Thursday, December 31, 2009

It’s Amazing What a Decade Will Do

December 31, 2009

Exactly 10 years ago we were bracing for the worst as we faced uncertainty resulting from glitches in original computer language. Can you remember the level of insecurity ten years ago? Who should we believe, the “experts” who said the glitches were fixed or those who identified all the possible things that could go wrong? On what should we base our judgment as this was completely new territory? Would planes really drop out of the air, power plants shut down and modern comforts disappear?

Some folks were mega-doomsayers, predicting the end of civilization as we know it. Others were saying there was absolutely nothing at all in any way whatsoever to be concerned about so go about life as normal. Most of us were somewhere in the middle. In fact, our family still has a white “Y2K” cupboard in the basement where we stored some food, water and gas masks (just kidding). After ten years we’re still calling it that. Hey, habits die hard with us!

Turns out about the worst thing that happened was 150 slot machines in Delaware shut down and bus validation machines in Australia failed to operate. Guess we didn’t need all those generators and caches of supplies after all. Oh, well, at least we still have a perfectly good cabinet in our basement with a very cool nickname.

Today we approach the beginning of another new decade and that serious fear is nearly forgotten. Amazing what a decade will do! Amazing what perspective will do. It’s easy to look back, laugh and wonder what the fuss was about. But on December 31, 1999 that perspective was hidden. It’s all in how we look at it.

Though the Y2K threat is history and amusing, the past decade has given us a host of real threats that could cause us to shut ourselves into that Y2K cupboard and never come out. Really. Or we can stick our heads in the sand and pretend that the threats are not really there, that we still live in Mayberry with Andy Griffith and everything will turn out right at the end of the show. Appears to me that neither works very well. Besides, there’s not enough room in the Y2K cupboard anyway.

There is another choice as we step into the new decade. Another perspective. Another way of looking at life. You see, it all depends on what we see is biggest. If the threat of terrorism, worldwide hunger, disease, illness, or economic disaster is the biggest thing in our lives we’ll run for the cupboard. But what if just maybe there is something bigger than it all. Something so big that it dwarfs all threats?

Job came face to face with the Being Who is bigger than all. (Read Job chapters 38-42 to begin the New Year.) After questioning God, God shows up! In the biggest bit of Biblical sarcasm I know, God challenged Job’s perspective, verbally pinning Job to the wall. As you read the account we hear God reveal how big He is and how very, very, very, very small all else is. And that GOD IS ON OUR SIDE WHEN WE CHOOSE HIM, dwarfing all else in our lives.

Job 42:1-2 (NIV) 1Then Job replied to the Lord: 2“I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.

Job saw differently after that. I’m guessing Y2K and any other threat would never faze him again. My prayer for you is the same. That you will really see God and allow all else to fade.

Happy New Year! Happy New Decade!
Boldly, Herb

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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

It’s a Long Time Between Promise and Delivery

December 9, 2009

It’s embarrassing. It really is.

Been thinking about the many people in the Bible that were given promises and how long they had to wait for God to deliver on the promise.

Abraham: 25 years between the promise of a child and the (literally) delivery.

Moses: 40 years (at least) herding sheep in the wilderness from calling to deliver Israel from slavery in Egypt to actually confronting Pharaoh.

Peter: 3 years of hanging out with Jesus, and a lot of embarrassing statements and actions, until he was fully ready to go fishing for men.

Joseph: 13 years of being a slave after seeing God’s vision of being a ruler until God miraculously moved him from the dungeon to the palace.

Israel: 400 years of silence, not even a peep from a prophet, prior to Jesus being born.

Jesus: had to live in a human body for 30 years after Christmas before going about His purpose.

And we get impatient when God doesn’t deliver in a day!!

I think I’ll go apologize to God and try to get some perspective.

Boldly, Herb

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Thursday, December 03, 2009

What We Can Do for Tiger Woods

December 3, 2009

What do you do when nothing thrills anymore? When you’ve pushed, worked, sacrificed, sweated and finally reached that which you believe will satisfy, and it does… for a while… then it doesn’t?

You conclude that you were mistaken, that what you were expecting to fill the hole inside you was the wrong thing and thus it must be something else. You step back, evaluate (consciously or unconsciously) and aim for the new target. You push, work, sacrifice, sweat and finally reach it. To find that it satisfies… for a while… then it doesn’t.

What do you do now? Take new aim and give it another go. Some people repeat it over and over again their entire lives, always reaching for something different because there is always something else to reach for. Others get tired of chasing a new target and give up by emotionally shutting down, medicating with something that dulls the pain or just end it all.

There are a very select few who run out of targets. They reach all that there is to reach and find that they there is NOTHING else to aim for. What do you do when you still want to pursue what satisfies and THERE ARE NO MORE TARGETS?

We hear about these rare people in the news. We common folk are baffled because we think, “If I had wealth, success, fame, family – all I could ever want and more – I WOULD BE HAPPY!” And we would be stupid to think so.

I don’t know any more about Tiger Woods than you do, probably less. But I’m guessing this has something to do with his recent struggles. What do you do when, at 33 years old, you have everything you’ve been told all your life would make your life meaningful… and it doesn’t? The human soul cannot live with that and will drive a person to do something, sometimes anything, to gain relief.

Many are angry because they would like to have what Tiger has.
Others are hurt that he has plummeted from the pedestal they had him on.
Some are mad at the hurt he has caused to his family and friends.

What would Jesus do if He showed up in visible form at Tiger’s house?

I have a Bible based hunch that He would put His arm around him and say, “I’m your friend, I am here for you and will not walk away. I am not your friend because of your wealth or success. I would be your friend if you were nothing by the world’s standards because you can’t earn or loose my friendship.
Now, what’s really going on? Whatever has happened (and we don’t really know) are symptoms, not the real issue. No matter how stupid your choices have been, we can deal with them. Let’s dig underneath it all to get to the hole in your heart, figure out how to fill it and restore your life and family.”

That’s what Jesus did in the Bible and still does. For Tiger or for you.

Instead of gossiping about Tiger and all the lesser known people we hear about, how about if we pray for them. Let’s put our arms around those that are close to us and help them figure out that the only piece of life’s puzzle that fits into that hole in their hearts is Jesus. If that happens, tragedies turn into the greatest triumphs.

“6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1 Timothy 6:6-10 (NIV)

Boldly, Herb

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Grace That Turns Us into Puddles

December 1, 2009

I am blown away by the way Jesus reached into Peter’s life when he was at his worst. Jesus KNEW that Peter would betray Him, denying Him three times. At the time when Jesus needed His close friend most, Peter turned his back on Jesus in every way. Jesus KNEW Peter would but believed in Peter anyway.

Jesus erased the evidence that could have gotten Peter the death penalty when He replaced the guard’s ear.

Jesus prayed for Peter so he would have the strength to return rather than hang himself as Judas did.

Jesus made eye contact with Peter as the rooster crowed signaling the third denial, reminding Peter that Jesus KNEW it would happen and reminding Peter of Jesus’ instructions: 31“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. 32But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32, NIV)
If Jesus had spoken anything, He risked Peter being taken prisoner as well. Mark Batterson states that Jesus’ was not scolding or saying “I told you so!” Rather Jesus’ look said, “Peter, look at Me. I forgave you before you even denied Me. I just want you to know that I haven’t given up on you. We’re still in this thing together!” (“Wild Goose Chase”, Mark Batterson, p. 108)

Following His resurrection, Jesus specifically restored Peter (John 21:15-19) with unconditional grace. And then the Holy Spirit used Peter and others to turn the world upside-down.


What is it within us that resists grace?

The undeserved, unearned favored position with God that causes Him to pour out His love, mercy and forgiveness without end. We don’t understand it, we can’t comprehend it, we have a hard time accepting it when it is extended and so we try to earn it. Often we reject or try to alter it because we believe it must somehow cost us something.

We grow up believing that you get what you earn; nothing is free in life; “If it sounds too good to be true it is;” there is a cost for everything and if someone is offering you a free gift you better check around for the catch. That’s true in the human world and works well in school, purchases and jobs. Not so good in relationships.

In relationships most of us have experienced conditional love – that if we want someone’s love there are conditions (act right, give back, live up to it, do what I want, etc.) It’s not that our parents tried to love us conditionally; it’s just what the whole human race understands and lives out.

That’s why it is so hard to catch, believe and embrace God’s grace. We have no point of reference for it. We have no experience that prepares us to accept it.

But when we see it, it takes our breath away. It will turn us into a puddle or make us run. Peter was a puddle; Judas ran. There was nothing short of total rejection that could prevent Peter from experiencing the incredible grace of Jesus. All he had to do was stay in the vicinity with Jesus. And grace washed over him like nothing he had ever known. When he expected Jesus’ rebuke, he got His unconditional grace. Jesus instruction was not how badly Peter blew it but was simply, “Follow me!” (John 21:19).

It’s the same for you.

God’s grace really, really, really is free and better than anything we can imagine. It is too good to be true, yet it IS true. For YOU!

I’m a puddle.

Boldly, Herb

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