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Showing posts from August, 2011

“When we make our central message anything other than the gospel of grace, we end up being known as a people of hate—judgmental, hypocritical, and defined by what we are against.”

A thought by Darren Whitehead and Jon Tyson (2011-07-19) from their book, Rumors of God: Experience the Kind of Faith You´ve Only HeardAbout (Kindle Locations 1160-1161). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Somewhere along the line we got off track.  They say it takes only two generations to get away from the core values of any organization and that for sure has been true of us. 

So why in the world would we take the greatest announcement that was ever given and make it the complete opposite?  I mean Jesus came into the world to save it not to condemn it.  That is what He said and that is what He did.

Now we live today in a world where we believe that people should get what they deserve.  This is one of the main reasons for a lot of people’s anger.  Somewhere in their life they didn’t get what they deserved in a positive way and it makes them angry.  Or someone did something wrong and they don’t get punished as they deserved to be punished and that makes them angry. 

But here is the problem.…

“You make decisions today as if today is isolated from tomorrow.”

A thought by Andy Stanley (2009-03-31) in his bookThe Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be(p. 41). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Over this weekend Irene came to visit us here on Long Island.  We knew she was coming.  All week we had followed her on TV.  I became close friends with the people on The Weather Channel and NBC Channel 4 New York City.

Now we had some decisions to make on Saturday that affected us on Sunday when Irene was on the Island.  Sunday was not the time to go to the grocery store because they were all boarded up and closed.  We were almost too late on Saturday for some things and we never did find extra flashlights. 

I find this fact also true in my task of trying to lose weight.  I may really want those vanilla cream filled donuts from Dunkin Donuts and I may convince myself that eating them won’t affect me but when I get on the scale the next morning I know the truth.  What I eat today will affect my weight tomorrow.

So much o…

“I define anxiety as experiencing failure in advance…and if you have anxiety about initiating a project, then of course you will associate risk with failure.”

A thought by Seth Godin (2011-03-01) in his book, Poke the Box (p. 14). The Domino Project. Kindle Edition.
Somehow risking has been taken out of our life style because we are so afraid to fail.

Think about this...I am a Los Angeles Dodgers’ fan.I love baseball and I love the Dodgers.To be honest it is tough being an LA fan this year. But any way, yesterday they played the St Louis Cardinals and a rookie by the name of Justin Sellers lead off.That means he is the first batter of the game.Now what if he sees that he is leading off so he goes to the manager and says, “Thanks, Mr. Mattingly for the confidence that you have placed in me but I am too afraid of leading off the game because I might strike out so could you put me down in the batting order?”What do you think Don Mattingly the Dodgers’ manager would do?He probably would send him to the minors to never ever play for the Dodgers again.Now the truth is, Sellers was on base two times and scored one run and was one of two in the start…

“Jesus himself was more concerned with engagement than condemnation.”

A thought by Gabe Lyons (2010-10-05) in his book,The Next Christians: The Good News Aboutthe End of Christian America(p. 81). Doubleday Religion. Kindle Edition.
I’m not always sure what Christ some of us Christ followers follow.Does that make sense?I mean, we spend so much of our time in the condemnation business and running away from or pushing away the type of people that Jesus spent time with.We do the opposite of what Jesus came to do.

It seems it is so easy for us to paint Jesus as one who is pointing His finger in judgment instead of reaching His hand out in compassion.Why is that?Are we reading a different gospel than the ones at the beginning of the New Testament?

Now His way is tough.That is true.I mean He was rejected and then killed.There is always that potential in engagement.But isn’t that what we have signed up for?There are risks in being an authentic Christ follower.Maybe we want the title without the risks.But He said we would have eternal life if we did it His way.That…

“Receiving grace is often easier than dispensing it.”

A thought by Andy Stanley (2010-10-19) in his book, The Grace of God (p. 117). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
I don’t know if you are married or not but if you are you experience conflict every once in a while.This is especially true if there are two very strong willed people in the marriage.Conflict just happens but resolving it and coming out of it with the relationship in tack means someone hast to stop and listen to what the other person is saying.If the relationship is important, at some point one of the two will decide to stop telling their side and listen to the other side.When this happens there will be a resolution to the conflict.

Now which is easier?To be gracious and to stop trying to get them to understand your side or to be the one who is allowed to tell their side.Of course being the one allowed to continue has the easier time but the one who stops and listens is deeply rewarded.It is great to receive grace but it is also great to give it.

I had something interesting happ…

“God can be trusted but not manipulated.”

A thought by Andy Stanley (2009-03-31) in his book, The Principle of the Path: How to Get fromWhere You Are to Where You Want to Be(p. 168). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
There was a game show back in the late 50’s emceed by Johnny Carson before he went on to Tonight Show fame called Who Do You Trust?    Let me ask you that question, who do you trust more, you or God?

I know what the answer we give is but I don’t think it is the answer we live.  In some things we may be afraid to trust God so we try to manipulate Him through all this good stuff we do hoping He will reward us and give us what we want.

Have you ever had someone act sooo nice to you and compliment you and you know they have an ulterior motive?  They want something from you.  Kids sometimes do that with parents.  Does it work? 

It doesn’t work with God either.  He knows our heart.  He knows our motives.  He also knows what’s best.   He can be trusted and He won’t allow us to manipulate Him.

Solomon wrote something on this i…

“If you want to think new thoughts, then read new things, meet new people, and go new places.”

A thought by Mark Batterson (2009-12-09) in his book, Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity (Kindle Locations 1818-1819). Multnomah Books. Kindle Edition.
It is so easy in life to get in a rut.  Get up the same time every day, eat the same thing for breakfast, go the same route to work, come home and watch the same TV shows, go to bed so you can get up at the same time to do the same thing.  We even go to the same place for our vacation. 

That may be OK for you but there is more to life for me than being in a rut or as one guy said, “in a grave with the ends knocked out”. 

I saw yesterday at lunch on the Planet Green - Discovery Channel, Discovering Yellowstone with Tom Brokaw.  I watched one segment where 71 year old, Brokaw and two Forrest Rangers took all day to find a water fall.  I said to my wife, Margaret that I think I could do that now.  I could hike all day.  It would be tough for me at 64 but I think I could do it.
Back 2 years ago when I retired and moved to Long I…

“The tragedy is not that we make mistakes but that we are prone to make the same mistakes.”

A thought by Jeff Manion (2010-07-14) in his book, The Land Between: Finding God in Difficult Transitions(p. 139). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
There are so many people who get so upset when they make a mistake so it is difficult to understand why they keep making the same mistake over and over again.  I mean wouldn’t you think because it is such a negative emotional experience for them that they would do whatever they could to not visit this same place again and it seems again?  But somehow they haven’t learned the assessment and asking step in making mistakes.                                                                                   
It is a difficult step.  It is much easier to believe that somehow the next time will be different.  So we do the same thing but we believe that life will turn out differently this time.  It is a faith thing.  I mean didn’t Jesus turn the water into wine.  Yes he did but He also created a complex marvel inside your skull called a brain and He expec…

“If we always compare ourselves with those in financial brackets above us, we will never feel content.”

A thought by Darren Whitehead and Jon Tyson (2011-07-19) in their book, Rumors of God: Experience the Kind of Faith You´ve Only Heard About(Kindle Locations 523-524). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Have you ever noticed how dissatisfied you get after watching House Hunters on the HGTV network?  Have you ever seen it?  A person is dissatisfied with their home or location and they get with a real estate person and look at 3 different houses and then choose which one they want to buy.  Of course the homes are always bigger than the one they were living it.  And usually the one we are living in and it can cause us to be dissatisfied.

Television is a great pusher of dissatisfaction.  Do you realize we live in bigger homes today with smaller families?  We don’t need all that room but we want it.  It is no wonder we are having economic problems.  We want more than we can afford and believe we’re entitled to it.  That is a problem.

So what is the answer?  Well it seems like the problem is focus.…

“Failure is an event…and with rare exceptions, is not fatal.”

A thought by Seth Godin (2011-03-01) in his book, Poke the Box (p. 66). The Domino Project. Kindle Edition.
That is so important for us to realize.  So many think that failure is a person, it is them.  I know there are parents who have made the horrible mistake to say to one of their kids, “you are a failure” but they are wrong.  Failure is not a person but an event.

Now there is a cycle in this.  The parent who says that may feel that about themselves.  A parent, a teacher, coach, some adult told them that they were a failure when they were young and they have carried that with them all their life.  Now here is the problem for kids.  They believe what adults tell them.  Kids don’t have the ability yet to distinguish right from wrong and they believe the adult knows more than they do so they must be right.

I have dealt with so many adults as a pastor who believe that failure is a person and lived with the pain of that untruth.  Yes, failure is real but failure is an event.  I have failed…

“Forgiveness and consequences are two different things. One does not override the other.”

A thought by Andy Stanley (2009-03-31) in his book,The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (p. 43). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
There are times we do something to someone and then ask them to forgive us and expect there to be no consequences in what we have done.  We still need to ask forgiveness but we cannot expect that it does away with the consequences.

For an example, let’s say we smoked in front of our kids for 20 years and they started smoking but after they grew up we stopped.  We now have deep remorse about the influence we had in this area and we ask them to forgive us and they do.  But they still have the habit and they still have the potential for cancer.  The forgiveness is important but the consequences of our action are not done away with by our asking for forgiveness.  They may forgive you but they can’t do away with the consequences.

Now the key is not to use forgiveness to supersede responsibility or self-control.  For example…

“One of the primary reasons why men tarry at “popping the question”—and why millions never do—is fear of having a bad marriage.”

A thought by George Barna (2011-05-15) in his book,Futurecast: What Today's Trends Mean for Tomorrow's World(Kindle Locations 579-580). Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
Fear has a way of robbing us of so many good, exciting, fulfilling things in life such as marriage.  I know there is pain in failure and there is a lot of pain in many families that people have grown up in.  But it has also been said that there is no gain without pain.
I know the pain for those who run a marathon doesn’t keep them from training and then running or that only one person will win and all others will fail.  That seems OK.  But having a bad marriage keeps strong healthy, courageous men running away as fast as they can run.
Oh I know rejection is horrible.  It leaves scars that are very difficult to heal.  But living life with someone who has made a commitment to be there “till death do us part” is one of the greatest things in life to experience.
I was thinking today of that Tuesday nigh…

“When the inevitable becomes the unavoidable, it is not unusual for us to start pointing our fingers at God.”

A thought by Andy Stanley (2009-03-31) in his book, The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (p. 43). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
This is so true. 
…We own a car.  We never change the oil; we never maintain it as the manual tells us to and then blame God when it breaks down.
…We forget to put gas in the car and then blame God when we run out of gas in the middle of nowhere.
…We never pay our bills and then blame God when the collection agency starts calling.
…We spend all the money we make, we have a bigger house than we can afford, we have our credit cards to the limit, we have no savings, and then blame God when our company doesn’t give bonuses this year and we have already spent it.
…We work all the time, we’re never at home and when we are we’re always in a bad mood and then blame God when our mate asks for a divorce.
…We never take care of ourselves physically or emotionally.  We eat the wrong things, we never sleep, and we live under a heavy …

“Not starting is far, far worse than being wrong. If you start, you’ve got a shot at evolving and adjusting to turn your wrong into a right. But if you don’t start, you never get a chance.”

A thought by Seth Godin (2011-03-01) in his book, Poke the Box (p. 57). The Domino Project. Kindle Edition.
The fear of doing wrong keeps us from so many good things in life.  Being wrong can either be a devastating experience or a learning experience.  It all depends on our perspective.                            
Margaret, my wife and I took a Saturday trip last spring to Orange, New Jersey to the home and factory of Thomas Edison.  Edison is the third most prolific inventor in history, holding 1,093 US patents in his name, as well as many patents in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany.  He said one time, “If I find 10,000 ways something won't work, I haven't failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.” Being wrong was not a problem for him.  It was a learning experience, an opportunity to do better.                                                        
In school, the young Edison's mind often wandered, and his teacher,…

“It’s never too late to be who you might have been.”

A thought by Mark Batterson (2011-01-18) in his book, Soulprint: Discovering Your Divine Destiny(p. 140). Multnomah Books. Kindle Edition.
One of the great benefits to a relationship with GOD is that as our creator HE knows what our real potential is.  HE is our greatest fan.  HE knows what we can be because HE created us.  HE knows what I might have been.
But so much of the time we are controlled by the “it’s too late” attitude.  Do you live with a sense of despair because you feel that life has left you behind and there is no way you can catch up?  You have so many regrets, so many failures; you’ve made so many mistakes. 
In the next paragraph Mark said, “Your mistakes may define your past, but they don’t have to define your present.”  That is so important for us to really grab hold of.    I don’t care what age you are GOD is not done with you.  Your best days are ahead of you if you let HIM transform your mind and give you HIS perspective on what you still can be. 
Despair will kill …

“Direction—not intention—determines our destination.”

A thought by Andy Stanley (2009-03-31) in his book,  The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (p. 14). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
I was almost born in a car.  The truth is I was born in a hospital but within 3 weeks we were back on the road.  My dad was an evangelist.  We would hold services in a church from Wednesday through 2 Sundays and then we would travel to the next church and start again on Wednesday.   It was a good life.
Now when I got a little older I was in charge of the map.  It was my job to get us to where we were going by the best most direct route.  And I was good at it.  So I am an experienced map guy.
A couple of months back on a Saturday, Margaret and I wanted to go in New Jersey to Thomas Edison’s home and factory but I couldn’t find my Jersey map.  So I broke down and went and got a Garmin GPS.  It is great.  At least it is if you put the right info in it.
The next day was Sunday and Margaret and I wanted to go to Forefront …

“Seeing danger and doing nothing doesn’t accomplish anything.”

A thought by Andy Stanley (2009-03-31) in his book,The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (p. 48). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
I retired at 62 and moved to Long Island in New York.  At that time I weighed 260 lbs. and I was slowly becoming an invalid.  Also that summer we found that Margaret my wife was a type 2 diabetic.  Now we could have gone into depression because of both our situations but we decided that wouldn’t accomplish anything.   So we changed our diets and started walking.  Margaret lost over 40 lbs. and I lost over 20 lbs., a start in the right direction for me but not enough.
When I turned 64 in June of this year I was in a holding pattern of 235 to 240.  I wasn’t the cripple I once was but I still was in the danger zone.  So I had to make another decision.  Do nothing, do the same or do more.  Doing nothing and doing the same wasn’t accomplishing what I knew needed to happen.  One thing I had come to realize at 64 was that an…