Thursday, August 31, 2006

Are you a happy person? Would others say that you have a joy that inhabits your soul? If you'd like to grow in this character trait, try ending your day creating a gratitude journal. Simply ask God to show you, or just think of and write down three things that you were truly grateful for that day.

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Albert Einstein

Which way are you living your life?

And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. For everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God's message without fear. Philippians 1:12-15

It's pretty clear which way Paul lived his.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

We need to remember what life is about and what it isn't. It's not about impressing our friends or making lots of money or outdoing the gang who graduated with us.

Life is about becoming more like Jesus daily: doing what he did, living like he lived, loving others like he loves others. This way of following Jesus is a special thing - it is the true definition of success.

Remember upon the conduct of each depends the fate of all. Alexander the Great

"The purpose of life is not to win. The purpose of life is to grow and to share. When you come to look back on all that you've done in life, you will get more satisfaction from the pleasure you have brought into other people's lives than you will from the times that you outdid them and defeated them." Rabbi Harold Kushner

Matthew 16:24
"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Today is where the rubber meets the road when it comes to what God is after in you: Trust.

When we struggle with life we can't help but ask "Why?" The bigger question, though, the one that ultimately is of greatest concern to God is:

Do you see God as big enough, strong enough, wise enough, kind enough for you to trust that He knows what He's doing with your life?

During our times of heartbreak, sadness and grief, we are usually focused on "Why?," while God is consumed with "Do you trust me?"

Do you believe that is the essence of faith and what God longs for in your life?

The end, or goal, of a God-ordained life is God.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Stolen Identity by Ted van Diepen (from Sunday, August 20)

Stolen identity has become a real problem in the electronic or cyber world. People can get a hold of information about you and begin to live your life and spend your money.

The Matrix illustrates the ultimate in Stolen Identity. Our true identity has been stolen from us and we have been duped into believing we are something completely different.

There are two persons involved in your transformation process who have a significant influence on the outcome: One who is a vision and the other is an illusion.

The biggest deterrent in your becoming the person you want to be is the person you think you are.

We all have an illusion of ourselves that we have painstakingly created through time, tears, pain, and suffering. We have invested a lifetime into creating and supporting this illusion. We think we are this illusion!

Two thousand years ago our old man – all that we were apart from God – was crucified.

I have been crucified with Christ: and I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the real life I now have within this body is a result of my trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20 TLB

That death is not something we need to make happen. It is the reality.

Becoming the person who lives in consistent victory, prosperity, joy, and peace is totally dependent on leaving the past behind. Jesus did not die and conquer death and hell to clean up your old life. He did all that to give you a new life. The person you used to be, not just what you used to do, is dead—you were crucified with Christ!

You can’t get on with your new life in Christ if you think there is anything left to resolve in the old life!

The heart of the Gospel is the fact that Christ gave Himself in a complete exchange where God “made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corimthians 5:21

In Jesus, your old man is really dead!

Your old identity is established by the sum total of your life’s experiences. Everything that has ever occurred in your life and all of the judgments you have passed about those events shape and define who you believe you are.

Holding onto our old identity keeps us locked into the old life with all of its problems. We don’t need to crucify the old man. He has been crucified already. We simply need to accept his death and let his memory die. That will only happen as we assume a new identity, a new sense of self, based totally on the finished work of Jesus.

Our reality, to the degree that it is inconsistent with God’s, is an illusion.

Too many of us have used our past experiences as the standard for measuring and judging reality. Instead of establishing a life paradigm from the Bible and using that as a basis for interpreting and understanding life, we have used our experience as a means to understand and interpret God’s Word

One of the ways you know that you believe something in your heart instead of just your head is when this belief alters your sense of identity. Until it is a heart belief, it will not change your life.

We can’t get on with resurrection life if all of our focus is on our former life. That life was a shame. Let it die the death it deserves.

Paul’s advice to us was: Even so consider yourselves also dead to sin and your relationship to it broken…. Romans 6:11

This is part of renewing your mind: accepting all of the New Testament realities as fact. Consider them so. When you consider them (in your heart) to be true, your perception changes; your basis of logic and reasoning changes; but more importantly, when you accept God’s New Testament truth as real, you experience His grace that empowers you to live that reality.

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old has gone, the new has come!

It is impossible to put on a new identity while holding onto the old. The identity that you magnify in your thoughts, the “you” that you think about, becomes your sense of reality. And you become empowered by that sense of reality.

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Rom 6:6-7 NIV.

As we renew our minds, this new identity becomes our sense of self. To the degree that this becomes our reality, we will live in this new identity.

Without accepting the crucified reality (When Christ died, you died!), you will never escape your past. Instead you will continue to spend your life counseling it, cleaning up and trying to overcome it. That person is dead. Leave the dirt on the grave and move on.

For anyone who keeps his life for himself shall lose it; and anyone who loses his life for me shall find it again. What profit is there if you gain the whole world—and lose eternal life? What can be compared to the value of eternal life? Matt 16:25, 26.

There is no way to follow Jesus unless we follow him in death. We don’t have to suffer death for our sins; Jesus paid that price. He died the death that awaits everyone born into sin. In order to enter God’s reality, you must give up your own.

You can’t crucify your old man. You can’t make him any more dead than he is. All you can do is consider it so in Christ.

The question is will we accept that death? Will we lay down all that life with all its memories and false identity? And will we now see ourselves as God has made us to be through Christ? To hold onto the illusion is a vain attempt to save your life. You are already dead. To accept that death is to live in a new power, a new strength, and a new destiny!

Faith looks at the outrageous claims of God’s Word and considers them to be so!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Find Someone to Believe In

Mentoring is crucial to our being able to finish well as Christ followers, and to help us overcome our own personal character struggles. It benefits us greatly to seek out someone, or several individuals, who can guide us through the maze of life. Here are some sample questions to help focus who attracts you as a mentor,

What would he/she do in my situation?

What do they do every day to encourage growth?

How do they think in general? How do they think in specific situations?

Do they have their life in balance?

Can I learn from this person?

Saturday, August 26, 2006

More from Bono @ The Leadership Summit

Dave Ferguson was able to type quickly & get all of these Bono quotes from the Summit. Enjoy!

"The most rewarding part of this past year? Selfishly, it is to wake up with a melody in my head and heart. But beyond my music it is the work we are doing with the ONE campaign."

"I never had a problem with was Christians that gave me problems...they seemed completely disinterested culturally and politically...they seemed very strange to me."

"The world works on the principle of Karma; what you put out comes back to you...but then enters the story of grace in the person of Christ and it turned the world on it's head."

"Duality is the mark of really great art and it's what is missing in Christian art. It's missing the tension that is missing...the attempt to wrestle truth to the ground is often absent."

"Much of gospel music seems fake to me...pretending that everything is o.k...I relate more to the blues...that sounds like the song of David to me."

"Jesus was either a Charles Manson - a nut case or he was who he said he was. I'm fascinated by a child born into straw poverty. The Christmas story is a remarkable story that never ceases to amaze me."

"How in a world of plenty can people be left to starve? We think, 'it's just the way of the world'. And if it is the 'way of the world' we must overthrow the 'way of the world.'"

"Redemption is an economic term."

"What else are you going to do with thing called 'celebrity''s absolutely ridiculous that it is valued more than being a teacher or more than being a mother...but it is currency and I decided that I was going to spend mine.""God has made me an opportunist."

"Great ideas are like great melodies...they are memorable and a moral force whose time has come...and there is movement behind them."

"The reason the church has been slow to respond is that the church has historically always been behind the curve: civil rights, apartheid...the church is afraid of politics. The second reason the church has been so slow is less palatable..the church has been very judgmental about the AIDS believes that it is about people living irresponsibly. Only 6% of evangelicals felt like they were to act in response to the AIDS epidemic. But the Christ will not let the church walk away from the AIDS is like a car crash, we have to act. AIDS is the leprosy of our age. But then something tragic happened...the church woke up and began to act...and they ruined it for me...I couldn't hate the church anymore."

"Love your neighbor is not's a command. Should an accident of longitude and latitude really decide whether you live or whether you die? There are 2003 verses in scripture about the poor, second only to personal salvation. Jesus speaks of judgment only once and that is the passage in Matthew where we are asked: 'who clothed the naked?' and 'who fed the poor?' and 'who visited those in prison?' That defines whether you are a part of the Kingdom or not."

"If the Christian church can lead this movement it can eradicate malaria in 10 years...and then AIDS."

"Stop asking God to bless what you are doing...find out what God is doing - it is already blessed!"

"This generation could end stupid poverty...we really can fix that in our generation."

"'Thy Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven' is a phrase that grabs every detail of our lives we need to seek that."

"The world is more malleable than you think."

"Bill Hybels has convinced me of the importance of the church as the moral force and practical infrastructure for solving the worlds problems. Open the doors of your church and make them an AIDS clinic. Your charity is important, but your passion for justice is needed. I'm asking for your voice and for you to give permission to fix these problems that are fixable. It's not a burden, it's an's an adventure!"

Friday, August 25, 2006

I love what Bobby Clinton writes about the honest, authentic journey with Jesus Christ:

CHRISTIAN FAITH that has the ring of authenticity,
• is tested and strengthened by temptation,
• is manifested in life style,
• is illustrated by control of one's words,
• is rooted in character with proper underlying motivations, and
• waits for the Lord's coming with expectant prayer answering faith.


“The local bar often communicates a more accepting atmosphere than the church. In the midst of a casualty creating world, the church needs to be a place where we come with wounds exposed and hear a loud and clear, ‘grace dispensed here.’” Bruce Larson

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Thumper's Rule

Do you remember the correct caption for the picture above?

Ephesians 4:29
Don't use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

Would you prefer to hear words of encouragement or words of criticism from your parents, your boss, or closest friends?

Proverbs 15:1
A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.

If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all! Thumper's mom

James 1:19
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.

"Two things are hard on the heart—running uphill and running down people."

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Tracks Of My Tears

"The closest communion with God comes, I believe, through the sacrament of tears. Just as grapes are crushed to make wine and grain to make bread, so the elements of this sacrament come from the crushing experiences of life." Ken Gire

"Did you ever take a real trip down inside the broken heart of a friend? To feel the sob of the soul-the raw, red crucible of emotional agony? To have this become almost as much yours as that of your soul-crushed neighbor? Then, to sit down with him-and silently weep? This is the beginning of compassion." Jess Moody

"We can hug our hurts and make a shrine out of our sorrows, or we can offer them to God as a sacrifice of praise. The choice is ours." Richard Exley

Psalm 56:8
You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Happy Anniversary!

“Is marriage today a cocoon for mule-like young men to transform into great men or is it a place where stubborn mules just grow more stubborn?”

This question echoes in my thoughts here on my 14th anniversary to a most wonderful wife.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Spiritual Discipline

Earl Creps challenges us that we need the work of the Holy Spirit in rearranging ouir interior life in order for us to become more like the Jesus Christ we purport to follow. The main way we work with God in this fashion is to engage in the spiritual disciplines. Perhaps you believe that there are only two, prayer and Bible reading, but I assure you there are many more!

These opportunities for spiritual growth contain several dilemmas, according to Creps:

Scarcity: despite their benefits, they are not practiced enough.

Practicality: they tend to operate in isolation from real life, serving as the “national anthem” before the ball game that starts whenever we go to work.

Performance: they cannot be correlated to ministry “success” in any consistent way; in other words, unspiritual people accomplish a lot while more spiritual people labor in obscurity.

Character: to speak for myself, I’ve met too many bad people who practice these disciplines rigorously and are unchanged by them.

Mission: churches are filled with people who are committed to prayer and Scripture but either have no concern for mission or actively resist the changes that it requires.

“The Disciplines are best exercised in the midst of our normal daily activities. If they are to have any transforming effect, the effect must be found in the ordinary junctures of human life.” Richard Foster

How are you in engaging in regular times of reflection of following Christ? Are you able to pray, fast, read, give, and to see opportunities for Jesus to mold you daily?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Mark Goulston has some great words on self -esteem. He writes that, "Self-esteem is crucial to how much or how little contentment you feel at the end of your life."

As Christ followers we get our sense of worth, our self-esteem, from the fact that we have the opportunity to grow to be more like Jesus Christ.

It is most definitely a journey of growth, discipline and love. Have a look at Goulston's "Top 10 Measures of Self-Esteem" and ask God to speak to your own growing sense of worth:

1. How much you do to raise and DON'T do to lower the self-esteem of others
2. How long you sustain an effort outside of your comfort zone to help the common good.
3. How full an effort you give to a fair decision that you disagree with.
4. How easily you ask for help or assistance.
5. How quickly and sincerely you thank someone who has helped you.
6. How quickly you offer help without the other person having to ask for it.
7. How fully you forgive and forget after you've been hurt and how quickly you move on.
8. How quickly you recognize and earnestly you apologize for your failures of commission or omission.
9. How enthusiastically you congratulate someone else on an achievement or good fortune.
10. How much more you give to the world than you take from it.

Immature love is loving someone for what they do right; Mature love is loving someone in spite of what they do wrong. Mark Goulston

Saturday, August 19, 2006

"Some people are poor because of oppression (someone else's fault); some from calamity (no one's fault); some because of personal sin (their fault). There's no way of dealing with the poor through just one of those perspectives. You have to spend enough time with them to know, and that informs the way you work with them." Harry Lehotsky

Harry Lehotsky: A true hero.

Late Ripeness

Not soon, as late as the approach of my ninetieth year,
I felt a door opening in me and I entered
the clarity of early morning.

One after another my former lives were departing,
like ships, together with their sorrow.

And the countries, cities, gardens, the bays of seas
assigned to my brush came closer,
ready now to be described better than they were before.

I was not separated from people,
grief and pity joined us.
We forget—I kept saying—that we are all children of the King.

For where we come from there is no division
into Yes and No, into is, was, and will be.

We were miserable, we used no more than a hundredth part
of the gift we received for our long journey.

Moments from yesterday and from centuries ago –
a sword blow, the painting of eyelashes before a mirror
of polished metal, a lethal musket shot, a carvel
staving its hull against a reef—they dwell in us,
waiting for a fulfillment.

I knew, always, that I would be a working in the vineyard,
as are all men and women living at the same time,
whether they are aware of it or not. Czeslaw Milosz

Friday, August 18, 2006

When you've been let down, what does it take for you to trust again?

Do you 'ice' the person in question?

There is a huge difference between trusting someone again and forgiving someone. Love is always free, but trust is earned.

I cannot blame them for what I do with what they do to me. I am responsible for how I respond. Henry Cloud

We cannot keep the birds from flying over our heads, but we do not have to let them build nests in our hair. Martin Luther

For the quadrants above (by Robert Fisher):
Suspicious still: Don't ever trust anyone, even after they have done something nice.

Suspicious until: Don't trust anyone until they prove themself.

Trust until: Trust people until they screw up.

Trust still: Trust people even after they make mistakes, sometimes even when they hurt you.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

On the first day of life there is nothing to remember and everything to hope. Aristotle

“A way of life cannot be successful so long as it is mere intellectual conviction. It must be deeply felt, deeply believed, dominant even in dreams.” Bertrand Russell

Following Jesus is exactly that kind of life; there isn't a neutral option, it's either going forward 'pedal to the metal' or in another direction. Hope, passion and dreams will draw you forward. In giving your life away you'll actually find it and in so doing become the hope of the world!

“Wishful thinking will get you nowhere, but hopeful thinking will take you everywhere.” Andrew Razeghi

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

You've undoubtedly heard the expression, "time heals all wounds." Unfortunately, it isn't true! The truth is, time often makes things worse. Wounds that are left untended fester and spread infection throughout the entire body. Time only extends the pain if the problem isn't dealt with. Rick Warren

It's actually possible to draw energy from the festering wounds we've received. In that case, instead of experiencing a gradual healing, we in reality infect others with our own relational and emotional pus.

"We can hug our hurts and make a shrine out of our sorrows, or we can offer them to God as a sacrifice of praise. The choice is ours." Richard Exley

Reach out to those that God has placed around you for healing and support. Take hold of a dawning hope.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

“The giants of the Christian faith all had one thing in common: neither victory nor success, but passion.” Phil Yancey

Fueling that passion is the best preparation for the next emotional hit that comes your way.

“The Lord will not wish to count my trophies, but my scars.” Frank Laubach

Which of your scars is God counting? Are they are part of something much bigger than you? Who, or what fuels your passion?

Monday, August 14, 2006

God @ The Movies: Millions

Today we look at the movie Millions. I chose it because I don’t think anyone here has seen it. It is after all, a British film from last year. Who has watched it?

A subtitle could be ‘Prosperity With a Purpose’. We’ve been looking at the questions, "Who are we; where did we come from; what should we do, and where are we going?" during this series. Today we clearly address what should we be doing.

Learn as many of life’s difficult lessons as you can from others.

We’ll pick the story up on the first day of school at a new school for Damian & Anthony, two brothers of elementary age. We’ll see the scene open up as their father, a widower, drops the boys off for school and sends them on their way with words of encouragement that only a father would attempt to use.

Scene 1 Chapter 2 7.06-8.48

While most of the boys talk about soccer players for Manchester United, Damian talks about his admiration for Catholic saints. Interesting. I still remember my first day of school in Grade Two. We had moved to north Edmonton because my mom was just remarried. I was terrified, and my oldest brother Larry walked to my first class. Mrs. Fargey was my teacher…

In this next scene, the boys and their father are a part of a community meeting concerning burglaries in this new neighborhood that they’ve moved into.

Scene 2 Chapter 3 10.50-12.06

The Mormons here represent any Christian group. Could easily have been labeled, “Baptists” or "Pentecostals" for that matter. One thing that Damian learned from his older brother was to mention that “our mom is dead”, and people will often give you things. Far from saying it to express grief, they simply use it like a magician might use abracadabra!

Everybody comes into life with some luggage. Or if you want to call it what it is, some baggage.

Now here’s where things get really interesting. Damian is lying in his cardboard box playhouse out by the train tracks doing what any 6 year old would do, when a train starts rattling his fun. He looks up and…

Scene 3 Chapter 4 15.30-18.50

Anybody notice what’s on the bag? The Nike swoosh: Just Do It!

What would you think if you all of a sudden had a big bag of money fall from the sky? Bought any lottery tickets recently? How about for that 30+ million jackpot for Lotto 6/49. By the way, did anybody win it?

Damian thinks God has sent the money. Wouldn’t you? Remember when I mentioned that he has catholic saints as heroes? Well that’s because they appear to me and talk with him. Let’s watch his talk with St. Francis of Assisi…

Scene 4 Chapter 5 19.35- 21.30

Right after this scene Saint Nick appears and helps Damian stuff several thousand pounds into the mailbox of the Mormons who live nearby. He thinks that they’re ‘poor’, and he wants to give the money away to the poor, because that’s what God would want.

1 Samuel 3:2-10
One night Eli, who was almost blind by now, had gone to bed. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was sleeping in the Tabernacle near the Ark of God. Suddenly the LORD called out, "Samuel!"

"Yes?" Samuel replied. "What is it?" He got up and ran to Eli. "Here I am. Did you call me?"

"I didn't call you," Eli replied. "Go back to bed." So he did.

Then the LORD called out again, "Samuel!" Again Samuel got up and went to Eli. "Here I am. Did you call me?"

"I didn't call you, my son," Eli said. "Go back to bed."

Samuel did not yet know the LORD because he had never had a message from the LORD before. So the LORD called a third time, and once more Samuel got up and went to Eli. "Here I am. Did you call me?"

Then Eli realized it was the LORD who was calling the boy. So he said to Samuel, "Go and lie down again, and if someone calls again, say, `Speak, LORD, your servant is listening.'"

So Samuel went back to bed. And the LORD came and called as before, "Samuel! Samuel!" And Samuel replied, "Speak, your servant is listening."

God still speaks to little boys. Growing up I didn’t know God by name, yet I always knew he was there. There was no real reason for this. We never went to church, and I really didn’t have a great spiritual influence guiding me, either.

One of the most important journey lessons in following Jesus Christ is learning to hear his voice. How does God speak to you? Are you listening?

We might say that Damian is listening and hearing from God. His stance is one of generosity, characterized by “give, give, give”, or “yours, yours, yours”.

John 10:3-5, 10
He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won't follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don't know his voice. I have come to give them life, and life to the fullest.

God is a giving God. In John 3:16 we read that God gave his own son…

Well that worldview, the giving idea that has taken hold of Damian is about to be contrasted with a worldlier, more common Edmonton understanding that is all about greed, or ‘mine, mine, mine’.

Scene 5 Chapter 6 24.03- 25.20

Money doesn’t buy happiness but Anthony seems to think it can rent it for awhile. While Anthony is buying a better life Damian keeps meeting more of those saints. Lets watch as he encounters one from Uganda.

Scene 6 Chapter 6 26.50- 28.25

All of these visions have a profound effect on Damian. He is continually hearing from God, albeit in some unique ways and with some interesting twists.

In preparing for the annual Christmas concert, Damien is playing Joseph. His teacher interrupts the rehearsal to tell him that Joseph should be tired as he checks for a place for he and Mary to stay. Damian says that he would be excited because he’s about to be a father. The teacher says, ‘lets try ‘nervous’.’ Damian mutters to himself, “I would have said, ‘focused.’”

The story takes an interesting twist itself when we discover that the money was stolen from a train and thrown overboard. The thief shows up and stalks Damian, wanting his money. It turns out that it’s about a week to “E-Day”, the day that England joins the European family using the Euro. All Pound Sterling is going to be converted to Euros and then burned. This train was loaded with Pound Sterling to be burned!

Not only do they have all of this money, but it has to be spent or converted. Just do it!

Scene 7 Chapter 16 67.54-69.06

Mama always said there’s only some money you really need; everything else is window dressing. Forrest Gump

When Damian’s dad says, “I’ve bloody well earned it!”, had he really? How does Damian's dad justify his behavior? How do we justify our own?

Scene 8 Chapter 19 84.40- 88.17

God uses the dreams and visions to speak to Damian. What is God saying to you in your dreams and visions? Damian said, “Money is just a thing and things change.”

His mom reminds him that as simple as money is, it really complicated their life. And relationships are way more complicated than that. It’s true because one of life’s toughest lessons in following Jesus is that it’s better to be loving than to be right. We usually choose being right, a ‘thing’ over love and relationships.

When was the last time money played a significant part in one of your relationships? How did it change things?

Your childhood carries a choice: Use it for good, or lose the lessons it taught you.

There are a couple of great lessons in Millions: God still speaks, especially to young people, and even us older ones on occasion. Penny recently saw a film called An Inconvenient Truth about global warming and she felt God said to her, “My child, what are you and everyone else doing to the planet?”

The second great lesson is where does your own livelihood, your personal wealth, all of your possessions and money come from? And better yet, what are you going to do with it? What is God saying to you about your money?

We all are facing an E-Day. Call it the End of our life or end times day. It may only be a week away for some of us, for others it could be decades. It will come, though. Make no mistake about that. Just do it- ‘it’ being what God wants us to do.

1 Corinthians 15:58
So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” Albert Einstein

Scene 9 Chapter 20 90.49- 93.27

“We have all these vaccines and yet people are dying in Africa. The inequity is gross. One day, Bill sent me an e-mail saying, ‘Dad, maybe we could do something about this.’ That’s when our global health initiative started. My son said in The New York Times, “There’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to cure the top twenty diseases.” So I said said, “Yes, I think that’s doable.” Bill Gates Sr.

"About eight years ago, Bill said that people in town (Seattle) were saying mean things about him -- that he didn’t answer his mail about requests for funding. So I said, “Why not give me all the mail? And I will meet with you quarterly or monthly and sort things out for you.” Bill Jr. said, “Good idea.” And thats how the foundation got started. Bill Gates Sr.

That foundation just receiced a $30 Billion gift from Warren Buffett. The two richest men in the world clearly want to be remembered for something other than amassing money!

What is God saying to you?

What is God saying about your money?

Where, or how, do you want your story to end?

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Al Gore's Grit

Al Gore was bitterly disappointed by the results of the 2000 US federal election, but after the defeat he returned to what has been a passion for nearly 40 years: Global climate change.

One of his favorite college professors was Roger Revelle, who was among the first scientists to begin measuring CO2 in the atmosphere.

The definition of serendipity is when fate has a sense of humor. What began through serendipity has become the strongest thread of Al Gore's work over the past 35 years.

Penny emailed me about the movie telling of the impact it's already had on her. Go see it. Get into the environmental game. The same indictments about the AIDS pandemic apply to the lack of Christian involvement in global warming. We can make a difference.

An Inconvenient Truth

When you pray, move your feet. African proverb

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Bono's Grit

Blown away.

That's all there is to say about Bill Hybel's interview with Bono at the Leadership Summit today. I should have just left as soon as it was over, ala George on Seinfeld.

Two decades removed from first seeing stupid poverty while he and his wife Alison visited Ethiopia after the first Live Aid concert, he is reshaping the global movement to end starvation, forgive debt and combat AIDS.

His stinging words of indictment about the whereabouts of the church early in the AIDS pandemic should be heard by all sincere Christ followers. And we wonder why so many people "Love Jesus But Hate The Church"?

Bono has certainly learned many a lesson, knocked on many a door, and risked all of his celebrity status to effect change on behalf of those who don't have a voice. It certainly encourages me that the movie Millions is our focus on Sunday at CoHo. Yeah God!

Isaiah 58
Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.

"Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind. Then when you call, the LORD will answer. Yes, I am here,' he will quickly reply.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Got Grit?

"I know God won't give me anything I can't handle. I just wish he didn't trust me so much!" Mother Theresa

A childhood friend of Mother Teresa recalls her saying in 1928, "I have decided to dedicate myself completely to God and to devote my life to going on missions and to serving souls." Theresa was 18 years old at the time! She then joined the Irish Catholic order of nuns that operated missions in India.

In 1946 Mother Theresa contracted tuberculosis. It was during that time that she received "a call within a call." Based on God's 'ask', she decided to devote herself to the poorest of the poor by working in the slums of Calcutta. Mother Theresa founded her own order, the Missionaries of Charity, whose work was to provide "free service to the poor and the unwanted, regardless of caste, creed, nationality or race."

Mother Theresa had grit. How about you?

Can you say "yes" to how many of the following statements?
I have achieved a goal that took several years of work.
I have overcome setbacks and conquered an important challenge.
I finish what I begin.
I won't let setbacks discourage me.
I am a very hard worker.
I am diligent.
I am currently working on a project that will take years to finish.
Life is more like a marathon than a sprint.
I discipline myself by practicing a sport, musical interest, or some other skill daily.

0-3 Get up off the couch and do something! Check your pulse!
4-6 Now is a good time to take inventory of what's important to yourself.
7-9 Way to go! You're on your way to finishing well.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

True Grit

Grit is having the passion and perseverance to achieve a worthy goal.

"Grit is tenaciously pursuing something over the long term. Perseverance or grit does make a difference in the long run. It allows a person to learn through their mistakes as well as through their successes. Also, by trying to achieve something day in and day out, you get better, and sooner or later, there is a breakthrough." Angela Duckworth, University of Pennsylvania

Was there an actor with more grit than John Wayne?

Was there a Christ follower with more grit than the apostle Paul?

The key to passing any grit test is that the thing being chased must be of the highest challenge.

It's all about passion!

Philippians 3:12-14
I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

So what are pressing onward for?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

God Loves You and Has A Difficult Plan For Your Life

Mark 1:11-13
And a voice from heaven said, "You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy." The Spirit then compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness, where he was tempted by Satan for forty days. He was out among the wild animals, and angels took care of him.

We all have temptations; some of us seem to struggle a little more with them than others. It's all a part of the journey...

James 1:2-4
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Better To Be Loving Than Right

Romans 13:8-10
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

In our journey of following Christ, we fulfill all that God wants of us by loving others.

Monday, August 07, 2006

God @ The Movies: Walk The Line

Walk the Line is a powerful story of redemption. It celebrates how patient love can overcome the most resistant heart. It also features both kinds of music: country and western!

Johnny Cash stands as a legend in the musical community: the first selected to both the Rock and Roll HOF and the Country Music HOF.

Johnny Cash doesn’t just sing to the damned. He sings with the damned, and sometimes you feel he might just prefer their company.” Bono

Walk the Line serves us with a powerful reminder about the choices we all face, the cries to God we all make. We’ve all crossed lines that we later regret. Today, as we follow the lines that Johnny Cash walked, you will maybe determine what line you are walking.

Into each life, some rain must fall.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Scene 1 Chapter 3 7.50- 10.27

Walk the Line begins with the accidental death of Johnny’s brother Jack, a dedicated Christian who intended to go into full-time ministry. On his deathbed, Jack asks Johnny, “Do you hear the angels?” Johnny’s father deepens the pain by declaring, “The devil did this. He took the wrong son.” This experience scarred Cash, affecting his relationships down the road, especially with his own father.

The Bible is full of stories of people who suffered tragedy and tribulation and how those experiences defined them. A good example is the story of Job, who literally had everything taken from him.

Job 17:1
My days are over. My hopes have disappeared. My heart's desires are broken.

We must grieve our losses and embrace the reality of our life.

John 16:20-22
“I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.”

“I’ve often wondered if rappers know how little separates their tales of ghetto thug life from Johnny Cash’s tales of backwoods thug life.” Quentin Tarantino

Cash’s music resonated with his listeners because it was true – no matter how much the truth hurt.

When Cash auditions for record producer Sam Phillips, he sings a gospel song but fails to impress Phillips. The producer challenges Johnny to “sing something real, something you felt. That’s the kind of song that truly saves people.”

Scene 2 Chapter 7 25.17- 28.48

“I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die” aren't the words of a drifter in Nevada; they speak to the murderous instincts lurking in all of our hearts.

More often than not, Cash found himself hiding behind the masks of drugs and alcohol and pretending to be something he wasn’t – a faithful husband, a devoted father and even a good friend.

In an interview later in life Cash admitted, “I used to sing all those gospel songs, but I never really felt them. And maybe I was a little bit ashamed of myself at the time because of the hypocrisy of it all: There I was, singing the praises of the Lord and singing about the beauty and the peace you can find in Him – and I was stoned.”

The life of a musician on the road is tough. Listen to the words of Jerry Lee Lewis as he rides with Johnny, June Carter, Elvis and others to another concert.

Scene 3 Chapter 13 45.27- 46.04 ‘We’re all going to hell.’

It almost seems as though every band has its own story of bottoming-out with drugs, money, women and other excesses that seriously jeopardize both family and career. Johnny Cash was no different. As a new rockabilly idol, Cash enjoyed the adoration of his female fans. But back in Memphis, his wife, Vivian, and young daughter, Roseanne, grew increasingly distant from his thoughts.

Scene 4 Chapter 18 65.33- 67.10 I Walk The Line

Can you hear the tension in his voice? Cash likely wrote, “I Walk the Line” because of crossing it rather than actually walking it.

As the movie progresses, Johnny admits his growing affection for and obsession with June Carter. While their onstage duets create serious sparks, a song like “Jackson” confesses the failures of both of their marriages: Young love doesn’t survive under the strain of touring.

Johnny and June sing Jackson as a duel confession. “We got married in a fever,” the fever of young, immature love. Now that the fire has gone out, Johnny admits his plans to go to Jackson and “mess around.” June says, fine, “Go ahead and wreck your health, make a big fool of yourself.”

If adultery almost unravels Cash’s marriage, his addiction to pills takes him even further into an abyss.

Drugs are so deceptive. It’s like a demon that say, ‘Hey, I’m so pretty, look at me; I’ll make you feel better! Take me.’ When you’re on that stuff one is too many and a thousand is not enough.”

To allow ourselves to be loved is risky. The potential for disappointment and heartbreak is always high, and June Carter knew that getting involved with Johnny Cash would test her like never before. Having already endured two divorces, she had plenty of reasons not to trust, not to risk, not to love.

“It took such a long time of praying and of walking away when I knew from first looking at him that his hurt was as great as mine, and from the depths of my despair, I stepped up to feel the fire and there is no way to be in that kind of hell, no way to extinguish a flame that burns, burns, burns. And so came the song, ‘Ring of Fire’.” June Carter Cash

In this song, June outlines the dangerous side of love – the fine line between love and lust, salvation and damnation.

Scene 5 Chapter 34 123.58- 128.33 Ring Of Fire and Jackson

Their marriage lasted 35 years, until June’s death in 2003. Johnny followed her home 4 months later.

Johnny Cash sings the tales of men trying to escape. Escape the law, escape the poverty they were born into, escape prison, escape madness, escape the people who torture them. But the one thing Cash never lets them escape is regret.” Quentin Tarantino

In his own life, Cash ended up with plenty of regrets: A failed marriage, a drug arrest, pushing away his one true love, June Carter, for so long. Essentially, Johnny became a prisoner in a cell on his own making.

Giving in to temptation is what leads to regret.

1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out, so you may be able to endure it.

What tempts you?

James 1:14-16
Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. Don't be misled, my dear brothers and sisters.

“There was so much hurt for both of us and hurt for those we loved that only God could have pulled us out of that ‘Ring of Fire.’ ” June Carter Cash

Johnny begins to experience that reality through the love and support of June.

Scene 6 Chapter 31 110.00- 112.36 'I helped a friend. God’s given you a second chance.'

In 2000, Johnny Cash told Rolling Stone Magazine “There is a spiritual side of me that goes real deep, but I confess right up front that I’m the biggest sinner of them all.”

“Big John sings like the thief who was crucified beside Christ, whose humble entreaties had Jesus promising that night he would see paradise.” Bono

One evening Bono sat down for dinner at the Cash's home. "Johnny said the most eloquent prayer of grace that I'd ever heard. As he lifted his head and opened his eyes he turned to me and said, 'I sure do miss the drugs, though.'"

Like most of us, Johnny Cash had to go through painful experiences in his life to understand the forgiveness and grace of God. We all must endure such trials and tribulations to realize our own frailty and inability to save ourselves.

Not long before his death, Cash wrote a searing meditation on the finality of life called When The Man Comes Around. We’re going to listen to it while we celebrate communion. Communion may never be the same for you- I know it won’t be for me.

Listen to what Cash writes in the music notes…

I spent more time on this song than any I ever wrote. It’s based, loosely, on the book of Revelation, with a couple of lines or a chorus, from other biblical sources. I must have written three dozen pages of lyrics, then painfully weeded it down to the song you have here. Johnny Cash

“The Man Comes Around”

And I heard, as it were, the noise of thunder:
One of the four beasts saying: "Come and see."
And I saw.
And behold, a white horse.

There's a man goin' 'round takin' names.
An' he decides who to free and who to blame.
Everybody won't be treated all the same.
There'll be a golden ladder reaching down.
When the man comes around.

The hairs on your arm will stand up.
At the terror in each sip and in each sup.
For you partake of that last offered cup,
Or disappear into the potter's ground.
When the man comes around.

Hear the trumpets, hear the pipers.
One hundred million angels singin'.
Multitudes are marching to the big kettle drum.
Voices callin', voices cryin'.
Some are born an' some are dyin'.
It's Alpha's and Omega's Kingdom come.
And the whirlwind is in the thorn tree.
The virgins are all trimming their wicks.
The whirlwind is in the thorn tree.
It's hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
Till Armageddon, no Shalam, no Shalom.
Then the father hen will call his chickens home.
The wise men will bow down before the throne.
And at his feet they'll cast their golden crown.
When the man comes around.

Whoever is unjust, let him be unjust still.
Whoever is righteous, let him be righteous still.
Whoever is filthy, let him be filthy still.
Listen to the words long written down,
When the man comes around.

Hear the trumpets, hear the pipers.
One hundred million angels singin'.
Multitudes are marchin' to the big kettle drum.
Voices callin', voices cryin'.
Some are born an' some are dyin'.
It's Alpha's and Omega's Kingdom come.
And the whirlwind is in the thorn tree.
The virgins are all trimming their wicks.
The whirlwind is in the thorn tree.
It's hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
In measured hundredweight and penny pound.
When the man comes around.

And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts,
And I looked and behold: a pale horse.
And his name, that sat on him, was Death.
And Hell followed with him.

"I expect my life to end pretty soon. I'm 71 years old. I have great faith, though. I have unshakable faith. I used to have regrets but I forgave myself. When God forgave me, I figured I'd better do it, too." Johnny Cash

John could live with no regrets because he grieved his past choices and accepted God’s forgiveness. Do that yourself before the man comes around.

The man will come around, you better believe it.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

On the headstone of Johnny Cash is the title of the song that defined his career, I Walk The Line. June Carter Cash's headstone is adorned with the title of her last album and favorite song, Wildwood Flower.

Wildwood Flower

I Walk The Line

What song would you use at this point in your life to define it? What song would you like to see on your headstone when all is said and done?

I've always thought When Love Comes To Town could be something that could go on mine...

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Jarrett Stevens has written a book called The Deity Formerly Known as God, where he looks at six harmful images of God, and then six helpful images of God. Discovering our own images of God is an important step for healing and growth in our lives.

The images of God that are harmful are the

1. Sweet Old Man
2. Cosmic Slot Machine
3. Talent Show Judge
4. All-You-Can-Eat Buffet
5. Your Parents . . . Supersized and my personal favorite,

6. Cop around the Corner

Stevens asks us, "What people or experiences have encouraged you to see God as an authority figure waiting to nail you?" What a great question.

My heart always pounds when those sirens and lights start flashing behind my car. Busted! And then they keep right on going and I wonder, "Why was I worried?" Good question, or maybe yet a God question.

So what’s your image of God? Go ahead, take a minute to describe God in words or phrases:
God is . . .
God is like a . . .

Friday, August 04, 2006

Along The Broken Road

"He who grows in grace remembers that he is but dust, and he therefore does not expect his fellow Christians to be anything more. He overlooks ten thousand of their faults, because he knows his God overlooks twenty thousand in his own case. He does not expect perfection in the creature, and, therefore, he is not disappointed when he does not find it. When our virtues become more mature, we shall not be more tolerant of evil; but we shall be more tolerant of infirmity, more hopeful for the people of God, and certainly less arrogant in our criticisms." C. H. Spurgeon

Thursday, August 03, 2006

A Lifetime Of Discipline and Pruning

The difference between discipline and punishment is that discipline is explained in advance and punishment is inflicted out of anger.

What do you do to your children? To the employees under your control?

How do you see God dealing with you- in punishment or discipline?

Proverbs 10:17
People who accept discipline are on the pathway to life, but those who ignore correction will go astray.

Hebrews 12:7-11
As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father?

If God doesn't discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all.

Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn't we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever?

For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God's discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness.

No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it's painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Our Experience Of "No"

As a Christ follower seeking God's will, are you open to His won't?

Ken Sande reminds us that many times we've asked, sought and knocked, only to hear God say, "No." It's especially hard when that "No" is conveyed through others to us, such as parents, bosses or leaders at church.

"No" is a difficult word for us to hear and accept. We quickly get convinced that God should do something. And when he doesn't, we often question his control. Sometimes we'll even question His love.

Faith is putting God between us and our circumstances. Unbelief is putting our circumstances between us and God. Mark Batterson

What do YOU do when God says "NO"?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

It's A Spiritual Journey

Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb. Sir Winston Churchill

Many of us want a map, but what we need is a compass...On this journey one thing becomes certain: when you move forward on what you know, things become clearer. When you refuse to act on what you know, all that you do not know paralyzes you. Erwin McManus

Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Philippians 3:13