idea how good I feel! 
     General Omar Bradley once said, “We are a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we do about peace. We have grasped the mystery of the atom but rejected the Sermon on the Mount. Today, we step into the middle of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, knee-deep into the Beatitudes. You know- they “blessed are” statements? Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are those who mourn. Blessed are the meek. Blessed are those who  hunger and thirst for righteousness. Blessed are the merciful. Blessed are the pure in heart. Today, we will pull one…just one…Beatitude from the list and dig into what it means to us. Today, we look at Matthew 5:9, which says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” 
     Are you familiar with Steven Demetre Georgiou? What if I called him Yusuf Islam? Perhaps you know him better as Cat Stevens? You probably do, although I sincerely doubt that “Cat Stevens” is the name his momma gave him! It’s also not a name you will find on a keychain at Stuckey’s! Cat Stevens is a singer/songwriter whose hits include Wild World, Oh Very Young, Moonshadow and Morning Has Broken. He also recorded a song called Peace Train, which includes these lyrics-
Now I’ve been happy lately, thinking about the good things to come.
And I believe it could be, something good has begun.
Oh I’ve been smiling lately, dreaming about the world as one.
And I believe it could be, someday it’s going to come.
Cause out on the edge of darkness, there rides a peace train.
Peace train take this country, come take me home again.
     Blessed are the peacemakers. There are 4 types of people who deal with peace:
1. The Peacekeeper- In 1873, Samuel Colt came out with a pistol called The Peacekeeper. It was easy to load and simple to aim and fire- anybody could use a Peacekeeper. Then, in 1982, the military came out with the M-X missile. It had greater mobility and guidance systems than previous incarnations. Pres. Reagan dubbed it The Peacekeeper. It is interesting at least and ironic at best that the two most familiar “peacekeepers” are both weapons. In fact, if you Google “peacekeeper” the majority of references will be to weapons. In the end, The Peacekeeper is most often a military group who job is to enforce the peace by whatever means necessary. But let’s be honest- peacekeeping simply doesn’t work very well in many instances- you can’t KEEP peace that isn’t there to begin with.
2. The Peacebreaker- These are folks who seem to go out of their way to break down relationships, to cause trouble and create division. When God begins to do something good, peace-breakers are always there trying to interfere. I am a big fan of the Peanuts cartoons. In one strip, Lucy says to Charlie Brown, “I hate everything and everybody in the whole wide world!” Charlie Brown replies, “But I thought you had inner peace?” Lucy says, “I do…but I also have outer obnoxiousness!” A peacebreaker’s motivation is self. But the reality is that, in the Church, we simply can’t afford that kind of divisiveness- it erodes revival and tears down the body of Christ.
3. The Peacefaker- These folks prefer peace over truth, and they will go to any lengths to avoid conflict and unrest. They want, above all else, an absence of argument and discord, so they are willing and eager to settle for a counterfeit peace. 
     Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
     The Peacekeeper, the Peacebreaker and the Peacekaker- all very real scenarios in the world. But Jesus doesn’t call us to be ANY of these. Instead, He calls us to be peacemakers- and there is a world of difference.
     A Peacemaker is motivated by love. They are willing to put others’ well-being over and above their own comfort. They simply don’t have to give their opinion all the time. They are willing and able to set the safety on their tongue in the “on” position – they are willing to try and hold the peace. Peacemakers will NOT confront someone just for sake of it, but they ARE prepared to speak the truth in love and then trust God for the outcome. A peacemaker will go out of their way to avoid being deliberately contentious, uncivil and uncaring. 
     You can’t be a peacemaker if you think you’re always right- you have to be at peace…with God AND others. The peacemaker tries to uncover the origin of the conflict. Then they try and find a way to resolve that conflict and restore peace. But regardless of what WE do or don’t do, God is the ultimate Peacemaker, and as His children, we need to follow His example. Blessed are the peacemakers.
     In the Europe of 1934, as a Bavarian village was being overrun by Adolph Hitler’s thugs, a boy named Heinz watched as tension mounted and the streets of his village became a battleground. Heinz learned to keep his eyes open and his head down. One day, despite his best efforts, he came face-to-face with a gang of Nazi youth- he knew that a beating was inevitable. But he somehow managed to walk away from the incident unhurt. And it was NOT because of what he did, but bec
ause of what he said- he convinced them that fighting was unnecessary. Through that encounter and others like it, young Heinz learned the skill of using words and how the tongue could create peace. Later, his family escaped and came to America. And over the years, Heinz’s name became synonymous with peace. And over the years, he has left a legacy as a bridge builder, not as Heinz but by his Anglicized name- Henry…Kissinger. We are called as Christians to be ambassadors of God’s message of peace to a troubled world. Blessed are the peacemakers.
     So what IS peace? In Latin, the word is pax. And that word conjures up the phrase Pax Romana- Roman Peace. It was through around a LOT by the Romans in Jesus’ day and lifted up as the shining example of what peace was. But it WASN’T peace, it was leading through intimidation. People weren’t at peace, they were just too terrified to say so. In Hebrew, the word is shalom. It’s a common greeting that speaks to soundness, health and prosperity. In Greek, the word eirene, which points to wholeness, completeness, tranquility and a state of rest. 
     Lady Astor was the 1st woman to be a member of the British House of Commons. She and Winston Churchill…didn’t see eye to eye! Once, during a session, she said to Churchill, “If you were my husband, I’d poison your coffee!” Churchill responded, “Madam, if you were my wife…I’d drink it!” The legendary W.C. Fields was once confronted by a woman who said, “You’re drunk!” He looked at her and said, “And you’re ugly. And in the morning, I’ll be sober, but you’ll still be ugly!
     We often think of peace as non-aggressive coexistence- “let’s just leave them alone- leave them in peace.” But there’s simply not much use in the sheep passing a resolution favoring vegetarianism if the wolves still like the taste of mutton. Peace is NOT merely about coexistence- it’s about reconciliation, forgiveness and restoration. Peace is not the absence of conflict. Instead it’s the presence of God regardless of the conflict. Dwight Eisenhower once said, “We seek peace, knowing that peace is the climate of freedom.” Peace is ultimately unaffected by outward circumstances- it is order in place of chaos. Blessed are the peacemakers.
     Back to Cat Stevens and his song Peace Train for a moment- 
Now I’ve been crying lately, thinking @ world as it is.
Why must we go on hating, why can’t we live in bliss? 
Cause out on the edge of darkness, there rides a peace train 
Oh peace train take this country, come take me home again 
     There was a 4th Century Monk named Telemachus who felt that God told him to go to Rome, to the Coliseum and watch the gladiators fight. He did, and during a battles, Telemachus jumped railing, ran out onto the field of battle and yelled, “In the name of Jesus Christ- stop!” The crowd, filled with bloodlust, began to chant, “Run him through! Run him through!” The gladiator instead struck him with the flat of the sword and sent him sprawling. But he just jumped back up and again shouted, “In the name of Jesus Christ- stop!” Again the crowd chanted, “Run him through! Run him through!” This time the gladiator obliged and stuck his sword into Telemachus’ stomach. He fell to the ground and with his dying breath said, “In the name of Jesus Christ- stop!” As he died, a hush fell over the crowd, estimated at 80,000 people. And then, one person silently stood and left the arena. Over the next few minutes, all 80,000 were gone and the vast arena stood empty. And that was the last known gladiator contest in the history of the Roman Empire. 
     Helen Keller once said, “I don’t want a peace that passes all understanding. I want an understanding that brings peace.” We are a part of a peace treaty…a peace treaty with God that has been signed with the blood of the Prince of Peace. Jesus died a cruel death on the cross so that we might know peace on 2 levels: a peace WITH God and the peace OF God. And what is our reward for knowing those two things? We become children of God Himself. Why? Because when we truly seek peace, REAL peace, then we begin to more and more bear God’s likeness. Do you look like your dad? Is that a good thing…or a bad thing? Somebody once told my older son, “You look just like your dad!” He responded with, “You take that back!” We are called to look like our Father, to be a chip off the old block. Blessed are the peacemakers.
     Phillip Keller was a sheep rancher who wrote a piece called, “A Shepherd Looks at the 23rd Psalm”. In it, he talks about an old, stern sheep who would come up to a younger one, arch his neck, tilt his head and approach with a stiff-legged gait. It was the older sheep’s way of saying, “Move over! Get out of my way or else!” But Keller noticed that whenever he came around, his presence attracted the attention of the sheep and they quickly forgot their rivalries and stopped fighting. His presence made all the difference in their behavior. The Shepherd‘s presence, living within us, causes us to want to make peace. Blessed are the peacemakers.
     When Jesus was born, the angels sang of peace on earth. Was that simply a heartwarming Christmas wish, or was it more? We need to find peace with God. We need to establish it, live in it and look forward to it. Peace with God frees up our perspective. It changes our world view and allows us to show courage, compassion and a true commitment to Christ. Those great theologians Lynyrd Skynyrd said, “Now Watergate does not bother me- does your conscience bother you. Tell the truth.” Have you ever thought about what God thinks of your actions? I see people who, by the way they live their lives, seem to think, “I have always been at peace with God- He don’t bother me and I don’t bother Him!” But it was, of all people, the late great guitarist Jimi Hendrix who said, “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, THEN the world will know peace.” Blessed are the peacemakers.
     Did you know that in the history of the world…THE WORLD…there has only been complete peace 8% of the time? In the past 4,000 years, less than 300 of those years have experienced true world peace. Meanwhile, about 8,000 treaties have been made…and broken. For many, a truce is when nobody shoots for a while. Peace is nothing more than that brief moment when everybody reloads. But God has an entirely different concept of peace. God’s peace is NOT détente, but reconciliation. And the truth is that there will be no peace between nations until there is peace in each country. And there will be no peace within a country until there is peace in the people. And there will be no peace in the people until we all surrender…to the Prince of Peace. Blessed are the peacemakers.
     John 14:27  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
     True peace is a product of faith, strength, will, sympathy, justice and imagination. God specializes in makeovers- identity makeovers and spiritual conversions. He made over the murderer
Saul into the minister Paul. He made over the faithless Abram into the faithful Abraham. And He can change you, as well. Is God going to change YOUR name? Will you become a peacemaker? Blessed are the peacemakers.
Now come and join the living, it’s not so far from you
And its getting nearer, soon it will all be true.
Oh peace train sounding louder, glide on the peace train.
Come on now peace train, yes, peace train holy roller.
Everyone jump upon the peace train.
Come on peace train. Yes, it’s the peace train.
     Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!
  Tomorrow- A Major Milestone…a Million!

Saturday, October 27- Sword Fighting For Jesus

        I have mentioned before that I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Acting. (And at the end of the day, a Bachelor’s Degree in Acting qualifies you to…get a Master’s Degree in something! And you might be saying, “Well, it qualifies you to ACT!” Not really. Casting agents don’t REALLY care how much theoretical experience you have in acting- they just want to know what you can do, degree or not!) And when you get a Bachelor’s Degree in Acting, at least from a Liberal Arts university, you study a WIDE variety of things. I studied acting (No! Duh!), directing, costume design (yes, I had to learn how to use a sewing machine!), lighting, set design and construction, theater history and dance (insert your joke here!). I also studied stage combat. Now THAT was fun!!

     I learned how to fight with a broadsword (what guy DOESN’T want to do THAT?!), as well as fencing. I was also involved in stage combat in two separate plays- ironically enough with the SAME actor both times. In one of those plays, we had to beat the…tar out of each other. In the other play, we had to wrestle over a gun, smash a window and then he shot me!
     Now, fast-forward to 2012. The woman who directs the high school musical in our town is a member of my church. She came to me recently and told me that she was doing Peter Pan this year and wondered if I would be able to choreograph a sword fight between Peter Pan and his arch-nemesis- Captain Hook. Sounded like FUN! So I said yes.
     So my 12-year old son and I went out and bought two dowel rods- our swords. We then went into “the green room” in the church- a good-sized “gym” like room in the basement. And we spent a few hours over two separate days creating a sword fight. I let him chose which character he wanted to be, which explains why I ended up as Captain Hook! We tried to create an entertaining mix of good old fashion Errol Flynn-influenced swashbuckling and slapstick comedy. As we went, we wrote down the steps of the fight in shorthand. And we got some rather…interesting looks from church folks who happened to wonder through!
     Then, a couple of evenings ago, my son and I went to the high school and taught the fight to the young man playing Hook and the young woman playing Pan. We demonstrated the fight and then walked them through it, one section at a time. Along the way, I taught them some of the do’s and don’t’s of stage combat- mainly that the person on the receiving end of the attack usually does all of the “heavy lifting”. That is to say that the attacker only pretends to put force behind strikes, blows and punches. The receiver adds the force necessary to make the attack look believable. I also showed them some tricks regarding “cheating” body placement during a fight scene to ensure that the audience gets the best view possible.
     As we drove home, I comments to my son that I was so impressed with both young people we had just worked with. They were fun, energetic, talented, committed and dedicated- they worked hard and learned the basics VERY quickly. And as we left the high school, they both thanked us for taking the time to work with them. Good kids! Our future is in good hands if they represent the next generation!
     Some might say, “Why did you bother with that? It’s just a high school play.” Well, first of all…I enjoyed it! Secondly, my son loved it- reason enough all by itself. Third, I wanted to help the woman from my church who is the director. And fourth, I wanted these kids to see that not all ministers are stuffy, old, set in their ways and boring! I wanted them to see that the pastor can actually be a fun person who enjoys life. I wanted them to see that following Jesus for a lifetime can be a fun, upbeat thing! Now, it is completely likely that they already go to church, already have an awesome pastor and already know all of that! But any reinforcement I can offer is just icing on the cake!
     Step out of your comfort zone, do something that you wouldn’t normally do. AND…do it for the glory of God!!
     Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!
  Tomorrow- Peace Train
      

Friday, October 26- The 411 on The Story

     Have you heard about The Story? It is a new “Bible Study” that has become very popular very fast! Their website describes it this way- “The Story DVD curriculum offers groups of all sizes the opportunity to learn, discuss, and apply what they have experienced during their 31-week The Story campaign. Pastor and author Randy Frazee presents 31 ten-minute teachings on how the story of Scripture – God’s great overarching purpose – instersects with the story of your life. Bestselling author Max Lucado also adds some introductory insights. Through 31 sessions, The Story will open your eyes to the Lower Story, our story, which is actually many stories of men and women interacting with God in the daily course of life; and the Upper Story, God’s story, which is the tale of his great, overarching purpose that fits all of the individual stories together like panels in one unified mural.” 

     The Story is the Bible…but NOT the Bible. The authors have “cherry picked” 31 pieces from the overall narrative of the Bible and woven them together with new writings. The end result is the Bible as a novel- a TRUE novel- that reads straight through like one continuous story…THE Story. Accompanying it is a DVD that has a 10-minute piece that underpins each session. You get to see/hear someone read part of that day’s passage and you get to see/hear one of the authors talk about the lesson.

     One of the main foci of The Story is the difference between the Upper Story and the Lower Story. The Lower Story is OUR story- the world as WE see it and understand it. Meanwhile, the Upper Story is God’s story. I have quickly come to greatly appreciate that distinction and how it impacts our understanding of the Bible…of life.

     From what I have read and heard, The Story is being used by LOTS of churches around the country. There is adult material, youth material, children’s material and a sermon series that can accompany. I chose to focus on the adult material and teach it in a Bible Study setting. And between 2 classes that meet on 2 different days/times, I have about 40 people who are on the journey with me.

     If you are not familiar with The Story, I would encourage you to read it. BUT…I encourage you to read with a specific understanding- it is NOT the Bible. It is taken FROM the Bible. It is well-done. It is fascinating and keeps you swept up in it. But it is not the Bible. There is MUCH of the Bible that is not included in the 31 lessons. And you might ask, “Then why are you reading it? Teaching it? Promoting it?” Because although it isn’t the Bible, it’s a great way to A. introduce the overall story of the Bible to people who aren’t familiar with it and B. it is a great way to focus on specific parts of the Bible for people who ARE familiar with it. 

     If you ARE doing it…let me know what you think. If you AREN’T doing it, give it a try…and let me know what you think!

   Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

  Tomorrow- Sword Fighting For Jesus

Thursday, October 25- A Portrait in Differing Styles

     Isn’t it amazing how different we all are? Here’s a case in point- a couple of nights ago, my wife and I “drove to town” to go out to dinner and get some groceries. (We ARE party animals…aren’t we?!) After we ate dinner, we went to Aldi’s (because they are, after all, the stock up store, you know!) and…well…stocked up!
     We meandered through the store, filled our cart…literally…and then headed to the checkout line. We dutifully waited for the folks in front of us to finish, then took our turn. As I walked up to the cash register, I said to the woman working there, “Hi! How are you?” She managed a weak glance in my direction, a rather derisive smirk and a grunt where the “Fine! And how are you?” should have gone.
     My wife and I are the self-appointed “cheer the cashier up” crew, (it doesn’t pay terribly well but the non-financial benefits are often tremendous!) so we didn’t take “no” for an answer. But regardless of which one of us said anything, and regardless of what we said, she was simply having NONE of it. She finished her job and nearly threw the receipt at me. I said, “Thanks! Have a great night!” Her response? Dead silence! As we bagged our own groceries (because they are, after all “the stock up” store- NOT the “we will bag your groceries for you” store!), we agreed, tongues firmly planted in cheeks, that obviously she was in the running for employee of the month and was trying to push herself over the top!  
     Now, fast-forward about 30-40 minutes later. We are at the check-out in Wal-Mart. We put our things in the belt and then head to the cash register. I say, “Hi! How are you?” (I’m NOT terribly original!) And she turns, looks at me…brightens up and says, “I’m just great- what about you?” We proceeded to have a marvelous conversation with her.
     We were buying, among other things, Halloween candy for our church’s Trunk or Treat event and had Candy Corn M & M’s. (And no, they are NOT for Trunk or Treat! Are you KIDDING me? I’m KEEPING those!) As she rang them up, she asked, “Have you tried these?” We told her that A. we HAD tried them and that B. they MUST have crack in them because they are quite addictive! She asked what they tasted like and my wife asked in response, “Do you like white chocolate?” She made a face and said, “Eewww, no!” We all laughed and decided that perhaps she wouldn’t like them. But then she said that she DID like candy corn, so… I proceeded to take out a bag of them, open it and pout 3 or 4 of them in her hand. “Try them.” “Do they all taste the same?” (They are different colors.) “Yep!” She tentatively stuck one in her mouth and bit down. he then made the worst face I have ever seen! “Oh, my! You clearly don’t like them!” She said, and I quote- “They taste like…well…I won’t SAY what they taste like!” We laughed, apologized for trying to poison her and then went on our merry way.
     For some people, no matter what, the glass is half empty. Likewise, for others, the glass is half full regardless of circumstances. So…which one are YOU? I pray that your glass is of the half full variety, because life is simply TOO short to be so joyless!
     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 411 on The Story

Wednesday, October 24- Jesus, a Man of Great Prayer

    (Wednesdays are Bible Study Day here at Stick With Jesus. Today, we complete our current study called Great Prayers of the Bible.) 

1. A reminder- prayer is:
• the act of petitioning, praising, giving thanks, and confessing to God. 
• communication- conversation with God.
• individual or corporate, audible or silent. 
• an assumption that God is a personal being who hears us.
• offered at ANY time or place, but also at specific times.
• guidance, help, praise, thanksgiving, confession, and intercession.

2. Jesus prayed before important events:
A. At the beginning of His ministry- read Luke 3:21-22 When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son,whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
     Jesus not only went to John to be baptized, but He prayed as a part of it.

B. When He chose His leaders- read Luke 6:12-13 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: 
     Prior to making this big decision, Jesus prayed alone for guidance.

C. Before the Transfiguration- read Luke 9:28-30  About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus.
     Jesus took His “inner circle” with Him so that He could be an example to them.

D. As He neared the end of His earthly ministry- read Matthew 26:36-42  Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”
     Jesus prayed that these events wouldn’t happen, but stressed, “Thy will be done.”

3. Jesus was in the HABIT of praying- at all times:
A. When He needed strength and renewal- Read Luke 5:15-16 Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
     What model does Jesus give us as He “slips away” to pray?

B. When His enemies surrounded Him- Read Luke 6:27-28  “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 
     Jesus instructs that we should even pray for those who are against us.

C. When things were going well- Read Luke 10:21 At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.
     Jesus understands that the praise is to God, not us.

D. Even at His own death- Read Luke 23:46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.
     Even to the end, Jesus was faithful in prayer.

4. Jesus taught others to pray:
A. Read Luke 11:1-4 One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say: “‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day o
ur daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.’”

B. Read Matthew 6:5-15 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
     What are the similarities between these two versions? What are the differences?

5. Jesus prayed for others:
A. Read John 17:1-5 After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you,the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.
     For whom does Jesus pray? For what does Jesus pray?

B. Read John 17:6-19 “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled. “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
     For whom does Jesus pray? For what does Jesus pray?

C. Read John 17:20-26 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.  “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”
For whom does Jesus pray? For what does Jesus pray?

6. This study has taught us that prayer consists of (NOT an exhaustive list!):
• Faith (Abraham)
• Gratitude (Hannah)
• Faithfulness (Samuel)
• Trust (David)
• Character (Job)
• Integrity (Daniel)
• Worship (Mary)

7. Here’s one good prayer model (one of many!) It’s called ACTS:
Adoration (telling God how much you love and adore Him)
Confession (admitting you are not perfect and have fallen short)
Thanksgiving (offering thanks for all the blessings God provides)
Supplication (asking- first, for everyone else, then, for yourself)

     Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

  Tomorrow- A Portrait in Differing Styles!

 

Tuesday, October 23- “It’s JUST a Game!”

      Have you ever heard that said- “It’s JUST a game!”? Have you ever said it yourself? I find that, for the most part, two types of people say it: 1. people who simply don’t care for sports and therefore don’t understand why fans get so passionate about their teams and 2. people whose team just lost!

     Think about it- have you EVER heard someone whose team just WON say that? No! And you won’t either. For them, it’s NOT just a game…it’s a part of them! It was Vince Lombardi, legendary football coach, who said, “Show me a good loser…and I’ll show you a loser.” 
     If your team wins, then everything is right with the world and everybody else is just a big loser. But if your team loses, then the world stinks and “it’s just a game”. If your teams wins, the umpires/referees were great. If your team loses, those same men were out to get you and cheated you out of a win. If your team wins, the other team put up a good fight and were a great team. If your team loses, the winning team is just a bunch of gloating babies!
     I just watched MY team…the St. Louis Cardinals…lose to end their season- after coming within one win of going to the World Series. Am I sad? Sure. Am I disappointed? Sure. Does the world totally stink because they lost? Not on your life! The reality is this- it IS just a game…win or lose. Sure I hung on EVERY pitch. Sure I wanted to throw things at the TV at times. But…I DIDN’T! I celebrate a great season by my Cardinals. I tip my hat to the San Francisco Giants for coming back like they did. And I wait to cheer for the Detroit Tigers as they grind the Giants into paste in the World Series! (But I say that in all Christian love!)
     I guess what I’m REALLY saying today is this- if we spent HALF of the time, energy, passion AND money on ministry that we spend on sports…well…I can only imagine! (And I can imagine quite a LOT!) Just think about what our churches would be like if everybody who spent 5 hours a week watching sports spent those 5 hours volunteering. Imagine what the Church could do if folks who spent $100-$200 to go to one game instead invested that season’s money in the offering plates. 
    Where do YOU spend your time and money? Wherever it is…that’s where your heart is. Whatever you invest your best in is what’s truly important to you. We can SAY all we want, but our actions speak MUCH louder than our words. Take some time today to evaluate your life and see what’s REALLY important to you. You MIGHT be surprised…and it might NOT be pleasantly surprised!
     Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!
  Tomorrow- Jesus- a Man of Great Prayer

Monday, October 22- A Mountain of Food

    Food- it’s always there. In fact, it’s everywhere. And we take it for granted. If you’re like us, you can JUST be back from the grocery store, go to the fridge and still say, “We have NOTHING to eat!”
     What’s your favorite food? For me, it would be hard to narrow it to one food- I like so many! Beef, chicken, pork, vegetables, fruit…you name it, I like it!
     How many times have you said, “I’m hungry!”? The reality is that we say it all the time. We get hungry! But…DO we? Do we REALLY get hungry? Or do we say that simply because it’s TIME to eat? “It’s noon…I MUST be hungry!” If I’m honest, I would have to admit that I have really NEVER been hungry. Oh, sure- I’ve done the 30-hour famine before. I’ve gone 30 WHOLE hours without any food. Now, I DID pig out RIGHT before I started and RIGHT after I finished! But I did NOT eat for 30 hours! Don’t I at least deserve a pat on the back?!
     Hunger has never been a part of my life. I have always known from where my next meal will come. I have never worried that I wasn’t going to be able to eat. Oh, I might have had to “settle” for a PBJ and some chips…but I had something to eat.
     But there ARE people who have a very good working knowledge of hunger. And you don’t have to look across the globe to find them. You don’t even have to look across the country. You can look across the street and probably find someone who needs a meal. And as Christians, we are not called to address only spiritual needs. We are called to try and help address physical ones as well. 
     My church does a wonderful job of just that! And I can brag about it because I JUST got here and have, as yet, NOTHING to do with it. We have a food ministry called Caring Hearts that, among other things, prepares meals every month, portions them out, freezes them and makes them available for anybody…did you see that word- anybody?…who needs them. Just yesterday, we had finished a big push to collect food for the local food pantry. We ended up with a wall of food about 4′ high, 3′ deep and 12′ long! How awesome is that?!
     What are YOU doing to help further God’s kingdom? There ARE people in need out there, and God DOES call us to be His hands and feet. So roll up your sleeves, jump in and see what good you can do in the name of God!
     Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!
  Tomorrow- “It’s JUST a GAME!”