April 24, 2015
Hope you're having an awesome, sunny Friday! I, for one, am getting ready for the snow! Not here, of course. In the Alps near innsbruck, Austria! I'll be there on Wednesday helping out at a conference for all the folks with MCYM Young Life who work, reaching out to kids whose parents serve with the US military on our bases around the world!
What a privilege! I'm a little nervous tho…
My last trip didn’t start out so well.
Tina and I have this thing we do when I have to go on a trip by myself without her. We smooch good-bye as I’m about to go through the security check. Then, when I’m all checked out and before I put my shoes back on, I look and see her way back there among the non-departing, unsecurity-checked. And we wave one last time. Then I put my shoes on. And I look for her again. And she’s still there! So we wave like I’m being deployed for the next year. We do it every time. Except this time.
“We’re going to have to ask you to step aside,” the security lady said.
Somehow I set off the security alert. She rubbed a piece of paper on my hands. “We’ve found something on your hands that is causing our sensors to go off. Would you mind stepping into our secured room, please?”
“But I’ve got some waving to do”, I thought…but I didn’t say it. They looked like they weren't kidding.
Two dudes were waiting on me in there. One of them was telling me all the things he was going to do to me and all the checking me out that he was about to do, so that I wouldn't be too surprised about how well we were about to get to know each other. Meanwhile, the other guy was going through all my stuff and turning my bags inside out. After about ten minutes they said I was OK and I could go ahead to my gate. Before I thanked them for keeping our nation safe, I asked them what it was that they thought they might have found on my hands that set the thing off. “We can’t tell you that,” they said. “Wow!” I thought. “You now know what size my underwear is, but you still can’t tell me anything about you!”
I was rocking in those rockers they have at McGhee Tyson, talking to my daughter, Val on the phone about my little adventure, and she said, “Dad, did you handle any fertilizer this morning?”
Well, I guess I did! We had about a half a bag of cow manure we got from Home Depot. It’s called “Moo Poo”. I just decided to put it on our baby tomato plants while I was waiting to go to the airport. I washed my hands a lot after though. Val said that’s what they found. Apparently, terrorists make weapons out of fertilizer. I don’t know how you’d make anything other than a stink bomb out of Moo Poo, but I’m not a security expert.
I was trying to think of all the spiritual lessons I could learn from that episode.
Was the lesson…
“When you get into something spiritually stinky, it lingers even if you think it’s gone?”
“Even if you think you’re clean, your sins will find you out!”
I don’t think it was either of those! I wasn’t doing anything wrong!
I was just taking care of my ‘maters!
Even if gardening makes someone suspect that you might be an international criminal!
The whole time they were checking me over, I had total peace. I knew I hadn’t done anything or hidden anything that they had reason to suspect me for.
In fact, the lesson stirring in my heart as I was getting myself together and saying goodbye to my security guard buddies, was…
“When voices halfway imply that I might possibly be guilty…or unacceptable…I can know in my heart that no matter what they might be thinking, in God’s mind, I’m clean!
“Being justified by faith, we have peace with God!” Paul tells us.
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”
“The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children”
Been feeling criticized? Feel like you’re always failing somebody’s tests that you didn’t even know you were taking? Feel like somebody’s always pointing out stinky things about that you thought were long ago washed away?
It’s not your Lord saying or thinking those things! In His heart, you are “His chosen people, holy, and dearly loved! (Col 3.12) He rejoices over you with singing! (Zeph. 3.17)
And that’s the opinion that matters!
So I say, Poo on nagging false guilt!!
(Just not the morning before you have to go thru airport security.)
April 17, 2015
Well, I'll just go ahead and bring up the subject that is on everyone's heart…
As you know, Tuesday was the 150th anniversary of the night President Lincoln went to Ford's Theater to watch a play.
He didn't see how it ended.
No one did.
He was born on Feb 12, 1809. It must have been cold in that tiny log cabin in Sinking Spring Farm, Hodgenville, Kentucky on that February morning!
Ol’ Abe didn’t like to be called “Ol’ Abe”…or “Honest Abe” or even “Abe” for that matter! He always signed stuff, “A. Lincoln”
He was the first president to have a beard (he only had it for four years) and the only one to have a beard without a moustache.
He went to about three months of school but became a really successful self-taught lawyer and he tried cases before the Illinois Supreme Court over 400 times!
He's the only President with a U.S. patient for an invention!
In the library of Congress, there's a box that contains everything that President Lincoln had in his trouser pocket on the night he went to Ford’s Theater for the last time.
He carried $5...
...of Confederate money…
He also had some eye glasses repaired with a piece of string.
And he had some old beaten up newspaper clippings.
They were articles that praised him for his accomplishments.
That is a sad thought.
Abraham Lincoln was one of the most amazing and beloved Americans ever! We all know this! But in those days, many didn’t. Many made fun of him. Others really hated and ridiculed him. At times he seemed to be all alone in decisions he had to face and make. Someone said once that it’s kinda sad to imagine tired and weary Abraham Lincoln, sitting alone by a lantern late at night, with old strung-together glasses propped on his nose, reading cut-out newspaper articles over and over, trying to convince himself that…
that someone believed in him…
that someone would remember him…
Maybe even that someone loved him.
You’ve had those days, haven’t you?
Maybe you’re having one today!
Wishing that someone noticed the stuff you do…
wishing that someone cared…
that someone believed that you could do it…
that someone would be less free with their criticisms…
that someone believed in you.
Want something to put in your pocket that you can pull out and read when you need to?
Something better than old newspaper articles with your name tucked away inside?
Why not scribble down Colossians 3.12 on a scrap of paper and carry it around?
When you having one of those “moments”, you can pull it out and read it!
Listen to this…
“Therefore, as those chosen by God, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience…”
Did you catch that?
“…Chosen by God, holy, beloved…”
When someone thinks you’re a dufuss…
When you feel criticized for breathing…
When you can’t seemed to do anything right in some people’s opinion…
God says you’re beloved! He looks down on you and loves what He sees!
God says you’re “holy”! Among other things, it means “special”.
In His heart, there’s no one like you!
And after reading amazing facts about President Lincoln, here’s an amazing fact about you…
You’ve been “chosen by God”! It’s almost impossible to understand all of that, but it means that before the world was made, He wanted you!
Be encouraged today! Because you’re…
“Chosen by God”! That’s even better than being elected the 16th President of the USA!
The ending's a whole lot better, too!
April 10 ,2015
I just realized…I always start these Friday emails out by saying, “Hey, everyone!” Never really noticed that before! I don’t begin with a “Hi!”…or “Greetings!”…or “Top o’ th’ mornin’, govna!”…Always just, “Hey!”
I wonder where that “Hey!” comes from?
Not that there’s anything wrong with it. It’s probably a colloquial form of “Hi”…which is short for “Hello”…which comes from the greeting, “Hail!”…which comes from the Old English, “Heill”…which means “Health!”, as in “May you be in good health!”…
The French often say “Salut!”, which means “health!”, too!
In Israel, they say, “Shalom”, which means “peace”, but also “health, and well-being!”
I hate to admit it, but “Hey!” probably comes from watching Gomer Pyle on the old “Andy of Mayberry Show” when I was a kid! Remember how he’d say, “Tell Aunt Bea, Gomer says ‘Hey’!”?
It’s amazing how we pick up expressions without realizing it! The other day, I was talking with someone and answered, “Yeah, yeah…”
“Where have I heard that?” I thought. “Someone else says, ‘yeah, yeah’…who is it?” Then I realized that my first grandchild Henry used say it when he was little.
I got it from him! His mom used to say (when he was about two) that "the first time he says, 'Dang!' (like his grand dad), you’re in trouble!"
I was thinking about this the other day when I was reading Mark 10. This blind guy named Bartimaeus, was yelling like a nut for Jesus to help him. Jesus’ guys were trying to get him to “shut it”, but it didn’t work.
Then Jesus stopped. His heart is so much bigger than we know!
He asked them to call the guy.
“Tharsai!” they said.
It's a Greek word that means, “Cheer up!, take heart!”. It comes from the word, “tharsos” which means, “Courage”, and basically means, “Take courage!”
“Tharsai, dude! He’s calling you!” (Mark 10.49)
That exact expression…”tharsai!” is used eight times in the New Testament. Seven of eight times, it’s used by Jesus. He was always telling people to “have courage!...to cheer up!”
"Tharsai! (take heart!), son; your sins are forgiven."…(Matt. 9.2)
"Tharsai! (take heart!), daughter! Your faith has healed you…" (Matt 9.22)
"Tharsai! It is I. Don't be afraid…” (Mark 6.50)
“…Tharsai! I have overcome the world." (John 16.33)
Mark 10 is the only time His guys ever used this expression.
“Tharsai! (Cheer up!) He’s calling you!”
Wonder where they learned that expression? I think they learned it from Him! Well, maybe they didn’t really “learn” it…Maybe they just picked it up! From hanging around Him! Maybe He just said it so much to so many that it just slipped into their vocabulary! Kinda like “Yeah, yeah!”
With so many reasons to “cheer up”…”take heart”…”have courage”…maybe I’ve found a better way to start these weekly emails! And I didn’t get it from Gomer Pyle!
April 3, 2015
Hope you’re having an awesome week! Or better...hope you’re having a holy week! Hope you’re having an awesome holy week! Christians around the world call this week “Holy Week”...or they call it “la Semana Santa”, or le Semaine Sainte, or la Settimana Santa, or Karwoche... It all depends in what language or country you worship our Lord during these days.
Tonite at 7:00, we’ll have our Good Friday service. Then we’ll hav...
What? “Why do they call it Good Friday? “
I don’t think anyone really knows why they call it Good Friday. Sometimes, churches have services on Maudy Thursday to remember the night our Lord Jesus ate the Passsover with His closest followers and washed their feet. “Maundy” is an Old English form of the Latin word, “mandatum” which means “commandment”. It comes from the Latin version of the words Jesus said on that holy Thursday...”A new commandment I give you that you love one another...” John 13.34 ("Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos.”…I’m not good at writing Latin but I’m getting better at Googling stuff)
Some people think “Good Friday” comes from “God’s Friday”. Like “good-bye” comes from “God be with ye”.
Other people believe that we call it Good Friday because of all the good that came on that day.
“What was good about that day?”, some wonder. It was the saddest day in the history of the earth. The sun hid its face so it didn’t have to watch.
It was a day of all things sad and painful...
In the first moments of His nailing, our Savior asked the Father to forgive those who so horribly abused Him. Then He assured a criminal of a place in Heaven with Him that very day. Then it became dark. For three hours, there was darkness in the whole world.
And it became quiet. Our Lord suffered silently.
As an old spiritual says, “They crucified my Lord and He never said a mumblin’ word…not a word…not a word.” The cruelest, coldest hearts on the planet, employed to nail humans down and hoist them up, and do it without a qualm or shiver, watched the Son of God suffer in silence, as blood and love flowed.
And then He spoke. And one thing He said just before He breathed the last time was, “I’m thirsty.” Why would He say this? Say that to the most unconcerned, uncaring assembly of human beings of all time? Did He hope that from those emotionless, cold, dead hearts, someone would care that He was thirsty? That hands that had hammered Him would now help Him?
And yet…And yet…
“And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink.” (Matthew 27.48)
Could it be that one of them, having heard words of forgiveness and of a home in heaven…royal words spoken from a cross where a King ruled through love…had opened his heart to Him? And out of that new and reborn heart that moments before had been only dark and cold…out of that unlikely place…some pity…some caring…some good had come?
In almost the next verse after this, our Lord was dead. But just before that darkest of moments, on that darkest of Fridays…on the worst Friday ever… someone with love for Jesus, did something good.
And this goodness grew.
Today it circles the earth.
Good Friday, tonite at 7:00.