Mar 26, 2009

Sitting in a Handbasket with no where to go...

Recently, I saw this bumper sticker on a car. I’m guessing that the owner installed it to make other drivers laugh.

And I’m sure that fellow drivers found the humor behind the message. But what if the owner really believed the message of the bumper sticker? It would be much funnier to me if there wasn’t any truth behind the cry of the heart of the one who originally made up the bumper sticker.

What if the owner of the car was just another “lemming” going through this world with no clue as to what this life is all about? “Lemmings” is a phrase that is often used in reference to people who go along with a popular opinion without questioning, which results sometimes in fatal or dangerous consequences.

Sometimes non-Christians throw out the message of Jesus Christ because it came to them packaged in one whose own life was filled with hypocrisy. On behalf of them, I want to apologize to you who sit in the handbasket searching for answers. Sometimes non-Christians throw out Christianity because they believe that there is no truth to the claims of Jesus Christ. “Good man and teacher”, they would say; “But not Savior and Lord…certainly not God”.

To those people I would say; “BUT WHAT IF IT IS TRUE?” What if who Jesus said He is and what He said and taught were true? What if He really is Savior and Lord, and God? What if in all of your questioning but never really waiting for answers you’ve missed the whole meaning of life?

Pretty sad to be sitting in a handbasket and not at least once trying to stand up and get out and go another direction. What if the reason that there are so many still sitting in the hand basket is because Christians have never shared their faith; the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with others?

Wow; people are looking for answers while the Christians keep silent, holding back sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. When Jesus saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion: Matthew 9:36–37 “But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest."

This pattern of compassion can be seen throughout the ministry of Jesus. He saw people's deepest need. He could see where they were hurting the most. He could look past the facade. He could hear the cry of their hearts. He saw them as sheep without a shepherd and had compassion

To my fellow Christians I ask: What about the people who don’t know what you know? What about the people who never had one sin forgiven? What about the people all across this city right now: Who are sitting at home RIGHT NOW thinking of killing themselves? Stuck in a handbasket with seemingly no where else to go?

This world is getting darker. Gross darkness the Prophet Isaiah said (Isaiah 60:2). We can’t put too much hope in politicians to solve this mess. The only hope for our world is a spiritual awakening through Jesus. It is quite possible that God has put you where you are at this moment for such a time as this. (Esther 4:14) We have got to get out there and make a difference.

God wants to use you. He has a place for you, a part for you to play, a seed for you to sow, a call for you to answer. You can and will make a difference– IF YOU LET GOD USE YOU.

Lord, use me in your mission. I will be a laborer. I don't know what I can do. I don't know what I can offer. I don't have a lot, Lord. But I give it to you. I'm just an ordinary person. But I offer my life to you; TODAY. Lord, it's not much, but it's yours. I give my life to you.

Here I am Lord, send me. Let God use you, and watch what God can do!

In Jesus Name, AMEN!

Mar 13, 2009


No musician has influenced me as a guitarist as much as Phil Keaggy. We are told to have no idols; so don't take this blog the wrong way. I just appreciate his music. Phil is an acclaimed guitarist on both the electric and the acoustic guitars. Phil is also as song writer and vocalist who has released more than 50 albums and studio artist in both contemporary Christian music and mainstream markets. He is a seven-time GMA Dove Award winner for Instrumental Album of the Year, and was twice nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rock Gospel Album. He has been listed as one of the world's top-3 "finger style" as well as "finger picking" guitarists by Guitar Player Magazine readers' polls.

Mar 7, 2009

Irresistable Influence

I have two neighbors “Mike” and “Bob” (not their real names) who stopped over recently. Both are great guys to have as neighbors. To my knowledge, neither man attends church. “Bob” (who lives down the block) stopped over last month. I was busy shoveling out my driveway before supper on a very cold, snowy night and he wanted to discuss eschatology (“eschatology” = any system of doctrines concerning last, or final, matters, as death, the Judgment, the future state, etc. It is the branch of theology dealing with such matters). The economic turbulence that we are going through as a nation and a movie he had seen had started him thinking. He stopped over to ask me how I understood the world was going to end; said that he wanted my opinion. Thing is, “Bob” isn’t a religious man (in his own words); didn’t care for it because he saw too much hypocrisy. But he said knew that I was a minister and wanted some answers to how I thought it all was going to turn out in the end. As I stood in near blizzard-like conditions listening to “Bob”, I was humbled; wondering how I came to this position where “Bob” was asking me his questions. I did a whole lot more listening than talking; not once leaning on information that I learned from classes that I had taken in the past dealing with eschatology. My answers would need to wait; I wanted to hear what was behind his questions. I still wondered why he chose to ask me. My next door neighbor “Mike” stopped over today. “First time I’ve ever been inside your house”, he said as he walked into our kitchen. We’ve been in our house for 25 years and “Mike” has never been inside; pretty sad. He has been to our yard, in our yard, placed items on our back porch, snow blowed our sidewalks and driveway, but never been inside our house. “You guys are always gone or going some place”, he said, “I never seem to catch you at home”. What makes it even sadder for me is the fact that we live on a corner; “Mike” is the only one who lives next door to me and he’s never been inside my house until today! I’ve prayed for (not with) “Mike” and “Bob” over the years. We reached out to “Mike’s” wife while she was still alive. Invited her to our church and sent her “Decision” magazine as a way to have influence in her life. I’ve tried to be a good neighbor to both “Mike” and “Bob”; to be a good example of what a Christian should be in practical ways. I’ve prayed for (not with) them and their households when I cut their grass, and snow blowed and shoveled their walks. I’m a firm believer in Joshua 1:3 where it says; “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses.” Also Deut 11:24 “Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours, from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the River Euphrates, even to the Western Sea shall be your territory”. I’m wondering if we forget that part of being used by God is allowing Him to change us into vessels of “IRRESISTIBLE INFLUENCE”. And that starts with loving God and then loving others. I mean, really loving others. And that is something only God can do through us.
Ir`re*sist"i*ble\, a. That which can not be successfully resisted or opposed; superior to opposition; resistless; overpowering; as, an irresistible attraction. In"flu*ence\, v. t. To control or move by power, physical or moral; to affect by gentle action; to exert an influence upon; to modify, bias, or sway; to move; to persuade; to induce.
We pray for opportunities and seek opportunities, and then, when they come we can be thrown off because it doesn’t always seem to be connected to any particular event or action that we took. IRRESISTIBLE INFLUENCE is something that is comes in time; it is earned, it is given by others and by God. It isn’t dependant upon what degree you have, or whether or not you wrote a book, or if you have a street named after you. You too can have influence right where you live - IRRESISTIBLE INFLUENCE! Each day we have opportunities to get to know our neighbors, families, co-workers, and those around us. I mean really get to KNOW them, not superficial; they already experienced that when they’ve walked through the doors of a church and they will have none of it. They’ve had it and aren’t buying any more. They want real, authentic examples of God’s love. And they will cling to anyone who will model a belief. My friends, we need to become people of “IRRESISTIBLE INFLUENCE”. These are the days to become completely irresistible so that we can be the vessels God uses to draw others to His lavish love. These are the days for us to live our lives so transparent with the love of Christ so transparent that people will have a hard time choosing to go to hell. These are the days to AWAKE and RISE UP! “Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth. And deep darkness the people; But the Lord will arise over you. And His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light; And kings to the brightness of your rising.” Isaiah 60:1-3 (NKJV) Each day is a precious gift from God. We don’t know how many days we have left; or how long this old earth can keep going on. There are no guarantees that tomorrow will come. None of us with all of our perfect theology are able to predict when Christ will return. Jesus said; “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Mark 13:32 (NKJV). The Apostle Paul said: “And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.” Romans 13:11 (NKJV)

Mar 2, 2009

Thoughts on Hockey and Life

I love to play hockey! I’ve been playing hockey since 1967 when my older brother Chuck instilled in me a passion for the game at the pond across the street from our house. As a kid I couldn’t wait until Thanksgiving when the pond would freeze and we were able to shovel out a couple of rinks to skate on. With no guards on our skates, we thought that it was “cool” that we could make sparks on the asphalt thinking that we were sharpening our skates in the process.

I remember collecting Christmas trees from around the neighborhood to burn at night (at the rinks) so that we could see... to play one more game. Growing up on the pond set a course that would become a love and a passion for a sport that I enjoy no matter whether I am playing or watching; inside or out. I still get shivers as I walk into an indoor arena and catch a whiff of the ice, but there still is nothing like the feel of skating on a pond or outdoor rink.

This past winter I found myself enjoying playing hockey more than I ever have. Each game that I played on a local outdoor rink drew out a desire to play “one-more-game”. Something inside me reminded me of the days I was a little kid on the neighborhood pond.

Jack Falla*, said it best; “Never been unhappy on the rink”

 Part of the reason for this revived passion of this past season has to do with realizing that at 50 ½ years old, I’m no spring chicken! I realize that these days will soon be over…Of course I thought that I would have to hang up the skates when I was injured and wasn't able to play for around 10 years.

Part of the reason comes from realizing that soon the warm weather will turn the rinks into water that only distantly reflect images of sticks lifted high in triumph as pucks were sneaked through as goal tenders were caught off guard.

There is a quote from Pond Hockey Movie** that goes something like this: “Every shift brings me closer to the last one…you don’t know how many more you have left”

I realize the same is true for my time here on the earth. The Apostle Paul said: “And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.” Romans 13:11 (NKJV)

Each day is a precious gift from God. We don’t know how many days we have left; or how long this old earth can keep going on. There are no guarantees that tomorrow will come. None of us with all of our perfect theology are able to predict when Christ will return.

Jesus said; “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Mark 13:32 (NKJV). Today is the day of salvation; today is the day to come to know Jesus as your Lord and Savior! Today is the day to go out and be used by God.

Today is the day to enjoy those around us. Get out there! Enjoy life! Today is the day to be grateful for all that God has bestowed on us.

 "Keep your stick on the ice." – (Red Green) and keep going forward.

Remember; “Every shift brings me closer to the last one…you don’t know how many more you have left” ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

*Jack Falla was the BU journalism lecturer widely considered one of the best hockey writers in the business. Jack died September 2008 **

Check out the Pond Hockey Movie Pond Hockey Movie is a movie from Northland Films documenting the outdoor hockey experience and the role of sports in our modern society. For generations, rink rats have grown up on outdoor ice—where the ice is gritty and so is the play. Now, there are climate-controlled arenas in every town, and that’s where the kids go to practice year-round. Through interviews with hockey legends like Neal Broten and Wayne Gretzky and the on-ice action of the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships, Pond Hockey examines this changing culture in search of the true meaning of sport.