[SeMissourian.com] Fair ~ 52°F  
River stage: 23.49 ft. Falling
Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014
Seeking contentment that quenches (10/19/14)
Signs of a coming winter are everywhere. Black woolly bugs are venturing across the driveway the way Moses and the Hebrew slaves crossed the Red Sea. My car is crushing acorns under its tires as if they were a gravel road. And perhaps most concerning, my appetite is up and activity level is low. Winter is coming. You can feel it...
Criticism should lead to examination (10/05/14)
Some of the hardest lessons come from criticism, which may be precisely what is needed to get to the next level in your life. Bruce (not his real name) had a brilliant future. He excelled in computer technologies well beyond his years. Before graduating high school he was offered several full scholarships to universities of science and technologies. Everything about his future looked bright...
The secret to living longer (09/21/14)
What would you say if I told you that I have found the secret to a prolonged life? Many have searched for this secret. Few have found it. Some have thought they found it only to realize too late that they didn't. The secret is out. The Bible does not hide it...
A new song is a new direction (09/07/14)
September is a great time of year to begin something new. Psalm 40:3 says, "He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God." Something new is fresh. A new shirt can make you feel fresh and sharp the first time you wear it. Building a new habit creates good feelings and a sense of alertness. New is very good...
Moving toward where you want to be (08/24/14)
Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest. -- Proverbs 14:4 Proverbs are short, pithy sayings that have many levels of meaning. In them, God reveals how to live well. Many are phrased in reflections on every day life. I can just imagine the conversation around Proverbs 14:4:...
How connected do we feel? (08/10/14)
Deep, meaningful, authentic friendships are something that most people are looking for. Most of us long for those friendships in which the conversation can stop and be picked up years later, right where it was left. God has demonstrated that level of friendships again and again centered on the gospel and built up in the church...
Climbing out of the pit of busyness (07/27/14)
You need a break. You do not need to travel somewhere exotic and expensive, you just need to vacate your normal everyday routine to re-energize, refuel and refocus. God uses a similar but even grander phrase to capture this much-needed rest. He calls it Sabbath...
The enemy of great is the good (07/13/14)
The story of Joseph found in the book of Genesis is the story of a man, the 11th of 12 sons, his father's favorite, who is sold by his brothers into slavery. As a slave he is falsely imprisoned only to be elevated by a set of divine circumstances to the position of second in command under Egypt's Pharaoh...
'How did I get here so quickly?' (06/29/14)
The Fourth of July is always a special time of the year. The barbeques, fireworks and all those things that remind us of the greatness that has been accomplished in the American experiment are honored on July the 4. This year is particularly special; it is my birthday. Not just a birthday; my 40th birthday...
Manliness: Active role driven by grace (06/15/14)
There's a boy in our church who -- every time he arrives -- sprints down the hallway, jumps through the doorway into a room and roars as loud as he can. Each time his mother is embarrassed and his father is bewildered. I call him "The Hulk."...
Joy is good medicine (06/01/14)
Frequently it seems that newly released studies are almost instantly retracted with opposite information. One day coffee is good for you, another it's not. Today dark chocolate is a healthier choice; maybe one day it won't be. Neither of which will change my position on coffee or dark chocolate. One consistent and timeless health benefit from the scriptures, though, is the importance of growing a joyful heart...
Congratulations on your graduation! (05/18/14)
Graduation ceremonies remind me of a story found in the Old Testament book of Joshua. For years Joshua, for whom the book is named, had been Moses' right-hand man. He'd been entrusted by God to succeed Moses in leading more than of 2 million people out of the wilderness and into the long-sought-after Promised Land...
Putting suffering in perspective (05/04/14)
No one likes suffering. Unless you're a Cubs fan; then you like suffering. The rest of us, though, usually try to avoid suffering. Every October my north side affiliated friends will tell me with great conviction, "We'll get 'em next year." I never know if they are trying to convince themselves or me. Either way, they are convinced that next year will be their year...
Celebrating the resurrection of Jesus (04/20/14)
Throughout the week I have tons of paper that builds up on my desk. Piles of junk mail, thing's I've won and magazines I hope to leaf through. Every now and then instead of throwing things away I find myself stacking up the papers and moving them from one side of the desk to the other. For a moment that feels great. Until I realize that it's the same stack only instead of over here, it's over there. Nothing really has changed at all. It looks better, but nothing is different...
9 innings of grace (04/06/14)
The first crack of the bat secures the resounding nail in the coffin of winter. Sure there will be cool nights this spring. Players and fans alike may dawn stocking caps for those first cool evening spring games. But the boys of summer are back and with them the warmth of our game -- the American game...
Disagree without being disagreeable (03/23/14)
"The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say 'no' to almost everything." -- Warren Buffett This quote from fellow Midwesterner and lover of diners -- which are about all that Warren Buffett and I share -- recently crossed my line of vision causing great pause. ...
Faith is dependent upon relationship (03/09/14)
I've never been a fan of horror movies. Of the few I've reluctantly watched typically I can pick out who is going to become the first and the next victim. Usually it's the person who's alone. They walk backward into a closet, alone. They go into the woods, alone. They walk down into the basement that has no lighting, alone. Their isolation lures harm upon them. Alone. Isolated...
Spiritual discipline of garage cleaning (02/23/14)
I am looking forward to spring cleaning. Perhaps fueling this enthusiasm is just the idea of being able to open the windows and be out side after this long winter; but in any case I am looking forward to warmer weather and throwing some stuff away. I have an annual ritual with my garage. ...
The nonexistent accidental good relationship (02/09/14)
Love in is the air. If you're not careful -- with the cold and the snow -- you could miss it. I have the privilege of knowing couples who have been married a few months up to 66 years and longer. Those long-term couples share at least two qualities with each other. First, faith is at the center of their lives. Second, they have an understanding that no relationships happen by accident. Nothing happens by accident, especially relationships...
The result of discipline is growth (01/26/14)
Learning to ride a bike is a rite of passage for every kid. After not learning to ride and walking my bike for weeks around my neighborhood, my dad had the brilliant idea to put me on the bike atop the highest hill that surrounded our apartment complex -- remember these were the days when wearing a helmet when you rode a bike was considered weird -- and told me to hang on, and pushed...
Creating corners in our lives (01/12/14)
If you're like 60 percent of all Americans, in the last week you've created a list of things you'd like to stop and some things you'd like to start. If your like most people you've stopped or started something because you want to be happier. If only you could start this or stop that, then surely you'd be happier...
Choosing God in the small stuff (12/29/13)
We makes plans for our lives. Knights and princesses, cowboys and cowgirls, from our youngest years, we plan on doing something. We have visions, pictures in our mind's eye of what our future could be. Every day we make decisions to become that something. Yet it's not the big decisions in your life that impact you the most but the small ones...
Changing expectations (12/15/13)
I have a friend who lives off a gravel road outside of town. She's a little concerned that her son needs some greater exposure. Earlier this summer he and his family went to a Kansas City Royals baseball game with another family who has done a lot of international traveling. The two boys were talking and the one says to my friend's son "have you ever been out of the country?" To which he replied, "Of course, we're in the city now!"...
Christmas chaos here and in Bethlehem (12/01/13)
This is my favorite time of year. For months my kids have been asking me, "When is it Christmas?" Now I can say, "Soon." There are so many activities to be a part of, things to see and places to go. You can almost miss Christmas in the chaos. Throughout towns and cites in the yards of churches and homes you'll find peaceful manger scenes cut out of plywood and in some cases with live actors each telling of a peaceful birth of baby Jesus in the small and insignificant town of Bethlehem. ...
Removing life's training wheels (11/03/13)
As a pastor I step, and sometimes I am pulled, into the crises of others -- an unexpected crisis that comes with a 2 a.m. phone call. Then there is that crisis that comes when decades of bad decisions finally catch up. The one comes out of the blue, the other you can see coming but are shocked when it arrives. Crisis is the fuel that ignites the flames of grief...
The dirt of the dish of our souls (10/20/13)
There is nothing like the first cup of coffee to help shake off morning drowsiness. A few weeks ago there weren't any coffee mugs in the cabinet so I retrieved a clean one from the dishwasher. Enjoying the last sip I looked in the bottom of the cup and there appeared to be something there. When I stuck my finger in the cup, out came this pile of brown, gritty, whatever-happened-to-be-in-the-dishwasher dirt. It was enough to make me sick...
More than a movie set (10/06/13)
One of my favorite snapshots is of my wife and I standing in the streets of New York. You can see the high-rises off in the distance peaking over the brownstones with their iconic stoops. If you look closer though you'll notice that those buildings don't look quite right. What looks like a scene from New York is actually a back lot in Florida. We weren't in New York City but standing in front of a plywood city...
Seeing more than the moment (09/22/13)
There are just days when it seems that the light at the end of the tunnel is really a train -- days when there is more chaos than calm. In Mark 2 we read the story of a four men who carried to Jesus both a great expectation in their hearts and their paralyzed friend on a mat. ...
Banquet worthy of both host and guest (09/08/13)
I have been doing a lot of cooking lately. I haven't prepared anything that would qualify me as a "foodie" or master of anything; although if you ask my kids, I am the master of pancakes. This newly found fascination with the simple elegance of food has raised some awareness of things that I didn't expect. Much to my surprise this new awareness of food has brought a greater depth and appreciation of the banquet contained in the 23rd Psalm...
Back to school, back to school (08/25/13)
All across the country kids are heading back to school. Kindergartners to college freshman with anxious mommas in tow are heading off into their brave new worlds to do something they've been preparing for all of their lives. The Old Testament book of Judges tells the story of Gideon, a man called to be a military man serving and leading his people from their enemies -- enemies who raided the land of Gideon's kinsmen, devastating everything in their path, stealing their crops and livestock and in general created a feeling of terror. ...
Finding God's will for your life (08/11/13)
One of the greatest mysteries of life is determining what to do with your life. If you believe in God, you may have wondered what His will for your life is. What is that individual, special thing that He has prepared for you and only you to do? Many of us live waiting for an audible voice from Heaven to go left, right, forward, stop...
Avoid becoming an object of chaos (07/28/13)
There are certain things that go together: peanut butter and chocolate, cookies and milk, salsa and chips. They just have a natural fit. Not all pairs have the same effect as cookies and milk. Some pairs create confusion and chaos. In the New Testament book of James we read; "For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind" (James 3:16, ESV)...
Stepping out of your cave (07/14/13)
Each of us has some image in our minds as to what a hero is. We may think of the fireman running into a burning building to rescue a child, or a soldier who finally comes home after serving several tours of duty. Perhaps even an elderly woman or man sitting beside the bed of their lifelong spouse whose Alzheimer's has caused them to forget where they are and whom it is sitting there...
Following God's example of grace (06/16/13)
A few weeks ago I came across the story of a man in the northwest United States who was so upset with his neighbors, so angry about some situation, that he drove a bulldozer through his neighborhood, crushing cars and flattening houses in his path. Somehow, someway he was offended, felt taken advantage of to the point that the only thing he thought he could do was to destroy everything that everyone else had...
Make the most of the time you've been given (06/02/13)
Summer has officially begun. At least by the calendar – I'm not certain that the thermometer agrees. On the wall in our home is a list of summer activities; all the things that we want to try to do this summer. There are simple things on the list like going to the pool or reading a classic children's book. When summer's over, to complete the "what I did on my summer vacation" paper, all my kids will have to do is look at the list...
God has the power to cast out all fear (05/19/13)
Growing up we lived in an extremely old house in northwest Missouri that had an extremely creepy basement. There were horror films that had nicer basements than this house. The basement was always wet and smelled of mildew. If you touched the walls, they would crumble on you. The only way to turn any light on was to descend a ladder like stairs and yank the pull chain. It was a nightmare...
God calls us to His standards not ours (05/05/13)
One of the greatest challenges of my Christian faith has been trying to look at my relationships as God would. Asking, "What does God have to say about being a husband, a father and a friend?" It's tough to take an honest and hard look at who I am, who God is and what He expects...
Prayer should be authentic; it's not a performance (04/21/13)
In the church I serve we are getting ready to look at what Jesus has to say about prayer. In all the things He says about prayer one thing stands out -- we take what God created and add to it what He never intended. Matthew records one of the teachings that Jesus gave on the issue of prayer. ...
Spring is an opening of God's grace (04/07/13)
April is opening. Opening our hearts and minds toward spring. Opening the windows for the first time since winter forced them shut. Opening the earth to bring a future harvest. Opening day that creates excitement and enthusiasm for the most casual baseball fan. There is an opening hope that finally it will be warm and finally the last snow is behind us. We are open to what the new spring and the coming summer will bring...
Celebrate Easter ... the lawn can wait (03/24/13)
The last Sunday of March is Easter. For many, Easter is synonymous with church. You may have received an invitation from someone you know to attend church with him or her on Easter Sunday. For many, Easter is a day of family. For some, it's another day off before going back to work...
What passion are you sharing with others? (03/10/13)
People who are passionate about something seem to work it into most of their conversations. Their husband or wife, children and grandchildren come up naturally even in conversations that initially have nothing to do with them. Baits, knots and exaggerated length are the topic of someone who is passionate about fishing. The smell of the grass, ERAs and BPs are the phrases of a baseball fan. It doesn't take long in a conversation to begin to figure out what someone is passionate about...
God is more than a first-aid kit (02/24/13)
You can tell a lot about a person by what they keep in the back of their car. At certain times of year my car easily transitions from basic transportation to mobile storage locker. In the spring, the back of my car is full of bats, balls and portable chairs. One thing that I try to keep in my car on a regular basis, no matter the season, is a first-aid kit...
Effort is required for good relationships (02/10/13)
Love is in the air. Everywhere you look for the next several days will be an ad somewhere trying to convince you the product they are selling will be the best tool to convince your significant other to be in love with you. The Bible has much to say about love and expressing it. ...
Happiness is a thermometer, not a thermostat (01/27/13)
If you gathered a group of 25 people together from different socio-economic backgrounds, a variety of ethnicities, perhaps even different nationalities and asked them to define "happiness" they would be hard-pressed. No doubt the group would share things that brought them a feeling of happiness. Listing people, places and things but only to define happiness through various synonyms of the same word...
New Year's Day: God's favorite day of the year? (01/13/13)
This is the time of January when you can begin to feel the benefit of those new year resolutions. Psalm 118 draws us into some thoughts of the new year and the new day: This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24...
New Year's resolutions for your faith (12/30/12)
There is a sense, though not shared in chapter and verse, when you read through the Bible that God is pro New Year's resolutions. Though, I am not convinced that he would use the term resolution. Perhaps He would use the term goals. Looking at the way things are currently and holding them up to what they could be and should be, then plotting a way to move them in that direction...
The wisemen's gifts chosen with purpose (12/16/12)
When I was 5 or 6, I think I received the best Christmas gift. I've both given and received lots of great gifts. None of them can top the HotWheels race track I received back in the Christmas of 1970-something. The track was amazing. It came with a bright yellow 1957 Chevy hot rod with flames painted along the sides. ...
The thought behind God's gift to us all (12/02/12)
The saying goes "it's not the gift but the thought that counts." But I say the gift reveals the thought. One year for Christmas my son gave me a St. Louis Cardinals wallet. It was blue with the Cardinal bird on the bat logo on the front and it was held together with the worlds strongest Velcro. ...
Truly thinking about thankfulness (11/18/12)
I am participating in a community Thanksgiving service this year. The idea through a local ministerial association is to have four to five pastors and ministers share for five minutes or less beginning with this phrase, "I am thankful for..." Now, first of all I have never heard a pastor of any denomination speak for less than five minutes. ...
We can sleep safe, secure in God's hands (11/04/12)
Finally, an extra hour of sleep I don't have to feel guilty for! In case you've missed it, or are awake at what is "supposed" to be your normal routine, daylight saving time has ended. We are now, at least if you are outside of Arizona, Hawaii and parts of Indiana, in standard time. After living near and driving through Indiana for four years, I would have never thought that the Hoosier and Aloha states had something in common...
When God leads us to opportunity, we must seize it (10/21/12)
I recently came across this story from the Old Testament. A prophet of God comes to the king overlooking a vast army threatening to invade. The prophet tells the king that the army in front of him will be given over to him so that the King will know that the Lord is the Lord alone. The king responds in a very strange an interesting manner...
Competition for the attention of your soul (10/07/12)
My kids are screaming to get my attention. Perhaps the word "screaming" is a bit dramatic. They may not be screaming to get my attention, but I know that they want my attention. Not only do they want my attention -- so does my wife, and at times my father, mother, father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother, grandparents and friends...
Obeying God in big and small ways (09/23/12)
The smallest things can make the biggest difference. I had a slow leak in one of my tires. I discovered that my tire was low about two weeks ago while walking into church on Sunday morning. I wasn't the only one who noticed. A boy who knows little if anything about driving noticed the tire was low. He seemed strangely proud about this...
Being receptive to what God says to you (09/09/12)
The drought conditions this year have been so bad that some I know who planted thousands of acres of corn are only receiving a return of a handful of ears. To add insult to injury, the handful that grew tasted terrible. The only option they have is to plow over the fields. It was just a few months ago that the same farmer was enthusiastic about planting and hopeful for his return. I guess that comes with the territory...
Choosing to be thankful because of Jesus (08/26/12)
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down over red velvet cupcakes to hear the story of a woman in her early 90s. She met and married her high school sweetheart shortly following graduation. He pastored several churches outside of the Kansas City, Mo., metro area and they built a modest and good life together. Unexpectedly, after retirement -- due to some rare medical conditions -- he passed away...
Enjoying each season of life (08/12/12)
Summer is winding down. This year it seems the dog days began early and lingered long. Amusement parks and tourist sites are full of families trying to squeeze out the most from the last few days of summer vacation. The school supplies have been picked out, packed up and ready to go. Summer will unofficially reach its conclusion soon...
Be a blessing to your neighbors (07/29/12)
Awhile back I came across a proverb that made me laugh. In this dry, hot summer, a summer that has brought many hardships, a little laughter is good. Proverbs 27:14 reads: "If a man loudly blesses his neighbor early in the morning, it will be taken as a curse."...
Take out the garbage and run to God (07/15/12)
Trash service comes to my home on Wednesdays. On July 4, I missed trash pickup. Several of my neighbors and I were uncertain if the trash would be picked up that morning. When my closest neighbors, who are single or empty-nest couples, set out their garbage, they take one or two bags at most. ...
Christians should invest their lives in others (07/01/12)
I've recently had the privilege and honor of officiating a funeral for a gentleman who served in both the European and Pacific theaters during World War II. We are all indebted to his service. A few weeks prior I was able to sit down and talk with a man about his World War II experience. He along with the flight crew he served with survived a crash in the Northern Atlantic. The crew was only trained so that they could survive for about 30 minutes in the frigid waters. The crew survived 12 hours...
There is power is the words we say (06/17/12)
It will never cease to amaze me how one small word of encouragement can change someone. I have spent a lot of time this summer at the ballpark. I'd like to say I've been shagging balls, hitting home runs or serving as the chaplain to a major league club. But no, I've been doing something much more important. I've been cheering my kids on...
Gift of today too precious to waste on 'someday' (06/03/12)
This past Memorial Day I ran my first 5K. When I woke up that morning, all I wanted to do was go back to bed. But I was already committed to the race, so up I went. There are times when God reminds me of something profound in unique ways. When the race was over I read the back of a T-shirt another runner was wearing. It simply said, "Someday is not a plan."...
The Bible is a road map for our lives (05/20/12)
I've just purchased a new GPS unit. Ever since I've opened the box and turned on the screen I've been itching to try it out on a road trip. The open road, open sunroof, my wife and the British woman in the GPS telling me, "Turn left here." Road trips are as much as the American experience as baseball and apple pie. ...
God can transform rubble into a wall of strength (05/06/12)
I am a project guy. I have notebooks of stuff clipped out of magazines to reference and perhaps build. I look at things, architecture, trim work and furniture trying to dissect it to get a mental picture of how it was made so that one day I can attempt to reproduce it. I receive a great feeling not from taking projects but finishing them...
God's to-do list working toward an end (04/22/12)
This the time of year when I start thinking more clearly about summer plans. So much of the summer has already been thought through, but the idea of long hot days, cold glasses of tea, barbecues, baseball and maybe the beach tend to run through my mind...
Easter is the story of lives changed by Gospel (04/08/12)
I don't know anyone who doesn't love a good story -- whether it's in movies that capture your attention and inspire you to rise to a cause or books whose author has gripped you that after each page you find yourself saying, "Just one more." We love stories. Stories move us. We connect with the men and women in them. We want to become them. Sometimes we have been them...
Great strength lies in differences God created (03/25/12)
Spring is the season of gardening. I have planted a couple of gardens, but I do not claim to be a gardener. I actually have four plants that I have yet to kill. The fact that they have survived is a major feat. One of the things that I have learned in my attempts at gardening is the tremendous variety of plants, vegetables and flowers that are available. ...
God knows everything the sun's rays touch (03/11/12)
This is possibly the worst Sunday of the year. Daylight saving time ends. Now come Sunday evening and Monday morning I'm going to be thrilled. The day is longer. It's not dark 20 minutes after I get home. Soon every day, not just a select few, will be warmer. The loss of the precious hour of sleep is worth the sacrifice, yet trying to remain not just vertical but functional this Sunday morning is just going to be a challenge...
Change's value must resonate deep within (02/26/12)
I don't know anyone who likes change. Even the experts, who study, write on and lead change don't like to personally experience change. The only people I know who like change are babies, and even they tend to fight it. Change is a creator of stress. Change and crises that create change are not a 21st-century novelty. In the book of Acts we come face to face with a change that threated to disrupt the beginning of the new church movement...
The Bible provides working definition of love (02/12/12)
Valentine's Day is just a few days away. This day of romance occupies a unique place in the calendar. Valentine's Day falls about a week or more after the Super Bowl and just a few days before pitchers and catchers report for spring training. (Punxsutawney Phil might not be thinking of spring, but I am.)...
We are all a work in progress (01/29/12)
It is the end of January, and my local gym is thinning out. In fact, all the stuff I wanted to organize in the new year is still sitting where it was at the end of December. Still, I'm not certain which is worse, the fact that my stuff I wanted to organize is unorganized or that the list of goals I wanted to make for the new year is still a work in progress...
Trusting God and facing the unknown (01/15/12)
In 2012 you will have the opportunity to be scared out of your mind. This year there are three Friday the 13th calendar dates, the most any year can hold. As you could probably guess, I am not one who holds to superstitions for dates. The only date that really concerns me is the one that keeps pushing me toward the four-decade mark...
Moving into the new, leaving the old (01/01/12)
The start of a new year in many ways has become a clich. The TV is blaring with commercials for gyms and home workout programs that will pump up the desire that this is the year to finally get in shape. Sale ads are full of storage boxes and storage solutions to finally tackle that out-of-control closet and garage...
God acts at the right time (12/18/11)
On the refrigerator in our kitchen is an Advent calendar. This simple calendar is a little larger than an regular sheet of paper. The picture on it is of the Nativity. Scattered throughout the picture are 25 little doors. Each door, in 60 characters or less, tells a little bit about the Christmas story...
What's in a name? With Jesus, it's everything (12/04/11)
When my wife and I were married, like most newlywed couples we received some gifts to celebrate our new marriage and help us get a start out in life. Before anything was unwrapped, without knowing what was inside the package, we could tell if the gifts were from my family, our friends or her family...
Thanksgiving is about 'Thanks-living' (11/20/11)
Gentlemen, start your engines. No, it's not race day. It's not even preparation to drive to work or the latest vacation destination. It's time to get ready for Thanksgiving. Food, travel, daylong football and the launch of the great Christmas deals all accompany our Thanksgiving traditions. ...
Having an extra hour must be embraced (11/06/11)
You may find yourself lingering this morning. Perhaps you were able to relish in the steam and aroma from the second or even third cup of coffee. Casually flipping through the paper marking the sale ads, clipping coupons and enjoying every article and editorial. Or perhaps you were able to catch up on some well-earned sleep. After all, you've fallen back. The annual blessing of the extra hour is relished. Creating a slight sense of uneasiness that will pass with a few days of this new routine...
Choose for now because tomorrow will be here (10/23/11)
It's amazing how quickly things change. Yesterday it was 80 degrees, today it's not. Yesterday I was a confused parent taking my oldest home from the hospital. Today I'm still a confused parent wondering where this preteen who is almost as tall as me came from. Time is always moving forward and is never resistant to change...
Passion is incredible (10/09/11)
My oldest plays soccer. She loves the game. I am still trying to figure it out. She's learning a great deal of patience in trying to explain this game to me. Like most Americans, I only paid attention to the world's most popular sport when the United States was in the World Cup. That is, until she started playing...
Take a moment to look around you (09/25/11)
Recently a good friend's son attempted suicide but failed in his attempt. After an eight-hour surgery with many more to come and facing a strong possibility of paralysis, he will live another day. I spent the afternoon with the family the day this happened. The principle of "Rejoicing with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep" found in Romans 12:15 could not have been more real...
God can work all things for good (09/11/11)
Everyone I know can remember exactly where they were and what they were doing 10 years ago today. I was in a hospital waiting room with my wife, our 9-month-old and my mother-in-law. We were waiting while my father-in-law was sedated in a surgery room. The routine procedure went off without any trouble. Little did we realize how routine was changing...
The valley of meaningless things (08/28/11)
I hate garage sales. Yes, there are some things in my house that once were considered trash and that my wife and I deemed treasures. Yet I still contend that the difference between a garage sale and garbage is one six-foot table. My wife has been slow to accept my disdain for hosting garage sales has knighted me "mover of the stuff." I move tables that hold the stuff. ...
Try each day to make a difference (08/14/11)
The crayons, notebooks, paper and hand sanitizers are neatly tucked into the backpacks waiting to be unleashed upon the unsuspecting new school year. Every last moment of the final few days of summer freedom are being drained dry. To the chagrin of many students and the joy of some parents, school is soon to be back in session. Bring on those pencils, bring on those books bring on those teachers and their dirty looks...
Remaking the old to be new again (07/31/11)
We've been doing some repainting around the house to update the walls with some new colors, painting some furniture and touching up the trim. Certainly it's nothing that will earn a cover spot of a designing magazine, just lots of small things that make a big impact. It's amazing the difference that one gallon of paint can make in the feel of a room. All of a sudden what felt old and worn looks fresh and new...
Look to the Lord in times of drought (07/17/11)
It's hot. The temperature is like what you might feel walking on the sun. People are sweating just thinking about going outside. If I had the laborious and often unappreciated task of forecasting this summer's weather, it would be this: "There is a 50 percent chance of extreme heat. There is a 50 percent chance of extreme wet. Enjoy your day!"...
Freedom, like God's plan for us, is no accident (07/03/11)
Fireworks, barbecue and parades are some of the makings of Fourth of July celebrations. This holiday weekend, friends and family will gather to celebrate the bravery of men and women who more than 200 years ago declared separation while embracing the sacrifices of freedom's cause...
Don't forget to celebrate, or the reason you're celebrating (06/19/11)
A few weeks ago my wife and I celebrated an anniversary that neither of us looks old enough to have. Nothing elaborate, just a rare night out without children over a simple dinner that neither of us had to prepare accompanied by conversation. The phrase "We've been married how long? No really, that long?" came up a couple of times...
Know where you're going to know your purpose (06/05/11)
Road trips will never be the same. Arguably they've changed for the better. If you can get past the gas prices that want an arm for regular, a leg for super and your first-born for premium, road trips are a fundamental American rite of passage. Thanks to satellites and digital music, radio dead zones are now nonexistent. ...
Trust God and his dreams for you (05/22/11)
Mark Twain is known for his pseudonym, his novels and his one-liners. One of his many famous quips is: "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."...
True wisdom is knowing when you need to say 'no' (05/15/11)
"I'm so busy." I think I hear that at least a dozen times a day. Truth is, I don't know anyone who isn't busy. There certainly are plenty of things to fill our days. Doctor appointments, rushing children back and forth from school, to soccer to church events just the essential errands of going to the gas station and the grocery store are enough to keep busy. That doesn't even include keeping up with the plethora of reality TV shows...
In this world, you will have troubles to overcome (05/08/11)
This isn't exactly the biblical promise that most of us gravitate toward for encouragement. It would be more than fair to say that when people, even people who do not necessarily believe in God, look to the Bible for inspiration only to find the promise of trouble, it is not exactly the boost they are looking for. If trouble is certain the question for our lives quickly becomes not "why do we have troubles?" but" how do address them when they come?"...
Keeping goal in focus can overcome negative criticisms (05/01/11)
To this day I have not met anyone who enjoys criticism. Positive criticism from friends can be helpful, but negative criticism is awful. Criticism cuts even deeper when it is aimed toward something that you are deeply and personally invested. In the Old Testament, Nehemiah, by God's good hand, rallied the people of Jerusalem together to begin to rebuild the walls and the gates of the city...
Easter time of redemption, forgiveness, eternal hope (04/24/11)
"He has risen!" "He has risen indeed." Among the bonnets, little girls in dresses and little boys in suits, the old responsive call to worship rings out on Easter Sunday. Yet the first Easter morning there wasn't so much confidence. Worry and grief plagued the women as they stumbled to the grave, while fear and shock drove the men into hiding...
We must shake off complacency to start anew (04/10/11)
Spring is such a hopeful season, full of days of cleaning out what clung onto us all winter long, days of dragging out what was once priceless to the curb only to watch neighbors gasp at the treasure they have just found. Spring is fresh and new, melting away the dreary days of winter...
Heroes emerge when passion is stirred (04/03/11)
Heroes are men and women who seem to be larger than life, accomplishing greatness and inspiring the same in others. Heroes emerge from a range of backgrounds. Some break from lives of privilege while others rise from poverty. Heroes raise the bar and forge their own paths...
Prayer, planning vital to a successful outcome (03/27/11)
I have become fairly successful at being a handy man, a DIY kind of guy. Granted, my qualifications for success are somewhat jaded. For me, DIY success consists of a strict adherence to the "no blood" policy and having my product fairly closely resembling the original plan...
Three questions to answer in time of crisis (03/20/11)
At this writing it is early morning and I am comfortably in my home. But, as with many others, my mind and my prayers are on other side of the world. The world is watching as the events of the magnitude-9.0 earthquake unfold in Japan. Destruction, radiation, economic worries all top the headlines, dominate the conversations and haunt the people who are living through it...
Waiting is a part of living (03/13/11)
I don't like to wait. I don't know many people who do. There have been numerous times that I have driven out of my way just to avoid waiting in traffic. Any movement in somewhat the right direction is better than no movement at all. Waiting is a part of living. ...
'Only' limits the possibilities of what we can do with God (03/06/11)
"I'm only a cup bearer; what can I do? I spend my days standing in the gap between the king and those who wish him harm. Day after day, meal after meal, I receive the cup, then carry the cup to the king and sample the contents in his presence. Then we all wait with bated breath to see what harm happens. ...
Overcoming resistance is the hardest part of change (02/27/11)
At the beginning of the year I became one of those guys crowding in with the rest of the "new year's" people at the gym. That's me taking your favorite treadmill and bumbling through the equipment. Slowly I'm becoming a regular, though. The past couple of months of regular exercise have reminded me of the correlations between physical and spiritual health. ...
God helps us bear our baggage in life (02/20/11)
You'll see almost as many sights walking through the airport as you will at your destination. You'll see moms and dads trying to contain the excitement of first-time fliers who don't understand why they have to take their shoes off and send their teddy bears through the tunnel. ...
Rob Hurtgen
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