Showing posts from 2012

Jesus came into the REAL world!

Recently our church performed a fantastic original Broadway style musical called “Joe Carpenter.” The story is about Joseph and what it would have been like if the Christmas narratives had been set in a more modern day setting in the rural south. Joe lived with his mama, grandmother, aunt, and sister. It was quite a show filled with the Shepherd Family made up of Carnival workers who were visited with the news of Christ’s birth, along with a small town of busy bodies and gossips. It was as true to life of a story as one could ever experience and it resulted in a number of people giving their life to Jesus and making important spiritual decisions with their lives. However, one of the things that really came out of the show is how narrow focused and how so many “church folks” genuinely miss the real thrust and reality of the Christmas stories recorded in the New Testament gospels. So many “church folks” sadly approach the entire Christmas story with the same legalism of heart

Black Friday in Retail...God's house in the Red!

I was in shock to see it and even more in shocked to watc h it as the lines started forming on Th an ksgiving afternoon all over the country. People stood in line to get into stores to purchase "doo rbuster" specials , receive special incentives, and fill their bugg ies full of stuff they didn't even need. I know this because my family first had spent over $200 after walking into a sto re on B lack Friday saying we reall y didn't ne ed anything. Get this fact: T otal Shopper spending for the weekend of Black Friday reached an estimated $59.1 billion, which is a 13% increase from a year ago! Online shopping (my favo rite kind of shopping) eclipsed over 1 Billion dollars in sales and increased by 21% over the weekend from 2011 sales. This represents astronomical numbers especially for us to be in the worse economy in 50+ years. T he National Retail Federation is predicting that sales this holiday season will rise 4.1% from 2011 sales.  If the estimate is correc

Busy but not Productive!

A couple of months ago I went to warm up some coffee in our microwave. I opened the door, put the lukewarm coffee in the microwave, set the timer for 30 seconds, and pushed start. The microwave lit up, the little warmer plate started spinning in circles, and my taster was set for some nice hot coffee. When the "ding" indicated the microwave was through, I opened the door and reached in to get my hot coffee. There was an immediate coffee was not the least bit hot. I didn't understand! How could this be? So I put the coffee back in the microwave, repeated the process for another 30 seconds, and waited impatiently for the "ding." I reached in to get my coffee and still no heat! Could this be the beginning of the end of time? Was I to now drink lukewarm coffee? Even the Lord would spew lukewarm coffee out of His mouth. I finally came to the reality that the microwave oven was in fact broken. It was no longer productive. It had to be replaced...and soon!

Lowering the Goal!

When my brother, Joey, and I were teenage boys, we lived in Memphis, Tennessee. We are both about 5' 10'' tall. What you might not ever guess about us is that both of us had absolutely amazing slam dunking skills way back in the day. Michael Jordan, Shaq, and Dr J had absolutely nothing on us. I mean we could both slam dunk two-handing, behind our backs, and do all kinds of trick shots. I know...I are thinking to yourself how incredibly amazing we must have been, and you would be right! We were simply incredible, especially for guys only 5'10'' tall. It is true!    Now here is the thing about all of this that you probably do not know. At our house in Memphis we had a small concrete pad behind our house (the court) and a basketball hoop. The basketball was actually only 8 feet high on the back of our house. All of us know that an actual basketball hoop is supposed to be set at 10 feet. That is the height that all the High Scho

Finish Well!

At 7 pm on Oct 20, 1968 , a few thousand spectators remained in the Mexico City Olympic Stadium. It was cool and dark. The last of the Olympic marathon runners, each finishing the race in exhaustion, was being carried off to first-aid stations. More than an hour earlier the winner, an Ethiopian runner, had crossed the finish line of the 26 mile event. As the remaining spectators prepared to leave, there was the sound of sirens and police whistles. All eyes turned toward the entrance of the stadium as a lone runner wearing the colors of his nation of Tanzania entered the stadium. His name was John Stephen Akhwari (Ak war eee). He was the last man to finish. His leg was bloodied and bandaged. He grimaced in pain with each step around the 400 meter track because of a severe injury in a fall he had taken earlier in the day. The spectators rose to their feet in thunderous applause urging Akhwari on to finish the race as if he was the winner. When we finished the race Akwari in great

Summer Stress Relief!

Summer is often referred to as “The lazy days of summer” suggesting that it is a time of relaxation, vacation, and rest. It is a time just to be leisure, enjoy the weather, read a good book, sit by the pool, and soak in the rays. However, more often than not, summer is a time of hectic schedules, camps, events, company, mosquitoes, severe heat, and yard work. Most of us understand that description much better don’t we? Summer is often a very stressful time for many people. So let me offer you some practical help. I want to offer you a few steps found in scripture for relieving some of your summer stress. First, to relieve summer stress you must be willing to release your frustrations. Often times what we do with our stress is repress it. We push it deep inside ourselves and try to act like nothing is wrong and that we are in complete control. This is damaging to our spiritual lives, relationships, and emotions. We cannot repress our stress, nor can we rehearse it. We cannot be

Don't Procrastinate! Read this now!

Are you familiar with Elisha Gray? Probably not. But I'm sure you've heard of Alexander Graham Bell, the man who invented the telephone. Well, Elisha Gray was a Chicago electrician. He filed a patent application for the telephone two hours after Alexander Graham Bell did. What happened? We really do not know, but the one thing that we do know is that small little two hour delay cost Elisha Gray his life’s legacy. Sadly I am afraid this is the epitaph and legacy of many people. We live in a fast paced world where many things are coming at us all at once. The truth is that so many things are coming at us we have a difficult time determining what is really important and what is not. We get easily distracted from the smallest task because our attention spans are getting shorter by the year. The end result of all of   this is procrastination. You do know what procrastination is, right? Well for some you will never get around to actually looking the word up so let me define it

Happy Easter 2012 from the Empty Tomb in Jerusalem, Israel!

I am Shaken!

The gospel writers tell us a great deal about that first Easter, but Matthew tells us something a little bit different that I believe is significant for our lives. What is significant in his story? It is these words: "Suddenly there was a violent earthquake, because an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and approached [the tomb]. He rolled back the stone and was sitting on it" (Matt. 28:2). Easter is an earthquake with a stone rolled away from the tomb and a dead person walking the streets, with an angel sitting on a now useless stone. It was at the least a major shake up. Easter is an earthquake that shook the whole world. It got everyone's attention that first Sunday morning, but has it captured much of your attention? We allow many stones to seal up our lives and to keep us from being all that God intended us to be. We get our lives sealed up with pride, greed, self-centeredness, blame, guilt, victimization, pain, hurt, and sinful practices. We allow our lives

Let's Connect!

The world in which we live has never been more connected. Companies are spending millions of dollars to lay millions of miles in fiber optic cables and shooting communication satellites into space just to stay connected. People all around the world share information instantly through their connection on the internet. Kids all around the world are texting each other and “tweeting” to each other information in real time on their cell phones- some even in the middle of jungles and deserts. Just today I was sitting in my office talking on my cell phone to a friend who was walking up a path with other Christian leaders in Brazil. In so many ways we are connected to each other instantaneously. While we seem to be more and more connected all over the world, as a pastor I continually meet people who actually feel more and more disconnected than ever before. They feel completely out of the loop or on the outside of life looking in. Many of these people are disconnected with family members. So