Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Living Proof!

It was a cold Chicago winter's day and us crazy teenagers rode around in Tony's high school sweetheart's convertible with the top down. Yep, we did a lot of crazy stuff back then. Life was good and we lived adventurously with no cares in the world. Funny how you don't think about how precious life is until reality hits.
 As we moved on later in life, we each went through our own circumstances, it's what we call the game of life.

 Tony was a friend who passed away in 2007 with Lou Gehrig Disease, otherwise known as ALS. His mother was kind of like a second- mom to me. Her and I would car pool to work on Fridays and share stories of our families. We both recognized how blessed we were to be a part of close-knit families, a rare find these days. 

Tony's story is a unique one. A story that can quickly change your importance in life. A few years before he was diagnosed with this deadly disease, his sister hit the lottery jackpot, winning over $20 million dollars. Everything was going good for Tony: he married his high school sweetheart, had two kids, had a great job, and his sister shared the wealth.  Life was good.Then just as it happens in life, they were thrown a huge curve ball with Tony's illness; a difficulty that no money in the world could change.

 In Tony's last few years he was down to no movement in his arms or legs, he could shrug his shoulders though. ALS is a disease that really needs to be understood and how damaging it is to the human condition and to the soul. Tony was in perfect health, never smoked or drank and ALS is not hereditary; so finding out what causes this in us humans and finding a cure is important.

After the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge's gain in popularity this week, I began to wonder what Tony's mom must be thinking with all of this hoopla. Sure, the challenges are bringing more awareness to the disease, and more folks are donating like never before, but will that compassion for others still exist after this novelty challenge has worn off?

Lately, I have begun to put even more emphasis on what's more important in life, even finding myself investing more and more into the lives of all of those around me.

My problems pale in comparison to so many who are in need. I really have nothing to complain about. I am in perfect health, running 6 miles on Saturday mornings. My refrigerator is stocked with food, I have hot running water and heat and air conditioning. I have a job, a home, a great loving family and I have peace. A peace that only comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Corrie Ten Boom once said,

"If you look at the world, you'll be distressed.
  If you look within, you'll be depressed.
  If you look to God, you'll be at rest."

Thank God for the grace and peace that only God can deliver to each and every soul that believes.

 My hope and prayer is that God grants doctors the wisdom to prevail victoriously in a cure for this deadly disease.

If you wish to help find a cure by donating some dollars click on: www.als.org

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Meet John Doe: Revisited

With all of the hatred and violence not only in the US but around the world, I feel the need to re-post this movie review of a film I believe everyone should watch, as the message is one that is clearly needed today in our culture. So,here's hoping this resonates with you and inspires you to raise your voice for the good of your country:

Imagine yourself living in a big city or state where the economy is bad, unemployment is high, many people in need of food, and all the politicians are crooked. You then decide to protest these ills of society by threatening to jump off the roof of City Hall on Christmas Eve unless things improve. Do you think anything would change? Would anybody care?

This is the premise behind Frank Capra's 1941 film Meet John Doe,
starring Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck. A story that deals with the heart of the American people. Who would have thought a story from 1941 could resonate with our country even today.

Stanwyck plays reporter Ann Mitchell of the New Bulletin newspaper,a struggling paper that has been bought by a wealthy industrialist. Ann gets laid off from her job but is asked to write one final column. She obviously wants to come up with something that will draw fireworks in hopes of maybe keeping her job. Ann creates a fictional character named John Doe, an unemployed homeless man who writes a letter to the paper protesting the collapse of decency in the world and threatens to jump off the roof of City Hall at midnight on Christmas Eve unless things change.

The Governor and some competing newspapers believe this is a hoax and just another publicity stunt. So when the town begins to show an interest in John Doe by offering him a job and a place to live, the newspaper finds itself needing to cover up its tracks. So they hire a homeless man who is without any family to pose as John Doe.
 The newspaper and Ann Mitchell decide to use John Doe to unite the American people with Doe's philosophy that it is the little people who are the backbone of America:

"The character of the country is the sum character of the little punks.
The meek will inherit the earth when we all work together."

And one of John Doe's other philosophies that he asks of the people,

"Why can't that Spirit, that Christmas Spirit, last all year long?"

 John Doe is asked to do a radio speech and the next thing you know his story has taken the country by storm. News begins to spread throughout the land of his story and small town folks are creating John Doe Clubs to carry out his message. These clubs obviously have one stipulation: no politicians allowed.

Ann Mitchell and her publisher decide to circulate John Doe and his message throughout the towns of America as we see small towns everywhere uniting together with brotherly love toward one another. Neighbors are seen giving other neighbors a helping hand with food, small jobs with pay,and offering others a place to live.
And as any good story goes, there's always one villain in the crowd.And in this case it is the owner of the newspaper,a man named Norton, who wants to use the John Doe movement for his own welfare to gain a seat in the White House.

Of course John Doe has no desire to go along with this political maneuver and realizes Norton is just another politician who wants to kill the decency of mankind and the John Doe's of the world. Norton blackmails John Doe to follow or otherwise he will spread the news that John Doe is a fake, and he would then be shunned by society wherever he went.

When John Doe addresses a crowd of thousands at a John Doe Rally, Norton pulls out all the stops. He has delivery boys spread throughout the crowd newspapers with the headline John Doe is a Fake. Amidst all the ruckus, John Doe leaves out a back entrance and disappears for a few days. And while he has disappeared from the American people without a word, John Doe Clubs begin to disband throughout the land.

 On Christmas Eve night, church bells ringing at the strike of midnight, John Doe shows up atop the roof of City Hall. But also up there waiting for him are a few loyal John Doe Club members who still believe in his philosophy and had seen it work in their neighborhoods. John Doe has seen the hatred throughout the country, the dirty politics, and the indecency of mankind, and chooses to go ahead with the once created plan of jumping. And then Ann Mitchell comes running into his arms with the speech of all speeches:

"Please don't give up, John! The John Doe movement isn't dead. Oh,John, if it's worth dying for, it's worth living for. Oh,please John...you wanna be honest don't ya'? Well you don't have to keep the John Doe idea alive. Someone already died for that once. The first John Doe. And He's kept that idea alive for nearly 2,000 years.
And He'll go on keeping it alive for ever and ever and always."

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Feelings with Action, It's Called Worship

"Worship is an inward feeling and an outward action that reflects the worth of God."
- John Piper

One of the many thoughts I've pondered this past week was, "How much is God worth to you?"
We know that Christ's Son died on the cross for all of mankind, but do we truly live to express that worth each and every day?

In last week's post I wrote about each of us individually walking the way God instructs us to, walking in faith and love. But, if we are to capture the attention and hearts of those around us, we need to radiate God's love and how much God really means to us.

 How much is God really worth to you? Do you express it daily? Are you able to recognize all that God does for you and show your appreciation in all things, even the small mundane things?

For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness. (Psalm 107:9)

The poor shall eat and be satisfied. Those who seek Him will praise the Lord. 
Let your heart live forever! (Psalm 22:6)

Those of us who have chosen to follow Christ must know that we may be the only Bible some people will ever read. Jesus even instructs us to let our light shine before all men so that they may see God's glory.

 I've been around all kinds of Christians for many years and I have mastered the art of being able to tell which ones truly carry with them the joy of the Lord. I feel sad at times watching some miss out on real, honest to goodness joy which only comes from being in an intimate relationship with the Heavenly Father
A relationship based on His unconditional love for us.

"Worship is based entirely on His worth."

The next time you open your refrigerator and there's food remember, He is worthy of your praise.

The next time you take a shower and there's running hot water remember, He is worthy of your praise.

When you wake up in the morning and are breathing remember, He is worthy of your praise.

When you are able to leave your house and drive to a job remember, He is worthy of your praise.

So, how much is God worth to you?

If you live in an area with no access to a Bible, click on www.biblegateway.com for more of God's encouraging Word.




Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Mastering the Art of Wisdom

Just be yourself, everyone else is taken.



I recently came across this message on a marquee sign on my way to church. What's important to note here is that I was thinking along those same lines of this sign as my mind was speaking to God. Whoa, wait a minute, your mind was speaking to God? Yep, God can read what's on our mind even if we don't verbally speak it out, after all He is God.

Sometimes we let our minds drift off into thoughts about ourselves and our lack thereof. It could be lack of confidence in ourselves, it could be lack of not getting the attention we want from others, or it could be a lack of assurance in God's plan for our lives. But these negative thought patterns we may have are not from God, but strictly from the enemy who wants to cause havoc in our thinking of who we are in Christ.

You see, there is an importance of not just knowing who we are in Christ, but living it out,too.  There is an old Chinese Proverb that says,


"Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power." 


If we are to master everything who God says we are in Christ, we need to know God's Word and act it out accordingly. We need to remind ourselves each morning when we look at ourselves in the mirror:


 Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like. (James 1:22)


and confess who we are in Christ:

God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (2Timothy 1:7)


The entire Book of James teaches us about hearing God's Word and doing it. But just recently while doing lunch with a friend our conversation led me to this wisdom about God's Word in James:


Hearing God's Word and doing it isn't just about how we should treat others, minister to others, and how to show God's love to others. It is also about hearing God's Word and what it says about each of us individually and how we are to apply it to our own lives.


We are to walk in faith, speak out God's promises upon our lives,  act like we are a son and daughter of the Most High, and realize that we are a new person in Christ and our old mistakes have been forgiven. 


We should also imitate God in all that we do:

"Therefore be imitators of God (copy Him and follow His example), as well-beloved children imitate their father." (Ephesians 5:1)

It is so easy for believers to get caught up with their struggles and indecisiveness and forget the power to overcome that has been given to them through Christ Jesus. 


A great piece of wisdom from Paul says it all,

"I can do all things through Him who gives me strength."  (Philippians 4:13)


If you live in an area with no access to a Bible, click on www.biblegateway.com for more of God's encouraging Word.