Lake Atitlan

Lake Atitlan

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Must We Believe the Virgin Birth?

This time of year various  news outlets like to talk about Christianity and mostly from attack mode. This article by Al Mohler speaks well in response to an attack on the biblical doctrine of the Virgin Birth.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ten Questions to Ask at a Christmas Gathering

Don Whitney:

Many of us struggle to make conversation at Christmas gatherings, whether church events, work-related parties, neighborhood drop-ins, or annual family occasions. Sometimes our difficulty lies in having to chat with people we rarely see or have never met. At other times we simply don’t know what to say to those with whom we feel little in common. Moreover, as Christians we want to take advantage of the special opportunities provided by the Christmas season to share our faith, but are often unsure how to begin. Here’s a list of questions designed not only to kindle a conversation in almost any Christmas situation, but also to take the dialogue gradually to a deeper level. Use them in a private conversation or as a group exercise, with believers or unbelievers, with strangers or with family.

Read the questions here.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Story Behind "O Little Town of Bethlehem"

Last Sunday I shared a portion of this story behind the hymn. I think it enriches the meaning to hear the context and the story of the writer, Phillips Brooks. The Civil War and Lincoln's assasination weighed heavily on his heart...


Monday, December 13, 2010

Another Idea for the Christmas Giver

Microfinance - For the person who would rather give than get, you might consider a microfinancing gift certificate—a way that your loved one can help sponsor a business in a developing country. Kiva and World Vision both offer you this ability. “Make this a Merry Christmas for your loved ones with a gift that lets them change the world. A Micro Loan Gift Card lets your family and friends choose a hard-working entrepreneur to help by funding their small business loan-to buy a sewing machine, a bicycle, training, or whatever will put their families on the pathway to success. ”

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

31 Ways to Pray for Your Children (and others on your prayer list...)

A short article with suggestions for daily prayer for your children through the course of a month. Most of these prayers would be appropriate for anyone on your prayer list.

Monday, November 15, 2010

What Is God Up To When Life Is Hard?

Justin Taylor writes a short commentary on J.I. Packer's comments on what God may be seeking to accomplish in us when life is hard. We often ask the questions in such times. Packer provides some good biblical answers.

What the Bible Got Wrong

What the Bible Got Wrong - Matt Perman has some good thoughts on Fast Company’s recent article “What the Bible Got Wrong.” The article grabs an old, tired list of what they consider Bible contradictions and presents it as if Christians have never thought about this stuff before. The article also links to other resources.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Got the Morning Blues?

We are moving into a busy time of year. Most days the demands life, work, and family can overwhelm. This Justin Taylor article can be a good starting place when you wake up overwhelmed with what a day holds.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Post Halloween Post for Parents

From the Book of Davidicus - This is a fun blog post in which a father writes to his kids about how they must divide the spoils on Halloween. It is written in Old Testament-type language. Speaking as a father, I consider it sound teaching. It shares things like -  “Of the spoils of your wandering, you shall devote a tenth of the firstfruits to your father. But take heed that you devote what has chocolate, so that he shall be pleased with what he receives.”

Friday, October 29, 2010

Share the Good News of Christmas

I've been preparing Christmas sermons over the last week. One of our greatest opportunites to reach out with the story of Jesus and God's great love for us comes at Christmastime. Is there someone you could invite to Christmas worship at your church?

I love this video. There is power in a personal invitation.


Share the Good News of Christmas from Crossway on Vimeo.

Easy Bible Verses for Kids (and the rest of us)

Easy Bible Verses for Kids - Here are a few simple Bible verses ideal for memorizing with your children.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Story of the T-Shirts

The Story of the T-Shirts - Here’s an interesting story from CNN. It tells why the Chilean miners were all rescued wearing t-shirts saying ‘Gracias Senor’ - ‘Thank you Lord.’

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Jesus Isn't Your Homeboy

Mark Batterson posted a simple devotional thought challenging readers to respect the holiness of God. It's worth two minutes of reading time.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Prayer Circle

When a group of people get together to pray there are certain dynamics you can count on in the prayer circle. Jon Acuff's article describes the variety of people you may find. My favorite is the "shot blocker" but the whole list is good.

 7. The Shot BlockerThis one is rare. Hearing this one in a group prayer is like seeing a unicorn. On the highway. With Gary Coleman riding it’s back in the breakdown lane. In basketball, when someone on the opposing team swats your shot with their hand, preventing you from scoring, this is called “shot blocking.” The same thing can happen in a prayer circle. It usually looks like this:

Person 1: Lord, thank you for affirming my decision to take a new job.”
Shot blocker: “Lord please give Danielle more patience and discernment as she looks for a new job. Help her not rush into anything.”
This is the basketball equivalent of someone blocking your shot into another state. Just as you try to send up a prayer to God, they swoop in and contradict you. (Thanks LunarWorld for the idea.)

Even So, Come Lord Jesus...

I ran across this nice quote from Scotty Smith, "Life between the first and second comings of Jesus will be filled with rapture and rupture—encouragement and discouragement… gains and losses… beauty and brokenness. Though your kingdom has already arrived in Jesus, it has yet to fully come. And, by the way, that Day is looking better and better!"

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Desiring Chick-fil-A More on Sunday Than Any Other Day of the Week

Another fun article from "Stuff Christians Like". The following point in his outline was my favorite:

Step 5: The Idea
Could you buy some Chick-fil-A on a Saturday and then eat it on a Sunday? Would that work or would that be like when the Israelites tried to gather up double portions of manna? Didn’t that work for them on Sunday? Are you really comparing Chick-fil-A to manna? Yes, yes you are and that feels about right.

Worth Remembering

This is a helpful line from Matt Chandler, which they use at the Village Church:

“It’s okay not to be okay—
but it’s not okay to stay there.”

“If you create an environment where it’s okay not to be okay, you create an environment where the gospel is breathed in and out constantly. . . We want to constantly drive people back to the cross.

You come in feeling ashamed, you’re feeling dirty, you’re feeling overwhelmed? [God] knows! The whole point of the cross is you being where you are right now—so that you wouldn’t have to be there tomorrow if you submit your heart and life to the sovereign God. So it creates an environment where it’s okay to struggle.”

The Truth About Wikipedia

Tim Challies wrote a nice article connecting Wikipedia to how we see God and what we believe as truth.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Prayer About Being Anxious and Trusting in Jesus

There is more to this written prayer on Scotty Smith's blog, but this part of the prayer really spoke to me:

...For the things that deeply grieve me, bring your tear-wiping hand. For the things that greatly offend me, keep me from a critical and selfish spirit. For the things that profoundly confuse me, grant me the perspective of heaven and gospel sanity. For the things over which I have no control, give me a fresh vision of the occupied throne of heaven. For the things I do have control over, grant me wisdom and strength to act accordingly. Please help me steward my anger, my sadness, and my weariness to your glory. I don’t want to waste this moment or these feelings.

Prayer Insults

This is an interesting article I picked up on mandolins and prayer insults. In prayer times with others, we've probably both been there AND done that...the prayer insult, not the mandolins....

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Prayer for Days Filled with Blahs and Blues

Scotty Smith's blog is a series of daily prayers for a variety of experiences. If you're in a season of the "blahs" or the "blues" this prayer may help you express your heart to the Lord.

The Holy Spirit's Hidden Floodlight Ministry

This is a simple article credited to J.I. Packer on the role of the Holy Spirit. I begins this way:

The Holy Spirit’s distinctive new covenant role, then, is to fulfill what we may call a floodlight ministry in relation to the Lord Jesus Christ....

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Prayer for Godly Vision

Sir Frances Drake is credited with this prayer of vision. May we as believers in Jesus Christ be bold enough to declare it, “Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves, when our dreams have come true because we have dreamed too little, when we arrive safely because we have sailed too close to the shore. Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess, we have lost our thirst for the waters of life; having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity; and in our efforts to build a new earth, we have allowed our vision of the new Heaven to dim. Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture on wider seas where storms will show your mastery; where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars. We ask you to push back the horizons of our hopes; and to push into the future in strength, courage, hope, and love.”

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mr Bean - Asleep in Church

It had been a while since I'd seen this one. Mr. Bean at church is worth the five minutes to watch.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Five Tips For Raising Godly Children

Five Tips for Raising Godly Children is an interesting series and worth the read. “Many folks who have read J.C. Ryle over the years have thoroughly enjoyed his writings, especially his well known works like Holiness, Knots Untied and his Expository Thoughts on the Gospels commentary set. However, many folks may forget that John Charles Ryle was not only a prolific writer and vigorous preacher in England during the 1800s, he was also a parent…to five children. [and widowed three times!]”

Thursday, September 9, 2010

On Burning Religious Books

Justin Taylor pointed out a thoughtful post here from Tony Reinke on the religious book burning of Acts 19:11-12 in light of the unwise and unhelpful plan of a local church to use 9/11 as a “Burn a Qur’an Day.”

Tony concludes his analysis in this way:

These six points should make us very hesitant about burning other people’s religious books.

May God give the Church open doors to preach the gospel, and may he bless his Word with self-authenticating gospel fruit. If we take our eyes off the priority of the gospel, we will be tempted to settle for the sparks of a small bonfire in a church parking lot, a miniature replica of what happened in Ephesus. The true gospel spreads like a wildfire, if we are faithful to lovingly and boldly proclaim it.

UnCool (Just Like You)

Here's a fun music video produced by Long Hollow Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee. It was part of a sermon series on being authentic in our Christian walk.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

No Need for God? Stephen Hawking Defies Divine Creation

With Stephen Hawking's new book, The Grand Design, being released amid much publicity, Al Mohler provides a helpful response in his blog and simple analysis.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Love Is...

We hear a great deal about what love is and what love is not. The word has lost its focus for us. Certainly, love finds a signficant number of inferior definitions. Justin Taylor, in his blog, broke things out this way (drawing mostly from 1 Corinthians 13):

What Is Love?

God and Love
God is love.
Love is a gift of God.

What Love Is

Love is patient.
Love is kind.

What Love Is Not

Love is not arrogant.
Love is not rude.
Love is not irritable.
Love is not resentful.

What Love Does Not Do

Love does not envy.
Love does not boast.
Love does not insist on its own way.
Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing.

What Loves Does

Love rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things.
Love believes all things.
Love hopes all things.
Love endures all things.
Love lasts forever.
Love fulfills the law.

{1 John 4:7-8; 1 Cor. 13:4-8; Rom. 13:10}

Monday, August 23, 2010

Bob Newhart-Stop It!!

The video is Bob Newhart’s spoof of a counseling moment. The comments below are from David Powlison (guest writing for Justin Taylor) as he comments on counseling from a biblical perspective and how it differs from this comedy piece. Here are a half dozen contrasts:

1. The Bible gives a vision for lifelong transformation and mutual aid—as well as for the 5-minute moment of insight, or the 5-week and 5-month seasons of change, or the 5-year unfolding movement of progressive transformation and deepening. “Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” The encouragements of the gospel of grace meet us again and again. They are always new-to-you in some way. Yet they always embrace the Christ who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

2. Our Father never simply says “Stop it!” to the Katherine Bigmans or anyone else. He knows we can’t change on our own. We have... (for the rest of the article...)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mindset List for the Class of 2014

Each August since 1998, Beloit College has released the Beloit College Mindset List. It provides a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college this fall. The creation of Beloit’s Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride and former Public Affairs Director Ron Nief, it was originally created as a reminder to faculty to be aware of dated references, and quickly became a catalog of the rapidly changing worldview of each new generation. The Mindset List website at www.beloit.edu/mindset, the Mediasite webcast and its Facebook page receive more than 400,000 hits annually.

The class of 2014 has never found Korean-made cars unusual on the Interstate and five hundred cable channels, of which they will watch a handful, have always been the norm. See the full list of 75....

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Is Chivalry Dead?

Chivalry Is Dead - This is not this young guy’s finest moment. “A young female Astros fan got a painful lesson in chivalry Monday night at Minute Maid Park. The woman, identified only as Sarah, was struck on the right arm by a foul ball off the bat of Chris Johnson in the fourth inning while sitting down the left-field line — a ball that she didn’t see coming because her boyfriend ducked out of the way at the last second.”

A Word for Workaholics

An Admonition to Workaholics - Here’s a good word from for those of us who are prone to work too hard and too long.

A History of Phone Etiquette

A History of Phone Etiquette - It is interesting to peer back into history a little bit to see how telephone etiquette took time to develop. That’s something to think about next time you’re on a bus and someone is yacking (very loudly) into his cell phone.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Overcoming Conspicuous Consumption

The article, originating from the New York Times reads: "Conspicuous consumption has been an object of fascination going back at least as far as 1899, when the economist Thorstein Veblen published "The Theory of the Leisure Class," a book that analyzed, in part, how people spent their money in order to demonstrate their social status." Are we slaves to our love of stuff?

The author explores the question, "Do you have to be overwhelmed by debt and have all that stuff to be happy?" It has interesting ideas and examples. Jesus said it best, "Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions" (Luke 12:15, NIV).

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

How Much Land Does a Man Need

Last Sunday I shortened the sermon (always something that endears me to the congregation) by leavning out the following story. It's a good one though, so I share it hear.

Leo Tolstoy, the Russian novelist, wrote a short story entitled “How Much Land Does a Man Need?” It tells of a man who was never satisfied with what he had. He decided that owning land would be the only way he would be really happy…yet he was not satisfied as he acquired more and more. One day he heard about an opportunity which would give him the opportunity to obtain as much land as he can encircle by walking during the course of one day for only 1000 rubles. The only condition is that he had to return to where he started by sundown.

The man starts out early in the morning, and as he gets further and further out, his eyes catch more and more good land. So he keeps on going. It is only when the day is more than half over, that he realizes he'd better make a turn and head back to the beginning - because if he doesn't fully encircle the land, then he gets nothing.

The afternoon wears on and by the end the man is running. Fear gripped him. In his greed, he feared he might lose it all. The finish line is in sight, and the sun is setting. He tries to run faster, but his body is exhausted. Finally, with his last ounce of strength, one moment before sunset, he lunges to the finish line. At which point he collapses and dies.

The story ends with the question of the title, “How much land does a man need?” In this case, only a plot six feet long and three feet wide and four feet deep…just enough to bury him.

Where Your Treasure Is

A story about a 104 year old heiress began to make headlines this week. She has been recluse for decades and has multiple multi-million dollar properties, some of which she has never even visited. She inherited her fortune from her father, a former senator from Montana. The story goes that when her mother died, she withdrew and it seems she lost her will to enjoy life. One of her statements is particularly interesting. She reportedly told friends that wealth was a "menace to happiness".

According to the Bible, there is nothing wrong with having wealth and great possessions. Some of the most prominent people in the Bible were quite weathly by ancient as well as modern standards. The Bible does warn that there are dangers to be found in possessing wealth and it gives a great deal of advice on how to keep our wealth  and possessions from possessing us. Here are just a few verses:

Revelation 3:17 “You say, ‘I am rich, with everything I want; I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that spiritually you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.

Mark 8:36 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?

Luke 12:15 (Jesus said) “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

Ecclesiastes 5:11 The more you have, the more you spend, right up to the limits of your income. So what is the advantage of wealth-- except perhaps to watch it as it runs through your fingers!

1 Timothy 6:10 The love of money is the first step toward all kinds of sin. Some people have even turned away from God because of their love for it, and as a result have pierced themselves with many sorrows.

Galatians 6:7 If (a person) sows to please his own wrong desires, he will be planting seeds of evil and he will surely reap a harvest of spiritual decay and death.

Matthew 6::19-20: Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Holy Complications

This was a good word from pastor Mark Batterson. It's a short article but this will give you a taste:

Sin will complicate your life in unholy ways. The blessings of God will complicate your life in holy ways. But it's still a complication. When I got married it complicated my life. Praise God for complications!

A Prayer About An Anxious Heart

I have enjoyed these prayers from the blog of Scotty Smith. This one is a prayer offered from "an anxious heart." If you have a worries, fears, concerns about the future today...this might be a good prayer for you to consider.

Don't Waste Your LIfe

I ran across this quote from John Piper. It's  good word worth sharing.

"It is possible to waste your life. Few things make me tremble more than the possibility of taking this onetime gift of life and wasting it. Every morning when I walked into the kitchen as a boy I saw hanging on the wall the plaque that now hangs in my living room: "Only one life, twill soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last." And now I am almost 58, and the river of life is spilling over the falls of my days with tremendous speed. More and more I smell eternity. And oh, how I want to use my life well. It is so short and so fragile and so final. You get one chance to live your life. And then the judgment. I speak as a father who has children your age, and I am jealous with Jesus that they and you not waste your life". (from December 29, 2003)

Scraps of Thoughts on Daily Prayer

I have found Tim Keller to be a good source of spiritual encouragement and challenge for my spiritual growth and development. He is the Senior Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. In this article he shares some very valuable “scraps of thoughts” on daily prayer . He simply describes how he prays over the course of the day. Keller book, The Reason for God, is an excellent resource in apologetics.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The World We Forget

I live in a fairly affluent county in Texas. This week I had opportunity to see quite a bit of the extravagance of our American culture and it really shook me. My friend Jeff posted a link in his daily devotional email that helps us think about the "world we forget."

Our economy is struggling and much more in other parts of the nation than in Texas. This link to Global Issues does bring some perspective to our own struggles. What does "being poor" really look like?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Creation and the Creator

We just got back from a family vacation where we spent time in Alberta, Canada with extended family and toured some beautiful places in the Canadian Rockies. This photo was taken with my phone camera at Lake Moraine on a beautiful July morning. It reminded me of the glory of God declared in and through His creation. The Bible says, "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world." (Psalm 19:1-4; cf. Psalm 97:6) The creation points majestically to the Creator.

As I stood on the shores of the lake I was reminded of the great old hymn "How Great Thou Art." The words to the song go like this:

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: "My God, how great Thou art!"

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Don't Waste Your Cancer

I was reading a post from one of my favorite writers, Stacie Smith. She pointed toward a great article by John Piper titled, "Don't Waste Your Cancer." Cancer touches most of us at some level and it's a good read for us all.

Worry, Prayer, Planning

Pastor Mark Beeson wrote about being asked the difference between worry, prayer, and planning. Here are his responses:

First.

Worry hurts you. Prayer inspires you. Planning prepares you.

Second.

Worry is natural. Prayer is supernatural. Planning intertwines the natural (the world as it is) with the supernatural (the world as it could be and should be).

Third.

Worry drains you. Prayer fills you. Planning fulfills you.

Fourth.

Worry isolates you. Prayer connects you. Planning integrates you.

Fifth.

Worry shrinks your vision. Prayer expands your vision. Planning enables your vision to come true.

Sixth.

Worry focuses on limiting circumstances and limited resources. Prayer deliberates the unlimited possibilities of an abundance mindset. Planning considers the path of a solution orientation.

Seventh.

Worry is unattractive. It repels. People aren’t drawn to fearful, worried and negative people. Prayer is inclusive. It embraces. Everyone is invited to pray and experience God’s power and presence in their circumstance. Planning is always best in collaborative community. It engages.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Philippians 4:6-7 - Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Persecution of Christians

There have been numerous stories from around the world recently about Christians being persecuted and killed simply because they follow Jesus Christ. American Christians are largely unaware of the tragedies and commitment to Christ being lived out in other parts of the world. These stories seldom make our evening news. It would be time well spent to visit The Voice of the Martyrs website. You can also subscribe to receive periodic prayer updates regarding persecution of believers around the world.

The Fellowship of the Unashamed

Last Sunday we talked about discipleship and what following after Jesus looks like. I shared this piece titled "The Fellowship of the Unshamed" and wanted to make it available.

The Fellowship Of The Unashamed
(Dr. Bob Moorehead, from his book “Words Aptly Spoken”)
____________________________________

I am part of the “Fellowship of the Unashamed.”

The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line.
The decision has been made. I am a disciple of Christ Jesus.
I won't look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still.
My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future secure.
I am finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees,
colorless dreams, chintzy giving, and dwarfed goals.
I no longer need pre-eminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity.
I now live by presence, lean by faith, love by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by power.
My pace is set, my gait is fast, my goal is Heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough,
my companions few, my Guide reliable, my mission clear.
I cannot be bought, compromised, deterred, lured away, turned back, diluted, or delayed.
I will not flinch in the fact of sacrifice,
hesitate in the presence of adversity,
negotiate at the table of the enemy,
ponder at the pool of popularity,
or meander in the maze of mediocrity.
I am a disciple of Christ Jesus.
I must give until I drop and preach until all know.
And when my time is up, He will have no problem recognizing me.
My colors will be clear."

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Church Names in America

Church Names in the US - Here are some interesting facts about churches in the US, including which names are most common. As I mentioned in our church services Sunday - our church name is the least original in America. Now I have proof.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

It's a Cruel, Cruel World

Newsweek says that Simon Cowell is to blame for a whole culture of nastiness that has cropped up since he began judging on American Idol. "None of his nasty critiques seem so shocking now, of course. We are a culture that thrives on meanness--mean blogs, mean political campaigns, mean girls. We are so accustomed to mean outbursts, we barely blink when a congressman yells 'You lie!' at the president during a speech. Cowell helped take us there."

IKEA Play Report

WIRED shares a few results from a recent study from Ikea. Here's a good conclusion: "Children overwhelmingly prefer playing with their friends and parents over watching TV. When children across the world were asked to choose between watching TV or playing with friends or parents, they overwhelmingly choose to play with friends (89%) and parents (73%) with TV a very poor substitute for social interaction at only 11%."

50 Worst Inventions

I've come up with my share of bad ideas and find this list encouraging. TIME has a round-up of the 50 worst inventions. Not surprisingly, sub-prime mortgages made the list. The list includes such jewels as New Coke and the Snuggy for dogs.

Simplifiying Life

If I can find a way to simplify my life - I'm all for it. In this brief article, Dave Kraft, offers seven good suggestions based on what he has done to simplify his life.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Joining God Where He's At Work

There are many diferent focuses to a church mission trip. Some go to dig water wells. Others work in orphanages or schools. Still others build homes or churches. Many go to feed the hungry and care for the sick. Our purpose for our recent trip to Malawi was to share the Good News of God's love through Jesus Christ. We went out each day and visited in neighborhoods and homes. Most of the homes were made of mud bricks and straw roofs. Few had electricity. Most got their water from a neighborhood water pump and almost all had an outhouse out back.

We found the people to be incredibly receptive to the message of hope found in Christ. Their cultural value of hospitality made it easy to find people to visit with. Their unhurried lifestyles made them available for guests dropping by.

We were out making visits one day. Because the rainy season is still on through May in Malawi, we got rained on most days. Paul was interpreting for me (a leader and deacon in his church) and used the familiar “odee” greeting as we approached a house. The greeting meant something like, “Anybody home? Are you open to guests?” The woman at the door (the doorway covered by a sheet as were most homes) invited us in. With the rain falling outside and no lights inside, it was dark and hard to see. As my eyes adjusted I was able to see three other women inside and several children. One of the women left and returned with eight or so more and their children. In a room that was 12X12 it was a crowd.

I thanked them for welcoming us and began with the EvangeCube to share the gospel message. At each major pause they would shout “AMEN” and applaud. They were the most enthusiastic crowd we ran into. In the end, all the women and the older children (they didn’t count kids younger than 12 years) accepted Christ as their Savior - forgiveness of sin, relationship to God, and eternal life in heaven. While we were gathering follow-up information on them all I asked Paul if they were related…an extended family. He basically said, “They are all in the same business…” It wasn't until then that I realized I was in a brothel. The photo is of a portion of the group.

We had prayer with the women before we left. Their prayer requests were for their “husbands” to not beat them – we saw two with broken arms and several swollen, blackened eyes. The kids had been beaten as well. They prayed that God would give them husbands…their only way of escape from this life. The church I was partnered with was following up to help them begin a new life. Pray they will be set free in Christ.

I thanked God for giving me this opportunity to share with this unique congregation on a rainy day in Malawi. It reminded me again of the core message of the Bible...that God is a God of new beginnings, fresh starts, and second chances. I was also reminded that Jesus "was a friend of sinners." My prayer is that I would have a ever-growing heart for people who are far from God and without hope. Jesus is the hope of world.



What's Really Important?

I've been back from Malawi for a month now. My head and heart are still full from the experience. I believe everyone needs to spend some time in the third world in order to bring perspective to our lives in America. I know I need to be in that world once a year or so. Living in prosperous North Texas in one of the wealthiest counties in the nation, I need to experience life in a place like Africa to help me find freedom from selfishness and the grip of materialism. Annual household income in Malawi runs around $200 per year. The people were doing well for the most part because of good rains. Most survive by subsistence farming. A drought or one failed crop and the people would be in trouble in a hurry.

While in Malawi, I met someone who showed me this bill from Zimbabwe. The currency is severely inflated and the economy troubled. He gave me a $1 million bill to carry with me. It's just a reminder of what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, "But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:20-21, NIV). Be sure and focus some time today on what is really important and let go of something that isn't.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Planning for the Lord's Day

In his book Expository Listening Ken Ramey offers a list of ways you can "Plan Ahead, and Schedule Your Week Around the Ministry of the Word." For many families Sunday becomes a stressfull, hurried experience and "getting to church" takes away from the worship that should be happening at church. He offers several practical suggestions on how to prioritize the Lord's Day:

Monday, May 3, 2010

5 Reasons You May Not See Spiritual Growth

Are you growing spiritually? Maybe it just doesn't feel like it. Jonathan Dodson offers five reasons that you may not be seeing spiritual growth at the moment.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Is Faith Necessary?

Is Faith Necessary? - Kevin DeYoung tries to suggest how he would have answered the question Larry King posed to Joel Osteen about whether people of other faiths are going to hell. DeYoung does a good job answering a tough question that can be intimidating to address.

More Spiritual Than Religious

More Spiritual Than Religious - USA Today looks at a new study and finds that most Millennials are more spiritual than religious. "If the trends continue, 'the Millennial generation will see churches closing as quickly as GM dealerships,' says Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources. In the group's survey of 1,200 18- to 29-year-olds, 72% say they're 'really more spiritual than religious.'"

Worship with Believers in Malawi

Our two week mission trip to Malawi turned into three when the eruption of the volcano on Iceland shut down flights to London. We found ourselves staying an extra several days in Lilongwe, Malawi. In spite of this we were blessed.

video
I've been reflecting on our experience and getting pictures posted. This is a video of the worship service the first Sunday at Mzuzu Baptist Church.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Struggling With Time-Debt

Struggling with Time-Debt - This article is worth a read. "I recently found myself, late one night, staring at my computer screen with a sinking, hard feeling in my stomach and a bad taste in my mouth. A familiar bad taste. The taste of debt. But I wasn't looking at my bank statement--I was looking at my calendar."

Can You Name Them?

Can You Name Them? - This article is helpful in our "celebrity-driven" culture. Randy Alcorn on heroes and celebrities: "Being a hero is something entirely different than being a celebrity. Fame is one thing. Virtue is another. The two aren't even remotely related. In fact, the more famous you become the harder it is to cultivate and retain virtue. Celebrities are just people with good looks, talent, money, and the ability to draw attention to themselves. Heroes are people who stand courageously for what is right, often against the tide of public opinion, and at great cost to themselves."

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Two Questions People Often Ask About the Resurrection

In this article, Lee Strobel explains why the resurrection is not a myth. Strobel's website contains multiple resources demonstrating the truth of the biblical story.

Surprises


Today's New York Times provided a link to the 100 Greatest April Fool's pranks of all time. I share it for entertainment value.

The greatest surprise of all time came early on a Sunday morning. A small group of grief-strickened followers of Jesus made their way to the tomb where Jesus had been placed following His crucifixion. They were shocked to find the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. The angel told them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!" (Luke 24:5-6). Have a blessed Easter! Jesus is Risen!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

ALIVE!

Max Lucado has a great gift when it comes to words. Here is his simple story of Easter told in a unique way.It's taken from his book, No Wonder They Call Him Savior.

ALIVE!
by Max Lucado

ROAD. DARK. STARS. SHADOWS. FOUR. SANDALS. Robes. Quiet. Suspense. Grove. Trees. Alone. Questions. Anguish. “Father!” Sweat. God. Man. God-Man. Prostrate. Blood. “NO!” “Yes.” Angels. Comfort.

Footsteps. Torches. Voices. Romans. Surprise. Swords. Kiss. Confusion. Betrayal. Fearful. Run! Bound. Wrists. Marching.

Courtyard. Priests. Lamps. Sanhedrin. Caiaphas. Sneer. Silk. Arrogance. Beard. Plotting. Barefoot. Rope. Calm. Shove. Kick. Annas. Indignant. Messiah? Trial. Nazarene. Confident. Question. Answer. Punch!

Peter. “Me?” Rooster. Thrice. Guilt.

Proceedings. Court. Rejection. Prosecute. Weary. Pale. Witnesses. Liars. Inconsistent. Silence. Stares. “Blasphemer!” Anger. Waiting. Bruised. Dirty. Fatigued. Guards. Spit. Blindfold. Mocking. Blows. Fire. Twilight.

Sunrise. Golden. Jerusalem. Temple. Passover. Lambs. Lamb. Worshipers. Priests. Messiah. Hearing. Fraud. Prisoner. Waiting. Standing. Shifting. Strategy. “Pilate!” Trap. Murmurs. Exit.

Stirring. Parade. Crowd. Swell. Romans. Pilate. Toga. Annoyed. Nervous. Officers. Tunics. Spears. Silence. “Charge?” “Blasphemy.” Indifference. Ignore. (Wife. Dream.) Worry. Interview. Lips. Pain. Determined. “King?” “Heaven.” “Truth.” “Truth?” Sarcasm. (Fear.) “Innocent!” Roar. Voices. “Galilean!” “Galilee?” “Herod!”

9:00 A.M. Marchers. Palace. Herod. Fox. Schemer. Paunchy. Crown. Cape. Scepter. Hall. Elegance. Silence. Manipulate. Useless. Vexed. Revile. Taunt. “King?” Robe. Theatrical. Cynical. Hateful. “Pilate!”

Marching. Uproar. Prisoner. Hushed. Pilate. “Innocent!” Bedlam. “Barabbas!” Riot. Despair. Christ. Bare. Rings. Wall. Back. Whip. Slash. Scourge. Tear. Bone. Moan. Flesh. Rhythm. Silence. Whip! Silence. Whip! Silence. Whip! Thorns. Stinging. Blind. Laughter. Jeering. Scepter. Slap. Governor. Distraught. (Almost.) Eyes. Jesus. Decision. Power. Freedom? Threats. Looks. Yelling. Weak. Basin. Water. Swayed. Compromise. Blood. Guilt.

Soldiers. Thieves. Crosspiece. Shoulder. Heavy. Beam. Heavy. Sun. Stagger. Incline. Houses. Shops. Faces. Mourners. Murmurs. Pilgrims. Women. Tumble. Cobblestone. Exhaustion. Gasping. Simon. Pathetic. Golgotha.

Skull. Calvary. Crosses. Execution. Death. Noon. Tears. Observers. Wails. Wine. Nude. Bruised. Swollen. Crossbeam. Sign. Ground. Nails. Pound. Pound. Pound. Pierced. Contorted. Thirst. Terrible. Grace. Writhing. Raised. Mounted. Hung. Suspended. Spasms. Heaving. Sarcasm. Sponge. Tears. Taunts. Forgiveness. Dice. Gambling. Darkness.

Absurdity.

Death. Life.

Pain. Peace.

Condemn. Promise.

Nowhere. Somewhere.

Him. Us.

“Father!” Robbers. Paradise. Wailing. Weeping. Stunned. “Mother.” Compassion. Darkness. “My God!” Afraid. Scapegoat. Wilderness. Vinegar. “Father.” Silence. Sigh. Death. Relief.

Earthquake. Cemetery. Tombs. Bodies. Mystery. Curtain. Spear. Blood. Water. Spices. Linen. Tomb. Fear. Waiting. Despair. Stone. Mary. Running. Maybe? Peter. John. Belief. Enlightenment. Truth. Mankind. Alive. Alive. Alive!

Jesus Turns Things Around

This is an article on Easter from pastor Mark Batterson. It's a good word in the middle of an Easter week.
 "One of my earliest movie memories is the 1978 version of Superman. I remember sitting in the theater, and honestly, any movie from the 70s is a little disappointing at this point when you show it to your kids, it doesn’t have all the special effects, but when I was a kid, it was pretty amazing. I remember one scene in particular. Lois Lane is driving through some desert terrain and there was an earthquake and this earthquake swallows up her car and Superman can’t get there in time to prevent it from happening. So Superman gets super angry and flies a counter rotational around the earth at supersonic speed reversing the rotation of the earth, thereby turning back time. Now, I know that on a scientific level, there are problems with that. For example, the earth spins on its axis at about 1,000 miles an hour, so if Superman had really done that, he would have saved Lois but everybody else would have died of whiplash! But don’t you wish you could do that? All of us, there are things that we’ve said, things we’ve done, and if we could just, oh, excuse me for a second, I’ve got to fly around the earth at supersonic speed and I’ll be right back and we’ll pick up before I left off. See, there’s a part of us that makes it difficult for us to deal with things we can’t seem to change. The truth is, the arrow of time points in one direction, some things are irreversible.
The second law of thermodynamics, what’s done is done. Cars rust, toys break, ice cream melts, people die. There are some things you can’t undo. But here’s the good news of the gospel. Here’s where the gospel meets the reality of our lives that we don’t want to accept. But here’s the good news, you don’t have to accept it because there is a higher reality in play, because if you read the gospels, what you discover is this, Jesus routinely reversed the irreversible! He reversed weather systems, He reversed blindness. There were no nerves between the optic nerve and the visual cortex, nothing there, no one had ever heard of a man being born blind and then receiving sight, but Jesus reverses things that are irreversible. He reverses leprosy. 2,000 years ago, He reversed death itself. So what we celebrate is the fact that there is a God who is higher than, who is bigger than the universal laws and the universe that He has created. What God accomplished on that resurrection morning is He defeated death, He reversed the irreversible. And I would suggest that that is exactly what He came to do in your life. He came to reverse the effects of sin, we’ll talk about that in a moment. He came to reverse the effects of death. That’s who He is and what He does."


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Barrabas and Me

In this week before Easter, what character in the biblical Easter Story do you most identify with? How about Barrabas - the guilty one who gets to go free. This is a thoughtful article from David Mathis.

Hope In Discouraging Times

Hope in Discouraging Times - Randy Alcorn writes: "There is a gift God has given his people in all ages that has enabled them not just to hold on, but to experience fulfillment even in times of great difficulty. This gift is hope."

Do Your Friends Know What Easter Means?

Do Your Friends Know What Easter Means? Adrian Warnock says that they probably don't.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Thinking About the World God "so loved" (John 3:16)

Last night I returned from a trip to Guatemala. We took family vacation time so the four of us could travel together. Aside from time together, we were traveling in the western part of the country visiting with church leaders about future ministry opportunities for our church. We were blessed by the vision, sacrifice, and commitment of these men and women. They cared for the poor, the hungry, the sick, and those living in spiritual darkness. I saw aged spiritual leaders still moved to tears by the needs of the people. We found multiple ways to partner with believers and churches.

In two weeks I will go with a team from our church to Malawi - one of the most impoverished nations in the world. We wll work with church leaders again to share the love of God in a hard part of the world.

Upon my return I noticed that last week was David Livingstone's birthday. I wanted to share a little of his story as I have been thinking and praying about God's work in this world:

David Livingstone was born March 19, 1813. He gave his life to serve Christ in the exploration of Africa for the sake of the access of the gospel.

On December 4, 1857, he spoke the sentence that has made the greatest impact on me. It is one of the clearest applications I have seen of Jesus' words in Mark 10:29-30. Jesus said,

Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.

Here is what Livingstone said to the Cambridge students about his "leaving" the benefits of England:

For my own part, I have never ceased to rejoice that God has appointed me to such an office. People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. . . . Is that a sacrifice which brings its own blest reward in healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and a bright hope of a glorious destiny hereafter? Away with the word in such a view, and with such a thought! It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege. Anxiety, sickness, suffering, or danger, now and then, with a foregoing of the common conveniences and charities of this life, may make us pause, and cause the spirit to waver, and the soul to sink; but let this only be for a moment. All these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall be revealed in and for us. I never made a sacrifice.

(Cited in Samuel Zwemer, "The Glory of the Impossible" in Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, Ralph Winter and Stephen Hawthorne, eds. [Pasadena: William Carey Library, 1981], p. 259. Emphasis added.)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Women and Children First: A Tale of Two Ships

Al Mohler comments on a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences looks at the difference in the behavior of the men aboard the two sinking ships. It's an interesting application. The difference was remarkable. Aboard the Titanic, the men generally behaved with great concern for women and children, doing their best to get the women and children into the precious and insufficient seats in the lifeboats. Hundreds of men died with the Titanic, demonstrating a commitment to put the welfare and lives of women and children above their own.

Aboard the sinking Lusitania, the scene was very different. Women and children were less likely than men to survive that disaster, because the men used their natural strength and speed to take the spaces on the lifeboats, with women and children forced out of their way....continue reading...

Busy Moms and the Bible

In this excerpt from Simplify Your Spiritual Life: Spiritual Disciplines for the Overwhelmed Donald Whitney gives sound advice for busy moms. (HT:Josh Harris)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Churchhill's Greatness

Kevin DeYoung looks at Winston Churchill and finds lessons in his life. It's a short article with sharp applications.

Permanence Before Experience

A new study conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics suggests two very important findings: First, that cohabiting is now the norm for younger adults. Second, cohabiting makes divorce more likely after eventual marriage. This is an interesting discussion of an article from The New York Times that runs against common cultural belief about cohabitating prior to marriage.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

In our 40 Days of Love journey as a church we have focused heavily on 1 Corinthians 13 - "the love chapter" in the Bible. There, Paul gives a great definition of love. One of the characteristics of real love is that it is "not easily angered." Last Sunday we talked about anger and in the message I shared a couple of lists. We went through the material quickly and several people asked for a copy of the lists. Here they are:

When you remember the cost of uncontrolled anger you will be more motivated to manage it. You’re less likely to get angry if you realize that there’s always a price tag to anger. The Bible says, “An angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot-tempered one commits many sins” (Proverbs 29:22, NIV). How about these verses:

• Pr. 15:18 (GN) “Hot tempers cause arguments.”

• Pr. 14:29 (LB) “… anger causes mistakes.”

• Pr. 14:17 (GN) “People with hot tempers do foolish things.”

• Pr. 11:29 (LB) “The fool who provokes his family to anger and resentment will finally have nothing worthwhile left.”

What do you lose?...reputation, respect of others; your job; the love of your family; your health. When you say, “He’s such a pain in the…” and name your favorite anatomy part, it’s true. When I swallow my anger my stomach keeps score. Your body was not designed to handle anger. God didn’t mean for you to carry rage around inside of you. When you carry anger constantly in you, you get sick. There are all kinds of ailments people could get out of the hospital from if they weren’t carrying guilt, resentment, or anger. Remember the cost whenever you’re tempted to lose our temper.

Sometimes I hear people say something really mean or unkind to a kid or a husband or wife and you hear them say, “Oh, I don’t know what got into me. That’s not like me.”

Oh, yes it is. It’s exactly like you. Your mouth just reveals what’s in your heart. If it wasn’t in your heart it wouldn’t be coming out of your mouth. The problem is in your heart. If you’ve got bad water in a well, painting the pump isn’t going to do any good. You’ve still got bad water in the well. Your mouth just betrays what’s inside you.

• You find somebody with a harsh tongue, a cutting tongue, it reveals an angry heart.

• You find somebody with a negative tongue, you know they’ve got a fearful heart.

• You find somebody with a boasting tongue, you know they’ve got an insecure heart.

• You find somebody with a judgmental tongue, they’re always judging everybody, you know they’ve got a guilty heart.

• You find somebody with a critical tongue, they’re always nagging and being critical, they’ve got a bitter heart.

• You find somebody with a filthy tongue, you know they’ve got an impure heart.

On the other hand, if you find somebody who’s always encouraging…they have a happy heart. You know what’s on the inside of them. If they’re always speaking in a gentle way you know they’ve got a loving heart. If they’re always being loving and controlled in their words you know they’ve got a peaceful heart.

What we need is a heart transplant. You need a new heart. David says this in Psalm 51, “Create in me a clean heart, O God” (Psalm 51:10, NLT). That’s what you need to say today: God I need a clean heart.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Love Week Reflection - Home


I remember reading a Peanuts cartoon in which Lucy interrupted Schroeder, the piano-loving intellectual. She was infatuated with him and wanted to catch his attention. So Lucy hinted at her interest by asking, “Schroeder, do you know what love is?” Schroeder abruptly stopped his piano playing, stood to his feet, and said precisely, “Love: a noun; to be fond of; to have a strong affection for or an attachment to a person or persons.” Then he sat back down and resumed playing his piano. Lucy sat there stunned and then murmured sarcastically, “On paper, he’s great.” We can talk theories for a long time about love but there must be dedication to application in our homes.

I once heard someone joke that home is the place where family members go when they are tired of being nice to other people. Some homes seem to work that way. A salesman spends his day treating clients with the utmost kindness, often in the face of rejection, in order to build his business, but he is inconsiderate and rude when he comes home to his wife. A doctor spends the day being caring and compassionate with her patients, but she comes home exhausted and blows up with her children.

Walter Burghardt wrote, “Lovers can be impossibly impatient: ‘What in God’s name took you so long?’ Lovers can be unbearably unkind: ‘Don’t bother me now: The Rangers have the bases loaded.’ Lovers can be jarringly jealous: ‘That smile is reserved for me.’ Lover can be maddeningly rude: ‘How can you possibly be so clumsy?’ Lovers can and do insist on their own way, take their irritations out on the nearest and the dearest, believe only what they can see, hope for what is satisfying to them individually, endure only as much as they must.” (When Christ Meets Christ, 1993).

As a foundation for family…we need to first understand that God loves us and we must dedicate ourselves to loving one another…and beginning that process and focusing that love at home. First Corinthians 13 says, "Love is patient and kind..."...even at home.

Country Music and Love

As I understand it, the songs listed below are all actual titles/lines from country music songs. It may explain why Valentine's Day creates such stress and confusion in relationships. They may have also contributed to the confusion about what love really is supposed to look like. The Bible defines love this way (you can compare this with the country music versions):

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).

That's what real love is supposed to look like in all our relationships. Here's the other side of the story:

All I Want From You (Is Away)
All My Exes Live in Texas
Heaven's Just a Sin Away
How Can I Miss You if You Won't Go Away?
How Come Your Dog Don't Bite Nobody but Me?
I Bought the Shoes That Just
Walked Out on Me
I Got Tears in My Ears From Lying on My Bed Crying on My Pillow Over You
I Keep Forgettin' I Forgot About You
I'd Rather Pass Another Kidney Stone
Than Another Night With You
If the Jukebox Took Teardrops
If the Phone Doesn't Ring, It's Me
If You Leave Me, Can I Come Too?
I've Been Flushed From the Bathroom of Your Heart
My Wife Ran Off With My Best Friend and I Sure Do Miss Him
Shut Up and Talk to Me
Thank God and Greyhound She's Gone
There's a Tear in My Beer
Your Negligee Has Turned to Flannel Nightgowns
You're a Hard Dog to Keep Under the Porch
You're Going to Ruin My Bad Reputation
You're the Reason Our Kids Are So Ugly



Love One Another

We are in a series at church called "40 Days of Love." We are exploring how to live out a life of love in all our circles of influence and relationship. We love because God loves us. How does God love us - extravagantly, extremely, and beyond all we could ever earn or deserve. How does the Bible call us to love one another?...the same way God shows His love to us. What does that even begin to look like?

There once was a church that decided to reach out to the college campus located right across the street from the church. So, they printed up some brochures and placed them around the college campus inviting the students to worship with this congregation. Most of the congregation was skeptical, but went along with the idea.

Well, on Sunday morning the worship service started. People in the church looked around and just as they suspected, there were no college students. After the time of singing, the pastor started to preach and a young man, obviously a college student, walked through the back door. He was wearing tattered jeans and a t-shirt. He was scanning the room looking for a place to sit, trying not to disturb the service. No one moved to help or offer him a seat. Finally, he simply made his way down the aisle and plopped down on the floor in the middle of the aisle. The pastor wasn’t quite sure what to do, so he just kept preaching. Finally, after a couple of minutes one of the old elders got up. He was a long time member of the church and started down the aisle in his coat and tie. People in the congregation thought, “Finally, it is about time someone in leadership went and told the young man that this was inappropriate for a worship service.” The elder reached the front of the church where the college student was sitting. And, without saying a word, he sat on the floor with the young man and stayed there through the rest of the sermon.

I love stories like that because they are about unexpected love. So, how about it? Who could you surprise with your love this week? Who could you ambush with grace and kindness? Go for it this week. When you feel the prompting, say “yes.” You are never off track when you are expressing love to people.