Friday, May 9, 2014

Unusual Affirmations

My grandson is home from school today because he's sick. He was sitting on my lap trying to play a video game that was too difficult for him. He kept asking me to do it for him, but I told him that I knew he would be able to get it if he practiced long enough. 

Finally, exasperated, he threw the controller at me, "Here, Papa, it's your turn."

As I was trying to figure out how to start the game, he hopped out of my lap and said, "You have a nice day, Papa. You make the world a better place."

Did I mention the child is four years old?

I don't know if he knows the world needs to be a better place, if he really believes I'm affecting any change in it, or if he's just repeating what he heard at school this week as they were talking about compassion. What I do know is that I can choose to recognize and accept encouragement in what ever form it appears. How about you?

You have a nice day. You make the world a better place.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Where Never is Heard

Oh give me a home where the buffalo roam,

And the deer and the antelope play,
Where never is heard a discouraging word,
And the skies are not cloudy all day.

Tony Needs a Sermon Week is winding down, and I would like to thank everyone who participated. It has been challenging, humbling, discouraging, and uplifting - depending on the attitude of the sermonizer. The main thing I got out of it was a reminder to keep my attitude in check when I'm the one preaching the sermon. I'm not always good at that.

I watch several sermons online each week. On Facebook, someone posted an endorsement of a sermon because of a specific statement the pastor made. I was curious, so I watched the 140 minute service. I never heard the statement. There was a space of a few minutes where the sound was turned down - or some technical issue - or maybe I dozed off. What I did see was a frustrated man. He expressed his frustration with the ushers, the camera operator, and the media person. He came across as controlling and manipulative. I pray that he takes time to rest, that his church supports him, and that they thrive in their mission. 

I have several others that were encouraging and eye-opening for me this week. If you have time, you may want to check these out. 

Tullian Tchividjian Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World.
Chris Whitman The Value of Life
Holly Furtick This Time
Pete Hise No Other Name
Clark Whitten Stop Living in the Shadows

Friday, February 21, 2014

Six Things Church Leaders Over 30 Should Do

In the age of Facebook, when everyone is connected to everyone else, it's hard to know what you should do and what you shouldn't do. Apparently. So I want to help you out. If you're a progressive pastor or worship leader or a conservative preacher or song leader and you are over 30 years old, here's what you should do.

1. Stop reading blogs about what you should do.
2. Stop asking people what you should do.
3. Stop caring about what everybody else thinks you should do.
4. Do what your heart told you to do when God first called you into ministry.
5. Do anything you're inspired to do during your prayer time.
6. Do everything in your power to love people and to love God.

That's it.

If you were writing this list, what would you add?


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

What Are You Reflecting?

If humans were created in God's image, and I believe we were, that image has certainly been defaced and distorted over time. Sometimes, I wonder if we've retained any of his glory at all. We are so overcome by sin and self that surely he has removed himself from us completely.

Fortunately, he has not, and we have his promise that he never will. In John 10:27, Jesus said, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand." He makes this statement to contrast himself with those who claim to be shepherds but are not. "The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it." (verse 12)

Since we are his, as in most families, his children reflect his character, his values, his image. His children carry out his plan, demonstrate his love, and receive his inheritance.

Our challenge is to allow his image to shine. The sinful, decadent life does not reflect the true image of God, nor does the self-focused, hedonistic life. A follower of Jesus bears the fruit of his presence: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, kindness, and self-control.

I am convinced that once we can present to the world a crystal clear picture of who Jesus really is they will find him utterly irresistible.


He (Jesus) is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. Heb 1:3

For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 2 Cor 4:6

Galatians 5:22,23; John 10; Genesis 1:26,27

Monday, February 17, 2014

Depression Awareness

The recent unusual snowstorms we experienced in the South, and the resulting cabin fever, served to remind us that many people face depression during the winter months. 

Maybe someone has recently pointed out that you're in a grumpy mood a lot when you hadn't even noticed it. It could be the result of lack of activity, changing your diet, changing your routine, a lack of sunshine, or a number of other things.

Do you know what triggers your mood swings? Do you notice yourself headed toward depression? You can stop it before it goes too far. You may want to do a little research to see what foods can counter depression, then adjust your diet. You can add outdoor activity to your daily routine, even if it's just a short walk to a mailbox or to a neighbors house. 

Don't isolate yourself. Allow your friends to help you. And don't lose hope, spring is on the way.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The G Word

The greatest theme of the Bible, and the crux of the Gospel, is summed up in the often-sung words, 'Twas grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home. As rich and as true as this is, there are some ministers who treat the word "grace" as a curse word. 

I've read articles by some who almost spew the word with contempt. I refuse to quote them or give them any credibility, but they aren't hard to find. They hold their congregations or followers in the bondage of legalistic expectations. With complete disregard for the clear teaching from scripture, "You are not under law but under grace." (Romans 6:14)

I can imagine them standing with their stone tablets held high. Every time the Holy Spirit breathes out the word "grace" to a poor sinner, these modern day Pharisees bang those tablets together, screaming, "Measure up! Straighten up! Get your act together!" All in Christian love, of course. While God offers his grace freely, these self-righteous leaders use the law to stone those who most need grace. 
The Apostle Paul recognized that the law brought about self-righteousness. "I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith." (Philippians 3:8, 9 NIV)

Jesus looks at those holding tight to their stone tablets and says, "You who are without sin, any of you who has kept every command and have made yourself righteous, you be the first to cast a stone." They would be wise to follow the example of the first century hypocrites who dropped their stones and walked away.