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Archive for the ‘Life’s Lessons’ Category

Thanks

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)

The election is over. Barack Obama is going to be our next President, so remember to pray for him, even if you didn’t vote for him.

Since the election is over, I can devote more time to this blog which took a backseat to the politics for awhile. God didn’t take a back seat to politics (sometimes He did unfortunately), but my writing about it did. So after the hiatus of a month, I’m back and ready to start again. This entry is going to be about giving thanks. It has been a tough 1-2 years for many people. Our economy has been hit hard, especially in the housing market. That in turn, has affected quite a few people in the Palm Coast, Fl community. I have friends amongst those that are struggling and it’s hard to hear because 2-3 years ago, many of them were doing very well in large part because of the housing boom. But market collapse has hit those areas of business – mortgage, real estate and construction – where many people earned their living.

My company has had to lay off people, but I am thankful that my position is one that cannot be eliminated (I could, but the position can’t) and I am thankful that I have been working at the same job for 11 years which has allowed me to build up some job security. I also have a job (IT) that hasn’t been effected in a major way by the economy.

My wife Sylvia needed to find some work and she was praying that she would be able to work at home. God answered those prayers and she babysits in our home for three children during the week. I’m thankful to have such a wonderful wife who babysits all day and still takes care of a home, two kids of her own, her husband many times, and is also the nursery director Parkview Baptist Church. Her plate is full.

I am thankful that I have two wonderful children. Yes, they often drive us crazy and there times when they don’t behave, answer back or are just plain unbearable to be around. But we’ve not had to deal with any disciplinary problems at school in any way. Both of the kids do well in school and their teachers speak highly of both of them.

I am thankful for the friends I have made. One decision Sylvia and I made a couple of years ago was to become Life Group leaders and it was a decision where we have reaped nothing but rewards in the friends that we have made and in the knowledge and wisdom we have gained from the studies we have done and from the eclectic mix of different people we have had in our group. We never wanted to pigeonhole our group to a certain age level or ‘experience’ level and that has worked out so well because different people get to see those differing perspectives and its a blessing to all of us.

Q: “What do you call a guy that hangs around with four musicians?”
A: “A drummer”

There are many musicians that are drummers but there are many drummers that are not musicians. I fall into the latter category. However, God has seen fit to bless me with a sense of rhythm and as such, I thank Him for giving me the ability to take to the church stage once every other week with people far more talented than I am and play worship music for God and for our congregation. The worship ministry is one of the most demanding at our church. With rehearsals and services, worship team members give anywhere from 8-10 hours of their time in ministry service for the week. It’s demanding, but it is also very rewarding. I have made good friends there. It’s interesting to see how things have changed at Parkview since May, 2005 when I first played a weekend service. Aside from Denise Peters, the Pastors wife and one of our keyboardists, I am the only worship band member from that time. We’ve seen band members come and go, but the best thing is, the worship has never been better and I am thankful that God sent Derek Overton to our church. He’s been there for around 18 months and has simply taken the worship at Parkview to a whole new level.

Finally (in this blog entry anyway), I am thankful to my Pastor, Greg Peters. When he asks, “How are you doing?” he really wants to know. He’ll joke about his wonderful wife, Denise but he’s never shy about expressing his love for her. He speaks with warmth and genuine love about his son Seth. He preaches biblical truth and is never concerned about consequences and never makes apologies for God’s word. When he preaches he does so with an air of transparency, always preaching to the congregation and not at the congregation.

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“Love your enemies.”

Man. That’s a tough one isn’t it? The full quote is from the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus says in Matthew 5:44:

“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

It’s hard enough sometimes loving people that I like, let along loving my enemies. Pray for those that persecute me? Why?

That’s the operative question:

Why must I love my enemies and pray for those who persecute me?

I have several thoughts on this:

1. We will not turn into an enemy. What I mean by this is, as humans, we tend to be vindictive. How many times have we done something to somebody that was retribution for the same thing they did to us?

2. Our enemy does not have victory over us. In fact, our love of them, could bring about change in their own lives. Look at the profound effect Jesus had on people who would be considered enemies.

3. We’re able to draw closer to God the Father. Think about it. If we disobey the very commandment His Son’s laid upon us to love our enemies, aren’t we then making ourselves an enemy of God and pushing him away instead of drawing close?

4. Very simple: It’s what Jesus would do. That’s where the WWJD bracelets come into play for a practical purpose instead of a fashionable purpose.

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Taming The Tongue

I’ve been fortunate over the last few weeks to reading the book of James to prepare for a small group study on that book and also to have the Pastor at our church doing a series on the same book.

My wife and I have been struggling for some time now with our son Michael who is 11 years old. His mouth has gotten him into all sorts of trouble lately and despite our best efforts at discipline and lectures, he still wasn’t “getting it.” He’d lose television privileges and video game privileges. He wasn’t allowed to have a friend stay over this weekend because of he was punished. On Saturday morning, his mouth got him into trouble again and he lost a bike ride he was looking forward to. That really upset him and I finally decided that it was time for me to have a talk with him from a biblical perspective.

I read to the third chapter of James to him from the NIV bible and then broke it down for him. He especially understood the point about the bit in the horses mouth and the rudder on a ship. I explained in detail that with just the tone of his voice that his tongue was getting him into trouble. He wasn’t clear on the issue so I told him that when he yells out “What?” in a particular way when we call him, that while he is saying “What” his tone is saying, “Dad, why are you bothering me?” That seemed to surprise him as if he didn’t know. And I probably realized that I had never communicated it that way to him othe than to say, “Don’t say ‘What’ to me like that!”

I prayed with him and asked God to give him the strength to control his tongue and on Sunday he was much better. I had to remind him several times of our conversation. We’ll see how it goes as the days go by, but it was a good start and it reminded me that he can now more easily understand biblical principles and I need to share that with him more and more.

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A Question To Ponder

We know Christ is always with us. He always right there with us. But here’s a question:

Would you do some of the things you do if you could see Him standing there next to you?

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I’m a big fan of the cinema. I drive my wife crazy because I can watch good films over and over again and there are often times when I will quote a movie in everyday conversation. She’s not as much as a buff as I am, so when I do that, I often get a, “What in the world are you talking about look?” and when I explain it, I get the eye roll. Oh well.

I was thinking about talent this morning for some reason and there are two films that popped into my head that discussed talent. In one, ‘A Bronx Tale’, Robert DeNiro’s character tells his son, “There’s nothing sadder in life than wasted talent.” In the other, ‘Bull Durham’, the character of Crash Davis is explaining why he’s mad at ‘Nuke’ LaLoosh. He says, “Because you’ve got talent. When you were born, God looked down upon you and turned your right arm into a thunderbolt. I’ve got brains but you’ve got talent.”

The thing is, we all have talent. We may not know where that talent lies, but it is there. And it’s true that wasted talent is sad. How many times have we seen professional athletes, blessed by God with amazing talents, waste it all on drugs and alcohol? How many actors and actresses or musicians have done the same?

Sadder still, are the people who waste the talents God has given them to serve God. Matthew 25:14-30 is about the parable of the talents. Talent comes from the Greek word talanton which is a unit of weight used to measure gold or silver. In the parable, Jesus speaks of the man who is going to travel and gives each of his servants talents of gold according to their abilities. To make a long parable short, the first two servants invested their talents and doubled what they had been given. The third however, buried his away as he was afraid of his master. What happened? The master praised his first two servants for what they had done and promised them more. But he rebuked the third for not investing the talent given him.

To me, what is being said is that we’re all been given talent in life. Some of us have more than others and Jesus acknowledges that. But it is what we do with it that counts. I play the drums in one of our church bands. By no means, am I the most talented drummer amongst the three drummers the church has. But what talent I have, I didn’t bury away.I use it to glorify God and to serve him by helping to lead worship every other week. It’s an amazing privilege to serve God in that capacity. Churches have needs in almost every capacity and everybody has talent that can be used to contribute to those areas of ministry.

Invest your talent in God’s kingdom. The rewards will be plentiful.

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