Sunday, November 30, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Anyone who knows me knows that I talk a lot about being thankful. It's not just something to think about because you're a Christian. Because you're a Christian - it's what you are - a thankful person. Thankfulness may be the single most important element in our walk with God. I know - you're shouting, "What about love?" That truly is the bottom line of our whole journey to God, but I would simply ask, can you learn to love without being thankful? Thankfulness is the foundation of every spiritual quality that we need to grow in. As I've said many times, we can't grow any higher spiritually, than our level of thankfulness. It's the foundation of our relationship with God (and any growing relationship for that matter). Thankfulness toward God means seeing His hand in everything that happens around us and to us. It gives us the sense of His presence that we must have in a relationship of faith. It's the cornerstone of our communication with Him as we thank Him for so much each day. In one sense, thankfulness is communication with God. Who are you thanking if you're thankful for something. Thankfulness is the secret to dealing with life's hardships and problems. Only a thankful life can see the big picture of how much the blessings have over-powered the problems. A thankful life doesn't expect more, demand "why?", or feel like God "owes" them anything. A thankful life treasures every day, enjoys it, lives in peace, and longs to be with the Father for eternity - whether that day comes sooner or later.
Here's that challenge. Most of us think we are thankful people, but we're really not. We are, what I call, situationally thankful and not attitudinally thankful. We appreciate it when good things happen, but we haven't made the decision to see the thousand daily little things that God does that we need to be thankful for. It's a choice. We can start right now to be thankful for everything that's around us, and we will immediately start looking at life, at relationships, and at eternity completely different. Then we will have Thanksgiving 365 days a year.
Monday, November 24, 2008
I love discovering a new author to read. Randy Alcorn isn't new, but he is to me, and I need to thank David Judd for bringing me the above book to read. I generally prefer for someone to just recommend a book. When they hand it to you, you feel a greater obligation to make sure you read it. As it happened, I was just finishing up reading through The Shack for the second time so I could mark it up, and I was ready for another night time book. I immediately enjoyed Alcorn's writing style, and I especially loved his main character in the book, who is telling the story. His sarcasm, comedic cynicism, and quick wit are a joy to read. Those of you who enjoy such things, and see yourselves being described in like manner, will love this. It is one of the best murder mysteries I've ever read, and it all involves cops - at least one of whom seems to be the killer (I don't want to give anything away). It has all the excitement, turns and twists, of a Grisham novel, with the humorous flow of a Nelson DeMille work like The Gold Coast. There is a nicely done sub-plot of his friends talking to him about God, Jesus, the problem of pain and suffering, and some interesting comments from loved ones watching from heaven. It's not heavy discussions, but just an ongoing friend to friend debate, and concern for his emotional and psychological well-being as he blames God for taking his wife and others. He is a riveting character. Part redneck, part scholar, lover of dime detective novels and Sherlock Holmes. His family consists of a huge dog that eats everything he eats, and a large collection of firearms that he has stashed everywhere. You've never read a murder mystery with as many unexpected twists, potential suspects, and pure surprises at this. It's a wonderful page-turner, beautifully written, with clean language, no sex scenes, and some interesting characters that you will want to know more about.
Deception follows two earlier novels that are about the two close friends the main character has in the book. I can't wait to get them. So check it out of the library, buy a copy, or borrow this one from David. You'll love it. Just be ready to have a hard time putting it down.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Most of my reflection in the class has to do with what kind of dad I WAS not what kind of dad I missed out on. Dr. Lewis has been strongly making the point that there are three essential things that every child needs to hear from their dad. 1) I love you; 2) I'm proud of you; and 3) You're good at... (some strength or affirmation). I love tight - three point lessons, but this is one I learned before our first child was born. Our children heard all three of these often from both of us, and the truth is, we've never stopped saying it - we've just added grand children to the mix.
So maybe, when my three adult kids sit in a class some day and are challenged to confront their "Father Wounds" - they'll feel free to reflect on something else, unless you count making them listen to "Oldies" music all the time as psychological abuse.
If you haven't heard of those three "essentials" for every child to hear from their dad, jot them down somewhere and use them - and share them.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
In tomorrows lesson on 2 Thessalonians 3:6-18, where Paul warns them about idleness and how to deal with brethren who are guilty, I was impressed with his unspoken Bottom Line. I wonder if it was on Paul's outline somewhere. The reason it's unspoken is because it's the foundation Bottom Line for most of what our spiritual journey is all about. Be a giver not a taker.
Those who were idle at Thessalonica, or anywhere for that matter, are takers. They want everyone else to take care of their needs, make them feel good, give them what they want, sing their kind of songs, pay for all the costs, and demand nothing in return. They probably even used some doctrinal arguments about the Lord coming back at any moment to justify their non-actions.
Look at that description again. Not only does that describe a lot of folks in the church today, but because of our obsession with, and elevation of, the assembly, it's why so many congregations are having worship wars all across the country. When you put a bunch of takers together, the goal becomes comfort, predictability, and security. They don't want to hear about relationships, giving, love, truth, and transformation. Their Bottom Line: "If I don't get what I want, I'll find a place that will give me what I want. And I can even quote you some verses from the Bible to prove my point!"
Paul's command to the church was to quit enabling those idle brethren. If they don't work, they don't eat! I think his Bottom Line was - do what you have to do to help them go from being takers to becoming givers.
I wonder...how many congregations are run by the takers rather than the givers? Givers see opportunities to give. Takers are all about receiving. Remember which one Jesus said was "blessed"?
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
It was a cold, but still, 27 degrees when I began walking to my stand. I could tell it was going to be a beautiful morning even though it was still dark. I did, however, make a big mistake by hiking with my heavy coat and coveralls on instead of carrying them to the stand and then putting them on. I was dripping with sweat by the time I climbed into my stand and that's a good way to insure getting cold real quick. Within thirty minutes, I was cool, but a little buck coming down the hill to my left got the blood pumping again and it never had a chance to slow down. He was a little 1x2 and he ate down the hill on my left, stopping for long minutes to look all around, circled below me, grazed off to my right, only to reappear a few minutes later and come up the hill on my right. Thirty minutes of close deer watching and I wasn't busted. Ten minutes later, a small spike came up the hill on my left - oh so slowly - and just stood ten yards away looking all around. Another fun watch w/o being seen. I was spoiled by then so when 45 minutes went by with no sightings, I decided to try some "hunting stuff". I used my doe bleat and grunt tube to simulate a buck chasing a doe in heat. I barely put it back into my back pack when the BIG BOY came trotting in. I mean big! Not a "nice buck" like you say about a good 8 or ten pointer. This guy was "nice" like Bill Gates "has some money". He was standing 45 yards away before I could react. I grabbed my bow, though I wanted desperately to use my binoculars, but I didn't dare. He stood tall and proud, looking all around for the noise makers, and when he didn't see them, he immediately turned and trotted away. That's how big bucks get to be big bucks. He knew that if he didn't see what he thought he heard, something was wrong.
BE STILL MY HEART! He was the kind of buck you dream about but never see live in your life time.
Two more little bucks entertained me for awhile after that. A really tiny spike and a little 7 pointer, both stood ten yards away eyeing all around - including my tree and - in 15 minutes - never saw me. I literally had my left hand up over my face to break up the white showing between my nose and hat. Later, when I hiked out, I found over a dozen fresh buck rubs. Ah - what works of art.
Before I got out of my car as I pulled into my garage, the IL landowner called me to tell me he saw a huge buck run through the field behind his house at 12:30 in the afternoon. In the house, there was a phone message from Danny Younger saying he had a huge 8 pointer standing in his driveway when he came home for lunch.
"Did you get anything?"
A day in God's outdoors and loads of memories? Yes, I got something.
Saturday, November 08, 2008
With Donna down visiting her folks, after finding out that her Dad's cancer has returned, this picture made me think about her. I miss seeing her at this computer playing her favorite game - Solitaire. I know that they are glad to have her there for a few days, but that is one of the things that makes Donna so special. Everyone likes to have her around. I've known a lot of people in my fifty-seven years, but I know no one who is as genuinely positive and chronically happy as Donna Sue Root. A big part of that comes from her genes. So, while I pray for her to have a safe trip and to return soon, I continue to pray for her parents. I couldn't have had better in-laws if I'd picked them out of a catalogue. They are dearly loved by children, grand children, and great grand children, and all of us who came into the family after a marriage ceremony. I've been blessed so much to be part of the Curtis family for nearly thirty-six years now - and God "aint done yet"!
Thursday, November 06, 2008
He will be my President - not a party leader, but my President! And I wish him success, because I want our country to have success. I will pray for him, like I have for every one of my Presidents since I started praying. I pray that as he helps to build national and international pride in America, he will help our nation rebuild a strong sense of values and integrity.
I am thankful for President Bush. I truly believe that he is a good man and that history will show him to be a far more effective President than the popular polls do now. I personally believe that his biggest mistake was poor public relations more than poor leadership. Nevertheless, if Obama can help heal our nation and unite the divisive partisanship that has been growing for twenty years - may God help and bless him, and may all of us support him.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Saturday, November 01, 2008
I've been studying 2 Thessalonians 2 all week and trying to decide how to preach it Sunday morning. This is one of the toughest passages in all the New Testament to understand. It talks about the Second Coming not happening until after the great rebellion or apostasy and it has a long condemnation of the "man of lawlessness" Who is, or was, that guy? The opinions are Legion, and there's more comparisons there than I have time to make. I've heard plenty of Bible teachers (especially from my early years as a young Christian) declare that it was the Pope. Others say it was a Caesar, or all of them. There are many ideas - most, like the way Revelation is interpreted, are conclusions based on the "it fits" approach to figuring out the Bible. It fits? How many JFK theories are based on "It fits"?
Paul clearly says this was a subject they had talked about when he was with them. Since it's a personal letter to the same people, there is no need to explain who and what he is talking about. So here's a novel theory - we don't know! Why is that so hard for us to live with? This speaks to how and why we study God's Word. It's not about figuring out puzzles but seeking the spiritual principles. Paul's principle is: quit trying to be in control of the future. Trust God! I've got four education degrees and thirty-five years of preaching/teaching/studying experience and I'm totally comfortable saying "I don't know." It sure makes for a short discussion of Revelation, Ezekiel, and 2 Thessalonians 2.
That being said - the "Man of Sin," the "Man of Lawlessness," and the "Anti-Christ" is Darth Vader. It fits.