Thursday, July 29, 2010


Not to disappoint readers but this post does not deal with misbehaving children and the associated punishment.  Instead this post discusses paddling, as in a canoe, to safety.  My mind was drawn to this topic due to a Sunday morning sermon on Acts 27.

This chapter deals with Paul being taken to Italy via a ship.  The really, really short version: the crew, the centurion, the other prisoners, and Paul didn’t make it to Italy due to a very bad seasonal storm.  Paul had told them not to proceed since it was winter time and storms blew up unexpectedly.

Throughout the chapter, we see actions, such as lightening the load, taken by the ship’s crew to keep everyone alive and save the ship.  While these actions are being performed, Paul informs them an angel of God has told him there would be no loss of life but the ship would be lost.

All of the crew’s attempts to save themselves and the ship were fruitless.  The only "saving" action was to paddle for shore.  Some crew members could swim and others clung to pieces of the ship.

Some times in life’s storms we attempt to take appropriate actions, after making an unwise choice, hoping to be safe but instead we have to jump in the water and paddle to safety.  As in the chapter, God protects our life but we lose something due to our choice.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Tell me your story

Emily wrote a few weeks ago about telling a story.  I’d like to explore a different side of storytelling: getting to know your Christian and non-Christian friends.  If we take time to engage our friends in telling us something about their life, we able to put our friends into context and better understand them.

Let me give a couple of quick examples.  My wife and I recently had an older couple from church in our home for Sunday lunch.  The husband told me of feeling like he was being called in the ministry at an early age.  He attended a Christian college and worked full-time to support his family.  One morning he woke up, had a couple of cups of coffee, and never went back to college.  He had been negatively impacted by a young minister who said “every time the doors are open you should be here”.  The minister didn’t understand the stress of college, supporting a family and working full time.  Now the good news is my older friend is still in service to his local church and God.  Since he told me a portion of his life story, I can now better understand, relate to him and fellowship with him.

Over the past couple of years, my wife and I have gotten to know a hard working college student.  Sometimes, it seems as if she never sits down and rests.  While getting to know her, we found out she found her father dead on her birthday after having gone to the store, with her mother, to buy a birthday cake.  Add on top of this, her dad had supplied her with family details in case something happened to him.  So, she was the leader of the family and responsible for taking care of the family.  This background illuminates why she is a very focused and driven young person.  I have no doubts that she will achieve her goals.

Before we can touch someone’s life, we must know something about them.  This means taking interest in their life by listening to their stories.  Without their stories, we cannot understand why they believe something, behave a particular way, or live their life a certain way.  Think once again of the classic example: Jesus and the woman at the well.  We don’t have the full, all encompassing story but we have enough to see that Jesus was personally interested in the woman’s life.  Also, Jesus listened to her words to know more about her.

I believe one of the biggest tragedies of modern life is: we do not spend enough time listening to other people’s stories.  We are so busy with day-to-day activities that we do not stop and quietly listen to someone.  We are creating a task list in our head, thinking of where we need to be or trying to think of a reply to the person’s story that we miss the intimate details and sub-text within their story.  So the next time someone begins to tell you their story put your brain in neutral and really listen.  You just might be surprised by what you learn about the person and their life.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I'm still surprised after all these years

Recently I have experienced a life event associated with work.  The event requires me to exercise my faith in God's ability to provided.  This past Sunday our pastor presented 2 excellent sermons on faith: "What Faith Knows" based on Mark 4:35-41 and "Faith by Example" from Luke 22:31-34.  These sermons were exactly what I needed at the moment.

I don't know why I'm surprised that God would speak through someone to provide words of comfort and encouragement.  I find I'm still surprised that God still speaks to me personally even after hearing so many beneficial sermons.  I'm sure others experience this surprise.

It is not surprising that God cares for each and every believer.  This is a characteristic of His being and nature.  His word clear states God is concerned about our well-being.  A classic example is Matthew 6:25-34.  What about God's provision for His people in the wilderness?  Think about it for at least a second: sandals that don't wear out, enough food to feed all the people provided each morning, and water from a rock.

I hope I never get to where I'm not surprised how God takes care of us.  I think that would be stop me from being thankful and appreciative of God's care.

Author's note: In case your interested in the major points of the 2 sermons. The sermon titles and point titles are from the pastor.  The wording is from my notes.

What Faith Knows  Mark 4:35-41
  • God cares - God cares about your daily "stuff"
  • God can - Deep faith knows God can handle "it"
  • God controls - Faith knows God is in control even if we don't
Faith by Example  Luke 22:31-34
  • Pray for another's faith - Jesus prayed for Peter
  • Encourage another's faith - Jesus encouraged Peter to strength others

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Christians in the wild and their natural habitat

As a child, I regularly watched “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom”.  “Wild Kingdom” was one of the first shows to bring exotic, remote areas of the world into people’s living rooms.  Also, people got to see the animals in their native habitat and view the animal’s behavior.  The show provided people a method of determining how a tiger differs from a cheetah or a zebra from a horse.

Over the last year, my LTS (Long Term Spouse) and I have been seeking a new church home.  We have found a potential “home” that we have been attended for several months.  This has given us the opportunity to view Christians in their natural habitat.  Within this habitat, a lot of different Christians exist: babes, teenagers, mature, and senior.

This Christian family contains people who are emotional, some who are extroverted, some who are quiet and some who are vocal.  But the common thread is they all belong to Christ through his blood, death, and resurrection.  Whatever a Christian’s “style” is, one objective, for each Christian, remains constant: can you be identified as a Christian.  We all at one time or another may exhibit non-Christian behavior which may allow us to show non-Christians we are not perfect.

Just think of a tiger: sometimes agile, quiet and other times clumsy, noisy.  The basic nature of the tiger is to be agile and quiet but every once in awhile the tiger will stumble.  A tiger doesn’t just sit down and admit failure.  Instead the tiger continues on but learns from his mistake and to be careful.  Christians should follow the tiger’s example: learn from our mistakes.  We should not just sit down because of failure but continue because of it.

A great example of continuing on after a failure is Peter.  Talk about a BIG boo-boo.  Peter was in daily contact with Jesus and Peter still denied he knew Christ.  But Peter was a rock on which the church was built.  Also, Jesus had no doubts about Peter.  In Luke 22:32, Jesus told Peter to “strength your brothers” when you have turned back.  After Peter was “knocked down”, Jesus expected Peter to get up, dust himself off, and minister to people.

Christians live in a hostile habitat containing obstacles, perils, and worries.  We should always be mindful that someone is watching and studying us in the wild (the world) and in our natural habitat (the church).  Our objective should be a daily effort to be identified as a Christian.

Please excuse our quietness

It was not the authors' intent to be silent for so long but life happens.

The authors have been finishing up teaching for the semester, working in the family's BIG garden, getting married, adjusting to a melded family, thinking about working on a PhD, new job assignments, considering a new career, preparing for teaching in the get the picture.

Whatever has happened has provided a world (pun intended) of insight and hopefully writing topics.