Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cell Phone Message

On Saturday night, my teenage daughter received a voice mail on her cell phone.  The caller had a creepy voice and called her by name and said “In seven days, I am going to kill you.  I’m going to bring my big machete knife and come in your house.  I’m going to put a pillow over your face and stab you to death.  See you in seven days”

Needless to say we were quite shaken up about this.  My daughter was absolutely freaked out.  She didn’t want to go into her bedroom alone.  She slept in my bed the last couple of nights.  We couldn’t imagine who would do this to her.

She’s a quiet kid.  She’s just pretty average.  She’s an A/B student.  Solid but not top of her class . She’s not a star athlete.  She’s a manager for the marching band.  She’s a good kid who has never been in trouble and is known for helping others.

We suspected a student(s) from school had done this as a prank and so we went the the dean of students at her school on Monday.  He was very helpful and got right on it.  As much as we brainstormed, we couldn’t come up with anyone who might do this to her. 

The school has some Gwinnett County policemen who work on campus each day.  They had me file a police report.  Then the officer went to Sprint and got them to release the phone number who made the call.  It had come in as a private number.  He took the number to Verizon and got them to release the name of the person on the account.  (They wanted us to wait 10 days!)

The officer called the number a couple of times and finally got someone to answer on the other end.  It turns out that the phone belongs to a teenager who lives about an hour from us.  She and some of her friends were dialing random phone numbers Saturday night and when they got a voice mail, her male friend was leaving these threatening messages.  They thought they were being funny.

What they didn’t realize was that leaving threatening messages like this is a felony.  That is a felony count for each message.  The officer talked to the mother of this young lady and she convinced him that she would deal with her daughter about this and that she would call the parents of the young man who left the message.

Then the police officer called us and wanted to know if we are going to press charges.  We decided that we didn’t want to ruin these kids lives.  They made a stupid mistake.  We really just wanted to know that this was a prank and nothing to really fear.

What would you have done?  Would you have pressed charges?  Our daughter was scared to death from Saturday night until Tuesday night.  She hasn’t slept. She hasn’t been able to concentrate on her school work. 

We prayed a lot for God’s protection and for God to allow the officer to quickly figure this all out.  We also prayed for the person who made the call.  We are thankful for answers to our prayers.

All we could think of tonight was how grateful we were that she is OK.  We are relieved that the whole ordeal is over.  We are thankful that the dean of students and the Gwinnett County police officer at our school were really on top of this incident and cleared it up so quickly.  We are thankful that it was just a stupid prank and that there is nothing to worry about.  There really is so much to give thanks for.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Do the right thing … all the time

A teenager made this statement to me: “I did the right thing and I still got in trouble.”  What would you say?  I was taken back for a few minutes.

I finally told the young lady that as a Christian we are responsible to do the right thing all the time.  That doesn’t mean everything will go in our favor.  We are not responsible for what others do or how they react to what we do.  We are only responsible for our actions.  We are not responsible for the actions (or reactions) of others.

What do you think the Bible has to say about this? 

My thoughts tonight went to the book of Esther.  If you recall the story, Haman had issued a decree that he would annihilate the Jews on a set day.  Mordecai sent word to Esther.  He sent her a copy of the decree and explained that she had to try to talk to the King in order to stop the killing of the Jews.

At first, Esther thought no way am I doing that!  She thought the king would kill her when she went before him without being summoned.  However, Mordecai convinced her that she had an obligation to God to try to save the Jews.

After she was convinced to to do it, she said, ““Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”

Because Esther acted and did the right thing and didn’t give in to her fear, the Jewish nation was saved.

The biggest lesson we can take from this story is to always do the right thing and let the outcome in God’s hands.  He loves you and will take care you.  If any fallout comes from doing the right thing, leave that in God’s hands as well.  He will reward you in due time.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Unthankful …. Thankful

Thanksgiving will soon be upon us.  This is the time of year that we often stop and think about all the things we have to be thankful for.  Are you feeling thankful today?  Or are there things in your life that you are not thankful for?

It is easy to complain. It is easy to have an unthankful spirit.  However, when we are unthankful we reveal a lot about our character.  It is a sin to be unthankful.  No one wants to be around an ungrateful person.

How do you feel when you do something for someone else and they act like it meant nothing to them?  Their actions tell you that they don’t really care about you and that hurts. 

Jesus know better than anyone what it feels like to sacrifice for someone and then find them unthankful.  He committed no sin and yet was crucified for ours.  He went around constantly doing good.  He lived a perfect life and then willingly gave it up for the forgiveness of our sins.

Colossians 3:15 tells us to be thankful.

1 Thessalonian 5:18 tells us to give thanks in all circumstances.

We are not supposed to keep that thanksgiving to ourselves but we need to express that to each other. 

Matthew chapter 17 talks about the 10 lepers that Jesus cleansed.  Jesus told them to go and show themselves to the priests.  When they obeyed and went, they were healed.  Out of the 10 that Jesus healed, only 1 returned to say thank you.  What do you think Jesus thought?   Jesus knew only 1 would return to give thanks and yet he healed all 10.  I might have been tempted to undo the healing of the other 9 ungrateful lepers.

Everything we have is a gift from God.  We don’t deserve any of it.  Are we thankful?  in all things ….  Or are we some times arrogant, prideful, boastful, and unthankful?

We should be thankful to God for all the talents, gifts, abilities, jobs, income, and opportunities that we have.  We need to remember that everything that exists belongs to God and that what we currently have came from God.  Everything we have is to be used to God’s glory.

Ephesians 5:20 “always giving thanks to God the Father for everything”

Colossians 3:17 “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Colossians 4:2 “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”

Hebrews 13:15 “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. “

Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Earlier this week I wrote about instant gratification.  Our society today is used to getting everything they want exactly when they want it.  One of the biggest dangers we face today is that we have so much that we take it all for granted.  Most of us have never really seen hard times.  If you have always had and never really been in need, then it is easy to forget to be thankful. 

One last thought is that as we are thankful we are to look out for the needs of others.  Giving to others helps remind you of God’s goodness and faithfulness. 

God has been so good to me that I can’t begin to count my blessings.  What about you …….


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Instant gratification

I was giving some thought to the fact that we are raising a generation of kids today that are very used to instant gratification.  If they want something, they are used to getting it.  And they usually get it as soon as they want it.  This is true even of adults today.  With the overuse of credit cards, no one waits for anything any more.

This is not new but a problem that has been growing in our society for the last 50 years.  People are no longer interested in self-discipline.  No one wants to wait for anything.  Hence the advent of TV dinners, the microwave, the computer with instant messaging, and texting on cell phones. 

This lifestyle of the quick and easy can have a detrimental effect on our walk with Christ.  It makes us want instant answers to hard problems.  We need to remember that some situations require regular prayer and waiting on the Lord. 

We need to spend time daily in the Word seeking the Lord.  We need to really know the Word and there’s no quick way to do that.  It’s not a “quick read” and you are done.  There’s no weekend retreat that is a substitute for daily study. 

If we have an instant gratification approach to our Christian life then we are bound to be frustrated.  It takes a long time to grow spiritual fruit.  If we get frustrated, we may quit on our way to spiritual growth.  Do we think that prayer takes too long to produce results? Do think studying the Bible is boring?  

The Bible tells us over and over that we need to be patient.  Patience is a fruit of the spirit.  While the world tells us that the most important thing is the here and now, the Scriptures tell us to focus on eternity.  We need to devote ourselves to a life of seeking Christ first.  Pray, study the Bible, and serve the Lord with your gifts and talents.  Keep your focus on things that are eternal. 

There is no instant solution to godliness.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Are you as confused as I am …

Ok – now I think I am confused.

Last night I talked about lightening up and really living life.  I mentioned enjoying the journey as I walk with God.  I warned against meaningless habits :

“He (the devil) tries to get me to be religious – with meaningless rituals instead of communing with the living God.  He tries to get me to look at things like church as habits.  He tries to get my mind to wander and not to engage with God”

On July 30th I wrote about spiritual discipline.  I encouraged godly habits. 

“You can develop godly habits.  As you execute those habits you will grow in Christlikeness.   As time passes on you will discover that the things that were hard to remember to do will gradually become easier.  They become part of your routine.   You discipline yourself to time in prayer, time in the Word, and time in fellowship.  As these become a habit, you begin to look forward to these activities.  You long to spend time with Christ.  You miss it when it doesn’t happen.”

Aren’t these two ideas in conflict which each other?  How can both be true?

I think there are two things to think about here.  The first one is to have balance in your life while serving Christ.  You want to reach out and be a blessing to others but you don’t want to get so exhausted that you can’t take care of your own relationship with Christ. 

The second thing I am reminded of is that not all habits are meaningless.  Habits can be good things.  The key is when you are in church or Bible study, be sure to focus on God, on meeting with God, on developing a meaningful relationship with God.  Doing these things just to do them, will gain you nothing. 

I am reminded tonight of one of my favorite verses.

“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. 2 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

Confusion gone for now.  Feel free to comment on how you balance the ideas of joyful living and spiritual discipline.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Are you skipping through life?

Some people skip through life.  Some people walk through careful and calm.  While others drag their feet the whole way.  I think I am the careful calm one.

I have a purposeful, planned approach to life.  Yet, somehow it is getting more difficult to fit everything into a day that needs to get done.  Sometimes I am too serious and don’t enjoy each day the Lord has given me.  I’m going through life but not really living.

Time flies by.  Each year goes faster.  I remember being young and how slow each year went.  It took forever to get to another birthday or another Christmas.  I remember as a youth thinking that someone in their 30s was old.  Funny - but 50s are seeming pretty young now. 

Life is busy – too busy.  I think this is one of the devils schemes.  He tries to get me off-track.  He tries to get me to waste the time God has given me.  He tries to get me to be religious – with meaningless rituals instead of communing with the living God.  He tries to get me to look at things like church as habits.  He tries to get my mind to wander and not to engage with God.

I need to focus on God’s love for me and my love for Him.  When you love someone, you delight in what they delight in.  It’s easy to serve someone you love.  It’s easy to spend time with someone you love.

I need to focus on strengthening my relationship with God – that can happen anywhere and any time – and everywhere and all the time.  It’s not a ritual, it’s a relationship.

I’m not getting any more time.  Once a day has passed, it is gone forever.  So as time marches on, perhaps I should consider lightening up and skipping through life. 

Don’t just go through life but really live it.  Live it hand-in-hand with the God of the universe and enjoy the journey.


Monday, November 8, 2010


Thanksgiving is coming up in just over 2 weeks.  It is time again to start to focus on all the things in my life that I am thankful for.  I did a post similar to this a couple of years ago.  It really helped me focus on counting my blessings.

I am thankful for my health.  While it still isn’t great, it is much better than this time last year.  A year ago I was struggling with a really sore foot and I was scheduled for some female surgery.  My foot is much better and the surgery was a success. 

I am thankful for my family.  I have a great kid.  She loves the Lord.  She is constantly putting others needs in front of her own.  She’s has a real servant’s heart. 

I am thankful for godly parents who raised me in a Christian home.  I am thankful that they were able to sell their farm this summer and move into an adult community.  I am thankful that they are both healthy.  Mom was really sick most of last winter and had me really worried.

I am thankful for a good job.  I work at a really good school and I work with some really great people. 

I am thankful for my church.  It is a great place to worship and we have pastors who are not afraid to preach the truth. 

I am thankful for heat.  It has been cold at night for a couple of weeks and our furnace was broken for about three weeks.

Be sure in this upcoming Thanksgiving season that you pause and give thanks for all the blessings you have in your life.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Fake Christians

I read an article tonight titled “More teens becoming ‘fake’ Christians".  It was an interesting description of teenagers today.

Summary of the article: 

More American teenagers are embracing what the author calls "moralistic therapeutic deism." Translation: It's a watered-down faith that portrays God as a "divine therapist" whose chief goal is to boost people's self-esteem.

She goes on to say that a lot of this is why teenagers abandon church just as soon as they can. 

The author interviewed 3300 teenagers between 13 and 17.  Her study included all kinds of Christians from Catholics to Protestants of both conservative and liberal denominations.  3 out of 4 teenagers claim to be Christians but fewer than 50% of those practice their faith.  Most can’t talk coherently about their beliefs.

Many teenagers thought that God simply wanted them to feel good and do good.

Adults don’t expect much from youth pastors.  They really just want them to keep their kids off drugs and away from premarital sex.

The author said that churches share the blame for the religious apathy that is displayed by teenagers.  She says that pastors often preach a “safe” message that can bring in the most people.  They are preaching a gospel of “niceness.”  Meaning that God rewards those who are nice.  This doesn’t teach teens  (or anyone) how to face problems or tragedies. 

As a church we are doing our kids a huge disservice if we don’t teach them how to deal with the problems of life.  Things can and will go wrong and they need to know how to handle it.

My Thoughts:

“What does it really mean to be a follower of Jesus Christ?"

Are our churches reaching out to the lost?  Are we engaging them in thought provoking discussions?  Or, are we boring them to death.  Are we so concerned that they won’t come back that we fail to challenge them?

Are we, as a church, seeking to involve all people by using each person’s gifts and talents?  Everyone should be involved in the church.  Everyone should be a contributor. 

Are we praying and believing God can change not only others, but us.  Do we really want a revival or are we comfortable with our church exactly the way it is?  Do we really want a personal revival or are we content with who we are?  Are we afraid of change?

What if a new family started coming and they “took the seat you always sit in”?  Would you be mad because they took your seat or would you be excited to see a new family coming to church?

Are we, as a church, supporting and encouraging one another? Are we fellowshipping together?  Are we joyful?  Are we worshipping?

Are we reaching out into the community and inviting others in?  Are our lives any different than the lost in the community?  Is there anything about your life that would attract others to Christ?

Are we taking care of the elderly, the shut-ins, and the widows?

Are we preaching the Word?  Are we discipling believers?  Are we loving each other?  Are we standing up for truth and righteousness?

Not many answers today.  Just lots of questions to think about.  Perhaps more tomorrow….

Casting Crowns – Until the Whole World Hears