Friday, January 30, 2009

Frivolous Friday... Death by...!!!

"Hello! Thanks for calling, please choose option one to die of worry, option two if you'd like Satan to lend a hand, and option 3 if..."

In all seriousness though, I must admit to having had a pretty rough day today. I was worrying about things that I have no control over, and as I searched for 'worthy' road signs for Frivolous Friday that would perk me up (boy it came around pretty quickly this week), I came across these two signs that sent chills down my spine, albeit in different ways. Check them out for yourself and see what I mean.
It's amazing how the absence of a punctuation mark or a word out of place can change the entire meaning and intent of an innocuous road sign. No doubt Church of The Cross meant well as they thought about lending a hand to their community. Suddenly, all of their good intentions were out the window because of one dyslexic 'sign-putter-upper'. How would you like to be the lead pastor having to explain to elderly Mrs. Lambert that you weren't in anyway suggesting that you have designs on her pension fund as you slowly try to "kill" her.

And if worries and the church don't do the job, let's just hand it over to the professionals shall we?! Let's just let Satan's Kingdom do the job, afterall, they've been in the business for a few thousand years already. Hmmm, now that I think about it, I wonder if Church of The Cross actually did mean that sign literally. To watch some churches, it wouldn't take much convincing to believe that they actually are in the 'people killing' business. Have a frivolous weekend.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Today is a special day!!!

Today is a really special day! I’m sure you can think of lots of reasons why it’s special, but for me it’s special because my son, Demi, turns eighteen today. Why is that so earth shattering? Well you’re probably asking that question because it’s been so long since you turned eighteen that you’ve forgotten what it means. Today Demi is eligible to vote. That means he can add his voice to the conversation on who sits in the White House. Today Demi is a legal adult according to the laws of the United States of America. That means that he is fully responsible for his choices, good and bad. I don’t know whether to be thrilled or panicked at that idea, but whatever I may be feeling, that truth is not contestable.

In light of the foregoing thoughts, I’ve been asking myself (and speaking in church about this big idea of equipping the next generation of leaders), whether Sola and I have equipped Demi adequately for adulthood and the responsibilities that come with the ability to make so many independent choices. I mean, he doesn’t need our permission or signature to get a credit card. He can watch whatever movies he wants to whether or not we endorse them, and he can hang out with girls as late as he wants, in the very daunting and different world of the college environment. With all of these questions rolling around my head, I wrote Demi a letter highlighting the value of certain non-negotiables that would adequately equip him to function more effectively in this new world of independent choices and greater responsibility.

Here, in no particular order of importance (other than the first two) are the eighteen non-negotiables we’ve taught him over the years:
  • Maintain a passionate, transparent, and authentic relationship with God
  • Pray often, even when you don’t feel like it
  • Remember that neither life nor anyone owes you anything
  • Respect others regardless of their perceived social standing
  • Time is your most valued possession, so use it wisely
  • Don’t spend everything you earn, save for the unexpected
  • Lead by example. Your life speaks louder than your words
  • Don’t live like a hypocrite by saying one thing and doing another. Let your word be your bond
  • Be humble
  • Take personal responsibility for your choices and exercise personal discipline
  • Always be encouraging and complimentary to others
  • Remember that you don’t have to have an opinion about everything
  • Don’t procrastinate. Don’t put off till later what can be done now
  • Never lose sight of the goals you’ve set
  • Go out of your way to do something good for at least one person every day
  • Always remember that, no matter how bad things may appear, there’s always someone worse off than you
  • Don’t make excuses, make good choices
  • Enjoy life; you only get to live it once.

So, what other words of wisdom can you add to the list for my ‘getting-ready-to-take-on-the-world-son’?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Can you say Okada?!

I cannot begin to describe to you what emotions this picture elicits in me. No doubt the bikers head is as vacuous as the 'helmet' he's wearing, but in a strangely poetic sort of way, I can really understand why he's doing it. You see, this photo was taken in the country of my birth, Nigeria! Why on earth is he wearing a bucket for a helmet? I'm glad you asked because I was going to tell you anyway. My homeland is a land of contradictions. We provide people with the opportunity to make a living by allowing the introduction of 'motorcycle' taxi's to beat the inhuman traffic conditions (these bikes are commonly known as Okada, and named for a now defunct local airline with a reputation for being on time but unsafe). We don't require them to pass any kind of safety test, or even wear any sort of protective clothing. They can bribe county officials for licenses and off they go to the races! Many of them actually learn to ride as they ferry passengers up and down the death-traps called streets, in Lagos.

Some of these asinine daredevils often carry as many as three complete strangers (besides themselves) on the backs of these motorbikes that are about 120cc capacity. Safety is not even a consideration for them and they are known to die in their hundreds from fatal crashes. However, the 'brilliance' of the Nigerian road safety system, clearly unsurpassed by any other nation, is displayed in the random way in which it was decided that each one of these untrained, unlicensed, and unflappable taxi-bikers must, effective January 1, 2009, wear a helmet whenever they are on their bikes. Only one small problem with that completely unenforacable law: A helmet in Nigeria costs about $25.00 which is, oh I don't know... about half the monthly income of these bonafied boneheads!!!

In an attempt to be compliant with the new helmet law, and to avoid unecessary delays and requests for bribes from the malnourished Nigerian police force, these enterprising young men have found ways to obediently 'comply' while protecting their hard earned income. Before you begin to criticize their ingenuity let me give you the Webster's Unabridged Dictionary definition of the word, helmet: anything resembling a helmet in form or position. I guess, even though they are barely literate, they know enough to figure out that they can save money, and be 'safe' and 'compliant' all at the same time, barring of course any sort of 'unforseen' accident. So, the next time I hear you complaining about how tough life is where you are, I'm sending the Nigeria Police to cart you off to Lagos on a one year sabbatical.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Frivolous Friday!

Yee ha!!! This weeks installation of Frivolous Friday comes courtesy of my friend from Alabama. While on holiday in Mississippi with his family, he took these holiday candids and wanted me to share them with you. In case you were wondering, he's from the town of 'Redneck' in Southwest-eastern-north, Alabama

This photo above is one of his prize photos, especially because it's a family heirloom (been in the family for, oh, all of two weeks) and only the men are allowed to sit on this family recliner. My friend is extremely family oriented and quite smart! Being so family oriented and all, they wanted to ensure that seniors are well taken care of and so they invented this 'senior-scooter,' which as you can tell, is designed to serve multiple functions.

This was undoubtedly the best part of the vacation (at least that's what my friend said), when they took the houseboat out for a spin on the river behind the family compound. There's cousin Jeb (or is it cousin Sheila, I can't really tell from the color of the beard) sitting on the hammock enjoying a beer.

This is my all time favorite photo, and it even made me want to become part of my friends family. I would have traded in my Harley Davidson any day for one of these. Have yo' sef a good weekend now, ya hear?!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Of football and fast food!

We live in a culture that’s a litany of contradictions. We call our national pastime football, yet we play it with our hands. We talk about fast food, but the only thing that’s fast about it is the way it fastidiously sticks to your waistline and hips. We are a “get it now” culture, which does not bode well for the future. I’ve learned the hard way that indulging in excesses today might leave you high and dry tomorrow. We measure our wellbeing and the health of our economy by how much money comes into stores on “Black Friday” (the Friday after thanksgiving, when people supposedly run amuck on Christmas shopping). We are decidedly a nation of excesses, yet we don’t or won’t admit it. Amazingly though, what we consider poverty would be the equivalent of the upper middle class in most nations around the globe, yet we crave more!

I’m learning that we are not a culture that likes to take personal responsibility for our excesses. In other words, we lack the discipline to acknowledge our weaknesses and do whatever it takes to rectify them. For example: I recently had a conversation with a couple of, shall we say, generously proportioned folks, who expressed the desire to lose weight and live healthier lives. I subtly suggested that they might want to consider a lifestyle change. This might mean incorporating a daily exercise routine as well as rethinking their eating habits. They hemmed and hawed and proffered every excuse as to why they just couldn’t find the time to exercise. By the way, did I mention that this discussion was taking place in a restaurant, as they devoured a generous portion of rum-raisin ice-cream with chocolate sprinkles, M&M’s and a large drizzle of caramel topping?

Talking about personal responsibility, our new president has been heralded as somewhat of a messiah, not only to the United States, but to the world. Scary thought I admit, but there does seem to be this completely ‘tinted’ expectation that he will turn the global economy around, bring back our troops and end the global war on terror (in sixteen months tops), provide healthcare (at minimal cost) for everybody and his uncle… and the list goes on! The only problem is that we want him to do all this as quickly as we want our fast food, and we want it with as little or no inconvenience to us as possible. Don’t ask us to make sacrifices because life is hard enough as it is. I mean, can’t he see that we’ve downsized and now live in a three bedroom townhouse instead of that large 5/5 home we previously owned?

So the question is: Can we take personal responsibility for the plight of our nation and pay the price required to curb our excesses, or do we want Mr. President to ‘wave his magic wand’ and make it all better immediately? I suggest that the true test of our moral, and indeed national fiber, will be displayed over the next few years, as we are forced to make drastic alterations to our lifestyles in view of a better tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Righteousness exalts a nation!

This is the end of day 20 of our 21-Day fast! Did anything earth shattering occur? Nothing that I'm aware of. Did I become infinitely more spiritual? That remains to be seen. So what did I get out of a 21-Day fast you might be asking? If the truth be told, I'm still watching it all unfold. I do know that God is ever faithful, and the opportunity to deny my flesh some of the things that I enjoy so much so that I can seek God in an even deeper way, was an opportunity I couldn't afford to pass up.

I'm glad that this fast coincided with the inauguration of the 44th president of the USA, and that I had the privilege of praying for him (albeit from a distance) as he stood in the shadows waiting to be summoned to his seat. The look on his face can only be described as the look of one who carries the weight of the world on his shoulders. From my vantage point it looked as if, standing there in a faceless sea of 2 million people, Obama had probably never felt more alone in his life. He has transcended history and become history! The first black man to ascend the most powerful political office in the world, he needs our prayers, our support, and our encouragement.

While he runs the race alone, he doesn't have to feel alone if he knows that there are many who are praying for him to lead us in the path of righteousness, because the Scriptures boldly declare;

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to every people.

Over the next 100 or so days, policy will be established in Washington, executive orders will be issued, and we will have ample opportunity to determine whether or not we are a righteous nation.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

History and Neurosis!!!

Today history has been made! Today we inaugurated our first black president!! Today we began a new journey toward a new day!!! The question that should now become central to our thought is: What will this new day look like and what will it hold for us? I don’t really care how much the “talking heads” speculate and prognosticate about the legacy of a Barack Obama presidency (even before it’s begun in earnest), the truth is, like you and I, they are completely in the dark as to what our country will look like four years from now. Whatever the case, history will still record that he was the first black man to ever call the White House his home.

I am struck by how some of the anti-God voices of our generation have tried to polarize our country by contending that we’ve had enough of the Christian Right as represented by George Bush’s presidency. Many have celebrated the fact that some of the executive orders issued by Bush, which promoted a pro-life stance, will be reversed by Obama. In some quarters people have celebrated this new found ‘liberty’ from ‘oppressive, mindless religion’ and in others they have lamented. The irreverent, and never at a loss for harsh criticism, Bill Maher, has said the following about religion;

We are a nation that is unenlightened because of religion. I do believe that. I think religion stops people from thinking. I think it justified crazies.

I think religion is a neurological disorder.
(Unfortunately for Maher, he cannot claim to be the first to have thought or said this since his predecessor Sigmund Freud said “Religion is comparable to a childhood neurosis.”)

Amazingly, Obama started his day in church, began his inauguration with an invocation delivered by Rick Warren of Saddleback Church, liberally sprinkled scripture throughout his address, and ended the occasion with a benediction. No matter what Maher and his ilk may think, there are many in this country that are committed to a faith in God, and people like him may have to settle for being ruled by “crazies” and non “thinking” leaders who begin their terms of office with prayer and a faith in God. We continue to pray!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Is he really the messiah?

I recently read a news article regarding President-elect Obama, which stated:

“Just two months ago, the future president seemed a cross between Superman and Merlin the magician, now he himself admits he won’t be able to keep all his promises, and who knows? Maybe someone will ask for his impeachment by the end of next week.”
(Massimo Gramellini, La Stampa Newspaper, Italy)

A similar article in a different publication reads:

“The idealism has diminished,” said Samuel Solvit, who heads an Obama support network in France. “Everyone was dreaming a little. Now people are more realistic.”

Muslims want to know why Obama hasn’t joined the chorus of international criticism of Israel’s Gaza offensive. Last week posters of him were set on fire in Tehran to shouts of “Death to Obama!”

This may well be the first time on record that a not-yet-sitting-president of the United States is burned in effigy because of an issue over which he has absolutely no control, even before he takes office. Recognizing the global frenzy that greeted his presidential nomination, it appears that, sadly a major shift has already begun to take place even before he has assumed office. This is no shocking surprise in the fickle and not-so-patient world in which we live. The weight of the world is, in a manner of speaking, resting squarely upon his rather narrow shoulders. Too many people have held him up to be the messiah for our current global crisis, contending that he will see us through the global economic, political, and social crises that seem to escalate daily.

The real truth is; he is no messiah! But, because we Christians know who is, and we know that all authority is given by God, we are encouraged… no, duty-bound to pray for him daily. Today’s prayer theme during our 21-day fast is: Prayer invites God’s will to earth. In our troubled world, we need more than the savvy of Obama’s pre-election promises. We need the wisdom and intervention of God’s divine will for our nation and indeed for our world. Here’s how 1 John 5: 14-15 puts it:

And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him.

Let’s commit ourselves to pray today, and invite God’s will to earth as if our lives depended on it. Oops, what am I thinking? Our lives do depend on it. Let’s pray!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Non-Frivolous Friday!!!

Honestly, if the truth be told I'm not feeling all that frivolous today. I know I posted on this subject yesterday, but I can't seem to get out of my head this idea that a planeload of about 155 people could have met with an untimely and grusome death yesterday. As I've followed the news stories and prayed for the families of all the passengers and crew, I've had this overwhelming desire to know what was going on in the hearts and minds of different people as they wondered if this was how it was all going to end. Did some of them think about their legacy? Did others think about friendships and relationships that still had unresolved issues? Did someone make a promise to change the way he was living if he survived the crash? Whatever... it would all be conjectural and speculative at best.

But there have been a few interviews conducted (and no doubt there will be many more over the course of the next few days, weeks, and months) and I'm fascinated by what I'm learning went on in the moments just before and after the controlled crash landing. Here are just a few excerpts from a couple of the passengers:
"Then the captain said, `Brace for impact because we're going down,'" Kolodjay said. "It was intense." He said some passengers started praying. He said a few Hail Marys.

"I heard an explosion, and I saw flames coming from the left wing and I thought, `This isn't good,'" he said. "Then it was just controlled chaos. People started running up the aisle. People were getting shoved out of the way."

Fascinating! It's often been said that there are no atheists in foxholes. What confronts you before you die (or at least when you think you're about to die)? I don't know if all the people praying had a personal faith and relationship with Jesus, but when we are confronted with the reality of our mortality, prayer becomes a very comforting tool. While some prayed, others pushed! Again, confronted with our mortality, what is really in us comes to the surface. People were shoving other people out of the way in an attempt to create an opportunity for their own survival at the expense of everyone elses. Our world is changing, but it's not for the better! More than ever before, we need to hold onto a personal faith that at least guarantees that the end will be far more fulfilling than the beginning. Let him who has an ear to hear, hear!!!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Fragility of life

In case you were looking for a reason to be thankful today, look no further than the plane that crash landed into the Hudson river in New York at around 4.50pm this evening. 150 lives that might have been tragically lost survived because of the skill and precision of the cool-headed pilot. At times like this I'm reminded of the fragility of life and the value of making sure that we are always investing our lives in creating worthwhile legacies. I don't know any of the people that were on the plane (at least not at this point), but I'm confident that the loss of all their valuables, their inability to arrive in Charlotte, NC tonight (where the plane was headed), the loss of the multi-million dollar business deal that hinged upon arriving at a meeting tonight, all pale to insignifcance in the light of tonights reminder of the fleeting nature of human existence. Whatever you are focusing on, please remember that there are some really valuable gems around you (and I'm talking about people not possessions) well worth investing your time in. If you're a praying person, please say a prayer for the families of these very fortunate passengers and crew who probably became praying people tonight if they weren't previously.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Rumbling, Stumbling, Bumbling...

I've been incredibly introspective today! There are all sorts of thoughts and ideas rolling around in my head (none of which I can disclose or discuss at the moment), and I'm reminded for the umpteenth time that I've chosen to accept a calling that is noble, fulfilling, complex, difficult and often very, very lonely. I've discovered that everybody else can do this job better than those who are actually doing it (at least that's what they think), until they find themselves in a similar position. I was recently asked by a pastor why I didn't tell him how difficult this road was to navigate. Funny thing is, that really was all I did tell him. But the hapless pastor, adorned in his rose colored glasses, must have had too much ear wax that day to hear what I was saying.

The pastor's lifestyle is far from epicurean and so if you don't have a taste for the, shall we say, less than palatable, you might want to rethink your calling. I'm not certain if I have the mot juste to describe what I'm trying to say here, except to say that I applaud those who have thrown their hats in the ring and are 'slugging' it out toe to toe with everything that our eclectic culture throws at us as we attempt to carve a niche for our sometimes unpalatable message. I've used the following quote ad naseum, but since I'm yet to find anyone who can say it better than Teddy Roosevelt; here goes one more time to all you warriors:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belings to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; whoe errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never bee with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

An open letter to Mr and Mrs Christian

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Christian,

It's always a pleasure to communicate with relatives, even one's that are distant. I trust you and your family are well? I’ve been inspired lately to examine what we do with “Whispers from God”, those impressions of the heart that leave an indelible imprint on the course of our destiny. We live in an era that the prophet Amos wrote about in Amos 8: 11, a time when the word of the Lord is ‘scarce’ and people are running to and fro in an attempt to find answers to the myriad questions that plague us. Make no mistake though, while the word of God may be scarce He is still speaking, it’s just that we often choose to interpret His voice in the light of our cultural beliefs or worldview. John 12: 28-30 gives us remarkable insight into this phenomenon. The Pharisees, who paradoxically, were the religious iconoclasts of their day, (they prevented the people from believing in the Truth (Jesus), by vilifying and castigating his every word) had so brainwashed the people that even when God spoke from heaven to their hearing, they interpreted it as thunder.

What do you do with a whisper from God? Do you file it in the category of spiritual jargon and heresy, since God ‘doesn’t’ speak to us today? Or do you simply ignore it because it doesn’t make sense to your intellect? Whatever it is that you may do, the sobering truth is that people’s lives and destiny are hinged on your obedience to the whispers from God that should daily guide your every choice and decision. What would have happened if Samuel had not obeyed the whisper from God to anoint David as king, especially since his better judgment told him that Jesse’s older sons appeared more suited for that role? What if Jonathan had disobeyed the whisper from God to protect David from his father, Saul? Could David have met an untimely death, thus eliminating his lineage from giving the Gift of the Messiah to the world?

So, Mr. and Mrs. Christian, in light of the foregoing I have a few questions for you: Whose life is right now in dire straits because you’ve resisted that whisper from God, dismissing it as ‘foolishness’? Whose destiny has been derailed because you continue to turn a deaf ear to that impression in your heart? Mr. Christian, at the risk of appearing judgmental, I must honestly tell you that your self-centered focus is sending your neighbors to hell in a hand-basket. And, while we’re on the subject, Mrs. Christian, your complacent and passive stance toward evangelism might just ensure that your relatives spend eternity in a place that was prepared for Satan and his dark angels. So my encouragement to you today, is that you listen carefully for those impressions of the heart that will guide your decision. My passionate plea is that you pay attention to that whisper from God that is constantly tickling the edge of your consciousness, because peoples lives are depending on you making the right choice.
Sincere Regards,
Your Distant Cousin

Friday, January 9, 2009

Frivolous Friday!

Okay, so what if I'm positively flying down the bike path at, Oh I don't know, say 25mph..., how exactly does the bike cop intend to pull me over. What if he's overweight and can't do more than 19mph? Will he throw stuff at me? Will he ring his bike bell to call in bike-backup? I must admit it would give me bragging rights amongst my friends to say I got a speeding ticket going at 25mph!!! Here's another exciting one. This is a bike path somewhere in upstate Washington. Can you imagine not obeying the bike speed limit and you're flying down the bike path and suddenly a plane ventures across your path. I can just imagine the conversation with friends visiting you in the ER:

Friend: So, what exactly happened that mangled your bike so badly?
You: The plane appeared from nowhere and I just couldn't stop in time.
Friend: Nurse, I think my friend may have hit his head harder than we initially thought!

Buford, Buford, Buford!!! (I just like saying Buford). Who the heck authorized the colossal waste of town council money just to put up a sign telling us that there are two people living in this town? Come to think of it, who's the idiot that approved calling Buford a town? And why on earth would I want to climb to 8000 feet above sea level to find out that two people live in Buford? Fuggedaboutit!!!

Have a brilliant weekend, and don't waste your time trying to find Buford on the map, only two people live there! :)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

How Long before...???

It appears that the old saying "Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown" is never truer than it is when it concerns a president of the USA. So, not counting HW who is obviously donating a fair amount of his cash to hair dye products, it's obvious that grey hair is a necessary and unavoidable hazard of the job. So the question is: How long do you think it will take for Obama's hair to turn completely grey? I say one year. Let's begin the vote.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Purloining Pizza!

This is Day 6 of our 21-Day 'Daniel Fast' and I‘m really loving the fruit of this fast (I mean that both literally and figuratively)! We've determined (we began last year) that we will start out our year with prayer and fasting so as to set the tone for the rest of the year. We are also reading through the book of John, one chapter a day for 21 days, and I’ve been getting e-mails from people in our church, highlighting things that the Lord is showing them as they read the book of John and prayerfully seek God during this season. As I've said to them, I want to reiterate for all of you out there who are praying and fasting as well, that it will undoubtedly set the tone for the rest of your year and you’ll look back on this time and be grateful that you didn’t purloin pizza, but eschewed eggs and sacrificed sugar to start off the year!

For each day of our fast we have adopted a theme and today’s theme is: Pray for courage and perseverance. One of the hardest things about going through any kind of difficulty or trial is staying the course. Often times we opt for the path of least resistance, and who can blame us? After all, it’s called the path of “least resistance” for a reason! But though it is the easier path, it is more often not the right path (think about exercising and body building. It’s impossible to do it successfully taking the path of least resistance. To build more muscle you must add greater weight resistance).

In Mark 9: 28 Jesus’ Disciples were expressing frustration at the fact that they had tried to cast a demon out of a man and met with no success whatsoever. Jesus, in verse 29, informs them that:

This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.” (NKJV)

While that may seem to mess with some of our theology a bit, the truth is there are some spiritual breakthroughs that will not occur without an intense season of prayer and fasting. Remember that the Scriptures tell us that we are not in a battle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, powers, wicked spirits, and rulers of darkness. The key here is to remember that though we are not in a battle against “flesh and blood” we are in a battle, and it is fought with spiritual weapons such as prayer and fasting. Pray today that the Lord will give you courage and perseverance to stay the course and fight the battles that need to be fought.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Runaway Bride!!!

"God is not married to our buildings, nor will He prop up our flimsy success."


I've enjoyed most of what Lee Grady (editor of Charisma Magazine) has had to say over the years, but this may be the icing on the cake (at least until the next overwhelmingly profound thing he writes). I've never fully understood how leaders of churches can 'fall' into sin, get up, dust themselves off, and go right back into ministry as if nothing ever happened. Grady highlights three such ministries and their leaders in the editorial of the January 2009 issue of Charisma, and suggests that the hardship and evictions they are facing are not necessarily a result of the current economic and financial crisis our country faces, but probably more a result of God responding to their blasphemy, deception and arrogance.

As we begin 2009, we have a splendid opportunity to passionately embrace God's instruction, correction and gentle rebuke. Alternatively we can stubbornly resist Him and have to endure the pain and humilation of a public 'chastising' like so many of us have unwittingly done. I for one have sadly learned the hard way that, God will have His way with us whatever it takes. As Lee so eloquently points out, "If He allowed foreign armies to burn Jerusalem and its glorious temple, He will also write "Ichabod" on the doors of churches where there is no repentance for compromise." So, instead of playing the runaway bride fleeing from God's correction, let's embrace it wholeheartedly knowing that we and everyone around us will be the better for it.

What's your take on whether or not the difficulties many ministries are currently facing might be the judgment of God? Don't all speak at once now!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Losing sight of the shore!

If the first blog of the year (besides a happy New Year blog) is expected to be profound and life transforming, then I'm under tremendous pressure to 'perform.' However, if it's simply meant to convey a profound truth that I'm learning, then that's a relatively easy task since I'm learning new things every single day. I recently read the newsletter of a friend of mine (I should inform you that this friend has quite a way with words), and he painted such a picture with his words as to transport me to Southern California, to an idyllic spot beside the Queen Mary. He likened the QM to a Christian who had been created to "sail the vast oceans" yet had settled for being moored by the shore. He went on to say:

God’s destiny will always challenge us to step out of our comfort zones, to go far beyond anything we are capable of, to risk all on something that has no guarantee of success in the natural and is absolutely the wrong logical choice. The Bible is filled with stories of those who accepted such a challenge.... They (the great heroes of life) choose to throw off the mooring lines, weigh anchor, and set out to the open waters, knowing they will face storms and the possibility of sinking. Their choice is not without thought, rather it is with a much deeper searching of the soul. They know quite well the possible consequences of their choices but also of refusing to make the choice. They would rather end at the bottom of the ocean than tied to the dock.

One of the things I'm learning is that the people God seems to use the most are the ones who make the fewest assumptions about their limitations versus God's abilities. Stepping out of your comfort zone, losing sight of the shore and sailing into uncharted waters, are all prerequisites to finding God's greater purpose. Don't believe me? Then check out these folks whose stories you and I are familiar with:
  • Joshua didn't assume that the sun couldn't stand still
  • Elisha didn't assume that an iron axe head couldn't float
  • Peter didn't assume that men can't walk on water
  • Mary didn't assume that virgins couldn't get pregnant
  • Andrew didn't assume that 5000 people couldn't be fed by 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish
  • Abraham didn't assume that 90-year-old women couldn't have babies

What assumptions have you made that might be keeping you from experiencing God's purpose?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year Quick Hits!

Hey, hey, hey! happy New Year!!!

Can you believe it? It's now officially safe to bring out the "I Survived 2008 T-shirts." We actually made it to 2009. Before you start making any snide comments about that, I'll remind you that countless other people didn't, so you really do have a reason to be thankful. So here's the forecast for 2009: Clearing skies will bring about greater visibility of God's plans and purposes for your life, as well as lengthy spells of Sonshine. The former and latter rains will ensure a bumper harvest this year, and falling snow will bring reminders of how 'white' and pure we've been made by the blood of Christ. How's that for a forecast that can't go wrong?!

For you Denver Broncos fans, there's even more good news for 2009. It really is the end of an era and we can finally hope that we are headed in the right direction (toward the playoffs instead of a comfortable seat in the stands). Mike Shanahan had become as much of a fixture at Dove Valley as the paint on the walls, and even his team had begun to take on his stoic 'unmotivating' personality. These young players need an infusion of fresh 'blood' in the coaching ranks, and I think this is a step in the right direction, especially for those of us that are nursing hopes of returning to the Superbowl sometime before Jay Cutler retires.

Oh yes, before I forget, the economy is still tanking, GM, Ford and Chrysler still need bailouts, the airline industry still sucks wind, and foreclosures are still on the rise. In case any of this news gives you concern, see the forecast in paragraph one above. Have an amazing New Year!!!