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Showing posts from 2012

'til Debt Do Us Part

For the last month, unless you dwell under a rock, you've undoubtedly been hearing all about the ‘Fiscal Cliff’ we face as a nation and what terrible fate awaits for all mankind if our elected officials don’t come to the rescue and pass some sort of law to save us from going over the edge.  But, both sides of the political aisle have ‘dug in’ and the battle over our nation’s moneybags looks to be bloody.

But, no matter which side of this debate you’re on, we expect congress to act in a fiscally responsible way.  But, why should we expect our government to act differently than we do? We tell our elected officials we want fiscal responsibility. We tell them to balance the budget, reduce the deficit, and to use zero based budgeting.

This is like the pot calling the kettle black. Fiscal responsibility must begin at home first. As Americans, we spend on average $1.33 per $1.00 earned. Why are we in debt? Because we have allowed ourselves to accept debt as the ‘norm.’  We have become s…

What Child is This?

Many families participate in great Christmas traditions this time of year. We have a couple ourselves.One is a carryover from my wife’s upbringing.

Growing up in her home, whenever the phone rang between Christmas Eve and Day, they would answer it, “Christmas Eve gift!” The purpose was to be the first to say it to another family member that was calling.  It was fun tradition before caller ID and cell phones. But as traditions go, this one isn't practiced very often now because everyone knows who’s calling before the phone is answered.  The fun was explaining “Christmas Eve gift” to an unsuspecting person on the other end of the line. 
Our own tradition as a family is to go to a local Christmas tree farm every year, ride the hay wagon out into the orchard, and pick out our tree together, which required cutting it down ourselves. While this sounds like a Norman Rockwell painting, it’s not. But that is a story for another day.
During this time of year, Christmas carols are played and s…

I... Must... Perform

Many years ago a man conned his way into the orchestra of the emperor of China although he could not play a note. Whenever the group practiced or performed, he would hold his flute against his lips, pretending to play but not making a sound. He received a modest salary and enjoyed a comfortable living Then one day the emperor requested a solo from each musician. The flutist got nervous. There wasn't enough time to learn the instrument. He pretended to be sick, but the royal physician wasn't fooled. On the day of his performance, the impostor took poison and killed himself. The explanation of his suicide led to a phrase that found its way into the English language: “He refused to face the music." When you're living a lie, eventually "your sins will find you out."

An increasingly common lie that way too many of us believe is that “we are what we do” – the ‘performance’ lie.  

When we buy into the notion of the performance lie, our identity comes from what we …

Are You an Asset or Liability to Christmas?

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I hate Christmas. 
There, I said it. Why do I hate Christmas, you ask in horror? Well, here are a few of my reasons:  Stores that begin their big Christmas sales in September. Seriously? Can’t we enjoy Halloween candy and Thanksgiving before we bring out the fat man?Black Friday. Need I say more?Snow. It brings out the worst in already bad drivers, and it is really, really cold.Tacky Christmas decorations. If your house looks like this: Your neighbors HATE you. Seriously, this has gone too far.
Frosty the Snowman. I like my snow inert and on the ground. Christmas music.  How many times on average in one day can you listen to tired carols done hip hop or in a country remix bleating over the PA system in every store and shopping mall on earth?Fruit cake. If a cockroach or rat won't eat it I won't eat it. Besides, the taste and texture leaves so much to be desired that no amount of eggnog will wash away the lingering aftertaste.Well meaning Facebook postings like this one:  “It’s …

I'm Not Good Enough

We've all heard a lie or told a lie.  Some of the more common lies we are familiar with are:

The check is in the mail.I'll start my diet tomorrow.We service what we sell.Give me your number and the doctor will call you right back.This offer limited to the first 100 people who call in.Your luggage isn't lost, it's only misplaced.Leave your resume and we'll keep it on file.This hurts me more than it hurts you.I just need five minutes of your time.
But, a very common and destructive lie that Satan has plagued so many Christians with is “I’m simply not good enough.” If we were to be honest with ourselves, many of us have battled Satan’s lie or are even still harassed by it.

Moses is one of my heroes of the bible.  In Exodus 4, God Himself called on Moses to deliver His people from bondage. Moses felt the same way many of us feel when facing that kind of a moment: he felt ‘not good enough.’

Moses replied to the Lord in verse 10, “Oh, Lord, I’ve never been eloquent, neit…

The Great Escape

When I was in the sixth grade, I would play football after school with several other guys in the neighborhood.  These were the days of Roger Staubach, Tony Dorsett, and the Cowboys were still America’s team.  Everyone in the world, as far as we knew, was in love with the sport, and we were no different. We played football almost every day after school regardless of the weather. But, more than the football, what I remember most was Scott’s dad Gary.  When Gary would get home from work each evening he would watch us as we played. After he was able to determine which team was losing, he would join that team.  We were always excited when his dad would show up because it was always a game changer for the team he joined.

2 Cor 10:3-4 “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.”

The word ‘stronghold’ comes from the Greek word ‘ochurôma’ whic…

I've Got to Be Strong

“Who do you THINK you are?!!”
“I'm Hub McCann. I've fought in two World Wars and countless smaller ones on three continents. I led thousands of men into battle with everything from horses and swords to artillery and tanks. I've seen the headwaters of the Nile, and tribes of natives no white man had ever seen before. I've won and lost a dozen fortunes, KILLED MANY MEN and loved only one woman with a passion a FLEA like you could never begin to understand. That's who I am!”
That is one of my favorite scenes from the movie “Second Hand Lions.” Walter, Garth, and Hub are sitting in a diner/grocery store eating lunch when a group of hooligans come in and start trouble.  One of the teenagers tries to take Hub’s lunch and Hub knocks his hand away. The surprised teen asks “who do you think you are?”  Hub puts him in his place physically and TELLS the teen WHO he is.
Satan uses many lies in attempt to rob us of our identity in Christ.  The most common lie that Satan wants …

Believing in the Next Generation

We are at a crossroads. We are in an especially important time for the church and for future generations because so much of our focus to move the Kingdom forward consists of good intentions.   But, if we leave it simply at ‘good intentions’ and don't transfer those good intentions into actions, then we will- in so many ways- short circuit what God wants to do.

If we don't impart spiritual life into the next generation, we are on the road to losing them when it comes to having  faith in Christ.
Although Moses had the vision to go into the Promised Land, he never got to do it. But Moses, being the leader he was, still did some amazing things.  One of the best things he did was to mentor the next generation with a strong faith.  He raised up Joshua, and when he died, he handed off the leadership to Joshua in a seamless transition.
Joshua was able to fulfill what Moses had always desired; it was he who led Israel into the Promised Land. He became a phenomenal leader, but he had …

God Believes in You

How would you define success in raising the next generation? Society says success is raising well-rounded, well-educated, happy kids. But, what our culture defines as success is based on circumstances, and circumstances always change. One of the most important things we can do as parents is impart spiritual life to the next generation.  If we only want them to have ‘more than we had,’ but don't foster a relationship with Christ, in the end, it doesn't amount to anything.

We are called to teach the significance of spiritual life to the next generation. There's a verse, I feel, that really captures the essence of this divine calling.  It is about David in the Old Testament, as he prays this prayer in Psalm 71:18:

Even when I am old and gray,
    do not forsake me, my God,
till I declare your power to the next generation,
    your mighty acts to all who are to come.

The greatest calling that we can have is to impart spiritual life to the next generation. We are not called to …

I Believe in You

A friend and I were working together the other day digging a ditch for some electrical lines we were installing.  This is not one of the most attractive parts of my job as an electrical contractor, but it is one I still enjoy.  There is something about men and hard work that brings about the most interesting conversations.

As we began digging this ditch, and, as men for some reason do, we took jabs at each other’s strengths and weaknesses. But, at some point along the way, the conversation changed.  He began to tell me about his relationship with his dad and how it is strained right now.  I listened as he listed his grievances and why he felt abandoned- even though he grew up in a two parent/Christian home.  He said he watched his dad, who is a pastor, spend time with people and speak into their lives words of affirmation. But, he said his dad barely had time for him as a young man, nor did he ever say to him “you have what it takes, you can do this, or I believe in you.”

In Mark 1 w…

Partnering With the One

A young man sat down with his pastor, full of hatred toward his wife. "I do not only want to get rid of her, I want to get even. Before I divorce her, I want to hurt her as much as she’s hurt me."  It is said when you are dating, opposites attract. But, too often, after marriage, it seems opposites attack.

God uses opposites in the covenant of marriage to complete each other.  Yet, our spiritual enemy wants to use those opposites for us to compete.

Genesis 2:24 says, “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” The Hebrew word translated as One is the word “echad,” which means united, altogether, completely joined as one.  Solomon said in Ecclesiastes, one may be overpowered, but two can stand strong.  “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

Imagine a husband and wife as a cord tied together, as if they are in a three-legged race.  The husband is still an individual, and she is still an individual, but they …

Pursuing The One

I once read a story of a love struck young man who flew from Chicago to Connecticut to fix his girlfriend’s hot-water heater because he thought she was considering leaving him for another guy. It ended up not being true and now they are married.

So many of us make fools out of ourselves in the name of love.  It is because of our human nature, we tend to pursue what we don’t have.

Men, we have done all sorts of things to win our girl because we are hunters by nature.  We go after what we want.  When we were dating, we went to chick flicks and pretended we enjoyed it.  We talked on the phone for hours at a time.  We would even drive (or fly) hours to go somewhere to see the one we love, just to spend 15 minutes with them.

Why do we do this?  Because we are pursuing what we don’t have kind of like this:  one day-  we made the kill, we got married, popped out a couple of kids, two years go by, then seven years, you’ve bought a house, 12 years… 15 years… and one day you wake up and you a…

Priority Number “One”

If you were watching the news one evening, and they gave the forecast for bear attacks warning, “Tomorrow we are reporting a really bad bear attack day, we are forecasting there will be a 50% chance that your children will be mauled by a bear on the way to the bus stop.”

What do you think you are going to do the next day?

Will you simply kiss your children at the door at the door and say, “goodbye, love you, run fast, and good luck!”?

 Or

Will you drive them to school, personally, putting them in a suit of armor carrying your trusty Browning .30-06?

You would do something different because the odds are stacked against your children.  You would change your habits or behavior.

What if I revealed to you that those are the same statistics for marriages today?  Less than 50% of marriages will not make it to 15 years. Statistically, 70% of married men and 60% of married women have affairs.  Every 12 seconds another couple divorces.

Something is not working in what we are doing. Our acce…

I am Iron Man

Depending on your age, when you read the title of this devotional, one of two things probably went through your mind:
1.You just heard Tony Iommi’s heavy grunge guitar riff and Ozzy Ozbourne’s vocals from the Black Sabbath classic titled “Iron man” or… 2.You just envisioned Tony Stark suit up in his Iron Man armor.
I have been anxiously waiting for the release of The Avengers on blu-ray (which finally was released this week) and Iron Man 3 which, hopefully, will be released on the big screen in the near future. So I’ve been watching over and over again Iron Man parts one and two. I can’t help it and I admit it, I want an Iron man suit. What guy wouldn’t want the suit or to be Iron Man? Think about it- he’s smart, has unlimited money, is a natural ladies’ man, and fights injustice. 
Bringing the superheroes to life on the big screen with almost believable technology and current world events makes me want to fight crime.  It also fires me up for spiritual warfare. 
My favorite scene of…

The Courage to be a Christian

The barbarian’s life had changed drastically since he had forgiven his once sworn enemy.  He used to lay his head down at night, the only thoughts crossing his mind were of war, pain, death, blood, and revenge. But this night was different, very different.  As he closed his eyes, he felt a peace surrounding him that he had never experienced before in his rough barbaric existence.
He no longer ‘needed’ to awaken to the smell of burning wood and flesh.  No longer did he sleep with one eye open, sword in hand.   No longer did he fear what the dawn would bring.  Yes, he had fought many battles, killed many men, pillaged many villages.  He had failed in his last battle miserably.  The pain and tears of that day would not soon be forgotten. But the day he embraced his enemy and forgave him…that day was the day he became a true warrior.
A true warrior is courageous:  He fights when it is deemed necessary.  He accepts failure as a teacher from which he can learn.  He forgives the evils wroug…

The Courage to Forgive

He has lost it all: his home, his fellow warriors, his family. The smoke still billows from the inferno that once was called “home.” From deep inside, a rage boils that he has never felt before- a rage so intense, it is as if it would totally consume him!

“Arrrrgggggghhhhh!!!”

The barbarian’s primal scream echoes throughout the war-torn valley. He turns, tearfully, to once again look upon his boyhood home before he begins his long trek across rugged terrain to reach the neighboring village, a place where he can rest, gain strength, and begin living again.

As the minutes soon turn into hours, the barbarian comes upon a small brook that he and his friends often used to cool down their horses and relax beneath the shade of the willows along the bank. As he approaches the water he notices a man kneeling at the brook’s edge drinking water from his cupped hand. His heart begins pounding deep within his chest for he recognizes the armor and weaponry of his enemy, the very scum that he had wa…

The Courage to Fail

The warrior looked around at the carnage that surrounded him.  The blood and bodies of enemies and friends, burning houses and barns. The stench of burning flesh invaded his nostrils and the black smoke burned his eyes. In his hand was his sword, the blade scarred and broken.  His shield was lying somewhere in the haze of the battlefield. Finding an old wooden crate, he sat down, exhausted, spent from battle. He turned his weary eyes to the home ablaze before him, his home, his eyes filled with tears.

He was a barbarian, a fierce warrior, yet this battle he had lost. His fellow warriors lay either severely wounded or dead on the ground around him. His village had been savagely ransacked by his enemy.  Most every home was in flames or crumpled to the ground. As he closed his eyes to finally rest from the battle, this thought repeated itself in his mind: “I may have lost my home, my friends, and this battle, but I am still a warrior! I will live to fight another day!”

We come to a plac…

The Courage to Serve

Barbarian!  The word alone creates pictures in your mind of rough, strong, and powerful men with wild eyes, a ferocious look! Their arms are taut and ripped, muscles bulging, hair long and unkempt, clothing made from a slain animals' skin, a shield in one hand, and a sword in the other. 
This is the kind of man you want going into battle for you -not against you. If a job that is too threatening and perilous for an ordinary man pops up, then a barbarian is who you want to enlist for the task. If your enemy is taunting you, then a barbarian is who you want to call to your side.
A barbarian is known by his courage, his fearlessness, his ferocity in battle...his innate ability to wreak havoc on all those he encounters. Call him into battle and he willingly and eagerly agrees. Call him to a treacherous journey? Of course! To intimidate? YES!
To be a servant to others? What? Where did that come from? A barbarian is a servant to no man! How dare you even suggest such stupidity!
But here…

The Courage to Live

In January of 2000 Li de xian was ready when the police officers of the Chinese Republic came for him. This was the 8th time he had been detained in the last three months. He went quietly without a fuss and no resistance. He said good-bye to his wife and walked calmly out the door with the officers.
As Li walked, he began thinking about his last arrests by the Chinese Government…the time police beat him until he vomited blood because of the broken ribs he suffered at the guards’ hands. 
China believed that Li was a notorious criminal, a desperate outlaw. So what was Li’s crime? He was the pastor of a church in Yongming village in Canton China. He led Bible studies on Tuesday for about 600 people. This made him one of China’s most wanted criminals. Despite the brutal treatment at the hands of the government Li refused to give up or quit! He said, “I will preach the Gospel until I die!”
Can you imagine what would happen if Christians displayed that same kind of courageous passion in th…

What do You Want on Your Tombstone?

One morning in 1888, Alfred Nobel, inventor of dynamite, awoke to read his own obituary. The obituary was printed as a result of a simple journalistic error. You see, it was Alfred's brother that had died and the reporter carelessly reported the death of the wrong brother. Any man would be disturbed under the circumstances, but to Alfred the shock was overwhelming because he saw himself as the world saw him. The "Dynamite King," the great industrialist who had made an immense fortune from explosives. This, as far as the general public was concerned, was the entire purpose of Alfred's life.

None of his true intentions to break down the barriers that separated men and ideas for peace were recognized or given serious consideration. He was simply a merchant of death. And for that alone he would be remembered.

As he read the obituary with horror, he resolved to make clear to the world the true meaning and purpose of his life. This could be done through the final disposit…

I Have a Secret (I Like Porn)

Traditional Eskimos were savvy in their methods to kill wolves. The Eskimo would take a very sharp, two-edged blade, and dip the blade into the blood of smaller game.  Left out in the cold, the blood would freeze onto the blade becoming a blood popsicle. The Eskimo would re-dip and freeze the blade, repeating this process several times.  He would, then, carefully secure the blade into the ground; during the night hours a wolf would come, smell the blood, and lick it.
As the unsuspecting wolf would begin to lick the tasty frozen blood from the secured blade, his tongue would start to become numb.  The more he licked, the numbness increased.  The unsuspecting animal would lick away the outer layers of blood, eventually slicing its tongue on the razor-sharp blade.  The wolf's sliced tongue would go unnoticed because of the numbness, so he, also, would begin to bleed through his tongue onto the blade. The taste of warm blood would excite him, and he would lick faster and faster and fa…