Month: November 2010

What Are You Thankful For?

Thanksgiving day is tomorrow, so I want to take the time to celebrate a few of the things I’m thankful for this year.   Last year at this time, I was in a real difficult place in my life.  My health issues seemed to totally consume me.  A year later, I still have the health issues but life is so much better now.  God has been gracious and has given me new perspectives on life.  I am now at peace and I am looking forward to spending many years enjoying my faith, my family and my life with my beautiful wife.  I am so thankful for them and my life is so much better because of their presence in my life.

I invite you to share your thoughts as we give thanks for all that God is and all He has done.  The idea of being thankful daily is something I want to focus on in 2011.   With a holiday set aside to be thankful this is a great time to talk about all of God’s blessings.
I’m thankful that God is good.

Psa 73:1   “Surely God is good to Israel, To those who are pure in heart!”

In his book, Knowledge of the Holy, A.W. Tozer wrote,
“That God is good is taught or implied on every page of the Bible and must be received as an article of faith as impregnable as the throne of God.  It is a foundation stone for all sound thought about God and is necessary to moral sanity. To allow that God could be other than good is to deny the validity of all thought and end ill the negation of every moral judgment. If God is not good, then there can be no distinction between kindness and cruelty, and heaven can be hell and hell, heaven. The goodness of God is the drive behind all the blessings He daily bestows upon us.”us.”
For me, this is a foundational truth of Christianity.  For us to have a good God is an amazing insight into the very core of our faith. Unlike many religions that put the burden on man to please and appease an angry god, our God is good and loves us.   It’s His goodness that invites us to approach Him. His goodness is at the very core of all our theology- because He is good… He made us, because He is good… He sustains us, because He is good …He saved us,  because He is good and is always good I can approach Him without fear.   To say that God is good brings great peace to fearful hearts and great comfort to the brokenhearted.  It’s His goodness that engulfs all He has made.   It’s His goodness that is revealed in all that Jesus did and said.   It’s His goodness seen in the cross.   It’s His goodness that raised Jesus from the dead, and ultimately it’s His goodness that will oversee the final judgment of each one of us.
Later in his chapter on the goodness of God, A.W. Tozer wrote, “Always God’s goodness is the ground of our expectation.” By His own words He has told us He is good and that He never changes.   It’s His amazing goodness that I’m thankful for today.   As many have said, almost to the point that we lose it’s importance, God is good….ALL the time.   Forever the God who made us demonstrates that at the very heart of His nature is an ultimate goodness that I want to be close to…that I want to emulate….that I want others to experience.

Today I’m thankful that God is good. 

I’m thankful that God loves me.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
John 3:16

One of the things we don’t know about God is how He looks at us, how He feels about us.   We don’t know that unless He tells us.   This short verse, the most familiar in the bible, tells me how God views me.  Note that this verse was spoken by Jesus (God the Son) himself.   In other words he said, “I want you to know how much the Father and I love you….we love you so much that we decided to give the most valuable gift imaginable to demonstrate that love, we decided to give ME (Jesus).”  Jesus loved the Father so much that he obeyed and came, and He loved me so much that He died to save me….as I unpack this idea I get overwhelmed by how big God’s love is for me.   It’s more than I can even imagine.

Being loved without qualification, without expectation gives me a comfort, a peace, a hope that changes how I view God, myself and the world around me. I am loved not for what I have done, not for how I look, not for my money, not for my brains….I’m loved because God loves me…..that’s it. What an amazing blessing, and I’ve only just shared with you a few drops from the ocean of his love for us. It’s so much more than we can even understand. We are loved by the one who made us, and it’s shown in his son who became a man and died for our sins.
Today I’m thankful that God loves me.

I’m thankful that I can talk to God and he listens.

One of the great invitations of the Bible is for us to talk to God.   We call it prayer, but it’s very simply an invitation to come and visit with the Creator.  He invites us to talk to Him anywhere, anytime about anything and He tells us He hears and listens.  I’m thankful for a God who cares and listens.

The world is a very lonely place at times. I see so many who are alone with no one who seems to care for them, but God does.   Whether you are rich beyond your wildest dreams or homeless and sleeping under a bridge God cares about you and listens when you call.   This week is a great time to simply talk to God and thank Him for all He has done for us.


I’m so thankful that we have a God who listens when we call.

So…what are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?

Enjoy your families and I hope you have a special time being thankful for the great things God has done for you.
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God is Good

Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever.

1 Chronicles 16:34 (NIV)

At the very core of this thanksgiving holiday is this simple truth- God is good.

It’s one of the most important things anyone can learn about the God of the Bible…He’s good.   What does that mean for us?   It means that His very nature, His very goodness influences everything He does, every word He says, every decision He makes.   And here’s the thing that’s hard for some to understand- He’s ALWAYS been good.  It isn’t just a New Testament goodness. God has been consistently good throughout eternity.  Here’s how James describes it:
Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers.  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.  He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all He created. James 1:16-18

The thing that keeps us from seeing and experiencing His goodness is our sin.   The very problems of our world, of our life, are our own making.   But in the middle of all the evil we see there is a wonderful creator who is good and does good in our lives.
So, as you enjoy your thanksgiving meal this week, take a moment and say “thank you” to a loving and merciful God.  He indeed is Good.

It Happens in a Blink

Early one morning I spied my youngest son sitting on one of the dining room chairs eating breakfast, his toes easily touching the floor.   For some reason I stopped and stared.   Something about his posture and those long, lean legs … for a moment, backlit by the morning sun, my ten-year-old red-headed boy looked like a teenager.

Now, I was a little groggy, which may have added to the effect, but the thought of him that much older made my heart skip a beat.

I didn’t mention it to him at the time. I just moseyed across the room to make my way into the kitchen.

But later in the day, I told him.

“This morning when I saw you sitting at the dining room table, I thought, ‘Wow, he looks just like a teenager.’”

He laughed.

I continued, “I feel like I’m just going to *blink* and you’ll be all grown up.”  I squeezed my eyes shut and popped them open wide for dramatic effect.  He laughed.   I am sure that he thought that his  Dad just being the goof that he always is.

I blinked again and then squinted, as if evaluating him. “Let me see…hmm…no, thankfully I was mistaken. You’re not a teen.” I exhaled. “What a relief! You’re still my boy!”   He laughed some more.

I leaned in and whispered, “Stay young son…as long as you can.  Don’t rush it”

He leaned forward and admitted, “I’m not ready to grow up just yet, either.”

“So, good,”  I said to myself, “We have time.”

But as I walked away, I knew the truth.

I had already experienced it with my two oldest.   They had grown up so fast and I think the changes in their life somewhat tempered the impact on my wife and I because we were in denial and by the fact that we still had two young children at home.  The empty nest was a long time away and we fooled ourselves into thinking that we had time.

Not so long ago, even though I knew it was coming and I said that I would be ready, I wasn’t prepared for it to happen.  Make no mistake, I didn’t want it to happen…I fought it long and hard… but the fateful day came…and I blinked.

The red-headed son of mine would now be gone and there was nothing that I could do about it.   He has moved out and is going to college and living on his own.   My daughter, the oldest, would be married for four years now and I am sure grandchildren are to follow.  My oldest son, just turned 24 and is making plans for the rest of his life.

Now I find myself buying graduation invitations and senior pictures for our baby girl.  She is talking about college and having a career where she could work with animals.

What happened?  Time stood still when they were just babies…

I blinked and the days flew by so quickly…

Days where they were in warm fleecy pajamas, snuggling with blankies and loving on tattered stuffed animals.

Days filled with crayons, snack bowls, sippy cups and Chutes and Ladders.

Days where dad is the hero that can fix anything, mom is the one who takes care of and can make everything “right” in life.

Days of childhood innocence.

Christmas days that were magical and you believed that nothing would ever change.

Days of scrapes, bruises and heartaches that only mom and dad could make better.

Days of soccer, volleyball, basketball and baseball games.

Days when it’s, “dad can I borrow the car?” ,  Senior Prom and a visit from a young man where I am asked if he could “have my daughters hand in marriage”.

It happened in a blink…it happened in a flash…it happened in the time it took to look back.

I don’t want to miss even a second more of this… I will try to hold on tight, but there’s no stopping time.

It’s just a blink away…

A Special Honor For Veteran’s Day

 

 

It is the…

VETERAN,
not the preacher,
who has given us freedom of religion.

It is the
VETERAN,
not the reporter,
who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the
VETERAN,
not the poet,
who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the
VETERAN,
not the campus organizer,
who has given us freedom to assemble.

It is the
VETERAN,
not the politician,
Who has given us the right to vote.

It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.

Thank you to all who have served the United States of America.

Because of you…

I sleep without fear.

I can go where I want.

I can voice my opinion.

I can vote that way I choose.

Because of you…

I have freedom.

Thank you to to all Veteran’s who have served this great land.  Thank you for your sacrifice.  Thank you to the families that have a father, mother,  son or daughter serving in the military.  A special thank you and God’s richest blessings to the families of those that paid the ultimate sacrifice and gave their lives so that we can have freedom.  We are forever in debt to you and will forever honor you for your sacrifice.


Where Are You?

I woke up way too early this morning.   As a matter of fact, it was actually in the middle of the night.   Most nights I get about 5 hours of sleep, but for some reason I woke up at 3:30 AM.  I tried my best to try to go back to sleep but the longer I tried to force myself the more wide awake I became.  It was no use and I  felt like I would be tossing and turning  for a few hours no matter what, so I got up and trudged my way into my office down the hall.

Once there, I logged on my computer and looked to see if anyone else was up and on FACEBOOK.  No luck…I checked my inbox for mail, again no luck, so I  just started surfing the net.   Bored out of my mind, I logged on to Bible Gateway and started to read scripture.  I love doing that sometimes…just reading all of the different versions and looking at the differences in the text.  Anyway…I started reading the first three chapters of Genesis.  When I got through these very familiar verses about creation and the fall of man,  I was particularly drawn to Genesis 3:9.
Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?”

It’s a question that has haunted me all day.  It’s the first recorded question ever asked in history. It’s God’s first question to man, “Where are you?”

I don’t want to focus on Adam’s response, but on God’s question.   It is a question that echos through time.   I’m sure it’s a question that he asks us if we were listening.   It’s God’s question as he looks for his man. “Where are you?”   Now, what I know about God tells me it wasn’t a question for him, but for the man.   He’s God, he knew where Adam was.   He was asking the question to evoke a response from Adam.   Where are you?   Are you aware that you aren’t where I left you in our relationship together? Do you know that you have moved?   Are you aware yourself that you have moved away from God? Have you looked around to see where you have come to?   Where are you?

For some of us this question is hard to answer.   We have been so long wandering away from God that we are literally lost.   We have no idea where we are.   Like Adam our response when we find we are lost is fear, embarrassment and avoidance.   We hide from God….the very one out searching for us….the very one we need to run to, but sadly, in our quest for our own way, we have lost our way completely.
And so God is on a quest for his man that began at the fall and will continue until the end of this world. His question continues to be asked of each man and woman he searches out, “Where are you?”   In your pursuit of your own way have you lost your way entirely?   Do you even know where you are?   Do you know God is looking for you?   As I watch a wandering world and listen to a searching God it’s quite clear that God’s quest for his man, for you and me, is a love quest.   A quest to recapture the relationship he designed us to have.

So today, as you look at the day ahead, the month ahead, where are YOU?   As God searches for you have you allowed fear to make you run and hide from him?   Are you lost?   Are you embarrassed by your sin?   You need to know that a loving father is looking for you, he cares about you, he’s asking, “Where are you?”

The Song Remembers When

For those of you that know me, you know that I love music.  All kinds of music.  I have well over 10,000 songs on my IPOD alone.   I literally could turn my IPOD on and push play and it would run 75 consecutive days without repeating a song.

Over kill…I know.

The truth is…most of the significant events in my life have been marked by music. There are  so many songs that remind me of  people, places and special times in my life. For whatever reason, I have always associated different times in my life with the music I listened to.   For example,  my “first” favorite song that I really remember as a child was the 1967 release called, “The Rain,  the Park & Other Things” by the Cowsils.   Being  only 6 or 7 at the time, I only knew it as the “Flower Girl” song.  To this very day, when I hear this song I am transported back to another place and another time.  I can smell the dinner that my mom is fixing in the kitchen and I clearly remember sitting on my bed with my transistor radio in my hand desperately trying find a station that would play my song.  For those of you that do not remember the song…please watch this video:

Cheesy…I know.

Most people may remember this song when it appeared in the movie “Dumb and Dumber” during Loyd’s dream about Mary.  At the time of that release, I had not heard the song for many years and while the rest of the room was laughing at the antics of Jim Carrey…tears were welling up in my eyes as I was reminded of a time in my life when I was protected by the innocence and security of the love of my mother.  Special times.

In the early 90’s,  Trisha Yearwood released a song called “The Song Remembers When”.  It tells a tale of the memories flooding back of a love that was lost by hearing an old familiar song.  This has always been the case for me.  I hear certain songs and I remember past girlfriends and past relationships.  I won’t bore you with those details but I must say that every now then I am reminded and smile about a time when you thought you were in love.  It was young and innocent.

…the song remembers when.

There are specific songs that remind me of family members.  When I hear “I’ll Be There” by the Jackson Five  (Michael Jackson) my mind floods of memories of my brother Bobby.  He was killed on November 5, 1970 and although that was 40 years ago, I am right there with him when ever I hear it.  The song “Lola” by the Kinks reminds of my cousin Larry, who was killed in the same car-train accident that took my brother.  I used to ride with Larry all the time when he would drive around town.  Larry loved music and liked it really loud.  I remember this song playing on his radio and the both of us singing it as loud as we could just a few months before he was killed.  A memory forever etched in my mind…precious thoughts of lives taken too soon from this life.

…the song remembers when.

I have mentioned in this blog before that in 2009, two of my closest friends died.  Bryan Blakley was my closest childhood friend.  He was always way ahead of the curve.  I remember that in early 1973, long before they became the rock icons they are today,  Bryan came to school sporting a tee- shirt with the name “Aerosmith” blazing  across the front.  Today, all I have to hear is a song by them and in my mind, Bryan and I are hanging out in his basement.  Just like the basement from “That 70’s Show”. I won’t tell you what character best represents me and NO!! it isn’t Donna or Jackie.  Let’s just say that I can relate with the whole show and the dynamics of friendship and having a community basement to hang out in.

The other friend that I lost that year was Bob Emrich.  Bob was a tremendous influence on me and every time I hear the song “Rose Colored Glasses” by John Conlee, I smile because it reminds me of the times we had together.  Great friends, both Bryan and Bob.  I miss them terribly and cannot wait until the day we can hang out together again.  Maybe just like in the basement at Bryan’s house in Oak Harbor, Ohio.

…the song remembers when.

One song , in particular, is the most memorable song of my life.  When I was fifteen, I was minding my own business the day I met her.   They say that there is no such thing as “love at first sight”.  Now I don’t know anything about that, other than the fact that from that first time I laid eyes on her I was smitten.  Since that time, it has always been about her in one way or another.  Through the joy of “young love”  and dating all through high school, to the heartache of breaking up and spending years apart, these songs over the years have reminded me of each of those events of our relationship.  Living our lives without each other…and eventually to the special day when we were married almost twenty years after we broke up.  This song has always been about her.   All I have to do is hear the first few notes and I am immediately over taken by the thoughts and memories of  “my girl”… my wife Pamela.

…the song remembers when.

There have also been songs that remind me of not so happy memories.  As a matter of fact, even though I love all kinds of music there are a few songs that I have to honestly say I hate.   For me, one of the songs I hate is “Cats in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin.   I still have to turn to another station whenever I hear it played.

I have enough regrets and “I wish I could do it over” events in my life already.   Seriously, do I really need more?  The truth is that I do wish I could go back and do things differently.  I think, like most people, I had a lot of my priorities messed up, or as a friend of mine says, “I was really jacked up.”   I don’t know exactly what that means, but I assume it’s the same idea.   As a young man, I threw myself into the work.   Countless hours, trying to do a good job as a principal and trying to be a good man.  In that endeavor, somewhere along the line, I got off track.   I still remember, with a pain in my heart as I tell you, when I told my boy’s that their mother and I were getting a divorce.

The reason I hate this song,  is that I am ashamed at the fact that my actions have affected my son’s lives.  What could I have done differently to ensure that they would not be scarred by the choices I made in my life?  Could I have focused more on them when they were growing up?  Will they blame me for some of the choices they made in their life?  Did they grow up to “be just like me”?   I wish I could have a do over, a Mulligan as we call it in golf, but life isn’t that way.   Now when I think about my kids, grown adults now, I wish I could go back 20 years and change my priorities.   But I know that will not happen.  The hope for me is that for today, I will get another opportunity to get it right.  Another opportunity to make good, happier and better memories with them.

Memories, both good and bad, fill our minds and at times they seem to take over our life.  We could dwell on the past and the memories of a life once lived, but life isn’t designed to be lived that way.  We need to press forward and challenge ourselves to make new memories.  Memories that will be marked by a new song.

That in itself is why I love music…because just about the time I think I have forgotten…

…the song remembers when.