Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Years Resolution

Over the next couple of weeks we will be bombarded with ideas for New Years Resolutions.  Join the gym, start a diet, read more, eat more vegetables, etc.

Do you usually make one of these resolutions?  Are you ever successful?  I make them every year and I just can’t seem to follow through.  I guess I just don’t have the discipline.

Perhaps our resolutions should be to change from the inside out.  Take a look at things Peter says we should work on …

“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.”  2 Peter 1:5-7

Think about your life as you read these seven qualities.  What happens to your character if you ignore even one of these qualities.  It starts to unravel.  All these things are related. 

Be honest, are you doing all you can to add to your faith goodness?

Are you seeking knowledge?

Are you practicing self-control?

So you persevere in times of trouble?

Do you seek godliness?

Do you show kindness to the people around you?

Do you love others?

That sounds like quite a list to work on over the next year.  These kinds of resolutions will yield eternal benefits.  They are the only kind of New Years Resolutions I am choosing to think about over the next year.

What are your resolutions?


Monday, December 28, 2009

Are you wasting your life?

“Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.”  C.T. Studd

What would it mean to waste my life? 

What is the opposite of wasting my life?  To be successful in my career?  To accomplish something great?  To find great meaning in life?  To help other people?  To serve Christ?  To glorify God in all I do? 

“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.”  Matthew 16:25

Or, in other words, it is better to lose your life than to waste it. 

The Christian may “burn out”, but he must not rust out.  Never give up.  Never quit.

“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.”  Romans 12:11

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24

“God created us to live with a single passion: to joyfully display his supreme excellence in all spheres of life.  The wasted life is the life without passion.  God calls us to pray and think and dream and plan and work not to be made much of, but to make much of him in every part of our lives.”  John Piper

Many people let their lives go by without a passion for God.  They spend their lives on trivial things.  They live for comfort and pleasure.  They try to avoid sin but never really serve God.  Don’t get caught up in a life that counts for nothing.  If you really believe that to live is Christ and to die is gain, then do it.  Start now and find a way to do it. 

Don’t just go through the motions.

Play the song “Going Through the Motions” by Matthew West.

Are you wasting your life?  Are you just going through the motions?  Are you using your life to make a difference? 


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Hope, Peace, Joy, & Love

How do Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love relate to the Christmas story?


We have hope because of the birth of Christ.  He being fully God and fully man was born with the purpose of dying for our sins.  If he wasn’t not fully man, then he couldn’t take our place.  If he wasn’t fully God then he wouldn’t have been sinless.  The perfect sacrificial lamb without blemish.  He died to pay for our sins so we could have the hope of eternal life.

Hope is not wishful thinking.  Christian hope is when God has promised something is going to happen.  You can put your trust in that promise.  Christian hope is a confidence that something will come to pass because God has promised it would.


"For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6).

Jesus told his disciples before His crucifixion, "Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27).

Without the birth of Christ, there is no peace.  Real peace comes from the Holy Spirit.  He dwells in the hearts of Christians.  That peace allows a Christian to have that quiet confidence that no matter what happens, everything is going to be Ok. 


“Joy to the World, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King.”

As long as we are human and live on this earth, we will have problems and difficulties.  As a Christian we are saved through faith in Christ.  Because of our faith in Christ, we know where we are going.  We know “the end of the story.”  We know that Jesus has won.  We know that he will be victorious.  We know that Jesus conquered death on the cross.  We know that He rose again.  We know that He gives us eternal life.  That should be enough to give joy to anyone!

For more on Joy, see my previous post “What is Joy"?”


Jesus is the greatest gift that God has given us. 

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  (John 3:16)

“Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.”  (Matthew 22:37-39)

Christmas is the perfect time to demonstrate our love for God and others.  Think of those who are less fortunate than you are.  Thank God for your blessings and share those blessings with others.

Celebrate God’s love for you by sharing that love with others.


Christmas 2009


Here is what the roads looked like that we drove on in South Carolina on 12/19.  20 mph was the top speed.  The road was so rough we thought the van was going to shake apart.


The roads in Virginia weren’t bad on Saturday 12/20 but we were still stranded.  This is I-81. There were so many accidents on Friday that they shut down the highway to clear the accidents.  Beth and I had a snowball fight while we were parked on I-81.


Mom and Dad got a foot of snow and the farm was beautiful!


The farm is for sale.  While I will miss going “home” to the farm, it is time for Mom and Dad to get a smaller place.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Leaving PA for VA

We are leaving PA today and headed for Lynchburg, Virginia.  I am taking a class at Liberty University next week.  I should have time and computer access to resume regular postings. 

I went to a Christmas Eve church service and heard a message on the Christmas candles.  He said they stood for Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love.  I've been gathering some thoughts and those will come in a day or so when I have time to get them down.

We have had a great Christmas with my parents.  My daughter enjoyed the snow and the sled riding.  It has been relaxing but the time went by way too quickly.

So for now ............  Rejoice for "Unto you a child is born."  And he is Jesus, the Savior!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Patience and Thanksgiving

We learned a lot about patience and thanksgiving over the last couple of days. We left our house in Lawrenceville, Georgia at 4:00 on Friday and started to drive to my parents' home in Pennsylvania. This trip usually takes about 12 hours. Our plan was to drive about 6 or 7 hours and then stop for the night and finish the trip on Saturday morning.

When we left GA, it was raining and traffic was heavy. We commented that it may take us a little longer. We had looked at the weather forecast and they were calling for snow in Virginia. As we drove north, the rain changed to freezing rain and ice in South Carolina. When we got around Charlotte, the roads on I-77 really got bad. After 10 hours of driving, we made it to exit 82 on I-77. (We should have made it that far in 5 hours.) The road that had slush on them had droven over and they were so rough that you couldn't drive faster than about 15 mph. We looked for a motel and were unsuccessful. We were told that there weren't any motels available until you got into Virginia BUT they had also closed I-77 at Fancy Gap and everyone on I-77 was now stranded. We parked in the Waffle House parking lot and slept in our car. We stayed warm by turning our engine on and off each hour. We were thankful we had gotten off the interstate when we did. We were thankful we had a restroom we could use. We were thankful we were safe.

We got up Saturday morning and hit the road about 7:00. We were waiting for daybreak so we could see the roads we were driving on. There was no change in the road conditions from the night before but they had reopened the hwy. When we crossed the Virginia state line the roads got better. We were moving pretty good for about 20 miles. Then everything came to a halt. We sat for over an hour when we saw a state trooper walking by. We asked him what was going on and how much longer we'd be sitting. We also asked about road conditions on I-81. He told us that parts of I-81 were closed. We didn't know what to do. We continued on. We were thankful for cell phones. I talked to my parents several times and let them know what was going on. We tried calling for a motel in Christiansburg, Virginia. Six motels - no vacancies. Mom had checked out the Hampton Inn online and they showed a vacancy - they had told me over the phone that they were full. Mom was able to book the room for us -- now we just had to make it that far.

We made it there about 4:00. Nine hours and we had driven 90 miles! We were tired - we didn't sleep well in the car the night before. We were thankful that we made it. We were thankful that it was warm. We were thankful for a shower! We were thankful for a good meal at Cracker Barrel. (We'd been snacking on our Christmas cookies in the car.)

We took off at 7:00 Sunday morning and tried again. We drove the speed limit on bare roads for about 50 miles and then - everything came to a dead stop. We sat for 2 hours. The road was shut down again because of accidents. We crawled up the interstate for about 2 miles and came to an exit. We got off and started hunting back roads. We went about 30 - 40 miles north on hwy 76 and then hwy 11. Finally we could see that the traffic on I-81 was moving again and we went back over and got back on it. (hwy 11 was now snow covered and treacherous) We moved at a good speed from there home. That was another 9-hour day in the car.  Total time on the road - 28 hours. 

We are so thankful to be with our family for Christmas. We are thankful we weren't one of the 7000 accidents that happened in the state of Virginia this weekend. We were thankful that we were safe. We were thankful that we have food and water in our car. We had a lot of time to spend together in our car and we talked a lot about a lot of things. We enjoyed each other. At one point a friend called me on my cell phone to see where we were. She couldn't believe we were laughing about the situation. When you can't change your circumstances, what does it help to get upset or mad. Staying upbeat was good for all of us.

Enjoy your Christmas and look for little things to be thankful for. They are all around us and we often take them for granted.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Keep Christ in Christmas

I’ve hear the statement “keep Christ in Christmas” a lot of times.  Have you ever stopped to wonder – How do I do that?

Perhaps it means allowing the character and love of Christ to shine through you to others each and every day. Think about some practical applications that you can do during the weeks preceding Christmas.  Here’s some ideas I came up with …

Give God a gift – something personal.  Perhaps let it be a sacrifice. It could be as simple as to forgive someone.  Maybe it is a commitment to spend time with God daily. 

Take some time this Christmas to read the Christmas story.  Think through the real meaning. Think about the story from different perspectives.  How did Joseph feel?  How did Mary feel?  There’s a great movie out - “The Nativity Story”.  Get a copy and watch it.  It will make you think of things you never thought of before.

Set a nativity scene up in your home  and give it a place of prominence.  Put it somewhere that you will see it daily and remember what it stands for.

Think about someone who needs help this time of year and reach out to them.  Perhaps donate a toy to Toys for Tots.  Donate food to a food pantry.  Is there an elderly person who you could volunteer to do some home repairs, snow shoveling, leaf raking, etc.  Is there someone who is ill and could use a home cooked meal? How about going caroling at a nursing home or children’s hospital?

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  (Acts 20:35)  Give an unexpected gift to someone you work with.  Demonstrate to them the love of Christ. 

Send Christmas cards to friends and family BUT choose your cards carefully and make sure they have a Christian message.  Make sure they say “Merry Christmas.”  If all you can get is Happy Holidays then write your own message in it. 

Find a church service to attend.  A lot of churches have special Christmas eve services. 

I’d welcome some ideas from you….


Monday, December 14, 2009

What if Christmas means a little bit more ….

"And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?"  Dr. Seuss

There’s some truth in this section from How the Grinch Stole Christmas. 

There really is more to Christmas than stores, shopping, and gifts.  The most important part of Christmas is the birth of Jesus.

The historic record of the birth of Christ can be found in Matthew 1:18-25 or Luke 2:1-20.

Jesus was unlike any other baby ever born.  He was not created by a human father or mother.  He had a heavenly pre-existence.   (John 1:1-3)  He is God, the Son.  He is the creator of the universe (Philippians 2:5-11).  Christmas is called the incarnation.  That means “in the flesh”.  Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us.

Why did God do this.  Why did he send his son Jesus to the world as a baby.  Why did he become a man?  He knew He would be rejected and killed and yet, he did it anyway.

Why – because he loves us.  (John 3:16)

There really is more to Christmas than we often stop to think about.  It is the day the Savior was born.  Celebrate and be thankful.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tiger Woods

Who is Tiger Woods?

An idol
A hero
Famous person
Rich and powerful
Sports Star

How about a golfer?

That’s about all he is. He’s a man who can hit a little white ball into a small cup.

He’s not a hero.  He’s not an idol.  He’s not a role model.  He’s not someone our kids should look up to.  He makes very bad choices and has a very nasty mouth.

Our society has a bad habit of overpaying and worshipping professional athletes.  Tiger’s priorities are out of line but guess what – ours are too. 

Pick out someone who has changed the world by his faith and obedience to God.  These men and women are heroes. 

A missionary is a hero – he or she takes the love of God to others around the world. Read the story of Jim Elliot.  He’s worthy of hero status.

Look at evangelists like Billy Graham – he’s a hero.  His life is worth studying and admiring.  His impact on society over the years can’t be measured.

Kids pick up their values from the adults in their lives. Take a look at what you value.  Who are the heroes in your life? Be sure to pick someone whose moral character is one you wouldn’t mind your child imitating. There are some sports stars who are also Christians.  Pick those out and encourage your children to follow them.


Friday, December 11, 2009

Disappointed and Discouraged

I’m still in recovery mode from my surgery. I felt really good on Wednesday.  I was feeling so good that I thought perhaps I should go back to work.  I was feeling a little guilty about staying home and feeling good.  Then yesterday happened.  I definitely knew that I was not ready to go back to work.  I had a bad day and barely got out of bed.  I was frustrated, disappointed, and discouraged.

I selected Hebrews 11 and 12 to read this morning.  It contains some of my favorite verses.  Hebrews chapter 11 is the great chapter on faith.  The word faith appears 27 times in chapter 11.  The chapter ends by talking about the sufferings of the Jewish people.  Some of those things were mockings, scourgings, chains, imprisonments, stonings, being sawn in two, temptations, death by the sword, and homelessness.

Now look at chapter 12.  Chapter 12 is to give discouraged Christians hope.  It talks about being surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.  Those who have gone before us who despite their struggles remained true to their faith.     

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Try to picture what this says.  First we are told to “throw off everything that hinders.”  This makes me think of a big load that I am supposed to put down.  What am I carrying around every day that I really don’t need?  Am shouldering burdens that I need to trust God with? 

Next, I am to get rid of “the sin that so easily entangles.” The word entangles makes me think that the devil is trying to confuse me, catch me, and ruin my walk with Christ.  The devil would do anything to trip me up and get me off on the wrong path.  Remember to stick to the narrow path.  (“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.”  Matthew 7:13)

Then we are to “run with perseverance the race.” The word endurance implies patience and consistency. 

So then, I am picturing a runner in a race.  He has gotten rid of everything that could possibly weigh him down.  He is watching every step, so as to avoid any sinful traps.  He runs with hope, patience, and consistency.  How does he do all this?

The next verse gives the answer.  The way to accomplish this is by focusing on Jesus.  Keep your eyes on Christ.

If I am focusing all my attention on Christ then I should know three things.  The first is – Who is Christ?  “the author and perfecter of our faith”  He will stick with you through thick and thin.  (Hebrews 10:23 says “He who promised is faithful.”)

The second thing to know is – What did Christ do?  “endured the cross, scorning its shame”  He suffered more than we ever will.  He knows what it is like to be mocked, scorned, beaten, forgotten, deserted, etc..  There is no frustration I can go through that will ever compare to what He has already endured.

The third thing is – Where is Christ now? - “sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Jesus is sitting next to God in a position of power.

Hebrews 7:25 “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” 

This means that I can keep on keeping on because Jesus is in the presence of God constantly and always interceding for me. Thank God that when I am frustrated, disappointed, and discouraged that He is there praying for me and carrying me through it.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

God gives good gifts

This is the season where everyone starts thinking about gifts.  I was reminded of a verse from James.

James 1:17 “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

I see two main thoughts.

#1 God gives good gifts to His children

#2 God never changes.

James is contrasting God’s nature with our nature.  We are fickle people.  We change our minds all the time.  We change our loyalties.  We cannot be depended upon.   God never changes.  God’s love for us never changes.  God can be counted on.  God keeps His promises.

God never tempts us to sin.  If we are feeling tempted then it is coming from our own sinful nature.  We are responsible for our actions.  We choose our actions.  (Saying that the devil made me do it is not accurate.)

2 Peter 1:3 “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”

Difficulties in our lives are to develop our Christian walk and testimony.  They are to point us to Him.  Remember Romans 8:28 that tells us that God causes all things to work together for good.  He uses everything to try to make us more like Christ.  To make us a people that will change the world we live in.

Recognize that God sees all things from the beginning of time to the end of time.  He does what He does because He loves us.

So what are some of the good gifts that God gives us?   salvation, peace, hope, truth, love for others, the Holy Spirit.  Can you add to this list? 

Santa Claus can’t give any gift that can compare with the greatest gift God gave and that is His son, Jesus.  So as we are in the gift giving season, remember to thank God for the best gift of all.





Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Psalm 121

Psalm 121

1 I lift up my eyes to the hills—
       where does my help come from?

2 My help comes from the LORD,
       the Maker of heaven and earth.

3 He will not let your foot slip—
       he who watches over you will not slumber;

4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
       will neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The LORD watches over you—
       the LORD is your shade at your right hand;

6 the sun will not harm you by day,
       nor the moon by night.

7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—
       he will watch over your life;

8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going
       both now and forevermore.


I had a better day today.  I think I will soon be back to normal.  I actually stayed awake a little longer today.  Thoughts are starting to flow.  Maybe a thoughtful post tomorrow.  It is hard for me to stay down and do nothing.  I get bored really quickly. 


Sunday, December 6, 2009

My Mind is Mush

I changed my mind about one thing since my last post.  I said my mind seemed to be working OK - it is not!  I'm going to be working hard to get off these meds the next couple of days.  When I'm not sleeping, I can't read or think.  I can't even concentrate enough to play solitaire.  I really can't stand not being able to think.  My mind feels like mush.

Even when feeling as confused as I am, I remember this:

"This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24

"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; his love endures forever." Psalm 118:1

Saturday, December 5, 2009


If none of this makes sense, blame it on the medication I’ve been on since my surgery on Thursday.  By the way, everything went well and I should be back to work in a week or so.  I am sleeping a lot and am unsteady on my feet yet.  However, when I can stay awake, my mind seems to be working OK.

I’ve been thinking a lot about pain lately.  (I wonder why)  Pain is an uncomfortable feeling that tells you that something is wrong in your body. Pain is your body’s way of sending a warning message to your brain. 

In the same way that physical pain tells me that I need to see a doctor, emotional or spiritual pain tends to push me towards Christ.  It causes me to readjust my priorities and perspective. 

As we face painful times in our lives, one thing that we can be sure of is that the Lord will be faithful to us. That doesn’t mean we won’t experience difficult times but that we won’t face them alone.  As we face difficult times we can do it with a peace in our hearts.  We may also see that God uses some of the hard times in our lives to be a blessing to others. People watch how Christians deal with difficult times.  Hopefully, they will see our faith and it will inspire them to believe.

When times are tough we need to focus on God and stand firm on his promises.  He is our rock and salvation.  The only way we can truly do this is by knowing the Word. I need to study the Word and have it in my heart so when hard times come, I can draw my strength from it. 

God doesn’t promise that we won’t go through hard times.  However, He does promise that we won’t go through them alone.

So, where are you focused?  Ask God to help you focus your energies so you can look beyond your circumstances.  Ask God to help you feel his presence near you. He loves you and He is always there for you.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

God is Everywhere

God is omnipresent – meaning God is everywhere.

"Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there" (Psalm 139:7–8)

God is with me all the time. His presence is always near.

"God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being…" (Acts 17:27-28)

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:17)

The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good. (Proverbs 15:3)

Sometimes it seems like God is a million miles away. It is in those times that we simply need to turn our focus back on Him. When we do, we are immediately comforted by His grace and His peace.

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." (Psalm 34:18)

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." (Psalm 46:1)

"You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." (Psalm 16:11)


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Be Who You Are

I’m having a hard time sleeping so I thought I would get up and write.  I’m not sure why I can’t sleep.  I’m not really worried about anything.  I’m not really stressed about anything.  My surgery is coming up on Thursday morning but I’m really not thinking about that very much – other than trying to take care of all the details.  The following are some things I was thinking about while I wasn’t sleeping …

Your Christian faith is a personal faith. While there is only one true God, each of us has to come to Him in our own way. The similarity is that we each have to lay down our lives, our burdens, our sin, our securities, and trust Christ. We trust Him to save us. We trust Him to take care of us. And we trust Him to lead and direct us through this life.

My path to experiencing God and His presence will not be like yours. What I am called to do will not be what you are called to do. We are individually called and we individually have to make the decision to follow and to obey.

God uses each of us differently and we are not to try to be like someone else. God didn't call me to preach. He called me to teach. In this current time of my life, He has laid things on my heart to write. I have never felt I was a good writer and yet here I am writing a blog.  It’s the idea of being the best you can be for God.  You are not called to imitate someone else.  God wants to use you, just as He created you, with all your unique gifts and abilities.

What He has called you to do, He will enable you to do.  Just be who you are and allow God to work through you.

It’s late.  I hope this all makes sense.  Perhaps now I’ll get some sleep.

“The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:24

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10