Saturday, October 31, 2009

Focus on a Family


One of the truly meaningful, rewarding and fascinating experiences in life is to witness the birth of a child. I had the privilege to be able to see all three of our children come into the world…and it was life-changing each time -- literally and figuratively. The birth of a child is a wonderful miracle from the Lord. Going back to the Old Testament, once again, we understand how amazing it must have been for two parents, aged 90 and 100 to witness the birth of their child! This adds even greater meaning to “miracle of birth.” When Isaac, whose name means, “laughter,” comes into the world, he changes his parents’ lives. His coming would bring both sorrow and joy to Abraham and Sarah. When we consider the persons who are involved in this critical event in Israel’s history, we learn some valuable lessons about life and relationships.

The birth of Isaac reminds us that God keeps His promises…in His own way and in His own time. This is a miracle of God, in every way, and not some marvel of human nature. In spite of their occasional failures, Abraham and Sarah believe God, and God honors their faith. Isaac’s birth also means the rewarding of patience. Abraham and Sarah have waited 25 years for their son. Faith is a journey of love and trust. This is all a step forward in the accomplishing of God’s purpose, as it also signifies in its own way, that the future redemption of a lost world would also rest on another baby boy. Isaac would beget Jacob who would, in turn, give the world the twelve tribes of Israel, from whom the promised Messiah, ultimately, would be born.

One final challenge and principle from which we can learn --Isaac is born free, while his half-brother Ishmael is the son of a slave. Freedom is a key theme in Paul's letter to the Galatians, and one of the key blessings in the Christian life. It means to experience all and to do all that God has for us in Christ. Some believer’s choose to live like self-willed Ishmael, when they have been called to live like Isaac. But, no one is more free than the child of God who delights in God’s will and does it from the heart!

In many ways, this story of Abraham’s family describes our existence. By the grand and miraculous hand of God, we enter into this world…free! At the same time, we experience the flesh and sin as we grow, much like Ishmael. Yet, like Isaac, we are set free, once again…only by the blood of Jesus Christ in order to be able to experience freedom and life! The next time you feel defeated or discouraged, remember this family…Abraham and Sarah, Isaac, Ishmael and Hagar, and that faith and promises go together. The ultimate lesson that we can learn is that God’s provision is over all. He loves and cares for His children. There were different promises given to each of these individuals, but they were fulfilled by the Lord in His own way and in His own time. We must trust God and His provision in our lives…living according to His Spirit and not the flesh. In this, we experience joy! Blessings,


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Followers Needed...


S. I. McMillen, in his book None of These Diseases, tells a story of a young woman who wanted to go to college, but her heart sank when she read the question on the application blank that asked, "Are you a leader?" Being both honest and conscientious, she wrote, "No," and returned the application, expecting the worst. To her surprise, she received this letter from the college: "Dear Applicant: A study of the application forms reveals that this year our college will have 1,452 new leaders. We are accepting you because we feel it is imperative that they have at least one follower."


Monday, October 26, 2009

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly -- 2009 NFL Week 7


Week 7 Update...
The Good: Saints (As I said last week --doesn't matter what "D" they face, just figure on 40+...and a comeback for the ages this week); Patriots (Well, at least the Brits were able to see one good team); Colts (Just motoring along to the SB...maybe); Broncos (Orton to Marshall...who'da thunk?); Good Bay (Nothing like the Brownies to help the spirit); Cardinals (The "O"?...How about the "D"?); Cowboys (All of the sudden, they are Miles ahead); Steelers (Looking more like last year's's all about da "D"); Bengals (Cedric does some entertaining); Alex Smith (Hello SF starter)

The Bad: Mice of the Midway (Benson does make them pay-backs); Dolphins' Second Half (Ouch!); NFC LEAST --Giants (All of the sudden look, well...soft -- hard to believe, but I'm okay with it) and Skinned (New owner please?); Bad Bay (Can they stay in England?); Shaun Hill (Goodbye SF starter)

The Ugly: AFC WORST -- Chefs (Well, LJ just talked and tweeted himself into a place on the bench...sorry to whoever has him for FFL...) and Rudders (How low can you go after such a good win); Brownies (May get second shot at a #1 QB in three years); Titan-ics (At least they didn't lose this week...they'll probably take it :-); Lambs (Having to play Peyton when you're winless can't be much fun); Jay Cutler (Cut-it-out); Jake Delhomme (Jake the snake-bit)

The "How-Do-You-Blow-A-21 point-2nd Quarter Lead Award?" -- Not so Fintastic

Super Bowl: Saints vs. Colts
Stupor Bowl: Commitment to (Ha!) Excellence Team vs. Lambs
Two former L.A. we know why they don't want another pro team. :-)

Blessings, Don

Thursday, October 22, 2009

To Be Church Or Not To Be


Our entire culture has formed in us a need to be simple and pragmatic according to its standards...the ironic thing is that it is not unlike how Jesus lived -- but with a much different focus, of course. Many "missionally minded" folks think that being Jesus-like, exclusively, means going out and serving the poor and needy, being involved in some meaningful work "out there," but...the greater, and more difficult work, in many respects, is to get the "believers to live like believers." Jesus spent an awful lot of time with "the church"...twelve guys and some others...trying to helping them to truly understand the truth -- no small task, even, in three years' time. This doesn't happen very well from a distance, but by "getting our hands dirty," helping the church to be what Christ called it to be...from "the inside," messy, frustrating and difficult as it can be at times. Blessings,


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

"My Grace Is Sufficient for You"


One of the fascinating things that we learn when we study many of the personalities in the Scriptures...God's people...that they were altogether flawed. Most of the leaders that the Lord chose to lead His people had some personal struggles in one way, shape or form...or another. Moses killed a man...David was an adulterer and consented to have more than one person killed...Abraham bold-faced lied on more than one occasion...Elijah suffered with depression and struggled with his faith...Noah struggled with strong drink...even Paul certainly had nightmares from all of the heinous things that he had been a part of before He met the Lord on the road to Damascus.

Yet, even Paul would come to grow and understand..."My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9). You see...this attitude is truly reflective of the heart of all of those godly people who came before who were washed in the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 9:11ff). Were they flawed and did they make mistakes? Yes...but the general course of their lives was focused on pleasing the Lord...being His people -- they were faithful to Him. Some might ask..."how could this be?" It is because God does not look at all of the imperfections in His people, rather, He sees His Son in the place of those imperfections. This does not mean that God's people were or are sinless...but blameless. This is what the blood of Jesus is able to accomplish for takes the focus off of us and puts it upon the Lord. He knew that we were not good enough nor were we ever going to do enough to merit, He paid the price for all of us by sending His son to die for us and take away our sins. When God's people seek to live according to His is not those who are self-sufficient who are going to understand this grace that He has to offer, but those who adopt the mindset of the tax collector that Jesus shares concerning in His parable in Luke 18:13, "But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'"(NIV)

Paul shares with the Corinthians in 1 Cor 13:8-12, "Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (NIV) We must mature and grow in our understanding of God's grace in our lives. Paul could see imperfectly or immaturely, because he was looking at things from a human point of view. He was growing and learning in his spiritual walk with the Lord and as he would grow, spiritual matters would become much more clear to him. He also knew that one day, there would no longer be a fog or haze in relationship to understanding spiritual concerns because he would be with Jesus and all of those matters would be cleared up, figuratively and literally.

Way too many Christians live lives enslaved to things...negative attitudes, addictions, ambitions, etc. because they have not come face to face or grips with the principle of grace that Paul mentions above -- "My grace is sufficient for you." When we grow in love and in our understanding of this principle, day by day, life begins to make more sense and we are able to be free to be whom the Lord has called us to be in Him. Like those who sinned before but were set free, we also will be able to have the freedom to move, live and enjoy life according the the Spirit whom He gave to live within each one of those who are His people. Blessings,


Monday, October 19, 2009

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly -- 2009 NFL Week 6


Week 6 Update...
The Good: Patriots (Brady must have been getting tired of the "he might be washed up" talk); Colts (First week Manning doesn't go for 300...byes will do that to a guy); Broncos (Just keep finding ways to get it done with McGenius); Saints (Doesn't matter what "D" they face, just figure on 40+); Vikings (The cardiac Favres hold on for another W); Cardinals (Looking more like last season's version all of the sudden); Falcons (Matty Ice is playing nice); Williams and Stewart (The dynamic duo was least for one week).

The Bad: Eagles (And how do you lose to the Raiders...unless you just didn't prep much); Giants Secondary (Oh least they are not alone); Brownies (Make it two ex-Pats defensive coordinators that should have stayed as such); Steven Hauschka (Ravens shouldn't have a three game losing streak...); Lions (No Megatron and No Stafford = 0 points); Bears (Gave away way too many chances in the red zone).

The Ugly: Titan-ics (Sinking ever lower every up 59 shows that they quit); Seahawks (From world beaters to clueless in one week???); J-E-T-S Jets, Jets, Jets (Three "Ls" in a row...and the Sanchize is now looking more like a pick-sy); Skinned (How much have you spent DS? Sorry JZ...looking at bye week bye bye); Lambs (They put up a fight, does it go again? Bad teams find a way to lose).

The "How-Do-You-Rush-For-300 Yards-And-Lose Award?" -- J-E-T-S (Answer: QB throws 5 picks -- Bummer).

Super Bowl: Saints vs. Patriots
Stupor Bowl: Titan-ics vs. Skinned

Blessings, Don

Friday, October 16, 2009

Coming Clean


For three years, David Chakhvashvili gave hundreds of lectures throughout his native Republic of Georgia. He spoke on such subjects as “the technological revolution,” “the atom,” “modern medicine,” and “love in the advanced society,” all…for only $20 per hour. This all would have been fine and dandy had it not been for the fact that he was found out to be a fraud – he was a janitor who had no scientific training whatsoever. Chakhvashvili evidently received inspiration from the place where he worked…the Georgian Academy of Sciences. He had printed cards identifying himself as a professor…”doctor of technical sciences.” Well, Mr. C. was not the first person in history to masquerade as someone that he was not. Such is the life of some in our world….living self-deceived -- living a lie. The truth of the matter is that the truth will catch up to them sometime…they will be revealed. Not so funny how this works, but people’s sins do have a way of finding them out…which brings us back to Abraham and Sarah in a familiar situation.

After arriving in Gerar (Gensis 20), Abraham begins to walk by sight instead of by faith, and he becomes afraid…not too surprising, given our human nature. Once again, we see that fear of man and faith in God cannot dwell together in the same heart (see Proverbs 29:25). Abraham lies to Abimilech, telling him that Sarah is his sister; it is the custom of the land for the king to have a harem of women, and Sarah would fit right it. This is the same story as in Egypt…second verse. The basic cause of Abraham’s failure is that he and Sarah have truly failed to deal with their sin. They may have admitted their sin to Pharaoh, and confessed it to God, but…the fact that they did not genuinely judge their sin and forsake it, brings it back to the fore.

Abraham and Sarah have convinced themselves that they are not telling a lie at all…only a half-truth, which, of course, is not as bad as a lie! (Being facetious). Yet, it is worse…a half-truth has enough fact to make it believable, and enough deception to make it dangerous. The fact is that a lighthearted admission is not the same as a broken-hearted confession of sin. (See Psalm 51:17). Abraham may sin, but he is saved…he makes a mistake, but his life is not enslaved to total sin and worldliness – he is accepted before God. One preacher said, “God will not allow His children to sin successfully.” When we sin, deliberately, there are consequences and discipline that takes place (see Hebrews 12:1ff). Thanks to what Jesus has done for us…shedding His blood…we have forgiveness for our sins. We must be willing to confess our sins in order to be forgiven. When we do, the blood of Jesus continually cleanses us (1 John 1:1ff), and we have forgiveness and restoration.

Paul shares with the Roman Christians that we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (3:23). James helps us to understand the negative progression that takes place in our lives when we give in to temptation (1:13ff). We can learn a lot from the janitor and from Abraham -- “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when we purpose to deceive.” If we choose to chase after sin…one will lead to an even greater sin, and so on, until we are lost. We cannot hide sin forever…it will be discovered. We are not going to be lost for making a mistake, even if it purposeful…but, we will endanger our souls by sinning habitually…setting our hearts on some particular sin or group of sins that quench the Spirit and take us away from the Lord. We have only one recourse for life and godliness, salvation and peace with God…and it is twofold – submission and confession. God is not going to turn a deaf ear toward a truly penitent sinner. When we humble ourselves before the Lord and confess our sins, asking for help…God can and will forgive us our sins. Blessings,


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly -- 2009 NFL Week 5


Week 5 Update...this week we are going to mix it up again and add the adjective "very," as I have never seen such a disparity between good and bad teams five weeks into a season.

The Very Good: Colts (Going beyond the borders...this Collie has some bark and bite); Broncos (Doing it with the NFL's best "D" to this point...and for all of the naysayers out there -- Orton's not too bad either :-); Saints (Retooling over the bye for the G-men); Speaking of...Giants (Toying with Al's Franken-stein); Vikings (Nothing like the Lambs on the schedule to keep the win streak alive); Bengals (No "C" squad here...Carson, Chad, Cedric, Caldwell and Co. appear to be for real); Eagles (And now we know why they drafted Maclin); Bears (How's that QB trade working for ya?); Miles Austin (It's about time the Cowboys found their new #1); Seahawks (At least for this week, they looked like world beaters).

The Not All-That-Bad: Chefs (Cassel plays like a #1 for once and KC gives 'boys a scare); Lions (Hanging with the champs); J-E-T-S Jets, Jets, Jets (Couldn't stop the Wildcat, but "O" showed signs of life); Panthers (At least break into the "W" column, but still need lotso help)

The Very Ugly: Brownies 6 - Bill-ys Goats 3 (As very ugly as it gets. Say it ain't so DA...2 for 17 in the passing dept? This even makes JaMarcus look great. Say Trent...How's T.O workin' out for ya?); Speaking of...JaMarcus Russell and the Commitment to HAHA Excellence Team (Blocking dummies for the Giants); 49ers (Whoa...did someone get the license of th-atlanta truck); Jaguars (Did y'all even practice for this week?); Titans (We want Vince! We want Vince!); Lambs (Continue to bleat themselves).

The Welcome-To-The-Big-Time Award -- Miles Austin

Super Bowl: Vikings vs. Colts
Stupor (Championship): Brownies vs. Bill-ys Goats

Blessings, Don

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Leave Him Alone


I will keep this brief, but heartfelt. I understand that Bobby Bowden is aging a bit, but he is an institution at Florda State, having been there for over thirty years as head coach. He is also the second winningest Division !a coach of all time, ranking just behind Jo Paterno. One of the things that rankles me, in this case, is our pragmatic society that says -- if it works for me today...great, if it doesn't work tomorrow...change it. This may be so in many cases. But, Mr. Bowden has earned the right to leave on his terms. He shouldn't be getting pressure and made to feel guilty just because his team is 2-3 at this point. Joe Paterno, at Penn State, had this happen to him a few years ago. The octogenarion had experienced a difficult year, and all of the vultures started swirling, and the carnivorous media types were wanting to know when Jo Pa was going to be done. The next year, he was 11-1. This could very well happen to Bobby Bowden. So...leave him alone. Let him enjoy the twilight of his career without being under intense media scrutiny...asking him if he should be fired or when he is going to step down. There are just some people who should be untouchable...Pat Summit, Joe Paterno, Coach K. They have earned some grace. Blessings,


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Court Takes on Authority to Decide How Much Faith a Child Should Have


The following is further proof of precedents being set by "society"...there is, in many ways, no longer a separation of church and state, but it is becoming more and more evident that the state is going to continue to dictate to the church what it can and cannot do.

Inside the Issues with Alan Sears
How would you like it if someone talked this way about your daughter or granddaughter?

"(She is) well liked, social and interactive with her peers, academically promising, and intellectually at or superior to grade level."

Not bad, huh? But not good enough for a court in Laconia, New Hampshire. A 10-year-old there (the daughter of divorced parents, living with her mother) recently wound up under the professional assessment of a court-appointed "marital master" - who tries family cases and makes recommendations to a judge - when the father wanted to change how the child was being educated. The child has been home-schooled since first grade, with a curriculum that meets all state review standards. She also attends three public school enrichment classes and is involved in a variety of extra-curricular sports activities. And the "marital master" freely concedes that she's doing great.

"It is clear that the home schooling...has more than kept up with the academic requirements of the...public school system," he says. But, in his opinion, that's not enough.

The "master" said, in effect, "Sure, she's happy and healthy and smart and well-adjusted and gets along great with her peers, but she's also a little too...Christian, for my taste." He suggested - and the court readily agreed - that she should be ordered into a government-run school, where her beliefs could be muddled by a non-Christian environment.

The "marital master" based his decision on conversations others testified they had with the little girl, whose "vigorous defense of her religious beliefs," he said, "suggests strongly that she has not had the opportunity to seriously consider any other point of view." Apart from the obvious question of what right a court-appointed observer has to determine how much faith is appropriate for a child, the case is stunning for its violation of New Hampshire's own legal precedent: the state's Supreme Court has specifically declared that "Home education is an enduring American tradition and right."

"Parents have a fundamental right to make educational choices for their children," says ADF-allied attorney John Anthony Simmons of Hampton. "In this case specifically, the court is illegitimately altering a method of education that the court itself admits is working. The court is essentially saying that the evidence shows that, socially and academically, this girl is doing great, but her religious beliefs are a bit too sincerely held and must be sifted, tested by, and mixed among other worldviews. This is a step too far for any court to take."

ADF attorneys are looking to appeal this bizarre decision in the days ahead. Please pray for their efforts, for this family, and for the many like them across America who are trying to stand for their faith against the aggressive intrusions of activist courts. Blessings,


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly -- 2009 NFL Week 4


Week 4 Update...
The Good: Colts (Peyton is going where no QB has gone before...4 300+ yard games to start season); Saints (They actually have a "D"? Their team is much Sharper); Giants (Playing like their name); Vikings (Did Favre have a big Pack chip on his shoulder?...Nah :-); Patriots (Welker is always welcome); Bengals (Doing it with mirrors? Doesn't appear to be so...just good old #85 -- gotta love him); Bears (How's that QB trade working for ya?); Broncos (How's that QB trade working for ya?); Eagles (No more byes...will the real starting QB please stand up?); 49ers ("D" playing like coach played...all out); Steelers (Not quite all the way back, but rushing Rashard might be one solution); Team "Can't Be Beat"...but for how long?

The Bad: Jets (The Sanchize comes back down to rookie reality, unfortunately); Hey Mark Clayton (Ravens) gots to make that catch; Cowboys (Time for a genuine shake up); Bills (Time to scrap the two minute ain't working); Chefs (Hate to say it...but, like the spent way too much for a 2nd string QB); Lions (Well, at least it was nice for 1 week); Seahawks (Make Peyton look, well...supernatural); Refs...(Pats vs Ravens) getting a little bit ridiculous with the protecting the QB calls...or is it flag football, now? :-)

The Ugly: Lambs (Good heavens! Thanks for the 36 fantasy points to the Niners, though ;-); Buccaneers vs Redskins (Take your pick of ugly); JaMarcus Russell (35 % to 36 % passing there's some improvement to be proud of); Commitment to HAHA Excellence Team (Time to switch from Cable to Dish); Titans (Just how bad do you miss Jim Schwartz? Your loss is Lions gain?)

The Welcome Back to 2007 Award -- Derek Anderson

Super Bowl: Still liking -- Saints vs. Colts
Stupor Bowl: Lambs vs Team That Needs to be Committed (aka...Raiders)

Blessings, Don

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Blowers IS the Swami!


There has been a lot of joking with some friends lately about prognosticating football teams and games...but nothing like what I am about to tell you. Mike Blowers, former utility infielder for the Seattle Mariners, and now, a Mariners broadcaster, offered what has to be the greatest prediction of all time -- even trumping my prediction of a couple of weeks ago that the University of Washington would beat USC. ;-) He said that newby Mariner’s infielder, Matt Tuiasosopo, (yes of THAT Tuiasosopo family) would, in his second at bat, on a 3-1 pitch, which would be a fastball, hit his first home run into the left-center field seats. You should have heard the pandemonium in the broadcast booth as Dave Niehaus made the home run call in the young man’s second at bat and on the 3-1 fastball…and yes, to left-center field. All Blowers could do was laugh. Kudos to Mr. Blowers, who now needs to quit his day job and assume his mantle as the King of Prognostication…and take it one the road. lol Blessings,