Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Be Doers

-Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22
-Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. Matthew 7:24
-Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say? Luke 6:46
-For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. Romans 2:13

   I think it is clear to everybody who reads these words that Christ calls us to be men and women of action when it comes to living out our faith.  For most of us, I don't think the problem is that we haven't heard these words before.  Most of us have heard these words many times in sermons, bible studies, your own reading of the Bible, but where is the action? What does that even look like because you just don't see it much here in the USA.  Our churches are filled with people who say they love the Lord and know all the right answers but like the fig tree, there is no fruit in their lives. Like it says in James 1:22 above, we are just deceiving ourselves.  I say "we" because I fall into that hypocrisy all to often.  The hard thing to do as a Christian in this country is stand out.  And I mean stand out like a city on a hill.  So many people get turned off to Christianity because they see "christians" that look no different than anybody else when we preach we are set apart.  So what does that look like? I think it all goes back to making God your first love.  Everything else in life is second.  When God is your first love your going to be spending time talking with him daily.  You read His Word because you can't get enough of His Truth not because you feel obligated or can squeeze it in before dozing off to sleep. You tell people about what He is doing in your life and how He is your hope and peace and how He can do the same for them. You invite them into a deeper relationship with you and like minded believers so you can encourage each other and grow in your love and knowledge of Christ. Your priorities change and so does what you do with your time.  Your time in front of the TV and surfing the internet just doesn't satisfy when you could be serving at the local rescue mission or reading a Christian author giving you new insights in your Christian walk or talking with your kids about what it means to live a life devoted to the God who saved you.  Is your church filled with people like that? The answer is probably no, but I hope we can get there.
   I was challenged in my Bible study group last night to take a call to action.  See, we realized that studying the Bible is a good thing but we needed to put feet to what we were learning.  We needed to be coming back each week with reports of what God was doing through us by being on mission each day.  Next week we are holding each other accountable to being on mission during this week.  Frankly that is a valuable piece that I need in my life. Brothers in Christ who can hold me accountable in my spiritual walk and even give me a nudge (or shove) when I need it.  I challenge any who read this to be on mission this week with us.  Start to live like someone set apart and bear fruit for all to see.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Are you overflowing or running on fumes?

I had the privilege last night of attending the Pott Lincoln Baptist Association Sunday School training at Sharon Baptist Church.  I was definitely blessed by the words spoken and empowered to be faithful to leading in my Sunday School class.  See, as one of the speakers Scott Pace (professor at OBU) stated in his address, God only calls us to be faithful to him. We naturally have a predetermined set of outcomes that we look for to discern if something was successful or not. But that's not what God said. He said "Well done good and faithful servant" Matt. 25:23.  God is pleased when we are faithful.  One of the other speakers spoke on building relationships.  My wife said that one thing she remembered about this topic was that the speaker stressed the importance of being filled up each day.  Filled up meaning you have spent time with God in prayer and in his word so that you are prepared for the day and possible ministry opportunities God has given you.  If you aren't filled up, how are you going to be prepared to show God's love to someone else or speak words of encouragement. You can only share God's love from what He has given you.  You can't receive it unless you spend time meeting with him. The picture of you overflowing with God's love and direction is one that people will be drawn to and seek out for help. If you are intentional about building your Sunday School and reaching people with God's love you got to get filled up.  Then in turn, they can learn how to get filled up to bless someone else. May God bless your ministry.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Run John Run

   So I started back running again about a month or two ago.  I decided I wanted to run faster than I did last year when I ran in the Barney Shirey Memorial 5K. I think I ran it in about 24:45 but felt totally wiped out when it was over. I could have been that I only trained for a few weeks prior to the run. I guess it's the competitor in me that always wants to compete at something, even if it's something as monotonous as running. So my goal is to knock off about 2:45 off of that time. That would be pushing me pretty far but why set goals that are easy to reach. Meeting hard goals makes it that much more fulfilling and drives you in your training.  When I get on a certain kick I go a little overboard sometimes. Case in point, I plan to run in the Route 66 Half Marathon in mid November in Tulsa.  I figure, as long as I am doing all this running I might as well do something I haven't ever done.  Also, since I will have put quite a bit of training into running the half marathon, if I don't succumb to injury or disaster through that experience, I guess I will try and run the full marathon at the OKC Memorial Marathon in April. Disclaimer, I know I am just on a "running high" so to speak and I may swear off running for life after the half marathon so I reserve the right to bow out of the full marathon experience without guilt or possible public ridicule. I don't know what my next competitive endeavor will be but I have several months (and many long runs) to think about it.
   On a side note, I love how Jonathan now always asks, "Are you sweaty daddy?" anytime he sees me wearing my gym shorts and tennis shoes. I guess he is a bit leery about running up and hugging me after he got sweat all over him hugging me post run one day. Experience is the best teacher, especially for little boys.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Friday Night Lights

I just had some old memories come into my mind as I was thinking back to my high school days at Tecumseh High School.  I know, the memories aren't that old by many folks standards. Anyway, I remember many of the little details about going to the Friday night football games.  Now I didn't play football because mom scared me out of playing saying I would hurt myself and wouldn't be able to play basketball.  Well it worked so I got to watch my friends from the stands.  Of course, they used to play at the old stadium in the middle of town so everybody used to get real close and personal to the person next to you because there wasn't any room.  There was usually about four different sections to the seating arrangements. On the end was the band. Then came the student section which had an ever changing seating arrangement from people getting up and down throughout the game.  The middle section right under the press box was for the parents of the players and where most of the verbal assaults on the officials came from.  There was always at least one cow bell in attendance every game.  The final group was all the middle school and underclassmen behind the bleachers who were too busy flirting and sending secret messages via their bff to the boy/girl of their dreams.  I remember the constant pounding of the little boys dressed up in their own football jerseys as they ran across the metal walkway or hopped down the metal bleachers making as much noise as possible. Of course I had a personal interest in the band performances since my future spouse was either playing an instrument or throwing a flag up in the air.  Unfortunately I have only been to a few games at the new stadium and that involved taking my own young kids with me so I don't recall if any of the former traditions of my youth have emerged in the newer, more spacious stadium at Tecumseh High School.  I hope to attend more games this year and possibly see some familiar faces that I haven't seen in a while.  I don't know what section I fit in this time but maybe I can figure it out. GO SAVAGES!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Hey gang, I'm back from my hiatus.  At least for a post.  I've been reading some good stuff from the book "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis.  That man had some deep thoughts rolling around in his head. I'm glad he put them onto pen and paper though.  One chapter in particular took on pride as one of the hardest sins to recognize in your own life.  He gives the example of school teachers or parents appealing to kids to find the self discipline and strength within themselves to suppress sinful desires of lust, sloth, cheating, whatever the case may be. Upon conquering this "sin" by self will and determination they unwittingly harbor a sense of self pride that they can avoid sinning if they put their mind to it. What they have done in a sense is allow themselves to build up pride in their heart and distance themselves from a reliance on God.  What better way for Satan to gain a foothold in your life than to distance you from a reliance on God.  We know God does not want you to have any part of lust, sloth, cheating, etc... but he knows the only true way to defeat sin is trusting in his strength and power.  Now obviously there are other types of pride that I am not speaking to.  Pride in your country, or a family member, or even in a job well done.  Not what I'm talking about.  It is when you begin to think you can handle things on your own in a world where God is in control of your next breath, that Satan wins the battle.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Spotify - Audio Trash or Treasure

So my brother-in-law clued me into this music service called Spotify.  Not to sound like a commercial buy you basically can play any song or album on your computer or smart phone for 9.99/month subscription or there is a free version that plays on your computer only but has occasional commercials.  Still pretty cool.  You can share what songs or albums you like by posting links to your favorite social media outlet, i.e. Facebook, twitter, tumblr, etc.  One feature that got my attention was that you can create your own playlists and favorites on your profile and let others see what your interests are.  I started clicking on some of my Facebook friend's profiles to check out the various musical tastes and frankly was a little surprised.  I'm not going to throw anybody under the social media bus but some of the explicit music that was listed kind of shocked me.  I definitely am not trying to say secular music is bad. I listen to my share of it as well.  I would only be concerned with what messages you are constantly putting in your mind.  If you continually listen to music that promotes sexual indiscretions, uses vulgar/foul language, or unlawful acts then those thoughts will be filling your mind throughout the day.   Philippians 4:8 says "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."  Anybody see a conflict of interest here?  Scripture says meditate on the Word of God to help you combat sin and live a life pleasing to him.  Explicit music promotes the sin that God's Word says to avoid.  I would encourage everyone to take a look at what words you are letting fill your mind and thoughts and ask yourself Would I share my playlist with Jesus?


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Resolutions Update

Hey, its me again. For accountability purposes I am giving an update on my post in January regarding resolutions. Some are going pretty good, others not so much. I'll handle them one at a time.

1 Wearing out my new Bible that I received for Christmas. I have not worn out my Bible yet, and honestly it looks in pretty good shape. Sometimes I get caught reading good Christian literature and not reading the most important book of all.  Christian literature is good, but nothing should get in the way of God talking to me through His Word.
2 Volunteer for more community service projects like the Shawnee Rescue Mission. I have been able to help several times already at the Shawnee Rescue Mission serving lunch and donating clothes. I would encourage anyone that can to volunteer some time down there.  There is so much work and so many that need assistance
3 Take part in a Mission Trip. I don't currently have plans for taking part in a mission trip yet but open to the opportunity.  I know our church and association has a partnership with a church in Colorado Springs that will organizing a trip at some point and I know of others that take part in different trips so I hope to meet this resolution some time this year.
4 Phase out mindless TV watching.  Ok, I think I have made progress but there is still work to do.  I currently don't really have any shows that I am hooked on but Thunder games usually grab my attention when they are on. That can be quite a lot of TV when they play several times a week. Our tv contract is up in October I believe so there may be some changes occurring at that time.
5 Read more. I would like to read at least 12 books this year. I have made good progress on my book reading. I have read 4 books already this year and half-way through another. I am ahead of the game on this one.
6 Go to bed earlier and get up earlier. Fail. I haven't made any progress on this resolution.  I injured my shoulder a while back which prompted me to stop going to the YMCA before work in the mornings.  Now that it is feeling better I just haven't gotten the ball rolling again.
7 Spend more time outside.With Spring time upon us, I should definitely have more nice weather to get outside.  I recently returned from a fishing trip with my father and God had the opportunity to show me once again how beautiful his world is.  I gotta get out more.
8 Tell my family and friends I love and appreciate them more often. I think I have started to do this more with my wife and kids but I need to branch out to other family and friends. This is a little out there for me but I know it shouldn't stop me from showing God's love to others.
9 Write and film a short story of some kind. Haven't taken any steps toward this one other than try to get some ideas from my wife.  She gave me a great idea for a documentary but it is a little more serious than I was planning for my first attempt at film making, but I will definitely keep it in mind.

So there it is.  Areas I know I need to improve in are Bible reading, go to bed earlier/get up earlier, spend more time outside, and letting my friends and family know how much I appreciate them.  Sorry for the long delay in blogging, I'll try to keep up.