Sunday, December 20, 2009

Perfect Gift

Another Christmas season has come and gone. Some of us got what we wanted and some...well, we will say that we might not have gotten exactly what was on our list. So we made our way back out to the store to return the NSA (aka. Not-So-Awesome) gift. We smile and say thank you then start making plans on returning the gift to find something that we want. We return that NSA gift so we can find that perfect gift we desire.
The perfect gift. During the Christmas season, we are reminded that we have been given the perfect gift. We have the gift that doesn't require that fake smile or that not so sincere "thank you". We have been given the perfect gift...the gift of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. This gift never stops, never needs batteries, never always is perfect.

A big thank you to everyone who added with special music and programs throughout the Advent and Christmas season. Living Word was blessed with an ECC and Kindergarten Christmas program, 1st and 2nd grade choir, 3rd-5th grade choir, 6th-8th grade readers, church choir, handbell choir, soloists, Kingdom Quest Christmas Service, sound managers, worship teams...and the list can go on. Each child and adult played an important part in sharing the message of Christ's Birth with all of us. Thank you again for all your time and efforts in preparing and presenting the story of Christ's birth.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It is God's Plan

I have had the privilege of serving at Living Word about three years now. There are been struggles, but the positives outweigh the negatives. So as sit and write this music minute, I am contemplating one question..."God, what is Your plan? I know that "in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." It says it in Romans 8:28. I also know that "it is God who works in you to will and act according to his good purpose". It says that in Philippians 2:13. But do you ever stop and wonder what God's plan is for you? For Living Word? Through all this, I was reminded of the story of Joseph. He went through many struggles in his life. He was hated by his brothers, thrown into a well, sold as a slave, accused by Potiphar's wife of an extra marital affair, thrown in prison, lived through a famine...all to become Pharaoh's second in command. From hardships to riches. From thinking God had left him to knowing that God was always leading him. I'm sure through all the hard times, Joseph wondered what was God's plan for him. But through all his hardship, his struggles, He allowed God to lead and God's plan took shape for him. So what is your famine? What is your imprisonment? What is your well? What is your slavery? Through all the hard times in life, we need to learn from Joseph. We need to put our our trust in God and allow God to lead. Our struggles are nothing for God. He has a plan. He has a purpose for us, for Living Word, for His people. What it is and how it will take place...that is up to Him, not us. We need to have faith and understanding that through Him "all things work for the good of those who love him...according to His purpose."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Icy Roads

It has happened again. We have had to drive carefully because of icy roads. On Sunday morning as I was heading to church on Silver Bell, coming over a hill was a Hummer. The road looked ok, but it was still dark. The road looked only wet, but looks can be deceiving. Now we all know that this past Sunday morning wasn't the greatest of road conditions. The driver of the Hummer didn't care until they hit a patch of ice and swerved up an embankment, only to come back on the road safely. No matter what vehicle you drive, icy roads can cause you problems.

How many times are we like the driver of the Hummer? There are times when we live our lives like nothing will ever happen. We think we are protected and indestructible. But the world around us is hard. We are surrounded with temptations that cause us to slip off the path that God intends for us. We see things and assume that nothing can harm us, but when we hit those stumbling blocks we swerve out of control. Thank God that he can steer us back on the right path. He guides us back onto the road so we can continue living our lives for Him. There are a lot of icy patches in our lives. We just need to allow Him to steer us through the icy parts of life.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Can You Hear Those Bells?

Christmas season is now upon us. It is that time again of the hectic schedules, Christmas programs, Christmas parties, worship is go, go, go! As I was working preparing for the Christmas services, I was listening to the song "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" by Casting Crowns. As I was listening I couldn't help but think of the all the things that I knew had to be done before Christmas Eve. All those things started going through my mind until the words "Does anybody hear them?". Does anybody hear the bells on Christmas Day? I find that throughout this Christmas season, I get so caught up in what needs to be done, that I fail to stop and listen. I fail to hear those bells announcing the birth of my Lord and Savior. I work so hard to sharing the message with others, that I don't allow that message to sink into me. The message is clear...the message is exciting...the message is right before me. I know that I have a hectic schedule like a lot of people, but I must stop and hear the those bells. I need to listen and the hear the news of Christ's birth.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving has come and passed. We took the day to give thanks for the blessings we have been given. We are thankful for family, friends, home, food on the table, health, life...and the list could go on and on. Thanksgiving is a day, obviously, give thanks. But what about everyday? Shouldn't everyday be a day to give thanks? Scripture says, "Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever." (Psalm 118:1) We should be giving thanks daily! Each day is a day to celebrate the grace that our Lord has given us. Each day is a day to celebrate the blessings God has bestowed upon us. Each day is a day to give thanks for life and those around us. God does want to hear the rejoicing also, not just on one day of the year, but everyday. "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalm 118:24)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Where Is Your Focus? hard to do sometimes. Ever find yourself unable to focus while in church? The people across from you might be moving or have a different hair cut. The door opens in the back of church and you can see it where you are sitting, so you watch that person walking in. Focus...staying focused in worship is hard. Wondering what is on the menu for either lunch or dinner. What tasks we have to do on this day. Wondering who gave an offering or if your own offering was given. Focus...where should it be. Our focus should be on the cross. Our focus should be on the Word of God. As we examine our sinful nature and lift it up to the Lord, our focus shouldn't be on the sins of others. Focus...our focus should be on the forgiveness that Christ gave you as it is pronounced in absolution or as we receive the body and blood of our Lord. Focus...the focus should be on the message in the music. The focus should be on meaning of those powerful words of prayer. The focus should and needs to be God. So hard to do sometimes. Where is your focus in worship? Ever catch yourself not focused on the right things in worship? I do -- so I take a deep breath...and focus.

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Simple Smile

I'm sitting the back of the church packing things up when I feel this presence standing next to me. I look up and see this bright smiling face. I acknowledge them, but they just continue to smile. After an awkward pause, I thank them for coming. The response...nothing. No words, no head nod...nothing, but a smile. Then they turned and walked away. What a strange experience, but one that was powerful. A smile...a simple smile impacted my day. I wish I could tell you who it was or find that person again and say thank you, but I haven't see that person since. All I can remember is that smile.

We are people with many words. We sometimes feel that we have to say something. We have to respond or we have to be able to speak our mind or feelings. We are a people that sometimes feel we have to say words in order to share the love of Christ to people. But there are times when words mean nothing. All it takes is a simple and meaningful smile. When I picture Christ, I don't see a person who is talking. I don't see someone who is trying to tell me what I have done; good or bad. I see a face...with a smile. I see a loving God who knows when I have done wrong, but looks at me with those loving and tender eyes and smiles. It is the smile that impacts my day. Nothing fancy, it is just so simple. That smile that says, I love you. So I try to do the same...share the love of Christ...and smile.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Still In the Play

Volleyball season has ended. It was a fun time, but a lot of work. One of the things that the team finally started realizing was that even if the ball wasn't coming directly to them, they were still part of the play. It was their role, their job, to help tell their teammates what was happening on the court. It was their job to help their teammate make good decisions during play. There was no such thing as being "out of the play".

The same is true in the church. You are never out of the play. There are so many opportunities to bring Christ to the people. There are opportunities for you to use your talents help build up the ministry or build up someone. You are always in the play. I know that I'm not gifted in many different parts of ministry, but that doesn't mean I'm out of the play. I still have a major role and so do you. You might not be able to build a float. You might not be able to teach children in Sunday school or VBS. You might not be able to give a lot of your time at church because your schedule just doesn't allow it. But you are still not out of the play. Just like in volleyball, the other players have to help their teammates out. We must do the same. You aren't out of the play because you can through prayer. Yes, you can help by praying. Asking God to bless the ministry. Bless the opportunities. Bless the efforts of His people. You are a vital part of the play. Your work builds up the team and keeps the play going. Stay in the play...just take the time to pray!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Member or Disciple

Member...very strange word to use in a church. I have often wondered why churches call their parishioner "members". To be a member of something means you are entitled to something. If you are a member of a country club, you are entitled to use their facilities. If you are member of an organization, you are entitled to receive their updates and attend their conferences. it really a word that a church should use? Who are the people in the church? Disciples. We are all disciples of our Lord. Our purpose is to bring Christ to others. Our purpose is to serve our Lord. You don't have to be a Pastor or a Lutheran School Teacher. You don't have to be strong in scripture or have the most powerful faith. You just have to be the way God created you to be. You have been called to be His disciple. In your job, you are a disciple. On vacation, you are a disciple. In worship, you are a disciple. God has called you to be His disciple no matter what job or position you have. Being a disciple is more than just filling a seat in church and expecting the message to be brought to you. Being a disciple is taking that message out...sharing it...being it. Member or Disciple...which one are you?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Positive Marks

The thing I disliked the most as a teacher was grading papers. I knew that I had to assign homework in religion in order to base a grade on knowledge of our subject, but still, I really disliked grading. I would look at the 150+ papers I had to grade and just cringe. Not because I didn't want to see what the students knew, but because grading papers meant, I had to find what was wrong. I had to look at the negative aspect of their knowledge and there were a few that had a lot of negative marks on their papers. It was the hardest part of teaching for me. Because of the way I ran the class, I wanted to make sure that the positives were pointed out as well. Yes, I graded them. And yes, there were papers with a lot of negative marks -- it wasn't fun at all.

During hard times in our economy, families, work, etc., we tend to dwell on the negatives. We see where things are messed up or where things just didn't go right. When we talk about our lives, we dwell on what could have been or what is going wrong. It is easy for us to see the negative marks and that is all we share. Negative marks are easy to share with others or easy to ask people to pray about. Negative marks are easy to use as an excuse for lack of service to God or reasons why we might not serve our Lord. Negative marks can bring down a person and a church. It is during the hardest times, that the church is the strongest. We have the opportunity to share and thank God for the things we do have. We have things that God has provided to us. We have the opportunity to worship and praise His name. Why not, share that...share the positive marks. We should be thanking God for the gifts that He has given us. For the food on the table, people who love us, the opportunity to worship, and much, much more. When things are bad, you have to also look at the positive -- you have to be thankful for your blessings. It is positive marks that lift people's spirits and helps refocus our own hearts. It is the positive marks that show our Lord how much we are thankful for the blessings He has given. Yes, negative marks happen, but allow God to show you how He has blessed you and then...thank Him!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Bringing People or Bringing Christ

As this volleyball season is starting to wind down, I have had a change of heart of how to coach this team. In the beginning of the season, I was working so hard to make them understand this game and the skills that they need to accomplish in order to play the game. I was focused on teaching them the game in ways that had brought my past teams success. But as the season progressed, I realized that I was coming about this all wrong. I need to teach the game so that they can appreciate it and learn it in their time.

This is so much like the church. We want to share the message of Christ to the world. We want all people, all nations to experience the saving Grace of our Lord and Savior. But many times we come about this all wrong. We want to go out and bring people to Christ, instead of bringing Christ to the people. We should share Christ and allow the Holy Spirit to work in them. This means in all of our professions, in worship, in our free time, in all we do. We need to be bringing Christ to the people by our words, actions, worship and prayer. Then allow the Spirit to work in them. We won't be able to change the heart of people or make them become what we want them to become, but the Holy Spirit can work in their heart and help them understand the grace of Christ.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Me-nistry Syndrome

I've often wondered what the focus of serving in the church is all about. There are days when I have walked into my office, turned on the computer, sat down, opened my bible and struggled with the purpose of being there. There are times when I listen to people talk about issues in their lives and that they just can't give up something to serve. It is truly amazing what reasons people have or where their focus is. I have even caught myself with the "me-nistry" syndrome.

Think about this. Each person is part of God's ministry. The words we speak, the works we do, the attitudes and behaviors we have is all part of ministry for our Lord. When things don't go the way we want or during this hard time in our country, city, and home, ministry turns into "me-nistry". We get so caught up in what we "need", what we are "deserving" to have or to do. When money is down, we don't give to the church, financially or through our talents. When our schedules are busy, we don't take the time for God in worship, word, or sacrament. We ask or demand, what is in it for me. That is "me-nistry". We only want what is best for me and our focus is on what we want or deserve. Ministry isn't about us, but Him. Is "me" getting in the way of Him?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

God is my Strength

I’m frustrated. I have to admit, I’m frustrated. Each day is getting harder and harder. The schedule I’m running is getting more and more hectic. I feel like I’m not focused on the opportunity I have to serve and more focused on the things I have to do. There are nights when I can’t sleep because my mind is constantly running through the schedule of what needs to happen the next day. It is frustrating. Yes, that is what I have been feeling the past few weeks. But then today, I was reviewing my song based on Hebrews 15:2. It says…

The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.

The Lord is my strength. The Lord has given me the ability to continue to work through all these things. He is the one that will guide me. He is the one that will walk with me and even carry me when times are tough. He is the one that will always be there, in good and hard times. The Lord; our strength! Because of His great love for us, because of His strength, I have nothing to do but praise Him…even in frustrating times.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Little Bit of Work

I guess I'm going to write about volleyball again. Yes, again I have been preaching (so to speak) to the girls that the volleyball doesn't magically turn and come directly to you so that you can make the pass. I have been telling them over and over again that they have to move to the ball. This means, they have to work to beat the ball so that they can make that perfect pass. I know that volleyball would be so much easier if they didn't have to move for the ball, but unfortunately, that isn't how the game is played. So we practice and practice learning the movement. You know what...when they do move, they can make a wonderful pass. A little bit of work helps make the game a lot easier.

A little bit of work is required of us in worship. We can't just walk in to worship and expect it all to be spoon fed to us. We can't expect the word to always come to us. No, we have to work at keeping our focus on God; on the message. I know that there are people who can find things to distract them in worship. They look to see if others are praying or if people are singing along. All these things keep them from worshiping. To worship God, means you have to work to focus on the message. You have to work to hear and understand the Word. You have to work so that all the distractions around you won't keep you from the message. So when you are in worship, don't just sit back and expect it to come to you...a little bit of work helps make the message easier to understand.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Victories Will Happen

I have taken on the task this year of coaching high school freshmen volleyball. It has been an eye opening experience. Each girl has their gifts and talents, some of them are better at one skill than others, but each one is very much a vital part of this team. It was the first practice when I came in and starting talking about base position, defense, setter, ready position and other things, that I got that "lost in space" look from them. Many of them never heard of these volleyball terms, let alone even tried them. So the task of teaching has begun, one small step at a time. I have talked to them about "do the small things right and victories will come".

Doing the small things right and victories will come. How true in our Christian walk. There is a very, very (did I say very) small chance that any of us will save this world. There is a very, very (again, did I say very) small chance than any of us will save Oakland County or even Rochester. Our focus is sometimes on the big things that we should be doing, but if we do the small things, victories will come. Are we treating other with respect or are we talking about them behind their back? Are we willing to pray for someone in need? Are we willing to forgive? Are we willing to spend time in scripture so that our faith walk will grow? It is the small things that we do that will bring about victories for Christ. It will show others what we believe and how we want to live our lives. It is the example of Lord that we share and then...someday, sometime...victories will happen.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

You Can Keep It Simple

I have my hands on my head. My eyes are closed. I'm sitting at the computer trying to write this deep thought that would bring about some spiritual sense to people and to myself. I'm suffering from writers block. Nothing is clicking. No deep thoughts come to mind. So I stand up, walk around, fiddle on Facebook, take a deep breath, anything to bring some deep thought to mind. But nothing...or is it something.
Sometimes we get so caught up in trying to have the deepest thought about our faith or try to share some sort of words that would sink deep into the hearts and minds of people. We try to use big words or make statements that sound "intelligent". We dig deep into the spiritual meaning of things, when all we need is something simple. Simple works. Everyone is at a different spiritual walk in life. To some, deep and intense thinking is what they are longing for, but for some, simple is best. Jesus did this. He spoke deep to those who thought they were the smartest or were higher than others. He spoke deep to make a point, then, for those who were trying to understand, it was simple. So as I was pounding my head for a great concept to write about, God was showing me that sometimes the simple message is just as important and makes a great impact. You can share God's love through the simple things. It just might be the way to bring others to see His love also.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


I attended a meeting for the National Youth Gathering over this past weekend. The meeting was good. I learned a lot and the gathering is taking shape. Sunday was a travel home day for us. I left the hotel and headed to the airport unaware the Atlanta was getting hit by a major thunderstorm. This storm delayed my flight and canceled my connection home. When we finally landed in Atlanta, the airline had already rebooked me to the last possible flight into Flint. But there were 3 flights coming into Flint before that "last flight". So I talked with the airline and tried to get onboard an earlier flight. The lady I spoke with wasn't happy about working, in fact, didn't seem happy about anything. Everyone was in the same boat. Everyone wasn't happy. Everyone just needed to stop and relook at things. A day that was supposed to be smooth turned into a "thunderstorm".

There are so many days that "thunderstorms" play havoc with our lives. We expect life to be smooth. We expect everything to just go as we plan, but God has other plans. Tough situations come upon us and we must deal with them in a way that shows our faith in Christ. There were people yelling at the lady behind the counter to get their flight rebooked. I even caught myself getting frustrated with her, but I never raised my voice. It wasn't her fault, she didn't cause the storm. God's plan didn't really help with our perfectly smooth plan for the day. He had a plan for me to be involved in this. Maybe it was just to say "thank you" to the lady behind the counter as I got my seat on standby? Maybe it was show a calm voice to those who were yelling at her. I don't know why it happened, but it did, all to His glory. I got home, a little later than expected, but safe. Praise God for the "thunderstorm". It makes you stop and think of His power.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Serve (1 Peter 4:10)

I was mowing the lawn when it hit me. I was given the school year theme of Serve One Another in Love from 1 Peter 4:10. So I started working on a theme song that would best fit the school year and bring out the theme. So I went out to mow the lawn. I do a lot of thinking while mowing. It is my private time. No one bothers me. I get no phone calls or emails. I can just push the mower and allow my mind to think. So I'm thinking and it comes to me and I had to stop mowing before I forgot.

Serve (1 Peter 4:10)

Serve one another in love
Serve the Father above
Serve with a servant heart
Serve, do your part

Serve with gladness everyone.
Praise the Father, Spirit, Son.
We all have gifts God provides,
To share His love, Him glorified.

Reach out to others with a loving heart.
Don't complain about doing your part.
It is God's grace that we share.
So take God's love everywhere.

So serve the Lord with a servant heart.
So share His word. Do Your part!

Special thanks to members of the music ministry team who helped with musical ideas and with the recording of this song! You can check out the song by going to the church website at Scroll down and click on the church link. There is a link to the song on the music ministry page.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Just recently I had to make a quick stop at Kroger to pick up a few items. As I was walking through the store, there stood a young lady who looked very familiar. I thought nothing of it until she happened into the same aisle I was in. So I asked if I knew her from somewhere. She mentioned that we had talked before at Living Word one Sunday morning. I asked her how she was doing. She explained that she came to Living Word twice. Both times, she didn't feel welcomed at all. The people sitting next to her didn't talk with her, even during sharing the peace. She didn't attend communion because she just didn't feel like she was part of this church family. When the service was over, she told me that not one person ever said anything to her, except myself on her first visit. She mentioned that I was busy on her second visit. But she didn't feel welcomed by people. I apologized for this and invited her back. She hasn't come back yet.

We all have our friends in our church. We feel comfortable talking with them and at times, seek them out to visit with. Our ministry is also in this building. We tend to talk about sharing the Word with those out in the community, but what about in our own building. We need to step outside of our normal group and welcome those around. We need to share the love and peace of God with those who step into our building to worship. We say that everyone is welcome, so we, as a church, need to practice this. We have been having many visitors in the past months. It is a blessing to have them worship with us. We should thank them and welcome them. The church isn't just our members, the church is everyone. Each person should feel a part of the family of God.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Are You Ready for Some Football

I will have the honor of watching the Indianapolis Colts play the Minnesota Vikings in Indianapolis this week. I love watching football and love seeing the strategy that goes into playing the game. Now this game is only a pre-season game and the first one for both teams, so I know that I won't be watching much of the starting lineups. I'll see the backup players as they try to do the things to impress the coach so they can make the team. These players might not have the household names, but they have the talent and the ability to play the game. You never know watching these games, you might be watching the next NFL pro-bowler or hall of famer.

There are times in our lives when we feel that we are working to impress our coach, God. We do many things to show that we are Christian, but the problem is, we are doing things to show we are Christians. It has nothing to do with what is right or what God has commanded, it is all about ourselves. We walk around trying to build ourselves up so much that we forget about who we are serving. We work so hard to impress God, to make Him see us, that we forget that we don't have to impress Him at all, only serve. We don't need to work to make the team, we are already on it. All we have to do is follow the play that He has set before us. All we have to do is serve Him.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Garage Sales

My wife and I enjoy finding garage sales. She is what her family calls a "garage sale expert". She can find deals and things for next to nothing. She found curtain valances for our family room. She has found curtains for the dining room and living room. She found a laptop computer that really works and a basketball goal. All for next to nothing (in some cases, nothing). We search the newspapers for garage sales and watch for signs. It is something we enjoy doing and has turned into a challenging adventure.
Thank goodness God didn't search for a deal to save us. He knew the price He had to pay for us and that was full price...the life of His only Son. There was no picking around piles to find us. There wasn't any bargaining or leaving us behind because He thought we weren't worth the price. He was willing to pay for us in strings attached. God looked at us and knew that we were something He wanted and He was willing to give it all for us. He didn't see junk, only something special. What a precious thing we are.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Little Pinch

I am currently working on installing a fountain in the flower bed in the front of our house. I found the pond base at a garage sale and have always wanted to add a water feature to our home. We went out and purchased a small pump and a large flower pot that I am going to push the water up into. Everything was going well. I dug the hole and leveled it. Then I added the pump, the tubing, and the river rock. Finally, I got to place the flower pot on top of the rocks. Then the moment of truth. I added the water and watched it flow. Problem...the tubing was pinched so the pressure was cut off and the water wasn't flowing like it was intended. So I had to remove part of the fountain and fix the pinch tubing. Amazing how many problems a little pinch in the tubing caused the fountain.

It is the same way in our Christian walk. We work hard to walk the walk, talk the talk, but the moment there is a little pressure to either share our faith vocally or by action, that little pinch stops us from being the witness that we are called to be. The pinch effects who we are and doesn't allow God to shine through us. Thank goodness that God see our troubles and rebuilds us through word and sacrament. He fixes the pinch so that when the opportunity arises again, the message of God will flow freely.

Monday, July 20, 2009

That's Ministry

Ministry. Many people talk about it. Many people share what they think ministry is. Many people struggle to see that they are part of the ministry of God. I love to talk about sharing my love for our Lord through music and worship. It is a privilege to lead God's people in worship. It is an honor to worship with everyone. What I do is ministry. But it doesn't stop there. You see, my ministry is more than just my position at Living Word Lutheran Church. My ministry extends further than that. God gave me a wife and family. This is part of my ministry, to love, support and lead them. God gave me friends. This is part of my ministry, to support, listen and pray for them. God has allowed me to be part of this community. This is part of my ministry, to demonstrate and show Him in all my words and actions. My ministry doesn't stop after the 11:00 worship is over, it continues.

Many people don't see that what they do is ministry. The way they treat a co-worker. They way they act in a restaurant. The way they drive. The way they talk. Everything they do is ministry. When you build up the kingdom of God through what you do...that is ministry. You are and will always be part of God's plan to grow His kingdom. He has you doing what you do for a reason...that is ministry. Live your life like God intended. After all, people are watching, listening and understanding. Do they see a disciple of God? Do they see your ministry?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

All-Star Games

I enjoy watching all-star games. Football, baseball, hockey, basketball, college sports, it is all good. I really enjoy watching players from different teams, different systems, different coaches come together and play as a team. During the season, they battle it out against each other. Then when the all-star game comes about, they together with other players from the same division or conference to accomplish the same goal and that is to win. Players come together and support and cheer each other on. For one game, everyone is the same.

We can learn a lot from the all-star games. We all come from different backgrounds. Raised in different ways. Have different ideas of what worship is. Have different gifts, talents, levels of faith. We do what we are gifted in. But when it comes to the church, the body of Christ, we are all on the same team. This means, we shouldn't be condemning, backstabbing, gossiping, putting each other down. We shouldn't be acting like we are better than others or building ourselves up at others expense. We shouldn't be putting down styles of worship or the way a fellow believer worships. We are all on the same team. We are all brought together to worship and build up the body of Christ. Differences should be celebrated, not condemned. Gifts and talents should be used and be thanked, not put down. Coming together makes the church stronger and puts our focus on Him. We are one team for His purpose!

Sunday, June 28, 2009


I've had many job titles over the past 16 years. It is amazing what a title can get you. When I was teaching in Indianapolis, I would use certain titles for certain jobs. For example, when I was planning choir tours, I would use the title "Director of Choirs". When I was working on student council activities, I would use "Student Activities Coordinator". I had titles that I could use for all sorts of things, from coaching to crisis planning to even working at the ice cream shop. I had a title. Now here, I have a title again. The title helps in knowing what I do, but does the title help in showing who or whose I am?

I think the hardest title that I have isn't one for my earthly position. It is my heavenly title of servant. There are times when this title gets in the way. To truly be living up to the title of servant is to put Jesus and others first. That is a very hard thing to do. My ego and earthly desires stand in my way. When you are servant, you aren't getting extra love from God. You aren't getting a bigger and better place in the heavenly kingdom. You are of yourself for others, for our heavenly Father. There are times when I don't deserve this title, but God, out of love for us, continues to forgive and stamps that title back on us so we can better His kingdom. So what is the title God is giving you?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Running the Race

I just heard a remarkable story about the Boston Marathon. It was the dream of this lady to run in the Boston Marathon. Her dream came true as she qualified. So her and her husband packed their bags and headed for Boston. As the race began, her husband waved and cheered her off, then after careful planning, he had it set that he could see her at three different points of the race. At each point, he would yell her name and cheer her on. At the final point, just before the final turn to the finish line, he arrived and yelled her name and cheered her on. This gave her the strength to finish the race. As the story was finishing up, she commented that if it wasn't for him cheering her on, she might not have made it. His cheering gave her strength.
Our God is cheering us on in our race. He was there when we started and has many points along the race to cheer you on. He calls out to you by name, giving you encouragement to finish the race. Our God doesn't stop cheering, even if we stumble along the path. He will continue to holler for you to get up and continue forward. What an amazing God. He wants us to finish the race; the race to our heavenly home. Look around, listen, God is cheering you on. Can you hear him?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Camping Experience

My son, Joey, joined the cub scouts. He is starting as a Tiger Scout and is thrilled to be part of this. This last weekend his pack had a camping trip. This was his first official event as a Tiger Scout. So we loaded up and went with his pack and camped. Because it was such late notice for myself, we only spent one night there so I could be back for the weekend worship services. But that one night, those 18 hours were a delight. Joey was excited about everything. Cooking dinner in aluminium foil, seeing a racoon in a tree above us, walking and seeing fish in a lake, sleeping in a sleeping bag and tent, the flag raising, and most of all (the main reason why we went) to learn to shoot a BB gun. It was a thrill for him. His face was beaming. He was excited to do what little he got to do. He talked about it to me and had a grin on his face from ear to ear. I loved spending every moment with him. I loved watching him being excited about the little things.

This is the same for us as Christians. We have opportunities to do things, to share the message of Christ, to enjoy the creation He has given us. We have the opportunity to enjoy the moment that God has given us. It isn't always the big things that bring joy, but the small things. Seeing a deer eating by the side of the road, watching the sun set, feeling a gentle breeze on our face. It is those things we can find excitement about what God has given us. God is loving watching us, each moment, each exciting time, each little thing. He is watching, smiling, and loving it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


When my children were younger, they would need help doing things. I thought that this was the greatest part of being a parent. They would ask, "Daddy, I need help" and I would help. Once the task is accomplished, they would run and tell Mommy. But when they did that, they would say, "Mommy, look what I did" or "Mommy, I did this...". They never mentioned that they had help accomplishing the task. They were excited about themselves and proud of what they accomplished.

Strange, but we still do this even as we are getting older. We tend to look only at the "I" and fail to look at who really helped us through things. Sometimes our focus in life isn't about God and His love for us, but on what "I" can do or what "I" can say. We fail to spend time in prayer. We fail to spend time in God's word. We fail to focus our lives on God. "I" can be a very dangerous word when it comes to our lives and what blessings we have been given. "I" can be a very selfish word when it comes to sharing the message of Christ. "I" isn't showing our Father to others. We can be very self-centered. When that happens, we need to re-evaluate who our focus in on. Everything we do, everything we have, we do it for Him, not for ourselves.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Job Description

I have had an opportunity to work in a few different jobs besides teaching and music. For a year, I managed an ice cream shop. I know that seems strange, but it started as a part-time summer job. Within a month the manager went on maternity leave and I found myself as the acting manager. So I ran an ice cream shop. It was a fun job, at times, a lot of work, but fun. One evening I was closing the shop along with an employee who was closing on his 2nd day of work. He was still in training. As we were closing, I showed him the check list of what needed to be done. He read through the items and proceeded to tell me that cleaning bathrooms was something he refused to do because he was not told in his interview that he had to clean them as part of the job. It wasn't part of his job description.

What is on our job description as Christians? What is it telling us to do when it says in Matthew to "go therefore and make disciples of all nations"? Just because you might not carry the title of Pastor doesn't mean that you can't or shouldn't share the Word of God to those around you. Living a life for Christ is our job description. What we say and do exemplifies the love of God to those around us. It shares, not only who we are, but who we believe in. Our lifetime job description is to share the love of Christ and be a witness for Him. We shouldn't "refuse" like the young man in the ice cream shop, to witness because we might not feel like we are trained to do so. All it takes is a smile, a hello, holding the door, helping someone out, saying thank you. Being a witness for Christ; that is in all of our job description's.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Words and Meaning

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to talk with people in the hallways. It was the typical "good morning" and "how are you doing". But on this day, asking "how are you doing" took a different spin. You see, on this day, the response by one person wasn't really what they were saying. On this day, "how are you doing" took on a different meaning. It was obvious that this person was trying to hide the hurt, the fears, the stress of their life. Once they shared a little of what was going on, my question back was "so how are you doing". It was then, only then, that the wall came down and that they could share what was on their heart.

Have you ever gotten so caught up in the question and expect a response that you fail to really listen? We tend to do this everyday. It is so imporant that we really listen. Could you imagine if God just expected a typical response and that he didn't really listen to what is on our hearts? He doesn't do that. He every word, every meaning, to everything. We need to try to do the same. Don't ask a question, unless you really want to hear a response. When you do ask, listen...not only to the words spoken, but to the true meaning. Your listening could really help make someone's day or even their week.

Monday, May 18, 2009

My Personal Soapbox

Last week, I received an email from a former college classmate of mine. He is now serving God as a pastor in a Lutheran church. He questioned what I now do for Living Word. He was telling me that what I did wasn't part of the Lutheran confessions. He was telling me that the music I share isn't part of the Divine Service set up by the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. He was telling me that there is no place for contemporary worship or music in the church and that the pure music for worship is from the hymnals. He told me that I was leading people astray.

Now I was taken back by this, but not really angry, just hurt. When David was leading the Ark of the Covenant and was dancing, I believe he was dancing for the Lord. I like to think that when the Psalms tell us to praise the Lord with cymbals or drums or trumpets, that it is telling us to praise the Lord using any means we can. Music is just one part of the worship experience. Word and Sacrament play a big part in our spiritual walk. It isn't what I do, it is what God is doing through me and through the worship teams that enhance worship. There are so many different ways to worship our Lord, that no one way is correct all the time. Worship comes from the heart. Worship is how you praise, thank, confess, ask, respond to God and His glory. Worship is you giving back to God. Some people like a more traditional, some like contemporary, but whatever the style, if it is focused on our heavenly Father, it is worship.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


It is allergy season! Some of us are suffering big time because of the tree pollen and mold. Soon other things will be in the air to cause allergy sufferers to have big puffy watery eyes, runny noses, sneezes, coughs, etc. My son and I suffer from allergies. His are a lot worse than mine. He is on medication in order to help control it (at least the best we can) so that he can play outside and not have puffy eyes and a runny nose all the time. Without the medication, he wouldn't be able to see clearly. His eyes would be watery and red. His nose would be running constantly. He would be miserable. Allergy suffers, you completely understand.

As Christians, there are many "allergies" that keep us from living our lives like God would want us to. The stress of a busy day, unexpected events, other people's attitudes, our schedules, all these "allergies" and more keep us from living our life as God would expect. They keep us from seeing, hearing, and focusing on God. We need to combat these things with a daily prayer, daily devotions, getting into the word, worshiping together and coming to the Lord's Supper. We need to use these things to regain our focus. Sometimes when we don't see things clearly or when the "allergies" of our lives take over, stop and refocus. Allow the power of God to help you see who He is and how we should be living for Him.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


This past Sunday was my son's birthday. He had been talking about where he wanted to go out to eat since last September, maybe even earlier. He wanted to eat at the Rainforest Cafe. So the big day finally came. After my daughter's 5:00 soccer game, we headed to the Rainforest Cafe for his birthday dinner. When we arrived, it was closed. It closed at 6:00, the same hours as the mall it is in. Disappointment filled his face. I felt terrible for him. Something he wanted to do, something he was looking forward to for a long time, wasn't going to happen on his birthday.

There are many disappointments in our lives. It almost seems like we expect only good things to happen to us. At least, good from our point of view. Disappointment isn't something we long for. We spend a lot of time asking God to fix things; to make things right. We spend time praying for things we want to see, we want to happen, then...disappointment hits. But are they really? God answers us in the way he knows is best for us. He knows what will work. He knows how to answer and promises to answer "our daily bread" prayer. God supplies us with what we need, not what we want. We, on the other hand, may see some of our "no" answers from God as disappointments. The challenge is to look at it, not from our eyes, but from God's. Look and try to understand that he is taking care of us, that his will is being done. Then, things that seem to be a disappointment, are truly an opportunity. So the Rainforest Cafe was closed on Sunday, we went Monday. But on Sunday, we ate at Joe's Crab Shack. A new restaurant for us. It was a new experience that we all enjoyed.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Gymnastics Is Not My Gift

My oldest daughter is a gymnastics nut. She has been active in gymnastics since age two. As she got better, she started competing in gymnastics. In Indiana, she placed in many meets and her first year in Michigan, she was 6th at the state meet in her age group on beam. She works hard to be the best she can be. She has a gift in gymnastics. Now I can do a cartwheel and a summersault, but ask me to do what they do and you would get a good laugh. Gymanstics is not my gift.

We have all been blessed with gifts. Some people have the gift of teaching. Some have the gift of music. Some have the gift of sharing, caring, praying, listening, reading, etc. Each person has a gift from God in a certain area and each gift is vital to the kingdom of God. There is no such thing as a small gift, if used for God's glory. We can volunteer to help clean a house. We can sing songs. We can lead children in sunday school. We fill in the blank. Your gift can benefit the kingdom of God. All you have to do is use it. I'm not strong in many areas, so I use what God has given me to be a witness for Him. You can do this also. Use your gift for God's glory. It might be a kind smile, a small hug, a simple prayer, but that gift, when used to build up His kingdom, is powerful.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Most people know that I am wired up for worship services. I have a wireless mic and a set of wireless ear buds. The ear buds give me a more precise sound of all the instruments and vocalists. But not everything with the wireless systems works the way I would like it. You see, technology is way ahead of my system. Many cell phones now are connected to the Internet or have these fancy personal computers in them. During church, I hear or know when people are receiving text messages, voice mails or looking at their emails. How do I know, my ear buds go out or I hear in the ear buds, people faintly talking or static as the phone rings or text message comes in. It interferes with my system causing, at times, it to completely stop all sound coming to me through my ear buds. I have to pull a bud from an ear in order to hear and refocus on what is happening musically around me.

There are so many things that completely interferes with us listening to our Lord. We come to church. We sit, we stand, we sing, we participate in everything we are asked to do, but the message is never heard. We might be thinking of work or what we are doing after church. Sometimes we might be focusing on past events or the excitement or worry of something upcoming. Things cause interference in our lives and we can't hear the message from our Lord. There are many times I catch myself in this. Many times it is because I'm thinking of the timing needed for the next song or remembering the chord progressions. It causes interference with me hearing the Word. When that happens, I have to stop and refocus on what is going on. I have to refocus on the Word. We need to work on putting all the things that interfere with worship aside so the message, the Word, the desires of our Lord, will be our focus. The interference from the phones, pda's, blackberry, etc could easily be prevented. With a little work we all could put aside our personal interferences from the Word of God.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Always Remember

The pain and suffering of giving something up during Lent is over. At least, that is what one person said. I know people who gave up certain drinks, certain foods, certain words, certain items. Now that Lent is over, they were excited to partake in those things again. That "pain" and "suffering" is now over for them.

True, the tradition of giving something up for Lent is now over. The suffering of living without something is now done. But as I shared with one person, shouldn't we be remembering the suffering, death, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior daily? The Lenten season might be done on the calander, but it should never be done in our hearts. Each day is an opportunity to share and to reflect on the death and resurrection of Jesus. Each day gives us a chance to rejoice in our salvation. Each day gives us the joy knowing that our sins are forgiven. Each day, each time we confess our sins, each time we take the Lord's Supper, we are celebrating Lent and Easter over again. To give something up for Lent is fine, if it is something you do, but never stop refecting on the purpose of Christ death and resurrection.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Last week, I flew back from Florida so I was ready for Palm Sunday weekend. As I boarded my connection in Atlanta, the flight attendant got on the intercom. Her voice was very stern and almost in a derogatory way, reminded all of the passengers that we needed to sit down and buckle up because we were on an airplane. She didn't leave it at that, she said it three times. Each time reminding us that we were on an airplane. To tell us that we were on an airplane was a reminder that we really didn't need to hear.

God reminds us every day of who He is. As I'm typing this, I look outside and see snow falling in April. While we were on the airplane waiting for our turn to take off, a heavy downpour came and you couldn't see the tip of the wing. Sometimes it's the sun shining, a certain song playing on the radio, a bible passage coming to mind. All these things are reminders of who God is and His awesome power. Sometimes we take so much for granted that God gives us an obvious reminder, like the flight attendant's reminder that we were in an airplane. Other times, the reminders aren't so obvious and it takes time for us to realize what God is telling us. As we celebrate Easter, God is once again reminding of His victory over death and the devil. We need to refocus hearts and minds on what Easter is truly about. Reminders from God are everywhere. He is telling us that He is here with us. Our part is to look, listen, and focus on Him.

Monday, March 30, 2009

I Have Forgotten...

Sunsets. I have to admit, I had forgotten how awesome they look. As the sun goes down, the colors in the sky radiate. I had really forgotten what they looked like. I'm on vacation in Pensacola, Florida. The day brings about playing on the beach, hunting hermit crabs, eating shrimp, a little golf, playing in the water and relaxing. It is a vacation. But when the sun sets, things seem to slow down a little for me. To watch the sun slowly exit from the sky and see those deep colors, it is amazing.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the business of life that we fail to slow down and see the beauty God puts around us. We tend to focus on the activities we must do. Run to the store, go to work, drive kids around, cook dinner, pack lunches, etc...all those things in our daily routine that have our focus. But when do we slow down and see the things that God has so blessed us with? Our family, friends, home, His creation...sunsets. I have seen His glory through His creation. It is my prayer that you have a moment to slow down and see the beauty around us. Take a moment from the business of life to see what God has put around you. His creation is amazing. Maybe you will have the opportunity to see the sunset. I have slowed down...I have seen the beauty of the sunset.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What To Say

I received an email today. It wasn't the kind of email I expected to recieve. In fact, I was in total shock. I sat and read it. Then I had to read it again. It said..."Dear Terry, I know that this will completely shock you, but I had to tell you this. I was just told that I have cancer and it is rapidly moving throughout my body. I can't tell anyone about it. I can't tell my husband, my kids, my family. I needed someone to tell, so I sent this to you. I feel that I could tell you because of how you talked with me at the National Youth Gathering. I'm so scared that I might die. I have been taught that Christ loves us and will not give us more than we can bear. I have always been taught not to fear death but rejoice in the reward. When the Doctor told me I had cancer, I cried. Yes, I'm afraid to die. I don't want to leave my family. I love them so much. I'm angry that I have cancer. I'm angry that I might not see my children grow up. I'm angry that I may not have the opportunity to continue to share who God is to them. Who will tell them of the love of God if I would die? What should I do?"

My response...tears and prayers. I couldn't really give an answer. I could only stop and pray. I will respond. How, I'm not sure, but I know that the Lord will put the right words in my heart. But for now, I'm praying.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Juggling Made Easy

I have never figured out how to juggle. I'm in total awe of people who can. When I was younger, I tried. I even checked a book out at the library to teach me how. So I grabbed bean bags and started to learn the art of juggling. I figured if I could juggle, then I could be like those people on tv who could juggle chainsaws or axes. I read the book, learned what to focus on and decided it was time to start learning. I tossed the first bean bag and then the second and then the third and...they fell to the ground. So I tossed them again. One first, then the second, then the third and...they fell again. So again I tried and again they fell. Again and again my attempts to juggle didn't work. To this day, I can't juggle or can I...

In my life, I have to juggle many things. Like you, I have to juggle my job, family, my faith, my personal time and the list goes on and on. Juggling is something that we all must do. We do something for our family and we feel that the job suffers or we do something for the job and we feel that our family suffers. We get so caught up in juggling our job and family that our faith suffers. We keep trying to juggle everything, but then it all falls. We struggle with our juggling. But we have help. If our focus is on him, the juggling act becomes a lot easier. God has to be first. He has to be what we focus on. In juggling, the focus has to be on the right object. In juggling our life, our focus has to be on the right place. It has to be on God. He is the one that makes juggling our lives easier. Juggling made easy...Keep God first!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

I Just Had to Look and Listen

I was sitting in my office looking out the window and suddenly it happened. I couldn't believe it. It happened right in front of me. My eyes were widen, my heart thumped louder. I was so amazed that it happened in front of me that I sat with my mouth wide open. So what happened? Stop leaving us hanging. What happened? I saw God's glory. Yes I did. You see, the sun was shining. That is nothing new. The traffic on the road was moving. Nothing new. The wind was blowing and clouds were moving across the sky. Nothing new. But I did see God's glory. For one moment, you could see the sunbeam from the sky. It looked like it hit the ground just outside of the window. In my mind, I saw God's glory.

What an amazing thing. I just happened to be getting a little frustrated at that time. I was trying to find music to fit the theme of a worship service. I was paging through scripture. I was grabbing songbook after songbook looking for the right song to share the message. I was working frantically. I stopped, looked out the window and there it was, God's glory! Through all this planning, my planning, I was forgetting to stop and let God talk. He was showing me all along what to pick. He placed the songs in my heart. All I had to do was listen to the still small voice from God.

Friday, February 27, 2009

I Promise To Keep My Shoes On

I have a problem. Yes, it is a problem that I'm not proud of, but I have it. The best part about this is that there are a lot of people who also have the same problem that I have, so I'm not alone in this. You see, I suffer from stinky feet. Yes, my feet stink at times. I wash them with soap to make the smell nice, but when the day is over, look out! There have been times when I have taken off my shoes and socks and the smell over takes the room. I have tried baby powder in the shoes and that helps a little bit, but yes, after a while, this too fails. Changing socks, changing shoes, not wearing shoes, I have tried it all, but still I suffer from stinky feet.

Christians also suffer from stinky feet. We suffer from sin. We confess our sins and are made clean again, but after a day, hours, minutes, the stink comes back. There are times when we try to mask our sin. We think that if we cover up the stink, the sin, it will go away. We don't try to confess it, because we don't want to admit it. We try to hide it, to make it smell better, but after awhile, the stink comes back. But because of the love of our Lord and Savior, our stinky feet are gone. It is his love for us, his forgiveness that our stink is made clean. As we confess our sins, God takes takes it away and makes us clean. He does this, not because He had to, but because He wanted to. He did this because of his love for us. All it takes is for us to admit our sinful nature, our stinky feet, and it will be made clean. Our feet will smell like roses.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Different Ways

I’ve always wondered why weathermen can’t seem to agree on the weather forecast. This has crossed my mind a lot. Since moving to Michigan, no weatherman on any television channel gives the same forecast. Now today (Saturday, February 21, 2009) they all agree that there is going to be snow. Yes, they all agree that there is a winter storm warning (because the National Weather Service has issued it). What gets me is that one channel says 2-4 inches. One channel says 3-6 inches. In fact, one channel says 4-8 inches and they feel that we will actually see up to a foot of snow. It is hard to believe that all the weathermen in the Detroit area can’t seem to agree. They all look at the same weather maps. They all see the same radar. They all get the same information from the National Weather Service. So why can’t they agree, they all see the weather in different ways.

The same can be said about scripture. The words are written. The message is there. So why can’t we all agree? I’m not talking about the different denominations. I'm talking about here, in our own church. Why can’t we all agree on the meaning of scripture? It is because we all see the Word of God in different ways. God speaks to us in ways, depending on the things happening in our lives. He knows what concerns we have in our hearts. He listens to our prayers. He knows, plain and simple. Then, out of love for us, He answers. He speaks to us, each individually. One verse speaks in one way to one person, but that same verse might speak to others in a different way. No way is wrong, but it is the way that God speaks to each of us. He shares His Word at the right time for the right reason. We need to read and listen, God is speaking.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Right Tool

When we bought our house, we had visions of finishing the basement. We envisioned a bathroom, a bedroom, a family room and adding some storage. These visions started becoming a reality over the long weekend. But in order to make this happen, I needed someone who knew what they were doing. I could envision the building process and how it was suppose to look, but really, I had no idea of what had to happen. I had a book that shared how to stud a wall, but I didn't own the right tools and was kind of frighten that I might mess it up. So my Father-in-Law came up this weekend and in one day, the basement is studded and we are preparing for the next step. He had the knowledge and the tools to do it. Me, well, I had the vision, but building a wall, you can say, isn't my strength.

We all have been given gifts by God. These gifts are given to us to be used. According to Ephesians 4:12, we need to use these gifts "to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up". Let's think about this. I could try to build a house, but will it stand? My gifts are not in building homes. I needed someone to come and use their gifts to help. But together, my father-in-law and I built those walls. He had the knowledge and the tools to do it. I had the opportunity to work along with him. Our church is in need of people to stand up and share their gifts. We know that we are all not gifted in the same way, but each gift is unique and can help build up the body of Christ. You may have the gift of speaking, others don't. You may have the gift of teaching, other's don't. Some can build walls, some can make banners, some can teach Bible Class, some can share with complete strangers the gospel. Now is not the time to hide these gifts; now is the time to use them. As you use them, others will work side by side with you. God has blessed Living Word with so many talented people in so many ways. Take the time and pray for God to help lead you to share your gifts or to help show your gifts. Together, the body of Christ will be built up.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Where the dogs walk

I guess you can say that I am a little paranoid about homes that have dogs. When I know that a home has a dog, I walk a little differently. When a home has a dog and I'm not walking on the sidewalk or their driveway, I'm looking down. Yes, my eyes are looking down. When I see the gift that the dog leaves behind, I tell others so they don't accidentally find that gift also. When we walk in parks or other areas that dogs might have been allowed to run, guess what, I'm looking down. I'm very concerned when my children run ahead. If I'm following and see that gift left in the grass, I pray that my children didn't find it also. Yes, this is a little strange. If you accidentally step on that little surprise, it not only flattens on your shoe, but it goes into the cracks on the bottom. You have to scrape, wipe and wash to get it off. Even then, there still may be a hint of the stench and you have to start the cleaning process again until it is gone. This is why I'm a little paranoid.

Each time we sin, we create that stench around us. When we sin, we didn't listen or heed the warning of God who is watching out for us. It is that sin that if not cleaned will drive people away from us. It is those unkind words, the rumors, the unkind actions, unkind thoughts, it is all these things that will keep people away. We must ask for forgiveness, not only from those we hurt, but from God. God will wash us clean. He won't ignore us. God hates the stink. He can smell it even before we do. It is beccause of His Son, Jesus Christ that the stench is gone. Jesus is the one that cleans us from our sin, from our stench all out of love for us. Sure we still have to watch where we walk and heed the warnings of God, but when we slip up, He will make clean.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Dancing with Christ

Last week, I was in New Orleans with the National Youth Gathering meeting. It was a chance to discuss the theme of the gathering, to prepare ideas, to connect. A lot of work but also a chance to enjoy time with each other. The team I'm serving with went to dinner on Friday evening at a place called Mulates. It is known for Cajun cuisine and Cajun music. As a music person, I didn't know that there was a such thing as Cajun music, now I do. This restaurant has a dance floor. We were seated next to it. During dinner, many people got up and danced. Some had rhythm while others, well, let us just say that they are movement challenged. As we were enjoying our dinner, a couple comes up and starts dancing. They moved with grace. Their movements flowed together. They were outstanding. When the song was done, people clapped. The next song played and they were up again dancing. Again, true grace. They floated along, spinning, shuffling their feet, totally smooth. Again clapping when the song was done. Each time they got up, people stopped eating, stopped talking, stopped doing what they were doing and watched that couple glide across the floor.

There are times when we forget to allow Christ in our life. We fail to keep the beat, we fail to move together, we struggle, we become movement challenged. People might look, but then they turn away for there is nothing good to see. Christ isn't seen in us. When Christ leads, we move along like that couple. Our movements are smooth, our steps in beat, we move together. People stop and look, they notice something different about us. We show Christ. Our words, our actions, our life portrays Him in us.

Monday, January 26, 2009

What is on your report card?

It is that time again. The most dreaded time for a lot of students in school. Right now, that time has come again for my children. What is this event, you might be asking? It is report card time. Yes, that dreaded time when a lot of kids worry if they will have their freedom after their parents take a close look at their grades. Yes, that dreaded time for a lot of kids wondering what comments their teachers made about them. Yes, oh yes, some parents look at that report card with big eyes wondering if their child will still get into Harvard or if they will ever become something, like President of the United States. The dreaded time is here. So I open the report cards from my children and...I'm happy!

Now imagine if we had to receive this dreaded report card about how we lived as a Christian? What if God gives us a report card about how we handled ourselves in tough situations? What if God gave us a report card about our thoughts or words about others? What would be on your report card? It is a pretty scary thought. But we do receive a report card. Yes, believe it or not, we do get one. God looks at us and how we live our lives and grades us. He looks at you and me, looks at our behavior, our actions, our words, our thoughts, everything. But He takes our report card and gives us all A's. That is right, we all get A's. Why? You might be asking what you did to deserve an A from God. The answer is...nothing! God sent his Son to die on the cross, to wash away all those bad behaviors, bad actions, bad words, bad thoughts, bad...everything. Because of His death and resurrection, because He washed us clean, our report card just has A's on it.

Monday, January 19, 2009

We May Wobble

I have no idea why this came to mind, but I was sitting in my office on Thursday. I was review music for the weekend and it hit me. I couldn't believe it, but I caught myself singing the jingle to the tv commercial, weebles wobble but they won't fall down. Over and over, I was singing this jingle. I still have no idea why or what made me start the jingle. Weebles wobble but they won't fall down. I remember playing with them and you know what I tried to do, it was a challenge, it was my quest, my destiny, my goal in life (at that time). I was going to make the weebles wobble and fall down. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't do it. I would lay them down and they pop back up. I would throw roll them and they would pop back up. Drop them to the ground and they would pop back up. Next to breaking them, every thing I did, the weebles popped back up. Weebles do wobble and they don't fall down.

What about us? When the tough times hit, do we just fall down and stay down or do we pop back up? When we sin, do we just say down or do we ask for forgiveness and pop back up? As Christians, we need to realize that we are just like weebles. Because of our sinful nature, we wobble. Satan tries to knock and keep us down. It is through the grace and love of Christ Jesus, through His forgiveness that we receive, that allows us to pop back up. Just like to weebles, we may wobble but we won't fall down.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Cheering Us On

My daughter, Becca, plays indoor soccer. I have the opportunity to watch most of her games (if they don't interfere with Saturday worship services). She loves it when I come to her games, not only to watch her, but to offer her support. When she does something good, she can her me tell her "good job" or "way to go". When something doesn't go right, I offer her encouragement or to help her prepare for the next play. Whatever the situation, Becca can pick my voice out from the crowd. She knows I'm there to support her and her team. If she can, she will take the little peek over the stands to see if I'm watching and get that extra sense of comfort. There are times after a game when she asks me how to do something or she just wants to share what happened in the game. Even if I saw the play, to see that excitement brings joy to my heart.

Our Christian walk is like this. We are out in the world striving to do what is right. We are out in the world trying to make the play. As we work on playing the game of life the way God wants, He is there, cheering each one of us on, watching what we are doing. Sometimes He is telling us "good job", other times, He is encouraging us and preparing us to do the next play. When the play is done, talk to God about it. Talk to God about the day and he listens. We ask Him what we need to do and He responds. Even though He knows what we did, telling Him brings a sense of love and excitement to His heart. What a wonderful God. Look around you. Look and see that He is there. He is the one who is cheering you on. He wants you to play the game the best you can. Look and listen...can you hear Him?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Not a Resolution, but an Opportunity

It is 2009! A new year. A new attitude. A new feeling. People want to make things new. Henceforth, a New Year's Resolution. I have been asked what my New Year's Resolution will be. Honestly, I never make one. I get a lot of gasps, dirty looks, the "oh my...", or the "well mine is..." responses just because I don't make a New Year's Resolution. I just don't make one. Plain and simple. Why? Because I would start it and then stop or forget about it after a month or so. I see people get so caught up in making these resolutions. They are going to change something. They are going to make life better in some way, shape, or form. It is a promise that they make to themselves and they intend to keep it. Very few do, most don't. People are so caught up in making this resolution and then after a while, they forget about it, break it, or just make excuses to not keep it. It is hard to keep a New Year's Resolution all year. So I don't make a resolution because I know that I would break it sometime or give up on it or just forget that I made it. But I do take the time to refocus on how I should live my life. I do take the time to ask God to help me remember to make Him first in all I do and say. I do ask God that throughout this year, I would be a better servant and work to better His Kingdom. I don't like calling it a resolution, but a opportunity. An opportunity to bring someone closer to the Kingdom of God. An opportunity to serve.