Category Archives: Uncategorized

Darkness

I walk in the early morning hours when it is still dark. The moon, street lamps, and porch lights give just enough indirect light for me to safely proceed.

I have learned that when you walk in darkness even a little light can make a world of difference.

That little bit of light keeps me from stumbling over a crack or rise in the sidewalk.

That little bit of light keeps me from running into unexpected obstacles in my path (like a chair sitting on the sidewalk).

I’ve learned that we don’t have to be a bright light to make a big change in someone else’s world. Just a little light is all that is needed to make a difference.

How can you and I shine a little light into someone else’s darkness today?

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10 Things I Learned in 22 Weeks

It was 22 weeks ago today that I had my neck fusion surgery.

A lot can, and did, happen in 22 weeks. Here are 10 life changing things I learned.

1. I learned how to get out of bed under my own power and get in and out of the car without a concussion. Someone had to show me how to do things I had taken for granted.

2. I learned to sleep on my back with a neck brace. Both of these sounded impossible when I started. As a lifetime side-sleeper I now find it hard to sleep unless I am on my back.

3. I learned to not get dehydrated and faint. Your local fire department and family will appreciate this. Being properly hydrated will cover a multitude of sins.

4. I learned how impatient I was in my own recovery. Especially watching other people drive and finding out how easy it is to be a back seat driver. I wanted instant gratification in my recovery. Instead it was one good day of work after another. Boring but effective.

5. I learned to walk by looking ahead so I would not stumble. I have a new found appreciation for level sidewalks and painted curbs. I also now appreciate the sounds of nature and the caress of a gentle breeze.

6. I learned what cutting refined sugars and adhering to a high protein / low carb diet could do for my health and attitude. As my physical appearance began to change, my attitude and spiritual outlook began to improve.

7. I learned to make time for reflection and to value what was truly important. Somehow my workplace survived without me. My sense of identity and self worth were redefined for the better. Friendships became deeper and more precious.

8. I learned that rest is vital and that you cannot rush the recovery time in a major surgery. No matter how much we want others to be well yesterday, it is a process. Last week my surgeon told me that I was way ahead of schedule in my recovery but I am still getting better. There are still limitations that I will have to overcome.

9. I learned to be a gracious receiver of money, time, prayer, and physical help. My self sufficiency and pride eventually gave way to gratitude.

10. I learned that God really was with me in the process and that prayer really is just a conversation with Him.

I look at my calendar and wonder what you and I could accomplish in the next 22 weeks?

My Love Affair with the Old Testament

My love affair with the Old Testament began when I was a small boy.

I was fascinated by the characters and the larger than life shadow that they cast.

I imagined myself as Moses crossing the Red Sea on dry land, Red_Seaor Joshua making the sun stand still.

Joshua Commanding the sun to stand stillI spent endless hours trying to learn to sling a stone like David while slaying the giants in my own life.

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But as I got older my love of the Old Testament labeled me a Bible Nerd at Church. All the cool stuff was in the New Testament according to my friends. The birth, death and resurrection of Jesus were in the New Testament. The development and history of the early Church and the letters of the Apostle Paul.

What my friends did not understand was that I viewed the Bible as one book with one central message. I loved the whole book. I understood that God wrote it all for my benefit.

Not reading the Old Testament would be like skipping the first 300 pages of a top selling 450 page novel. Keeping up with the characters and their motivations would be impossible. The interest of the reader would fade and the book would probably be abandoned.

By reading the Old Testament I understand the characters and their motivations. I can see events foreshadowed before they occur.

I can see a portrait of the coming messiah being slowly revealed before my very eyes.

I love the Old Testament because it makes the New Testament come alive with depths of meaning that I would not have considered.

A Great Book

The Bible is a perennial best seller. There are more copies of it in print that any other book. Yet we have a tendency to take this great book for granted. I would like to share with you why I consider it the greatest book ever written.

Most book critics would suggest that there are 5 common elements found in a great book. They are: a great opening line, a complex and believable central character, a real and dramatic conflict, a complex and believable character who respond to the conflict, and a satisfying ending that resolves the conflict. Let’s talk about each of these elements in greater detail.

A great opening line. Opening lines are very important. They grab our attention and they set the stage for what is to come. In the comic strip Charlie Brown, Snoopy was always trying to write the great novel. His first line was where he always stopped. “It was a dark and stormy night….”

Here are a few opening lines from some great books.

“In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly-fishing.”             Norman Maclean in A River Runs Through It.

“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times…”A Tale of Two Cities” small

All children, except one, grow up.” J.M. Barrie in Peter Pan.

“Call me Ishmael.” Herman Melville in Moby Dick.

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” Jane Austen in Pride and Prejudice.

What is the opening line of the Bible? Most people can recite it from memory and even those who can not remember it immediately recognize the quote as soon as it begins.

In the Book of Genesis we find these words, “In the Beginning God created”. Authors have been trying to improve on that line since the beginning without success. Opening lines are very important. They grab our attention and they set the stage for what is to come. Most of us would think it was foolish to try and jump into the middle of a novel and expect to understand what was going on.  Yet, many people will read the Bible without an understanding of how it started and the context behind what they read. Is it any wonder that they have limited their own understanding and enjoyment of the text?

With that in mind, look at the opening words of the Bible again and listen with a critical ear to the very first thing that God wants us to know. “In the beginning God created…”

Moses, the author is setting up the premise for the book of Genesis and the Bible as a whole.  Moses wanted us to know that God has always existed. God created everything, including time. In the beginning God was, is, and always will be. That is a lot of information in 5 short words. We could talk about these 5 words for the next month and never run out of things to explore. What a great opening line.

A complex and believable central character. The central character will carry the story and remain the primary focus through out the book. Secular Literature is filled with many great leading characters. From Robin Hood, to King Arthur, to Sherlock Holmes, the list could go on and on.

But who is the central character of the Bible? The answer may surprise you. If you look in the 1st chapter of Genesis you will see that the central character of the Bible is mentioned about 30 times. Surprisingly, the answer is not man but God.

This is God’s story about his relationship with his creation man. It is not about us, but about the God who wants us to know Him.

If we read the Bible and fail to understand this is about a relationship with Him, then we have wasted our time. We will have missed the point. It is not simply a self-help book or a collection of cute moral based stories. It is an invitation to come and get to know the God of the universe.

The more I have read this book through the years the deeper my hunger has grown to know God the central character of the Bible.

A real and dramatic conflict – It must present real choices that involve opposing points of view to keep our interest.

Some of the greatest stories of all time have made us pull for the hero but yet sympathize with villain because their opposing views were both attractive to us in some way.

In the Bible we see a great conflict, the conflict of good and evil. We see on every page what man is like and the evil that he is capable of.

The truly frightening and sobering thought is when we realize the evil that even good men are capable of. From Adam and Eve’s original sin, to Cain killing his brother Abel, to King David committing adultery and killing a man to cover his sin, it is not a pretty sight. Our own lives and our struggles with doing the right thing are a ringing validation of this truth.

We all need someone to save us from ourselves. The Bible presents us with a great conflict, the war between good and evil.

We have a complex and believable character and we have a great conflict but what makes the book interesting is how this great character will respond to the conflict.

Secular literature is filled with examples of this. Our hero has to determine whether he will save his wife or the nation of England. He can only save one. Who will he choose? What will his choice tell us about him as an individual?

How is this presented in the Bible? We see God responding to the conflict, coming in the form of a man, Jesus Christ taking on flesh in response to our failures in the conflict of good and evil.

We see him willing suffer and die for our sins even though we are undeserving of this precious gift of forgiveness and eternal life.

In the Garden of Gethsemane we see this internal conflict as he prays, Father take this cup from me… We see the Son of God struggle with his choice and we know the conflict is real and will have an impact on him. It will cost him everything he holds dear to make a way for us. What will he choose?

This conflict in secular literature is usually followed by a satisfying ending that resolves the conflict.

In fairy tales they all live happily ever after. In suspense novels the mystery is solved. In horror stories the evil is vanquished or else every one dies.

In the Bible we see a great ending, a triumph over death and the grave, lives changed and transformed by his continued resurrection power and renewed hope in our lives because of this message.

Great books extend an invitation for us, the reader, to become a part of the story.

The Bible, documents God’s personal invitation to us to become a part of His story.

God and Belief

If I believe in myself I will certainly be disappointed.

I am a fallible being with a sin nature. I am a walking time bomb. My personal experience verifies the teachings of Paul in the book of Romans.

If I believe in God I will never be disappointed.

Why is it that we find it so much easier to believe in others than ourselves?

It is it because of the personal data that we have?

A lifetime of firsthand experience and empirical evidence?

If I don’t believe that change can happen for me why should anyone believe me when I tell them they can change?

Even more importantly, since God has promised to change me why do I doubt him?

Whether I believe or not – it is still true that he can and will change me into his likeness.

Praise God.

1 Corinthians 15:52b For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

Clothes and Speaking the truth in love

Some of you may request my man card for admitting this, but I love clothes. ties

I blame my dad. He taught me to dress well and to try and look your best.

I wore a suit and tie to church from the 1960’s through the 1990’s.

I have been through the 3 piece suits, leisure suites, disco, the business suit with the power tie, to the business causal of today (sans tie).

Like my dad, I have a hard time throwing away clothes. My dad refused to throw away a tie because he said eventually it would come back in style. He was right. I kept his old ties and added my own to the collection.

Recently, I looked inside my closest and realized I had a problem. It was overcrowded with things that I had not worn in years and might not ever wear again.

I knew I needed someone I trusted to help me with this project and I asked my son, Andrew, for his assistance. He agreed to help but encouraged me to sort through my closet before he came over.

Andrew encouraged me to find clothes that were still functional and to give them away to someone who could actually use them and I did. I would encourage you to do the same!

I have to admit I felt pretty good when he showed up to examine my closet. Then I pulled out what I had kept. It was still a lot. I asked Andrew what he thought of what I had saved. He paused thoughtfully for a moment before he spoke.

Then Andrew pointed out that my hair and beard had gone gray and the browns, orange, and green tones I had worn for years made me look washed out. I was now better served by dark colors near my face.

Admittedly, it was kind of hard to hear. It took courage on his part to tell me a truth that I did not want to hear. But it was also liberating.

So I parted with a lot more clothes, including a neon green plaid shirt that was one of my favorites. A shirt that my wife hated with a passion.

This morning I looked at a closest full of clothes that fit me, look good and serve multiple functions. I see the space now empty and know that the clothes I gave away are a blessing to someone else.

And when I look at the closet I am reminded of the blessing it is to receive the truth in love.

Ephesians 4:15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.

Thought for the day: What kind of a person does it take to speak the truth in love? Can I be that person today?