Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Coincidence or Preparation?

When I first heard this story it didn't really floor me as much as after hearing it a second time through a recent radio interview, and then it became "real":

The Christian rock/alternative band Sanctus Real came out with their 5th album in March 2010 called Pieces of a Real Heart. All of the songs written by the band, and most notably by the lead singer Matt Hammitt, are all about the heart, songs like: Lead Me, Dear Heart, Keep My Heart Alive, and I'll Show You How to Live. And each song deals with the condition of the heart and how to gain strength through God.

Six months later Matt's wife would give birth to a baby boy named Bowen, who would then be diagnosed with a congenital heart defect and eventually have heart surgery.
Today Bowen is doing well and Sanctus Real has started a foundation called Whole Hearts Foundation to help families affected by congenital heart defects.

All of the songs written on this album were before Matt and his wife knew they were having a baby.

I don't believe in coincidences, especially in a story such as this one. The words to many of the songs that Matt wrote about had a profound affect on his family during their struggle as they gained strength through drawing closer to God.

In the song Lead Me, Matt asks God,

So Father, give me the strength
to be everything I'm called to be

Oh Father, show me the way
to lead them

I guess this is more proof that God really knows what He is doing in each of our lives.
Now if we could just get out of the way and let God lead!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Natural,Survival,or Opposite

"I'm bald,jobless,have no money,and I live with my parents.
Every decision I have made in my life has been wrong. I am the complete opposite of everyone else in the universe."

This is the plight of George Costanza in one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes.And Jerry's advice to George is simple,

"If every instinct you have is wrong, than the opposite would have to be right."

As soon as George decides to do the opposite, everything he does becomes a success. He even lashes out at the owner of the New York Yankees and is then offered a job with the team.

Our natural instincts in response to situations says much about who we are.
Since getting back from vacation I've had a chance to reacquaint myself with(along with over 100 million other viewers)the eagles in Decorah Iowa.

The eagles are now 12 weeks old and fully grown. Their talons and beaks are fully sharpened, and their wingspan is complete at 7 feet.They hop up and down upon the nest with their wings outstretched as if doing jumping jacks. But even though they are ready to take flight,they have yet to fledge from their nest. One day I spent at least a half-hour watching the live web-cam as these guys just sat at the edge of the nest and watched mom and dad soar through the open skies. I found myself asking,"What makes them wait so patiently? And how do they know when they are ready to take flight?" The answer is simple: they just follow their natural instinct. But they also will know when mom and dad decide the time is right; this is mom and dad's natural instinct.

For us humans, following our natural instincts can get us into trouble sometimes. And there will be times when we will need to use our survival instincts, but even then our decisions may be wrong ones.

Some of my favorite movies to watch are from independent film makers. And some of the stories are simple survival stories. One's of people finding themselves in a difficult situation and the viewer is presented with the same question as the characters are faced with: What do I do? Three survival stories that come to mind where survival instincts are used,but with dire consequences:

Being left by accident out in the middle of the ocean during a scuba diving adventure and facing hungry sharks (Open Water)

Being left up high in a ski-lift overnight in frigid temperatures and the ski lodge doesn't re-open for 5 more days (Frozen)

Your out rock climbing and your arm gets caught in a crevice and there is no one around to rescue you (127 Hours)

Some of the best and most important instincts to have are the spiritual instincts. Allowing God and the Holy Spirit to direct us in our daily walk. Here we are most assured of making the right decisions when we allow God to lead and direct.

If you find your natural instincts are not working within your life, do the opposite and let God lead. You just might see some amazing results.

note:the films I mentioned are rated R for obvious graphic content.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Life Happens

The last few days have been filled with mixed emotions and thoughts on life,in particular the various celebrations of life:

Renewed life:

One day last week, and only within one hour of each other, two people were giving praise reports of being freed of cancer. One was a minister friend from the South whose brother had received a clean bill of health,free of cancer. He had been diagnosed with cancer of the brain, lymph glands and thyroid.

Another praise report came from a young lady at my church who had successful surgery and was freed of all cancer that was within her.

Faith is believing when common sense tells you not to.

Eternal life:

After hearing all this good news, next came the news of another young lady at church who passed away from a hard fought battle with cancer. As my Pastor put it so eloquently,"She received her healing. She's at home in peace."

I did not know this woman personally, but the one thing that stood out about her whenever you saw her in church: she really knew how to get her praise on! So my lasting impression of her will always be how she loved and worshiped the Lord.She will now spend eternity just worshiping at the feet of the Almighty.

One of the great mysteries in life,and there is no way I will even make an attempt at coming to some kind of conclusion with:is the healing of cancer of one and not the other. One thing I do know is that it is not a matter of one having a greater faith than another. I love what the great American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote about life:

It's not the length of life, but depth of life.

Newborn life:

And all the while all of this was happening, a co-worker friend welcomed a new baby boy into the world.

Sometimes we forget how many different facets of life there are and will occur within minutes,seconds,hours,and days of each other. It's good to be reminded of how precious life is.

Now if we could just get that cherish each day we live part right,we'd be alright. Time to git my praise on!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

California Dreamin'

One of the great things about vacation is it's way of us escaping reality for a week. But that of course depends on your travel destination. If you live in the Midwest then pretty much anywhere there's palm trees and tropic temperatures is a way of escape.

You may find yourself eating lunch or dinner at a restaurant with an incredible ocean view and begin to think to yourself: wow, I could live here and do this all of the time. Or even begin to ponder that age old thought, "I wish I'd have grown up out here!" In other words the "What if" begins to exhume our brain and play games with out head within the warmth of the tropic sun as it scorches our face.

The "what if" game is something we have all played at one time or another. The dream of growing up in a different environment or culture and fantasizing of what our life may have been like.

There have been times when I also would ponder the thought of what if I had been born in a different country?What would it be like? And would I have the things to live with that I now take for granted everyday?

We don't exactly have a choice of where we are born or the choice of environment to grow up in,it just happens. When we get older we do have that choice, but some people still won't and may never get that choice. So in essence where we find ourselves planted can be a blessing in disguise.

John Wayne once said, "Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway."

Thankfully some of us live in a country where we can make that choice of saddling up and moving to an even better climate, even if it is just for a few days.

Thank God for vacations and escaping from reality for a little while. Even a little while is better than none at all.

Ahhh, California dreamin' all the time!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

God's Gift is 6' 9''

When I saw the headline God's Gift Chooses to Play Hoops at St. John's it naturally peaked my interest. And who the article was referring to was a power forward from Nigeria named God's Gift Achiuwa. God's Gift is one of six children and their father is a minister. The name of God's Gift's siblings:
three brothers named Promise,God's Will,and Precious; his sisters are named Grace and Peace.

I have a feeling this unique family will accomplish many great things in their life.