Saturday, January 29, 2005

Stay Alert Luke 21:8

"8 He replied, "Don't let anyone mislead you. For many will come in my name, claiming to be the Messiah and saying, 'The time has come!' But don't believe them. 9 And when you hear of wars and insurrections, don't panic. Yes, these things must come, but the end won't follow immediately." 10 Then he added, "Nations and kingdoms will proclaim war against each other. 11 There will be great earthquakes, and there will be famines and epidemics in many lands, and there will be terrifying things and great miraculous signs in the heavens. 12 "But before all this occurs, there will be a time of great persecution. You will be dragged into synagogues and prisons, and you will be accused before kings and governors of being my followers. 13 This will be your opportunity to tell them about me. 14 So don't worry about how to answer the charges against you, 15 for I will give you the right words and such wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to reply! 16 Even those closest to you – your parents, brothers, relatives, and friends – will betray you. And some of you will be killed. 17 And everyone will hate you because of your allegiance to me. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish! 19 By standing firm, you will win your souls.

20 "And when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then you will know that the time of its destruction has arrived. 21 Then those in Judea must flee to the hills. Let those in Jerusalem escape, and those outside the city should not enter it for shelter. 22 For those will be days of God's vengeance, and the prophetic words of the Scriptures will be fulfilled. 23 How terrible it will be for pregnant women and for mothers nursing their babies. For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. 24 They will be brutally killed by the sword or sent away as captives to all the nations of the world. And Jerusalem will be conquered and trampled down by the Gentiles until the age of the Gentiles comes to an end. 25 "And there will be strange events in the skies – signs in the sun, moon, and stars. And down here on earth the nations will be in turmoil, perplexed by the roaring seas and strange tides. 26 The courage of many people will falter because of the fearful fate they see coming upon the earth, because the stability of the very heavens will be broken up. 27 Then everyone will see the Son of Man arrive on the clouds with power and great glory. 28 So when all these things begin to happen, stand straight and look up, for your salvation is near!"

Signs for the Lord's return have always been in place and will continue to be. we must stay awake and alert. Tsunami's and wars- rise of rebellon and crime- need to encourage us to serve our King. 'How can we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?" Jesus is the way. There may be some who read this and mock, sneer, laugh- you are not doing that to believers- you are doing that to Christ.
Please- turn to Jesus today. He offers forgiveness, love, and reconciliation to the Creator, the Father, the God of the Universe!

Don't gamble on yourself and your mind or emotions- gamble on the truth of the Bible. It is His word to you!

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The Glory of God

Nature never taught me that there exists a God of glory and of infinite majesty. I had to learn that in other ways. But nature gave the word glory a meaning for me.
C. S. Lewis in The Four Loves

Glory is the manifestation of all the attributes of God. The Westminster Confession asserts that "man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever". What does this mean? To glorify God is to live in such a way that God is pleased, that He is honored, and that He is known.

To do this - I must live intentionally. I need to aim at the target of pleasing God and desire to make Him known. This will be a bright light shining on a dark land. It will be a lamp to a dark soul.

Lord, please allow me to live this way. I need your power to do so.

I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. So I live my life in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Gal. 2:20

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Psalm 25

1  To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul. 2 I trust in you, my God! Do not let me be disgraced, or let my enemies rejoice in my defeat. 3 No one who trusts in you will ever be disgraced, but disgrace comes to those who try to deceive others. 4 Show me the path where I should walk, O LORD; point out the right road for me to follow. 5 Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you. 6 Remember, O LORD, your unfailing love and compassion, which you have shown from long ages past. 7 Forgive the rebellious sins of my youth; look instead through the eyes of your unfailing love, for you are merciful, O LORD.

8 The LORD is good and does what is right; he shows the proper path to those who go astray. 9 He leads the humble in what is right, teaching them his way. 10 The LORD leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all those who keep his covenant and obey his decrees. 11 For the honor of your name, O LORD, forgive my many, many sins. 12 Who are those who fear the LORD? He will show them the path they should choose. 13 They will live in prosperity, and their children will inherit the Promised Land. 14 Friendship with the LORD is reserved for those who fear him. With them he shares the secrets of his covenant.

15 My eyes are always looking to the LORD for help, for he alone can rescue me from the traps of my enemies. 16 Turn to me and have mercy on me, for I am alone and in deep distress. 17 My problems go from bad to worse. Oh, save me from them all! 18 Feel my pain and see my trouble. Forgive all my sins. 19 See how many enemies I have, and how viciously they hate me! 20 Protect me! Rescue my life from them! Do not let me be disgraced, for I trust in you. 21 May integrity and honesty protect me, for I put my hope in you. 22 O God, ransom Israel from all its troubles.

Thank you Lord for these promises- I need You to lead,protect, and guide!

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Ezekiel 2 Commentary

A few important points:
It was God's spirit that picked Ezekiel up- Ezekiel had been overwhelmed at the vision of God. God commanded him to stand and then gave his spirit to enable the task

It takes toughness to battle toughness- God promised to make Zeke "unyielding and hardened" this was accomplished by God's spirit and God's word

In this age of prosperity and softness- it is easy to mistake Christianity with a powerless and wimpy shell of worthless morality. We glorify God by a sincere perseverence that is up to the task and fierce in battle. Christians should be tender warriors.

We can only have this happen by the internalizing of His holy word and control by His Holy Spirit.

Lord- I need this kind of hardening..a good kind. The battle ahead is tough.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Honoring Dr. King

Here I am, a white man in the south, a child of the 60s- offspring of racists- honoring Dr. King and praying for our black communities and hoping for an end to racial strife. My grandfather was a racist. I heard the "n" word constantly growing up. My father was a Birmingham firefighter in the 60s. But early on, I felt that they were not right about their opinion of blacks. I credit that to the Southern Baptist church I grew up in, inter-racial schools, and athletics.
My faith teaches me that we are all descendants of Adam. So there is only 1 race. My understanding of genetics teaches me that the original parents were more dark skinned than light skinned. My understanding of sin educates me in how racism and prejudice is born.
As a fromer lit teacher, I learned to love Dr. King's sermons. I love Frederick Douglas. I find it sad that Uncle Tom has such a bad connotation. He is one of the great characters in American Literature.
So I pray for a land that discriminates only by character. I feel there is sin on both sides. May we find peace and harmony - but only Christ can end the strife.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Commentary on Ezekiel 1

Ezekiel 1:1-2
1On July 31 of my thirtieth year, while I was with the Judean exiles beside the Kebar River in Babylon, the heavens were opened to me, and I saw visions of God.
2This happened during the fifth year of King Jehoiachin's captivity.

It is interesting that this specific call of God comes at age 30. This is a time when many regret that passage of youth and spend more time looking back than ahead. An interesting bit of trivia is that many Jewish scholars forbade anyone reading this book before the age of 30 and 30 was the minimum age for priests to fully serve in God’s temple.
More importantly though, Ezekiel had been in captivity for 5 years before God spoke to him. How many times had he wondered about the reason for these events? Did he ever have days of wavering? In our fast paced world of microwave moments, could we ever endure 5 years of waiting?
“I saw visions of God” – is this first person pronoun an indicator that this was just in his mind? He might not even be alone. Of course this is pure speculation, but I see this could be an internal experience, but regardless, it is still reality. It makes me wonder if, when the Lord returns, will it be in the space of the physical realm or will we pick up internal monitors to finally see in the spiritual realm?
God certainly could do it in any way. But never be amazed that it happens outside the realm of our assured expectations.
I admit, even as a believer in Christ, that I do not look forward to seeing the Lord in this way. It will be a wonderful, painful undoing. I see God’s prophets falling to the ground in His presence all the time. In our plastic world of softness, it will be a terrible unraveling of all we think we know. I look forward to it like going to get a root canal. It will be for my good but I cringe at the immediate shock.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Wonderful Day/ Hard Times

Today was a great day. I had a blast with my wife and kids. One of my blessings is the ability to ride to work with my three daughters. I teach at the school they go to. I feel lucky to share this with them. we laughed and talked all the way to school. I saw my youngest daughter in the hall later in the day. Had a fun time with my wife tonight. It was just a day, ordinary day, but a special day.
It was also a hard day. In taking prayer requests this morning, I found that an elementary dad passed away with cancer. Another family is struggling with a daughter who has anorexia. These things cause us to pray and remember, life is wonderful and tough all at the same time.
We must keep hope. I need to minister to the hurting and laugh with my children. There will be sad days for our family and great days for my family - such is life.
I heard an interesting quote today- "we encourage what we applaud- but be warned- be careful what we celebrate"
Does any of this make sense? Does anyone who might read this believe me? Do you think I am honest- delusional?
I live in a hard world with a weak frame and poor character. Yet I have peace and hope- I have a household of love. In this world of storms and my deceitful heart, I could shipwreck it all. But the Lord sustains and protects me. He has saved me. Some critics say, "From what has He saved you?"- And my immediate answer is...From myself.- But He has saved me from a lot of things.

Problems of the Mind

I have been reading a lot on the internet lately from the scholars of non-christian world views. These men (and women) have tremendous talent and intellect. They are a lot smarter and more educated than this football coach. In fact, these people can tear christian apologists to shreds.
I have 2 problems with this competition in the marketplace of ideas. 1- The road of logic always ends. The christian experience is more faith and heart. IT IS NOT WITHOUT REASON- but faith is the evidence of things not seen. Even a great thinker like Pascal ultimately had a conversion experience of faith where he saw the heart as being more central than the mind. People who reject christian faith are giving their trust to their logic rather than to God. Is that a good gamble?
2- Non-christians argue from a lack of experience that creates a gap in the opposing worldviews. I can tell you how it was to see my daughter born, but you will never appreciate it until your child is born. Then you KNOW. My experience with Christ is real in Him. He has taken my guilt, my anxiousness, my fear- He and I have an experience that I can tell you about but you will never understand until you experience repentence and faith on your own terms. Until then, you will write me off as a simpleton- too stupid and uneducated- ignorantly holding on to illogical myths and a history of hypocrisy.
So we both go smiling to our grave.... who trusted the right thing? My confidence is in a loving, merciful God who communicated to me - you are trusting in your mind.
The game is on.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Quotes by Pascal

"We know truth not only through our reason but also through our heart."
"For many years no one without faith has ever reached the goal (of happiness). All men complain- experience deceives us- (we) were once happy, but now all that remains is the empty print and trace"
'God alone is man's true good, and since man abandoned him, it is not a strange fact that nothing in nature has been found to take his place."
"We know God only through Jesus Christ."
"Without Jesus, It is impossible to prove absolutely that God exists, But through and in Christ we can prove God's exisitence. Therefore, Jesus is the true God of men."

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Willing to Sacrifice?

23 Then he said to the crowd, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross daily, and follow me. 24 If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find true life. 25 And how do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose or forfeit your own soul in the process?

In our prosperous, secular, pluralistic, and privatized society - it becomes easy to follow a lifestyle of having it all and having it now. I find it hard to get birthday and christmas presents because people have all they could want, including me (and I am no way close to being rich). You want it, you go get it. Most presents would be luxuries that are very expensive. This has a degenerative effect on faith and life. It especially destroys our children,

It is not to say that people do not suffer. In the war in Iraq, in Asia right now, in our city centers - there is much suffering and hurt. But the average american does not sacrifice time or talents to others. I realize this is a balance and we are not saved by these good works and sacrifice. But have we swung the balance too far to selfishness and ease? Are not some of our problems related to greed?

The only hope for relevance and reality is to lose life for Christ's sake. Follow His ambition- find in Him the balance of life.

Lord, forgive me, I am sinful in these areas- I have been way too selfish- help me see the need of ministering to others- help me be tough enough to sacrifice for You and trust You to take care of me.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

A Romans 4:18 Faith

We honor God by developing the Romans 4:18 faith that Abraham had. “Against all hope. In hope he believed. Without weakness of faith. He did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but He was strengthened in faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had the power to do what He has promised.”- This faith was credited to Abraham as righteousness.
It is important to note that Abraham had to grow in this faith, as we do. Jesus asked the question, "when the Son of Man returns, will He find faith on the earth?" I believe He is referring to this type of faith- if we have anxiety, fear, or are overcome by circumstance- aren't we implying that we really do not trust God to keep His promises?
Lord- may we walk in our faith- may it secure our hearts, not merely fall from loose lips. You are able to do what You say- You will do what You have promised...even when it seems the bleakest!

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Psalm 4

"Let the smile of your face shine on us, LORD. 7 You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and wine. 8 I will lie down in peace and sleep, for you alone, O LORD, will keep me safe."

In this age of prosperity and materialism, it is nice to see that God sustains a deep joy for people who have less wealth than others. This is not just "an opiate for the masses"- but a true joy and delight at knowing the God of the universe.

Because of Christ, I do laugh, smile, and walk in peace. Not because of anything I have done- but because of who He is!

Saturday, January 01, 2005

All Things New

So thankful to be in 2005. Amazed to be here- I remember as a kid looking ahead to 2000 and realizing how old I would be and thinking "Man, I'll be OLD"- will turn 41 this year- it's not that old. I do lament sometimes with Lord Capulet - 'tis gone, tis gone, tis gone"

So what do I want to do this year?

As always, I need to improve my physical condition. I am recovering from knee surgery and am carrying more weight than I need to.

I want to be more prayerful and more daily with my Bible reading.

I want to work hard and have a sucessful year 2 as a head coach.

But most of all, I want to cherish my wife and children. I had a great 2004 with them and look forward to a big 2005.