Sunday, March 25, 2012

Christ, who strengthens me?

Philippians 4:10-13

10 How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn’t have the chance to help me. 11 Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ,[c] who gives me strength.

Interesting about this passage.  Often when we see this these days we think of famous athletes who go and win championships and claim their power to be a super athlete comes from Christ.  I don't doubt that it does, but we don't often stop to think about the context in which Paul was speaking.  Paul was not talking about being a some stellar athlete, which I am pretty sure he was not.  He was talking about the strength it takes to walk in the way of the Lord on a daily basis.  Living our lives a day at a time in a way that is honorable to the Lord.  Whether he was picking himself up off the ground from being nearly stoned to death or simply sitting in the company of good friends enjoying a meal, Paul was running on Christ power. 

My 8 year old daughter, Emma, loves baseball.  She plays 2nd base on her little league team and she doesn't seem the least bit phased by the fact that she is 1 of about 4 girls in her league.  Emma just loves to play baseball.

I have always said that Emma is a clutch player.  She may not be the fastest player or she may not throw the hardest (though she does throw really well), but she always manages to make a play when her team needs her. 

Today was truly amazing.  Emma's team, the Indians, was in a tight match up with the Yankees.  The lead had changed throughout the game.  It was getting close to time expiring.  Emma's team was down by a run and the other team was starting to really heat up.  WAIT.  I need to back up a bit.

I should mention something else about Emma.  She understands that baseball is a game of mechanics.  No not a bunch of guys named Ray fixing cars.  It is about learning a skill and repeating the same skill over and over until you perform the skill without thinking, until is comes natural.  In Emma's last game she struggled a bit at the plate and only got one hit.  I also think she has been frustrated with her batting in general.  Last night after her regular practice, Emma got a chance to go to a batting cage and get in some extra practice.  I got to sit next to her and put ball after ball on the tee as she methodically drove the balls into a net.  Emma must have hit a hundred balls off of the tee and then she went and took 20 more pitches from the pitching coach, who gave her some good tips on her technique.  She was drenched in sweat.  I was impressed with how hard she was working. 

OK back to the game.  Emma had one hit earlier in the game, but she struck out at her last at-bat.  As Emma came up to the plate, I was afraid for her.  Things were really tight and I know she did not want to let her team down.  Emma's first pitch was a ball.  The next pitch was a foul that soared over the right field fence.  On the next pitch, Emma swung and hit a line drive that went through the gap between first and second base and went all the way to the fence.  Emma took off running.  She turned first base and then rounded second.  The other team was just getting to the ball.  She kept going to third and honestly I thought that would be it, but they were still throwing the ball in.  Emma kept going and trotted across home plate.  She drove in 3 runs and gave her team a lead that was enough to win the game.  Her parents were hoarse and beaming with pride.  Emma just smiled and tried to catch her breath.

There was much hoopla after the game.  Emma got a game ball and my wife and I went on and on about how amazing her 3-run game winning homer was.  Emma continued to smile, but was reluctant to say much about it.  I knew she was elated, but she was amazingly humble. 

Later as we talked about the big play, Emma said something that made me really stop and think.  She said, "It didn't feel like I swung very hard at all.  I just made an easy swing and got a hit."  And the ball went to the fence.  I honestly never dreamed that Emma would ever hit a home run.  But what was truly amazing is that even though Emma was the hero for the day, she was pleased with what happened but remained incredibly humble.

Maybe you don't see it, but for me this was an example of how God wants me to live my life.  Keep my eyes on Him, go to Him daily in prayer, hunger for His Word and don't worry about how things are going to work out.  He wants me to rely on Him and not on myself.  If I can be true to God and diligent in living my life for Him, He will continue to provide for me. 

I have completely "dropped the ball" this week on doing the daily things with God that I need to draw on His strength.  I have failed to complete my Bible study and I have found myself being critical of others and looking for opportunities to gossip.  I guess you could say, I struck out this week. 

God forgive me for failing to connect with you this week.  I am sorry that I have been slipping back into some old routines that are destructive to my health and my attitude.  Thank you for my sweet family.  They are such a tremendous blessing to me.  I will do better.

Matthew West has a song about getting your strength from God to make it through the challenges of your life. 

Love you!


Friday, December 3, 2010

Is Google the Anti-Christ

Google is very cool!
I actually just Googled to see if it was cool to say cool. 
Google is the reference for all things.  This is nothing new to most of you.  Google this.  Google that.  I really like Google. OK, I just held back, because I wanted to say, "I Love Google."

Uh oh.  Now we have a problem don't we. 
Why do I love Google? 
Is it the superior feeling I get from being able to instantly know the answer to pretty much any question I could think of?  I suppose I should say "an answer."  Often, when I Google something I get confirmation of what I thought before, or I get an answer from what I believe to be a reliable source. 

Maybe I love Google because I get to feel connected to countless numbers of people on this planet who have pondered the same thing as me and felt compeled to ask Google the same question.
Is it cool to say cool?
How to change a headlight on a 2006 Kia Sedona van?
How do I fix a leaking dishwasher?
What kind of bug bite do I have on my leg?

Go ahead, try it.  You type in those things and there are plenty of folks who have wondered the same thing or who have taken the time to put the answer to the things on the internet. 

I once heard a radio talk show host (it was either Collin Cowherd - from ESPN or Glenn Beck - before he was famous and on TV) say I would like to have Google installed in my brain.  Actually this was about 5 years ago and he was pretty forward thinking on this.  Google in my brain.  Wouldn't that be awesome?  Then I would no longer need to run to my computer to solve the current mystery of the hour.  I could simply pull it out of my brain.  How amazing would that be to instantly have access to unlimited information resources just by thinking?

So is it?  Is Google the Antichrist?

I will be honest with you.  I have read Revelations and I did almost all of a Bible study on Revelations, but I really don't know much about the Antichrist.  I suppose I could Google it and find out more.  The point is, Google is phenomenal and it is often the place I go to first for answers.  And that is a real problem. 

Google has done the following:
1.  Caused me to love something that empowers me and makes me feel superior and feeds my need to know things that others don't know around me.
2.  Caused me to rely on the experience and wisdom of humans at times when I should be going to God first and seeking wisdom from Him.
3.  Inspired me to waste sleeping time writing this blog post.

So is it the Anti-Christ?
Ok, I am going to try and answer this question without Googling it.  (I actually already Googled it, but I didn't read any of the responses).

My initial response is no, but it could become an antichrist for me.  I went to my Bible.  And now I am thinking the word antichrist is not even in Revelation.  Umm.  I think I will finish that Bible study.

My old buddy, John, no not John MacArthur, John, the Apostle, the beloved one.  He warns about the antichrist.  But through his warnings he is reminding us that we must focus on God and rely on His truth.  And through clinging only to what is true, we will keep our reward.

1 John 2:15-3:3 (NIV) On Not Loving the World

15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

Warnings Against Denying the Son

18 Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.

20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. 21 I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. 22 Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.

24 As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is what he promised us—eternal life.

26 I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. 27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.

God’s Children and Sin
28 And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.

29 If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.

1 John 3
1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

(I went directly to to look up the passage, no Googling was involved)

Ok, let me see if I have figured out the answer.  Know the truth and deny anything that denies the truth.  Google by itself can be a great tool for looking up Bible passages, finding a new church to visit, learning about what God is doing in the lives of people all around the world.  But just as Google can connect you to links to the Truth, it will just as easily connect you to lies.  Lies about the fastest way to stop hiccups, lies about how this world was created and lies about who God really is.  My job is to remain in Him.

You have to know that a Third Day song is coming.  Well not really a Third Day song, but a Mac Powell song (lead singer of Third Day).  1 John 3:1 and John 3:16 are the inspiration for a song called How Great on Glory Revealed II.  Here is a video of the song, and yeah, I got it from Google :)


Monday, November 15, 2010

So rise up my friend and live again

There's nothing better than personal strife to get your creative juices flowing.  So pardon me while I use this hollow outlet to think out loud.  As always your comments are welcome.  Although, I am not sure if the comment thingamajig works very good.  Call me instead.

My lovely wife taught an excellent Bible Study class today.  We are working our way through Max Lucado's Fearless.  As you can imagine, the book is about Fears, but not just things like spiders and heights and clowns.  Fears that everyone has like "Why doesn't anyone like me" or "I am afraid to let my family down" or "This cancer is killing me and I am afraid about what is going to happen."  It has actually been a good medium for getting people to talk about fear at church. 

If you don't already know and are ever interested in finding out what it is like to have a stressful life, I suggest you say openly in a group of people, "I think I am pretty laid back.  Things don't bother me too much.  I really haven't had any really difficult situations in my life up to this point."

I am "afraid" that I made a similar statement earlier in our Fearless study.  I am quickly discovering that I should have kept my mouth shut.

One of the greatest things about the Bible is that it is filled with examples from the life of Christ and the Disciples that are there to provide us with Hope and Strength to carry on.  Today, Maxi sent us to the book of John (John 14:27-31) for comfort when we think that things can't get much worse and we are getting creeping thoughts of doubt trying to invade our hearts.  This is what Jesus told Judas (a disciple and not Judas Iscariot):

27 “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. 28 Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am. 29 I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe.

30 “I don’t have much more time to talk to you, because the ruler of this world approaches. He has no power over me, 31 but I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will know that I love the Father. Come, let’s be going.

Although Jesus told the disciples that he is leaving us with a gift, it must have still been scary. 
Dude don't go.  Why can't you just stay here with us and rule this place now. 
Don't leave us with here with those crazy Romans and those psycho Pharisee dudes. 
Those guys are going to try and kill us.  Or at least make it really hard to go out tell people about you and what you lived for and died for. 
Why do you have to go?  I don't understand.

And then they understood and they gave their lives trying to explain it to the world. 

Why can't I be that brave?  Why can't I understand what I am supposed to do in this life? How do I know if I am standing up for my beliefs or being judgmental of people who think a little bit different than me.  Why does it have to be so hard?  When is He coming back?

You may or may not know about my fondness of Third Day.  As soon as the verses were read today in Bible Study, I immediately thought of a Third Day song called Rise Up from the album Wherever You Are. 

Well, I was there when you were torn apart
Now a piece of you is gone
Somehow you wish that you could only find
A little strength to carry on

You’ve tried so hard to make it on your own
That your heart has come undone
So I am here to prove that I alone
Have the power to overcome

Don't let your heart be troubled
This world will never keep you down
It will never keep you down

So rise up, my friend
No, this will never be the end
So rise up, my friend
And live again

I didn’t want you to feel this way
It's not what life was meant to be
And so for you, my friend, I’ll take your shame
You can give it all to me

'Cause you've wrestled demons every day
And they've dragged you to your knees
But in your weakness you will learn to find
That I will always be your strength

In life or in death
Through joy or regret
And all of the secret things you have done
No matter what comes, my friend
Nothing can keep you from the love of God

"It sometimes feels as if "real life" is about how we deal with whatever is thrown our way while we journey on... on through the triumphs, on through the failures, and on through the status quo. Real life. It is so hard to move on with it when we feel so dead inside. Every ounce of energy depleted, every ray of hope gone, every thing empty. But there exists a voice. One that our hearts recognize. One that calls us out of our tomb, and revives our hope, and restores our strength. "Rise Up" and "keep going" He shouts. This is not the end. We have only just begun. We decided that this song would be a great way to finish the record. It wraps up the message of hope that we are striving to communicate, and the truth that God will meet you Wherever You Are. It again is a song that begins with melancholy emotion and than erupts into a liberating charge and anthem that sends you on your way, ready to embrace all that "Real Life" has to offer." - Brad Avery (Third Day)

It's been a rough week.  It's going to be even more rough next week.  Lord I am on my knees and I have no strength of my own to conquer these demons.  I desperately need your strength.