Friday, January 29, 2010

All Things Are Possible

A couple of days ago a video and article was circulating about a prank that went awry. A high school girl's basketball coach was to be given free Final Four basketball tickets if he made a half-court shot while blind folded during the halftime of a game. The prank was that the crowd would cheer wildly after he missed the impossible shot making him think that his shot went in.
The only problem was that he made the one- in a- million shot. You can catch the video on youtube!

Just this week I finished reading All Things Possible written by Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner, who will most likely announce his retirement from football today. Kurt Warner's story is one of the more prolific stories in all of sports history. He's known for going from grocery store stock boy to Super Bowl MVP all in one swoop.

Kurt's book tells how he had to persevere and trust in God's plan even when it didn't look right from his perspective. Haven't we all thought about that in our own predicaments at times?
"God, You're doing it all wrong! I have a way of doing it better and much quicker!"

Kurt had trouble getting playing time in college even though he believed in the talent that he possessed. From there he had trouble getting the pro's to give him a try so he bounced around from: Arena Football, NFL Europe, and the aforementioned stock boy. Through all of this he learned the value of having a true relationship with Jesus Christ and trusting in God's plan for his life. Kurt believes that God was preparing him for greater things to come.

After finally prevailing and making it on the St.Louis Rams, albeit the second string QB, Kurt would get his shot at stardom. During the preseason of 1999 the starting QB had his leg broken and here was the opening for Kurt Warner to step in and show his talent. Kurt threw 41 touchdowns that season, a team record at that time, was the leagues Most Valuable Player, and brought the Rams their first Super Bowl victory. Today all of his accomplishments will most assuredly put him in the Hall of Fame. But his off the field accomplishments are even greater as he goes around speaking to youth about Jesus Christ and persevering with faith. Kurt Warner trusted in God and ends up with a storybook career.

A couple of weeks from now during the Super Bowl you will see a 30 second anti-abortion commercial with Tim Tebow and his mother. Tim's mom was gravely ill in the mid 1990's and doctors tried talking her in to aborting her baby for fear of the baby's health. She denied their request. That baby was Tim Tebow, another quarterback, who has had the most storied collegiate career in history,playing for the University of Florida. He brought the Gators two championships and has literally single handedly lifted that university up to a higher level spiritually with his Christian faith.

When you mix God into the equation the impossible becomes possible.

One of the instructors in a class I was taking a few weeks ago said,

"If the Bible is real, then the stories within it are about real people who had real problems."

I am sure you can go to any Book in the Bible and you will find someone who was going through a problem. But you will also discover a most gracious Heavenly Father who stepped into that problem and made the impossible become possible.

With God all things are possible.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


"Imagination is more important

than knowledge." Einstein

I've often wondered what my life would've been like if I were born and raised in another country.
So it was great to hear a Brigadier General (Dick Abel) having pondered that same thought as he spoke at my church this past Sunday.

Imagine if you will, living in Cuba right now. A couple of things you'd be subject to:
1. You cannot leave or return from Cuba without permission, which is often denied.
2. The right to use the internet is only granted to a select few. And if you connect to the internet illegally, you will serve 5 years in prison.

If you lived in the People's Republic of China:
1. The government controls all media including the internet.
2. If you are a farmer there you must pay 3 times more taxes, even though your income may be just one sixth of the average urban dweller.

And if you were living in Haiti, well, you know exactly what you'd be enduring right now:
a shortage of food and water, searching for loved ones and close friends, possibly dealing with a severe injury or disease, and find yourself asking, "How in the world are we ever going to survive this disaster? And, is there any hope for us here?"

If you live in America you have: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, running water(both hot and cold), grocery aisles stocked with food, gas, electric, etc..

In America we truly take the life we lead and our freedom for granted. When I do think of where I could have been and where I am now, I'm thankful for that freedom that does exist. If only we could all ponder this thought more often.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Content With Our Condition

Do you remember when you first got your pet
(dog, cat, guinea pig, etc..)? Some of the ground rules we may have first set when inviting our four legged friends into our home were: no lying on the couch nor anyone's bed, no lying under the kitchen table at dinner time, and no table scraps, and especially, stay away from the Christmas tree.

These rules are all just a faded memory aren't they? What happened was that over a period of time we became content with our living conditions then as fast as you can say, "Speak Rover", our animal friends had the run of the house.

My Pastor once used an illustration in one of his sermons on the contentment of sheep:

When sheep are grazing in a certain pasture they get familiar with their surroundings. Once all the grass has been eaten and there's nothing left but some dirt and weeds, they refuse to move. They are content with where they are. Even when just across the path is a fresh green pasture for them to graze upon. It takes the shepherd to nudge and prod them along to move across the road to greener pasture.

Sometimes we all have a tendency to fall into that trap we call complacency: we get adjusted to a certain lifestyle and take for granted the simplicity that comes along with it. We feel like we have it so good and we don't need anything or anyone and then... Bamm! something bad happens to disrupt that good life and we suddenly find ourselves unprepared.

When a boxer steps into the ring he has faith in his ability to succeed because he has prepared himself. A believer's preparation to succeed in life should revolve around their faith in Christ Jesus and His Word.

When God wants to break us out of our complacency we should welcome it as a challenge to not only get back on track, but to realize God's love for us never ends, and for that reason alone we should be seeking Him in the good times and the bad.

Monday, January 18, 2010

History 101: The Beginning of 21st Century

Probably the biggest New Years Eve celebration everyone in the world wanted to get in on was 1999.

In the Seinfeld episode The Millenium, Kramer and Newman find out they've both planned a New Years Eve party for 1999 (which isnt for 2 more years). They both try to convince their friends to attend one and not the other's. This competition only causes more friction between friends, so Kramer suggests Newman cancel his, to which he remarks:

"But I had this party planned since 1978! I booked a room at that revolving restaurant that's up high overlooking Time Square. And I even booked Christopher Cross!"

Since Newman's whole theme of his party and invitations say"Celebrate the New Millenium with Newmanium", and carries with him the persona of always messing things up, Jerry asks,
"Did you book it for the Millenium New Year?
"Yes, Newman answers.

Jerry gets in the last laugh, "Well the Millenium doesn't begin until 2001, which would make your party one year late and thus, quite lame."

We entered the year 2000 with the Y2k scare, which turned out to be just that, only a scare.

We also entered the 21st century with Hollywood losing it's creativity in the television market so they bombarded us with reality shows, which still exist today. We became obsessed with being paid a million dollars if we could: survive on an island(Survivor), answer a bunch of questions but are given 3 lifelines(Who Wants to be a Millionaire), or eating grotesque food and doing dangerous stunts(Fear Factor).

But the one reality all of us living in the United States had to face was that of our safety, due to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11,2001. Subsequently the months ahead brought with it not only new challenges but a spirited patriotism that I had never witnessed before in my lifetime. Everywhere you looked you saw the American flag: sailing from car windows and antennas, bumper stickers, hanging in house windows, store windows, and house porches. You even had a wide variety of t-shirts with the emblem. All a symbol of our pride. Even the NFL entered the scene with a flag on players jerseys and helmets and made a new logo for the upcoming Super Bowl (which was months away) reflecting this American pride.

And coincidently (or maybe not), the New England Patriots, who have had their red white and blue logos since their existence, would go on to win that Super Bowl, their first Super Bowl win ever.

Sept. 11 also made us aware of our own vulnerability and brought many of us to our knees realizing the importance of having and needing God. What is interesting is this new century we were embarking on had already begun a new wave of worship music. We had Darlene Zchek encouraging us to Shout to the Lord, and then we had the husky voice of Mac Powell and Third Day giving us a new way to sing Alleluia.

Though the worship style may have changed and is doing it's purpose in attracting and reaching a new generation of believers, one can't help but wonder what else can be in store for the 21st century and for Christians and new believers all over the world. As Billy Graham once said,

"I've read the last page of the Bible. It's going to turn out allright."

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

History 101: The 90's

When you first look back to the 1990's you kind of get the sense of it being the decade where everything in our country was going fine. In tv land we followed the lives of Friends: Monica and Chandler, Rachel and Ross, and Joey and Phoebe.
We followed a show about nothing (Seinfeld) and we were first introduced to the Simpsons.

In music we were encouraged to get our groove on with Everybody Dance Now, Ice Ice Baby, My Ache Breaky Heart, and MMM Bop, while kids in gym class were exercising to The Macarena.

We assume everything was fine in the 1990's, but that wasn't the case. When you begin to research the history of that decade you find out that it was one of violence in the U.S.:

1. The Columbine High School Massacre
Which led to stronger safety measures in schools for protecting our kids.

2. The Oklahoma City Bombing
Which led to tougher enforcement surrounding Government buildings.

3. The L.A. riots in 1992, a result of police brutality to a black man named Rodney King.
Which only made us more aware that racism still exists.

4. The O.J. Simpson Trial, which some dubbed The Trial of the Century
On trial for the murder of his ex- wife and her friend, O.J. was found not guilty despite all the evidence. This led to the passing of the Violence Against Women Act.

Amidst all this violence, the late 1990's still saw a huge increase in sex and violence on television and profanity in music. And this pattern of moral decay in our society has only gotten worse.

In the television show The Simpsons, Marge plays the stronghold of the family. Marge teaches her kids to: do well in school, be responsible, go to church, and ignore the foolishness your father may exhibit at times and just know that he loves you. So Marge not only has the task of raising her kids right, but raising her husband Homer right as well. She puts up with:

Homer's foolish antics: "Operator, give me the number for 911!"

His baffoon excuses, such as not going to church,"If God is everywhere, why do we need to go to church?" Of course Marge has the final say, so Homer obliges to go.

Homer's impulsive decisions in trying something inventive, such as a donut juicer, only to change his mind when things go wrong.

And his stupidity."Oh, so they have internet on the computer now!"

But what best describes everything Marge has to put up with comes from her husband Homer himself,
"Maybe, just once, someone will call me Sir without adding 'You're making a scene'."

Despite Homer's childish behavior at times, he loves his family, will do anything for his kids, and takes the family on some great adventures. And Marge knows this, which is why she not only loves him, but sticks with him despite his faults.

All kidding aside, I like what Marge Simpson represents of a household, standing her ground on the foundation she wants set for her family, as she once exclaimed,

"Most women will tell you that you're a fool to think you can change a man.
But those women are quitters."

For either gender, I think we all could take a household lesson from Marge Simpson on setting a foundation for our family.

Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine (God), and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:
and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. (Mth.7:24,25)

That rock we are to build our house upon is the foundation of Jesus Christ. And it is a foundation that can resist all the enemy may throw at it. Your household may not look pretty at times but don't give up or give in.

When we look back at the 1990's we see the results of household foundations not built on solid rock, but sinking sand. If the 90's taught us one thing it's: "Build your house on the foundation of Jesus Christ the Solid Rock."

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

History 101: The 80's

What the 70's did for fashion the 1980's did for hair. Ah, yes...the wave. And I'm not talking about a friendly wave of hello.

Through the movies of the 80's we:
Cried when an alien named E.T. died, only to see him come back to life again.

Took a ride Back to the Future.
Some chose to take a different ride, one with Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.

And we learned how to cut school without getting caught.
Thanks Ferris Bueller!

The music of the 80's took us from wishing we had Jessie's Girl to wanting Bette Davis' Eyes to strutting to the Stray Cat Strut. And how could we not forget, Prince and his having us dream of where we'd be in 1999.

But I must have to say, there is something to be said when the most popular listed t.v. show of the 1980's is a group of masked amphibians named The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

This show along with several others of the 80's, the A-Team for one, carried with them the recurring theme of conformity and unity. And of course, when you think of the 80's, how could you not include President Reagan, who also carried with him the message of unity.

Probably one of Reagan's most influential moments was when he challenged the Soviet leader
in Berlin:
"Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

Interestingly enough there was also a song that came out in the 1980's by a group called
First Call reminding all Christians that we are Undivided:

In our hearts we're undivided
worshiping one Savior one Lord
In our hearts we're undivided
bound by His Spirit for evermore

Just before leaving office in 1989 President Reagan said of the 1980's:
"We meant to change a nation, instead we changed the world."

Sunday, January 3, 2010

History 101: The 70's

The 1970's were all about: smiley faces, tv sitcoms, disco, and cheesy movies. Everything from Happy Days to Archie Bunker to John Travolta's dance moves underneath the disco ball, and silk shirts for guys who thought they looked cool in.

I think the church message of the 70's was brought about by two men: Billy Graham and his simple message of hope,"Come as you are". And Keith Green who so bluntly stated,
"It's time to quit playing church and start being the church".

These two icons brought people to their knees to humble themselves before Christ, teaching that God only looks at the heart and it didn't matter where you came from.

Teen Challenge, a Christian based rehab center which is now in over 150 countries, was started by David Wilkerson back in 1958. But it wasn't until the 1970's when it began to flourish, taking on the message led by Keith Green on "being the church".

Keith Green and his wife started an outreach program Last Days Ministries in the suburbs of LA, reaching former drug addicts, the homeless, and prostitutes. Today their ministry, run by Keith's wife after his passing, is based in Texas and still going strong.

Without any of these outreach programs and these 1970's spiritual men of God seeing their visions come to pass, where would we be today?

I think Billy Graham preached it right," Come as you are". And Keith Green taught us to do it right when he sang:

Oh Lord, You're beautiful,
Your face is all I see,
for when Your eyes are on this child,
Your grace abounds to me.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year

Here are some of my favorite pics taken in 2009:

May you all have a blessed and adventerous 2010!!