Friday, February 28- Health Update #65,712

     I received an odd, unusual and…I think…beautiful
gift yesterday. I have been struggling for weeks with nightmares. I would say
that 5 out of every 7 nights feature a pretty constant barrage of nightmares.
Even when I sleep uninterrupted for several hours at a time…something that isn’t
all that common for me…those uninterrupted hours ARE in fact uninterrupted- the
bad dreams are constant. As you might imagine, the outcome of this reality is
that I often don’t feel very rested after a night’s sleep.

     A couple of days ago, my wife (who is WAY
smarter than me!) suggested that I call my oncologist and see if this could be
a side effect of the drug therapy and/or if he had any suggestions. His office
called back yesterday afternoon with his answer. While this is not a typical
side effect of this drug, the drug (sadly) hasn’t really been doing anything
positive since I started taking it 3+ months ago. So he told me to stop taking
the drug for at least a week- possibly 2 weeks…until I meet with the
neurosurgeon.

     I will admit that my response to this news
is more than a little schizophrenic. On the one hand, I am nearly beside myself
with joy over not having to inject that wretched stuff into my body for a few
days. That means I probably won’t be freezing all the time. It probably means I
won’t have those nasty flu symptoms ebbing and flowing throughout my body. It
probably means that I won’t have to spend 5 of the next 7 days feeling like
crud on a cracker.

     One
quite the other hand, I am a bit…leery…of stopping the medicine. And I will
admit right up front that there is NO logical reason to feel that way. The
medicine has NOT produced one positive step in 3 months- not one. It HAS made
me feel consistently bad for 3 months. So why in the world would I be leery
about stopping something like that?

     It hinges on the notion of “the devil you
know versus the devil you don’t know”. Are you familiar with that concept? It
basically points to people hanging on to what they have, even though it is
difficult, painful and/or dysfunctional, because they KNOW it. It may not be
great, but it IS familiar. Whatever the “new” thing is would NOT be familiar.
It’s the same mentality that has people staying in really bad relationships. If
THIS treatment doesn’t work…ISN’T working…then that exhausts all the treatment
options…except surgery. And that is not an appealing “next step”!

     BUT…it seems to be THE next step. And I
have always been a “glass half-full” kind of guy. So why start being anything
BUT that now? Do I WANT to have surgery? No! But if that is what’s going to finally
take care of this…THING…in my head, then so be it!

     So, in the end, I am pretty doggone joyous
about NOT injecting that wretched stuff into my gut for the next week. And if
that continues for 2 weeks…I’ll be TWICE as joyous! God is good, all the time!

        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 Day Off

Thursday, February 27- Freshman Orientation

     Last Tuesday evening was a milestone in
our family- we took our younger son to…Freshman Orientation! (Cue the organ
music! “Bum, bum, bum, bbuuumm!”) At 6PM that evening, a bunch of 8th
Graders and their parents gathered in the high school auditorium, where we
spent about 30 minutes hearing from a variety of faculty members about what to
expect as we prepare for high school. Then…we got ice cream!

     As I sat there, looking around the room
and seeing all the incoming Freshmen and their parents, a thought kept
returning to my mind- when did THIS happen? When did my younger son suddenly
break the 6’ barrier and start the process of going to High School? I’m sorry,
but that’s just…wrong!

     I seems like only yesterday that my wife
was calling me at the Great Clips to tell me we were going to have another
baby. Instead, it was December 7, 1999! It seems like only yesterday that he
was a little boy with curly blond/white hair and sparkling blue eyes. It seems like
only yesterday that he was starting Kindergarten. It seems like only yesterday
that he showed me GREAT courage in the midst of difficulty when he suffered
through 8 weeks of twice-weekly physical therapy to treat bad tendinitis in
both knees…and then still make it back for the end of the Cross Country season.
It seems like only yesterday that he started playing the trumpet as a 5th
Grader. It seems like only yesterday that he ponied up like a man when we moved
from the only town he remembered to a new place.

     So, here we are- on the threshold of another
milestone in his life…in our life. And I wouldn’t want it any other way! Being
a father and husband is the BEST thing I could be, because they make me want to
be a better Christian, a better pastor, a better man. Thank you, God for the
overwhelming gift of my family!

     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 Day Off

Wednesday, February 26- Ridin’ the Storm Out

     Wednesdays are Bible Study Day here at
Stick With Jesus. Today we look at one of the more well-known stories from
Jesus’ earthly ministry.

     Mark 4:35-41 That day when evening came,
he said to his disciples, ‘Let us go over to the other side.’ Leaving the crowd
behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other
boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so
that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The
disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’  He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the
waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
He said to his disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’
They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the
waves obey him!’

     In
the Classic Rock musical I wrote and produced about the life of Jesus, the
disciples sing…ready?…the REO Speedwagon classic “Ridin’ the Storm Out”
during this scene. Makes sense, huh?! So Jesus and the boys get in a boat and
head out for the other side. Notice the “leaving the crowd behind” comment. I’m
sure Jesus had plans “over there”, but there seems to also be a sense of
wanting to step out of the fray for a moment- distance Himself from the throngs
of people and catch a quick breather.

     So they are boating across the Sea of Galilee
when a bad storm…a “furious squall”…comes up. The storm was so intense that the
waves were breaking OVER the boat, threatening to swamp it. Now, I don’t know
about you, but if I was in what had to be a rather small boat, crossing the Sea
of Galilee during a major storm that was threatening to send me to the BOTTOM
of the Sea of Galilee…I would be more than a little worried. And the disciples must
have been all too much like me, because they were worried!

     In the midst of chaos and pandemonium,
surrounded by panicking disciples and threatening storms, what is Jesus doing?
He is…sound asleep in the back of the boat! Asleep! In the back of the boat!
Using a seat cushion as a bed! The disciples had to figure that He was either
amazingly calm and self-assured or He was nuts!

     So they wake Him up…would YOU be able to
do that? Would you WAKE UP JESUS if He was asleep? Anyway, they wake Him up and
what do they do? They apologized for waking Him and asked Him to save them!
Actually…NO! They whined and moaned, questioning whether or not He even CARED
about them! Frighteningly typical…of them AND us. When things are going great,
we are SURE Jesus is on our side…maybe even in our hip pocket. But when the
temperature of the water gets turned up, when we start to squirm a bit, we also
tend to let our solid grip on Jesus slip a bit.

     If it had been ME they woke up, I would
have chastised them a bit, right off the bat. But Jesus does what He does best-
He saves them. He calms the storm simply by speaking it so. “Quiet- be still!”
was all He offered, and even the raw power of nature itself obeys. It doesn’t
get much better than that! The storm ceases and all is right with the world.

     THEN…Jesus turns to this ragtag bunch of
smelly fishermen- “Really? After everything you’ve seen and heard since you
started hanging with Me and you STILL have no faith?” (That MIGHT have been a
paraphrase!) And their response shows that they really don’t “get” Who this Man
is.

     How does this story impact you? Do you
shake your head in disbelief over the lack of faith exhibited by these
disciples? Or does it cause you to grimace and hang your head…because you see a
bit too much or yourself in them?! If you find yourself gravitating toward
Jesus when the world is sunny and clear…but then losing both faith and
connection when the storm clouds come- you may want to re-examine your faith. If
you can’t fully rely on Jesus when the boat is in danger of being swamped, then
the relationship isn’t where you thought it was, where it SHOULD be.

     Jesus doesn’t want to simply be your fair-weather
friend. He wants to walk through EVERYTHING with you. EVERYTHING. And He can be
the MOST helpful, the MOST supportive, when your circumstances seem to be at
their worst.

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

     Tomorrow- Freshman Orientation

Tuesday, February 25- Two Good Days…in a ROW!

     For my whole life…basically…I have been as
healthy as a horse! (And, by the way, just how healthy IS a horse?!) Oh sure,
there was the fractured skull at the age of 3. (Don’t ask!) And there was the
rheumatic fever at the age of 5. And there was the ruptured disc and major back
surgery at the age of 21…and again a year later! But other than THOSE things…I
have been the picture of health!

     Seriously, though, I have been a pretty
healthy person. I am almost NEVER sick- I have missed grand total of ONE Sunday
morning to illness since I entered the ministry 17 years ago. I just rarely
find myself not being able to do something just because I don’t feel good. That
is, until about 3 months ago!

     Back in August, I started taking the drug
Calcitonin (nasal spray twice each day) in an effort to shrink and calcify the
tumor that is in my head. The primary symptoms were achiness and cold-like
symptoms. After 3 months of usage, it was decided (through the results of a
specialized CT scan) that the tumor was growing and therefore the medicine wasn’t
working.

     So in early December, I switched to a new
drug- Interferon. It is delivered through a self-injection 3 times each week.
The main side effects are achiness and flu-like symptoms. In a nutshell, the
purpose of the drug is to knock down your immune system and give you what
amounts to a mild case of the flu. Then, the body is supposed to ramp UP the
immune system to fight the flu…and the tumor in the process.

     I take the shot at 4:30PM 3 times a week-
Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays- and often by 8PM or 8:30PM that evening, I am
beginning to feel the effects. Some days, the “day after” is kind of crummy,
and some days…it’s not. But for the past 3+ weeks, pretty much EVERY “day after”
has been crummy. Which is why this past weekend stood out so much!

       From later on Friday evening until
bedtime Sunday evening, I felt pretty good! Now, notice “pretty good”. “Good”
has taken on a whole new definition since I was diagnosed. But for that 48-hour
period, I felt PRETTY good! And I had almost forgotten what a gift that is! Feeling
pretty good for 48 hours was one of the better gifts I have received in a
while.

     So, here’s the point- don’t take things
like health for granted. Appreciate what you have. Make the most of every week,
every day, every hour, every minute. DON’T tell yourself that you always have
tomorrow- one day…you won’t!

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

     Tomorrow- Ridin’ the Storm Out

Monday, February 24- The Birth of a New Ministry

     If you have any children, you remember…you
will ALWAYS remember…the day they were born. There are a very small handful of
days that stand out in my life, and be assured that the day my gorgeous wife
was silly enough to say “I do” is at the top, and the birth of both of my boys
is right up there as well!

    The birth of a new ministry is pretty
exciting, too! And I got the extreme pleasure of experiencing that last Friday
night! One of the most under-represented groups in the church I currently serve…in
MOST churches…is the “young family/couple” group. Some churches lack in that
area because they simply don’t HAVE enough folks who fit into that category
while others lack in that area because they 
aren’t sure what to DO with that
group.

     Over the 20 months that I have been at
this church, our “pool” of young families/couples has grown, which is an AWESOME.
So in recent months, a few of us have been in discussion about what we could do
to intentionally reach out to those folks with a ministry geared specifically
for them. Out of that discussion grew last Friday night’s event.

     We struggled with up how we would “label”
this group. We thought the “family” designation was important, but we 
didn’t want
to limit it to only those who had kids. We thought the “young” designation was
important, but we didn’t want that to make some feel that they didn’t belong.
(I mean, I’m going to be 53 in less than 2 months and we have a kid in Junior
High!) We thought the “couple” designation was important, but we didn’t want to
leave out anybody who was either a single parent or fit into the age group. So
we were as SPECIFIC as possible while being as GENERAL as possible! (Clear as
MUD, Pastor!)

     We put together a dinner that we called
Late Valentine’s Day Dinner, arranged babysitting and sent out personal
invitations. We planned the dinner (pork loin, baked potato, broccoli, salad
and cheesecake!) and the décor. (I am, by the way, eternally grateful for a
couple of women who have an incredible eye for style and detail- that saved us
from the paper plates and chili dogs I would have planned!) And then…Friday
night came!

     8 families were represented at the dinner,
with 5 other families who WANTED to come but had other commitments. I don’t
know about you, but 8 families for the maiden voyage of a new ministry is
pretty doggone awesome! They were intentionally seated in groups of 4. During
the salad course, they were invited to A. as a couple fill out a Valentine’s
Day trivia quiz and B. each write down something that most people 
wouldn’t know
about them. Then we ate the main course…which was AMAZING! After that we gave
door prizes for the couples who got the most trivia questions correct.

     As we ate dessert, I read the “thing most
people 
wouldn’t know about you”, one at a time, and those gathered had to try
and figure out who wrote it. It was A. quite fun and B. pretty enlightening!
(Mine was that, in a “”former life” as the Business Manager of a professional theater/entertainment
venue, I once wrote Jay Leno a check for $40,000!)

     We spent the rest of the 90-minute evening
talking about what THEY wanted this new ministry to be. It seems to me that an
awful lot of churches seem to think that THEY know what a group like this would
want to do and therefore they simply dictate what that will be. I wanted to
know what THEY wanted! We then made plans for moving forward, finished dessert
and went home. It was  GREAT evening and…I
pray…the beginning of a marvelous ministry opportunity!

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

     Tomorrow- Two Good Days…IN A ROW!

Sunday, February 23- Packing in a Hurry

      When I first started in the ministry, I was “the youth guy”. Oh, my TITLE was “Associate Pastor”, but I was “the youth guy”! Even though I had it for 7 years, I didn’t grow into the “Associate Pastor” title until about year 5! 
     One of the many things the youth did at that church was plan and lead the Easter Sunrise service. It was traditionally held at a beautiful park on the edge of town. If you chose the start time just right (6:30AM was the magic hour), the sun would rise over the trees about midway through the service. It was beautiful!
      The 2nd year I was there, I took home one of the big coffee makers from the church, prepared to get up EARLY, start the coffee pot, go back to bed while it brewed, then get back up and head to the park. That was the PLAN! However…“
The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men, gang aft agley”! Or, for those of you who DON’T speak the ancient Scottish dialect of Lallans, “The best-laid plans of mice and men are often gone astray.” I apparently didn’t set the alarm correctly, because I woke up at…6:20AM! That’s right- TEN minutes before the service was supposed to start! I was a Dagwood Bumstead flight! Clothes were flying everywhere. I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off, trying to get ready. I probably even offered up an “excited utterance” or two that would be not suitable for younger ears! But, to my credit, I pulled into the parking lot of the park at…ready?…6:27AM! Yep- a mere SEVEN minutes after being in my jammies, sound asleep in my cozy bed, I was dressed and at the park! I didn’t have any COFFEE…but I was THERE!     
     Parenthetically and ironically, the next year I was up WAY early and made it to the park in PLENTY of time…only to find that the city, in their infinite wisdom, had suddenly decided to start LOCKING the front gate to the park at night! I had 7 cars of high school students and their parents stuck at the entrance to the park…at 6:10AM…while I called the police department, frantically trying to find someone who could open the gate!! 
     Today, we continue our current, 8-week sermon series, focusing on destiny. We are walking through the life of Old Testament giant Moses as we consider The Making of a Leader. Through HIS life, we are seeing how God is calling each of US to be a leader in our right. Six weeks ago, we looked at the difficult beginning of Moses’ life- a baby, adrift in a basket in the Nile River. Five weeks ago, we looked at the time Moses, in a fit of anger, murdered an Egyptian for mistreating one of the Hebrews and had to flee into the desert to save his own life. Four weeks ago, we looked at where he went when he fled, as well as his encounter with a burning bush. Three weeks ago, we went with Moses as he traveled BACK to Egypt to confront Pharaoh with God’s ultimatum. Two weeks ago, we saw God announce His intention to free His people once and for and put His wondrous powers on display for all to see. Last week, that promise came to fruition…in a powerful and frightening way through the 10 Plagues of Egypt. Today, we experience a mass departure as the Hebrews are suddenly in a position to pack in a hurry.
     Proverbs 20:4-5 Sluggards do not plow in season; so at harvest time they look but find nothing. The purposes of the human heart are deep waters, but those who have insight draw them out.
     Think about that passage- it’s an odd one, to be sure. But what it really says is this- be ready. If you don’t plow in season, then you will NOT be prepared at harvest time. I also like the phrase, “The purposes of the human heart are deep waters”. We are deep, complex beings who are struggling to make sense of this crazy world. And THAT is where God comes into the equation.
     Exodus 12:31-38 During the night the king called for Moses and Aaron and said, “Get up and leave my people. You and your people may do as you have asked; go and worship the LORD. Take all of your flocks and herds as you have asked, and go. And also bless me.” The Egyptians also asked the Israelites to hurry and leave, saying, “If you don’t leave, we will all die!” So the people took their dough before the yeast was added. They wrapped the bowls for making dough in clothing and carried them on their shoulders. The Israelites did what Moses told them to do and asked their Egyptian neighbors for things made of silver and gold and for clothing. The LORD caused the Egyptians to think well of them, and the Egyptians gave the people everything they asked for. So the Israelites took rich gifts from them.
     So here we are in Egypt. And on the night that the Hebrews finally leave the country, after 430 years of slavery, it is only in response to a great and very personal tragedy. Pharaoh, devastated by the loss of his son, as well as his own hubris, lets the Hebrews go. In fact, he is so anxious to end the devastation God has brought down on the Egyptians that he lets them go with absolutely no restrictions. He not only LETS them go…he DEMANDS that they leave, just as God predicted he would. 
     Pharaoh, long considered a god, is humbled to the point of asking Moses to bless him. Even the Egyptian people urge the Hebrews to leave quickly- they fear that, if the Hebrews don’t leave quickly, more Egyptians will die. The Egyptians are willing to do anything to get the Hebrews out of their land, including giving them silver, gold and clothing. They leave SO quickly that there isn’t even time to add leavening to the bread dough. They just throw the dough into bowls, wrap the bowls up and carry them on their shoulders. To quote that great theologian Theodore “Dr. Seuss” Geisel, “The time is here. The time is now to go, go, go- I don’t care how. You can go by skates. You can go by cow, but Marvin K. Mooney…will you please go NOW!”
     After all 430 YEARS of dreaming about it, the time is finally here. It’s so overwhelming that it’s almost too much for the Hebrew people to handle. They had to get ready in a hurry- no time to think, not even really any time to act…just do. As they grabbed the things that they could and began to make their way out of Egypt, they thought about their life of slavery…and what was ahead for them.
     The Israelites traveled from Rameses to Succoth. There were about six hundred thousand men walking, not including the women and children.  Many other people who were not Israelites went with them, as well as a large number of sheep, goats, and cattle. 
     Rameses was a city in lower Egypt that was built by Hebrew slaves. As they left the city of Rameses, they went south to the center of Goshen to gather more people. The city of Succoth is where Jacob built a house for himself. It was the 1st official stopping place for the Hebrews on their Exodus journey. 
     Did you notice that the Scripture said the number of Israelite men was about 600,000? The Old Testament Book of Numbers 1:46 says that the exact figur
e was 603,550! I have two thoughts- 1. That’s a LOT of people and 2. Who counted them? The reality is that, with the women and children added in, the number would have been around 2 million. (I had an Old Testament professor in seminary who stated categorically that the number wasn’t anywhere NEAR 2 million. He said it was more like 50,000. I pointed out that A. he couldn’t POSSIBLY know that to any degree of certainty and B. that’s NOT what the story is about, anyway!) The Scripture also tells us that there were non-Hebrews on the journey- it was a mixed group. The people, much like Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, are on the road…waiting for the greatness of God to happen around them!
     I want you to imagine for a moment an apple seed. How many apples does that one apple seed represent? Well, it could be million, and then again it could be…none. It all depends on what you do with the seed. It’s all about…potential, and living UP to your true potential. Take a moment and look around you. Right now. Look to the right, then to the left, then in front of you and then behind you. Do you realize what you are looking at? You are looking at greatness, just waiting to happen! It may not LOOK like much at the moment! But take another look…a closer look. You are looking at a person who can make a difference in world- at home, at work, at school, in the church…in the world. 
     When you look in the mirror, what do you see? All joking aside…what do you see? Do you seem someone eager to be what the WORLD wants you to be?  Or do you instead see someone eager to be what God wants you to be? Do you see yourself the way the world sees you, or do you see yourself as God sees you? God sees the greatness in you…just waiting to happen. And why does God see greatness in you? Because He created you! He knows what a difference He can make in your life…if you will give Him the chance. He also knows that, sadly, our potential for greatness is often exceeds by our unwillingness to pursue that greatness.
     You and I look at a big chunk of rock and we see…a big chunk of rock. But a sculptor looks at that same chunk of rock and sees a magnificent statute hidden inside, just waiting for someone with vision and determination to chip away all that does NOT belong. God looks at us, each of us, and sees something wonderful that can be shaped into greatness. But in order to reach the sense of greatness that REALLY matters, we have to be willing to first reach for God.      
     Matthew 25:13 ‘Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
     Our ultimate greatness is found in His majesty, His power and His authority. But how does that happen? Well, it doesn’t happen by being in touch with God on a superficial, occasional basis. It doesn’t even happen through consistent church attendance. You can go to every St. Louis Cardinals game, you can even wear a #6 jersey, but that doesn’t make you Stan Musial.
Until you earn the jersey, you are just a fan. You can go to church every week your whole life, but if you haven’t accepted Jesus Christ…on His terms…then you are nothing more than fan. And being even a GOOD church fan won’t help you reach the greatness that God has for you. 
     A man lost his car keys. He was down on his hands and knees, looking closely at the ground, at a very specific spot under the bright parking lot light. Another man saw him and came over to help. Finally, the good Samaritan said, “We’ve been looking under this light for almost an hour. Are you sure you lost your keys here?” The first man replied, “Oh no- I dropped my keys up the street…but it’s too dark up there to look! The light is better here!” 
     All too often, we go to where WE want to look for answers…instead of looking where the answers can actually be found. Have you ever felt that emptiness when you experience something that you thought would truly make you happy…but it didn’t? Our desire for pleasure, our fear of pain, our unwillingness to wait- they all keep us from being the best that God has for us. They keep us from reaching the greatness that God has right in front of us. We need to keep our eyes on that greatness…keep our eyes on the prize. But let me be clear- greatness is NOT defined by status or power or money. Instead, it is defined by how fully we are walking in God’s will. God wants the best for us. He wants greatness to be a large, tangible part of our lives. But we can’t become champions simply by saying that we want to. Wanting it is simply not enough. We have to focus on the goal. If you are ready…TRULY ready…to take that step of faith, you will discover the road to true greatness. And you will find that it is far beyond anything that you thought possible. You will also come to fully appreciate the fact that God walks the journey with you.
     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 Birth of a New Ministry

Saturday, February 22- A Plethora of Questions

     I’m a curious person. I always want to know “why?”, which causes some people some stress (like my mom, when I was growing up!) With that in mind, I offer you a collection of questions today. I would be curious to know your answer to any of them…as well as any questions YOU have in this vein!
1. Why do doctors leave the exam room when you change? They’re going to see you naked anyway. 
2. Why is there a disclaimer on the Allstate Insurance commercials that says “Not available in all states”? 
3. How far east can you go before you’re heading west? 
4.Do dentists and barbers go to other people to have their teeth and hair worked on…or do they just do it themselves? 
5. Why is it that everyone driving faster than you is an idiot and everyone driving slower than you is a moron? 
6. Why do things with artificial grape or banana flavoring not taste anything like real grapes or banana?
7. Is there a difference between normal ketchup and fancy ketchup? 
8. Why is the Lone Ranger called ‘Lone’ if he always has Tonto with him? 
9. When does it stop being partly cloudy and start being partly sunny?
10. In the song Yankee Doodle, what exactly is he calling “macaroni”? 
11. Is there a statute of limitations on fortune cookie predictions? 
12. Can something be “new” AND “improved” at the same time?
13. If laughter is the best medicine, why do we die laughing? 
14. Why does caregiver and caretaker mean the same thing?
15. Exactly how fast DO hotcakes sell?
16. Why do people never say “it’s only a game” when they’re winning?
17. Why is it called a funny bone- when you hit it, it’s not funny at all?
18. Why does dishwashing liquid contain real lemons but lemon juice contains artificial flavorings?
19. What do Greeks say when they don’t understand something? 
20. What do the British call English muffins? 
21. Why is the Department of Interior in charge of everything outdoors?
22. What do people in China call their good dishes?
23. If you put a chameleon in a room full of mirrors, what color would it turn?
24. Why do we press the start button to turn off the computer?
25. How old do you have to be before you can die of old age?
26. If nobody buys a ticket to a movie do they still show it?
27. How do you know when you’ve run out of invisible ink? 
28. Why do we constantly look in the refrigerator hoping that something new has magically appeared?
29. Can you “stare off into space” when you’re in space?
30. Why is there a light in the fridge and not in the freezer? 
31. If you soak a raisin in water, does it turn back into a grape?
32. Why do they call steam rollers, steam rollers? They don’t produce, get rid of, or have anything to do with steam 
33. What is another word for “thesaurus”?
     Are you thinking about these things? Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and stop by again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!
     Tomorrow- Packing in a Hurry

Friday, February 21- Who’s Training Whom Here?

     The other day the dog told me she needed to go out. And in case you’re thinking to yourself, “She TOLD you? Really? She TOLD you?” Yes…she told me! She has distinctly different  behavior, depending on what she wants/needs. “I’m hungry” is different from “I’m thirsty”, which is different from “I want to play” which is different from “I need to go outside”. She may not speak English…but she certainly communicates! And she told me she had to go outside. 
     So I walked down the stairs of our split level, put my shoes on, grabbed the leash and headed outside. I shut the door, stepped off the front porch…and realized I didn’t have the dog!  I had the LEASH…but not the dog! I retraced my steps…and found her dutifully sitting on the steps, exactly in the spot and posture she is supposed to be before she goes out. She had this look on her face that said, “Have you lost your mind? You took the LEASH out…and forgot ME?” Then she sort of shook her head, let me attach the leash, and went outside to do her business. 
     As I walked her around the yard, I thought about what had just happened. And then it dawned on me- who’s actually  training who here? I’m SO sure that I have trained her to sit on the steps and wait while I attach the leash before she can go out. BUT…she HAS taught me how to recognize when she has to go out…AND I WAS the one who came back in and got her! If I’m honest…the dog has trained me quite well!
     Our relationship with God is much the same. If we’re honest, we try really hard to train God. We come to Him in prayer and try to tell Him how things should be. “You really should do this and that!” Or “God, I want you to do this or that!” We don’t necessarily MEAN to approach the relationship that way…we just…DO! You do it. I do it. We ALL do it. But my experience is that it just doesn’t work. And it doesn’t work because, at the end of the day, when everything is said and done, it is God is large and in charge…not us! 
     So, why do we do it? We do it because we want control. We strive for control. We crave control. But, if we are honest with ourselves, we really have NO control. Not really. God is in control. God knows the way, the truth and the life. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. God wants to train us in the way we should go, so that we won’t turn from it. Did you hear that? He WANTS to train us! So here’s the $64 question…will you let Him?
     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 March of the…”Young” Adults!

Thursday, February 20- What Sticks in YOUR Head?

     I’m sure you will find this hard to
imagine, but I grew up performing in talent shows! (I know, shock of shocks,
right?!) When I was in First Grade…FIRST Grade…I dressed up as Snoopy, complete
with a big paper mache’ head and a white body suit, and ran/danced around the
stage acting out the song The Red Baron which two Fourth Grade girls were
singing. We WON! Later in my Grade School career I donned an outlandish
pantsuit and a stunning wig and did the Geraldine routine made famous by comedian
Flip Wilson. I won that one, too! But the piece de resistance was my Fifth
Grade year. I came out in a pair of overalls, with a hammer in the hammer hold,
and did the Noah routine made famous by the one and only Bill Cosby. I…won!

     OK, so Fifth Grade would make me 10 years
old. Since I am now 52 years old, that would make that 42 years ago…if my math
skills hold up. 42 YEARS ago…and I still remember every word of that routine.
Every WORD. Think that through- I usually couldn’t tell you what I had for
breakfast…TODAY…but I remember every word of a comedy routine I did more than 4
decades ago.

      Likewise, I will hear a song that was
popular when I was in high school. I haven’t heard the song in YEARS, but the
second it starts, I’m singing along like I’m right back in 1979 again!

     I wonder- what would happen if we
connected to our faith the way we connect to things like song lyrics and comedy
routines? I don’t necessarily mean memorizing large portions of Scripture. I
mean, if that is a skill/gift/talent you have, then go for it. But what I mean
is this- what if we were able to create the kind of connection with our faith…with
God…that we create with other things in our lives?

     The truth of that matter is that we CAN.
Again, it doesn’t mean that we have to memorize and recite back long strands of
Scripture or prayers or liturgy. Instead, it means that if we spent the amount
of time and energy on faith development as we do on so many other facets of our
lives, I think we might just be amazed.

      Here’s my challenge- set aside
intentional time EVERY day to deepen and strengthen your relationship with
Jesus Christ. Pray, read the Bible, read what other people have to say…whatever
it is that better connects you to Him. Do that every day for a solid month.
Then drop me a line and tell how that month went. You will NOT be disappointed!

     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 World Can Change in an
Instant

Wednesday, February 19- The Transfiguration

Wednesday are Bible
Study Day here at Stick With Jesus. Today, we look at one of the most
overlooked, yet BIGGEST stories in the Gospels- The Transfiguration. Here’s the
story:

     Matthew 17:1-9 After six days Jesus took
with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high
mountain by themselves. 2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone
like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 3 Just then there
appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. 4 Peter said to
Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three
shelters–one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ 5 While he was still
speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This
is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!’ 6 When the
disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. 7 But Jesus
came and touched them. ‘Get up,’ he said. ‘Don’t be afraid.’ 8 When they looked
up, they saw no one except Jesus. 9 As they were coming down the mountain,
Jesus instructed them, ‘Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of
Man has been raised from the dead.’

     So Jesus takes what has become “The Big
Three”- Peter, John and James- and heads up a mountain with them. Why a
mountain? Well, it certainly sets them apart from everyday life and allows them
to focus squarely and solely on what is about to happen. Also, think about what
we call the high points in our lives- mountaintop experiences. So there is some
very tangible reasons for going up this mountain AND there is some strong
symbolism behind it as well.

     Matthew cuts RIGHT to the chase- verse 1
has them heading out and in verse 2…the Transfiguration happens. This is
certainly a conservation of words. There is nothing flowery or drawn-out about
the telling of this story. They just get RIGHT to it. Jesus is transformed…transfigured…right
before their very eyes…whatever “very eyes” are! His face shines like the sun
and his clothes become dazzlingly white. For those Lord of the Rings fans out
there, I 
couldn’t help but think of when Gandalf the Gray becomes Gandalf the
White! (I just might be the ULTIMATE geek!)

     As The Big Three watch in stunned
amazement, the scene just gets better and more fantastical. Moses and Elijah, 2
GIANTS of the Old Testament, appear and start talking to Jesus. My first
thought? What did they talk about? Seriously, don’t you wonder? But I fear we
might never know. And perhaps the better question is this- why them? Out of all
of the OT people who could have shown up, why them? Well, Moses represents The
Law while Elijah represents The Prophets. And Jesus makes it clear that He did
NOT come to abolish the Law and the Prophets but to instead fulfill them. So
Moses and Elijah are the visual, literal connection between the Old Testament
that Peter, John and James grew up with and this new covenant being made with
Jesus.

     Then, just when you think it couldn’t get
any better, a bright cloud settles over the proceedings. Out of the cloud comes
the voice of God Himself, telling them that A. Jesus is His Son, B. He is
well-pleased with Him and C. they need to listen to Jesus. These seem to be
important points to God because it is very similar to what He says at Jesus’ baptism
at the Jordan River.

     Well, our three heroes have reached
complete sensory overload and do the only thing they can think of- they hit the
dirt, shut their eyes and hide their heads in abject fear! But the next thing
you know, Jesus is touching them on the shoulder and telling them to get up,
that everything is over. They look up and sure enough, Moses and Elijah are
gone, the bright cloud is gone, and everything is “back to normal”. They HAD to
have a moment where they wondered if they had imagined the whole thing. But
they know…they KNOW…deep down in those places people don’t like to talk about
at parties, that it DID happen, that Jesus is the Real Deal.

     On the way back down, Jesus tells them NOT
to say anything about this incident until AFTER He rises from the dead. I
wonder- did they do that? Or was the temptation TOO great and they just HAD to
tell someone?

     One thing that always strikes me about
this story is that, as great as the mountaintop experiences are- and they can
be GREAT- you simply can’t stay there on the mountaintop forever. You HAVE to
go back down into the valley eventually. And when you do, all pumped up from
your mountaintop experience, you find that everyone else…is still the same as
before you left. They 
didn’t HAVE the experience you did, so they can’t
possibly appreciate what you experienced. And that can be very disappointing.

     But, for my money, that’s NOT why we are
given those mountaintop experiences. Instead, we are given them to serve as “refueling
stations”. Those amazing moments should charge our spiritual batteries enough that
we can function back down in the valley without losing the wonder and the awe.
If we lose that edge, then life can be pretty bleak and boring. But if we can
maintain the awe and wonder, the childlike faith, then the world is an amazing
place full of beauty and splendor!

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

     Tomorrow- What Sticks in YOUR Head?

Tuesday, February 18- Surrounded By God’s People

     I don’t know how non-believers do it. Now,
let me be clear right up front- that statement is NOT intended to be a less
than veiled dig at those who don’t follow Jesus Christ. I could see how it
might APPEAR that way, but that is NOT the intent.

     No, what I mean by that statement is that
I remember…all too well…my “pre-Christian” days. Everything was hard. Life seemed
like a constant uphill struggle. I was not happy with who I was or what I was
doing. I’m not sure I could have been much farther away from God and my life
clearly reflected that fact!

     But then, I grew to accept Christ. And it
WAS a growing edge. Things certainly didn’t change overnight. In fact, you
could measure much of the positive change in the same way they measure the yearly
movement of the Continental Drift! But over time, as I became more and more
willing to trust God, more and more open to His callings, my life changed. I
became SO much more content with my life. I stopped focusing so much on what I
didn’t have and started focusing more on what I DID have.

      I have been reminded of all of this
recently, due to my health issues. If I were still the person I was back then,
I would NOT be surrounded by such an awesome church family. I WOULD still have
my family around me…and I thank God for that fact…but I wouldn’t have the love
and support of my church family.

     Having a group of people who love you for
who you is an amazing gift. A church family helps uplift and support each
other. They stand by each other in thick and thin. And the uniquely awesome
thing about a church family is that they CHOOSE to be a family. None of us
chose our blood families. Don’t get me wrong- I have an AWESOME blood family.
But my church family CHOSE to be a family. And they have been amazingly
accepting of MY family over the past 20 months!

     I thank God on a daily basis for my
family. They are more than I could possibly imagine or deserve. Likewise, I
thank God daily for my church family. They TOO are more than I could possibly
imagine or deserve! I am truly a blessed man, surrounded by God’s people!

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

     Tomorrow- The Transfiguration

Monday, February 17- The Joy of the Tie Tack!

     My dad died just over 3 years ago. (Hard
to believe it’s been that long!) Since my mom died back in 2004, we had to go through
all their things. If you have ever had to do that, it’s a difficult thing to
do…but it can also be pretty rewarding. I was digging through the things in
his dresser not long after he died and came upon this…tray…that he always
had on his dresser. I remember as a little kid he kept change, keys…amazing
treasures that a kid loved to look at! In his later years, the tray
was getting more than a little…dog-eared…and so he stopped putting it ON
his dresser and started putting it IN his dresser. And THAT’S exactly where I
found it!

     As I dug through
it, suddenly…I saw it. It was a tie tack. Yep…that’s right…a TIE tack. I
know, right? What in the world is so exciting about a tie tack? I mean, not a
ton of guys even wear tie tacks anymore. So…what’s the deal? Well…HERE’S the
deal. This particular tie tack is over 40 years old. How do I know that, you
ask? I know that because I made that tie tack for my dad when I was in grade
school…more than 40 years ago! 

     I got a rock
polishing kit for Christmas that year (go ahead…insert your joke here…you
KNOW you want to!) and, along with a variety of rocks, it also came with the
materials to make a variety of pieces of jewelry…earrings, pins,
keychains…and tie tacks. So I made a tie tack for my dad. I mean, it was a
natural. He had to wear a tie every day to work, so…a tie tack! I lovingly
“tumbled” that rock (again, feel free to put your second joke here!),
then glued it to the base of the tie tack and gave it to him. I don’t remember
if I gave it to him for some special event (Father’s Day, birthday, whatever)
or if I just gave it to him, but there it was. 

     Now, I honestly
don’t remember if he wore it or not…but I KNOW he saved it…for FORTY years!
When I saw it in the tray, I instantly knew what it was. I took it out, held it
in my hands- a smile on my face and tears in my eyes. All these years…and he
kept it. Who knew? I will tell you- that tie tack went into my pocket that day,
made the trip home with me, and appeared on my tie the next Sunday! (I basically
NEVER wear a tie except for A. Sunday morning, B. weddings and C. funerals.) It
was a nice connection- wearing the tie tack I had made for my dad 40+ years ago,
feeling good about having it and remembering my dad. 

     If there are
people in your life that you love…yet you don’t tell them…let me offer you
this little piece of advice…tell them! Don’t let another week, another day,
another hour, another minute go by…tell them that you love them. It will mean
SO much to them…AND you!

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

     Tomorrow- Surrounded By God’s People

Sunday, February 16- The Plagues

     (This sermon, when delivered live, starts
with a rope trick.)

     Now, you’ve all seen me do “magic tricks”
before. And they are JUST that- tricks! They are nothing more than parlor
tricks, designed to entertain and amuse…at best. But make NO mistake- they are
parlor tricks. And today’s sermon makes the clear distinction between OUR
parlor tricks and God’s wonders!

     Today, we continue our current, 8-week
sermon series, focusing on destiny. We are walking through the life of Old
Testament giant Moses as we consider The Making of a Leader. Through HIS life,
we are seeing how God is calling each of US to be a leader in our right. Five
weeks ago, we looked at the difficult beginning of Moses’ life- a baby, adrift
in a basket in the Nile River. Four weeks ago, we looked at the time Moses, in
a fit of anger, murdered an Egyptian for mistreating one of the Hebrews and had
to flee into the desert to save his own life. Three weeks ago, we looked at
where he went when he fled, as well as his encounter with a burning bush. Two
weeks ago, we went with Moses as he travelled BACK to Egypt to confront Pharaoh
with God’s ultimatum. Last week, we saw God announce His intention to free His
people once and for and put His wondrous powers on display for all to see.
Today, that promise comes to fruition…in a powerful and frightening way. And
there is a history throughout the Old Testament of God doing just that.

     Ezekiel
25:15-17 ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says:’ Because the Philistines acted
in vengeance and took revenge with malice in their hearts, and with ancient
hostility sought to destroy Judah, 16 therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD
says: I am about to stretch out my hand against the Philistines, and I will
wipe out the Kerethites and destroy those remaining along the coast. 17 I will
carry out great vengeance on them and punish them in my wrath. Then they will
know that I am the LORD, when I take vengeance on them. ”

     Moses doesn’t understand what the plan
REALLY is, so he complains to God. God’s response is succinct and to the point-
“Buck up, Moses! Now you…and the Egyptians…will truly see My wonders!” Moses spent
the first 40 years in Egypt being nurtured to be somebody. He then spent the
next 40 years in the desert learning to be nobody. Then, 80 years into the
story, God shows up and demonstrates what He can do with somebody…who is willing
to be nobody.

     God sends Moses and Aaron back to the
court of Pharaoh. He has them throw Aaron’s staff to the ground, where it
becomes a rather large snake. Everyone is shocked and amazed. Everyone, that
is, except Pharaoh’s magicians. They claim that what Moses and Aaron did is
merely a parlor trick. To prove it, they turn THEIR staffs into snakes.
Everyone is impressed…until Aaron’s snake/staff promptly EATS theirs! This
begins God’s very intentional demonstration of the difference between words and
actions, between our parlor tricks…and His wonders. The legendary 10 Plagues of
Egypt unfold, in all their horrendous splendor.

     Plague
#1
– God says to Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is unyielding; he refuses to
let the people go. Wait on the bank of the Nile to meet him, and take in your
hand the staff that was changed into a snake. Then say to him,’ The Lord has
sent me to say, ‘By this you will know that I am the Lord- with the staff that
is in my hand I will strike the water of the Nile, and it will be changed into
blood. The fish will die, the river will stink and the Egyptians will not be
able to drink its water.’” It happens, just as God said. The people are panicked,
but Pharaoh’s magicians re-create a version of the miracle through their parlor
tricks and Pharaoh’s become hard.

     Plague
#2
– 7 days later, God says to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Let
my people go. If you refuse, I will send a plague of frogs on your whole
country. The frogs will come upon you and your people and all your officials.’”
Then God said to Moses, “Tell Aaron to stretch out his hand with his staff over
the streams and canals and ponds, and make frogs come up on the land of Egypt.”
Aaron does as God says and the land is teeming with frogs. Again Pharaoh’s
magicians re-create the miracle. But Pharaoh is beginning to wonder, so he
tells Moses that, if he will get God to get rid of the frogs, Pharaoh will let
God’s people go into the wilderness to worship Him. Moses does…God does…but Pharaoh
does NOT.

     Plague
#3
– Then God says to Moses, “Tell Aaron to stretch out his staff and
strike the dust of the ground and throughout Egypt the dust will become gnats.”
Aaron does and gnats are suddenly EVEYWHERE! Pharaoh’s magicians try to
re-create the miracle…but they can’t. They tell Pharaoh that it is “the finger
of God”, but Pharaoh is hardened and won’t believe it.

     Plague
#4
Then God tells Moses to confront
Pharaoh and tell him that, unless he lets the people go, God will send swarms
of flies. The houses of the Egyptians will be full of flies; even the ground
will be covered with them. Pharaoh is done with his worthless magicians and
tells Moses to have the people worship God right where they are. Moses tells
him that won’t work. So Pharaoh says he will let them go if Moses will pray to
God to get rid of the flies. Moses does…God does…but again…Pharaoh does NOT!

     Plague #5– Then God tells Moses
to tell Pharaoh that, if he refuses to let the people go, God will bring a
terrible plague on the livestock. The next day, ALL of the Egyptian livestock
was dead. But Pharaoh just dug his heels in harder and refused to yield.

     Plague #6– Then God tells Moses that the warnings are
over. Moses is to take handfuls of soot from a furnace and toss them in the air.
The soot will become fine dust and festering boils will break out on the people
and the animals. But Pharaoh’s heart just continued to harden.

     Plague #7– Then God tells Moses
to confront Pharaoh with the news that, if he doesn’t let the people go, God
will unleash the worst hailstorm that has ever fallen on Egypt. Pharaoh would
not relent, so God sent thunder, lightning and hail that beat down everything
growing in the fields and stripped every tree. Pharaoh called Moses in and
admitted that he had sinned and God was right. He begged Moses to pray to God to
intervene on his behalf. Moses did…and God did…but yet again Pharaoh did NOT.

     Plague #8– The Plague of
Locusts

     Then God tells Moses to let His people go or
He will bring locusts down on Egypt. They will cover the ground and devour what
little the hail left. They will even fill the houses. Pharaoh’s officials beg
him to let the people go. So Pharaoh calls in Moses and tells him that the men
can go but the women and children have to stay behind. So God tells Moses to
stretch out his hand. He does…and locusts begin to swarm over the land and
devour everything. Pharaoh summons Moses, admits he has sinned against God and asks
Moses to forgive his sin and pray to God to take the locust away. God sends a
wind that sweeps all the locust away, but Pharaoh’s heart hardens even more and
he won’t relent.

     Plague
#9
– Then God tells Moses to stretch out his hand and darkness will spread
over Egypt– darkness that can be felt. Moses does, and total darkness covers
Egypt for three days. Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and told him he could go AND
take the women and children with him. But they would have to leave their belongings
and livestock behind. Moses tells him it’s all or nothing…so Pharaoh chooses
nothing and refuses to let them go. He also tells Moses that, if he sees his
face again, Moses will die.

     Plague #10– So God tells Moses
that He is going to bring ONE more plague on Pharaoh the Egyptians. It will
cause Pharaoh to not only let the people- he will DRIVE them out. At midnight,
God will go throughout Egypt and every firstborn Egyptian male…will die. There
will be loud wailing throughout Egypt– worse than there has ever been or ever
will be again. God tells Moses to have the people paint the blood of the lamb
above their doors so that the Angel of Death will pass over their homes. And
this Passover is still observed today. At midnight, God did exactly as He said-
all the firstborn of Egypt were struck down…including the firstborn of Pharaoh.
Pharaoh summoned Moses and told him to gather his people and livestock and go.
He also asks Moses to…bless him.

      One day Moses and Jesus were
playing golf. They were at the tee of a beautiful par 3, with a lake right in
the middle of the fairway. Moses selects a 5 iron, tees-up his ball and swings.
His ball sails very high and lands in the middle of the lake. He mutters to
himself and tees-up a second ball, this time selecting a 4 iron. This shot was
perfect; landing right in the middle of the green. Jesus pauses for a moment to
ponder his club selection. “Hmmmm….. Arnold Palmer would use this,”
he says as he picks up a 5 iron. “But, Jesus. My 5 iron shot ended up in
the lake. You should use a 4 iron!” “Nope. Arnold Palmer would use a
5,” insisted Jesus. So, Jesus swings hard and alas his shot ends up in the
middle of the lake too. Jesus strolls over to the lake and walks out on the
water to retrieve his ball. As Jesus is walking on the water trying to locate
his ball a foursome comes up to the tee, sees a man walking on the water and
one of them exclaims, “Who does that guy think he is? Jesus Christ?” Moses
says, “No- He IS Jesus Christ. He THINKS he’s Arnold Palmer.”

     Pharaoh tried to get God to compromise. He
tried to negotiate with God. He didn’t want to let his slave work force go. So
in an effort to not “give away the farm”, Pharaoh offered a series of 4
compromises:

1.
Worship God here- “You don’t have to go anywhere- you can make your sacrifices right
here.”
Pharaoh encourages the people to
“hedge” on their call from God. But God
requires separation. He wants us to step out of our normal, daily life and
focus our worship on Him…alone.

2.
Don’t go far- “You can go…but stay
close by. Don’t go too far away.”
The world says, “It’s OK to go to church. It’s OK to
worship God…but don’t be a fanatic! Religion is fine…as long as you don’t take it
too seriously or too far.” There is a great temptation in this country to be
fence-sitters- borderline believers who strive to be close to the world AND close
to God.

3.
Only the men can go-
“You and the guys…go
ahead. But leave the family behind.” Faith involves the WHOLE family, both figuratively
AND literally.

4. Go…but leave your stuff here- “You can go and take the family, but if
you leave your belongings behind, I know you will come back.” The Bible says, “Where your treasure,
there your heart is, also.” The devil loves it when we hold on tight to our “stuff”,
because when we do that…we can’t use it for God. But the truth is that all we
have belongs to God already.

     4 compromises- 4 negotiating tactics that,
on the surface, don’t seem to be TOO bad. But God simply doesn’t negotiate. So Moses
dutifully refused each compromise. He said, through his actions, “I will NOT
compromise my beliefs.” Which causes me to wonder…do we? Are we willing to
compromise OUR beliefs? You know what I mean- “Oh, just go ahead and do it; no
one is looking!” When we are driving, do we struggle mightily to hang on to our
Christians beliefs and tenets? Do we all too easily hold grudges against our
brothers and sisters? Do we catch ourselves thinking, “I think I’ll just skip
church today- who would that hurt?” We are encouraged to act one way while we
are here in “God’s house” and yet act a totally different way when we are out
there…in the world. We see that all the time. We even try to convince ourselves
that we’ve won a victory when we compromise, because we have pacified the world,
we’ve “kept the peace”. But we are…mistaken. To quote that great theologian
Harrison Ford from the movie Air Force One, “We don’t negotiate with
terrorists. It’s our bedrock principle.” We simply can’t negotiate with the devil
or settle for what the world offers and still please God.

It doesn’t work that way. God
expects…and deserves…nothing less than our total obedience and commitment.

     2Peter
3:8-9 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: with the Lord a day is
like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not
slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient
with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

     The Plagues revealed Pharaoh to be
powerless, impotent. They also showed, definitively, that the God of the Hebrews
is the Lord of all. Even though the Hebrews were walking through the valley of
shadows, they were not alone- God was with them every step of the way. The same
is true for you and me. Regardless of what you are going through, no matter how
deep the shadows are in the valley you are currently traveling…God is with you.
And He will protect you. You can rest in the shadow of the Almighty. He is your
refuge and your fortress. He will save you from the hunter’s snare and from the
deadly pestilence. He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in
all your ways. He will lift up His mighty hands so that you will not strike
your foot against a stone. He will save you. And if you have any doubt about
that, look back to the 10th Plague- the death of the firstborn. The
key to that plague, that which spared the Hebrew people, was the blood of the lamb
painted over their doorway. When we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior,
we are marked…washed in the blood of THE Lamb. And it is His blood, His
sacrifice that ultimately saves His people…saves US!

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

     Tomorrow- Ah…Snow!

Saturday, February 15- Never Borrow a Horse Trailer!

     I have written before about a horse we had when I was a kid. His name was General, and he was chestnut Tennessee Walker with white on his face and lower legs. He was a huge, beautiful horse who acted more like a dog than a horse and had a mind of his own! And he was… AWESOME!
     What I didn’t share last time I wrote about him was how we got him. I don’t mean from whom we bought him. Frankly…I have NO idea who we bought him from! I was just a kid! I could have cared less! (Have you ever noticed that “I could care less” and “I couldn’t care less” mean the same thing? How can that be? They are exact opposites…yet they mean the SAME thing! Go figure!) I mean, how we physically got him from where HE was to where WE were. I mean, a dog…you can just drive over, toss them in the car (not REALLY toss…don’t go calling the SPCA on me…I LOVE dogs!) and drive them home. A bit tougher with a really big horse! Well, as luck would have it, we had some good friends who owned a horse trailer AND a pick-up with a hitch on it (we owned NEITHER), and they were kind enough to let us borrow them. We drove OUR car to their house, picked up the truck and trailer, and headed from our town in southern Illinois to where the horse was- a farm in southern Missouri. We were SO excited- we were going to get our horse! We drove…and drove…and drove. Along the way, it began to rain. It rained…and rained…and rained. At one point, it was raining SO hard my dad couldn’t see the road. So, he did the only logical thing he could do- he pulled off the interstate. 3 cars had pulled off in front of us, so he pulled in behind them, carefully slowing as he did. After we came to a stop, a car pulled off behind us and stopped. So, we have 3 cars in front of us and 1 car behind us. Every one of us was A) off the road,  stopped, and C) safe…or so we thought. 
     A car came off the interstate, trying to find a spot to park. Apparently, they couldn’t see very well and were going faster than they should have been. When they got their car onto the shoulder of the highway, they couldn’t stop in time. They slammed into the car BEHIND us. This pushed the car behind us INTO the back of the horse trailer, which in turn slammed into the back of the truck. The truck then was pushed into the car IN FRONT of us before the original momentum was spent and things stopped moving. In the end, no one was hurt (thank God) AND, since we were on the WAY to get the horse, the horse wasn’t hurt either (again, thank God). The same couldn’t be said for the truck and trailer. The back end of the trailer, the front end of the trailer, the back end of truck AND the front end of the truck ALL were damaged. We were able to drive home, but the damage was substantial, monetarily speaking. All the way home through the storm, the conversation centered around the wreck, how glad we were that no one was hurt, and how disappointed we were that we couldn’t go get the horse. Little did we know the “storm” that awaited us when we got back.
     We arrived at our friend’s home where my dad explained the situation to them. The person who caused the accident was ticketed as being at fault and had insurance, so we thought all was well. We were wrong. Our friends got very upset with us over what happened. They didn’t really seem to want to see that we could NOT have avoided it, it WASN’T our fault, and someone else’s insurance was going to cover it. They clearly blamed us for what happened. It became such a big problem that our two families had a falling out over it- one that lasted years before we saw some reconciliation. It was a sad time.
     Grudges are horrible things. Things happen, people get their feelings hurt, perhaps they get hurt physically, and then…the REAL hurt settles in. We feel that someone has wronged us…and quite probably, they did. But it’s what we DO with that information that sets the REAL tone. If we are unable to get beyond someone hurting us, if we are unable to let those things go, then that hatred and bitterness settles in us…it DWELLS in us. It literally takes over who we are, and begins dictating how we live our lives. When we are unable to move beyond the hurt, we are letting those who hurt us, intentionally OR unintentionally, control us. On quite the other hand, if we are able to process the hurt and disappointment, see it for what it is, and get beyond it, we actually come out the other side stronger than we were. If we can (here’s that word that is SO easy to understand and SO hard to do) forgive, we not only offer the person who wronged us a marvelous gift, but we do a great thing for ourselves! You see, the Bible tells us that our forgiveness from God is directly proportional to the forgiveness we offer others. If we are stingy with OUR forgiveness, we simply cannot expect much of it from God. BUT…if we are generous in our willingness to forgive others, God will be AT LEAST to us. Now, I don’t know about YOU, but I am OFTEN in need of God’s forgiveness- I simply can’t afford to do anything that will deprive me of that forgiveness!
     Who are YOU holding a grudge against? Do you even remember WHY the grudge is there? Well… no matter what the circumstance is/was, my suggestion is this- pray about it, search your soul…and let it go. Forgive them. It doesn’t mean you have to FORGET what they did, put yourself in the position to be hurt again. It DOES mean that you let go of the hurt, anger and hatred that eats you up inside. It DOES mean you put yourself in the position my move on, move forward. It DOES mean that you ensure forgiveness from God…and really, who doesn’t want that?! 
     Thanks for stopping by today. Have blessed day, share this with someone who needs to hear it, make sure and come back tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

     Tomorrow- The Plagues

Friday, February 14- The Shortstop of Second Chances

     Jhonny (No, I DIDN’T misspell that!)
Antonio Peralta is a Major League shortstop. He debuted in the Major Leagues in
2003 with Cleveland at the tender age of 21. He played for the Indians until
July 28, 2010, when he was traded to the Detroit Tigers. He played with them
until…well…NOW- he signed with MY team, the St. Louis Cardinals, this
off-season and will be their starting shortstop this year.

     Peralta has been a good player throughout his
career. Historically, shortstops are seen as “good glove, no stick”, which
means they catch the ball well but don’t HIT it as well. And while Peralta won’t
be confused with Henry Aaron any time soon, he has been an above-average hitter
for a shortstop. He’s also been an all-star shortstop. So, he is no slouch!

     But then…the rumors started. Peralta’s
name became connected more and more to illegal steroid use. On August 5, 2013,
he accepted a 50-game suspension, tacitly admitting his guilt. He served his
sentence and returned to the Detroit Tigers on September 25 of last year,
finishing the season with them.

     After the season, he became a free agent
(his contract was up) and was therefore free to sign with any Major League
team. In the end, he signed with the St. Louis Cardinals (see above) and
reported to training camp this week, complete with a 4-year contract worth $53
million. Not too shabby for a self-professed cheater!

     This topic is a fairly charged one,
especially among sports fans. Find 10 baseball fans and ask them about it and
you will get, at some level, 10 different opinions, ranging from “the worst
thing possible” to “not that big of a deal” and everywhere in between. Where,
you ask, does THIS baseball fan fall on that spectrum? I honestly am NOT sure!

     Let me be clear- I am against the use of
banned performance-enhancing drugs. Period. Peralta was caught. Peralta did his
time. And he SHOULD have. But for my money, that’s NOT the question we should
be asking. The question we should be asking is this- ONCE he’s done his time,
should he be welcomed back or not?    

     The Cardinals giving his THAT much money
wrankled some feathers around Major League baseball. Many felt he was rewarded
for breaking the rules. And…it’s hard to argue about that. But what role does
forgiveness play in this little drama?

     I find that when WE are in need/want of
forgiveness, then of COURSE it’s the right thing to do. When we have done
something that requires some forgiveness, we want…almost expect…others to offer
us that forgiveness. BUT…when it’s someone ELSE who is need of forgiveness,
well…that’s often a different story!

     If we want to receive forgiveness from
others, we darn sure better be willing to OFFER forgiveness. The Bible is CLEAR
on that- we will be forgiven by God AS MUCH as we forgive others. AS MUCH! That
means no MORE and NO less, but exactly the same! Ouch! So, can you forgive
others? I certainly hope so, for your sake! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going
to go and see what my new favorite shortstop is up to!

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

Tomorrow-
Surrounded By God’s People

Thursday, February 13- A Bit of a Gut-Punch


     I’ve now had some time to “live with” the news I received Monday from my oncologist. The bottom line is that neither of the drug therapies I have been on over the past 6 months has done anything positive. Now, to be fair, an old friend pointed out to me that perhaps the drug therapy has kept the tumor from growing even more. And that is entirely possible. But since it has A. NOT shrunk and B. grown…it IS a bit hard to see the positive here!


     When I found out that the first medicine wasn’t working, it was out of the blue. I got a phone call saying that it wasn’t working and we were switching immediately to the next tier drug. I really didn’t have a lot of time to process. Therefore, I didn’t give it NEARLY as much thought as I have this time.


     When the doctor walked into the office on Monday, I knew instantly that we were going to get some news that wasn’t the news for which we were hoping. Usually, my oncologist comes in, shakes my hand, makes some small talk asks some general questions…like that. This time, he walked in and immediately said, “How are you doing? How are you getting along? Are you doing OK?” Noticeably different. So I said, “What did the MRI show?” He replied that the tumor had NOT decreased in size. In fact, it MIGHT have increased a tiny bit. Either way, the bottom line is that the meds are simply not working.


     Now that I have had some time to process, I have realized two things: 1. it was a bit of a gut-punch and 2. I haven’t come this far to give up now! I have a strong constitution and great determination. I can withstand almost anything. And that has served me well as I have undergone these two drug therapies. The first one, a twice-daily nasal spray, gave me achy joints that have continued after stopping the drug. The one I am on now, a three times/week self-injection, causes flu-like symptoms, beginning about 4 hours after the injection and continuing for 24 or more hours…sometimes until the next injection. I am cold most of the time. I ache. I feel crummy. But it was for the greater good, so I could tolerate it.


     But now, I have had to come to the realization that six months of drug therapy simply had no positive effect. Six months of feeling bad didn’t have anywhere close to the desired effect. That’s pretty disappointing. And it has caused me, over the past few days, to have many moments of feeling sorry for myself. And, to be honest, that’s OK…as long as I don’t STAY there!


     So, while I am still disappointed that the drugs haven’t worked, I have come TOO far to quit now. I will continue to approach this whole situation with humor, a positive attitude and an unwavering faith. I will say it again- God did NOT give me this tumor. This is not punishment for something or God trying to teach me something. I have this tumor because this is a fallen world and our bodies are frail. But I KNOW that God walks this journey with me. And therefore, whatever comes, I will cling fast to the notion that God is good, all the time!


     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 Shortstop of Second Chances

Wednesday, February 12- The Rich Young Ruler


     Wednesdays are Bible Study Day here at Stick With Jesus. Today, we look at a story that is commonly referred to as The Rich Young Ruler. It is found in both Matthew 19:16-22 and Mark 10:17-22.


      Matthew 19:16-22 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, ‘Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?’ ‘Why do you ask me about what is good?’ Jesus replied. ‘There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.’  ‘Which ones?’ he inquired. Jesus replied, ”You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself. ” ‘All these I have kept,’ the young man said. ‘What do I still lack?’ Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.


     So this guy, who is often referred to as the Rich Young Ruler (or as WE will refer to him moving forward- RYR!) comes to Jesus, looking for some clarification. “What good thing must I do to get eternal life?” Now, that SEEMS like a reasonable question. “I want eternal life. You know how to get it. Tell me so that I can get it, too.” Simple…right? Not some much!


     Jesus, in true “Jesus fashion”, answers the question…with a question! “Why are you talking about ‘good’? There is only One who is good.” He then actually tells him- “If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” And I absolutely LOVE RYR’s response- “Which ones?” He seems to have NO thought that Jesus might actually mean…ALL of them! I think RYR is hoping Jesus will pick 2 or 3 that RYR already has down pretty well!


   But Jesus is NOT going to let RYR off the hook THAT easy! ”You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself. ” 6 of the 10, all that deal with how you interact with and treat others. And RYR gets a little puffed up and proud, “I DO all of those. What ELSE do I need to be doing?!”     


     Jesus then takes the OTHER 4 commandments, ones that deal with how we interact with and treat…God…and boils them down to one notion- our treasure. “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Wait! What? RYR has to sell…EVERYTHING…give the money to the poor…and then follow Jesus? Wow! That’s a bit harsh Jesus, don’t You think?!


     I have heard this particular Bible story misunderstood or misused more than most. I have heard some non-believers try and use it as ammunition- “If you were a TRUE believer, you’d sell everything and give the money away!” I have heard believers allow it to cause them to waver in their faith- “I must NOT be a good Christian; I haven’t sold everything and given the money away!”


     But both of those perspectives miss the true point. What Jesus is NOT saying is that everyone needs to get rid of everything. What He IS saying is that we need to take a serious look at our lives and decide where our treasure is. If my “stuff” is my treasure, then there is a problem. Possessions in and of themselves are benign- they are neither good or bad. They BECOME good or bad based on what you choose to DO with them. I know folks who are pretty doggone wealthy who do really good things with their money. I also know folks who really don’t have a lot and yet worship what they DO have.


     Where do YOUR treasures lie? Seriously…where? Because wherever they are, that’s where your heart is. And I don’t know about you, but I know EXACTLY where I want MY heart to be. And if we are allowing ANYTHING to keep our heart from God…then we have some work to do!


     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 Bit of a Gut-Punch

Tuesdau, February 11- A LONG Day of Doctors


     The long day of doctors is over! And I, for one, am QUITE glad about that fact! The day started when we left my brother’s house at 7:55AM. After swinging through McDonalds (Hey, I needed some coffee! Give me a break!), we headed across the river to St. Louis, MO.


     The first appointment of the day was at the Ear, Nose and Throat doctor’s office out in west St. Louis County. The upside of that stop was that my ear, which has been a rather major source of problems in the past month or so, is better. The swelling and accompanying pain have improved. He did say, however, that “the ear canal is continuing to collapse”. While this is no surprise, it’s not exactly what you want to hear! We also discussed hearing aid options and possibilities and came to the decision that, if I can deal with the hearing loss, it would probably be better to wait until more of this odd journey shakes out!


     From there, we drove into St. Louis City- to the Barnes-Jewish Hospital/Washington University School of Medicine complex. The first stop there was the MRI. They had me change into that charming hospital gown/paper pants outfit and then fitted me with an IV. I then climbed into the MRI machine and got started. They first do a scan “without contrast”- no dye injected. Then they inject the dye and do a second scan WITH contrast. When I started having MRI’s back in June, claustrophobia nearly caused me to freak out. Now…I fall asleep!


     Then it was up to the 7th floor Cancer Center to have a blood draw. That always goes easily and smoothly. In fact, I wait (with my pager!) longer than it takes to draw the blood!


     Stop #4 was the oncologist. The questions he was asking when he first came in were not his normal “lead” questions, so I wondered what was up. The bottom line is that the tumor has NOT decreased in size at all. After 3 months of the first drug therapy that ended with the tumor growing and another almost 3 months of this new drug therapy…the tumor hasn’t shrunk. In fact, it MAY have grown ever so slightly. So after almost 6 months of drug therapy that has had some rather…charming…side effects, the net result is that I have only lost ground. Not gonna lie- this was NOT the news we were hoping for!


     So the next step is another visit to the neurosurgeon. We met with him for a consultation about 6 months ago. At the time, he was NOT anxious to do surgery but instead encouraged us to try the drug therapy. We will meet with him again in about 3 weeks and I fear we are marching much more assuredly toward surgery this time around. The other thing we talked about was that, depending on what he sees and thinks, there might well be a round of chemotherapy in my not too distant future, in an effort to diminish the tumor a bit prior to possible surgery.


     So, good visit? Not particularly! Good day? I’ve had better! Cause for some concern? Of course! A reason to fall to pieces, blame God and give up? ABSOLUTELY NOT! God did NOT give me this tumor- I have this tumor because we live in an imperfect world and our bodies are fragile and frail. Do I know how this will end? Nope! But do I know that I will praise God in the midst of the storm? Every day and TWICE on Sunday!


     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 Rich Young Ruler

Monday, February 10- The Joys of a Dumpster


     Men and women are…different. (“Wow, Pastor! Really? That is deep AND profound!”) Give me a break AND a second and you’ll understand! You can forget all the “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus” stuff. (Or “Men are from Saturn and women are from Jupiter”…or whatever it is!!) I mean, it’s TRUE and all, but you don’t have to get THAT creative to point out the differences between men and women. In fact, you don’t have to look any further than…a walk-off dumpster!


     Perhaps you don’t call them ‘walk-off dumpsters”, but I’m from Southern Illinois and that’s what WE call them! A walk-off dumpster is one of those big, rectangular dumpsters with no lid that you often see in someone’s driveway when they are getting a new roof put on. And the dreaded but high sought after walk-off dumpster is ALL you need to illustrate the differences between men and women!


     The church I currently serve recently rented a walk-off dumpster. Let me further clarify- some of the MEN of the church recently rented a walk-off dumpster! It was “clean out some of the junk in the church that has been sitting there since Johnson was president…ANDREW Johnson” day! They were also planning on replacing more of the ceiling tiles in our Education Wing- an ongoing process.


     So they spent the day working and perhaps filled the dumpster to about the three-quarters mark. Then the whole “gender difference” thing cropped up. Some of the women in the church were DELIGHTED that we had done some “spring cleaning”, but were ALSO delighted that it was over and the dumpster was going bye-bye! I get that- it’s highly unattractive AND was sitting right outside the church offices. But the MEN of the church saw things a little…differently!


     They saw a dumpster that was three-quarters full and IMMEDIATELY thought, “There’s room for more STUFF in there!” So they called the dumpster company and asked for an extension- “Can we please, please, PLEASE keep the dumpster a little longer? Please? Please?” They then put together a spur-of-the-moment work day, inviting anyone who was available to come and help. Within 2 days, TWO days, the three-quarters full dumpster was about 120% full! A decent amount more of the ceiling tiles had been replaced and a bit more…junk had been hauled out!


     So, there you have it and there you are- the differences between men and women, encapsulated in a walk-off dumpster. And I don’t know about you, but I for one am DELIGHTED that there are differences between men and women! I thank God on a daily basis that my wife is NOT like me but instead the awesome woman that she is! Now, if you will excuse me, I am going to run out and see if I can get just a BIT stuff in that walk-off dumpster!


    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 LONG Day of Doctors

Sunday, February 9- Now You Will See My Wonders

     Howard Carter was born May 9, 1874 in Kensington in the UK. At an early age he developed a great interest in Egyptology. When he was 17, he set sail for Egypt. There, he found work as a tracer- copying drawings and inscriptions. Years later, after a career spent working around archeological digs, he sought private funding for his personal excavation work. He found that funding and became the Supervisor of Excavations for the 5th Lord of Carnarvon. Through that arrangement, he discovered 6 tombs in the fabled Valley of the Kings.
     During that time, he became obsessed with finding the tomb of an yet unknown young pharaoh named Tutankhamen. Carter’s patron, Lord Carnarvon, became frustrated with no results and issued an ultimatum- 1922 would be the last season of funding. Carter doubled down and went to work. And on just the 3rd day of digging in that final season, he found the top step of what would turn out to be a staircase that led to the long-lost, forgotten tomb of the boy king- Tutankhamen. 
     Carter would capture the mood of the dig in his journal. “Feverishly we cleared away the remaining last scraps of rubbish on the floor of the passage before the doorway, until we had only the clean sealed doorway before us, in which we made a tiny breach in the top left hand corner to see what was beyond. I widened the breach and by means of the candle looked in. It was some time before I could see- the hot air escaping caused the candle to flicker, but as soon as my eyes became accustomed to the glimmer of light the interior of the chamber gradually loomed before me. Lord Carnarvon said to me `Can you see anything?’ I replied to him, “Yes, wondrous things!”
     Today, we continue our current, 8-week sermon series, focusing on destiny. We are walking through the life of Old Testament giant Moses as we consider The Making of a Leader. Through HIS life, we are seeing how God is calling each of US to be a leader in our right. Four weeks ago, we looked at the difficult beginning of Moses’ life- a baby, adrift in a basket in the Nile River. Three weeks ago, we looked at the time Moses, in a fit of anger, murdered an Egyptian for mistreating one of the Hebrews and had to flee into the desert to save his own life. Two weeks ago, we looked at where he went when he fled, as well as his encounter with a burning bush. Last week, we went with Moses as he travelled BACK to Egypt to confront Pharaoh with God’s ultimatum. Today, we see God announce His intention to free His people once and for all as He puts His wondrous powers on display for all to see.
     Exodus 5:22-6:6 Then Moses returned to the LORD and said, “Lord, why have you brought this trouble on your people? Is this why you sent me here? I went to the king and said what you told me to say, but ever since that time he has made the people suffer. And you have done nothing to save them.”
     The latest round of oppression the Hebrews are facing was caused by the last confrontation with Pharaoh. Moses’ demand for freedom ironically increased the people’s burden instead of decreasing it. Moses sees this and immediately whines and moans to God. He questions God for even sending him in the first place. “Why did You send me? You TOLD me I was going to deliver the people, but instead I was the cause of even greater suffering!” Believers who are out of fellowship with God often bring grief to their leaders instead of help. The people are in bondage, but God wants them free to worship and serve Him…and isn’t that the condition of every lost sinner?
     So what is Moses’ motivation as he comes to God? Does he have a heavy heart? Is this a matter of distrust? Is he disillusioned? Well, it’s probably a bit of all of those, but I think Moses is also very frustrated. In the end, he’s done nothing to save the people. He feels under-equipped and overwhelmed. He is caught in a flood. But even in the midst of all that, Moses does what he seems to do best- he takes it to God.
     Then the Lord said to Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to the king of Egypt. I will use My great power against him, and he will let My people go. Because of My power, he will force them out of his country.” Then God said to Moses, “I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob by the name God Almighty, but they did not know Me by My name, the Lord. I also made My agreement with them to give them the land of Canaan. They lived in that land, but it was not their own. Now I have heard the cries of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are treating as slaves, and I remember My agreement. So tell the people of Israel that I say to them, ‘I am the Lord. I will save you from the hard work the Egyptians force you to do. I will make you free, so you will not be slaves to the Egyptians. I will free you by My great power, and I will punish the Egyptians terribly.
     It was a beautiful, sunny Sunday afternoon while Moses, Jesus, and another guy were out playing golf. On the first tee-box, Moses pulls out his driver and blisters a shot up the right side of the fairway, rolling fast towards a water hazard. Moses quickly raised his club, parting the water and allowing his ball rolls through to the other side safely. Next up on the tee, Jesus hits a really long drive right towards the very same water hazard. His ball came to rest dead center of the pond, hovering just over the surface of the water. Jesus casually walks out onto the pond, and chips it up onto the green within a couple feet of the flagstick. Not impressed, the third guy steps up to the tee without taking any time and just randomly whacks at the ball. Rightfully so, the ball is hit with a nasty hook that clears the left Out of Bounds markers and goes over a fence into oncoming traffic. It bounces off a truck’s windshield, hits a nearby tree, bounces onto the roof of the greenskeeper’s shed, back out onto the fairway and towards the same pond that Moses and Jesus hit. Before it gets wet, the ball ricochets off a small rock and bounces onto a lily pad out on the water. A bullfrog jumps up and EATS the ball. Right at that moment, a bald eagle swoops down and grabs the frog, flying away. As it flies over the green, the frog squeals with fright and drops the ball right on the green. The ball takes one bounce and lands RIGHT in the cup for an astounding hole in one! In disgust, Moses throws down his club, turns to Jesus and says, “I hate playing with your Dad.”
     God comforts and reassures Moses, telling him that He will take care of Pharaoh. “I am God. I appeared to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I made an agreement with them. And now I have heard the cries of My people. Pharaoh is treating them like slaves. I hear them and I remember My agreement.” God says, “Tell My people I will save them. I will free them with My great power. AND…I will punish the Egyptians terribly.”
    1Chronicles 29:10-11 David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying, ‘Praise be to You, Lord, the God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is Yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; You are exalted as Head over all.
     Notice- 7 times in these verses God says to Pharaoh, “Let My people go!” In response, Pharaoh says, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice?” And 7 times in these verses God uses the phrase, I will
. Our God is a promise-keeping God. God says, “NOW you will see what I will do to the king of Egypt. Now you will see My great power. Now you will see My wonders…yes, wondrous things! Pharaoh WILL let My people go. In fact, he will force them out.”
     Also notice that today’s passage both begins and ends with, “I am the Lord.” It is God’s way of reminding us of His promise. God assures Moses that He WILL deliver the people. His promise is re-affirmed, but the need for further assurance is abundantly evident. So God is going to make sure that they will learn and experience first-hand His true nature. God tells Moses to put aside his broken spirit and feelings of inadequacy and return to the people. Moses’ sagging spirits are uplifted by the revelation of God’s character and purpose. God reveals Himself to Moses not only as the Sustainer and Provider, but also as the great Promise-Keeper.
     John 20:30-31 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
     So, why does God offer all of these wondrous things? When we experience them, it sharply imprints in us the fact that He is God. Pharaoh resisted God’s claims and his heart was hardened. We have that same choice. We can either yield to God or we can resist…and become hardened. The sun that melts the ice also hardens the clay. But either way, God’s radiance is always there. The stage is set: Pharaoh refused God’s command and now God will send His judgments down on Egypt. Next week, He will reveal His power, His wrath and His greatness.
     Are you upset with your current situation? Do you think that God simply isn’t doing His part? Let me let you in on a little secret- God is…God! Therefore, the best thing WE can do is quit focusing on what we DON’T have- quite whining, moaning and complaining and instead…trust. Trust the great Sustainer, Provider and Promise-Keeper. God is more than you can imagine. Will God reveal things to you? Yes…wondrous things, because He IS the God of wonders.
      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 Joys of a Dumpster