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Archive for March, 2012

The Lego Jar (3/31/12) – Stories change, so do people

March 31, 2012 8 comments

This week’s Lego Jar doesn’t have as many anecdotes, but it does still have the loose ends we all enjoy.

They are awesome, aren't they?

I love it when my kids bring something up that happened to them years ago, but they mess up the details.  For example, a few years ago while lifting my 5-year-old son (then he was 2) off the floor he ended up getting nursemaid’s elbow.  As it turns out, this is not that uncommon for young children to have.  It made me feel awful, though, because I didn’t intend to hurt him.  At that time, we were at the hospital and the doctor even gave him his smart phone to play with.  The popsicle he was not too interested in. The other night at dinner he randomly looks at me and says, “Hey dad, remember when you yanked on my arm and it hurt?”  Frist of all, I did not yank on his arm.  It is amusing to me that every time I hear the story it changes.

A little later, my wife put her hand over his mouth because my daughter was sleeping and he was yelling.  In the process, he looses a tooth.  I was watching this and it was not a forceful thing at all.  He says, “Mom made my tooth fall out.”  I guess he is right, in a sense, but it he was not punched in the face.  All that to say, yes he lost yet another tooth.  The funniest part of that was when he described his lost tooth. “There is no more tooth in my pink holder.” (his gums)

My other son was looking for something one night and proclaimed ” I don’t know where it is, but I couldn’t find it.”  I told him that laughing made me LOL, but he didn’t get it.

Cute standing up

My daughter is changing like crazy.  This week she decided she was going to be a year old and started pulling herself up onto things.  I wonder if this is a foreshadow of things to come.  I can just hear the “I can do it all by myself” now.  Oh well, at least for now she is cute about it.  She also is sitting up now on her own, which took her longer to accomplish, even though she has been crawling for a while now.

Notable mention-  In case you missed it this week, I did write about my son and how he is working on getting his name on the board less at school.  The irony was that the day I posted it, he got his name on the board.  But, he is still working on it and that is progress.

Honorable mention -  This goes out to my youngest son who managed to fall asleep in a rather awkward position this week.  I think he hangs around his other brother too much.  If you missed the picture post that I did to showcase my 5-year-old son’s ability to fall asleep, you should check it out.  It is really funny.

Until next week, keep your Legos off the floor!  Have a great weekend.

Awkward sleeping

Making sure God’s Word is not rare.

March 30, 2012 6 comments

Sleeping with his "Bible suitcase"

If someone is reading the Bible out loud near a closed government building, should they be arrested for interfering with that business?  It is one thing to have someone actually get in the way of people attempting to get to the business, but to be back 50 feet on public property and get arrested would be an overreaction, wouldn’t it?  A California pastor was reading the Bible aloud outside a closed DMV and was arrested for doing so. (story)  The claim is that he was violating other people’s rights because they are a captive audience and are totally incapable of ignoring it.  I don’t know.  That seems like a weak argument.  I am out and see or hear things I don’t like and I am able to ignore them.  Reading the story of Jesus is not hate speech and it isn’t a message of condemnation.  If someone doesn’t believe it, then they don’t have to believe it.

I have been to different youth conferences and there are times when there have been different groups handing out literature to teenagers outside of these events.  Some of these have included things that various atheist, secular or other religious groups have put together to try to persuade these young minds.  How is that any different?  In some ways that is actually more offensive because they know they are there for a Christian conference.  They weren’t getting arrested for their activities and the audience was captive there as well.  They could have just walked by and ignored them, sure, just like these people could have ignored this man as he read the Bible.

As I read my Bible this morning, I came to 1 Samuel 3 and was struck with the rather scary manner this chapter starts out.

“The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli.  In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions.”  1 Samuel 3:1

That is a terrifying statement.  To think that God’s Word was rare is not something I like to think about because God’s Word is life-giving.  God’s Word is truth. It is the only way we can make sense of all the nonsense around us.   In fact, later when God does speak to Samuel directly, it takes him a few times before he even realizes it was God speaking to him.  He just didn’t know what God’s voice was like.

“Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD:  The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.” 1 Samuel 3:7

Today the Bible is widely available, but not as widely known. Having constant conflicts surrounding its proper use is not helping matters any.   We have had high school students lead a Bible study at school and get hassled for it.  Why?  Because they claim that they are not allowed to hold this on school property.  Why not?  They can hold any other club they want, why not this one?  There is something that gets people fired up when it comes to God’s Word.   I asked one of my high school students one time why they thought that was.  He said that it was because the Bible is true and it automatically causes people to feel uneasy because it reveals things about them they are not willing to deal with.  I think that is a fairly accurate assessment.

I am not saying that we need to disrespect people or get in the way.  I just think that people are smart enough and capable enough to handle what they believe.  Having police arrest people for talking about Jesus is a step in the wrong direction.  Could this pastor have done something different?  Sure.  But, it still doesn’t make sense to me why it couldn’t have been handled in a respectful manner without the handcuffs.

The world needs the Word of God.  This is why I do what I do with teenagers.  I know that so many of them will never read their Bible on their own.  Of course, I encourage them to do that and I pray they do, but I also know there are numerous pressures that keep them away from it.  But, when they come to youth group I know that they will be looking at God’s Word and how it applies to their life.  I know it is important and it is just what they need.  I certainly want them to get used to hearing from God so that when He speaks, they know.  This also means that when other voices speak, they are able to tell the difference.  We do not want the Word of God to be something rare!

How do we do that?  First of all, we need to open it up and read it ourselves.  We can’t just rely on Sunday morning to get all we need from God’s Word.  Second, we need to talk about it.  I don’t think you need to go stand on the corner and read it necessarily, but you can integrate it into your daily life.  Also, pray for God to give you opportunities to share what you believe.  If we believe people need the Word, let’s do our part to share it no matter what opposition we receive.

Well, most of the time

March 29, 2012 4 comments

Did you learn anything?

I have a bit of a routine with my oldest son with regards to school.  It is something that, at times, he even  rolls his eyes at me about.  I ask him two questions when I see him after school. First of all, I ask him if he learned anything at school that day. He usually replies with some sort of answer that indicates he is annoyed that I would even ask such a question.  Then I ask him about whether or not he got his name on the board that day or not.

The second question gets mixed responses.  He is in 2nd grade and 2nd graders can have a difficult time being quiet.  I know my child and I am aware that he likes to talk.  Where did he get that from?  No matter who is to blame for that, he needs to learn when it is time to talk and when it is time to listen.  To be fair, he is not intentionally being rude, he just feels like he needs to answer people around him when they speak to him.  I know how awkward that is to handle even as an adult.  I have been in meetings where someone next to me wants to tell me something and they whisper in a loud voice.  The whole time I know that everyone can hear them, but they don’t seem to get it. I know that we all understand this, but at the same time we are responsible for ourselves.

Lately, his answer has been that he hasn’t gotten his name on the board.  This is something we are constantly talking about with him, so it is awesome to see him making progress here.  Yesterday, I asked him the question and he said something profound.  He said, “No, I didn’t get my name on the board.”  I said, “So, were you good today then”  His response, “Well, most of the time.”

As I think about that, I realize that there really isn’t much more we can ask for.  I mean, even on the best of days we will still mess up more than we ever realize.(or admit)  Anything positive is, then, a step in the right direction.

As we serve God, there are plenty of opportunities to fall back into the old, sinful ways.  There are ever-increasing appeals to worship idols, even though their value really is temporary.  The world around us starts to become more important than the matters of eternity, even though we know (if we stop think about it) that they aren’t.  There are daily decisions to pay attention to what is going on around us and to make progress in the right direction.  If I were to assess my day, I would hope I could say that I was serving God “most of the time” at the very least.  The truth is that it would be hard for any of us to say it was 100%.

At the end of the book of Joshua, there is a reminder to serve God.  Joshua warns the people to avoid worshiping other gods.  In fact, he tells them to throw them away and to never look back.  He says it a few times.

“Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshipped beyond the River and in Egypt and serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:14

“Now then, said Joshua, throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.” Joshua 24:23

Now, we know that they did not follow this completely.  In fact, there were cycles of false gods yet to come.  However, God does not abandon them in it.  He knows their tendency to wander and get caught up in things that don’t matter.  He knew that they would forget and fail.  God sticks with them and ultimately sends a Savior in His Son Jesus Christ.

I mostly eat my lunch correctly...

Our job is to make a choice in our life to follow Him. Yes, it is time to throw away those things that hinder our relationship with God and choose today that our daily life will be all for Him.  There really is no other way. No, we will not be perfect, but we can do our best.  We can say that the progression of our life is to serve God and we mostly do that, with hopefully less and less deviation from that over time.  What really gets me, though, is that even though I might serve him “most of the time”  He serves “me all the time.”  That has never changed and it never will.

“But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods of your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living.  But as for me and my households, we will serve the LORD.” – Joshua 24:15

Accepting Responsibility

March 28, 2012 4 comments

The Bible speaks on the topics of life.  Many have wondered, often out loud, whether or not any of what is in the Bible is relevant to life or not.  It is timeless.  It doesn’t get old in the same way a manual about how to use a rotary telephone would.  This truth is always true, it never ceases to be important to lives.

Wasn't me!

One area where I have recently noticed this is with the topic of responsibility. Each one of us is 100% responsible for the difference areas of our life.  This includes our relationship with God.  It is important that we all start accepting responsibility for our relationship with God. It is your relationship with God.  Is it there?  Is it real? If not, guess who has the responsibility to make the steps to get back on track?

We like to pass the blame off when it comes to our life and how it relates to our faith in God.

 Whoops….My passion got the best of me

It is not good to have zeal without knowledge,
nor to be hasty and miss the way. – Proverbs 19:2

What are you passionate about?  Passions are generally a good thing. Who wouldn’t rather hang out with someone who is passionate about something verses someone who just didn’t care.  The difference here is in how that passion is expressed. Zeal is that intense passion or enthusiasm that people have for something.  There are some misguided passions which will make you do things that are counter God’s Word.  You might be passionate about your friends.  You decide you will do anything for your friends.  When that ‘anything’ becomes a limitless list of things to do, passion for friendship loses any knowledge from God’s Word and is dangerous.

A man’s own folly ruins his life,
yet his heart rages against the LORD. – Proverbs 19:3

It is the man’s own folly, or foolishness, or poor choices that get them into trouble.  They are his or her own.    These choices ruin lives and even though they were warned, they still blame God for the problems.

If someone smokes cigarettes and then gets lung cancer, that was their choice and the consequence comes from that.  So they really can’t blame God for that.   If a teen goes out and gets drunk with their friends and the party gets busted,  they made a choice and there is a consequence for it.  In that case, blaming God would not make sense.  Yet, so many people do.

The Bible speaks to these areas of life and we ought to pay attention to it.  Passion is not a solid excuse.

 

I didn't do anything

I didn’t do anything 

A false witness will not go unpunished,
and he who pours out lies will not go free.- Proverbs 19:5

Have you ever been caught in a lie?  One way people will pass of blame is by not even admitting when they have done something wrong.

When you have done something wrong, it is important to admit it.  This not only is helpful to you and that person, but it is also helpful for you and your relationship with God.  Remember, you are responsible.  Liars will always get caught; it is just a matter of time.

 I’m so tired…..busy…..zzzzzzzzzzzz

The sluggard buries his hand in the dish;
he will not even bring it back to his mouth! – Proverbs 19:24

Laziness is another excuse.  This is when you are just too tired to care.  Being tired or busy is not an excuse to check out of your responsibility to respect God and yourself in all you do.

The picture here is of someone sitting in front of the TV, with their hand in the popcorn bowl, but they just can’t find the energy to bring it back to their mouth. It is just too much work.

Clearly, this is not a good excuse for ignoring God’s Word.

Uncontrolled Temper

A hot-tempered man must pay the penalty;
if you rescue him, you will have to do it again.- Proverbs 19:19

People who are angry and hot-tempered get themselves into trouble.  Temper is not a good excuse for hurting people, or doing things that are counter God’s Word.   Self-Control is one of the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23.  Self-Control can be a challenge when you have intense emotions, but no matter what happens you are still responsible.

My kids try this sometimes when they get into an arguments with each other. They claim that their brother made them mad.  No, they might have done something that they didn’t like, but they still chose to act the way they did.  It is all about the reaction to the problem.

So, sorry, you can’t pass the blame for your life onto some temperament thing or family history of violence or dysfunction.  You can be different in Christ.

Yes, peer pressure is hard stuff but you need to be who you are, not who they say you are.  If God’s Word is important to you, then live it without fear.  You are not a puppet on the strings of the world.  You are a unique, valued, child of God who does not need to conform to the world.

You are responsible; it is time to accept responsibility.

Devour the Word

The Word of God is the most relevant thing we can give to people.  In order to really live that out, we need to be people who are not only in it, but devouring it.  My daughter took this concept very seriously.   Of course, this might not be exactly what we mean by that.  It does illustrate, in a strange sense, the importance of the Word.  My daughter will always find paper in the room, wherever it is.  She will spend her time trying to get to it so that she can put it in her mouth.  This should be how we look at the Word of God.  This is not something that we can live without, it is what we need to survive!

Think about this as it relates to the Gospel.  We don’t just have some words given to us by some smart guru, instead we have the very Word of God.  It is a privilege and a responsibility.

Devour it

For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you.  On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel.  We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.”  – 1 Thessalonians 2:3-4 

Paul describes his work with the people.  This relates well to the work I do with teenagers and the job I have of raising my children.  The appeal that I make to them does not come from some desire to be important.  If it did, I would have run away screaming a long time ago. It is not easy to communicate these truths to teenagers today.   But I have been entrusted with the gospel!  This is an important message that must be shared with all people.  A message that originates with God and that works by the authority of God.   I know that I am not perfect, but to know that God placed me here, with these people, for this time, helps me to realize the urgency of the task.

“Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” – Joshua 1:8

How much?

March 26, 2012 2 comments

How much will this cost me?

A common question asked in virtually every area of our life is the question: How much?  We are all familiar with the amount of money it takes to fill up a car with gas, or to buy daily necessities like milk, bread and eggs. These all have a certain cost associated with them that we are willing to pay.  When deciding whether to make any purchase, unless you are independently wealthy, you probably wonder what the cost is.  This is normal and helpful as we live our daily life.

We assess cost in other areas as well.  When someone needs a favor we wonder how much time and energy it is going to take from us.  When a friend has a serious life struggle, we might wonder how much of ourselves it will cost us in order to help them.  The truth is that virtually everything we do will cost us something.

If you are a student and you decide not to do your homework, it will cost you a decent grade.

If you are in a relationship with someone and you decide to miss a date without any communication with that person, it will likely cost you that relationship. (and maybe others)

If you have a job and you over sleep, it could cost you that job.

The question in all of life is: Am I willing to pay what it costs?

One place that is quite costly and yet hard to measure, is love.  Sunday after church I was having lunch with my boys when the topic of cost came up.  They were wondering how much everything we had costed. They would throw something at me and I would describe for them how that thing actually involved an exchange of money for the item at some point in time.  Even the free meal my son had recently at a restaurant was not free because someone had to pay for it.

Loving his brother by reading to him

Then we got to love.  Well, love is trickier because love doesn’t appear to cost us anything.  Yet, it costs us everything.  Love is what compels people to sacrifice their time to drive someone to a location, completely out of their way, for an appointment they need to be at.  Love is what drives people to bring crackers or some sort of remedy when their friend is home sick.  Love is what stirs a parent to stay up until the early morning with their child who can’t sleep, reading them stores and just sitting with them.  Love is what makes people sit faithfully at their ill spouse’s side even when there seems to be no hope of recovery.  Love calls people to give up their life in order to save the life of another person.  Love leads a person to the door of their friend’s house in order to encourage them in difficulty.  Love motivates people to leave their modern-day comforts and head to some foreign country to share the love of Jesus Christ with those who have never heard.  Love makes people do some pretty amazing things.  Love costs us everything we have.

How much does it really cost?  The answer lies in Jesus Christ who left his throne in heaven to come to earth and die for our sins.

“Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!”  – Philippians 2:6-8

Love costs everything.  In this case, it costed Jesus the very life he had.  He did this because He loves us.  In fact, even in the midst of increased pressure to walk away from the cross He was to bear, he relented to God’s will.  Jesus was motivated by love.  Love does amazing things and it costs people dearly. But, can you imagine a world without it?

How much are you willing to sacrifice for others?  How far are you willing to go in order to show love to people, even people who don’t appear to deserve it?  We certainly did not deserve the love God gave us.  Mankind had willingly rebelled against God and yet He loved us!  Be inspired to go and love people as you go today.

 I know that God’s love has made all the difference in my life.  Could it be that your love for someone today could be just the encouragement they need? 

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. – John 15:13

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. – 1 John 4:9-12

Of the world, in the world? – 1 John 2:15

March 25, 2012 4 comments

This week’s Sunday Series post has to do with the world and how we, as believers, are to relate to it.  Many well-meaning believers have taken the concept of the world to two incorrect extremes.  One on side you have people who say we should be completely separate from the world, as in live in somewhat of a bubble.  People with this view will say that Christian people should not watch television, have cell phones or enjoy anything that people who don’t follow Jesus enjoy.

On the other hand, you have people who desire to be ‘relevant’ with the world and would say that we should do everything in order to relate to the people of the world.  They claim that in order to reach people for Jesus Christ, we must hang out, without limits, in places where non-believers gather.  This one is a topic for another time, but I list it here just to give the comparison.

“Do not love the world or anything in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”- 1 John 2:15

What is the difference between living in the world and living of the world?

This is a question of definition.  The Bible uses ‘world’ in three different ways:

First, we have the physical creation.  These are the things that we see with our eyes and touch with our hands.  If you read through Genesis 1, this is the world referred to there.   Of course, that is not a problem as God himself called it good.

Next we see human beings referred to as the world.  This is how it is shown to be in John 3:16 with God so loving the world.  God loves the world, so why would he tell us not to be a part of it?  That is because this world is more about the people and less about the devil’s work.

Lastly, we have the fallen creation.  This is the part that is in organized opposition to God.   An example of this is in the description in Ephesians 2:2.

“in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.” – Ephesians 2:2

The word for world is cosmos and that is the opposite of chaos.  In Genesis 1 there was chaos and God spoke His Word and created cosmos.  (orderly and organized)

Satan coveted that and desired his own place where all the glory goes to him instead of God. So, the world as it is often referred to in the Bible, is that which is headed by Satan and opposed to God.  It is the alternate cosmos, known as the world.  (Ephesians 6:12)

The devil is the prince of this world.  That comes right from the mouth of Jesus, in John 14:30.  His time is limited because once the end comes and that final judgment occurs, he will not have any more control.  The world, as a result, is in organized rebellion against God, at the direction of the devil and the powers of evil.

Why does he keep trying?  Well, generally because he has nothing more to lose.  He is out to try to steal glory from God by encouraging people to disobey God and to turn from him.

“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”  1 Peter 5:8-9

The main point here is that Scripture is not saying that you cannot have a cell phone, or watch TV.   What it is saying is that you should not love that which stands opposed to God.  We are all affected by the world, it is all around us and it often goes undetected because of its familiarity.  So, we need to be paying attention to what is influencing us and what it is that we love.  Our love should be first directed to God.    If anything else gets in the way of God, it has taken a place it does not belong. This is loving the world over loving God.

“He answered: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” – Luke 10:27

Satan’s primary tactics are deception and fear.  The place where he gets those things done is the world.  So, we need to know the truth of God’s Word, living it and applying it.

So,  yes you live in the world, which is the physical reality of life.  You don’t live in the world that is against God and shapes you to behave the same.

“For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world.” 1 John 2:16

What is your reaction to this?  How do you balance involvement in the world with the command to not love the world?