Monday, February 25, 2013

BASE MILES

WELL, I AM BACK AT IT . . . AGAIN! Started back on the road to better health through diet and exercise.

A little back story. Fat kid growing up. Hated running. (The running star in the family was my brother Rick a standout track star at Garden Grove High School back in the early 1960's, he's got the medals to prove it!) Kept getting fat. Got up to 265 pounds. Thought I should do something about that. Change diet, starting plodding (that's a notch or two below jogging) but with some good encouragement from family and friends, I stuck at it. Long story short: got a couple of marathons under my belt, a few half-marathons and too many 5 and 10ks to think about and lost 100 pounds in the process.

Well, I was doing well last year, then time and circumstances, not to mention the weather, stopped my progress, and the pound came back...they always do!

So, now with the encouragement of my wife we have embarked upon the 17-Day Diet and I have begun to hit the trails again, albeit shorter and slower runs, but I am out there plodding away.

Yesterday, my track-star brother, who is less track, but still a star loaned me a book, To Be A Runner , by Martin Dugard, I started reading it this morning at 2:00 am! (Dang diet makes me hungry...but I was good, just water and the book.) In the book it talks about starting with base miles, miles that are run at a conversational pace. That means being able to carry on a conversation with a fellow runner.

Well, my regular runner partner is the Holy Spirit, and since the Holy Spirit is referred to as Ruach in the Old Testament and Pnuema in the New Testament, both meaning wind, or breath, you can imagine that His lung capacity is much larger than mine, so He is the One doing most of the talking, I just plod along and try to keep up and listen.

In all seriousness, when you haven't run in awhile, and you've put on a few pounds, you need to rebuild those base miles, and that is just what I am doing. Not always easy, but truthfully, it feels good to be out there running the trails again. And, I do appreciate my running partner, so much to learn.

There you have it, I am back at it, and right now, my legs are cramping up, the cost I must pay and am willing to do so.

How about you? Maybe it's time to start again, whether it's a new diet, or lacing up the running shoes, or beginning a conversation with God. Honestly, the last idea is the best, but the other two will be helpful too!

Maybe I'll see you on the trails, and if it sounds like I am talking to myself, just remember who my running partner is.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

A HEIGHTENED PERSPECTIVE


 BRING UP GOOGLE EARTH set your altitude to one mile and then fly over to Great Britain’s southwest corner and you will see a patchwork of green fields. Now, follow this linn Burchetts Farm, Whitesmith, Lewes, East Sussex BN8 6HA, United Kingdom and zoom on down and something amazing appears. Made from carefully planted trees at the Burchetts Farm that tell the world that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, the Life. (John 14:6)  Your perspective changes everything. You can read the story online at: http://churchm.ag/bible-verse-maze-on-google-maps.

This week's sermon text, Luke 13:31-35, seems to offer a pretty simple snippet from the life of Jesus, but if you were to zoom out from the passage and start with a little larger view, the words of Jesus take on a much deeper truth.

During today’s sermon, we are not going to have the time to zoom out to take in the larger landscape. Therefore, I want to encourage you to take some extra time to take a look for yourself. Start with the bigger beginning and then zoom back in to the passage at hand and learn the deeper, richer truth that at first glance eludes us.

Start your journey in 2 Chronicles read through chapters 5-7 (I’m not going to say more, I want you to enjoy the journey of discovery.) Once you have read through the chapters in 2 Chronicles, turn to Psalm 118. This Psalm finds its history in the chapters you have just read. As you read through the Psalm some of the words may ring as if you heard them before, maybe in those few verses in Luke 13:31-35.

Now the fun starts, or hopefully already has for you. Temples, God’s presence and promise, sacrifices by the thousands, the anointing of the High Priest, songs of praise…yes, can you see the picture? Can you see why Jesus weeps? Can you hear the songs of praise arising in the future…in our future?

Isn’t God’s Word wonderful? Isn’t God amazing? Oh, how our vision changes with a new heightened perspective. Rejoice!


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Thursday, February 21, 2013

MY BRAIN HURTS

Biola University
Biola University (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
IT'S BEEN A LONG DAY.

Not a BAD day...just a long one, that seems even longer because of this diet I am on...early morning Bible study group . . . staff meetings . . . sermon preparation . . . did I mention the diet?  Offering counsel, reading a few blog posts and dozens of tweets (some pretty good), its been a long day and my brain hurts and my spirit feels a little wiped-out, too.

Then along comes this youtube video from Biola University. (Got to love my alma mater) There's a connect you know, between brain and spirit. Sure I've known that but it's good to hear it again. And YIPPEE another book I would love to get my hands on.

The brain still hurts, but now with some hope...

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

ONE OF THE GREAT ONES ANSWERS THE CALL HOME

THIS MORNING, ONE OF GOD'S LIVING SAINTS, DR. HOWARD HENDRICKS, became more alive than ever, having answered God's call to come home.

We will miss his great wisdom and wit. Heaven's gain is our loss.

Thank you, Howie, and thank you LORD for blessing us with good brother and teacher and servant.

Check out Dallas Theological Seminary for more details
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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

SOMETIMES THE WORLD GETS IT CLOSE

The Icarus Deception Has Arrived
The Icarus Deception Has Arrived (Photo credit: DJ Lein)
THE ICARUS DECEPTION, by Seth Godin has been a good, insightful and personally challenging read for me. Tonight I was grabbed by how close his writing sometimes comes to aligning with the Bible. He writes,
"Your best work is a gift. Of course your work can be improved, but it is a gift first. Your generosity is more important than your perfection." (Page 165)

His words made me think of the Apostle Paul's letter to the Ephesians, where he writes,

"We are God's workmanship (His poem, artwork), created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." (Ephesians 2:10)

So, I guess the question for me, for each of us actually, is how are we going to present our gift to the world, and not just to make a name for ourselves, or to produce great art, but even more importantly honor the One who is the Great Artist?
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Sunday, February 17, 2013

WHAT DRIVES YOU?


YOU MIGHT NOT RECOGNIZED THE NAME of Erden Eruc, this I can tell you, he is one driven man. One would need to be driven to seek to encircle the globe under your own power. It took Mr. Eruc, a Turkish-American software engineer, 1,026 days to row, bike, and walk powered by only his own body, heart and sheer will-power. Needless to say, his story is one of both high-sea adventure as well as days of bored to tears trudging across barren wastelands. Yes, Erden Eruc was a driven man, driven to accomplish a goal of more than 40,000 miles. A costly goal too, in money, time, energy, relationship and even the possibility of losing his life. But Erden Eruc accomplished his goal.

There have been many individuals throughout history that have been driven to assail un-climbable mountains, or to cross uncharted tracks of vast jungles. There have been men and women driven to be the first to paddle a set of class-five rapids, or to free-fall from the edge of space. Those driven to run faster, or swim longer, or to win the most games of their chosen sport. They are special individuals, and we often either admire or shake our heads or both, at the driven-ness of their lives.

In this week’s Lenten passage, Luke 4:1-13, (see Ashes to Fire) we encounter another driven man, one driven to spend 40 days of fasting in the desolate wilderness of ancient Israel. The man we know as Jesus, the Messiah. But what drove Jesus into the wilderness was not the call of high adventure, or to make a name for Himself or to prove He could do it. No, what drove Jesus into the wilderness was God the Holy Spirit.

What Jesus did those 40 days we do not know, but we do know at the end of that time, when hunger, thirst and weariness was at its greatest, Satan showed up to test Jesus. Satan’s goal was to break Jesus down. He attacked at His weakest point with the greatest of temptations. But when one is driven by the Spirit of God, one has the ability and a hidden strength to fend off Satan’s greatest attacks and finest offers.

Adventures and attacks await each of us as we journey through life. The question is, who drives you?

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

ASHES! ASHES!


A pocket full of posies
Ashes, ashes,
We all fall down.

     There are a number of explanations of the origin of this children’s rhyme that hearkens from at least the mid-1800’s. A few of the possible meanings find their basis in the Black Plague, where peoples’ faces became rosy in color, and posies were carried to ward off the disease which ultimately ended in the untimely death of young and old alike and where ashen pallor gave way to the falling down into death.  Kind of takes all the fun out of that little nursery rhyme many of us sang as children.
     I realize that this is not a very happy-themed Shepherd’s Staff, but it is meant to remind us of the seriousness of the Lenten season which is before us, starting rightfully so with Ash Wednesday. Traditionally, Ash Wednesday is celebrated by our more liturgical brothers and sisters. It is a time of solemn reflection and prayer, often with a ash mark placed upon the forehead. It signified the beginning of the 40 days leading toward Holy Week wherein we commemorate the passion of our Lord which culminated in His sin-atoning sacrifice upon the cross of Golgotha.
English: Ashes imposed on the forehead of a Ch...
English: Ashes imposed on the forehead of a Christian on Ash Wednesday. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
     These days of Lent are often pursued by the faithful in the giving up of some earthly pleasure. It is a time of prolonged fasting in order to help us to remember the suffering of our Lord. Symbolic as it may be, it is in giving up on a daily basis some pleasure or enjoyment or needed item, that we made to stop and contemplate the great cost Jesus Christ paid for our redemption. However, we can never fully comprehend the suffering of our God for us.
     Though it is a time which focuses upon sacrifice and suffering, it is also a time marked with hope that is ours because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave. The loud proclamation that sin and death had once and for all been conquered, and that we, through Christ Jesus can be reconciled unto God the Father. Hallelujah!
     I don’t know how you will spend the next days leading up to the remembrance of the crucifixion and the celebration of the resurrection, but I do encourage you to sacrifice daily something that will give you cause to stop and ponder the great grace of our God and Savior. It is a great time as we lay something down so we take time to raise someone up; to pray for others, to be of practical service to those in need.  Ask yourself, “What might I give up so that others may be filled up?” If you need an idea check out the H2O Project though Living Water International at: water.cc/h20project.

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Sunday, February 03, 2013

SHEILA


THERE IS ANOTHER WOMAN IN MY LIFE. She lives in our van. Her name is Sheila, well at least that’s the name we have given her. Usually, Sheila can be quite helpful as the voice of our computer system who announces everything from the title to a song, to the next turn we should take to arrive at our destination. Sheila is nice to have around…sometimes.

     You see, Sheila can be both obnoxious and incorrect at times. She will interrupt a conversation or turn down the radio just so she can tell us that we have to merge left in two miles. And she has been wrong at times. The problem is we tend to trust Sheila’s judgment and when we do we have found that sometimes she has led us astray and has a difficult time in admitting it. Sheila can be a little stubborn at times and we can be a little too trusting.

     Lesson: when planning a trip be sure to consult more than one source. A good old trusty AAA map can come in handy…especially when Sheila gets in one of her “moods.”

     Of course there is a spiritual lesson for us as we journey along our walk of faith; it is always good to check your sources, and if necessary re-calibrate your course. Sometimes the road Jesus calls us to is easy to follow, other times a map is needed, as in God’s Word. There are even times when we may need to pull over and ask for help from other travelers along the way. To not take the time to check our directions can leave us far off the course, and at best adding miles to the journey or at worst to find ourselves lost.
     
As a church family, we are heading off on a new journey called from Ashes to Fire. It is an excursion that will take us from Ash Wednesday to our celebration of Pentecost Sunday. We have our map in God’s Holy Word. We have our tour book in our Ashes to Fire Journals. We will have stories to tell along the way, as we encounter new vistas and new points of interest and in traveling together we will be able to share the joys and yes, even sorrows, of the road laid out before us.

     So, come on buckle up and settle in and let us enjoy the expedition that awaits us. Oops, sorry, no seat-belts in these pews, so just HOLD ON!

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