Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Trust and Obey ... There Is No Other Way

The past few days (years, decades...) I've been feeling so much pressure with regards to all God is leading me to and through and yet I keep telling myself to "Trust and Obey" Literally this morning on the drive into work I felt like a character out of those old cartoons that had the little angel on one shoulder and a little devil on the other. There is such an internal (eternal) battle raging within me. The war between trust and doubt. I was speaking a prayer of trust outloud to God and yet my heart still felt pulled from peace to problems. I surrendered my attitude to the Lordship of Jesus and yet a nagging, painful headache claimed it back. The fight for childlike trust and pure joy is an everyday conflict.

I ran across this a few minutes ago and found it very insightful and encouraging. Maybe you need the reminder that I needed (and will need again and again and ...)

by Max Lucado
Nothing stirs so many questions as does the birth of Christ. The
innkeeper too busy to welcome God-did he ever learn who he turned away?
The shepherds-did they ever hum the song the angels sang? The wise men
who followed the star-what was it like to worship a toddler? And
Joseph, especially Joseph. I've got questions for Joseph.
What was he thinking while Jesus was being born? He'd done all he
could do-he'd made Mary as comfortable as she could be in a barn and
then he stepped out. She'd asked to be alone, and Joseph has never felt
more so.
In that eternity between his wife's dismissal and Jesus' arrival, what
was he thinking? He walked into the night and looked into the stars.
Did he pray?
I wonder what he said …
This isn't the way I planned it, God. This doesn't seem right. What
kind of husband am I? I provide no midwife to aid my wife. No bed to
rest her back. Her pillow is a blanket from my donkey. My house for her
is a shed of hay and straw.
Did I miss something? Did I, God?
You've stood where Joseph stood. Caught between what God says and what
makes sense. You've done what he told you to do only to wonder if it
was him speaking in the first place. You've stared into a sky blackened
with doubt.
If you are asking what Joseph asked, let me urge you to do what Joseph
did. Obey. That's what he did. He obeyed when the angel called. He
obeyed when Mary explained. He obeyed when God sent.
Just like Joseph, you can't see the whole picture. Just like Joseph
your task is to see that Jesus is brought into your part of your world.
And just like Joseph you have a choice: to obey or disobey. Because
Joseph obeyed, God used him to change the world.
Can he do the same with you?

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Hot Date!

Dates with Kim are amazing! We hold hands. We laugh (big surprise there!), talk (unless my seat at the restaurant faces a TV) and we have a blast. We love going to Abuelos, The Olive Garden and eating steak at Joe Allen's. Sometimes we grab a movie, sometimes run an errand, and others we just get coffee and dessert. We talk about God, our kids, our marriage and even my driving (ok, that last one was mean - sorry babe!)

We don't go every week but at least 3 times a month. We don't always go on Friday or Saturday night - sometimes it is a lunch date. Sometimes we dress up and sometimes we just go "comfortable" in sweats.

Here is the bottomline: Sometimes married people think that the "grass is greener on the other side" Here is the truth - "the grass is greener where you water it"

Kim and I have a great marriage! Part of the reason is because we just love each other so much. Part of the reason is because God is gracious and allows Kim to overlook my faults. But another part is that we are committed to working on our marriage - "watering it" if you will.

I love you Kim!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004


Please pause with me for a moment of silence.


I just found some heart breaking news. Read it and then at the bottom you'll find my comments on why this death is so sad.

O.D.B., whose legal name was Russell Jones, died at a Manhattan recording studio Nov. 13.
He died "as a result of intoxication by the combined effects of cocaine and Tramadol, a prescription painkiller but not a narcotic," said Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for the New York City medical examiner's office.
"The manner of death is an accident," she added.
O.D.B. complained of chest pains before collapsing at the studio, and was dead by the time paramedics reached him. He was just days short of his 36th birthday.
O.D.B., also known as Ol' Dirty Bastard, was a founding member of the rap group the Wu-Tang Clan.
With his unorthodox delivery — alternately slurred, hyper and nonsensical — O.D.B. stood out even in the nine-man Clan, and as a solo artist he released hit singles such as "Shimmy Shimmy Ya" and "Got Your Money."
He had been working on his comeback album for more than a year and was almost finished.
O.D.B. was the latest in a string of rappers to meet an untimely death, among them Jam Master Jay of Run DMC, who was fatally shot in late 2002, and Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur, who were both shot to death in the late 1990s. Those killings remain unsolved.

Russell. His name was Russell. He is now dead. And to me that is sad.

What was life like for Russell? Can you imagine him at 4 years old? What kind of 2nd grader was he? When did he say his cuss word, drink his first beer, snort his first line of coke? Did he ever hear the good news? Was he involved in a church - or at least invited to a church? Did anyone spot him headed down the wrong path in junior high but was too busy, bias, or bigot-like to do anything about it? What were his dreams as a kid? Did he ever get tucked in, prayed for, snuggled with?

I don't know.

But I know this: At some point Russell traded in his birth name for another identity and wanted the world to know him as "Old Dirty Bastard". At some point he thought that cocaine and drugs would actually bring him peace and in doing both he "exchanged the truth for a lie." (Romans 1)

I know that those terms, all three of them, are not the stuff that any kindergartener aspires to be and yet somehow that is how Russell came to be known.

I don't know if it was marketing or misery that lead Russell to be known as O.D.B. but I do know that it is sad.

And I know that I don't want any other Russells, Randys, Robertas, or Rachels, etc to exchange the truth for a lie.

And I hope that my gut is wrong and that you really are in a place where there is true peace. Not the kind of peace that comes from a line of coke or prescription pain killers. The kind that passes understanding and is the oxygen of heaven.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Battle Tested


That's all I can say.


Read this.

VICTORVILLE, Calif. - When Marine Lance Cpl. David Battle learned he'd either have to sacrifice his ring finger or the wedding band he wore, he told doctors at a field hospital in Iraq (news - web sites) to cut off the finger. The 19-year-old former high school football star suffered a mangled left hand and serious wounds to his legs in a Nov. 13 fire fight in Fallujah. Battle, who is recovering at his parents' home in this desert city 80 miles northeast of Los Angeles, came under attack as he and fellow Marines entered a building. Eleven other Marines were wounded. Doctors were preparing to cut off Battle's ring to save as much of his finger as they could. "But that would mean destroying my wedding ring," he said. "My wife is the strongest woman I know. She's basically running two people's lives since I've been gone. I don't think I could ever repay her or show her how grateful ... how much I love my wife, my soul mate." With his approval, doctors severed his finger, but somehow in the chaos that followed, they lost his ring. Although Battle was disappointed, his wife, Devon, said she was honored. "I can't believe he did that," she said. "At first I was mad when he told me, but then I realized how lucky I am to have him in my life." The couple, who met in the eighth grade, were married in June, just two weeks before Battle left for Iraq. He hopes to eventually return to the Marines, and to replace his wedding ring, but that will have to wait until he recovers. In the meanwhile, Battle's high school has planned a banquet in his honor next week. "We need to make more David Battles," said Daniel Pierce, the school's assistant head coach. "He is one amazing guy."

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Just a Moment

Read Max's weekly email and said, "WOW"

Can anyone write quite like Max?

Read it and awe...

by Max Lucado
It all happened in a moment, a most remarkable moment.
As moments go, that one appeared no different than any other. But in
reality, that particular moment was like none other. For through that
segment of time a spectacular thing occurred. God became a man. While
the creatures of earth walked unaware, Divinity arrived. Heaven opened
herself and placed her most precious one in a human womb.
God as a fetus. Holiness sleeping in a womb. The creator of life being
God was given eyebrows, elbows, two kidneys, and a spleen. He stretched
against the walls and floated in the amniotic fluids of his mother.
God had come near.
He came, not as a flash of light or as an unapproachable conqueror, but
as one whose first cries were heard by a peasant girl and a sleepy
carpenter. The hands that first held him were unmanicured, calloused,
and dirty.
No silk. No ivory. No hype.
Were it not for the shepherds, there would have been no reception. And
were it not for a group of star-gazers, there would have been no gifts.
To think of Jesus in such a light is-well, it seems almost irreverent,
doesn't it? It's not something we like to do; it's uncomfortable. It is
much easier to keep the humanity out of the incarnation. Clean the
manure from around the manger. Wipe the sweat out of his eyes. Pretend
he never snored or blew his nose or hit his thumb with a hammer.
But don't do it. For heaven's sake, don't. Let him be as human as he
intended to be. Let him into the mire and muck of our world. For only
if we let him in can he pull us out.

from God Came Near Copyright 2004 Max Lucado

Not So Quiet Today

God screamed these words to me today in my "quiet" time.

It wasn't quiet. Loud and clear, but not quiet.

Paul to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:1-5

"But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God - having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them."

Two questions arise from this passage:

1. Isn't this a description of most of the human race for the past 8,000 years? Doesn't sound too "last" to me.

2. How do I have "nothing to do with" myself?

Wednesday, December 08, 2004


Kim and I have been playing the fire out of the song, You Are God Alone and the lyrics are stuck in our heads. That is a good stuck, mind you. I have it on my Itunes and I just loop it and it blares throughout our bedroom and bathroom. I'm serious when I say this: It has been playing non-stop since 4:00 this afternoon and it is now 10:50pm. That is a lot of looping! But can you ever get tired of this message? Check out these lyrics:

You are not a god Created by human hands
You are not a god Dependant on any mortal man
You are not a god In need of anything we can give
By Your plan, that’s just the way it is
Chorus: You are God alone From before time began
You were on Your throne
Your are God alone
And right now In the good times and bad
You are on Your throne You are God alone

You’re the only God Whose power none can contend
You’re the only God Whose name and praise will never end
You’re the only God Who’s worthy of everything we can give
You are God And that’s just the way it is

Bridge: Unchangeable Unshakable Unstoppable
That’s what You are

Is there some change going on in your life these days? Take wrap your life in the truth that God doesn't change. Are there circumstances that are shaky to say the least? Stake your worries in the bedrock promise that God is unshakable. Do you need some encouragement? Do you feel like giving up against whatever foe you may be facing? Don't. God is unstoppable and he wants to exert the same unstoppable power in you and through you.

Whether times are good for you or bad remember this my friend: God is on His throne!

May those words loop in your heart too.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

A Cold, Dark Heart

I received this email today and found it quite worth sharing. I can't vouch for the accuracy but the concepts alone are worth pondering.

The university professor challenged his students with this question.

"Did God create everything that exists?"

A student bravely replied, "Yes, he did!"

"God created everything?" The professor asked.

"Yes, sir," the student replied.

The professor answered, "If God created everything, then God created evil, since evil exists, and according to the principal that our works define who we are, then God is evil."

The student became quiet before such an answer. The professor, quite pleased with himself, boasted to the students that he had proven once more that the Christian faith was a myth.

Another student raised his hand and said, "Can I ask you a question professor?"

"Of course," replied the professor.

The student stood up and asked, "Professor, does cold exist?"

"What kind of question is this? Of course it exists. Have you never been cold?" The students snickered at the young man's question.

The young man replied, "In fact sir, cold does not exist. According to the laws of physics, what we consider cold is in reality the absence of heat. Every body or object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (-460° F) is the total absence of heat; all matter becomes inert and incapable of reaction at that temperature. Cold does not exist. We have created this word to describe how we feel if we have no heat."

The student continued, "Professor, does darkness exist?"

The professor responded, "Of course it does."

The student replied, "Once again you are wrong sir, darkness does not exist either. Darkness is in reality the absence of light. Light we can study, but not darkness. In fact we can use Newton's prism to break white light into many colors and study the various wavelengths of each color. You cannot measure darkness. A simple ray of light can break into a world of darkness and illuminate it. How can you know how dark a certain space is? You measure the amount of light present. Isn't this correct? Darkness is a term used by man to describe what happens when there is no light present."

Finally the young man asked the professor, "Sir, does evil exist?"

Now uncertain, the professor responded, "Of course as I have already said. We see it every day. It is in the daily example of man's inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil."

To this the student replied, "Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is not like faith, or love that exist just as does light and heat. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God's love present in his heart. It's like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light."

The professor sat down.

The young man's name --- Albert Einstein

Monday, December 06, 2004

The Gift of Grace

I ran across this story today and was mindful that Christmas is truly a miracle! The fact that Christ came to earth is the divine gift from Heaven. Grace is the God-given gift that cannot be matched by anything under a tree, in a driveway, or in a bank account. The fact that we will never be able to earn it is the maddeningly mystery of Heaven.

A kindly 90-year-old grandmother found buying presents for family and friends a bit much last Christmas. So she wrote out checks for all of them to put in their Christmas cards.
In each card she carefully wrote, "Buy your own present" and then sent them off.
After the Christmas festivities were over, she found the checks under a pile of papers on her desk!
Everyone on her gift list had received a beautiful Christmas card from her with "Buy your own present" written inside-- without the check!

May we stop trying to "buy our own present" this season and rest in the reality of Christ's presence!

Give someone the gift of Jesus this week.