Monday, February 27, 2012

Where's the evidence?

The evidence against William Hare and Rajendra Srivastava has largely melted away.


The two men were arrested in Salem, Massachusetts on February 12 for stealing the dragon head of an ice sculpture that was part of a downtown celebration that weekend.

The ice sculpture was placed in an evidence refrigerator at the police department, but a malfunction with the refrigerator has resulted in most of the evidence ... melting!

Safer than a cold refrigerator is the record of our lives that God keeps. And some day, every one of us will have to stand before Him and give an account. The evidence for and against us won't melt away. The record is secure. There is but one hope for us on that day when we stand before a perfectly just God:

"Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away," Acts 3:19.

God's forgiveness is greater than a blow dryer held to an ice sculpture. By turning from sin, and turning to God, our sins are --- quite literally --- wiped away.

So how's your record: securely on ice, or eliminated by the blood of Christ?


Sunday, February 26, 2012

For sole, or soul ...

Now here's a look at a menacing group of guys:

What would it take for you to be willing to challenge that group of men?

How about a new shoe?

Check out this clip from a recent story in the NY Daily News:

"ORLANDO, Fla. — More than 100 sheriff's deputies in riot gear broke up an out-of-control crowd waiting outside a mall to buy a limited edition Nike basketball shoe."

"Authorities say there were no injuries or arrests outside the Florida Mall late Thursday. The crowd began getting unruly as hundreds packed the parking lot, waiting to buy the $220, limited-edition shoe that was timed to be released during the NBA All-Star Game in Orlando ..."

Think about this: just how much "want" does a person have to have to riot over a $220.00 shoe? That is a lot of desire!

Does that come anywhere close to the desire you have for Christ? What are you willing to face to know Him? Are you as passionate about getting to Christ as some are about getting to a shoe?


Friday, February 24, 2012

Want to know what your destiny is? This is it ...

Did you ever think that "Sister Act" might have hidden within its script the great spiritual insight humanity longs for?

Watch this clip and see if you can find it ...

There it is, in those simple words: "HE is my destiny."

When you respond to Jesus Christ by following Him, you have discovered your destiny!

Our destiny is to know and follow Christ for all eternity. It will be fully actualized when He returns for His church.

But you have discovered your destiny when you become a follower of Christ.

Enjoy the journey!


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

There's an insurance policy for that ...

In a couple months, my auto insurance renewal is due.

Most of us have that.

Some have mortgage insurance, while others have rental insurance.

Everybody wants health insurance. Some have dental insurance and insurance for their vision.

There's also flood insurance and earthquake insurance.

Musicians have insured hands, voices, and instruments.

There's even pet insurance.

You can insure just about anything these days.

But the latest fad is wedding insurance.

That's right, you can get insurance to cover your wedding ... just in case the groom (or bride) doesn't show up at the alter, and you're stuck with an expensive party.

For me, that raises a question: Would you marry someone about whose commitment you were so unsure of that you would purchase wedding insurance?

Starting a lifelong bond like that doesn't bode well for the future.

There is one Groom for which the bride will never have to question His faithfulness, or His showing up on time. That's when Christ returns for His bride, the church. No insurance is needed for that, it is the most assured event the future holds. The only question for the bride is, will you be ready?


Monday, February 20, 2012

Surviving the sunshine ...

Yes, it's true: I'm an addict. I'm addicted to good weather.

That's probably because I grew up in California and Arizona, spent most of my adult life in the West, then topped it off with a few years in Hawaii.

I thrive in sunshine and warm weather.

One thing I noticed when living in the Arizona desert is, I can survive the heat so long as I drink a lot of water. A lot of water.

In fact, I wondered if I had an abnormal thirst in the heat. When working outside with others, it seemed as if I was having to drink water far more often than others did. It seemed as if the heat sapped the life out of me faster than those around me, and I had need for re-quenching more than others did.

Life can sometimes be as dry as a brittle desert. It can feel like the life is being sapped out of you! But you can thrive by keeping your thirst quenched.

How do you that when it comes to life?

"37 On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, 'Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! 38 Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, "Rivers of living water will flow from his heart." 39 (When he said 'living water,' he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory)," John 7:37-39.

Like a cool drink of water on the hottest of summer days, Jesus Christ quenches our every need. Drink up!


Try something practical ...

In the midst of her crushing hurt, the friend turned to her and said:

"Don't worry dear, when things really hurt, the Lord won't put on you more than you can bear."

That's not exactly what scripture says. God does allow us to face more than we can shoulder alone, so that we have need for Him and others. The passage that is often misquoted is about temptations we face:

"The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure," 1 Corinthians 10:13.

In the midst of someone's genuine pain, one of the most loving and practical things you can do is grab a corner of it and lift.

"2 Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. 3 If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important," Galatians 6:2-3.


Take a breath, why don't ya ...

I get a lot of work done at Starbucks. Because it tends to be a place frequented by every stripe of humanity, some of my observations from this place work themselves into blog posts.

Like now.

Yes, I'm working on several things at Starbucks, and once again find an open seat next to a man talking to a woman. I've been able to tune out their conversation and focus on what I'm doing. But I have noted that the female simply sits there ... because the man rarely takes a breath.

He's constantly talking.

It seems as though he likes the sound of his own voice, and is very sure of the constant spew of what's coming out of his mouth.

Have you ever found yourself in one of those conversations?

It really isn't much of a "conversation" when you hardly can get a word in. It's not much of an interaction when the the other person, full of themselves, sits there and talks to us. What's worse, it's funny how happy they feel at the end of the "conversation." Not because they had a pleasant interaction with a friend, but because they had yet another opportunity to puff themselves up.

As I see the dynamics of this conversation, I think that's how many of us approach God. We unload our torrent of gripes, questions, requests, demands, requests, and hardly ever allow Him a Word into our lives.

It's not much of a conversation because it's mostly one-way.

It's not much of an interaction because it's selfish.

And yet we expect blessings and miracles anyway?


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Checking the due date ...

During tough times, many people check the fine print for "grace periods."

Rent is due when? But there's a grace period of five days? They target the fifth day of the grace period before parting with their much needed cash.

The car payment is due when?

The credit card bill has to be paid on what day?

The utility bill is due in full by what day?

When does the grace period end?

You make a mistake at work. The first time it's overlooked. The second time it's discussed. The third time an Action Plan is put together. There's a grace period.

When times are tough, when mistakes are made, we sometimes need a grace period.

Nothing could be more true about that than life itself.

Job put it this way: "People are born for trouble as readily as sparks fly up from a fire," Job 5:7.

We're good at getting into trouble. It's natural for us. We may want to change, we may want to be "better" people, but we find trouble wherever it lurks.

You give in once again. You stumble again. You fall again. You fail again. You sin again.

You need a grace period.

God offers one.

"8 But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. 9 The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent," 2 Peter 3:8-9.

God is patient in offering us another day to come to repentance; to surrender our bent to trouble for a new life in Christ. Have you responded to His offer? Or are you trying to stretch His grace period?


Beware of snow blowers ...

The young pastor's post on Facebook this morning captured my attention. It said church service was cancelled today.


He accidentally cut off his finger in a snow blower.


First, I prayed for him. Then I thought what it would be like to lose a finger.

It would hurt like crazy at first! It would affect, to some degree, how you handle things, but a person can adjust to the loss of a finger.

While this story was an accident, Jesus used a similar picture to emphasize the degree to which we should go to remove sources of temptation to sin from our lives:

27 “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 So if your eye—even your good eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your hand—even your stronger hand—causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell," Matthew 5:27-30.

Although Jesus is using very strong examples here, it's not to be dismissed as hyperbole. The message we dare not miss is that the cost of sin is so utterly destructive we must do what must be done to remove sin from our lives.

I'm definitely NOT encouraging anyone to remove body limbs. I am highlighting that is was Jesus Christ, Himself, who sets the tone for how serious we need to be at eliminating --- entirely! --- those things in our lives that entice and draw us into sin.

How serious are your efforts to put out of your life completely the sins you would rather feed?


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Say cheese!

I've never been a "photo" guy. I'm not against them, I've just never been one to either have many photos taken, or keep a lot of photos.

That really puts me out of sorts with today's culture, which is picture crazy!

A lot of people choose the cell phone they will buy only after great consideration of the camera it has. That's because people are snapping and sending photos constantly.

Here's one of my breakfast ...

This is what traffic is like getting to work ...

This is my chair in my office ...

This is what I'm having for lunch ...

You know what I'm talking about. You've seen these photos all over Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. And your friends send them to your smartphone throughout the day.

People love pictures.

None more than my seven sisters.

It's been a long time since our entire family has been together, but there have been several times where the majority of family have gathered. Some time during our visit, the sister hosting the gathering will disappear momentarily, only to reappear with an arm full of photo albums.

What follows is a couple hours of going through family photos. Because you can count on someone pulling out a photo album, other sisters usually bring some of their photos, and before you know it, pictures are being passed everywhere!

It's not just photographs that are shared, it's the stories that they spark as well. All the stories of our most cherished memories, or our biggest challenges, or greatest moments ... or simple times when we were just together, and happy being so.

And we laugh.

There's lots of laughter as we tell and retell our stories.

And in that moment, as we share those things we've experienced together, we're as close as we've ever been. We're reminded of what it is beyond biology that binds us together.

In those moments, we're very much family


Cameras and photographs didn't exist when Jesus walked the earth. Nonetheless, He wanted to spark our memories when we, as God's family, gather together. So He didn't break out old family photo albums; instead He brought out some wine and some bread and painted a picture for us ...

"23 For I pass on to you what I received from the Lord himself. On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread 24 and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, 'This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.' 25 In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this to remember me as often as you drink it',” 1 Corinthians 11:23-25.

Jesus gave us a picture of the most poignant event in God's "photo album": His sacrifice that provided for our salvation and the opportunity to be adopted as God's own children.

Every time we gather and partake of Communion, it's a precious time when we're reminded what it is that binds us together as family.

Now there's a picture worth sharing.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Faux family ...

Why do some churches use canned photos of models on their website?

I'm not saying that's wrong. It's not something I've spent a lot of time thinking about. It's something I've noticed lately that a lot of churches seem to be doing. So I'm thinking "out loud" in this post ...

The reason why there are models in photos for general use is to paint a specific image. When an organization of any kind uses them, the idea they're communicating is ... "We're made up of these pretty people."

What's wrong with some quality photos of the real people who make up the real church? Not visually appealing enough?

So if you capture someone's attention with models who have nothing to do with your local congregation (and may have opposite views and commitments for all you know) why would you want to mislead someone with faux visuals? Five minutes visiting a church service might leave the visitor thinking, "These folks aren't anything like the pictures on the website ..."

I think there's a difference between using available photography for general images and ideas, but people photos as a representation of the people in a local church? For me, it strikes me as ... odd?

Really, this is thinking out loud. I'm not making a big issue of this. But why are churches doing this?

Are we that mentally enslaved to Madison Avenue?


Monday, February 13, 2012

Latte missionaries ...

You know how it is: you're sitting with your laptop in a Starbucks and right next to you are two people having a conversation. Now, by "right next to you" I really mean right next to you, no more than two feet away.

What does that mean?

It means you're going to hear plenty of their conversation.

You're not trying to. Honestly!

In fact, you're trying to tune them out so you can focus on your own stuff you have to do.

But a part of the conversation captures your attention ...

The part of the man who, with what looks like arrogance, points to a photo on his laptop of people from an African nation and talking about the "beast" that must be built --- a very simple dwelling to serve as a church building. That's because in the harshness of the weather, the people scatter. So, if they erect a building, the people will come for "church meetings" instead of scattering.

The man went on to talk about the "limited" and "primitive" thinking of these people, and how the building will serve to teach them a better way to live. After all, he says, their way of life is all about "daily sustenance."

It seems that is something beyond the basic understanding of this obviously well-fed American, who likely has never missed a meal in his life. It doesn't seem like this guy is getting his head around what the daily realities are for these people.

But then his cohort chimes in, trying to sound insightful by noting there are such broad cultural differences. He starts out sounding smart, until he puffs himself up by turning the conversation to the fact that he has a seminary degree and has "studied" such things.

Then the first man asks the second a truly brilliant question. He says to the man with the seminary degree, "Are you currently discipling anyone?"

The long, rambling response to the question was a justification to a one-word answer: "No."

This is the intellectual arrogance of what the American church exercises all to frequently. We look at the people of the world with a sense of superiority. We think we know how to live better. How to be better. After all, we've studied such things.

But we aren't personally discipling anyone.

"Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall," Proverbs 16:18.

"Haughtiness" is a great word we rarely use today, even though it's quite fitting. To think we can sit with our lattes in coffee houses and, with our educated minds, plan out how people on the other side of the world can live better by listening to us is, well, haughtiness.

Especially when we're not discipling a single person in our own back yard.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: Every church leader should read this book ... soon!

If you ask church leaders who they would rather spend time with, someone in their congregation, or other "leaders," the honest answer in today's church culture would probably be that of other leaders.

That's because there is an ungodly obsession with the topic of "leadership" among many church leaders.

And sadly, not a biblical concept of "leadership" either.

Leonard Sweet does nothing short of a brilliant job exposing this near addiction to "leadership" in the church in his outstanding new book, "I Am A Follower," published by Thomas Nelson.

Sweet writes, "Over the last three decades, there has been a seismic shift across the landscape of the church. The advent of church-growth theory, coupled with exponential advances in technology, has created a hyperpursuit for leadership muscle that has never been seen before."

That shift has led to church leaders immersing themselves in an overabundance of leadership literature, flocking to the multitudes of leadership conferences available, and changing their focus to making other leaders rather than making disciples. Sweet does a straightforward job of highlighting how we've turned being a follower of Christ into something Jesus never intended it to be: a quest for leadership.

"I hope to convince you to quit defining yourself as a leader, stop aspiring after leadership, and instead set your sights on being a 'Jesus follower' or 'fellow follower' or 'first follower'," writes Sweet.

Sweet has a good goal for a very simple reason: Jesus never called people to come be leaders in His church. Instead, Jesus calls us to follow Him. And as we follow Him, we make other followers who join us in following Christ.

It was never about leadership!

It was always about followership!

But when was the last time you heard a "leader" talking about "followership"?

"I Am A Follower" isn't a simplistic knock at today's church leadership myth. While Sweet directly challenges the concept of leadership within the church, most of the book explores the answer to what would be better, and more biblical: the biblical concept of followership.

Yes, even for "leaders."

From describing today's addiction for leadership, Sweet challenges us to change our direction and focus on being followers of Christ. But what does that look like today? Using Jesus' teaching that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, Sweet does a compelling, insightful, and brilliant job plunging the reader into a thorough exploration of what it means to follow Jesus Christ.

So compelling is Sweet's examination of followership that I found the book to be a slow read. Not because it's complicated; Sweet's writing is clear and understandable for any reader. But because Sweet has loaded this book with such insight you will want to marinate in the ideas and thoughts pouring forth from the pages.

This is a book so vitally needed for today's church leaders that I recommend, if possible, that you buy extra copies to share with church leaders you know.

Further, "I Am A Follower" isn't just for leaders, but is a beneficial resource for all of us who desire to follow Jesus Christ.


I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, February 10, 2012

How oxymoronic are you?

An oxymoron is a figure of speech that combines contradictory terms. We use them often!

Here's some examples of oxymorons:
  • A fine mess ...
  • A little pregnant ...
  • A new classic ...
  • Absolutely unsure ...
  • Abundant poverty ...
  • Accurate estimate ...
  • All natural artificial flavor ...
  • Approximate solution ...
  • Authentic reproduction ...
  • Awfully good ...
  • Among the first ...
  • Alone together ...
Let me give you one more. I noted it was used as the description of a ministry, which stated about itself: "All the encouragement without the guilt."

Certainly a Christian ministry doesn't want to be a source of false guilt, but here's the contradiction to the statement that makes it so oxymoronic: as Christians, we also do not want to encourage behavior that the Holy Spirit generates real guilt for.

Put another way, not all ideas, thoughts, emotions, or behaviors should be encouraged. Some are a real and appropriate cause for guilt. It is vital that Christians not try to alleviate the guilt on someone that was put there by the Holy Spirit; that guilt is a source of calling that person to repentance. That guilt may be a vital tool for saving them.

Yet, we've replaced such sound biblical understanding with a worldly "positive thinking" philosophy that leads us to overlook the "negative" and only accentuate the "positive." Nothing can be more positive than a person coming to grips with sin in their lives, repenting, and making a complete surrender of their lives to God.

That often doesn't happen when others encourage any and all behavior. We need to love others enough to NOT encourage or simply "overlook" ungodly behavior. In fact, Paul correlates "good teaching" or accurate teaching of scripture as a vital source of encouragement:

"Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching," 2 Timothy 4:2.

Are you encouraging sin in someone's life? Or in your own? How can life be more encouraging by acknowledging and responding to guilt?


Thursday, February 9, 2012

The long drum roll ...

The suspense and anticipation builds at the sound of the drum roll. You wait anxiously to see what will happen ...

... the drum roll goes on ...

... the drum roll continues ...

... still the drum roll goes on ...

... and, finally, you tire of the wait and go on your way.

What if you were stuck waiting on a drum roll that seemed to go on forever?

Sometimes, life with God can feel that way. That's because God operates on His own time to achieve all things for His glory. Perfect timing every time.

But for us, it can sometimes feel like the drum roll doesn't stop.

That's because, as we look into scripture, God often creates a "gap" --- He announces that He is going to do something wonderful, and then leaves people waiting for just the right time to do it. Sometimes, a very long time.

God may give us His assurance to ease our wonderings, but might keep us waiting for the best possible moment to achieve the best possible outcome.

Kind of like sitting through a long drum roll.

But God always keeps His word, He always delivers what He promises. At the right time. In the right way. Perfectly. For His glory.

Just wait through the drum roll.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Hello me, good morning me, how's it going me ...

Take 33 seconds to watch the video below ...

A world full of Dave! Would his business run better if everyone else was ... him?

Sometimes it's not that difficult to imagine a world full of ourselves because we fill our world with us.

Our consuming thoughts are what we want out of a relationship, about ourselves in the household, about what's happening to us at work, about our own health, our own needs, our own preferences, our own wants.

Many already have a world full of themselves.

That's very different from the Apostle Paul's admonition to us:

"Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves," Romans 12:10.

We can't think more highly of others until we make room in our thoughts for someone other than ourselves.

Beyond those closest to you, who do you show this kind of honor to? Who is your world populated with?


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

If it looks good and sounds good ...

After a long, hard day at work, and a slow evening in front of the TV, the man couldn't keep his eyes open anymore. He finally dragged himself to bed, where in collapsed into a deep slumber.

A few hours later, the man awoke with a start.

Was that screaming?

Yes! And gunfire?


Terrified, he quickly called the police. By the time the officers arrived ... Jay Leno was interviewing the actors who played in the scene.

Yes, the man had left his television on when he went to bed. The sounds of violence had come from the television.

This is a true news story reported just a couple days ago. You may feel sorry for the guy for embarrassing himself, but his behavior is a common one. We often react to what is served up to our senses without knowing their basis in truth.

It sounds real. It feels real. So we react. But what often appears to be real is based on falsehoods that, sooner or later, will show themselves to be something other than what we originally thought.

That's when the failures come on in full force. These falsehoods are incubators of regret and harsh circumstances.

Jesus encouraged us not to react to what looks and sounds right, but to seek the truth and build upon that as the foundation for our lives:

24 “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. 26 But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. 27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash," Matthew 7:24-27.

Oh, and what is "truth"?
"Jesus told him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me'," John 14:6.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Building a bond that lasts a lifetime ...

Which do you find more inspirational and seemingly romantic: "young love" between a young couple, or seeing an older couple who has weathered all of life's challenges together and are still head-over-heels "in love" with each other?

There's something about a lasting bond that attracts us, to know that real love and commitment can endure, and even deepen, from those early days of yet unrefined passion.

There are many things involved with building a bond that lasts. One element that is rarely talked about, or taught, is that of touch.

Touch is highly addictive.

We crave the touch of another human being. And once we have it, we always want it. We even need it.

BUT touch can be used to indulge our base human desires, or to build a bond between a man and woman that lasts a lifetime.

Secular zoologist Demond Morris studied how touch is vital in building, and sustaining, a bond among couples. Dr. Donald Joy built upon Morris' observations to show how pair bonding is built through sequential steps of touch that are constantly repeated throughout life.

The 12 steps to pair bonding are as follows


Step 1: Eye to Body. This is not a sexual look, but that first look of discovery. Something "grabs" you that first time you see her or him across a room.

Step 2: Eye to Eye. This is already more intimate than observing someone and "taking them in." Now, you're both looking directly at each other, making "eye contact." A deeper connection has been made.

Step 3: Voice to Voice. A man and woman are now drawn together and interacting by speaking to each other. Yet a deeper connection than observation.

STAGE TWO: First Touch

Step 4: Hand to Hand. Do you remember how excited you were the first time you held hands? You heart was beating so hard you could feel it! The rush of excitement at that first touch, which moved your level of intimacy beyond conversation to a new connection.

Step 5: Arm to Shoulder. This is a closeness not reserved simply for couples. You'll even see someone prop an arm on a buddy's shoulder as an innocent touch of close friendship. But it is a touch of connectedness, of a closeness that has surpassed observation and conversation; the bond is growing.

Step 6: Arm to Waist. There are fewer people we allow to put their arms around our waists. It's a more intimate touch that draws us closer and alongside someone.

STAGE THREE: Intimate Contact

Step 7: Face to Face. As a couple moves face to face, intimacy is deepened with prolonged eye contact, hugging, and kissing. This is a level of intimacy not commonly shared, and stirs deeper responses emotionally and physically.

Step 8: Hand to Head. There are very few people we allow to touch our heads. This is reserved for someone we have a level of trust and connectedness with that is unique.

STAGE FOUR: One Flesh (reserved for within marriage)

Step 9: Hand to Body. Now that the bond has moved within marriage, the couple broadens their touch to exploring each others' bodies.

Steps 10-12: Mouth to Body, Hand to Genital, and Intercourse. Touch transforms from exploration to sexual intimacy between the pair.

Such a sequential approach to pair bonding, and specifically to touch, contributes significantly to the bond a man and woman can build for life. The problem is, so many give little consideration to building such a bond.

In fact, it's not uncommon today for most, or all, of these steps to be taken within a couple hours of the start of a first date! From that point on, the value of sequence in touch is lost, and couples often look to what they have "in common" to keep them together rather than give consideration to building a bond that ties them together.

But those couples who still get excited by just seeing their spouse across a room ...

Those couples who still lose themselves in each others eyes, or linger in the enjoyment of simple conversation ...

Those couples who still reach out and take hold of each others' hands ...

Those couples who are connected with an arm around the waist, or a touch to the head ...

... and do these things over and over and over, week after month after year after decade, find a deep and passionate bond between them that is an enduring connection for life.

But those couples who interact little except for occasional sexual activity and to complete chores, find a gulf between them that often is never closed.

The significance of touch, and it's key role in building a lasting bond between a man and woman, is important for couples to understand. But it's also vital education for teens, and especially for young adults.

Couples who have a sequential, ongoing step to touch in their relationship tend to have more authentic, deeper, and stronger pair bonding than others. Couples who skip or eliminate steps routinely under-value, overlook, and take advantage of each other.

Do you have a healthy bond in your marriage? Are these steps sequential realities between you and your spouse? How could these steps build a greater intimacy, and stronger bond, between you and your spouse? And how could you teach this to your children so they can understand the power of touch, and have a respect for it that glorifies God and leads to proper interaction with others as they grow?


Saturday, February 4, 2012

What would you like to unlike?

A Facebook friend of mine posted this today:

"Phew, I gotta be real careful what things I 'like' on here. So glad I can 'unlike' something that I misread at first."

That's the nice thing about social media, we can undo our mistakes. We can remove posts. We can drop tweets. We can edit our writing. We can eliminate our mistakes.

So different from life!

We can't undo the thoughts, emotions and desires we've had. And we certainly can't go back and undo our actions. All these things are a part of our history.

All of us have things we wish we could "unlike." Things we've said. Passions and desires we've allowed into our thoughts and hearts. Things we've done. The Apostle Paul described it this way:

"For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard," Romans 3:23.

But God can change those mistakes, those errors ... those sins.

ONLY God can undo the wrong we've done.

We may still have some consequences to work through, but the cost for our sins were paid for and forever eliminated by Jesus Christ:

"11 For his unfailing love toward those who fear him
is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.
12 He has removed our sins as far from us
as the east is from the west."
Psalm 103:11-12

Because of His love for us, Jesus "unlikes" our sin. Going forward, He rewrites our lives into great stories of transformation.


Is staying within your capabilities bad for you?

We talk a lot about living in our "comfort zone," but have you ever heard a definition for one?

How about this:

"Staying in a comfort zone is when you choose to sit on your capabilities."

One of the most comfortable places for us is being within what we're currently capable of doing. That feels safe. It might take some work, but we're "capable" of it. Moving outside of what we're personally capable of frightens us.

That leads us to one idea of "spiritual maturing":

"Maturing spiritually is when God moves us to the fringe --- and then beyond --- of our current capabilities to stretch us into what we are not yet capable of without Him."

To grow up in Christ is to consistently be moving beyond our capabilities so that we remain reliant on Christ while He reshapes us.

"So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image," 2 Corinthians 3:18.

That can't be done by sitting on your capabilities. Such consistent spiritual maturing requires us to move beyond what we are capable of to rely on what God alone can accomplish in us.

Are you sitting on your capabilities? Or are you relying on God while He reshapes you?


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Make me stop ... I won't!

"Should the federal government regulate sugar?"

That was the brief discussion the news broadcasters were discussing on a local radio station this morning.

It was raised after the publishing of a new report highlighting the dire (nearly toxic) effects of sugar on the human body.

The discussion was accentuated with the statement of a researcher who believes we are reaching the worst health catastrophe in world history.


Largely because of what and how we eat.

Yep, we're doing it to ourselves.

We stuff ourselves with food that is bad for our bodies. We know it's bad for our bodies. "But I like it!" we say, and continue eating ourselves into serious --- even life-threatening --- health conditions.

We do the same spiritually.

We hang onto certain sins that feel really good to us. "But I like it!" we whisper to ourselves, and continue on, doing what we know we shouldn't do.

For our health --- both spiritually and physically --- we've got to ask the question: "Where's the self-discipline?"

Self-discipline is that unique trait where a person finally pushes back from what is bad for him or her and says, "No!" And the Apostle Paul says it's a characteristic exercised by those who follow Christ ...

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline," 2 Timothy 1:7.

Notice Paul also says we have power --- power from Christ who lives in us. But in order for the power of Christ to enable us, we have to do our part also. We have to stop stuffing our bodies with junk and thinking God will supernaturally turn the junk into something nutritious for our bodies.

And at some point, we have to behave, also.

Taking care of our bodies, and living for Christ, both take a consistent application of self-discipline, the doing of what we know we should do ... whether we like it or not.

Do that long enough and your body will learn to yearn for nutritious meals and will become queasy at the taste of junk food.

Do that long enough and you develop a hunger and thirst for righteousness, and you become queasy at the taste of the unholy.

What self-destructive behaviors do you still have in your life that you need to practice greater self-discipline over? How can greater self-discipline in your life open the door for greater power from God in your life?