Monday, June 28, 2010

Searching for Wisdom (part two)

One day while visiting the opening of the new primate house at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, one of the trainers asked me to participate in an intelligence exercise. Not on my intelligence, mind you, but on one of the mother gorillas there.

The trainer had me pull out some photos from my wallet to show Ms. Gorilla. The primate, who is nose to nose with me on the other side of the glass, would view my pictures one at a time. As I held a picture up for her to see, she would focus and stare at it for a few seconds, then she would tap the glass to let me know she was ready to glance at another picture,this went on until I was through showing her all of the pics I had in my possession. The primate family are known to be some of the most intelligent creatures on earth.

One of my favorite characters and lines from the Wizard of Oz was the Scarecrow and his wishful singing of,"If I only had a brain!"

Believe it or not, God gave each of us a brain. Though at times in school
some of my teachers may have questioned my possession of one. Needless to say, it is our responsibility to fill that brain with knowledge. And it's an even greater responsibility for those who are believers and followers of Christ.

There have been many scientific disclosures on what we fill our minds with and how it affects our lives. What we fill our minds with can and does affect our: attitude, behavior, our rest, and our peace.

King Solomon urges us to get wisdom:

"Wisdom is the principle thing; therefore get wisdom.
And in all your getting, get understanding." (Proverbs 4:7)

And that understanding we are to get is through the Word of God. Biblical wisdom unites God, the Source of all understanding, with daily life, where principles of right living are put into practice.

If we fill our minds daily with what the media gives us, it only brings in a spirit of fear and restlessness which affects our what? Our attitude, behavior, rest and peace!

The Apostle Paul, while in prison for the second time, reminded Timothy in his time of struggle, that:

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2Tim.1:7)

Having a sound mind means "safe thinking". When we discipline our thought patterns to according to what the Word of God says, we are seeking out the best knowledge and wisdom that money can't buy.

Einstein once said, "Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character."

Trusting in God and searching for wisdom and knowledge through His Word shows a strength of character. And filling our hearts minds with Him brings about a peace that no one can take away. Not even the world.

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You,
because he trusts in You. (Isaiah 26:3)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Searching for Wisdom in the Eye of the Storm (part one)

In the midst of the latest storm to hit our area, and watching the weatherman track tornado's on his dopplar radar, my mind began to wander at the advance weather technology we have today compared to 50 or 100 years ago. I also did some advance research on wisdom in the Bible, as storm after storm passed by.(thankfully the power remained on!)

The only way to track a storm 100 years ago was by looking outside at the sky and actually feel the change in temperature. Today we can track a storm coming from at least two or three states away, and literally pinpoint its expected arrival time.

It is amazing when you compare any kind of technology to the past. Our medical technology is so advanced that someone who has knee replacement surgery can find themselves up and walking in just 3 days. Football players from the early to mid-1980's speak of having 20 or more knee surgeries and still suffer in pain today.

I've read some great testimonies from Christian medical doctors who readily admit they are thankful for the intelligence that God has given them to fulfill their duties as doctors. And this makes me wonder how many of the other "high intellectuals of the world" can admit that.

The growth of wisdom in the world through the years is a curious thing. Thomas Edison went through over a hundred light bulbs before he got it right.

Two of my favorite "wise men" are Einstein and King Solomon. No matter what Einstein did, he made his mistakes count for something as he kept trying until he succeeded.
Einstein once said that:

"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex. It takes a touch of genius-and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction."

I think that opposite direction Einstein
was referring to was what King Solomon wrote about in the Book of Ecclesiastes.

For God gives wisdom and knowledge and joy to a man who is good in His sight; but to the sinner He gives the work of gathering and collecting, that he may give to him who is good before God. This is also vanity and grasping for the wind. (Ecc.2:26)

When we use our intelligence for the good of mankind in Christ-likeness and not hoard things up selfishly for ourselves, God enters joy into the equation. Those that use their intelligence only to gain wealth will never really be satisfied nor obtain any kind of "real peace".

Obtaining knowledge makes you smart, but understanding where that mind you were given came from to obtain that knowledge makes you a genius!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Grace and all of it's Mercies

"Since this is Aunt Bethany's 80th Christmas,why don't we have her
say grace."


"They want you to say grace."

"Grace? She passed away 30 years ago!"

"They want you to say grace.(pause) The blessing!"

Aunt Bethany bows her head and begins:

"I pledge allegiance, to the flag of the United State of America..."

This is one of my favorite dinner scenes, coming from the film
Christmas Vacation.

You can look at grace in a humorous way and you can also learn grace the hard way through situations in life.

The other day I was following behind a car when it suddenly ran over a squirrel which was trying to run across the street. ( why must squirrels try crossing when a car is coming and then try and manuever between the tires as if it were a maze?)This reminded me of my first lesson on administering a form of grace when I was 14 years old:

My grandfather had picked me up one day so I could go help paint his house. While driving down the main road leading to the house, we came across a black and white kitten lying in the middle of the street. It had been hit by a car and was barely alive, quivering in pain. My grandfather pulled off to the side of the road. As he got out of the car I asked him what was he going to do. To me it looked like there was nothing you could do to save this tiny creature. My grandfather didn't answer me as I proceeded to follow out of the car. He opened the trunk and pulled out a small rubber mallet. No traffic was approaching as I followed him toward the kitten. I'll spare you the gory details, but my grandfather took the mallet and lightly tapped the top of the kitten's head. I, being the 14 year old wimp that I was, watched in a very squeemish way. As he took the dead kitten to the side of the road he quietly explained to me that he had to take the pain away so the kitten wouldn't suffer any longer.

Believers in Christ are asked to be stewards of God's grace:

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in it's various forms. (1Pet.4:10)

Showing mercy and compassion can be easy, but also can be hard on the eyes of those who don't understand it.

In a recent "rerun episode" of Everybody Loves Raymond, the Barone family spend Thanksgiving with Robert's wife Amy's family. Things don't start out so well when the men find out there is no television set in the house to watch football. Then a bird innocently flies into the window and gets hurt. Everyone is beside themselves seeing the bird hurt. Amy's mom takes the bird and tells everyone she'll take care of it and brings it into the kitchen. When she comes back out they ask how the bird is. Amy's mom answers,"Fine." They all ask her what did she do, her reply comes in the the motioning of a snap, sound effects included. Everyone falls into shock as they begin to argue. Amy's dad explains that his wife had to put it out of it's misery. The entire Barone family is now up in arms for the rest of the day.That is until Amy's mom comes out of the kitchen with a large bird fresh out of the oven and places it on the dinner table. All is forgiven. "Come on everybody, dig in!" "Hey,save me a turkey leg!"

Like I said, grace can be found humorously, and it can be found the hard way, but either way, just go ahead and administer it to the world.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

On Top of a Rock

Stop for a minute and think about what you see in both of these pictures. Isn't it interesting they both chose a rock to either stand or rest on? The mallard duck is on a rock near the bank of a creek where other ducks are swimming around searching for food. From the few moments I perceived his actions, it looked as if he just decided to just "chill on top of a rock".

As for the wolf, (pic taken at the zoo) it looks like he just chose the highest elevation possible to take a mid afternoon nap. I never got the chance to see him wake up, rise up, and manuever himself off of that ledge "fearlessly" without falling. But I am pretty sure he made it.

So here we have the mallard duck on a rock standing in contentment and a wolf resting in peace high atop a rock. And my guess is you know where I am heading with this!
After David leveled the mighty giant Goliath, David exclaimed to God these words for delivering him from all of his enemies and from the hand of Saul:
"The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
The God of my strength, in whom I will trust"; (2Sam.22:2,3)

To be content and at peace, no matter what situation your life may be in, means you have chosen to stand or rest on the solid rock of Jesus Christ.

Who would've thought standing and resting on a rock would be a comfortable place to be at.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sports Tidbits:Lessons to be Learned

This past week was filled with sporting news lessons to be learned:

1. Before the start of the World Cup, Brazilian referees had to take a class to learn the many English-language obscenities so that players that verbally abuse the ref's can be penalized. However, the referees are not learning these obscenities in the 11 other different languages spoken at the World Cup. So what does this say about America in general?

I think one of the nature's of man is unfortunately the use of obscenities in the heated competiveness of sports and in fixing things mechanically. It is our nature to slip out an expletive either when we are driving for an easy layup and miss the shot or trying to put a new doorknob in a door. I definitely include myself in this category of the nature of man, but also find myself wanting to break that habit, especially because I want to set a better godly example for those around me.

But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more unglodliness
. (2Tim.2:16)

2. A contrite Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers gave an interview in reference to his off-field problems of sexual misconduct and exclaimed:

"I was young, dumb, and immature. All the time I didn't see it. I was gaining everything but I was losing a lot of who I was raised to be."

How many of us have been like that? Especially Christians. It is so easy to get sucked into what the world has to offer and forget how we may have been raised, or have forgotten who we are in Christ.

A far greater reward awaits those who are not out for worldly gain but are content with Christ:

Now godliness with contentment is great gain.
For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.
But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. (1 Tim.6:6-9)

It is okay to desire and have things, as long as you don't let them consume you to where it leads you away from Christ.

3. One of the biggest headlines of the week was the Perfect Game That Wasn't. Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galaraga was one out away from throwing a perfect game no hitter. The last batter for that no hitter was called safe in a close play at first base. The replay shows the hitter was actually out and the umpire blew the call. After the game, the umpire Jim Joyce viewed the replay himself and then owned up to his mistake and apologized. Galaraga accepted the ump's apology with grace and forgiveness. Both men exhibited what men in America should really be like.

4. Then, for Chicagoans, the biggest news of the week was the Chicago Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup for the first time in 49 years.

First we had former Hawks player Jeremy Roenick cry in the broadcast booth after the Hawks had won. The past 2 weeks prior, he had been all over television and radio bad mouthing the Hawks and saying he hoped they would lose. Some of his venting frustration was due to his being pushed out of Chicago in the mid 90's when wanting to stay and being shipped off to play for Philadelphia. Some say his emotional tear up was one- part elation of Chicago winning and another part jealous over never winning the Cup while playing here in Chicago.

Men have that competitive edge that drives them to want to win and hate to lose. Actually, nobody likes to lose. And everyone loves a winner. But if you can take those losses, no matter what they are in life, and build something positive from them, then all is not lost.

And speaking of building, I love the way the Chicago Blackhawks have taken players from their past teams and have made them ambassadors for the team and for the game of hockey itself. What the Blackhawks are doing is remembering the past to help build the future.

Whether it's one player or an umpire's past mistake or another player's lost seasons of the past, to take those misfortunes and build on it in a positive way becomes a greater victory. And if you know Jesus as your personal Saviour, your greatest standing ovation awaits you:

"You will go out with joy, and be led out in peace.
The mountains and the hills will break out into sounds of joy before you.
And all the trees of the field will clap their hands." (Isaiah 55:12)

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Powers That Be..

"My stocks tripled in 5 days."

"I lost 47 pounds on the Krispy Kreme Diet."

"Debbie won the lottery. Along with 400,00 other people. So she only won $17.00."

I couldn't help but think of the film Bruce Almighty while still dwelling on those 1200 prayer requests mentioned in my previous post.
In the movie God challenges Bruce by giving him the divine powers to see if he can do it any better.

My favorite scene is when Bruce goes on the internet site Yahwey! Insta-prayers and just answers yes to every prayer request, this then makes a total catastrophe for the town of Buffalo, New York. Bruce becomes puzzled and asks God what happened, so God explains:

" A single mom working 2 jobs and still makes it to her daughter's soccer game, that's a miracle.
A kid saying no to drugs and yes to an education, that's a miracle. People want Me to do everything for them. What they don't realize is they have the power. Want to see a miracle?
Be the miracle."

I've come across many Christians who would literally just sit and wait on God to answer their prayers without any involvement of action on their part:

some needed a job but wouldn't go out and look, saying their waiting on God to do something, as if God was just going to send that company to their doorstep and say "Hey, we want to hire you!",

others saying their waiting for the right person to come along relationship-wise, but don't make any effort on their own part to find that person,

and then there's some that want to lose weight, are trusting in God to help, but don't do the necessary things to accomplish that goal

What is quickly becoming my favorite quote comes from a Reverend Ray at my church:
"You need to do what you can in the natural, and believe in God for the supernatural."

If you have a physical ailment of any kind, do what you are required to do in the natural:
see a doctor, follow their medical advice,take your medicine, watch your diet, and exercise. And in the process exercise your faith in God for the supernatural.

If you need a job, begin exercising your faith while out pounding the pavement or stroking those keyboard keys in search of that job.

The Book of James teaches us that faith without works is dead.
You will be amazed at what God can do for you when you mix action with faith. The impossible becomes possible.

No matter how much I want to answer yes to those 1200 prayer requests, if I had the power to, all I can do is pray for them and hope that they step out in faith and trust God to provide for what they are in need of.

And if any of them should cross my path or yours, remember:
Do not keep good from those who should have it, when it is in your power to do it.
(Proverbs 3:27)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Standing in God's Sandals

Did you ever wonder what it would be like to be in God's sandals for a day? Or how about even for just a few minutes?

One of my facebook friends is the site titled Don't give up on God because He never gave up on you:). On some days they will post two or three statements, questions, or scripture verses. Friday's posting posed the question "What miracles would you like to happen in your life?" At last count there had been over 1,200 comments, a.k.a. prayer requests. I decided to spend about ten minutes scrolling through some of these requests and here's what I found:

1. People asking for jobs or better paying jobs

2. Many women asking for a godly husband; some from both genders asking for a meaningful Christian relationship

3. One asked for healing of her husband's nasty moods

4. Another asked that her son return safely from military duty in Afghanistan

5. Some asked for a better working vehicle or a new one

6. Many requests in the financial category

7. Many requests for healing of a variety of cancers

8. One person asked to have good luck everyday (good luck on that one dude!)

9. Students asking for help to finish school

10. Good health for family and to see loved ones saved

11. World peace, the economy, and the resolvement of the oil spill

12. Peace within my heart

13. Forgiveness

While reading some of these I kind of felt like God for a moment (without the power of course!) scrolling through hundreds of prayer requests from all over the world. After a few moments of tearful silence to let all of this sink in, I glanced at another comment, probably from a person that must've felt the same way I did after reading some of these requests and seeing people who had a more desperate need from God than what I needed:
"Any way You bless me Lord, I'll be satisfied!"

My favorite request and one I stand in agreement with:
"That the Lord will answer everyones comments on this page!"
Amen to that!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Living Stress Free Amongst the Muck

The other day I came across a headline on the web: America is Feeling Stressed Out. Naturally it peaked my interest so I began to read it and this is what I found: 46 percent say they are suffering from debt-related stress. Then the article listed all the bad news that coincides with this. And finally, after all of that, they give out this bit of information: 53 percent say they feel little or no stress at all. Well, gosh darnet, why didn't they give this bit of good news before they gave us the lesser percentage of those in stress? And they failed to even associate any news or facts to support the 53 percentile of stress free people. So here is what I think on those that are stress free:

1. They go to church

2. They still tithe ten percent no matter what their going through, placing their trust in God and not man

3. They choose to worship God everyday of the week and through every difficulty that comes their way

4. They don't let the things of this world consume them to where it takes their joy and peace away

Now some of you might think those that are stress free could also be those who are making millions and millions of dollars. Yes, but I am pretty sure there's stress involved in their life too.When you are consumed by the almighty dollar and you live and breathe making money, you have stress.

Last year when the economy took it's tumble there was a well to do member at my brother-in-law's country club who lost everything: his job, both homes he owned, all of his money invested in the stock market. And so, unfortunately, he committed suicide.

The only real peace and joy we receive comes from God.

In the above picture you can see some yellow flowers growing within the swampland of muck. It's similar to our lifestyle and the choices we make. No matter what muck you may be going through or are involved in, you have a choice. You can either take God at His Word, trust in Him, and continue to grow in Him, and worship Him while your muddling through the muck, or you can place yourself in the percentile of those who are stressed out. It's your choice.

I've been through the muck and it's not pretty and it sure wasn't easy to just give it to God and make a conscious effort to grow in Him while through the muck. But I made it to where I have ZERO DEBT. Nothing. Nada. I owe nobody. Except God.

Ahhh, I love it when God comes through!

When you put your trust in man you'll be disappointed. But when you put your trust in God all things come out greater.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Well Done Good and Faithful Mr. Follett

This past weekend our mens bible study group and church family lost a dear friend and teacher named Dick. He battled with cancer for 7 years and fought the good fight in faith.

Over a month ago we began studying the Book of James which happens to be one of my personal favorites because it's all about living in faith and not just being a hearer of the word, but a doer of the word.

Four weeks ago we were into the second chapter of this Book , the first 13 verses explain the reasons why to Beware of personal favoritism. In the world, social status is everything. However, God does not want His people to be conformed to the world system in this way. Christians should have their identity founded in God and not be manipulated by the world's way of thinking and doing. During this lesson a heated discussion came up (or should I say a loud discussion in brotherly love) amongst us about co-workers, friends and family who do not see things as we do as Christians and sometimes say things that frustrate us to the point where we get angry .

And of course, the studious Mr. Dick just sat there and listened and when it was done he chimed in: "Sounds like you guys are angry. Didn't we just read last week in chapter one":

"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,
knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience."

So, here was a man battling with cancer reminding us: to have the joy of the Lord no matter what we are going through and not let what goes on in the world steal that joy from you.

Yes, that was Dick! He fought the good fight with joy in the Lord. Something I will always remember! Thanks Dick, and well done good and faithful servant.