Sunday, September 14, 2014

WARNING!!!

A few days ago I was having breakfast with a friend. We were talking about preachers and preaching styles and how they vary according to one's calling and purpose. Pastors preach/teach differently than evangelists or revivalists. And while we all have our different personal styles of delivering a message, our source is (or at least is supposed to be) the same.

We have the teacher, the encourager, the exhorter, the motivator. We remind one another of how we are to live according to the Bible and how we are to love our fellowman. There are many methods and ways used to communicate the message of the Bible.

However, there seems to be a type of messenger that is missing today:

The one that declares the coming danger.

I'm not saying that we should be on street corners with our "world is coming to an end" signs. I'm not typically a gloom and doom type of messenger.
And while there are certainly many that believe we are in the final days or living out the end times, I'm not sure I believe that is the case.

What I do know is that our days are limited. Whether we die of the natural aging process and live out many decades of life, or meet our end through illness or an accident, nobody gets out of this alive. If death is simply the end of life and nobody can avoid it, then a warning about what is already certain seems pointless. But if there is something on the other side that is dependent on how we live in this life, then perhaps a warning is in order.

So...
Is there an afterlife?
Does this afterlife consist of a heaven and a hell?
If so, how does one get into heaven and avoid hell?

It may be that most people are so wrapped up in their current life and so secure in their own goodness that they either haven't considered what happens after death or figure that they're doing okay.

I know plenty of good people that believe that the scales will balance on the side of good and their eternal souls will be okay. I'm not sure of the source of their end times theology, but it doesn't match with the teaching of the Bible. The thing is, most of them would tell you that they believe in the God of the Bible--and because they believe themselves to be good people, surely God won't send them to hell.

I don't know if you're one of those people or not. Maybe you know the things you need to know and yet you postpone living for Jesus or sharing the truth of the Gospel with your kids. Maybe baseball, football, hockey, band, school, and life have become the priorities of life and you'll find time for God and the things of God later. Perhaps, we've come to think of tomorrow as an entitlement and will settle our eternal future on the coming tomorrow.

Today, I am sounding the bell of warning!
The end is near! If you have seen your last sunset, are you ready to meet your eternity? What about your kids or your loved ones?
What do you think it takes to get into heaven?
Where do you find that information and is it reliable?

These are all questions that are worthy of a well considered answer.

If you are a follower of Jesus and believe that heaven is only available through Him, will you share that belief with someone today? Or are you content to let those around you go through life without knowing what you believe about heaven and hell? Would you have your friends go to hell simply because you failed to share what you believe? Because you failed to warn them?

If you are a follower of Jesus (a Christian), would you join me in sounding a warning?
Let's make sure that we are sharing the Gospel of salvation by grace, through faith in Jesus.

If you are not a follower of Jesus and are uncertain of what's next, feel free to call or e-mail me with your questions. My contact info is available in the right column of this blog.

John <><


Monday, September 01, 2014

Another Step Towards Going Green

In an effort to continue to reduce the size of the carbon footprint that I'm making on the Earth, I'm considering a reel lawn mower for my suburban sized yard. I'm past the point of needing a new mower as the gasoline powered unit is limping along and may make it to the end of this mowing season...or not. It's a little embarrassing mowing the lawn as it makes its sputtering sounds while working its way through the task of cutting my grass.

I was considering an electric mower but started thinking that with a relatively flat lawn and small size, why not go completely powerless and provide the power myself?

I'm wondering...
What are some of the ways that you are reducing your carbon footprint?

A little less air conditioning?
Walking or biking for short errands?
A more fuel efficient vehicle?
Eating less red meat?
Recycling?

Here's an interesting one--drinking less bottled water!

That's right! With plastic bottles being a petroleum product, we use millions of barrels of oil to make plastic bottles that are filled with tap water, shipped via gas guzzling trucks to the store and then thrown away after a single use. I'm guilty--but have decided to really cut back on this one.

So, how about it?
What are the ways that you are friendly to our Earth home?
Please share so that all of us can join you.

John <><

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Judged...for not judging!

Yeah, that happens.

This time it wasn't me. It was a friend.

So Christian friends, how are we to reach out to the dreaded scourge of society (you know... (whisper font) the gays) if we don't associate with them or build meaningful relationships?

Maybe it's just more sporting to judge them, condemn them and condemn the brothers and sisters that are not doing the same. I don't know if it makes me sad or mad to hear such stories. I don't know if I get more aggravated with the condemning of those with different lifestyles or with the judging of others for not condemning them.

Sometimes I just get fed up with religious people.  I know, I know, I'm supposed to be one of them, right? It just that I have a hard time putting Jesus in the modern day hater role.

Maybe it's because I can relate to the "sinner" better than to the saint. On the holiness scale, I fall pretty much at the low end. As much as I would love to make the claim of being Christ-like, I'm really not. In fact, Jesus follower is a better description of me than Christian if one assumes that a Christian is a Christ-like or a little Christ.

I'm really just struggling with the masses.

To be clear, I am trusting in Jesus, and Jesus only for eternal salvation. I know that there is nothing in this wretched being worthy of heaven and can't imagine why God would love me so--but I believe He does.

And He also loves those that we love to judge for Him. He hasn't called on us to judge them. He has called on us to love them and to tell them of His great love for them.

If you are in the midst of the battle; if you are loving those that need to be loved and being judged for it-- I want to encourage you. Keep on doing what you are doing. Show them the love of Jesus. Be His voice. Be His representative. Tell them the truth...
God loves them.
Jesus died for them.

John <><

Monday, August 25, 2014

A Lazy Weekend

Heck, let's face it--it's been a lazy week!

I did manage to get a few things done, but sometimes it just doesn't feel like it.

Do you ever notice how important things get set aside for the more urgent things? I guess it's the squeaky wheel thing.

And then even when you get something important completed, it doesn't always feel like you've worked hard enough nor frantic enough to really consider it an accomplishment. Maybe that's where list making has its benefits. Crossing things of a list give a sense of accomplishment. Maybe I should start making lists.


I can cross off drink coffee and blog on today's list--as soon as I make my list!
I've got plenty of things that I can put on the list.

For all of you list makers--Is the idea to complete everything on your list by the end of the day or to carry forward as few things as possible?
Do you complete your list before making a new one or just keep adding to it as new things come up?
How do you decide what to do next? Easiest? Quickest to accomplish? Most urgent? Most important?

Okay.
That settles it. I'm making a list for today this week.
Better get to it!

Have a great week!

John <><


Monday, August 18, 2014

NASCAR

I'm not really much of a NASCAR fan. There are only two drivers that I ever really check on and I rarely watch any races.

I like to know how Carl Edwards is doing since he pilots his own jet and flies into our airspace. It's nice to be able to congratulate him on a good run or wish him well as he heads out for another weekend race.

I also follow Danica Patrick.
I think that every successful woman makes it better for the next generation of young women (like my daugher and daughter in law). Even though Ms. Patrick is a beautiful woman, she is recognized as a competitor on the track and a skilled driver.

But this post isn't about either of them.

I've waited a little bit before writing anything about the Tony Stewart incident because it's a hard thing to write about as a non race fan. It turns out that the only races that I've actually attended were dirt track, sprint car races.

I think that it's wrong that Tony Stewart is being assigned blame in this case. Once a driver leaves the safety of his car, no other driver should be blamed for any harm that might happen. Even if Stewart was to blame for the initial incident, a pedestrian in the middle of the dirt track has disregarded his own safety and allowed his emotions to override his good judgment.

Even if visibility was good and other drivers could clearly see a dark suited pedestrian on the track, is a driver even looking for a pedestrian?

Like I said, I don't know much about racing.

I was thinking that having a driver like Stewart in a dirt track race might be very aggravating to the other drivers. Many of them work on their own vehicles and have minimal funding or sponsorship. Then along comes a guy with more than enough personal money and skills that have already put him in a racing circuit that the other drivers are striving for.

It would be like Adam Wainwright pitching in rookie league!

I know that there is a family that is grieving their loss. Perhaps having someone to blame makes grieving easier.

I know that there is a driver that has to consider his part in the tragedy and find a way to cope with his assessment.

Maybe we (society) have a role in assessing blame, but I don't really think so. Our internet world of instant information (and misinformation) often helps us to jump to conclusions and poor judgment where we really have no business making any.

Sure, we all have opinions.
And we believe that everyone else is interested in what we believe to be the truth, regardless of how little we actually know.

As I said, I'm not much of a race fan, but I hope that Mr. Stewart gets back to racing soon. I hope that some good can come this tragedy.  And I hope that the grieving family can find peace.

John <><

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Chicago!

Happy Sunday morning from Chicago!

We're having a wonderful visit with the kids and looking forward to church with them today.

Yesterday we managed to over indulge on the Chicago cuisine (including a couple of late night White Castles) while getting in plenty of walking and activity. I managed to avoid the ballpark hotdog (figuring that I was  already getting more than my share of daily calories) but caved to the Cracker Jacks when cotton candy vendor came by for Chris (he had both)!

No worries! I'm off the calorie counting wagon for the weekend. The weekend plan is to enjoy our visit, enjoy our food without going crazy, get in enough walking to feel good about it, get back to the routine on Monday and be okay with that.

It sounds like morning alarms are going off so others will be getting up soon. (I've already showered and finished my first cup of morning tea.) Looking forward to another day with family!

Have a grand day!

John <><

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Fitness Addict...NOT!

Ugh!
I'm becoming one of them!

(Note to them: I'm not really becoming one of you so no worries.)

I'm talking about those fitness crazy people. You know the type--the P90X, Insanity, Cross-fit, always training, gym rat type of people.

Like I said, I'm not really becoming one of them.
But I am becoming a little bit more like them.

I'm beginning to feel bad (not sick bad, more like sad bad) if I miss a day of exercise.  Of course, my idea of exercise is a brisk two mile walk not some crazy high intensity interval training that leaves you half dead.

Like I said, I'm not really becoming one of them.

I do, however, find myself looking forward to being able to do some running after some corrective foot surgery next month.
...And that's just weird.

I don't even know that disturbing little voice. I didn't like running when I was a teen and was a decent runner. I used to hate the road work part of training. Who is this "fitness John" voice in my head and from where did it come?

And what about this burpee challenge thing? Why do I think this is something I need to do? Can't I just be satisfied that I did a hundred of them? What does it prove if I manage to do them in 12 minutes or less? Who might be impressed by that? (Other than me!)

(Oh, and note to self: That is high intensity training!)

If I continue down this fitness road, is it going to get worse? Am I going to become "one of them" (or one of you if you're one of them)?

Geez, I hope not!

I mean, I like the feeling fit part, but the whole fitness addiction thing is disturbing to me. I'm guessing that there really is some type of hormonal addiction that takes place. The compulsion to exercise appears to be greater than what one would expect from just feeling good or experiencing better health.

I've always thought "those fitness people" are a little whacked in the head.
And I'm telling you, "I am not becoming one of them!"

This may become a real problem. Trust me when I say that I'm not going back to the fat, lazy guy that can (and will) eat six Burger King Whoppers at a time. I happy with the good food diet and the better health body. I like more energy, better sleep, slimmer looking John over the fat boy. But I really don't want to get crazy about it.

Is there such a thing as a moderate addiction? Isn't the nature of any addiction to overtake the addicted one?
Maybe not.
I've managed to cut back on my coffee...and that's an addiction, right?
Okay. I'll try to keep it under control.
But I'm still counting on my non-fitness junkie friends to help me from going too far.

As a matter of fact, why not come along with me on a nice, easy, moderately challenging fitness journey? We can do this together. We can hold each other accountable and make certain that nobody goes over to the dark side of the fitness addict. Everybody is healthier, happier and nobody gets too crazy!

John <><

(Note: I am publishing this on both blogs...because I can.)

Sunday, August 10, 2014

By Faith, Noah...

It's a about 70 degrees (21C) in the shade of the deck, the birds are singing their summer songs and the bugs are providing the background music. It is going to be another beautiful day interrupted by some scattered thunderstorms later this afternoon!

This is a great way to prep for preaching this morning at Charity Baptist in Springfield.

I'm going back to a variation of one of the first messages I ever preached (I hope it's better this time!) from the Book of Genesis--the story of the Great Flood.

I know that there are many that dismiss this story (along with most of the Bible stories) as a fable, but it is not coincidental that many other cultures also have a story of a great flood in their deeply held convictions. There is historical, archaeological and scientific evidence that validates a cataclysmic flood.

But that's not what the message is about.

In a nutshell, the story of the Great Flood is a wonderful picture of God's love.
Oh it is definitely a picture of God's wrath, too! Make no mistake. Our God is a jealous one. He is a just one. He is intolerant of those that purposely and willfully deny Him His proper place.

But for those that recognize Him and seek Him, He is full of mercy and grace.
Just as God favored Noah for his faith and righteous living, He still favors those that seek Him and desire to follow His ways. Noah was obedient as he and his family constructed the great ark. God shut the door of the ark and secured Noah's family from the destruction of the deadly waters that covered the Earth.

When the writer of Hebrews tells us that it was by faith that Noah believed God and is saved, he is not referring to salvation from the flood. He is referring to salvation from the eternal judgment of sin and death. Our salvation comes in the same manner--by faith.

I know that there are many gods from many beliefs. I know that it is not possible that all beliefs are valid (some of them contradict one another). I also know that it is possible that we are all wrong (even those that say they have no beliefs).

I know that the evidence of the Universe points to a Supreme Creator.
The order, the intricate design, the precision planning; all give evidence of a Creator.
It is far beyond the abilities of my feeble mind to explain a God that desires a relationship with the beings that He created. I don't know why He spared Noah, nor do I know why He has provided me with the atonement for my sin and granted me eternal life through the death, burial and resurrection of His Son, Jesus.
But He has...by faith.

Each and every story of the Bible points to the cross. Each Old Testament law, each prophesy, each story is there to tell of of God's promised Redeemer.
The Gospels introduce us to The Redeemer, the One that buys our souls by giving His life in our place. They teach us how to live and how to follow God's ways. They teach us that God really does love us. It is not His desire to punish us, but rather it is His desire to teach us...to discipline us (think disciple) so that we can live with Him forever.

The letters and stories that follow point us back to the cross and at the same time direct us to a future of living with and for Our Lord and Savior.

I can't wait to get to church!

Have a grand week!

John <><

Sunday, August 03, 2014

My Happy Little World

It's pretty much the end of the day--6 pm on Sunday evening, and I'm realizing that I've had very little interaction with anybody today.

And I'm good with that!

I got in pretty late (or early--1:30 am) from my day trip to St. Louis yesterday and woke up late this morning with a stiff back (from too much time sitting yesterday, no doubt). I missed church and then went out to lunch with Chris. Chris, a waitress, a store clerk, a phone call to my dad and one to my daughter...that's the total of my personal interactions for the day.

I'm not saying that I'm an introvert, but the evidence is pretty convincing.
Yesterday was pretty much the same. I spent about 8 hours in the car and listened to very little radio. I spent most of the time with my own thoughts--talk about your quiet time! I was grateful to spend the afternoon and evening with Aaron (and 45,000 fans at the baseball game) and had a few encounters with others, but mostly I kept to my relatively small world.

I was wondering...
How many people do you interact with on a daily basis?
Some (people that work in retail, food industry, or other public venues) have contact with large numbers of people every day. Some have contact with a limited number of  people every day and some have contact with only few people.

The bonus of no contact is no drama. No drama. No judgment. No conflict.

Today has been a nice, quiet day. I decided on a day of rest from any exercise--didn't even take a walk. I watched a little baseball, read a little on the web, made a couple of phone calls and did little else. I'm sure that the week will bring more contact with others in its due course.
Sacre Bleu!

Have a great week.

John <><