Shocker Nation

00PaperBagFanFair-weather fans can hardly be called true blue supporters. They’re in your corner as long as you are winning, but quickly boo you when things go wrong. I’ve thought about this since the Shockers made it to the Final Four last season.

Shortly after the advent of coach Marshall and his winning ways, Shocker memorabilia became a hot item. People proudly wear their wheat shock shirts, paint their finger nails in school themed colors, and adorn their cars with Wichita State bumper stickers.

These are some of the same people who wore paper sacks over their heads just a few years ago. Fickle fans they are.

I’m glad that fickle and fair-weather never sketch the image of God—It is the broad brush of faithfulness that paints His portrait.

Paul focused on the faithfulness of God, when he wrote his letter to the Romans: “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword . . . Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Think about four words in the verses above: God is for us. To really grasp this truth, we need to move from the plural “us” to the singular “you.” God is for you!

I want you to say this spine-tingling, goose-bump generating truth aloud three times. Each time you say it emphasize a different word:

1. GOD is for me. The God of Heaven and Earth and the Creator of the world is for you.

2. God IS for me. Right now at this exact moment, God is for you. It is not that He has been in the past; might hopefully be in the future; but, tick-tock, in this present tense second of your life God is for you.

3. God is for ME. God is with you in a very personal way. He has even written your name on His hands (Isaiah 49:16).

God is not fickle, nor is He a fair-weather fan. Even when you’re the last one to cross the finish line, He is still waiting on you and cheering you on—“You can do it,” He shouts with pride.

You will never see Him in the bleachers with a paper sack over His head. Instead, He is there shouting: “That’s My son, that’s My daughter. Can you see the resemblance? They’re from the royal family and children of the King.”

Say, it one more time: GOD IS FOR ME!

Psalm 37 or Scripture Guitar-Players Hate

There are three times in Psalm 37 where we are told that we should not play the guitar. This statement is supported by the three words found in verses 1, 7, and 8: Do not fret.

If you notice the diagramed picture of the guitar, Fret-Diagram2you can see that frets are an important part of a guitar. To be a skilled guitar player, the musician finds fretting to be an essential.

Well, I guess it’s time to let the guitar-players off the hook. The fret on a guitar is a noun, and the word “fret” as used in this Psalm is a verb.

Fretting, as used in Psalm 37, is the idea of a smoldering worry or anger that becomes a consuming blaze. You probably know someone who frets over most decisions or every item of life in general. They are consumed by anxious attitudes and worry.

In this Psalm, David gives Five Facts to Free us from Fretting:

Fact #1: Trust in the Lord, and do good” (Psalm 37:3). This is a heads and tails coin-like approach: Heads is the intellectual side of the coin that involves trust (Psalm 118:8-9). The flip-side of the coin is tails and it is the practical aspect of doing good (Romans 12:21).

Remember this as TRUSTING and TASKING. The trusting is an attitude and the tasking is an action. The moments of worry are managed by the movements of your heart, hands, and feet as you do begin the task of doing good.

Fact#2: “Delight thyself also in the Lord” (Psalm 37:4). It is impossible to be a delight-er and a fright-er at the same time. The idea in the Hebrew is to pamper yourself in God, and this accomplished by polishing the heart with the principles of God’s word (Matthew 6:33).

Fact #3: “Commit thy way unto the Lord” (Psalm 37:5). This is the decision to “choose the way of truth (Psalm 119:30-33).” To follow this thought, contrast the commitment of Demas in Colossians 4:14 and 2 Timothy 4:10.

Fact #4: “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him” (Psalm 37:7). The prophet Zechariah captured the meaning of this when he said: “Let all people be silent before the Lord, for He is coming from His holy dwelling (Zechariah 2:13).” Focus your thoughts on the majestic power of God and not on the circumstances of life.

Fact #5: “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath” (Psalm 37:8). The idea is to turn from the burn. Make the conscious decision to focus your attention on something else. FRET

As I’ve said before, I like to read The Message for its devotional value. Notice how it phrases this verse: “Bridle your anger, trash your wrath, cool your pipes—it only makes things worse. Before long the crooks will be bankrupt; God-investors will soon own the store.”

You can grasp the principles of Psalm 37 by becoming verb-conscious and embracing the relationship as seen in the graphic to the left.

Reference Points

ar-poi-buffalo-national-river-afEver been lost? Ever been up a creek without a paddle? I can answer “yes” to both of these questions, and I learned from both experiences.

Since the time I broke a paddle running a series of rapids, a spare one is now strapped to my canoe; and, whenever I venture into unknown territories, I now take a compass—cell phones are useless in remote areas. bfnr

“It was Solomon who said: There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death (Proverbs 16:25).”

I know there is spiritual significance to the words of Solomon, but from my wilderness experiences I can say there is quite a bit of practical wisdom as well.

Studies have shown that people really do walk in circles when they get lost. Without the sun or moon as a fixed reference point, people unknowingly veer either to left or right and walk in circles of a few yards in diameter.
Early pioneers relied on reference points like the point of rocks found on the open flat prairies west of Dodge City. This sandstone formation can be seen from a great distance, and it was used as a reference point by wagon trains that were headed for the Santa Fe Territory.

The Apostle Paul used goals as reference points, and he was determined to “run straight toward the goal to win the prize that God’s heavenly call offers in Christ Jesus.”

What is the reference point that guides you down the path of life? Is fixed and reliable, or is it ever-changing and unreliable? This Or That Way Directions On A Signpost The most reliable reference point I’ve found is Jesus, and He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

Learning to Fail or Failing to Learn

asmanthinksWe can either learn from our failures or fail to learn. I’ve seen some people who gave their best and failed, and from that point forward they never made any effort to try again. Think about the persistence of Edison who saw his life experiences as a learning lab: “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

Some of the main characters of the Bible, were close to success, but allowed their failure to define them:
• Abraham lied on several occasions.
• Moses had a fit of anger that kept him from entering the Promised Land.
• King Saul became so self-important that he engaged in work reserved for only a priest.
• Samson could subdue anything except his own desires.
• King David engaged in an adulterous affair.
• Peter failed time after time

The difference in the lives of these people is that some of them learned from their failures and took corrective action: The others failed to learn.

Edison also said that, “Failure is really a matter of conceit. People don’t work hard because, in their conceit, they imagine they’ll succeed without ever making an effort. Most people believe that they’ll wake up some day and find themselves rich. Actually, they’ve got it half right, because eventually they do wake up.”

As I think of Edison’s equation, I’m reminded of Paul’s words: “Knowing the time, it is already the hour for you to wake up from sleep, for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is nearly over, and the daylight is near, so let us discard the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light (Romans 13).”

Wake up to this fact: Today can be a day that you can learn from your failures, or you fail to learn. One is an attitude of strength, and the other is an attitude of weakness; and, as Edison said: “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is to try just one more time.”

How about giving life another chance and trying one more time.

Imitate Me

indexI have a thought or two that I would like to share with you, and I hope they are worth remembering. In Hebrews 13:7-8, there is a challenge to, “remember your leaders who have spoken God’s word to you. As you carefully observe the outcome of their lives, imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

This is a Triple A (AAA) section of Scripture, that has some great principles for us:

• The admonition is not to forget but to remember: Is there congruence between the words and actions of the leaders and the principles of God’s Word?
• The advice is to scrutinize their lives: A marathon is not won in a charismatic lap but through the discipline of the miles.
• The action to obey: Imitate their faith.

I’m hopeful that this thought will keep you thinking: What would the world be like if everyone imitated your faith?

One Arm Bandits

1_ARM_BANDITI appreciate one arm bandits. I say this, not because I am casino-crazed, but because I am trash-truck-thankful.

Before I went to bed last night I performed my Wednesday night ritual of emptying all of the smaller trash containers into the larger trash bags. These bags were then carried outside and the recyclables were placed by the street. The nonredeemable trash was placed in the big blue bin where it awaits the arrival of the one arm bandit thing this morning.

Because it is unpleasant and smelly, people usually don’t hoard trash. The same can’t be said in regard to our moral shortcomings, ethical lapses. We’re orderly in the way we deal with our physical trash, but neglectfully forget our spiritual garbage.

I’ll stop before I raise too much of a stink and give you the verse that got me to think: If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us (I John 1:8-10).

Ever thought about Jesus as a one arm bandit who will remove your sin?

1,440 Chances

posnegThis is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice in it and be glad. These words from the Psalms were written thousands of years ago, but they are still relevant today.
“This is the day” means “today” is the day God has given to each of us. What will you do this this gift from Heaven? You have 24 hours to carefully unwrap this precious gift. What will you do with the 1,440 minutes of opportunity that is yours to use.

Why not take a few of those minutes to review your life, and how you have used it since Sunday morning. What do you remember from the sermon about David’s Walk with God? Have you applied the principles of David’s life to your life?

How many of your minutes have been used to “rejoice and be glad,” or have you wasted the precious seconds rehashing old news and repeating gossip?

I think Randy Pausch (The Last Lecture) gives us some valuable insight into the best way to spend the moments of life: If you took one-tenth the energy you put into complaining and applied it to solving the problem, you’d be surprised by how well things can work out… Complaining does not work as a strategy. We all have finite time and energy. Any time we spend whining is unlikely to help us achieve our goals. And it won’t make us happier.”

It was Ralph Waldo Emerson who said: “This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.”

So what should we do with today and every future day of our lives? Wouldn’t it be wise to try to find the good in every person, situation, and moment of life?

It has been said that hurting people hurt people. This leads me to ask: What do helping and healing people do?

We are the face of Jesus to the world and to El Dorado. When people hear us talk and they observe our walk, what do they see? Is it a person who is using their gift of 1,440 minutes to rejoice and be glad?

Buyer’s Remorse

???????????????????????????????????????? Have yoou ever bought something and then regretted the purchase or made a decision and later wished you had chosen a different path or direction? Instances such as these are called buyer’s remorse.

You have probably heard of the Borden Dairy company and may have drank milk from their dairy farms. You may not, however, be familiar with the story of this famous families son, William Borden.

Like most kids who graduate from high school, William was given a present–his was a cruise around the world. While on his trip, William wrote home and told his parents that he thought God was calling him to be a missionary. After his return home, William enrolled in Yale and graduated four years later.

Before he left Yale, William gave away his personal wealth, and he wrote two words in the flyleaf of his bible: “No Reserves.”

Later, when decided to go to China as a missionary, William wrote two more words in the flyleaf of his Bible: “No Retreat.”

While en route to China, his ship stopped in Egypt, and William was stricken with cerebral meningitis and died within 3 weeks. A short time later his family was looking at his precious Bible and found two more words had been written in the flyleaf: “No regrets.”

Like the Apostle Paul, William had stepped away from worldly acclaim and wealth to walk the missionary path of life. Paul spoke of his own decision when he wrote to the church at Philippi: What things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ (Philippians 3:4-14).

No reserves, no retreat, no regrets, are, I believe, six words that should be considered when we think of the decisions and actions of Jesus. There was no buyers remorse when He purchased us by His death on the cross.

Our Neighbors to the North

When Paul wrote to the Christians at Thessalonica, he told them to pray without ceasing.  I have felt that Paul was speaking about an attitude of pray in contrast to actual prayer.  Obviously, it would be difficult to literally pray without ceasing.

Ed Stetzer has reported some interesting findings about Canadian Christians and their prayer lives:

Among 1,068 Canadian adults who go to church at least once a month:

  • 29% say they set aside time daily to pray.
  • 22% say they pray at a set time a few times a week.
  • 18% say they rarely or never set aside time for prayer.
  • 55% say they pray at the spur of the moment throughout the day.

I guess the real question to consider is this:  Am I more apt to cease without praying or to pray without ceasing?

I encourage you to read Stetzer’s article, New Research: Survey Says Spiritual Maturity comes Through Intentionality.