Friday, May 28, 2010

Take Time To Thank A Veteran

As we approach Memorial Day weekend remember to take time out to thank a military veteran and those who are now serving in our armed forces, and remember those who gave their lives for that freedom we have. It is so easy for any of us to just take for granted the things we have including our freedom.

Next to the Bible, my favorite book of all time is
The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw. It is compiled with stories of the men and women who served during World War 2 and those on the home front who worked together to keep our country afloat during this difficult period of time.

Here is an excerpt from the book; a quote by a veteran named
Leo Doyle about Memorial Day:

" When we were kids in grammar school the veterans from World War 1 would come into our classroom or we'd go down to the auditorium and they'd tell us about some of the things they went through. I gave a talk in a school, and the kids kept strolling in like there was no tomorrow. Hell, when we were there you sat down and kept your mouth shut. I just got back from Wisconsin and I was talking to my great-grandchildren about Memorial Day, and they almost didn't know what I was talking about."

Okay, so there's two things for you to do this weekend: thank a veteran and make sure your kids know the reason behind Memorial Day.

Freedom comes with a price, remembering is free.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Winning Cures Everything

As the Chicago Blackhawks were about to advance to the Championship round we made our way through a packed house at Buffalo Wild Wings to the Sports Authority next door. A large crowd began to filter into the store to purchase their Blackhawk gear and by the look of it the prices of the items for sale were irrelevant at the moment. Funny how a winning team, no matter what the sport, can cure an ailing economy and bring joy to thousands.

Earlier on this fine Sunday our mens Bible study group discussed chapter 4 of the Book of James. Most of our discussion was spent on Humility Cures Worldliness.

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.
(James 4:10)

Much like that of a winning sports team lifting us up to a higher level emotionally, going to church should have the same effect on us but spiritually. The next time you leave church ask yourself the three R's:

1. Did I receive anything spiritually today?
2. Am I refreshed?
3. Am I revived?

I come from an evangelistic background so I've learned the importance of the three R's if you want to give away that which you've received. And besides, why wouldn't you want to give away something that brings life and joy to your soul and body.

During Sunday's game one of the Chicago players got hit in the face with a puck and lost seven teeth. He retreated to the locker room and came back out onto the ice to finish the game just a few minutes later. You can call him a hero or you can call him crazy, but I believe his response only lifted his teammates to a higher level to get that illustrious victory.

When we allow God to lift us up to a higher level it only encourages us the more to give away that which we have so that others may be victorious in life.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Chased By The Light

"If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life"
-Wu Men

I recently viewed a documentary called
Chased by the Light, the story of famous photographer Jim Brandenburg and his quest for an inner renewal. Jim had been working for National Geographic for several years, his travels took him away from his family about 75 percent of the time per year. He had been working so hard at trying to get the most perfect of pictures he had lost his passion for nature itself.

In a desperate need of renewal Jim Brandenburg went on a 90 day journey through the Northern Woods of the Midwest. His challenge amidst his renewal: to take only one picture a day throughout this journey. But of course, for a photographer of his stature, he had to make sure it was the perfect picture. There were many times when he didn't get anything until the final moments of the day. You can checkout his pictures in his book of the same title
Chased by the Light.

For myself I have noticed the last three months an inner peace within me that only stems from the love and grace of God. Many of the great pictures that I've taken lately (it helps when you have a "good" camera!) are a direct result of not shear luck or timing but God granting me the opportunity to not worry about the things around me and enjoy His creation and being in His presence.

In the above picture I absolutely stumbled across this bird while I was ending one of my 3 mile runs. I was way across the other side of the waterfall and from there it looked like some kind of penguin hobbling around. And if it really was a penguin I'd be famous for finding a penguin in Chicago. Of course my curiosity got the best of me, so I made my way around to the other side to find this very rare Black Crown Night Heron.

Let the peace of Christ have power over your hearts. You were chosen as a part of His body.
Always be thankful. (Col.3:15)

You will be amazed to what God can do to you, for you, and through you when you let the peace of God rule in your heart.

Your great adventure awaits!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

My Happy Place

Someone at work a couple weeks ago posted an interesting note on the community board about church being the safest place to be at. It listed statistics of some of the places we go, how we get there, and the percentage of safety there. Our automobiles are responsible for 20 percent of all fatalities. Other transportation such as air, train, and water, our chances of being in an accident were at a lesser percent. The highest rate of death was in the hospital at 33 percent. The most safest place to be was in church, with an accident or death rate of only one tenth of a percent(.001%).

A couple of years ago the Pew Research Center did a survey and came out with this little nugget:

43 percent of those who go to church and go more than once a week, are more happier than those who attend only once a week.

So the safest place to be is in church and the happiest of all people go to church more than once a week.

The adventurous Amelia Earhart once commented:
"Who wants to be imprisoned in safety?"
What she meant was don't be afraid to go out and be adventurous and pursue your dreams.

I tend to think of church as a filling station where you get filled up with all things God and then are able to go out into the world with peace and joy and conquer that which is in front of you knowing that you are under the shadow of the Almighty.

So I guess if there's one question one might ask himself it'd be: Am I getting what I need out of church so that I can go out and conquer those mountains that are in front of me and pursue my dreams successfully?

The condor is known to have the longest wing span over 8 feet in length. The only wing span that can out stretch that of a condor is God's. His covering expands from sea to shining sea. No matter where you go you are under His covering.

Church....a safe place, a happy place, a place to grow, a place to get closer to God, a place to fill yourself up so you can go out and conquer those Goliaths in your life.

Man,I can't wait to go to church again!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Mothers Day Post Script

1. This past Sunday Oakland A's pitcher Dallas Braden pitched a perfect game no-hitter. What made it even more perfect was the fact that it was on Mothers Day with his grandmother watching in the stands. Dallas's mom passed away from cancer in 2001 so his grandmother had the responsibility of raising him. Grandma Peggy turned his life around straying him away from his party going ways and raised him into something special both on and off the baseball diamond. Hooray for grandma's!

2. The last few years I've noticed around the office that the ducks and geese always hatch new babies just 2 or 3 days before Mothers Day every year. Of course my curiosity has gotten the best of me lately so I began looking into how Mothers Day came about. And why do these feathered friends have their babes near this honor tradition holiday? Was it God's intention to alter natures course to coincide with Mothers Day or is this just a coincidence?

Mothers Day is celebrated on various days(April or May) in many parts of the world.

The holiday was created by Anna Jarvis in 1908 to honor one's mother. President Woodrow Wilson made it an official national holiday in 1914. Much to the dismay of Anna Jarvis, by 1948 the holiday became so commercialized that it infuriated Anna. Her intentions for Mothers Day were for it be a more personal touch, such as writing mom a letter instead of giving her a greeting card.

Anna Jarvis was arrested in 1948 for disturbing the peace while protesting the commercialization of the holiday she had created. And she even commented that she wished she never would have started the holiday because it became so out of control.

Anna died later on that same year.

Today Mothers Day is considered the busiest day of the year for restaurants. And the money spent on flowers for mom totaled nearly $2.6 billion dollars and another $68 million on greeting cards.

Maybe next year I'll just give my mom a hug and say I love you. Naa...she'd definitely wonder "What the heck is up?"

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Jesus Effect

"I made him into a great player but not a great man."

This was quoted by an apologetic former coach Bill Parcels on one of his star football players from the late 80's, Laurence Taylor, who was arrested last week for raping a 16 year old girl and who has also been involved with drugs since retiring from football. Taylor was a 10 time pro bowler, a hall of famer, and helped the Giants win two Super Bowls. But all of the accomplishments in the world cannot over shadow what he has become in recent years.

I was glad when I heard another former player of Parcels say the coach had made a vow to never again let the standards of excellence on the field be more important than teaching the players "how to be great men" off the field.

Unfortunately in the last decade or two the responsibility of coaches from the collegiate level to the pro's has taken on a whole different meaning. Many of the players you see today lacked a fatherly figure in their upbringing so a coaches role has gone from not just teaching them X's and O's but teaching them life skills, responsibility, and submission.

So how does this relate to Christians? God has given us the responsibility to not only walk in love, but to exemplify Jesus in all that we do.

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven
." (Mth.5:16)

Having the Jesus effect by living out your life the way God asks you to will have a greater impact on the world then if you were the one to discover plutonium.

Make the outside world curious of what you have when your carry around with you the peace and joy of God. That disgruntled cashier you may get while in line at the grocery store may need exactly what you have. The only way you can give it away is by letting that light shine within you.

Be a coach in the game of life!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Calm, Cool, and Collective

The other day I received an alarming notice from Emergency Healthcare Physicians alerting me of possible identity theft as my health records, which included my social security number, had been stolen along with several other patients.

Upon receiving this news I surprisingly remained as calm, cool, and collective as Clint Eastwood strutting down the middle of town and staring down the barrel of some bandit's rifle.

If this had happened to me a few months ago or even last year my natural reaction would have been an expletive, anger filled tirade of great proportions. Or, as some would say: a total freak out episode.

The letter that was sent included a list of steps to follow and people to contact to protect myself financially. I went through all the precautionary measures with calm precision knowing that God was in control of the situation.

I guess you could say I've grown up spiritually to where I don't let things like this incident bother me as it would have in the past. This stems from making a conscious effort to get myself from believing (accept as truth) in God to trusting (having a firm assurance) in God.

Putting in that extra effort to know God more intimately makes all the difference in the situations that may befall you.

"It's not about a religion. It's about relationship."

I do hope that whoever committed this theft doesn't come away with a fistful of dollars.
Especially mine!