Sunday, November 19, 2006
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Saturday, October 14, 2006
I began to wonder how it would be if that were me on that branch needing to make that same two and a half foot jump. I wondered how many times would I look down first and worry about the possibility of not being able to make the jump. And how many times would I think, “Well if I go back down to this branch and climb over to this branch and then back up maybe I can get there more easily and safely.” However, the down side to that is that whatever I needed or whatever needed me on the other branch may be gone by the time I get there.
Finally I just came to the conclusion that, man, I wish I had the confidence of a squirrel.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
300 dollars at a blackjack table and then get up and go to the ATM and come back and lose 300 more. I heard another person brag to his friends that he had maxed out his credit card. One of the most disturbing things I saw was found on every street corner of the strip. Each corner had about 3-4 individuals handing out baseball type cards to everyone that passed by. On these cards were pictures of nude women advertising "adult entertainment". Most people ignored the offer for these cards and most that took them just looked at them and threw them on the ground leaving the streets literally littered with pornography. There was one thing though that I saw in Vegas that was by far the most disturbing image and changed my opinion of Las Vegas forever. It happened while walking through Caesar’s Palace. This is an incredible hotel/casino, it's almost its own indoor city. But the thing that hit me like a brick was when I passed the restaurant in the hotel and noticed the name. It was called "Nero's". At that moment I imagined Jesus standing next to me and me pointing to the sign and saying, "That's funny right." It made me feel sick to my stomach. For those that don't know, Nero was the Roman emperor responsible for the torture and death of thousands of Christians during his reign. Many were killed by animals in front of crowds of spectators in the arena, while others were tied to posts, covered with flammable material, and used as human street lamps for Nero's gardens. It was at that moment, seeing that sign, that it all came together for me. All the “little” things I had seen all compounded and I felt like the whole city was mocking me and the God I believe in. Las Vegas wasn’t what I expected or at least not what I wanted it to be. Maybe I was naïve in thinking it could be. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to say that no self respecting Christian should ever be caught dead in Las Vegas. I think that is up to each individual to decide on their own, but for me, going to Las Vegas was an experience but leaving Las Vegas to come home was the best trip I’ve ever taken.
Monday, October 09, 2006
Sunday, August 06, 2006
This Tuesday I have a job interview with the company my oldest brother works for. It's a job that I am not qualified for on paper but my brother feels I am fully capable of doing. My brother is one of the most hardworking and quality conscious people I know. Obviously the company he works for feels the same way because it is only by his name that I am given this opportunity. I know that without his name, my application would have gone straight to the garbage can. If after my interview I don't get the job, I'm O.K. with that. I just feel honored that my brother would have the confidence in me to put up his good name.
All of this just makes me consider my own name and it's worth. Would my name give my son some "credit" with another person? Or would my name be enough to get someone an opportunity that they would not be able to get on their own? Or is my reputation such that my name carries little or no weight at all. As I lay in bed tonight, this is something I will ponder. And when I wake up tomorrow, a good name is something I will strive for.
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Sunday, May 21, 2006
The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. And they began to call out to him, "Hail, king of the Jews!" Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him. (Mark 15:16-20)
Now the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the Praetorium).
You have heard that it was said, "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." But I say to you, do not resist one who is evil.
And they call together the whole battalion, some six hundred soldiers, auxiliary troops recruited from the non-Jewish peoples of Palestine. “Recreation!”, they cry. “A little R-and-R!”
If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
Jesus has already been scourged with the flagellum. His back is bleeding. When they pull a purple robe across his shoulders, the blood soaks through. They weave a crown from the thorny branches from a nearby shrub. They stick this to his head, brow and scalp.
You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemies.” But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
The soldiers began to salute him in a raucous mockery of high office, hooting, “Hail, you King of the Jews!”
For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? And if you salute your friends alone, what more are you doing than others? Even sinners do the same.
And they strike his head with a staff, pitiful sign for a scepter.
Judge not, and you will not be condemned.
And they turn and spit on Him.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
And when they grew weary of the game, they strip him of the purple robe (a mantle belonging to some nameless Roman soldier) and put his own clothes back on Him.
Blessed are you when men hate you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in Heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you…
And so those who led him into the palace now lead him out again to crucify him.
We serve an awesome God. Jesus asks us to serve one another only after He lowered himself and washed the feet of 12 men. Jesus asks us to take up our cross and follow Him only because He was willing to take up His and pursue us. We serve an awesome God because He served us first.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Suddenly, the sounds of an angry crowd woke her from her thoughts. Looking to her lap, she saw that her baby was asleep. A tear fell as she reached down and gently took hold of his bleeding, nail scarred hand. She pulled him in close and kissed her baby goodnight.
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Sunday, April 30, 2006
Thursday, April 20, 2006
When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them, and the teachers of the law arguing with them. As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him.
"What are you arguing with them about?", he asked. A man in the crowd answered, "Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.
"O' unbelieving generation," Jesus replied, "how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me." So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the boys father, "How long has he been like this?"
"From childhood," he answered. "It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us."
"If you can?", said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes." Immediately the boys father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"
When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the evil spirit. "You deaf and mute spirit," he said, "I command you, come out of him and never enter him again."
The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, "He's dead." But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.
It's a story of a father and his son. Neither are named, but I know the father, he lives in my skin.
There are two things I love about this story, both bring encouragement and hope.
One is that God hears my prayers even when my faith is shaky and my doubts are firm. He always stands ready to lift me up, even when I have thrown myself to the ground. The second is that God listens and acts on the prayers I offer on behalf of those who cannot or choose not to voice them on their own.
So to sum it up, I don't have to know God in fullness for Him to hear my prayers and act in my life and those I'm concerned about don't have to know Him at all for Him to be willing to impact their life. So bring your doubts, bring your fears and bring your friends who are confined to a mat. Bring them all before the Lord our God who is faithful to all in need.
Saturday, April 15, 2006
I had an experience yesterday, one that I have had many times before. My family is currently going through what I will just call a stressful situation. On my way home yesterday, I had a vision that always seems to pop into my mind when I'm dealing with something emotional. It's me sitting in the middle of my church. I'm not talking about during a Sunday morning service, but an empty church with me sitting by myself, not saying anything, not doing anything, just sitting in silence. Something about this vision brings me such comfort, a feeling that if I were there right at that moment, I would feel nothing but peace. Now, I know that being at the church building doesn't bring me any closer to God than I am when sitting in my car or at my house or anywhere for that matter. I know that God's fullness is with me everywhere and that the church is just a building where the real church meets. Gary, our minister often refers to our building as "just a box". I think that fits. It's a box of memories. That same box of old photos we all have in a closet somewhere that we pull out, ruffle through, pick one out and say, "Remember when...".
You see, that's the way our church is. It's not the "Sunday morning put your time in" kind of place. Life happens there. You can find a piece of history in every corner. I walk in the kitchen downstairs and remember my first visit to Oakhaven with my brother after working with him at the University. That same kitchen has been renamed "Jimmy's Junction", after a great man whom God took home a few years back. We talk about the great ribs he used to make for our annual corn roast, but he's remembered for so much more than that. Then we have "Truit tower", the silo that has been renovated into a prayer room and named after one of the founders of the church. It's probably my favorite place in the building to just sit and meditate.
If you put your ear to the wall in the auditorium, you can still hear the distant echoes of past songs sung in praise to our Father. If you reach down and touch the carpet, you can still feel the tears that have been shed in times of prayer.
I have known God all my life, but this box is where I let Him wrap his arms around me. My wife and I were baptized in that box, we were married there and our children were baptized there as well as my mother and father-in-law. I have had the privilege of praying for others there and have been humbled by others who have prayed for me.
Oakhaven Church is a pretty unique building, but the concept of what takes place inside isn't. I think it's what God desires in each of us as His church. As I picture myself sitting there alone in the church, I guess that why it gives such peace is because I have seen so much of God's handy work there. I've heard the stories of lives changed, seen the joy of answered prayers, felt the comfort of friends in times of need. It reassures me that we have a God who is bigger than us but loves us and chooses to walk with us and work through us to help each other.
I pray that you have a church like my church and if you ever find yourself in Oshkosh Wisconsin on a Sunday morning or a Wednesday evening, stop in, I'd love to meet you.
Dedicated to Gary Cleveland. My brother in Christ. Once again, I thank you for allowing God to use you as He has.
Monday, March 27, 2006
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
As days went by with no new paper towel holder, one thing amazed me. I knew the holder wasn't there. I would even walk in and see the empty spot on the wall. But each time when I finished washing my hands, I would immediately turn to my left and reach for a towel. I don't know what irritated me more, that there were no towels where they were supposed to be or that I continued to reach for towels that I knew weren't there. Habits can be hard to break. Change is tough!
I decided then that this was just silly. I mean, here I am getting distressed over something so small as paper towels being moved. There are much bigger issues to worry about. So I decided that I would not let these petty things get to me. From that day forward, I was going to be a changed man, no more complaining. When change comes my way, I'm just gonna embrace it and roll! Mister easy going, take life as it comes. Yeah, that's me.
Well, yesterday they installed the new paper towel dispenser in the restroom. So now things are back to normal, except the lever on this new dispenser is alot harder to pull than the old one was............
As we journey through life, I think it's important to take some time every once in a while to laugh at yourself.
Saturday, March 04, 2006
Oops, the scientist dropped his clothespin. Not to worry — a wobbly toddler raced to help, eagerly handing it back. The simple experiment shows the capacity for altruism emerges as early as 18 months of age.
Toddlers' endearing desire to help out actually signals fairly sophisticated brain development, and is a trait of interest to anthropologists trying to tease out the evolutionary roots of altruism and cooperation.
Psychology researcher Felix Warneken performed a series of ordinary tasks in front of toddlers, such as hanging towels with clothespins or stacking books. Sometimes he "struggled" with the tasks; sometimes he deliberately messed up.
Over and over, whether Warneken dropped clothespins or knocked over his books, each of 24 toddlers offered help within seconds — but only if he appeared to need it. Video shows how one overall-clad baby glanced between Warneken's face and the dropped clothespin before quickly crawling over, grabbing the object, pushing up to his feet and eagerly handing back the pin.
Warneken never asked for the help and didn't even say "thank you," so as not to taint the research by training youngsters to expect praise if they helped. After all, altruism means helping with no expectation of anything in return.
And — this is key — the toddlers didn't bother to offer help when he deliberately pulled a book off the stack or threw a pin to the floor, Warneken, of Germany's Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology, reports Thursday in the journal Science.
This really shouldn't surprise me. After all, we are "Created in His Image" (Genesis 1:26).
And Jesus called a little child and had him stand among them. And He said: "I tell you the truth, Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven." (Matthew 18:3-4)