More Questions

Time for some more questions. Periodically I turn the subject matter for our Impact! youth group over to the students. It’s their time to fire away with the questions on their mind. I love answering questions because answering them helps me learn more too.

So now’s the time to get your question(s) in. You can get them to me in a few ways:

  • Leave a comment on this blog post.
  • Contact me via Twitter.
  • Contact me via Facebook.
  • Or if you want to remain anonymous, there’s a drop box at the church.

 

Let The Christmas Spending Frenzy Begin

All over America today, Black Friday kicked off a month-long, mad-dash, consumer-feeding frenzy. A race to see who can spend the most money on the most toys and gadgets to give away at Christmas.

Oops, did I say Christmas?!? <Gasp!> Maybe I should have said holidays. Yes, indeed, the Consumer’s Delight Holiday Season. At least that’s what it feels more and more with every passing year. First of all, retail stores have a hard time even saying Merry Christmas, let alone promoting the meaning of Christmas. And then there’s this notion—even among those that are willing to say Christmas—that this is the season of buying.

I think I’m feeling a little rebellious today. If you’d like to join me in rocking the popular-mindset boat a little, if you’d like to take back Christmas, if you’d like to return the focus to CHRISTmas, check out a couple of these resources, and let’s talk.

Give This Christmas Away. Great book by Matthew West on some great ways to focus on Christ at CHRISTmas.

Advent Conspiracy. A great CHRISTmas gift that will literally change (or save) someone’s life.

One Day’s Wages. Use their calculator to see how far just one day of your annual earnings can go.

If you’ve got any other resources or thoughts on this CHRISTmas season, please share them.

Merry CHRISTmas!

Lest We Forget

Days set aside for giving thanks to God have been observed throughout the history of our great nation. But in 1863 in the midst of Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln designated an annual Thanksgiving Day. Lest we not forget, our first and greatest thanks should be to God from Whom all blessings flow. A portion of President Lincoln’s proclamation reads:

“No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.

You can read the full text of President Lincoln’s proclamation here, or for those of you who would rather listen to the proclamation, enjoy the video version.

Make today “a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father.”

Serious Fun

I believe of all people, Christ-followers should be able to do the most serious of work, but those who are in love with Jesus ought to be able to have the most fun too, as they enjoy the fullness of that relationship.

We proved this yesterday.

My loving congregation donated food for us to bless some needy people with Thanksgiving groceries. We then contacted our local elementary school to ask if they could recommend a couple of needy families to us. They did, but “needy” might be a major understatement. It was a joy to be able to deliver all of the Thanksgiving fixin’s to them, but heart-breaking to see the conditions in which they were living. I pray that this simple act of compassion will help open a door for further ministry opportunities.

Then we met with our Impact youth group for some serious fun (pictures are here). We had a carnival-like atmosphere with wild-and-messy games going on everywhere. I loved seeing our students dive into (sometimes literally) these fun events. It wasn’t just the students: Betsy challenged me to a pie-eating contest. And let’s just say, apparently I have a bigger mouth than she does!

It’s great to address the serious conditions that surround us, and we should do so with love and hope. And it’s just as wonderful to have some fun. I believe that people who get stuck on either extreme are missing out on the fullness of a Christ-centered life.

I hope you have a seriously fun Thanksgiving celebration. And not just on Thursday this week, but all year long.

Thanksgiving Challenge

 

Yesterday I began a two-part series at Calvary Assembly of God sandwiched around Thanksgiving Day. The series is simply called Thanks and is based on the premise that thankfulness is the soil for healthy growth.

Have you ever grown a garden? If you have, you know that even though you plant the best seeds in the best soil, if you simply leave it unattended, weeds will find their way into your well-manicured garden. If you leave your garden unattended for long enough, the weeds will eventually take over.

It’s just as true for our minds. We can cultivate the best soil in our minds and plant only the finest seeds. But if we do nothing more, the weeds will take over and eventually choke out anything good that was growing there.

A spirit of continual thankfulness will keep the soil free from the choking weeds. But pulling out weeds by our thankfulness must be a continual process. So I gave our church the 365/730/1095 challenge.

Start a thanksgiving journal. If you just write down one unique thing every day for which you are thankful, you will have recorded 365 things in a year. More challenging: write down two things every day, or even—are you brave enough to attempt this?—three things every day. If you find two things each day, you will have 730 weed busters by the end of the year, or three items will give you 1095 weed busters.

Are you ready for the challenge?

I’m going to attempt to find three unique things each day for the next year. I hope this is encouraging to you, and I hope you will accept the 365/730/1095 challenge too.

Simply Profound

This morning I went to “Donuts With Dad” with my youngest son. It’s a time for Dads to bring their kids to school, grab a donut, and then walk around the school with their child. It was so cool seeing how excited my son was for me to be there with him!

We sat in his classroom to eat our donut, then he gave me the grand tour: the library, the computer lab, the lunchroom, the art room, and the gym. So simple, yet so important to him.

Earlier in the morning on my way to drop off my older children at their school, we were reading this passage in Colossians:

It’s that simple. That is the substance of our Message. We preach Christ, warning people not to add to the Message. We teach in a spirit of profound common sense so that we can bring each person to maturity. To be mature is to be basic. Christ! No more, no less. That’s what I’m working so hard at day after day, year after year, doing my best with the energy God so generously gives me.

So I’ve been thinking: if the simple things are the joy-filled things, why do we insist on making things so complicated in our Christian faith? We tell God’s children, “To be in a relationship with God you must do thus-and-so, and you must do it this many times each week, and you must do it this way.”

Must, must, must.

Complex rule after convoluted rule after antiquated rule. Why not simply say, “Love God will all that you’ve got. Just love Him in the unique way He made you to love Him”?

There’s great joy in simplicity. There is a profoundness in simplicity.

Here’s to a simpler walk with Christ!

Give This Christmas Away (book review)

Matthew West wrote Give This Christmas Away based on two simple questions: What if December looked different this year? What if we all just give this Christmas away?

If you are becoming as frustrated as I am with the over-commercialization of Christmas, this book is like a breath of crisp, clean winter air. Matthew West gives us “101 simple and thoughtful ways” to truly focus on the reason for the Christmas season. This is a great book for your family to read together. It will help you begin a meaningful discussion of what Christmas truly means.

I anticipate that this book will become a seasonal classic: with families pulling it out each year as they begin to decorate for Christmas. The ideas in here are simple and easy to put into practice. Just reading this book will open your eyes to numerous possibilities. And if you happen to think of idea number 102 and beyond, log onto the Give This Christmas Away website to share your idea.

I highly recommend this book to your family.

I am a Tyndale House book reviewer.

The Soil Of Thanks

This Sunday we kick off a two-part series around Thanksgiving. I know it’s a day we celebrate once per year, but thankfulness is also the soil that grows excellent things in our lives. Come and join us at 10:30 AM on November 22 and November 29. And in the meantime, start counting your blessings.

Respected Mentor

 

Last week I was listening to an interview with former Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy on the Catalyst podcast. In this interview, he had some amazing things to say about his relationship with Michael Vick.

Then this evening I opened up the latest issue of Sports Spectrum, and in the opening article, I read some more about the relationship between Coach Dungy and Vick.

In his Catalyst interview Coach Dungy said, “I felt like I let Michael down. Our schedules never coordinated for us to spend a day fishing. If I would have been able to spend a day with him, perhaps it would have come up in conversation about some of the poor decisions he was making. If I had the time to spend with him, maybe I could have given him some counsel that would have helped him make a different decision.” Wow!

Then Sports Spectrum reports that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell allowed Michael Vick to be reinstated into the league only on the condition that Tony Dungy would be Vick’s mentor. “Michael needs that right now,” Goodell said, “And I’ve asked Tony Dungy to play a more formal role on my behalf, but also on Michael’s behalf, to serve as a mentor to Michael and help him and guide him through some very difficult decisions he’s going to have to make going forward.”

So I’m thinking…

  • Would I put my reputation on the line for someone like Michael Vick? Would you?
  • Would someone even think to ask me to be his mentor?

I hope that you and I are both willing to mentor others, and that others will give us the chance to do so.

I Am What I Think I Am

Years ago I read a book that transformed the way I read and studied. This one book probably caused me to become a more discriminating reader than any other factor. Although it’s less than 50 pages long, As A Man Thinketh by James Allen revolutionized my thinking. Over the last couple of days, I’ve been listening to the audiobook as I have been driving around.

Here’s a quote from James Allen:

A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts. … A noble and Godlike character is not a thing of favor or chance, but is the natural result of continued effort in right thinking, the effect of long-cherished association with Godlike thoughts.”

This is what the Bible says about the seeds of great thoughts:

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”

What are you thinking about today? What’s going in? You are making yourself by what you are thinking, so choose those thought-stimulators wisely.

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