Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A message from the movie ELF

“I know him!”

One of my favorite holiday movies is Elf starring Will Ferrell. There is a scene where he is in a department store and he is informed by one of the managers that Santa is coming to the store. The character “Elf” goes nuts. He is super exited and exclaims Santa is coming Santa is coming – I know him!

He was more excited about the gift giver than the gifts he was known for.

Philippians 3:10 - That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

As we look forward to the day that we celebrate the birth of Jesus. I want you to consider the feeling of unbridled joy that you possess at the anticipation of somewhere you want to be or that someone you love that is about visit.

When the destination or the person is uncertain there is a lack of joy about the trip or the occasion. But what a difference it makes when you know!

Jesus asked his disciples who do men say that I am – Peter gave an acceptable response – not because someone told him but because he had relationship with Him – Jesus says only God Himself could reveal what peter expressed.

In the Gospel of Matthew 2:11, we read that the wise men follow a distant star to the birthplace of Jesus. At their destination they were able to see beyond the meager living arrangements and see the King. They presented themselves then presented their gifts.

I might give something nice to someone I don’t know but when I know you the gift is that much more special.

This Christmas – present your best gifts and be excited about the One you know. Make time to enjoy why we celebrate Christmas. Open your mouth, thank God, and give Him his time before you open your presents. God gave His only son as gift to the world - the least we can do is get to know Him better and give back our appreciation in return.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Am I the only parent guilty of rushing their kid when their patience is short?

If you are a parent, you fully understand that just because you clocked out of your day job that does not free you from working the rest of the day. After the day job comes the afternoon and night job called parenting.

After an exorbitantly long day, I picked my son up from school and we headed home. I was so tired, I didn’t even want to hear the radio. He decides to fully belt the theme song to his favorite television show and every children’s nursery rhyme the entire way home.

The rule is, as soon as we get home, we do homework. This night was easy. All we had was tracing and rewriting the number 12. After about eleven – twelves’ my mind prepared to file homework chapter 13.  I placed my hand over his hand and helped him swiftly complete the remaining five numbers on his paper.

As soon as we finished, he started crying. WHAT THE STUFF?!?! Mommy to the rescue picks him up and asks, “What’s wrong?” His response, “Daddy did it!” while pointing to his homework. She sits with him at the table and he points out the last five number twelves'. I’m thinking, “Hey dude, I did your homework, anyone else would be happy.” He was upset because it was his homework and he wanted to do it himself. It wasn’t that his work was insufficient; it was just taking too long for dad.  So, dad stepped in to the rescue – or so I thought.

1 Samuel 17:38-40 (NLT)
Then Saul gave David his own armor—a bronze helmet and a coat of mail. 39 David put it on, strapped the sword over it, and took a step or two to see what it was like, for he had never worn such things before.
“I can’t go in these,” he protested to Saul. “I’m not used to them.” So David took them off again. 40 He picked up five smooth stones from a stream and put them into his shepherd’s bag. Then, armed only with his shepherd’s staff and sling, he started across the valley to fight the Philistine.

When King David was only known as David the shepherd boy, he was given an opportunity to prove himself in battle against a formidable foe. Before battle the then king Saul suggested that David wear his tried and personally authenticated armor. Saul knew the strength of his armor as well as the honor of wearing the king's armor. All that little David was considering was the need to beat Goliath with what he already had.

As parents, leaders, and mentors we must be careful when guiding those who are following. There is a difference between helping and handling it for them. Yes, there is something to be said for proper instruction. However, any good teacher will tell you that the student alone must take the test. If you constantly do it for them – how will they know how to do it themselves?
Our Father, the ultimate teacher, God even does the same with us.

Deuteronomy 30:19 (NLT)
"Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!”

He shows us how to live but allows us to make choices – while He is watching over us anticipating that we will make the right decision.

Guide those who follow you. Give them instruction and show them the correct way to do things. Don’t be in such a hurry to see results that you do not allow them to grow into their potential. You are supposed to see their potential - that’s why you are the parent, leader, mentor, or guide. Show them and let them find it.

Proverbs 22:6
Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.

God gave your children a purpose before they were pulled from the womb. I challenge you to watch for what God is doing in their lives then cultivate, nurture, and celebrate them as they grow.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Who Deserves a Second Chance?

What would you do with a second chance?

Luke 23:39-43New King James Version (NKJV)
39 Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ,[a] save Yourself and us.”
40 But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said to Jesus, “Lord,[b] remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”
43 And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

On November 2nd, individuals and smartphones turned their clocks back an hour. At one time, that used to really bother me. That hour was working perfectly fine – why would anyone want to return a well-used hour?

That’s the ironic thing. Many people fail to realize the importance of a moment until it is taken away. Benjamin Franklin, who proposed that daylight saving time would allow people to take advantage of an earlier morning, originated daylight savings or Summer Time back in 1784. It was considered to be a great way to conserve energy and reduce traffic issues by allowing more illuminated evenings. November 2nd ended daylight saving time and now we return to standard time. Only two US properties do not participate in daylight savings – Hawaii and Arizona.

When I turned back my clock, a thought crossed my mind. What if we could actually turn back time? Would we do it? What would we change?

One of my favorite 80’s movies is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. A classic scene in the movie shows Cameron, Bueller’s best friend, running his dad’s classic Ferrari in reverse. Cameron was not supposed to touch the car let alone drive it. But he did, and he figured the best way to get the miles to go away was to put the car on blocks and run it in reverse. To Cameron’s demise, a foot to the hood pushed the car off the blocks, through a glass window, and into some trees behind the house.

His efforts to reverse his wrongdoing were destroyed but Cameron somehow gained a lesson in self-confidence. (You have to see the movie)

Have you ever wanted to just reverse time and erase a circumstance or situation? That’s the cool and tricky thing about life. Even if you could take back time – if it weren’t for the time you spent in that uncomfortable place, would you know the things you know or be the person you are?

Have you ever been given a second chance?

What would you do with a second chance?

The bible is full of people who were given second chances. In their moment, they would have loved to reverse time, but those moments helped define their identity and how we live.

Zacheus was a hated tax collector yet Jesus sought him out of tree and chose to dine in his home. That encounter changed Zacheus’ life and gave him a SECOND CHANCE

Peter walked on water and nearly drowned. He cried out for Christ and immediately he was not only saved but also given a SECOND CHANCE to walk on water. This time he was holding his savior’s hand. Later, Peter openly denies Christ three times after admitting that he would never turn his back on Him. Peter's life should have ended after that. But, Jesus sends a special request for Peter when He rose from the grave. (Mark 16:7)

Moses was a murderer yet that same man led the children of Israel out of the hands of Pharaoh. SECOND CHANCE.

David knowingly slept with a married woman then had her husband killed. He was known as a man after God’s heart. His crime caught up to him but God gave him a SECOND CHANCE when traditional thought says he didn’t deserve it.

It is ok to start over

2 Corinthians 5:17New King James Version (NKJV)
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

I may not know you personally but I do know that you deserve a SECOND CHANCE! Take this moment to tell God about your mistakes and ask for His forgiveness. God can help you move beyond your past and forgive you. (1 John 1:9). You can start over.

The convicted and rightly accused criminals who were crucified on either side of Christ earned a punishment. Nevertheless it was a simple request by one of them that allowed him a SECOND CHANCE. Your second chance isn’t for everyone else’s pleasure but more for your peace. It’s not too late to get right with God.

Lastly, If God is willing to give you a second chance you should give others a chance also.

Matthew 18:22New King James Version (NKJV)
22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

There is a story about Thomas A. Edison creating the “light bulb”. Thomas Edison and a team of men took 24 hours to create one bulb. When the bulb was completed, he gave it to a young man to carry up the stairs. Just as the young man reached the top, the unthinkable happened. He dropped it. It shattered. Like a true scientist, Thomas Edison went back to work. He and his team took another 24 hours to build an exact replica. The boy was absolute that he would not be chosen to carry the fragile invention again. But, Thomas Edison saw things differently and gave the boy a second chance.

If Thomas Edison can forgive that little boy and God can forgive you – whom should you forgive today?


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Trick to getting Treats!?!?

He looked beyond my faults and saw my needs!
William the Disciple :)

I remember the year my mom let me be superman for Halloween. It was a store bought blue plastic onesie with a red belt and red cape. It also had a plastic mask made to resemble Christopher Reeve - the man who played superman in the 80’s. The mask effectively covered my face but with it on it was difficult to breathe. Sometime the masks we hide behind are more strenuous than they are successful.
I was the happiest kid in the world when I wore my costume. That costume went everywhere and until it became severely mangled I wasn’t letting it go. It was a sad day when she threw it away. Halloween is a time for masks and costumes but many people wear their costumes longer than necessary. Although it may be difficult to part with your mask and costume – you life could be better without it…

What costume are you wearing? Are you sporting a (confidence) cape to conceal your (scary) yellow garment feelings? Have you donned an attitude to prevent people from really getting to know you? What would happen if people really knew who you were or how you felt? Do you even know what you really look like?

It is ok wear a cloak to help us endure but even those disguises need to be removed over time. 

Romans 5:8New Living Translation (NLT)
But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

Ephesians 2:8New Living Translation (NLT)
8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.

The interesting thing about Halloween is that children and some big kids travel from house to house disguised in all sorts of attire. The homemade costumes are the best! Despite how scary and revolting or fun and whimsical the costume there is always a reward when the door is opened.

Every house isn’t dispensing candy. However, the ones that leave the light on give a visual ok and light the path for you to knock. The great thing about Jesus is that He is the all-illuminating light.

John 8:12 (NLT)
12 Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

Even in your darkest place Jesus will provide the light to guide you out. He leaves the light on.

God is that smile behind the open door that says despite your costume and the past that you have covering your true identity I have sent my Son for you. I am looking beyond your issues and your scary faults and seeing your needs. With your mask still on He can still see your true identity and wants to bless you. God’s hand is outstretched with a gift of unending love and eternal life.  That’s grace! There isn't a trick to receiving God's grace. He values the true you and is looking forward to your knock. 

There is an incomparable true story about a gentleman who authored one of the greatest hymns ever created. John Newton was a slave ship captain during the height of slave trade from Africa to America. As a captain he understood that arriving at his destination with his cargo was paramount. He also understood that carrying dead or difficult cargo was a chore. If any of the slaves who were stacked and crammed on his ships were to die or become demanding during transport he would dispense of them. Many men and women were beaten and killed at his command and hands. But, it wasn’t just him, many captains and slave traders brutally killed individuals during that time. After a while, this barbaric life weighed on him and he sought God. He could not bring any one back from what he had done but he was profusely apologetic. The blood was on his and many others. Only divine grace could restore him. It was in his God-forgiven and Christ-washed state that he wrote:

“Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
was blind, but now I see.”

I challenge you to observe your outfit. Has your momentary mask/cloak been made permanent? Is it tattered and worth of refuse? Have you been struggling to survive behind your mask? There is someone behind a door waiting for you to knock. He is holding you healing, cleansing, redeeming, encouraging, and uplifting gifts. All of the gifts are in your “favor”-ite flavor. If you are willing to knock for candy despite how you’re dressed – will you knock for what you really need despite how you look/feel?

Lastly, there is a song written by Dottie Rembo that further articulates the AMAZING GRACE God freely gives…

I shall forever lift mine eyes to Calvary,
to view the cross where Jesus died for me,
how marvelous the grace that caught my falling soul;
He looked beyond my fault and saw my need.

- Dottie Rembo

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Ridin duuuuuuuuuurtay!

Trying to catch me riding dirty!

Romans 13:3-4 (MSG)

Do you want to be on good terms with the government? Be a responsible citizen and you’ll get on just fine, the government working to your advantage. But if you’re breaking the rules right and left, watch out. The police aren’t there just to be admired in their uniforms. God also has an interest in keeping order, and he uses them to do it. That’s why you must live responsibly – not just to avoid punishment but also because it’s the right way to live.

Let me start by saying that every person carries a certain amount of preconceived notions daily. The circumstances they endure are educated on, and experience as apart of their everyday environment contribute to their mindset. Every police officer is not perfect nor is every citizen. However, there must be order and adherence to instruction.

One Sunday, I was eager to arrive early for church. Everything seemed right that day. It was like a scene from The Sound of Music. The sun was shining, birds were singing, and people were waving. I had my worship music playing as I exited the garage and headed to church. I turned on the street in front of my house and made it to the first stop light. The light was red - I stopped. I also 9remember really enjoying whatever worship song was on the radio. This was the perfect day!

The light turned green and as I accelerated through the light a police officer passed me headed the opposite direction. I looked in my rear view mirror just to see what he was doing or where he was going. (Don’t tell me I’m the only one that checks when an officer drives past) Then it happened. He turned on the flashing lights atop the squad car and turned around. My pulse raced, my heart jumped in my throat, as a rush of thoughts filled my head. 

Given everything that has happened in the news lately – I was uncertain what to expect. Am I being singled out? What could I have possibly done wrong? I checked my seatbelt, looked at my speedometer, and questioned the volume of my music. He pulled up right behind me and motioned me to pull over. Once stopped, I took the keys out of the ignition, turned on my hazard lights, checked my seat belt again, and started reaching for all of my credentials.

The officer, of a different ethnicity, approached my car and asked for my driver’s license and insurance. Then he explained that he pulled me over because my registration sticker was expired. This officer must be related to Robocop. How did he see that while passing me? He then asked me why was it expired. I had to be honest and said, “Sir, I travel a lot for work and have not had a moment to get it done.” Then came my excuses, “I work with kids, I work at a church, I’m headed to church, I am going to get it fixed.” He went back to his car and came back with a warning and a, “Don’t be late to see the big man!” It was like a mutual respect. He had to do his job and he wanted me to be safe on the way to my job.

Here’s what I learned:

1. If we never get stopped or challenged about our wrong deeds will we ever cease making bad decisions? I did not enjoy being pulled over for my inspection sticker but honestly it was beyond the grace period. Getting another sticker was not a priority. How long will you keep falling before you make right standing your standard?

2. Respect is paramount. It would have been deleterious to argue with the officer about him making me late for church or how he was potentially ruining the start to my day. He is just doing his job. I was wrong and deserved to be stopped. 70% of arguments occur from how something was perceived and 30% occur from how it was said. (Cumby university statistics).

3. Live responsibly. Authority is not just the individuals who carry a badge. Take ownership of your actions and strive to make good decisions that not only please God but also are in order - which will give a good example to others.