Winning Battles…1 Day at a Time

The girl got on the machine next to me

There were lots of similar machines…she chose this one

In one glance I knew there was potential trouble

She wasn’t wearing much. What she was wearing fit rather nicely…tight if you catch my drift

She was very attractive

I had to use discipline to bounce my eyes

By the way, that kind of discipline starts early

It doesn’t begin in the moment

But, it took discipline

I knew she was there the entire time. I just chose not to look

In fact, instead, I chose to write this blog post

Reminds me though…Satan is not above tempting a pastor

Or you

(And, yes, pastors are human) :)

Satan has great abilities but, thankfully, he has limited powers over the believer

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

I won the battle. That day. Actually God’s Spirit won. This time.

There will be other battles. Even before this day ends probably.

I must be prepared.

Let’s pray.

Happy Veterans Day: God Bless Our Veterans and Troops

Give us aid against the enemy, for the help of man is worthless. Psalm 60:11 NIV

I have never been to war. I have, however, had the experience of meeting some veterans of foreign war; my father and brother included. As a patriot, I have the utmost respect for our armed service personnel in my country. Growing up in a military town, I tear up at official military functions. God bless our men and women in uniform!

I recall someone who was wounded in action say to me once, that on the battlefield, when you face the enemy, there is no greater time when your dependence upon God is needed. The old saying goes, “There are no atheists in the foxhole.” I can only imagine the genuine fear that one must face when their life is in such danger.

I don’t know about you, but this world seems like a war zone sometimes. No, we don’t feel the danger that our military often do, but there are moments when we can feel the things important to us are in jeopardy. Times when the doctor gives a loved one unfavorable news. Times when the bank account doesn’t balance, because there is more outgoing than incoming. Times when children are challenging are parenting skills can handle. Times when there are decisions to make bigger than our ability to reason.

I don’t know about you, but the process of daily living often causes me to realize I have no strength on my own. I suspect that is how those in real war feel.

The Psalmist recognized that the help of man was really worthless. Certainly God gives us each other to help us along our way, but when the real problems of life come, only One can help us through. If you were in trouble, I would try to help you, but I can assure you, if the problem gets too big, I’m of no use!

It’s Veterans Day again. Time to remember and recognize those who serve so well, so brave, so unselfishly. I am reminded too that the One and Only God the Creator, the One who knows how to paint a sunset and send waves along the ocean surface, is the One who can ultimately fight the struggles we face in life. When life is at its worst (and its best) we need a Savior! Thank you for our veterans God. Keep our soldiers safe from our enemies. God protect our country.

Happy Veterans Day! God bless our troops. God bless us all!

As a mentor…

I received an email this week from a young man in our church telling me how thankful he was for the investment I’ve made in him. Granted, I just arrived here a few months ago and landed into a whirlwind of activity. I’ve been pulled in lots of directions. I am a constant seeker of potential though, so I’ve seen some in him. We have spent very little time together. It has been a very few moments out of my busy calendar, but to him, those have apparently been monumental moments.

I was humbled…again…but it was a great reminder to me:

A little bit of investment…goes a long ways…

You don’t realize the power of the moment…

When you, who may be looked up to…because of your wisdom…because of your experience…because of your story…

Take an interest in someone who is not there yet…when you speak into their life…

It is powerful.

It is life-changing.

Maybe not for you every time, but for them.

Try it. See what I mean.

Be intentional to invest in someone today.

Have you seen a little investment in someone go a long way?

Discarding the Truck: Guest Post

This is a guest post by Josh Riebock. Josh lives in Texas with his wife and dog. He’s the author of Heroes and Monsters and My Generation. He loves 80s music. He doesn’t think TV is evil. He once got a really bad tattoo and he sometimes tells the truth. You can visit him at www.joshriebock.com

Discarding the Truck

A little boy was in the backyard, playing with his brand new toy truck, when he heard his dad calling. Immediately, the boy ran into the house, looking through all the rooms for his dad. Eventually, he found him in the bedroom, sitting in a chair, reading the newspaper. The little boy ran to his dad, and said, “Dad! I was outside and I thought I heard you calling me. So I ran to you.”

Setting the newspaper aside, the dad lifted his son onto his lap. Then he looked into his son’s eyes, and slapped the little boy across the face.

“Son, you’re wrong. I wasn’t calling you. Next time you think you hear my voice, you better make sure that it’s me before you come running.”

In a nearby backyard, another little boy was playing with his brand new toy truck, when he heard his dad calling. Immediately, the boy ran into the house, looking through all the rooms for his dad. Eventually, he found him in the bedroom, sitting in a chair, reading the newspaper. The little boy ran to his dad, and said, “Dad! I was outside and I thought I heard you calling me. So I ran to you.”

Setting the newspaper aside, the dad lifted his son onto his lap, and smiled.

“Son, I wasn’t calling you in here. But the fact that you came running when you thought you heard my voice brings me so much joy.”

I find the idea of hearing and responding to God’s voice to be an incredibly fuzzy concept. It’s wonderful. It’s frustrating. It brings me comfort. It drives me mad. Sure, I believe God wants me to be able to recognize his voice, to respond to it. And I believe that as I grow closer to him I’ll become more familiar with what He sounds like, but what am I supposed to do along the way? How am I supposed to respond to a voice when I’m not sure if it’s God, or just some voice in my head? And how am I supposed to lead others through this fog?

The above story is about this very thing, and more specifically, about reconfiguring my understanding of who God is, what He values more, and what I, in turn, ought to value.

Like the second father, perhaps God takes greater joy in my desire to respond when I think I hear him calling, rather than my ability to hear him perfectly. Perhaps God wants me to go where I believe He’s leading—even if I’m uncertain that it’s him, even if I’m wrong altogether—and to lead others to do the same. Perhaps God wants me to long for intimacy with him over clarity from him. But for that to happen, I have to see God as the second father rather than the first. I have to believe that He is that second father. After all, it’s my fear of what will happen if I’m wrong that often keeps me from pursuing the voice of God. But if I were to believe in a loving father who takes great joy in my eagerness to run when I think I hear him calling, then perhaps I’d come running more often, and spend less time worrying about whether or not I’ve got flawless hearing.

 

What do you think? 

10 Random Post Election Thoughts

I couldn’t get on with my day until I processed a few random thoughts. So many. Many undeveloped. Very random. More to come.

I see so many comments through social media. Some of hurt. Some of frustration. Some of anger. Some of rejoicing. (I am glad I have friends on both sides of the political spectrum.)

10 random post election thoughts:

God isn’t perplexed today about the state of our country.

Fear is an emotion and not necessarily a reality, but perfect love casts out fear. If I’m afraid I should trust in You…in God whose word I praise.

I am supposed to pray for even my enemies…and those with whom I may not agree. Have I done that?

I wonder if our unifying answer is beyond our current two dominant party choices.

Christians have a unique responsibility. We are to respect authority, pray for our nation, and care more about its soul than its economy. I wonder how well we are doing that?

Just because God allows a king doesn’t mean He has chosen to bless a nation with one. That could be true of either party candidate who was elected. Remember the story of Saul and David?

Our country needs the Gospel even more than it needs new jobs. Revival often starts with a few people.

When the country is less unified, the church should be even more unified.

What if President Obama chose Mitt Romney as his new Business Czar? (Supposedly a position he’s proposing.)

I am looking forward to Sunday. My favorite day of the week.

Listen, as an encourager and teacher of God’s people, speaking to the church, let us not become weary in doing good. In due season, we will reap what we sow. Let us be be an example for our nation today. At work. At home. In our hearts. Let us show and be the love of Jesus. He is still our hope.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to us. (James 4:8)

(By the way, I have another theory about the state of the church as it relates to the state of our nation, but I’ll save that for another day.)

Back to work.

Who Is The Problem?

Cheryl and I were out of town recently and visited a local farmer’s market. I was eying the homemade, organic cookie booth while Cheryl looked for healthier options like tomatoes. I also used the time as a people-watching opportunity. (Almost better than cookies…not chocolate chip mind you, but certainly some cookies.)

Anyway, I couldn’t help but pick up on the argument taking place next to me. There was a lady trying to buy some potatoes. The seller couldn’t get the quantity to meet her expectations. It was either too heavy or too light. He was trying to cheat her. Nothing was fair at this booth, in her opinion. There wasn’t really fifty cents difference, but you would have thought it was fifty dollars based on her reaction. She became mad. After a few minutes, she kept her money, left the potatoes, and kept walking. I couldn’t believe how irate she became over potatoes.

I decided to follow for a few minutes…just curious what she would do.

I know, sounds weird, but I was chasing a theory.

Sure enough, just as I suspected, everywhere she went there was a problem. No one treated her fairly, in her opinion. At each booth there was a problem, and the problem was the person at the booth…again…in her opinion.

My theory…which I believe she helped prove:

If you seem to have a problem with everyone, the problem could be you.

By the way, that’s true for all of us. Sometimes when we complain, pitch a fit, lose our patience, kick the dirt up…

Whatever your phrase…

No one likes us. No one treats us fairly. Everyone….you know…finish the sentence…

Sometime the problem isn’t everyone else. Sometimes the problem is us.

Recognizing when that is true and admitting it, seeking help if there’s a root problem rather than blaming others continually…that is a sign we are growing in maturity.

Can you admit when the problem is you?

A Dying Tree

“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.” Luke 6:43 NIV

We once had this tree.

Over the time we owned the house, every year I thought it was one year closer before we would have to cut it down. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the tree. The tree really wasn’t in the way. I could easily mow around it. The tree just didn’t seem to be making it. It barely had any leaves on it and whenever the wind barely blew I had to pick up all kinds of broken branches. The tree was going “bad”. The only reason I didn’t cut it down yet was because I had sentimental attachment to it. Plus, it used to be such a beautiful tree.

We’ve since moved from the house, but, honestly, I know believers who are like that tree.

They used to have excitement in their faith. There was a time when they got motivated at just the thoughts of going to church. They were eager to hang out with other believers. Something happened to them and now the enthusiasm is gone. I’m not saying they no longer believe, but they certainly aren’t producing much “fruit”.

Are you one of “those” believers?

One of the saddest things for me in ministry is witnessing people who once were vibrant, blooming, growing church members. Now, I never see them. That breaks my heart.

Has your motivation for church, for God and your fellow believer waned in recent years? Ask God to “prune” you back to vibrancy in the Kingdom of God! Ask God to give you back your fervor for His glory.

If you are a part of the body, we miss you when you aren’t with us.

See you Sunday?

I sure hope so.

And while you are praying…say one for the tree! As far as I know, it’s still standing. There is still life in that tree. Hopefully there is for you too!

 

One Key to a Lifetime of Contentment

Learn to enjoy the mundane.

The everyday life.

The dishes (You like clean dishes, don’t you? And, you’re thankful for clean water, right?)

Brushing your teeth (Don’t they feel better when you do?)

Mowing your grass (I just love that freshly mowed look)

Smelling a rose (They smell best among the flowers…in my opinion)

Admiring the clouds. (I like Cumulus)

Having a discussion over coffee. (Cheryl and I have our best talks then)

A simple walk in the park (On a sunny, or not so sunny day)

A random thought (Some of my best ideas start that way)

A routine prayer (Okay…nothing mundane about that, but sometimes we take it for granted)

A text message from a friend (At least you have one)

An average Sunday at church (Thank God for the freedom to attend)

We tend to love the grandiose. The unusual. The vacation. The miracles. The shooting star. The celebrations. The once in a lifetime experience.

Those times are great. We love them. We want more. Nothing wrong with that.

The problem is when our happiness is wrapped in those occasions alone. Life is often lived in the mundane. Most of life, in fact.

Get up. Shower. Brush. Shave. (Or not) Dress. Drive. Work. Come home. Go to bed. Do it again. And again. In between those routines are the real moments of life. Even if seemingly mundane…non-miraculous.

Learning to love the mundane times of life, scattered among the routines of life, will help you find a lifetime of contentment.

What’s one seemingly mundane thing in life you love?