Defiantly Happy

Yesterday one of Carolyn’s kindergarten students was misbehaving and had to change his card.  (Each student has a card, and if they misbehave during the day they have to move it from green to yellow to red, with each color change carrying certain consequences.)

As this little guy was changing his card, he said very defiantly to Carolyn: “I’m still happy.”  (Carolyn said he didn’t look too happy.)

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Published in: on August 28, 2008 at 3:28 pm  Comments (4)  

Blood Bank Bummer

Bummer. This morning the Blood Bank of Delmarva called to schedule an appointment, but it turns out I’m not eligible to donate for an entire year because Carolyn and I spent a couple days in the Costa Rican province of Alajuela. That stinks! Giving blood is one of the simple ways to do something that I know will make a difference and really help someone. Apparently Alajuela is on their list of places that are a malaria risk, so–malaria or not–I can’t donate for a year. That’s kind of had me bummed out all day, because that’s about five or six pints of blood total. Oh well.

Hey, if you’re reading this, could you maybe help me feel better and go donate?….

Published in: on August 27, 2008 at 5:18 am  Comments (4)  

Nice Political Bumper Sticker

Seen in the parking lot near Bank of Ocean City:

“DON’T BLAME ME, I VOTED FOR PEDRO”

Published in: on August 26, 2008 at 4:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

What in the World Am I Doing Here?

That’s the title of the message that Pastor Kyle McDaniel shared with us yesterday at CrossWay.  Kyle is the associate pastor at nearby SonRise Church.

The sermon was about life lessons from the Book of Ecclesiastes.  It address the search for life, the stuff of life, and the substance of life.  Some highlights (all quotes are Kyle’s):

  • There’s a pattern of life that runs throughout history: work, eat, sleep, work, eat, sleep….  Eventually all of us ask: Isn’t there something more to life than this?
  • “The answer to life is not found in life itself.”  It’s found in Scripture, as we see in King Solomon’s journey which he shares in Ecclesiastes.
  • “Without God there is no enjoyment in life.”  Obviously this has to be taken in context.  Pastor Kyle was mainly talking about how every single one of our blessings is a gift straight from the hand of God.  He also talked about how we’re better able to relax and enjoy the good things in life when we recognize them as gifts from God.
  • Don’t pursue meaning in life–rest in the fact that God gives it meaning.
  • We experience meaning in life when we’re God’s tools to bless others–we’re blessed to be a blessing.
  • God will hold the church–not the government–responsible for blessing the community.
  • Rejoice in the good times, but recognize that the bad times are not outside of God’s sovereignty.
  • God is in control and He is good.
  • Dwell on the good times, not the bad!
  • Recognize that pleasure is from the hand of God.
  • Looking back, we don’t remember the stuff we had–we remember the people we knew.
  • We should spend our lives on things that will outlast us.  Ask yourself: How can I make the most of my life?  How can I make my life outlast itself?
  • Whatever is the pursuit of our lives, it should have a positive impact on other people.
  • When you’re following God, seeking Him, trusting Him, and living according to Scripture, don’t fret about choices–God has freed us to make choices.
  • Act!  And act now!  “For it is now that God favors what you do” (Ecclesiastes 9:7).
  • Quoting Augustine: “Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in God.”
  • Recognize God in every facet of life.  This is the antidote to meaninglessness.
  • “The only reason I have food on my plate and a roof over my head is because a sovereign God has chosen to give them to me.”

It was an excellent message that caused a lot of discussion afterward among those who were there.  I’ll try to get the podcast up some time in the next couple days or so.  (Technology problems all over the place have caused the podcast to be sporadic in recent weeks, but hopefully that’s about fixed.)

Published in: on August 25, 2008 at 5:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

Vote for the First Dog

According to some reports, Barack Obama has promised to get his daughters a dog after the presidential election. The American Kennel Club is holding its own election to help the general public offer some guidance as to what kind of dog the Obama family should get.

If Obama wins the election, that means that YOU can have a say in what breed becomes the next first dog! Cast your vote here.

To learn more about the history of presidents and their dogs, click here.

Published in: on August 15, 2008 at 5:21 am  Leave a Comment  

“In the Beginning” at Sight & Sound Theater

Last week Carolyn and I went to Sight & Sound Theater in Strasburg, Pennsylvania. We love that place! We saw “In the Beginning,” their version of the creation story. As usual, it was great! Their productions are too good to try to describe. You just have to experience it.

We were excited to see that next spring they’re bringing back “Behold the Lamb.” It’s one of the few shows there that we haven’t seen. Hopefully we’ll be able to catch it in April.

Published in: on August 14, 2008 at 1:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

Freedom from Anxiety

At CrossWay on Sunday we continued our Freedom series with a message about freedom from anxiety.  Anxiety for many of us is a constant undercurrent in our daily lives.  Sometimes worry is our mental default mode.  But like breathing, which happens automatically yet can be consciously controlled, we can also be deliberate about where we turn our thoughts.  And when it comes to anxiety, that makes all the difference.

We looked at three passages that help us find freedom from our anxiety: Matthew 6:25-34; Philippians 4:4-8; and 1 Peter 5:7.  These passages are all simple and straightforward, yet enormously powerful.  Check them out!  If you’ll think about them and do what they say, you really can discover the relief and liberation that comes with experiencing freedom from anxiety.

Our podcast host isn’t working too well lately, but hopefully the podcast will be available this week.

Published in: on August 12, 2008 at 12:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

It’s Rick Warren’s TIME

Today when my issue of TIME magazine arrived in the mail, it was a surprise to see Rick Warren’s mug on the front.  The cover blurb says: “The Purpose Driven Pastor – Rick Warren – America’s most powerful religious leader takes on the world.”  You can read it online here.

The article’s writer, David Van Biema, is gentler than most of Warren’s critics.  I guess this might be because most of Warren’s antagonists are either jealous Christian leaders or venomously anti-Christian angry people, and Van Biema appears to be neither.  But even so I found myself highly irritated by the end of the article.  I know I should be more patient and gracious, but I can’t stand watching people who are working hard to make the world a better place get attacked by people who find it easier to shoot down someone else’s dream rather than chase after their own.  Van Biema writes of Warren:

“Is he oversubscribed?  I ask him how many countries there are in the world.  Of course, he knows: ‘There’s 195 countries.’  I think, 195 countries, and so far, even one seems to be a challenge [referring to Rwanda].” 

He goes on to conclude by comparing Warren’s upcoming appearance with Barack Obama and John McCain as his “coronation,” then compares him to King David and suggests that the real trouble begins after the coronation.  Maybe Van Biema was just trying to come up with some angle for his story, as his writing really isn’t convincing.  Still, it’s a weak and cynical angle.

Actually, I couldn’t help laughing at the startlingly premature judgment of Warren’s PEACE plan.  So there are 195 countries, and after only a couple years he hasn’t already fulfilled the plan on a global perspective?  My, my–it’s obviously doomed to failure.  I’m glad that Warren and other people who have changed the world for good refuse to listen to the naysayers who find destruction easier than construction.

Having said all that, there were some entertaining parts of the article, brought on by a secular writer’s unintentionally humorous depictions of Christian concepts.  They’re easy to spot by the quotes, as in a shift away from “sin issues,” or his father was a “church planter.”  After putting “church planter” in quotes, Van Biema defines the term as a “serial church founder.”  My friend Daryl, who’s a church planter, called while I was reading the article.  I couldn’t resist informing him that he’s a serial church founder.  He said it made him sound like a criminal.

Even though the article could have been better, it’s still an informative read.  I would only say to Rick Warren: Press on, brother, and pay no attention to the little minds who would have you abandon your noble intentions to trade them in for pessimistic self-absorption.

Published in: on August 11, 2008 at 4:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

Computer Update

At the end of last week I finally got my computer back from the Geek Squad.  They fixed it to the point that it can now detect wireless, but there’s still one huge problem: it can’t detect my wireless!  I’m able to get online at the church, but not from my study which is where I usually blog.  So when September rolls around and I’m spending more time back at the office, I’ll get back to regular blogging, ’cause apparently nobody can fix this thing.

Published in: on August 4, 2008 at 2:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

Freedom from Fear

The “Freedom” series continued yesterday at CrossWay with a message about freedom from fear. 

We all have something that scares us.  For some it might be actual dangers we encounter, such as icy roads, an abusive parent, or a disease we carry in our bodies.  For others it might be a phobia, which is a nagging fear where our imaginations exaggerate the actual danger of something.  I’ve heard of people having phobias of everything from spiders to clouds to midgets to the number 10.

Some fear is good and healthy, which is why God wired us to be able to experience fear.  It’s our bodies’ way of self-preservation in dangerous situations.  If you’re standing near the edge of a cliff, it’s good to fear the deadly drop below so that you’re not careless.  When you’re driving, it’s good to fear crashing at 100 miles per hour, so that you drive carefully and at a safe speed.  These are good kinds of fear.

But some fear is debilitating.  Sometimes our fears create imaginary boundaries that imprison us in reality.  As we try to follow Christ and live the life God created us to live, our fears will tempt us to take detours along the way.  So how do we find freedom from fear?

In yesterday’s worship service we looked at a couple Bible passages that teach us about finding freedom from fear.  The main text was Mark 4:35-41, which tells the story of Jesus sending His disciples across a lake in a boat when a powerful storm suddenly hits.  The disciples freak out while Jesus takes a nap.  They thought their lives were in danger, while Jesus knew everything was under control.

This picture of Jesus sleeping in a storm reminds me of those hurricane images we sometimes see on TV.  Right in the middle of the chaos is the eye, where everything is peaceful and calm.  I wonder if God designed storms like that on purpose to teach us something about trusting Him. 

Since Jesus loves us so completely and is completely in control, we can look to Him to see if He’s all stressed out.  If Jesus is panicking, then we have good reason to panic too.  But if He’s enjoying some nice REM sleep, we can sit back and enjoy the ride.

Of course that sounds oversimplified, and it’s not too easy to release our fears (they don’t need to release us—we need to release them), but it’s entirely possible with Christ.  He came to set us free!  You can hear more about it soon on the podcast.

Published in: on August 4, 2008 at 1:10 pm  Leave a Comment