Jan 25, 2010

Finish Strong

As I’ve stated before, my two football teams are THE Ohio State Buckeyes and The Dallas Cowboys. I wrote back in September 2009 “We will have to wait until January to see how far the Cowboys and the Buckeyes go.” Well, now we know. The Buckeyes won the Big 10 championship and the Rose Bowl. The Dallas Cowboys’ season came to a screeching halt when they showed up in Minnesota to play the Vikings. To all my friends and wife who are Vikings fans; “What a heartache in New Orleans!”  

Brett Favre said that his personal goal for the 2009-2010 season was to take the Minnesota Vikings to the Super Bowl in Miami. And he fell short; you could see the look on his face at the end of the NFC Championship game. His goal was to finish strong and complete his goal; which was just as important as how he started out the season. 

I know that some would like to believe that it doesn’t really matter if you win or lose; but it does. There has to be a prize we strive for, or why else would be struggle so hard to win and finish strong? In some things it does make a difference if we win or lose. It isn’t enough that Dallas has 5 Super Bowl rings after 8 Super Bowl appearances. At the end of the football season; if you don’t have a ring then it doesn’t mean a thing.

In the world of Hockey, this past weekend it was too warm and the outdoor ice on our Minnesota lakes was too wet to finish the Annual Pond Hockey Tournament. I really don’t think that the participants were content with just signing up; they wanted to play. I told my wife that I’m was glad that I hadn’t signed up to participate; I would have been very disappointed to have trained and then not been able to compete. (Fortunately, I was still able to play this Saturday outdoors on a sheet of refrigerated ice). 

No one who trains to run a marathon (especially an Ironman) is content to simply start the race; they all want to finish strong and cross the finish line.  Even the Apostle Paul wrote about this idea of competing for a prize; of finishing strong. He said in 1Corinthians 9:24 “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.” 

Of course Paul was speaking about things that had eternal value; not just temporal like the Lombardi Trophy. He goes on to say; “25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. 27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”  

In other words; Paul was saying that how we finish is just as important as how we start out. Paul was saying that he had personal goals to finish strong. Paul writes; “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14) 

This was his goal in all he did throughout his walk as a Christian. At the end of his life, just before he was put to death for preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, he wrote to one of his young friends who was a pastor; “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. “ Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.”  (2Timothy 4:7-8)

My friends, how we finish is just as important as how we start. Don’t quit! Keep going; keep running this race we call “LIFE”. Hang in there! We have so many that are cheering us on and waiting for us at the end.  

“As for us, we have this large crowd of witnesses around us. So then, let us rid ourselves of everything that gets in the way, and of the sin which holds on to us so tightly, and let us run with determination the race that lies before us. Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end. He did not give up because of the cross! On the contrary, because of the joy that was waiting for him, he thought nothing of the disgrace of dying on the cross, and he is now seated at the right side of God's throne. Think of what he went through; how he put up with so much hatred from sinners! So do not let yourselves become discouraged and give up…Lift up your tired hands, then, and strengthen your trembling knees! Keep walking on straight paths, so that the lame foot may not be disabled, but instead be healed. Hebrews 12:1-3, 12-13 GNB)

Jan 18, 2010

Are You a Tiger?

I've held off talking about Tiger Woods until now. I figured that the whole world already has weighed-in and spoken or written what they thought. Everyone has given their free advice; saying what they would do, should do, and could do. Photographers have been relentless to show us the next photo of the next move in this story. Comedians have filled their shows and columns with materials. Up-to-the-minute reports have come across the news outlets keeping us informed of each and every latest development. All of this was done at the expense of a shattered marriage. Still want to be Tiger Woods? 

I am grieved to see another marriage, family, woman, children devastated by immorality. How many more do we need until we say; “That’s enough?” Personally, I say we shut it down and say the quota is filled; let’s talk about something else.

My bigger concern is that the possibility of this situation is not limited to only Tiger. Given the chance it is very possible that we too could've failed. All that fame, money (billions), ego, success could’ve cracked the very foundations of our fortress we call marriage. Try living day after day never having to say "no" to anything and see how long you last!   

Let me be clear, I'm not trying to defend what he did nor to excuse it or justify it in any way. I feel so sorry for Elin and others whose trust has been betrayed by Tiger; but rather I write this to point out the depravity of man.  

You see, I'm not sure how many of us would’ve said "no". I know, that is a very sobering thought! We would like to believe that we are un-shakable; so rock-solid in our commitments and convictions, that WE would never cross the line.   

But are we? It is my belief that each of us has a “kryptonite” that has the potential of breaking our super power that we call moral conviction. Why else would so many leaders and “average Joes” throw it all away for a moment of pleasure and indiscretion? 

So why do moral people give in? Simply put, we are humans living in a broken world filled with temptations sitting at every corner waiting to trap us. We try to do it on our own thinking that we are strong enough and righteousness enough to handle the situation ourselves. We never even think (outside of a fantasy) that we would ever give in. I am talking about giving into temptation even with a peek (at a website, photo, ad) or a poke (a prolonged hug, embrace, conversation).  

But the Bible tells a different story:
• “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)
• “all our righteousness are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:5-7)
•  “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way…”  (Isaiah 53:6)
•  “As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; 11 There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God.”  (Romans 3:10-11)

I am not limiting my blog to men; remember there were women who chose to be with this person knowing full well that he was married. Temptation hits us all and has a potential of tripping us all up; NO MATTER WHO YOU ARE.  

1Corinthians 10:13a “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man;”  

That is the sobering news.  

The passage goes on to give hope: 1Co 10:13b “ but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”   

So what is the solution? Our only hope is in Jesus. Romans 8:26: “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”  

We need to realize just how dependent upon Him we are. We need to be honest with our weakness and areas of vulnerabilities before God. 1John 1:8 say; “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”  

We need to confess our sins and let God cleanse us and help us to turn from the sin (Repent) so that it doesn’t take root in our lives. 1John 1:9 says; “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  

Need help? Call 1-888-NEED HIM. Someone is waiting to talk with you

Jan 11, 2010


The fire department says that if you are on fire you shouldn’t run but rather “STOP, DROP, and ROLL”. This is to stop us from causing further damage as the flames potentially will accelerate and spread the fire.  

In the Bible, the Apostle Paul tells us that the devil has “the fiery darts” that are shot at us (Ephesians 6:16). In other words, sometimes the devil aims his weapons at you! Jesus said, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (John 10:10a).

When trouble comes, how do you respond? Do you “STOP, DROP, and ROLL”? Or do you run around causing further damage, allowing the flames to accelerate; spreading the fire to your family or other members of the Body of Christ? How quickly you learn to “STOP, DROP, and ROLL” makes all the difference in the world.  

• The problems of life come at you.
• The fiery darts of the enemy attack you.
• There is trouble in your relationships.
• You have no solutions to your problems
You can’t seem to get your hurts to go away.
• All hell itself seems to have taken aim at you
- It is then that you need to: “STOP, DROP, and ROLL”. 

1.) STOP what you are doing. Not tomorrow. Not after talking with others about it. Not running around, spreading the “fire”; ranting, raving, scheming, or planning. STOP what you are doing NOW! 1 Peter 5:5 says; “"GOD RESISTS THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE." 

 2.) DROP to your knees. In prayer. Call upon the Lord knowing that He WILL answer you! 1Peter 5:6 says, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God…” 

3.) ROLL your cares on the Lord. 1Peter 5:7 says, “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”  

Psalm 142 tells us what we should do when trouble comes our way. King David wrote it when he was under attack and being hunted down. Let me give you 7 steps to help you “STOP, DROP, and ROLL”.  

 • Psalm 142:1 “I cry out to the LORD with my voice; with my voice to the LORD I make my supplication.”  

2.) SPECIFY YOUR PROBLEM: “God this is going on!”
• Psalm 142:2 “I pour out my complaint before Him; I declare before Him my trouble.”  

 3.) REALIZE YOUR PREDICAMENT: “God, I am hurting!”
• Psalm 142:3 “When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, Then You knew my path. In the way in which I walk They have secretly set a snare for me.”  

4.) ADMIT THAT YOU FEEL ISOLATED: “God I feel all alone!”
• Psalm 142:4 “Look on my right hand and see, for there is no one who acknowledges me; Refuge has failed me; No one cares for my soul.”  

5.) SEE GOD AS THE ONLY SOLUTION: “God, You are in control!”
• Psalm 142:5 “I cried out to You, O LORD: I said, "You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”  

6.) GET REAL WITH GOD: “God, no one else can help me but you!”
• Psalm 142:6 “Attend to my cry, for I am brought very low; Deliver me from my persecutors, for they are stronger than I.”  

• Psalm 142:7 “Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise Your name; The righteous shall surround me, For You shall deal bountifully with me."   

My friend, God cares for you more than you will ever know. It is often in our problems that we see who God really is; a loving, caring Father who longs to help us. 

Jesus said; “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)

Need more information? Call 1-888-NEED HIM (633-3446) somone is waiting to talk to you.

Jan 5, 2010

Pass The Bacon

There is a trivia game that some people play called “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”. It loosely rests on the assumption that any actor can be linked through his or her film roles to actor Kevin Bacon within six steps. This was started because (supposedly) Kevin Bacon once claimed that he had worked with everyone in Hollywood. And so, we try to connect Kevin Bacon with other famous people.

The phenomenon of connecting oneself with someone famous seems to potentially infect all humans. We want others to know us because we may be (loosely) connected or know someone who knows someone who knows someone who is famous. We want to be famous and so we try to be connected with someone who is. We get autographs, photos, handshakes, and “high-fives” from celebrities just so that we can feel important because we “connected” with someone who we deem important.  

It’s pretty sad that as a society we continue to keep the importance of who you are on a greater scale that it really deserves. Even as I write this I am tempted to show you my personal invitation for the Religious Inaugural Celebration of President William Clinton that I received in 1993 (and kept) personally from the Honorable James E. Johnson – former Assistant Secretary of the United States Navy during the Nixon Administration. Hey; did I mention that I played both Sting’s and James Taylor’s custom Olson guitars before either Sting or James Taylor did? 

What about the (supposedly) unknown people who have had great influence on our lives as they go went about their business simply doing what they do best. The world is filled with people who set up tables, and clean floors, and set out surgical instruments so others can get the credit. No connection with Kevin Bacon; just “nameless” “faceless” people who did ordinary things that made all the difference in the world.  

My High School English teacher, Martha Cosgrove, told us that her sister Jessica Lange was auditioning for a remake of “King Kong” and that one day would make it into Hollywood as an actress. We all said; “Yeah, right!” And none of us believed that history teacher Larry Hagerle really had been a quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings (until we looked it up). Both of these teachers were loved and had influence upon my lives simply because they were good teachers (along with many others such as Mark Kaplan, Joel Andrychowicz, Barb Meldahl, Lynn Bollman, Elizabeth Pawlitschek, and L. Grasmick; along with so many more who helped this angry young man make sense of this broken life). 

Christian singer and song writer Larry Norman has had a great influence on my Christian walk, but it was his father-in-law, “Jungle Al” Alquist, who God used to present the gospel of Jesus Christ. “Jungle Al” was one of the most beloved biology teachers at my public high school. “Jungle Al” earned his nick name because he spoke freely at my public high school of his missionary journeys and of God’s protection and provision, and his love for Jesus.  

I still remember in 1973 when one of my eighth grade teachers at my public junior high school held an assembly to talk about the commitment he had just made to Jesus Christ. I was able to track him down a few years ago and called him to let him know that his witness had born fruit in my life.  

The Bible is filled FULL with stories of “nameless” “faceless” people who did ordinary things that made all the difference in the world. People who had no connection with Kevin Bacon; but God saw them and had their stories written down for us to read. 

Ordinary people who went about their day to day activities and their stories made it into the pages of scriptures; even if we don’t know their names. Someone filled the water pot that Jesus used to turn the water into wine. Someone raised a colt from birth that was used by Jesus to ride into Jerusalem, and fulfilled one of the 66 Messianic prophecies from the Old Testament. Someone broke the alabaster jar and poured the costly fragrant oil on the feet of Jesus. Jesus said; “Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her." (Matthew 26:13) 

Our lives are filled FULL with stories of “nameless” “faceless” people who did ordinary things that made all the difference in the world. Ordinary things like sending us cards on our birthdays and notes of encouragement when we were down. I have a friend who to this day still speaks of a smile that he received from a girl when he was a young lad that radically affected his life even today in his fifties. No connection with Kevin Bacon; just “nameless” “faceless” people who did ordinary things that made all the difference in the world.  

I say that perhaps we need to “pass the Bacon”; quit trying to connect our name with somebody else who others feel is someone important; and make a commitment to be who we are and do our best in this world; knowing that we do make a difference in more lives than we may ever know.