Mar 30, 2011

Are You Ready?

By Pastor Chik Chikeles, Senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel Saint Paul
Used by permission. All rights reserved

Hey gang, are you ready?
- Does your relationship with God make you sure that you will go to heaven when you die?
- Does everyone you know have a relationship with God that makes them sure they will go to heaven when they die?
- Do you care?

In light of recent world events that the Bible has foretold, will you take stock of your life and consider what really matters?

Gospel of Matthew Chapter 24 verses 4-8
"4 And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows."

Gospel of John Chapter 3 verses 16-18
"16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

You get one opportunity in this life to make the choice to secure your eternity. If everything I have ever shared with you is not true or comes to pass, then how would it hurt you? How would your life be worse off? But if everything I have shared with you is true and you do not believe in what the Bible proves is true, then you have gambled and will lose everything. 

If there is no everlasting life, then when I come to the end of my life, then I have led a good life and that's that and everyone is better off by me living a good life.

But if it’s true that Salvation is only found in a relationship with God through what Jesus has done for us on the cross, and you choose to not accept that free gift, then you have lost everything. Yes, it’s what I believe, but I do not force that on anyone. Whatever you choose to believe and base your life on, know that I care about you and do not judge or diminish your beliefs. I ask for the same.

The Bible tells us: "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love." ( 1John 4:18)

Trust the Love of God during these difficult times. 

Please know that I care enough to tell you these things.
If there is anything you care deeply enough about, please feel free to share that with me as well. I live my life everyday as if I will be in the presence of the Lord. I also make plans like I will never die. Either way, where ever I wake up, I have something to do.

What are YOU living for?

"Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved."

Mar 23, 2011

Hockey, Wood, Hay, and Stubble

After five months of playing two games a week, my hockey season came to an end. The last game started kind of slow; as a team we didn’t seem to be working together. Finally, a breakaway led to a goal and we were back on the same page. My first goal came as I was able to steal the puck away from a forward, skate past five players, fake a wrap-around, and instead backhand the puck past the pads of an unsuspecting goalie for a goal. I went on to score another goal and three assists; not a bad way to end the season.

The Minnesota High School Hockey Tournaments are finished; all there is left to do is watch the Stanley Cup Playoffs (and my beloved Buckeyes in the NCAA Basketball Final Four). If I hadn’t torn my rotor cuff years ago, I would be pulling out the cleats and oiling up the glove to play ball for the spring and summer months. 

Instead, my hockey equipment will be washed, hung to dry, and then packed away along with my sticks and jerseys until next season; or until I am able to find another game between now and November. I thank God that after (almost) fifty three years of life, I have been able to play one more season; praise be to God.

The thing is, after a person has a great game, no matter what sport they play, they are only as good as the next game or season. I’ve heard coaches, after winning the Super Bowl, talk about immediately going to the books to get ready for next season; the next Super Bowl. They’ve learned that they won’t be judged on the last win they have. There is an overarching theme among athletes that it takes more to prove their success.  

The same is true for our “real” lives as well. God won’t ask to see our degrees, or championship rings, or ask us how much we earned or how many goals we scored. God uses a different method to judge us; His Son Jesus Christ.

The Bible says; “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.“(See 1 Corinthians 3:9-15)

Jesus will judge us; not our achievements: “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats." (Matthew 25: 31-32)

"Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire." (Revelation 20:11-15)

Don’t put your stock in what you accomplished here on the earth; put your faith in Jesus Christ and His redemption on the cross for your sins and mine.

How does the Bible say that we are to do this? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” (Romans 10:8b-13).

After five months of playing two games a week, my hockey season came to an end. Some day; I don’t know when, my life will come also to an end. I’m putting all of my hope for eternity on Jesus Christ; How about you?

"Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved."

Mar 17, 2011

Ice Dams?

If you are a snow lover, this was a good year for snow .We had a lot of snow this year in Minnesota; actually, all across the USA EVERYONE got an unusual amount of snow. I remember one news cast said that “Today EVERY state in the USA (49) had snow except for Florida.” Some storms dumped 17 to 24 inches of snow in 24 hours; some areas of the USA had even greater snow amounts in the same time period. If you are a snow lover, this was a good year for snow! (see below for "Snowman" Video)

One of the problems with getting as much snow as we all did is the possibility of ice building up on the roof of your house and forming an “ice dam”; a growing heap of ice that blocks the path of the melted snow. When snow accumulates on a roof, a cycle of melting and refreezing occurs. In a perfect world, the snow would melt off the roof, enter the gutters, and flow harmlessly to the ground. The warmer your attic is, the more melt off that occurs at the roof surface. Under certain conditions, though, when air temperature is very low, the water refreezes at the edge of the roof, where the interior roof surface is not being warmed by the attic. 

Once this dam forms to a certain height, the melted snow that pools up behind it can suddenly leak back under the roof shingles and into your home! The thing with ice dams is that you need to deal with them immediately. Don’t let the snow pile up on your roof! For me this meant that on three different occasions I had to borrow my brother-in-law Bill’s 28 foot ladder and snow rake to remove 2-3 foot piles of snow on my roof (three stories off the ground).

The third floor of my 1912 house doesn’t have the proper insulation. My girls who used to have their bedrooms up there tell me that it was always “too cold”. I told them (like any good dad would); “If you’re cold grab a sweater”. So the possibility of snow forming ice dams is very real; we’ve had them twenty years ago. The average roof in St. Paul costs around $1,800 to $2,400 for ice dam removal; to say nothing of the cost to repair the interior damage caused by the water intrusion.

How can ice dams be prevented in the first place? The short term is to remove and keep the snow off the roof; as soon as you can after the snow has built up on the roof. The longer-term answer is by having proper insulation and ventilation. 

These are simple solutions, yet in our neighborhood, I saw that almost every house had ice dams. Partially it was because we all live in very tall, older homes from the early 1900’s that have steep roofs and partially it is because it is expensive to deal with it - the going rate to remove snow and ice from a roof is $300 per hour. 

And, I think that some people have the notion that if you ignore it long enough, it will eventually go away. Simply put, homeowners could prevent unnecessary water intrusion and costly repairs if they would deal with the problem immediately, instead of waiting for further damage to be done on the inside of their homes.

Kind of reminds me of how some people deal with sin. Similar to ice dams, we need to deal with it immediately. Don’t let it pile up! Simply put, you and I could prevent unnecessary intrusion and costly repairs if we would deal with the sin problem immediately, instead of waiting for further damage to be done.

Acts 3:19 says; “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord”

James 5:16 says; “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”

1 John 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.”

Isaiah 1:18 says; “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “ Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.”

Go to God and deal with the sin in your life before it causes a more serious damn in your life, and the life of those around you.  “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

A video to say "goodbye" to the snow

Mar 11, 2011


Most of my Saturdays from November through March begin the same way. I get up at 5:30 am, get dressed, take some time to pray and read the Bible, drink a protein shake, and eat some peanut butter toast. At 6:15 am, I take my hockey bag and sticks to my vehicle and drive to the local ice arena where I will get suited up for my first of two hockey games. At 8:00 am I will leave the ice, take off my skates and some of my gear, change into a dry set of gear, take my hockey bag and sticks to my vehicle, and then drive to a different ice rink that is outdoors for my second hockey game. I usually play until 11:00; not a bad way to spend a Saturday morning with two different groups of guys and my youngest son Joshua (who plays at both games with me). 

Saturday, March 05, 2011, I woke up at 4:30 am; an hour earlier than normal. I found myself pondering whether or not it was ok for me to play hockey that day. I spent some time thinking about the question before me and praying about other things until I fell back asleep until the alarm went off at 5:30 am. At 5:30 am, I found myself deeply engrossed in the question of whether or not it was ok for me to play hockey that morning. I realized very quickly that I hadn’t even asked God what He thought. 

I had spent a few days before in prayer and at a conference, longing to go deeper in my relationship with God; longing to be more fully surrendered to His plans and direction for my life. At 5:30 am, “surrender” took on a whole different meaning. 

Surrender” means to yield to the possession or power of another; to give up oneself to another or to some influence, course, emotion, etc. It means to give up (let go), abandon, or relinquish. It also means to yield or resign in favor of another. 

At 5:30 am, I realized that I had gotten up as usual, with no thought that surrendering my life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ meant that I needed to lay it all down and not play hockey if He wanted me to. I may not have realized that His Lordship encompassed ALL of my life, every area of it, but He did. And He wasn’t going to let me get away with ignoring it. If I really wanted to be surrendered to Him, simply put, I needed to ask what He wanted me to do. To me, it was as serious to God as Abraham surrendering His son Isaac on the altar. The question set before me was: “would I do what He asked me to do?”; period.

Luke 9:57-62 came to mind: 57 Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” 59 Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.” 61 And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” 62 But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

I realize that some may question my intensity and sanity with this type of pondering, and perhaps have answers (even scriptures) to give to me to justify my simply going and doing what I wanted to. I realized that God wasn’t against me playing hockey, He was asking me to ask Him. If I want Him to lead my life then I need to learn to ask; “What do You have in mind for me to do today?” This is true for the big things as well as the small things; Jesus wants it all. Surrender isn’t about giving up in a negative sense, it is about laying down rights. Surrender is a constant state of being, thinking, and acting. 

I don’t want to have assurance of heaven while wasting my time here on the earth. I want the Lord’s will for my life; my whole life. I don’t want to waste my life. I want to dedicate my life to serve Christ to the fullest, no matter what that means.

Every day we get new opportunities; what we do with them will be the real question asked of us. How fully will you surrender? Is Jesus REALLY the Lord of your life? 

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matthew 7:21-23)

"Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved."

Mar 4, 2011

Searching For the Wrong Things

One part of my stash
Recently, the temperatures went up to 40’s and 50’s and the ice rinks began to melt, which means that soon my hockey games will be limited to playing indoors. It was a sad day in my world, so I went searching once again for hockey pucks now exposed as the snow has begun to melt. Some days searching for pucks I had good days as I found a lot of pucks, and some days I had GREAT days and I collected 55-65 pucks EACH DAY! My office now has around 640 pucks that I have collected over the past 11 months.

I blogged about my obsession to collect pucks last March 2010. See: 

Cathy encourages me in my obsessions; she says that it makes me happy to search for them. I told her I am happy because in my mind it is 1968 and I am ten years old once again. Honestly; how could you not be happy taking a walk around a hockey rink just to pick up hockey pucks? I’ve told the children and Cathy that this will be their savings account; something to take care of them after I’m gone. 
Rows of pucks all around my ceiling

While I was driving to take my skates in to get them sharpened after my hockey games today, I thought about all of those pucks sitting in my office. I thought about how I longed to go find “just-one-more-puck” before I left the place where I had been searching. I thought about how much my obsession has shifted over the past twenty years or so.

Twenty or so years ago I would go to parks, downtown streets, and shopping malls searching for something different. I would go looking for people who needed Jesus. I thought to myself; “What if those 640 pucks collected over the past eleven months had been 640 people to whom I had shared the Good News; the Gospel of Jesus Christ?” 

Rows of pucks all around my ceiling
I know that God can use even base things like the hockey pucks to advance His Kingdom. The Apostle Paul wrote; “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any” (1 Corinthians 6:12).
Paul also wrote later on in his same letter; “I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22). But I don’t want to spend my time searching for the wrong things.

Yes, I have been proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ through preaching, teaching, and writing, but it’s not the same as one-on-one conversation with individuals searching for the truth. Somehow my time has been preoccupied by searching for the wrong things; perhaps time away from what I am really called to do.

As I travel throughout my world, I see a desperate need for hope to contradict the despair that seems to be so rampant in everyday life. People are no longer plagued by guilt, but by hopelessness and despair. I believe that a relationship with Jesus is the answer to this problem. I believe that God's Word, the Bible, gives answers to this lack of hope, and I endeavor to minister using the principles of God's Word.

When Jesus walked this earth, He was constantly pulled from one activity to another; oftentimes healing people along the way. Sometimes this would lead Jesus away from what He knew that He was called to do. His disciples came to Him and said on one occasion; “Everyone is looking for you!”. But Jesus knew that He had come to “seek and save that which was lost”. (Luke 19:10).

Jesus told His disciples that His purpose (besides His death, burial, and resurrection) was to preach to Israel (Mark 1:38), and that He needed to go to the next place where He was called to go. Jesus was One who truly went searching for the right things.

So how about you? Are you spending your time searching for things that are earthly or things that are eternal? 

One of my favorite prayers that turns my heart back to the things of God is a song by Keith Green called “My Eyes Are Dry” Listen to this and let us together once again commit to search for the things of God.

"My Eyes Are Dry" by Keith Green from the album “No Compromise”
   My eyes are dry
   My faith is old
   My heart is hard
   My prayers are cold
   And I know how I ought to be
   Alive to You and dead to me

   But what can be done
   For an old heart like mine
   Soften it up
   With oil and wine
   The oil is You, Your Spirit of love
   Please wash me anew
   With the wine of Your Blood