August 30, 2007

Encouragement for Moms

My wife Nancy wrote this today - I thought I would share it with you all:

Hello my friends who are moms!

I was reading in my Bible and came across this verse:

"Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean,
but abundant crops come by the strength of the oxen."
Proverbs 14:4

You may look at this and say "so what, I don't have oxen or mangers (feeding troughs)". We can still get the meaning of the verse -- if your manger is clean then you aren't using it to feed oxen and therefore have no animal to help produce your crops.

As I read this verse I changed the words a little to read:

"Where there are no children, the house/minivan is clean,
but abundant joy comes from a home filled with children."

As a mom I sometimes get overwhelmed with the mess and clutter that my kids can make in the house and in our minivan. It seems as though a large amount of my time is spent either cleaning up after them or, in the case of my older two, staying on them to clean up after themselves. This verse reminds me that without my children I could have a wonderfully clean house and minivan but what JOY would I miss out on. The time will come too soon when they will be older and will move out on their own. That is the time when my house will be clean and I may drive something other than a minivan. I am sure that then I will miss the mess!

So as an encouragement to you I say, enjoy the mess and remember the JOY your children bring. Life would be so boring without them. What a blessing from God they really are!

Have a great day,

August 29, 2007

I'm a Father!

Yesterday I was at the Christian bookstore. I picked up a couple of books. One of them is called Sexy Girls: How Hot is Too Hot. As the father of a 12 year old girl, I thought it would be a great way to help her understand the importance of how she dresses and looks.

As I was checking out, the lady behind the counter scanned the books, and when she saw the Sexy Girls book, she paused. Then she looked at me and said, "Are you a youth director?"

"No," I said, "I am a father."

She looked at me with a look of disbelief, then said, "O really? What church?"

I told her I was with Southbrook Church. It wasn't until I was walking out the door that I realized why she gave me that funny look. She must have thought 'priest' when I said 'father.'

Next time I better say 'dad!'

August 28, 2007

Is Your "System" Working?

I am reading a book by Dallas Willard called The Divine Conspiracy. I read something today that really caught my eye, and although it may seem obvious, I bet we don't usually think about it this way.

"Your system is perfectly designed to yield the result you are getting."

Willard is dealing with the question of the gospel -- as presented in the Bible compared with the way in which many churches present the gospel. There seems to be some kind of disconnect between "faith in Jesus" and "real life." We teach that we must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. But what does that mean? That we know we are going to heaven when we die? What about life right now? Why doesn't a relationship with my Creator have any impact on the way I live my life here and now?

"Your system is perfectly designed to yield the result you are getting."

In Willard's book, he is referring specifically to the system of preaching the gospel in churches. There's a lot we could say about that. But I was struck by this comment in a much broader way. Am I happy with the outcomes of my life so far? Am I pleased with the way my family life works? Am I satisfied with my finances? The bottom line is I have a system set up that yields results. If I don't like the results, then I need to challenge, and probably change my system.

If you attend a church that hasn't baptized anyone in the last year, then no matter what your purpose statement says, your system is broken. Maybe you need to check your system? I know I do. There are a lot of results in my own life that could/should be different. And as much as I would like to blame it on my parents, our culture, or even my dog, the problem is my "system."

Do you have the guts to change your system? I dare you!

August 27, 2007

What Is The Gospel According to You?

I ran across this poem today - seemed like a pretty good follow up to my last post:

I'd rather see a sermon, than hear one any day,
I'd rather one would walk with me than merely tell the way.
The eye's a better pupil and more willing than the ear;
Fine counsel is confusing; but example's always clear.
The best of all the preachers are the men who live their creeds,
For to see good put in action is what everybody needs.
I soon can learn to do it, if you let me see it done.
I can watch your hands in action, but your tongue too fast may run.
The lectures you deliver may be wise and true,
But I'd rather get my lessons by observing what you do.
I may not understand the high advice you give,
But there's no misunderstanding how you act and how you live.
- Author Unknown

August 23, 2007

What Do I Believe?

Have a look around. We (in America) live in a pretty amazing place. Some refer to America as a "Christian" nation. Others not so much. Did you know that 74% of Americans claim to be Christian? The fact is, we are terribly confused by the very term "Christian." We've (and by we I mean the church) turned it into a term that can be applied to anyone who wants it. What makes someone a Christian? Apparently living within 10 miles of a church! 74% is a lot of people.

My biggest problem isn't with the fact that 74% of us call ourselves Christian. My issue is with the lifestyles of the 74% of people. Jesus said that everyone would recognize that we are his disciples if we love one another. Now try this. Go to the grocery store and watch people in line waiting to check out. I don't see a lot of love for one another going on. Drive in traffic for a few minutes and watch how people act. Love one another? If we are supposed to tell that someone is a disciple of Jesus by their love, then I must only be seeing about 26% of Americans on a daily basis. It seems that the majority of Americans are out to love themselves! Of course, these are my own observations, I could be terribly mistaken.

Let's look at another arena of life. Personal morality. Over and over we are exhorted in the Bible to live pure and holy lives, to abstain from sexual immorality, to respect the property of others, and so on. Have you watched TV lately? Check out the news. Look around you. The divorce rate is well over 50%. There is no difference between churched and unchurched. Maybe it's just me, but doesn't it seem like those who call themselves Christians would have a better track record than the other 26%?

Here's my question to you. What do you believe? If you call yourself a Christian, then ACT LIKE ONE! Please? Don't flip off the parking lot volunteer as you leave church. Don't attack the police officer who is directing traffic in front of your church (you think I'm making this up? read this).

"They will know you are my disciples if you love one another."
Do you call yourself a Christian? Great! I am glad you are a part of the family of God. But for the sake of Christ, please don't call yourself a Christian unless you really believe and intend to be obedient to His Word! If you aren't going to love one another, then don't claim to be something you are not.

August 06, 2007


Stage 5 (29.6 miles) & 6 (25.75 miles)

After the reality sets in, it’s time to focus. It’s time to re-establish some goals. It’s time to quit dwelling on past mistakes, and look forward to the finish line. The only word I can think of to describe the next 50 miles of this ride is pain! Pain is such an interesting thing. It can either bring you to a complete stop, or motivate you to push through it. This is the portion of the ride where I began to contemplate quitting. The route is relatively flat, compared to other stages. There are no major mountains to climb. However, there are plenty of rolling hills. Ups and downs. The ups hurt the worst. My left knee begins to feel the most excruciating pain I can remember feeling. It literally causes me to cry out every time I rotate the pedals. Eventually the right knee decides to join in. How can I manage? Will I be able to finish? I could quit now, and the pain would go away.

But I have to remind myself (many times) that this is the day I have been preparing for all year. This is the ride of my life, and quitting now would leave me feeling – well, who knows what. If I quit, I have to tell everyone I didn’t finish. If I quit, I have to wonder if I could have made it. If I quit…

As a Christ follower, quitting often seems like the easiest way out of something. If I quit, I don’t have to worry about this or that. What’s the big deal if I don’t follow and obey everything Jesus called me to? I can do “my best.” He loves me just the same. So I may as well avoid as much pain as possible.

But that is not what we are called to. Jesus came to this earth, and endured unbelievable pain and suffering, so that we could spend eternity with Him. Quitting on Him would be like spitting in His face (as if we haven’t already done enough of that!).

Paul tells us in the New Testament that life is like a race. We have to endure suffering, press on to the end, look forward to the finish line. We must run the race with everything we have. Jesus Christ will empower us, He will give us what we need to make it through.

Life is full of ups and downs. The ups are tough. We strain to overcome certain habits, or to develop better ones. We suffer through difficulties, we try to overcome temptation. It’s these times in our lives that make us stronger. We must learn to trust and obey. Don’t give up, no matter how hard it looks, or how much it hurts. God’s plan for you is much bigger than you can see right now. Just keep pedaling!

August 03, 2007

Reality Hits

Stage 4 - 22.8 miles

This stage is supposed to be relatively flat. At least compared to the last one. The other solo riders are only about 5 minutes down the road. If I ride hard and fast (and don’t get lost again) I can catch them. I can do this!

I spend the rest of this stage trying to make a crucial decision. I am pushing with everything I have to catch the group that is somewhere ahead of me. I never catch them. In cycling, it is almost impossible for a lone rider to catch a group. Groups just go faster. They are able to conserve more energy because they are working together.

I have wasted a lot of energy on this stage. By the end, I realize I am going to be riding alone for the rest of the day. I have to refocus myself. I have to finish this ride, I have to resolve to ride alone and finish strong.

Life as a Christ follower is a lot like this. When we get off track (and we do) we think we can some how ‘catch up’, some how make up for lost time. But that’s the thing about life, you can’t get any of it back! Once it’s gone, it’s gone. There are no do-overs. There is no catching up. You have to face reality. Face the consequences of what you have done. Own up, take responsibility, and get on with it. Learn from your mistake, and keep moving forward.

How wonderful it is to know that we have been forgiven for our past sins. Jesus welcomes us with unconditional love. And although we can't go back and do it again, we do get a second chance. We get to move forward from here and through the power of the Holy Spirit working in us, we have the opportunity to make the right choices.

Are you dwelling on the past? Are you wishing you had never made that 'wrong turn'? Do you long to go back and make a different choice? Jesus offers forgiveness to all, if we will just humbly accept it. We can't go back and undo our mistakes, but we can start right now making better choices. Put your trust in Him, allow Him to be your guide, and quit wishing the past would change - it won't.