Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Canadian Parliament Shooting - Thankful For First Responders

A reporter shot some video footage, looking down a large hallway, inside the Canadian Parliament Complex, today, as multiple shots by a gunman (gunmen?) were being fired. In fact, as the sound of the shots ring out it is apparent that the person stops holding the camera for the correct framing and ducks for cover behind a wall.  It is compelling video.

I was impressed—as I was watching this footage on the news—by the law enforcement officers, with guns drawn, running down the hallway toward the sound of the shooting.  Most people would, wisely, be running away from the sound of the gun play.  These folks were running toward the sound of the gun play.  Oh, I realize they are trained to do this and it is their job, however, it is still a remarkable action.

I felt thankful, once again, for the tremendous men and women who respond on behalf of the safety of others during these types of emergency crises.

It's Really True That Money Can't Buy Happiness

Research has shown that after a person achieves a certain minimal amount of money—basically enough money to pay the bills and not be in constant financial stress—having additional money beyond the minimal amount will not significantly increase the person’s happiness.

So, think of it this way:  If you live a fairly comfortable middle class type of lifestyle and you are not in a position in which you are constantly worried about whether or not you will be able to pay your bills, then winning a $100 million dollar lottery might bring some temporary happiness—and a few more toys—but it is unlikely that it will significantly increase the joy and happiness you experience in life.

“It is good to have money and the things money can buy, but it’s good too, to check up once in a while and make sure you haven’t lost the things money can’t buy.” 

(Origin of quote unknown)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Failure Is Part Of Growth And Development

In order to perform at a high level we have to be willing to try things we haven’t been able to do before. This is uncomfortable and puts us in a position where we might fail.

Most of us have been trained to see failure as something to avoid or to cover up. This view of failure makes us reluctant to even try. I can look back and recognize that there have been many times in which this has been true for me.  I have been reluctant to try certain things because trying meant failure could happen.

It is helpful for us (this includes me) to remember that failure is part of all significant growth and development.

“While the best methods of development are constantly changing, they’re always built around a central principle: they’re meant to stretch the individual beyond his or her current abilities.”  Talent Is Overrated, Geoff Colvin

Friday, October 17, 2014

Love Involves Risk and Vulnerability

If we really love others we are doing something that is risky and vulnerable. 

I know that comment seems cynical.  I don’t intend for it to be taken that way.  I’m simply expressing a reality of life.  There are risks and vulnerabilities involved in loving others because people are imperfect.  Sometimes we hurt each other.  Sometimes we irritate each other. Sometimes we misunderstand each other.  Sometimes we do things that make others genuinely angry.  More painful still, sometimes we extend love and it is not returned.

Followers of Jesus are called to go ahead and love others, despite the risk and vulnerability.  In fact, it’s strange to think that the most perfectly loving person who ever lived was executed.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”  Colossians 3:12-14

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Houston Demands That Pastors Turn Over Sermons

At first I thought a post I saw regarding this matter was a joke but it appears to be true.  The city of Houston is demanding that pastors turn over sermons and other communication related to a city legal matter that is called the “bathroom bill.”  I’ve attached a link to this post which provides additional details regarding this story.

Part of me thinks: I wish people at City Hall wanted to go over my sermons. I’d be mildly excited at such a development.

But another part of me thinks about these questions: Does the city government of Houston believe it has the authority to control what a pastor says at the church?  What leads them to believe they have the authority to control what a pastor says at the church? Is this how governments begin to exercise control over churches?

I know this is fairly obvious to point out and there are many potential situations in which this would be much easier said than done, however, I’ll say it, anyhow:  A pastor is called by God and the first priority of the pastor is to be obedient to God. This involves—among other things—lovingly, honestly, responsibly preaching and teaching the truth of God’s word.

If being obedient to God gets the pastor in trouble with the government—and I do not say this with bravado, I say it with deep concern and seriousness—then the pastor must be willing to deal with those consequences.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A Fall Harvest Adventure

                                       Click here for video!

It's Not A Cop Out To Trust God

I realize it can sound like a cop out to say, “Trust God.”  But I don’t use the phrase to suggest we should quit trying or quit thinking about solutions to problems.  However, there are things we can do and things we can’t do.  There are things we can control and a whole bunch of things we can’t control.

As I was watching the news this morning there were two key stories receiving a lot of attention.  One story had to do with ISIS, which affects many people under the broad category of terrorism activity.  The other story had to do with the Ebola virus, which seems to have the potential to affect more people than might have otherwise been reported. As you know, it is already classified as an epidemic in West Africa.

Both of these front page news stories are a good example of issues over which most of us have very little control.  And there are many other issues of life we do not control, as well.

I’m not writing this to make us feel hopeless or scared and I am definitely not trying to make us feel like victims.  I do not like the tendency of our culture to encourage a victim mentality. I’m just pointing out basic realities of life.

So, for me this statement is not a cop out.  It has to do with a fundamental truth of my existence:  I choose to trust God.

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”  So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”

Hebrews 13:5&6

Monday, October 13, 2014

We Are Not Properly Prepared To Handle Ebola Virus

The errors we have seen with the handling of Ebola in Dallas suggest that U.S. hospitals are not properly prepared to deal with the virus.  Meanwhile, Dr. Frieden of the Centers for Disease Control continues to insist that things are under control and there is no serious threat.


This is sounding more and more like the kind of talk we are supposed to hear from someone in his position who has been instructed to make sure people do not panic.

Preventing panic is a good idea.  But honesty along with wise and careful response is a good idea, too.

The response of our government should be to put procedures and protocols into place that will provide the best level of protection for our health care professionals.  If this means that travel into the U.S. from certain areas has to be more carefully scrutinized then this may have to be what is necessary, at least until this threat is better understood, prepared for and contained.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Oh The Fun of Getting A Pie In The Face

Several hours ago I took multiple whipped cream pies to the face along with a few of our loving and courageous youth leaders as part of a youth fundraiser at the Oktoberfest picnic.

(I now know that whipped cream smashed into both ears does affect the ability to hear. So there was some important scientific data that was obtained from the experience.)

Even though hours have passed since the event, I still have a lingering smell of whipped cream all over along with the feeling of sugar in my hair.

Even though hours have passed since the event, I still have a lingering smell of whipped cream all over along with the feeling of sugar in my hair.

…Good thing I’m planning on taking a shower on Wednesday, that's for sure!

Come Out To Oktoberfest! ...And Bring Your Beard

Yesterday, I began working and concentrating very hard and the good news is I managed to grow a
beard like the one in this photo for our Oktoberfest today!  Whew!!! I didn’t know if it was going to be possible, or not, so I’m pretty happy. 

(Some people get very nervous about the things that make me happy.)

If you’re saying, “Oktoberfest?!?  What Oktoberfest?!?”

It’s the Oktoberfest at our church today, Sunday, October 12th.  And you’re invited!  Come on out and join us.  The Oktoberfest happens following the 11 o’clock service.

First Church of God
4600 W. 111th Street
Oak Lawn, IL

Service times: 9am and 11am.  Oktoberfest follows the 11am service.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Sometimes Minor Issues Are Not Worthwhile

It’s easy for people who take their faith seriously to get into arguments about minor religious issues that are not worth fighting about.  Obviously, it is perfectly acceptable to debate certain issues.  And if the issues can be discussed without unnecessary anger it might even be helpful.  Also, it is important to remain committed to the truth. 

But when minor issues that are not essential to the faith tear apart relationships and genuine love for each other is compromised then arguments about minor issues have become unhealthy, unproductive, and not worth it.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Greater Contribution Comes From The Development of Gifts and Talents

I believe it will be of greater benefit to focus more on the development and utilization of our strengths than trying to improve the areas in which we are weak.  This is not to suggest that weak areas should be completely ignored it is simply recognizing that our greatest contributions are more likely to come from those areas in which we can genuinely excel.

“Never, never ever no matter what, give up on mining the gift and talent you’ve been given. These are qualities that will open the doors to the infinite possibilities of your life.” Ron Rubin & Stuart Avery Gold