Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Keep Me In Prayer-Are the Lights Out?

Hey gang!

It’s a beautiful cool Wednesday morning. I know that you are expecting a new Wisdom Wednesday, but sometimes I, and more importantly, God has different plans for us.

To tell you that the last two weeks of my life have been thought provoking would probably be an understatement. There has been a lot happening. If you’ve been reading lately, you know about the drama of real life that Kim Burry has been going through. One of my favorite elder stateswomen has been sick as well after a stroke landed her in the hospital. My friend Kevin’s grandmother has been a part of my life since junior high and knowing she is hurting has made feel for the situation as well.

While these events haven’t demanded a lot of my time, they have made me spend a lot of time thinking. I have three great kids and they do demand a lot of my time. Since my daughter Megan started pre-school, my youngest daughter Maggie has missed her and wanted more time with her daddy. I don’t mind that at all, but the morning time that I used to spend writing is now devoted to my little about to be 18-month darling and my two year old son, James. Without their bossy leader (see, sometimes it’s not a bad thing), they are needing a little more direction from me. So when I have written, usually in the last month it has been at night, after they go to bed.

Most nights that isn’t a horrible thing, but it does leave my wife alone with the TV. And while the TV is nice and puts out some shows she loves to watch, she misses me some. So I do fight feelings of guilt occasionally.

That has stepped up over the past week with some admissions. I had told you last week that I felt an overwhelming feeling of depression, which I thought was totally caused by the intense and heavy prayer of all the sickness that has surrounded me. However, I found out over the weekend that the sickness is a little closer to home than I had imagined.

My wife Mindy finally told me that she has a couple of health concerns. First, she had to begin chiropractic treatment this week because of a degeneration in her right hip and severe pain in her back. She told me that the hip is supposed to work like a ball and socket. Well, her socket has a curve in it and it is causing pain and new unintended growth in her hip. There is also tissue rubbing in between two bones that is also almost gone. With some treatment, it will get better. That was the good news.

Then, she shared that there was a growth behind her thyroid. While most people tend to notice swelling around the neck, I tend to be totally oblivious. It concerned her doctor enough to schedule a follow-up appointment with a specialist to see if it needed removed, or taken out as a biopsy. Cancer does run in her family, so it is a red flag of concern.

Now while this will probably not kill her, and with seeing Bill handle his wife’s near death experience, these things have made me appreciate and want to make a little more time for her. We never know when our spouse or anyone else will be called home and this has given me new eyes on how I need my wife. On October 26, we will celebrate seven years of marriage. I think we’d both like to have many more years.

With this going on, I did start another new venture that has already paid off. Many of you have read interviews from blog tours thanks to a group headed by Karen Power. She sends out books to read and give some thought on and we’ve had some very good books to look at because of it. Well, I started a new relationship with another promoter. Her name is Kathy Carlton Willis. She sent me a new book yesterday written by Cecil Murphey called When God Turned Off the Lights.

Admittedly, when I saw the title, I thought that the book would be about struggling churches closing and how the people have dealt with it. I’ve seen a couple churches close their doors and it is tough to witness. Dedicated people lose their community when this happens and it changes lives. People end up going to different churches and have a hard time giving into the new community out of fear.

However, that had nothing to do with this book. Have you ever read a few pages into a new book and realize you’ve been nailed? Happened to me with this book. The real theme of this book is for Christians who are dedicated, doing their best to serve and be open to God, but not really feel him moving with power in their lives.

After reading the first two chapters of Cec’s words, I knew I needed this book. I want to share a couple thoughts from Chapter 2 of his book.

He writes, “For years, my friends used delightful adjectives when telling me about my Christianity, and I loved hearing them. They called me faithful, committed, serious, generous, and devout. They lauded me for my zeal and enthusiasm for God.
But one day, none of those terms fit me; I felt like a spiritual fraud. I kept trudging onward, and at times, I wondered why I bothered. My Christian experience felt as if I were driving on two flat tires.”

I understand the feeling. I feel like I’m there myself. It’s not the fault of my local church. I flash the smile of Godly contentment and truthfully, it is nice to be in a church that gives more than two craps about me. Before New Hope, I hadn’t felt even wanted since leaving Bible Baptist seven years ago. But I’m falling through the cracks. Looking happy, there are a few that can tell. They are the ones who have spoke into my life in the last six months that I’m on a collision course with depression, exhaustion and inevitable failure. That’s a road I don’t want to be on.

Murphey says something else, “I wasn’t playing the role of the hypocrite. I wanted my life to be vibrant, joyful and committed. I wanted God to smile on me. I cried out constantly for a sense of the divine presence and it wasn’t there for me.”

My feelings feel validated here. I think all of us want a healthy, loving relationship with God. It’s been over a year that I’ve worked on One Man Revival. I want God to bless this ministry and He has. I get letters occasionally telling me how what I’ve written has blessed their lives and helped their situation. These are true blessings to me. They put a bounce in my step.

But I want to be able to keep that bounce even if the letters aren’t coming because if I live in the moment of how people feel about my ministry, the direction will be more performance based than where God really wants me. I enjoy bringing you encouragement, but I want God’s best for you and for me.

The back cover of the book tells us that we really have three choices when we feel the lights go out: 1) to give up, 2) we can examine ourselves for sin or failure, or 3) we can accept that God has hidden His face from us for a purpose. Number 1 is not an option to me.

However, I think taking step 2 could be healthy for me in this time of trial. That’s why I’ve decided to take 2 weeks starting today to step back. The first thing that you’ll see is the interview and materials for this book on October 15. It’s going to be hard not to write, but I need to take this time to achieve a few things. These are things that you can pray for, if you would like.

First, I want to take some time to spend with my wife and family. Let it be quality time and that everyone feels loved, accepted and appreciated. Second, I want to take time to pray about the direction of this ministry (even more), pray for the direction of my family and pray about how I need to be spending my time. Third, I want to spend time reading God’s word and the rest of Cecil Murphey’s book. I think that God has much to say during the time and I want to be focused and hear it. Fourthly, I want to make sure that I am there for Mindy’s doctor appointment on October 13th to discuss this growth on her neck and what course of action needs to be taken.

Finally, I’ve had one criticism of late, at least by the community of friends that I’ve made on Facebook. A comment I received was that I was making so much effort to write the messages of One Man Revival and of the 90 Day Bible series that I wasn’t really taking time to talk to people anymore. When your friends tell you that they miss just talking to you, you tend to think that maybe, just maybe, that you are spending too much time making the stars shine and not enough time amongst the people. I’m still not playing the games on Facebook. There are just way too many viruses going around on them. But I will come and comment and talk to people a little more. Real growth in people occurs when your friends have enough courage to tell you when things aren’t exactly right. Maturity comes in people being able to take those comments and make them count.

So I’ll be around. But please do pray for me. I want to be the best servant of the King that I can be. Be it at home with the wife and kids, being a friend, being a leader on OMR and in my community and making a difference in this messed up world.

I love you guys!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Marriage Monday: Myth #5-If you find parenting difficult, you must not be following the right plan

Hey gang!

Time to start a new week and the last few days of September. By the end of this week, we will be into October. This month has just flown by, as has most of the year.

This week, we explore another myth from Leslie Leyland Fields book “Parenting Is Your Highest Calling” And 8 Other Myths That Trap Us in Worry and Guilt. It’s time for myth #5, If you find parenting difficult, you must not be following the right plan.

The chapter begins with Leslie telling us about the night she realized that she was pregnant with her eldest child. Her husband, Duncan, escaped death in the sinking of the ship he was on that same night. It is interesting how we are always coming out of something when we find out a blessing in our lives.

Leslie then begins to go into all the questions that she had as a new parent and all the resources that she turned to in her quest to help her raise her children in the best way possible. I resembled that remark too as I prepared for my first born, my daughter Megan. If you knew me before Megan, you know how terrified I was of babies. Not terrified that they would hurt me, but that one wrong move by me might hurt them.

I’ll always remember the first child I held in front of my wife Mindy. It was July 2002 and the birth of Kaley, Mindy’s sister Jodie’s third daughter. Jodie asked me if it was the first baby I’d ever held. It wasn’t, but since it wasn’t mine, I was terribly nervous that I would break her. Nice way to make an impression on your future wife, accidently breaking your future niece. Kaley has turned out fine, a beautiful little seven year-old.

But a short two and a half years later, here I am taking child care classes holding this plastic baby like I was posing for the Heisman, you know, right hand out, left hand holding the baby like a pigskin. My wife laughed as I asked for a few extra touches with the plastic baby that night.

But on Opening Day of baseball season 2005, my daughter Megan was born. I will never forget that birth moment. Holding her with immense joy, not realizing that she was struggling to breathe and nurses carted her off and put her in a machine for the next 24 hours to help her shake off what was later perceived as receiving a little of the epidural drug. Privately, I thought it was my fault. I begged everyone I knew to pray for her, fearing that if something happened to this beautiful girl brought to me by God, that I would be damned forever for being stupid.

I will tell you that Megan is fine. She is four and in preschool. She has company now in her brother, James, and sister, Maggie. Those two had normal births and are mostly healthy children. My son suffers from night terrors. When I am asleep, I’m never sure whom the terror scares more, me or him. His curve is slightly behind the girls, but he is a happy, loving boy.

I’ve read several books, including Leslie’s to garner how to be a better dad. The funny thing is guys that most of the books are from a woman’s perspective. The books are dialed to better mothering and most don’t take into consideration that dad is the one at home, which is happening in many more families now than when I was a kid.

Leslie talks about many of the resources that she went through and then comes to talk about the source where you think all the answers should be, The Bible. She breaks down the verses that talk about the raising of children. I’ll list all of them at the back end of this discussion (minus putting in the first nine chapters of Proverbs, you can look at those in your Bible). Pretty much like Leslie, I was awestruck by the general concern of the raising of children, but God’s Word never gets exact on a lot of issues. This has given us the mountains of opinions by authors on the subject, but Leslie clears the mud as we continue.

She then goes on to go back to the story of Manoah and his wife from Chapter 2 (Myth 1, for those of you without the book) about the coming of Samson. When his wife came to him with the news of the coming child, I agree that I am sure he was thrilled. But Manoah shared my feeling of humility and fear. What I am supposed to do now? How do I not mess the boy up?

Manoah was smart. He went to his knees in Chapter 13 of Judges and pleaded, “O Lord, I beg you, let the man of God you sent to us come again to teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born.” Manoah understood the undertaking that raising a child would bring. Plus, this was to be a special child. A child that God was giving gifts to change the world with. All of us should feel this about our kids, even if an angel doesn’t come to tell us this, but that’s another personal rant of mine.

God was gracious and sent the angel back and Manoah asked him in verse 12, “When your words are fulfilled, what is to be the rule for the boy’s life and work?” It’s a great question. Again, all of us as parents should think about this at one time or another before the child comes, maybe more than once. But just like us that never get a manual with our children, the angel never answered his question directly.

However, he did give a response. He repeated what he told Manoah’s wife. “Your wife must do all that I have told her. She must not eat anything that comes from the grapevine, nor drink any wine or other fermented drink nor eat anything unclean. She must do everything I have commanded her.”

Before Leslie gives a rebuttal to the response, she first tells us about how we attempt to fill in the blanks when God doesn’t answer when we want answers. She tells us that we are often given answers by the Biblical experts on parenting with a focus around a verse or two and then their opinions all around it. It’s like the rose in the middle and a bunch of garnish around it. It could be thorns or pretty little flowers, but in truth, we’re never quite sure which.

She then turns to Dr. Tim Kimmel’s quote from his book Why Christian Kids Rebel. I love this quote personally. Leslie reminds us before it that the Bible does not prescribe to a single model of child rearing.

“There is no set biblical way for children to behave or dress or talk or play. God has called us (parents) to create an environment for our children where they can get a clear sense of the love, forgiveness, and the grace of God. On top of that, He has given us the mandate to build qualities like respect, honor, decency, fairness, and modesty into the core of their character. God allows children a lot of latitude in how they love out their personality type within the boundaries of these wonderful values. God is too much into original thoughts and ideas to create some mold that produces the ‘perfect Christian kid’.”

Leslie titles the next section “Parenting is more about people than the process” and that is so true. She tells of the experience of potty training her kids and how all except one were able to do “1 & 2” the same way. Mine are very similar in that regard. The two girls seem to hate wetness and if they are even slightly wet, they cry about it. The boy, on the other hand, could lay in it a while and never mind it. That’s why he is harder to train. I hope no one reads that back to him at 21. But this is just one of many things that show that not every kid can be raised the same way.

The most important part of the chapter comes next as Leslie explains God’s real desire. He doesn’t want a brain dead group of non-thinkers like George Orwell’s 1984, but he wants our hearts. Leslie brings out the idea that the rules given by the angel to Manoah and his wife were not for Samson, but for them. The rules set up changed their lives. Manoah had to hunt differently and his wife’s diet of food definitely changed. God would help the child by bringing the parents into a deeper relationship with Him first. God could never have had Samson if the parents didn’t buy into His system.

Have you ever seen kids that totally reject the Christian message because they see their parents reject that same message by the way they carry their lives? It happens all the time. Usually what happens is that until these children that God wants see someone really living Jesus in front of them, they stay lost. Next week’s myth #6 will talk more about that issue.

Leslie then closes the chapter by telling us that we need to give up on the idea of one plan to raise children. This isn’t just because the plans aren’t 100% effective, but also because each child is different. She brings out a great scripture here. Proverbs 22:6 tells us to “Train up a child in the way he should go, and he will not depart from it.” This isn’t to train all children the same way. This is to make sure that the training is God’s instruction perfectly and individually made for each child to help them with their spiritual gifting.

One of Leslie’s closing thoughts that I’d like to share is this: “No other parent or writer, no matter how many books they sell, no matter how many children they have raised, can know our children as God does or as we do.” This doesn’t say that we should not take sound advice, but that you should take that advice and pray on it for use with your child. If you’ve ever been told by others and felt offended, remember that most are not trying to make you mad, just trying to give you help.

Again, next week, we will take on the 6th myth from the book, “You represent Jesus to your children.” I read this chapter already and I can tell you that some of what I’ll share next week will set you free if you feel guilty of not being able to do it all as a parent.

I love you guys!

PS-Now for the scripture that I promised you.

Gen 18:19 For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him."

Exo 12:26 And when your children ask you, 'What does this ceremony mean to you?'
Exo 12:27 then tell them, 'It is the Passover sacrifice to the LORD, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.'" Then the people bowed down and worshiped.
Exo 13:8 On that day tell your son, 'I do this because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.'
Exo 13:14 "In days to come, when your son asks you, 'What does this mean?' say to him, 'With a mighty hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
Exo 20:12 "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

Deu 21:18 If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him,
Deu 21:19 his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town.
Deu 21:20 They shall say to the elders, "This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard."
Deu 21:21 Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.

Pro 13:24 He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.
Pro 22:6 Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.
Pro 22:15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.
Pro 23:13 Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die.
Pro 23:14 Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death.
Pro 29:15 The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother.
Pro 19:18 Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death.

Psa 34:11 Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
Psa 78:4 We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done.
Psa 78:5 He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children,
Psa 78:6 so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children.

Luk 18:16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
Luk 18:17 I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."

Mat 18:3 And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Mat 18:4 Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Mat 18:5 "And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.
Mat 18:6 But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

Mat 10:37 "Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;

Mar 3:35 Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother."

Eph 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
Eph 6:2 "Honor your father and mother"—which is the first commandment with a promise—
Eph 6:3 "that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth."
Eph 6:4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Tit 2:3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.
Tit 2:4 Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children,

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Spiritual Disciplines Series:Celebration: God Wants Us to Celebrate

Hey gang!

Prologue: When I asked for opinions to start the series of spiritual disciplines, I wasn’t sure where to begin. There are so many that most of us want to know about. All of us want to be more disciplined in our lives doing the things of God not only correctly, but in a way that honors him.

The following is a perfect story to talk about the spiritual discipline I chose. Not all disciplines are designed to ask us to take things away from our lives. All of the disciplines are good and should allow us to be able to be ourselves in front of God. Today’s beginning is something that most of us love to do.

It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 days. Ten days ago I heard the first of our Executive Pastor, Bill Burry’s wife being flown out to Springfield. She was in really bad shape. There was an infection in Kim and it was threatening her life.

Our church began to pray. People came as the church stayed open in the evenings to pray. Words of prayer were put out on the internet. Through the internet, churches in other parts of town, in other states and even in other countries began to pray for a life to continue. New Hope and many others were united in prayer.

Last Sunday came and the church held a prayer time during the Sunday school hour. At least 400 people stayed during that hour. They didn’t just come together in prayer. They also came together and healed along with Kim. People that normally don’t hang out with each other were hugging and changing the landscape because of listening to the inner voice of God.

People kept on praying. And on Saturday morning, the improbable only 10 days ago happened. Kim opened her eyes. She was greeted by the man that loves her more than anyone else other than Jesus. She recognized him and is continuing to grow stronger. By divine intervention, a life continues. The word spread by phone, internet and any other way possible. People began individually celebrating as they heard the news that the miracle they’ve been part of in prayer has begun to come to pass. God gets the glory and our faith grows stronger as believers.

When I say that people began to celebrate individually, I realize that corporately, another celebration will happen on Sunday. Then another one will happen when Kim gets released from the hospital and returns to church, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There will be lots of hard work to get back to full health, but today is a good day to celebrate a major first step on that road to recovery.

Today’s spiritual discipline is celebration. I chose it first because of this story. Folks, God wants us to celebrate when His hand comes to join and be a part of great things. Celebration can be many things. The Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, which will be the primary text that I will use for this series, tells us that the desire of this spiritual discipline is to take joyful, passionate pleasure in God and the radically glorious nature of God’s people, Word, world and purposes. The definition is described as a way of engaging in actions that orient the spirit toward, worship, praise and thanksgiving. Delighting in all the attentions and never-changing presence of the Trinity fuels celebration.

To see Kim’s start toward recovery definitely brings us joy and passion. But if it fails to bring us to the One that made her healing possible, we’ve missed something. The healing is definitely bringing us to God in worship, praise and thanksgiving. We are thankful that we still have her smiling face to be a part of God’s church. Believe me, if you have been watching the internet today, you have seen praise going to the right place of God for bringing this miracle through. This is one of many reasons for celebration. God is with us in the storm and we are able to celebrate that he brings us through them.

Healing isn’t the only reason for celebration among God’s people though. The spiritual discipline of celebration includes identifying and pursuing those things that bring the heart deep gladness and reveling in them before the Lord. Some of the celebrations may include time spent with others in fellowship, sharing meals, working together on a project, serving in the community, worshipping at a church service, laughing, listening to music and dancing. There are other ways beyond this list and I’m sure you could come up with more.

Scripture is filled with celebration. David celebrated bringing the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem and his wife told him that she was embarrassed by how he acted. However, David told her, in 2 Samuel 6, that he would continue to celebrate like this even if it brought him embarrassment. David didn’t care what people thought when he celebrated before God. Sometimes that very thing holds us back from celebrating the way God wants us to. One of my music minister friends, Rusty Smallwood, always encouraged me and the rest of our church in Florida by telling us that we are worshipping to “an audience of one.” We are celebrating with Abba Father, the daddy that is not concerned if we are on key or dancing smoothly. He’s concerned that we let out our sincere joy in Him because of what He has done and will continue to do.

Jesus celebrated at a wedding with his mother and helped her by turning water into wine. God wants us to celebrate the good times. Sure, He does not want us to drink in excess or do foolish things, but He does want us to celebrate.

There are some God-given fruit that we will attain if we are actively using this spiritual discipline. First, we will always be keeping company with Jesus, no matter what. We’ll also live in a mentality of abundance rather than shortage. We’ll be participating in celebration and love with all three members of the Trinity. Don’t forget, celebration is naturally coming from the Holy Spirit inside us.

Next, we will be rejoicing in the God that rejoices over us. Can you picture God in a party hat as we celebrate? OK, maybe not, but he and the heavenlies celebrate as we celebrate. We are enjoying every good and perfect gift as coming from God. You know, there are people who may try to take the credit that their prayer brought about the celebration, but if we keep perspective, we realize that God has given us this gift.

Another fruit that we will enjoy is living out of the joy of your salvation. We can never be thankful enough that God has given us the gift of heaven through Jesus. This spiritual discipline will also cultivate a spirit of gladness. This doesn’t mean you’ll be happy all the time, but it will help you deal with life when it isn’t exactly ideal.

This next fruit of the spiritual discipline of celebration is one that I need to recognize a little more often. It gives you the ability to take yourself a little less seriously. It will also set you free from the addiction to criticism and negativity. None of us like to hear anything less than positive about ourselves, but with the discipline of celebration, it won’t bring us down as far as negativity tends to.

The final fruit that celebration assists us in is having holiday traditions that guide your celebration. I always remember that first Christmas after my salvation. I bought a nativity set and began learning the story and began reading it each year at Christmas. It gives a great reminder of how Jesus began that walk toward perfection so that he could lay down his life at Calvary.

So remember, God wants us to celebrate as we walk with Him. When great things happen, don’t be afraid to allow yourself to celebrate. God may be watching, but he’s not looking for perfection. He is looking for a heart that is thankful that He is with us.

I love you guys!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Elisa Morgan joins us to discuss her book She Did What She Could

Hey gang!

Today, we have book author Elisa Morgan in to talk a little about her book She Did What She Could. Give a look to the video and then read the article. Thanks!

What is the premise behind your new book, She Did What She Could?

Most of us care deeply about the needs around us – poverty, injustice, everyday concerns of those in our families and in our offices and in our neighborhoods. But faced with the challenges of getting food on the table and children to and from activities and keeping up with our jobs etc, we feel more than a little overwhelmed. Who has the time or the energy to start another nonprofit or to participate in yet another celebrity-help-the-world-athon? We conclude we have to do something BIG to make a difference. Not true. We don’t have to do something BIG to make a difference. In a Bible story where Mary of Bethany anoints Jesus with a beautiful gift of perfume before his death, Jesus applauds her action saying, “She did what she could.” We can make a difference every day by simply doing what we could in the given moment before us.

When did the idea for this book/movement come to you?

I’d been reading what I call the “Girl Stories” in the gospels – stories where a woman is the main character. I was stopped in my tracks by Mary’s acting out her love for Jesus and by his pairing her action with the gospel. Mary lived loved. She acted out her faith by doing something with who she was and what she had in a moment that mattered. At the same time I was reading that story, I was suddenly overwhelmed by issues in our world like the HIV-AIDS pandemic and poverty and needs everywhere I turned. I began to think about the power of one of us acting and then another and another. I began to prayerfully wonder – what if I did what I could – just like Mary did? And then each of us did what we could? The whole world could be changed!

What percentage of church members are active in ministry?

It’s reported that 20% of the people do 80% of the work.

What reasons do you think members have for not serving?

Lots of folks don’t participate due to the busyness of life and the perception that unless we do something BIG it won’t make a difference. We feel guilty that we can’t do MORE. We feel inadequate because we aren’t more godly - or because of something hidden in our past. We feel incompetent because we aren’t trained. We’re tired and overwhelmed. And then there’s the fact that lots of us aren’t even “members” of a church. We’re not sure what to do with church – even though we love Jesus. We have a million struggles that keep us from “doing”. SDWSC gives a bite-size offering to everyone to participate in living out our faith and making a difference.

Do you feel that many church members are intimidated by those who are very involved at church?
You bet. If you’re not in the “in crowd” or gifted with public gifs like teaching or are marginalized in some way, it’s WAY intimidating to step up and say, ”Hey, I’d like to help.” SDWSC welcomes ALL to join in and act. It refreshes those who are weary in well-doing as well.

In the book, you point out that this message of everyone doing what they can is Biblical. What story are you referring to specifically?

The story is told in Mark 14 but is also told in Matthew and John as well. Just before Jesus’ death on the cross for the sins of all humankind, Mary of Bethany took a jar of nard, a very expensive perfume, and poured it on Jesus – as a symbol of anointing his body before his death. In a moment when the gesture would mean the most to him. You get the impression that Mary hadn’t really planned out this action. It seems more spontaneous. And while the nard was expensive, that wasn’t the main point. Mary acted out of her understanding that Jesus really was the Christ and he really loved her. She wanted to give back. She took what she had – nard – and acted with it in a moment that mattered to Jesus and to the world. She did what she could.

You’ve shared your message with the MOPS organization. What has the response been so far to the SDWSC (She Did What She Could) movement?

Moms are passionate about being the best moms they can be. They’re also passionate to make a difference in their world. They know that they may not be able to do something GIANT in the day to day of raising children. SDWSC gives them a methodology for acting in a way that matters in their daily lives. With a neighbor or a coworker. With a child. To care for the earth. To reach out to someone who has less and needs more. Moms have pasted the SDWSC flare on their Facebook pages and are telling the SDWSC stories, encouraging others to do what they can as well.

How do you hope churches and ministries will use your message to mobilize their members?

Those who’ve never served can be invited to join in with the practical – doable – message of SDWSC. And those who are weary in well-doing can be encouraged that Jesus doesn’t ask us to do EVERYTHING or ALL we could but rather WHAT we could do.

How do you hope readers can change their lives with your message?

She did what she could (SDWSC) is a mantra that rules my days as opportunities come before me. I run each through the grid of SDWSC. Is it something that I can uniquely handle? Is it a moment that matters NOW? Will I make a difference if I do WHAT I could – not ALL or EVERYTHING I could? I hope and pray that readers will do the same. She did what she could. When I do what I could and you do what you could and we do what we could – we can change the world. We can be the body of Christ in action, on the earth, demonstrating individually and together what it means to live loved.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Spiritual disciplines series begins next week, your thoughts please!

Hey gang!

I want to give you all something to think about. Starting next Tuesday or Thursday, we will begin a new series on spiritual disciplines. I’ll give you an overview of why we need them and how they can help us with our walk with God. However, I’d like to have some thoughts as to what spiritual disciplines you might want to begin with. I’ll list the categories and the disciplines under them. Then share your thoughts. I’d like to start where there would be some interest to you the reader since I am going through them all anyway. So here’s the list and give me your opinions!

Celebration, gratitude, holy communion, rule for life, Sabbath and worship

Opening Yourself to God:
Contemplation, examination, journaling, practicing the presence, rest, retreat, self-care, simplicity, slowing, teach ability, unplugging

Relinquish the false self:
Confession and self-examination, detachment, discernment, secrecy, silence, solitude, spiritual direction, submission

Sharing my life with others:
Accountability partner, chastity, community, covenant group, discipline, hospitality, mentoring, service, small group, spiritual friendship, unity, witness

Incarnate the love of Christ:
Care of the earth, compassion, control of the tongue, humility, justice, stewardship, truth telling

Breath prayer, centering prayer, contemplative prayer, fasting, fixed-hour prayer, inner-healing prayer, intercessory prayer, labyrinth prayer, liturgical prayer, prayer partners, praying scripture, prayer of recollection, prayer walking

OK, by picking one or several does not mean I will go through the entire group. Maybe we need to look at one within a group that people are struggling with or we may need to look at a group. Just post in the comments and let me know what you think. I am looking to help you as much as helping myself. This will be a fun teaching series in which we will all learn.

Thanks for giving me some feedback!

I love you guys!

Wisdom Wednesday: Ecclesiastes 5: Wealth is meaningless?

Hey gang!

Wednesday again and time for us to continue Wisdom Wednesday and looking at Ecclesiastes. Today, we hit the high notes of Chapter 5.

The first seven verses are titled as the quick mouth of a fool. Verse 1 tells us immediately to go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools. Solomon is telling us how often that it is better to be a listener than a talker. We learn things by listening to people. If we listen long enough, we can get a bead on peoples’ moods, attitudes, and what is really on their mind.

The end of verse 2 talks about letting our words be few. God doesn’t need a rambler. You know, the type of people that never seem to shut up. I know at an earlier part of my life, I always worried what people were thinking in the moments of silence. Sometimes, they aren’t thinking anything. However, there are times that the few words turn the crank on lots of ideas in a person’s head. Most of us need time to sort that out before we start talking.

Verse 3 says, “As a dream comes when there are many cares, so the speech of a fool when there are many words.” I want to sit on the front end of that comment for a moment. I never really thought about it before, but have you ever noticed that the weirdest dreams seem to come out when you have a lot of thoughts going around in your head. I’d love to know if that’s true for you, too.

Verse 4 tells us to make sure that when we make a commitment to God, that we follow through. He wants us to be responsible to him and adds in verse 5 that if we can’t deliver on a promise, we shouldn’t make one. James 5:12 tells us, “Above all, my brothers, do not swear--not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your yes be yes and your no, no, or you will be condemned.”

Verse 7 tells us that much dreaming and many words are meaningless. The words often mean nothing. But Solomon also tells us here to stand in awe of God. Why? Because he is the personification of truth.

Starting in verse 8, we begin to talk about money as meaningless, at least wealth is considered as such. Verse 10 is very much about today’s society. “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.” Do you ever notice that we say that when that raise comes that we’ll do this or that? We’ll donate more to the church, give more to the poor, take care of our debt better. The list goes on. But when that raise does come, we often find something else to do with it or the cost of everything else rises with it. It’s a repetitive cycle that never gets fed.

Verses 13-14 talk about the bad things that happen with wealth. People hoard or have misfortune and lose it. Have you ever noticed that lottery winners hardly ever stay rich? Some report I read was that around 70% end up in bankruptcy within a few years. Solomon takes wealth a step further in Verse 15. He tells us that we come in naked and go out the same way. The old adage “You can’t take it with you” is true. I’ve listened to some crazy stories of people having things they cherish buried with them. You can find out how vane a person is by what they have buried in the casket with them.

Solomon talks next about how we eat in darkness, frustrated and angry in verse 17. He almost sounds depressed at this point feeling that our work and the money that comes from it leaving us less than satisfied. Do you ever notice when you help a transient and give them a meal how satisfied they are just to get the food and then think about how many times you hear people complain their food isn’t perfect in a restaurant. My friend Jimmy told me the story of a man he had breakfast with one Sunday morning that complained that he never got his eggs with his meal. He made a pretty big scene about it. After a minute or two, the waitress brought the eggs. He didn’t touch them. When Jimmy asked him if he was eating them, he told him that he never ate the eggs. And this ladies and gentlemen is exhibit A on why waitresses hate serving Christians on Sunday before and after church.

However, Solomon begins to think about the positive of work and eating the food and enjoying the nice things that are accumulated in verse through the rest of the chapter. He again tells us to be able to enjoy all of these things are a gift from God.

I love the closing verse here, “He seldom reflects on the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart.” Are we satisfied in our work, the wages we make and the fact that we have a job in times like these? Solomon shows us here that it is a matter of attitude on which we decide if it is meaningless or not. So do you have a glad heart? Has God helped you have a good attitude about your place in life? Feel free to share stories of how God has helped you have that attitude.

Next week, we’ll look at Chapter 6.

I love you guys!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Is Your Temple Feeling Heavy?

The video may not be very clear, but the audio is superb.

Hey gang!

I woke up this morning and felt I needed to share from my heart today. Yesterday afternoon, I was working and I just felt this overwhelming feeling of depression. It wasn’t so bad that people ought to be coming to my house and hiding the knives, but it was a pretty awful feeling. I told my wife about it and she looked at me a little confused. I wasn’t sure what that meant.

She asked me if I had talked to my mom or dad and then asked me why I felt the feeling. I told her I wasn’t sure, but I was feeling it. She let the conversation drop, but I couldn’t shake the feeling.

I admit, Pastor Van was correct on Sunday when he talked about the idea that praying intensely can get to you if you don’t have an outlet. After we prayed through Sunday school hour for Kim, he invited everyone to stay for at least the praise portion of second service. He had a good idea. Being able to praise God and handing the burden to Him in that praise.

Jesus tells us to come unto Him all that labor and are heavy laden, or burdened, and that He would give us rest in Matthew 11:28. Verse 29 and 30 continue, “Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” See that Jesus wants us to hand the burden to him. He still wants our intensity to pray, but he also wants us to trust him once those prayers are given that THEY WILL BE ANSWERED.

Does that mean that we stop praying? In sports, we’d call that “the one and done.” Of course not, but when we’re in the battle, God wants us to concentrate on the battle, not on our prayers. The release is going back to what we need to do. It’s us saying, “Lord, I have to focus on what you’ve assigned me to do and I trust you to continue interceding for my prayers even when I am not praying them.” That’s hard, I don’t care who you are. One of the New Hope teens listed in his Facebook status that he was feeling heavy and needed to get a break. Don’t forget, all of us need a break now and then too.

Later in the evening, my wife encouraged me to call a couple of my buddies who are my accountability partners when I am struggling. We chatted about their lives for a little while and then we got around to that heavy feeling that I was still having. I confessed that try as I might in handing the burdens of prayer over to Jesus, I found myself going back to pray more. I jokingly said to both of them that, “You know, this healing business is hard stuff. It drains me.”

It does. Praying for people is intense business. It means to get down in the trench with the people that you are concerned for and walk them out of the trench. Maybe walk isn’t a good word. It’s more like push, pull, cling, grab, carry, boost and hold them in order to get out of the trench. Whatever it takes, help heal and encourage people in their walk, or crawl as the case may be.

However, as I got into the Word last night, I was rebounded. If you’ve been following along, you also know that I am behind in The Bible in 90 Days. That makes me feel bad. I can’t help it. I realize things happen, but when people count on you, you hate to disappoint them. Anyhow, God had me in an interesting place last night. I was reading Daniel.

You can’t help but get Holy Ghost Happy when you read the story of Shadrach,. Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace. The story is that these three said no to King Nebuchadnezzar when told to bow to his god and they were thrown into the furnace tied up. If that wasn’t enough, he turned the furnace to seven times hotter than it normally was. Soldiers died throwing them in. Not only did they come out without being singed, they started dancing in there. Can you imagine being in total fire and dancing? “The ROOF, The ROOF, The ROOF IS ON FIRE!” That’s being totally engulfed in Holy Spirit Protection.

It gets better. Jesus was there with them in the fire. The king says that there are four guys in there. He only remembered throwing in three. He stopped the torture and told them to come out. Afterward, he told the people to not say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. That’s what we call conversion. He saw it and was convinced.

Then I read about Daniel surviving in the lion’s den. He hung out with lions all night long and didn’t become dinner. One of my pastor friends did an illustration once of acting as if he was putting his head in a lion’s mouth and went, “See, they don’t want to eat me. I taste like chicken. They want red meat.” His God protected him in the storm.

After doing the study, I went to bed feeling better. I woke up this morning and as I checked my Facebook mail, I noticed that my friend and mentor Tom Zawacki had written a note about feeling broken. He said many things that made me think.

The first is that we are all broken. We cover it up well to the general public. I think if you’d read me for a while, you know I try to keep the conversation real, but even I try to hide sometimes when I’m not feeling well.

The next thing he said that hit home with me was that our culture doesn’t do well in dealing with broken leaders. I’ll take that further. I think our culture doesn’t do well with broken people. They try their little psychobabble book fix and hope that it patches people enough that they’ll shut up about their pain and just live with it.

David tells us in Psalm 55:22 to “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.”

If you read yesterday’s Marriage Monday, you saw the discussion on the Beatitudes. Blessing isn’t always happy. Sometimes it is down right painful. Tom admits he is blessed even though he has been through two bouts of cancer, but occasionally the pain remains.

That really makes me think about how blessed I am. I haven’t battled cancer. I’m not presently laying in a coma. Comparatively, I’m not suffering at all. However, I am still led to pray as Tom did to close his note this morning. Lord, I am broken. I offer you my heart. Please be gentle. It’s been broken for a long, long time. But I know that you are the Great Physician. And just like you continue to work on Tom, Kim and many others that I love and millions of people I don’t, I thank you and praise you that you continue to work on me.

As I close, I look over at Kim’s update page on Facebook to see if there has been any change. I’ve prayed. All of you have prayed. Lord, we wait. Sometimes not patiently, but still, we wait in anticipation of a miracle that will heal her, make her well and bring her back to all of us. Thank you Jesus for interceding so far and what you will continue to do.

I love you guys!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Marriage Monday: Myth #4-Good Parenting Leads to Happy Children

Hey gang!

Time for another Marriage Monday and a look at myth #4 in our book study of “Parenting Is Your Highest Calling” And 8 Other Myths That Trap Us in Guilt and Worry. Today we debunk another myth as we continue through the book.

When I was growing through my teenage years, I had three friends that showed me true happiness at home. My friend Kevin lived with his dad and his grandmother and every time I was at his house, they were always getting along. His dad would always do stuff with us, like movies and ball games, and his grandmother was always cooking good stuff in the kitchen. Coming from a family without dad present, seeing a dad that was active in his son’s life made him cool to me. One night, we were in a bar in college and it was raided. Neither of us were drinking, but he got carded. He calls to explain this to his dad as we’re driving away, just in case the police called, but his dad was great about it. He asked us if we were having a good time and other than being scared straight into going to a restaurant, we were happy and fulfilled.

My friend Jason had the close, huggy family. They were always hugging their kids. There were times he and I even joked about his mom insane. She wasn’t crazy, she was just loving. I’ll always remember this time we had traveled two and a half hours from home to a bowling tournament and we began to notice something was wrong. We noticed that all the cars were coming at us. Sure enough, she was driving the wrong way down a one-way street. She and my mom were terrified, but we were laughing hysterically.

My friend Scott had great parents too even though he had been adopted. Ira and Wanda always made sure we were taken care of with pizzas or other delicacies before they went out for the evening. I was 17 and driving, but they took care of everything when we decided to play video games or watch movies at their house. They were asking us if we had money. We were taken care of. They allowed us to take the first trip away from home as they let us drive to Eastern Shore, Maryland in their new car. We decided not to tell them about the trip around the beltway in Washington, DC at speeds of 95-100 miles an hour until I attended his funeral this past March. His mom just looked at me and said, “I never worried much about him. I knew he was having fun and being safe with you.” Thanks for the vote of confidence, mom!

So to me, these teenage guys were always happy with their parents. They always had the best times, easiest rides and doting parents taking care of their needs first. Two decades later, I’ve learned from their stories that they weren’t always happy in what was best for them. Sometimes they got down right mad about being taken care of by good parents.

If I don’t talk about it, my mom would probably ask if she was a good parent as well. She was. She had my grandma and my great aunt helping her. But I was easy, as long as I got my way. And I did. I did pretty much anything I wanted, got anything that I wanted and pretty much rang the bell like the Addams Family did for Lerch if I needed anything, figuratively speaking.

People always perceived me as the happiest kid and when I wasn’t, it wasn’t of my mom’s doing. I was spoiled and was very selfish. So let’s begin debunking today’s myth, Good Parenting Leads to Happy Children.

Leslie Leyland Fields, the author of the book, begins the chapter by telling about the year that she took her oldest kids out of school to see the world. She tells a story of how her boys wanted to hang out in the trunk of this great car she rented in Chicago. As fun as it sounded, Leslie let wisdom prevail and told them to take their places on the inside of the car rather than the trunk.

The idea of leaving their comfort zone as teenagers was frightening and understandable, but looking at it as a 40 year-old, I thought the idea of doing a trip like this would have been super as a kid. I’ve always kept a map of how many states I’ve been in and would still like to be able to color more of it in as I get older. So as scary as the idea was to the Fields’ boys, I would love to do it too. My kids would probably see it as akin to Chevy Chase’s movie National Lampoon’s Vacation.

Leslie worried that her kids’ unhappiness was part of this being a poor parenting decision. We’ve all been there. We worry that a decision for our kids that doesn’t equal happy also doesn’t equal good.

The next section of the book talks about trying to give the kids this happy life. She mentions televisions in the kids’ rooms and the study that it causes kids to have less sleep and erodes good study habits. She also alludes to the idea of trying to produce an elevated lifestyle for our kids is a major cause of family debt.

That statement is true. How many times have I heard the following statement? “All I want for my kids is to have it better than I did.” We try to live in a better home than our parents had, have more toys than our parents had, let our kids have the cool clothes that we didn’t get to wear and the list goes on and on. We do want better for our kids, but the question then becomes is this better lifestyle really better or even healthy for us or our children.

I next want to take two statements that Leslie made back to back in this section that hit a home run with me in thought. The first is “I wonder how much of my hopes for my children’s happiness are hopes for myself.” How often do we as parents push our children in a direction that we weren’t able to attain or in a direction that we think would make us proud? First, how many boys are pushed toward baseball because their parents want them to be the next Albert Pujols or Derek Jeter? I umpired for one summer here in Illinois and I’ll tell you that parents have high expectations for their kids and if you make a call that could stall that career, you sir are a dog. Let’s be honest, only one in every 725,000 boys reach the major leagues. These odds aren’t quite as bad as the lottery, but they still aren’t good. The same can be said for girls. Every parent dreams of seeing their little angel on the cover of the Wheaties box after winning the gold in gymnastics. They want a Mary Lou Retton type performer. It takes more than a want-to to be the next great athlete or anything else for that matter. It also takes more than a pushy parent to get there.

The second statement is “If my children are happy, then my parenting life is quieter and less complicated.” I love the story that Leslie tells about the boys coming over for a party bringing their video games and their desire to just vege-out in front of the television with the boys. She tells us that she submitted to the idea and let them do that and enjoyed a quiet night of being able to work. I confess that I’ve done the same thing occasionally with my kids. They want to watch the latest Disney movie and I can go write. Sure thing. Sure, it’s 80 degrees and the kids should go outside and play with their toys and their imagination in the yard, but as parents we take the path of least resistance. I get to be lazy in the parenting of my kids and they get lazy and begin that downward slide to failing the gym exam later in junior high.

Then Leslie takes us into what God says about our kids and their happiness. She begins with the story of Job and the friend Elihu that theorizes that if we obey and serve God, then we’ll be prosperous and content in Job 36. Leslie adds the phrase “then our children will grow up happy” to the concept that Elihu gets at here. But God rejects the theory of A(Obey)+B(Serve)=AB(Contentment + Prosperity). How many televangelists need this explained to them?

She then goes into people who actually teach this theory of children and their need to be happy. Finally, Leslie shows how preposterous these ideas are by rewriting a few of our Bible stories with that concept in mind. The Israelites would’ve turned around and went back to Pharoah and been glad. God would’ve caved and let the Israelites in after a week to the Promised Land instead of 40 years and finally, the exile would never had happened because God’s heart would’ve been broken to do it. But all of those things did not happen. So happiness can’t be the center of God’s desire for us.

Think fast. What’s the first Bible song you ever learned as a child? Sing it with me, “Yes, Jesus Loves Me, Yes Jesus Loves Me, Yes, Jesus Loves Me, The Bible Tells Me So!” That’s right, ya’ll. As children, we are taught Jesus’ love before we ever learn about God’s wrath. Why is that? Well, we don’t want to scare the kids off, do we? But many adults are the same way. We have to know about His love, but we never want to hear that there is an angry, vengeful God that will discipline us if we don’t live up to his commandments. How many times have you heard, “All that wrath stuff is Old Testament. Jesus wants to love us.” While it’s true that Jesus does want to love us, if you read the letters of Paul, John, James or Peter, you know that God still has a standard. If you read Revelation, you will quickly realize that too many people bought the love package and never, ever thought that there would come judgment. God even tells us in Revelation that if we fail to tell the entire Word of God to believers or add our own opinions to it, that we will be removed from the roll call that every person wants to be on. You can miss the cut on American Idol, but if you miss the cut in Heaven, you are living eternally in a Lake of Fire.

Leslie talks about a person talking on a radio show referring to God as “like a cheerleader.” A cheerleader’s job is to encourage the players to play better and to encourage the fans to become that 12th man at the game. I loved being encouraged and so did every other guy I played alongside in any sport. However, limiting God to just encourager takes away God’s power to do anything about our holiness. God without holiness is nothing more than the genie in Aladdin.

I love Leslie’s words in one of the sentences in that same paragraph. “God’s holiness is not one attribute among many. Holiness permeates his very being.” God requires us to be holy as well in Leviticus 19:2. However, holiness isn’t the replacement for happiness. It leads us to being happier. Leslie then takes us to answer the greatest question of this chapter, “How can I move my children toward holiness and happiness in God?”

To answer that question, she takes us to a familiar story in Matthew 5. We are led in with the knowledge that Jesus healed a whole cavalcade of people in Matthew 4. Jesus moved up the mountainside and began to teach to reach the people to take them to a new level in their healing in Chapter 5. Let me give you these verses to look at.

Mat 5:3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Mat 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Mat 5:5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Mat 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Mat 5:7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Mat 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Mat 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
Mat 5:10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Mat 5:11 "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
Mat 5:12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Leslie replaces blessed with happy. Happy isn’t what you think it is. If you’ve suffered, mourned,
hungered and thirst, showed mercy or any of the rest, then you are happy. It’s not always comfortable to
be happy. In fact, it’s counter culture thinking. Comedian Ralphie May once asked, “Would you rather be
right or happy? You’ll never be both.” Sometimes he’s right. Decisions are tough.

She makes a great closing comment for the section. “The most blessed among us are not those who are fully satisfied, content, and spiritually self-sustaining, but those who are broken, who want, who need, who long for what is promised.” Leslie tells us in the final section that she prays for their blessing, not their happiness, but that doesn’t always make it easier. Even if she could fulfill all her children’s wants and desires, they would still have holes for God to fill. We all do.

Leslie closes the chapter with a great story. We can’t, nor should we protect or shield our kids from the world. She tells the story of a friend that had bought a Japanese maple tree and they planted it in a “quiet, protected corner” next to their house. The tree grew beautifully that first summer, but the second summer started to sag. It finally fell next to the house. The friend related the story of what happened to a nursery owner and he explained it perfectly. “The tree is too protected. It needs the wind to strengthen its fibers. It needs the wind to make it strong.” None of us want to raise children that can’t hold their own once they are out in the world.

I think of one of my favorite Christian songs of all time. Scott Krippayne did a song called, “Sometimes He Calms the Storm,” back in the mid 90’s. The song told of the struggle that life can be when the storms come upon us. But he responds in the chorus. “Sometimes he calms the storm, sometimes he calms his child.” We have to realize that living our lives with God allow us a constant Abba Father to quiet us in the storm.

Next week, we look at and dispel another myth from the book. That one will be “If you find parenting difficult, you must not be following the right plan.” Join us next Monday for that.

Gang, I close with a request for you to share with me how you like the idea of doing book studies. There haven’t been many comments in this study, so I wonder if you are learning and not commenting or that we need to take a different direction. So throw you thoughts below.

I love you guys!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Money series delayed! Pray for healing! The hour of coming together is NOW!

Hey gang!

I know that for the last two days that you have expected Part 7 of Money. However, life has a funny way of changing things.

One of the goals of One Man Revival is to stand alongside my local church to help in any way needed. These past two days, one of our pastor's wives has been in serious condition at a hospital. I can't tell you that I've been sitting in a hospital or galavanting everywhere to be of great aid.

What I've been doing is watching how my home church has come together in crisis. For two nights now, people have come to the church to pray for her healing and when I went tonight, I saw a list of over 75 people that have been a part. The impressive thing about this is that average, everyday church people came out of their homes on a Thursday and Friday night to pray. The general public would consider this their own time. But it didn't end there.

Today, most of the staff made the 2 hour drive to be with the family. People may think that it's no big deal. To me, the staff showed unity and love for their comrade's time of need. But again, it didn't end there. Another group of the church went to Springfield tonight to pray with and show their love and concern. Did I mention it was a 2 hour drive? On a Friday? But it didn't end there?

The internet gets criticized for being about mean and evil things all the time. However, the last two days have been a time of gathering together on the internet as well. I think everyone in the church is looking for Facebook status updates and Twitter tweets of good news and hope for Kim's recovery.

I know some of the information was misspoken by a few, but one of the good things is that as a church, we have found another way to use the prayer chain. Our goal is to strengthen the next generation for Christ and in these two days, we've strengthened and encouraged each other to hang in there and continue to pray for miracles to happen.

My friend Tyler gave a message on how we had to be a better church than that of the lukewarm church of Laodicea. We needed to show the people of Effingham and beyond that we are hungry for Christ to work and move in our church, homes, community and world.

I'm never a lover of tragedy, but this illness could serve a blessing. It has united many more members of our church to pray and seek God. It has opened a community of people to come together for a reason above themselves.

I said something totally off the wall to Daniel Drake and his dad tonight. I said I remembered how the people here in America came together after 9/11. They stood beside each other and were willing to watch each others' backs and be more caring and loving. Daniel's dad said back to me that this is our wake up call.

He's right. This is our 9/11. I know that sounds dramatic, but it's true. Our church is being called to stand and come together. To a large degree, it is happening. It is my prayer tonight that this doesn't go away once Kim gets better. Because Kim will get better.

The Old Testament speaks many times of how God relented of his wrath because his people called out to him to heal them and to heal their land. New Hope is crying out for healing. Not just for Kim, but for all of us.

Please continue to pray. Stay strong, stay together, continue to seek the One True God that can walk us through this trying time.

I love you guys!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wisdom Wednesday: Punishment and Restoration

Hey gang!

It’s Wednesday, middle of the week again, already! We have been discussing the book of Ecclesiastes and would be on Chapter 5 today. However, I’ve been thinking about something and it has started to a thought. I know, sometimes you think I should let those go. But today, it’s a good one.

For those of you that don’t know or haven’t been following along, One Man Revival has been doing a Bible study of the entire book. Well, we are now in the back half of the Old Testament and have almost finished up the major prophets. If you read through, you will notice that a lot of information repeats between the prophets. Not word for word, but there is a theme.

The theme that keeps screaming through is this. God says, “Look Israel and Judah! You are really messing things up and I am going to punish you.” And he does. He exiles both the Israelites and the tribe of Judah for their repeated sins of worshipping other gods, marrying outside the group lines, making idols and so much more.

However, the other recurrent theme is this. God says, “You know, I have to punish you, but I will restore you and this time, you will listen better and be better people.” He brings both nations back home eventually. In the story of Ezra, the people of Judah come back and rebuild the walls around Jerusalem. They also rebuild the Temple.

Let’s think about those themes. I have to punish you, but I will restore you so that you will honor me. There are a lot of people out there that think the Old Testament doesn’t speak to us today, but it really does.

How many times has your boss had to ride you down to keep you under the thumb, but later blesses you with promotions because you have become a better worker? How many times have we ever had to be that boss?

How many times do we have to punish our kids for their mess ups in the hopes that this correction will help them become better people with better jobs and better families than we had?

I remember my childhood. I was told all the time when I messed up, but I was given a reason that it would make me better.

When I was nine years old, I wanted to throw a curve ball in a game, but was told not to because my arm wasn’t ready to do it all the time. I did it once. I was immediately pulled off the mound. Even though it was a great pitch, my coaches knew that my arm hadn’t developed enough to make that pitch consistently and also warned me about the possibility of injuring myself if I kept it up. I did keep practicing it. Too much, in fact. I blew out my arm and my major league hopes and dreams were gone.

When I was in fifth grade, I didn’t like my teacher, Mrs. Nuzum. She was old, mean and to me, didn’t smell right. She was not funky fresh. That year, I got lazy. I quit doing my homework. My grades dropped and no one understood why. The next year, I ended up with Mr. Johnson. I loved the man. He was probably the best teacher I ever had, period. I worked hard. I was having the year of my life. He knew how to motivate me. That year, I went to Math Field Day, the county Spelling Bee and did decent in an essay writing contest. I didn’t win that, but I had a great year. But I went to the county Spelling Bee and missed a word to be eliminated. Truthfully, I don’t even remember the word that did me in. Why? Because I thought understood what was said and didn’t. I misspelled the word and then complained about how I got messed over by the judges. My principal, Mrs. Fragale, one of the finest ladies I ever knew, said to me, “There is no honor in being a loser that can’t accept his own faults.” That was harsh for a 12 year old, but if I had picked my ears instead of my nose once in a while, I would’ve been better. If I had only asked a question, I would’ve still been in. She was right. I had no right to complain.

There was this time that I let a rumor be spread about someone that I knew wasn’t true. The girl had no idea the rumor was there, but I felt guilty about letting it go on. Years later, after I had been through some of my own times of people spreading untruths, I called her to apologize. I didn’t do it gain recognition with her. Truthfully, she had almost forgotten who I was. But God prompted me to call her. Why? Because the person that had hurt the most from letting the lie go on was me. Not her. Not at all. God wanted me to be obedient and be a true friend to someone that tried to be one to me. God will allow the punishment, but he wants to restore us.

So I have some questions for you to ponder and think about. First, why do we do things that allow us to earn punishment from God? Do we really need to know that God is going to restore us after we submit to the punishment? Is that necessary and why do you think so or not? Finally, once we are restored, why do we want to go around the mountain more knowing the process of punishment and restoration?

I’ve given you my thoughts, share yours with me.

I love you guys!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Money Part 6: Gimme All Your Money! Just Get the Money!

Hey gang!

How many of you watched Press Your Luck back in the 80’s when Peter Tomarken was hosting the show? I loved that show, not for how much you could win, but for the Whammy! You know, that loveable guy that was always jumping up and making a display when people would bring him up on a spin.

I have to admit I was disappointed that I could not find my favorite Whammy of all time, Tammy Whammette singing Take Your Money and Your Cash.

This week is the last week of the money series and we are going to talk about an issue that causes a lot, and I mean A LOT, of Christians to shake, quiver and go into out and out temper tantrums. However, today, I’m going to start with a few videos to get you in the mood to open up that wallet. I’m not doing this for me, but for your local church.

There are plenty of people who think that the church is strong arming you into giving, but I like the idea of the job that Barry has at Watermark Church. I’d love to have this job. I think of my old friend Scott Creak and how he would be perfect for this.

As a former tax man, I want to make sure that you get the most for your tithing dollar. This company is really good. But watch out for the snake.

Finally, do you ever wonder how the world looks at us when we tithe? These two guys might give you an idea. I love these Skit Guys!

OK, do we feel better now? I know I do. On Thursday, I’ll be talking about tithing and what God really thinks about it. This will be especially a great blog for all of you that believe in prosperity. I want you to have everything that God wants you to have too. Be here and remember, you don’t have to hide your piggy banks.

I love you guys!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Marriage Monday: Myth #3-Parenting Is Your Highest Calling"

Hey gang!

A new week after a pretty restful weekend for me and I am fired up to get started on the week. Today, we are continuing our book study on “Parenting Is Your Highest Calling” And 8 Other Myths That Trap Us In Worry and Guilt. Today, we dispel myth #3 that “Parenting Is Your Highest Calling.”

Is parenting the number one call for parents? Can anything even hold a candle to it? Today, we’ll answer the question honestly.

Leslie begins the chapter by telling us the story of meeting a couple ladies after a speaking engagement. The two women begin to focus on how important the calling of motherhood (or parenting) is. Eventually they call it the highest calling that women have. Leslie then goes into the sentiment of what these ladies meant. She calls it one of her “most essential duties and loves of my life.” But she also begins to go down the list of “Christian” people, ministries, etc., that call people to the love of parenting as THE number one calling.

One line in this explanation that I love the most is this: “In addition, many Christian writers understandably link the disintegration of our culture to the breakdown of the family. When the family crumbles, the nation crumbles.” I’ll say this. I agree to some degree that this is true. Let’s face it. We have television, computers, video games and the like as a babysitter. There is dysfunction with over 50% divorce rate and with the argument of same-sex marriage. However, even though it is a major link in the chain. It isn’t the most costly. While parenthood has changed, God’s place in peoples’ lives has also changed. I can cite prayer being taken out of school and The Ten Commandments being removed from the courthouse as examples to a change in American society that has made parenting that much more important.

The question remains though, what does God say about this? Even though parenting has become even more valuable in trying times like these, does God agree with this approach?

Leslie begins with the story of James and John’s mother coming to Jesus and asking that they be remembered by being seated to Jesus’ right and left in heaven. Mothers always want what they perceive to be best for their sons, but she really had no idea what she was really asking for. Jesus did not beat her down for the request though. He simply asked if they were willing to go the same walk that Jesus did. The boys said yes. They had no idea what they were saying either. Jesus told them that they would indeed take that same cup. I wonder if they thought about that deeper after Jesus was crucified. I mean, you now know that you are going to die in a bad way. How does that really make you feel? You may say that it’s an honor to die like Jesus, but is that really the way you want to leave this world, hanging on a cross? It’s not my first choice.

Leslie then tells us that the mother was accepting of what the boys were doing, following Jesus as disciples. The woman did not come to feel anything special toward what Jesus was about to go through, but great places for her sons. She was a momma that was proud of her boys and she wanted all of heaven to know it.

But Jesus turned the conversation in a great way by explaining to her and anyone else that was listening that it wasn’t his job to determine who would sit next to him, but also to say that seating in the VIP section of heaven wasn’t what being a part of this ministry was about.

I find it interesting that Jesus shows us and also tells us in this account that we are to be servants rather than waiting to be served. I always give my kids and wife a hard time telling them that life isn’t Burger King. But that is so true. We can’t snap our fingers at God and go “Double cheeseburger, fries, Diet Coke, and everything else I’ve ever wanted, NOW!” The funniest thing is that people think that way and even say it in some circles. We aren’t entitled to the keys to the kingdom because we say so. We are only given them by God’s grace, mercy and love.

But I love the comeback thought that Leslie throws out here. Was there a burn inside this woman’s head? She had served her husband and sons and felt her role was to bring about the best she possibly could for them. Her success was seeing her boys successful. A lot of us get tied up in that. We want them to be successful at all costs rather than doing what they were created to do, which will make them successful in the only eyes that matter.

The next paragraph is about Jesus telling us that we are to love God above all else. There will be no gods before Him. But I have to admit, I struggle with that. Most of us do. I have three precious angels that I would do anything for. They are my hopes and dreams. They are the stars of my life. To be honest, they are at the same level or very close to how much I love my wife. Some days they are ahead.

The next section of what Leslie talks about is of the story of Abraham and Isaac. After waiting for decades for the son that was the promise of the future for Abraham, God told him to take Isaac to be sacrificed to him. Thankfully, God spared Isaac at the last possible moment as Abraham was completely obedient. As a dad, I read that and go “How could he even think about saying yes to that?” That’s a position I pray never to be put in. I can’t imagine hurting any one of my babies for anything.

The point of the test is that God wants us to choose him as first. Our relationship with him needs to be top priority. Leslie takes the rest of the chapter telling us that by making God first, all the other relationships of our lives fall into their proper place. While being a great parent is important, it is not an exclusivity of me and my wife to raise these children. The old saying that it takes a village to raise an idiot is true. We need to be the primary caretakers and influences, but there are others that we are to look to for good guidance as well. There are teachers and Sunday school ministries that are instructing our children in godly and practical ways to make them smarter and more secure in the world. There are godly friends that we keep praying for to be a part of their lives.

While it is a parent’s job to protect and to serve our children, we are allowed the grace of help from other sources. We are also to keep God a reality in their lives as well. We need to demonstrate prayer and Bible reading as important in daily life. We need to share the belief in God as a the primary source of our help and instruction. Our kids need to know that God is not a fairy tale like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. They need to know that Jesus came, died, was buried and raised on the third day for them and us. When our children see us take time out for God and explain why to them, they will begin to want to as well.

The next to last paragraph hit me strong.

“Knowing this (that God is the root of his promises), when my children disappoint me, I need not be shaken. I am freed to love them as God loves them--not because he craves their attention, not because he needs them to need him, not for what they will bring to him or do for him, but simply because they are HIS and he desires to pour out his love upon them.”

I’m also reading another book called “The Heart of Anger” by Lou Priolo. One of the great misconceptions that I’ve lived with is that I feel that by drowning my children in love, they will understand God’s love. The great part of my desire is that God’s love will pour out on them even when I fail or have to discipline them.

It is somewhat a relief to know that we are stewards rather than the end all answer man for our children. Teaching them that God is their highest calling doesn’t relieve us of our work in them, but it does allow us and our children grace as they grow up and we grow older.

I love you guys!

PS-Remember that there is six days remaining to enter the September Music Giveaway by joining One Man Revival Ministries on Facebook. You can go there to find out which CD’s you can win beyond a grand prize of KJ-52’s Five Two Television, due out on September 22. Head over to the fan page and sign up to win.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Patriot Day Special: It's Been 8 Years, There Is Still Hope At the Cross

Hey gang!

Hard to believe it has now been eight years since the attacks of 9/11/2001. Around the world, the attacks may not mean as much as they do here because some countries are attacked seemingly all the time and there are not national holidays for them. But this one was different. It was the first strike of American soil since World War II and Pearl Harbor. Hawaii and Alaska weren’t even states when that happened.

Amazingly, you’ll see around the internet today of people reflecting on their 9/11 experience because of its uniqueness. This is an event that will be remembered by this generation forever. In America, it will be remembered like The Challenger disaster of the 1980’s. In that flight into space, teacher Christa McAuliffe and six other astronauts lost their lives. It was the first space mission to ever fail so badly that it exploded and killed those inside. It will be remembered like the John F. Kennedy assassination in the 1960’s. On that fateful November day, our President was shot and killed on the street in Dallas. It was also the first time that television news reported a large world-changing event almost live. It will be remembered with Pearl Harbor by those of that generation.

A friend of mine asked why do we remember calamities like these so vividly. I’m not totally sure. Part of the reason is that they are recorded in history as major events. But I think the other primary reason is that all of those events were a total shock to us that they happened. I also think that these are days in history that shows the worst that can happen in a society.

I believe that events are also shown on television immediately now and there are so many places to see it that the images are buried in our heads. I don’t think I’ll ever forget watching people standing on the World Trade Center in total fear deciding whether to jump or not from way too many stories up that I saw on the internet. People knew it was likely that they would die either way and you kept praying that people knew Jesus.

Why? Because without Him there was no hope for some on that day. If they didn’t know our Saviour, there was that feeling of, “Is this it? Is this what I was created for? Was I born to die on a building that is going down? Can someone rescue me from this end? Anyone?”

I still think about that eight years and it stills brings me to tears thinking about those with no hope. But I also remember my friend Bill watching the video with me and saying to me, “Hey, that guy doesn’t look scared. Wonder if he is saved? Wonder if he knows where he’s going?” I often wondered about him after that. This man I never met, but hope to see in heaven.

That’s when you know where your hope is. In a crisis, you understand exactly where your heart is. I’ve heard stories of people dying and some walk toward it with so much faith because they know where home is. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Isn’t that the kind of hope you want? I know I do.

I was living in Kissimmee, Florida at the time and the whole world stopped. Walt Disney World closed. That’s right, the happiest place on earth closed. The fear of anything happening there forced the closure that day. Even though the doors were opened again on September 12th, the world had still not gone back to normal. Planes were still down and people trying to go anywhere were stuck with driving there. Malls were open half a day.

It took America time to get their total spirit back. I remember a week without baseball in the middle of a pennant race. NFL games were postponed. But as that week churned on, something else happened. The good of America came out. People were nicer, helping each other through the pain of the disaster. It definitely brought out a Patriotic spirit. We were American and proud to be so. It was a time when black, white and every other nationality stood united. We were the United States. There was a hope that we would get through it together.

That same week, 1,000 miles from where I was in Florida, something else was happening here in Effingham, Illinois. As the rest of America was gearing up their American pride, Effingham was celebrating something that we should all think about.

On September 16, 2001, the city held the opening ceremony for the new Cross of Effingham. If you drive by on Interstates 57 and 70, you will see this 198-foot cross symbolizing the stand of hope that Christ took for us. Even though I wasn’t here, I’ve talked to many that were and I’ve been told it was a special night to remember the ones that perished and lost their lives, but it was also a night of hope and placing the pain at its proper place, at the cross.

Jesus came over 2,000 years ago to give us life, a life after death. Whether that death is by natural or unnatural causes, God wants us to spend the next life with him in heaven. That is the hope that we should all be longing for. It is that great hope that should carry us on even in the painful times of our lives.

There are people that ask me even today, Frank, how can you tell me there is a God that would let events like 9/11 happen? Where is your hope against a question like that? That’s a tough question. I often bring up scripture that evil falls on the just like the unjust. However, I found a great story that was circulating in the months after 9/11 that I’ll share with you now. There is a website that has this and other 9/11 material as well as pictures commemorating the happenings of that day. If you wish, you can go view all of that at a page entitled “Where Was God on 9/11?” at

But here is the story of where God was on 9/11/2001.

Have you ever thought, “Where was God on 9/11 when the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were attacked?” Well, I know where my God was on the morning of September 11, 2001, and he was very busy.

He was discouraging people from taking four flights. Together, they could accommodate more than 1,000 passengers, yet there were only 266 aboard. He was on those four flights giving the terrified passengers the ability to stay calm. Not one of the people who was called by a loved one on one of the hijacked planes mentioned that the passengers were panicked, nor was there any screaming in the background. And on one of the flights, God gave strength to overcome the hijackers.

God was also busy creating obstacles to prevent people that worked in the World Trade Center from getting to work on time. The work day had begun, more than 50,000 people worked in the two towers, yet only 20,000 were at their desks. On that beautiful morning, God created scores of unexpected traffic delays, subway delays, and commuter train delays. A PATH train packed with commuters was stopped at a signal just short of the World Trade Center and was able to return to Jersey City. And far more meetings were scheduled elsewhere than usual.

God held up each of the two mighty towers for a half hour so that the people on the lower floors could get out. And when he finally let go, He caused the towers to fall inward rather than to topple over, which would have killed many more people. The foundations of the six surrounding buildings were demolished by the fall of the towers, but God held them up many hours until all the occupants were safely evacuated.

And when the World Trade Center and the Pentagon buildings went down, my God picked up almost 3,500 of his children and carried them to their home for all eternity. He also sat down and cried that 19 of his children could have so much hate in their hearts, that they did not choose him, but another god that doesn’t exist, and now they are lost forever.

He sent people trained in dealing with earthly disasters to save those that were injured. And he sent in thousands of others to help in any way they were needed. And he brought people together across the world that moved thousands to tears and hundreds of thousands to prayer--and caused millions to turn to the one true living God.

He still isn’t finished. Every day he comforts those who lost loved ones. He is encouraging others to reach out to those that don’t know him or believe in him. He is giving the leaders of our great nation the strength and conviction to do the right thing, to follow his will, not a popular poll.

So if anyone ever asks, “Where was your God on 9/11?” you can say, “He was everywhere! And, in fact, he is everywhere today and every day.” Without a doubt, this was the worst catastrophe most of us have ever seen. I can’t imagine getting through such a difficult time without God at my side. Without God, life would be hopeless.

I agree with every sentiment in that story. It’s eight years later and God is still here and still on the throne. None of this has caught God by surprise. Take a moment out today to take your hopes, dreams, desires, concerns, worries and prayers to the one place that still accepts calls, even without a quarter. Take them to Jesus. Take them to the cross. Kneel down and give them to Him.

I love you guys!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Money Part 5: America's Got Talents, Wouldn't You Like Some Too!

Hey gang!

Back again for another part of the Money series. Last time, we had the video on financial advisors to show that most of the general public doesn’t need them outside of the ones that come in and help with company employees and their 401K programs. Most of us don’t have a savings, much less a large enough one to need help with where to put it.

But all of us have money that we spend in ways we shouldn’t. Most Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. That means simply that we get paid and within 24 hours, we’ve either written the checks or done online banking to pay all the bills. Then we go to the grocery store and the gas station to fill up on groceries and gasoline for the car. Then we decide how to blow the rest on entertainment or our own needs, if we’re single.

If we’re married and have kids, then it depends on how old they are whether it is diapers or clothes or school supplies, maybe all of them. After that, we tend to repeat the single people’s action and spend to our heart’s content and wait for next payday to repeat the cycle.

It can be vicious and seemingly we never get ahead. Today’s story is about the talents. This isn’t about the TV shows that have taken off in America and Britain, it’s not that kind of talent. However, this is about the talent, a unit of money in the time of Christ. It was a unit that all of the people would know about in that culture.

But this story is also about the talent of people. I think most of us know at least one person who does well with their money. Usually we envy them because of their skill to save. I have a friend that is able to save and has done reasonably well for himself. He’s the guy I would call on if one of my rich relatives died and left me a lot of money or if someone was really generous and handed me the winning lottery ticket for Mega Millions or Powerball.

Why would I call him? Because I don’t think money would change him. He could be rich and still do the same principles that he uses now. Me, I’m not great with savings and if I were given millions of dollars, on my own, I would be so stupid and spend it without full wisdom. I would do some good things with it. Gotta give the 10% to the church (we’ll talk more about that next week), give money to all my relatives to help them out, pay off the house, car and all the other bills. After that though, I’d end up buying stuff I don’t really need. I’d build on a Jacuzzi room with the big screen so I could sit and soak while I watch football. I don’t need it though. I have a tub and a shower and my regular TV does fine.

You get my point. Most of us don’t have the impulse control. I do believe that impulse control is a spiritual discipline and some people do have it though. My friend that I talked about earlier lives well, but not extravagant. I’m sure he buys the super drink at Starbucks (I don’t know what it is) once in a while, but that’s a splurge that won’t hurt him and he knows that. He’s a great accountability partner to have when discussing money.

When we get into the story of the talents, this man that is going on a journey trusts three men with different amounts of money. I think that he knows beforehand who he can trust with the money. He gives the first guy one talent, the second guy two talents and the third guy five talents.

I’ll start with the third guy first, just like scripture does. This guy obviously knew what he was doing. We went out with the five talents and made five more. He did 100% on the investment. Dave Ramsey would tell you to hire him since most financial gurus only get you 10-15% return on your money. The guy is loved for doing well with the talents and is given many more things to do for the man. When a guy shows good results as an expert, you trust him with more. The Wayans School of Finance would definitely recommend him because a smart guy equals “Mo Money, Mo Money, Mo Money!”

The middle guy took his two talents and put them to work too. He was probably an up-and-comer working with the man and the man wanted to see what he could do. He did well, he doubled the two talents. Again, 100% on the investment. The man was proud of him. He gave him more things to do as well.

The first guy took his one talent. He sounds a little scared, but the man also saw this employee as someone he had to find out if he could trust. The guy hid the talent, because he was afraid to lose what was given to him. But you saw what the other two guys did. Not only did he not believe that he could make money for the man, but even told him that he was a hard man, a person that was trying to reap from places that he hadn’t sown. That’s like going into work and choking your boss or slapping him in the face and telling him that you don’t trust him.

The boss was furious. He called the guy a lazy, wicked servant. Heck, he couldn’t even put the money in the bank and gain interest. God isn’t against savings. He wants us to invest wisely. If the guy was only smart enough to deposit the money in a savings plan and gain interest, God bless him. That was what he was capable of. But he didn’t even get a return because he took no risk. Sometimes we’re too busy with other things and a savings account with 3% interest is all the time and effort that we want to make. That’s OK. At least an effort is what the boss wanted.

The employee had the talent taken from him and given to the guy that made five talents and then in today’s terms, he was fired. He was probably fired with the wicked Vince McMahon voice. You’re Fired!

In closing, God wants us to save for a rainy day. They will come and he does want us to be prepared for the storms of life. He doesn’t want you to bury your money, he wants you to make it work for you. Be it 3% or 15%, make a little something at the very least to help you in times of need. Because when that storm comes, you don’t want to be tossed in the street and have no shelter or food in the darkness.

We’ll pick up with more money thoughts on Tuesday. Tomorrow, we’ll have a special Friday edition for Patriot’s Day.

I love you guys!

Mat 25:14 "Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them.
Mat 25:15 To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.
Mat 25:16 The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more.
Mat 25:17 So also, the one with the two talents gained two more.
Mat 25:18 But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money.
Mat 25:19 "After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them.
Mat 25:20 The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.'
Mat 25:21 "His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'
Mat 25:22 "The man with the two talents also came. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.'
Mat 25:23 "His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'
Mat 25:24 "Then the man who had received the one talent came. 'Master,' he said, 'I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed.
Mat 25:25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.'
Mat 25:26 "His master replied, 'You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed?
Mat 25:27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
Mat 25:28 "'Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents.
Mat 25:29 For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.
Mat 25:30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'