The statue has come down. The legacy has been tarnished. The name JoePa, which was received with praise, is now frowned upon. Joe Paterno, the former football coach at PennState, is deceased, but his name will live in infamy. Under his watch, several children were molested by one of his assistants, Jerry Sandusky. A new report reveals that JoePa was aware of the problem, but did little to stop it. After the details of the report surfaced, swift actions followed. The school tore down his statue and the NCAA vacated over 100 of his wins. There are several lessons to learn from this tragedy. For one, we cannot turn a blind eye towards sin. Someone said, “Evil prevails when good men do nothing.” How true. Secondly, it only takes one bad action to tarnish your entire life. Be careful. Lastly, it is a reminder that the best of men are men at best. We are not to worship people, but God alone. People loved, adored, and even worshiped Joe Paterno. Even now, some will defend him to the hilt. The choice is clear: Jesus Christ or JoePa. One turned his eyes away from sin, one died for our sins. One was perfect, one was not. One is worthy of our praise, one is not. You may not worship JoePa, but we all have our own “JoePa’s”, people or things we worship. It is time to tear down the statues in your heart. Respect your parents, teachers, government officials, and your pastor. Don’t worship them. Worship God alone.
Are you a Secret Christian?
John Lennon was a Christian. At least, that is what some believe. A new documentary, along with previous biographies, claim John Lennon was a secret Christian and a closet conservative. He was apparently a fan of Pat Robertson, Oral Roberts, and Billy Graham. Not only that, he often sang songs of praise and mocked at the idea of evolution. Was he really a Christian? I do now know. Singing songs of praise and interest in preachers does not equate salvation. But, one thing I do know, there is no such thing as a secret or closet Christian. A follower of Christ will be bold to live for and proclaim the Gospel. It would be easy for you and me to criticize the life of John Lennon. But, if we were honest, we often live as secret Christians. We prefer to blend into the crowd. Dont’ be a secret Christian. Besides, there is no such thing. Live in such a way that people know you are a lover of God and Christ.
Gas Pump Relationships
Our relationships are often like Gas Pumps. You mean they are stinky and expensive? No. Almost all gas pumps are prepaid. You see, their automatic default is a lack of trust. They assume the worse – you are going to drive off without paying. We treat people this way sometimes. We assume the worse. Our default is judgment and mistrust, rather than grace and mercy. We assume the worst of others rather than the best. When you and I prepay, we are also being punished for the 1 or 2 idiots that actually steal gas. In relationships, we often punish our spouse, our children, or friends for what someone else did to us. Someone made you angry at work so you unleash your anger when you get home. Someone took advantage of you and you cannot trust anyone now. Do not treat people like gas pumps. Assume the best of others and do not punish them for the 1 or 2 idiots who actually use and abuse you.
Brett Favre and the Great Commission
I admit it – I like Brett Favre. He has not handled his “retirement” very well, but he has much to be admired. I like the fact that he is passionate about something and shows it. I like the fact that he never gives up or gives in. I like the fact that he is 40 and is still in the game. I am nearing 40 (5 more years), so it is encouraging to see him still playing. You and I could learn something from Brett Favre. When it comes to the Great Commission, there is no retirement. Regardless of our age or condition, we are to be going, teaching, and making disciples. We are to be just as excited and passionate about serving God as Favre is about playing ball. Don’t hang up your cleats or your calling just yet. Retirement comes when you get to Heaven. Serve God and savor every moment!
When Retiring at 23 is a Good Thing
Glen Coffee just retired at only 23 years of age! That seems awfully young to end your career. He had a dream job – playing football in the NFL. After one season he called it quits. Why? It was not because he got in trouble. It was not because he lacked talent. It was to obey God’s call upon his life. While at Alabama he met Jesus and has a passion to serve him. He believes the ministry might be in his future. He is going back to finish school and then will see what God has in store. You have to admire someone turning their back on a $2.5 million contract to obey the call of Christ! What are you willing to turn your back on? What are you willing to abandon to pursue God’s call upon your life?
Air Conditioning, Houdini, and the Spirit of God
I just bought a window AC unit for my storage building. Why? So my dog Houdini could have some cool air! He is spoiled rotten. I opened the box and started to install the AC. It did not work. I tried to fix it myself. It still did not work. I was very frustrated. I drove back to Wal-Mart to exchange it. The new one worked right out of the box. The Lord taught me a valuable lesson from that experience. I wanted the AC to work more than I wanted His Spirit upon my life. Why do I say that? I was desperate for the AC to work. Am I really that desperate for the Sprit? I was frustrated and bothered that I had to go back to Wal-Mart. Am I that frustrated and bothered when the Spirit does not have His way in my life? Am I that upset when He is not free to move in worship? Think about your own life. When it gets hot you yearn for cold air and glass of ice water. When was the last time you yearned for the Spirit? Do you really want Him to fill you and totally control your life?
I was Mobbed in Mexico
I just got back from Mexico. Before I left people warned me, “It is unsafe. People are kidnapped, etc.” I was not kidnapped, but I was mobbed. It happened in the shopping/tourist district in Playa Del Carmen. It started out with one or two men and then several gathered around me. They did not mob me for money, my camera, or my cell phone. Get this – I was mobbed for Bibles! I was handing out Spanish New Testaments. When the men found out we had them, they wanted one for themselves. One wanted one for his daughter as well. The desire was so great we ran out of Bibles. The mission trip was amazing. The people in Mexico are so friendly and hungry for God’s word. People in Mexico yearn to be like America and come to America. This is one area we need to be more like Mexico. We need a hunger for God’s word as well. When was the last time you were mobbed for a Bible? Adio’s.
Reflections on 15 Years of Marriage
This week my wife and I are celebrating 15 years of wedded bliss. As I reflect upon the last 15 years here are a few thoughts:
1. A Strong Marriage is possible
Divorce seems more common than a lasting marriage. Having a happy marriage is possible. Not only is it possible, it is God’s will for our lives.
2. My wife is my best friend
The past 15 years I have had the privilege to be hand in hand with my best friend! We do not merely put up with each other, we enjoy being with one another.
3. A Strong Marriage is not easy
While we have a great marriage, it is not always easy. We have had our share of fights, but we love each other and make up! We have faced tough times together as well. In the past 15 years we: struggled with infertility for 10 years, went into full-time ministry, moved 5 or 6 times, adopted Ainzley, endured church conflict, and faced the death of Lori’s grandfather and my father. Hard times can drive you apart, but they have brought us closer together.
4. My wife has made me a better person
It is said that behind every great man there is an even greater woman. Lori (with God’s help) has made me into the man I am today.
5. God is good
Proverbs 18:22, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” I have found a good thing and indeed enjoy the favor of the Lord. I hope you can say the same.
A Wreck of a Marriage
God works in mysterious ways. A couple in my church just celebrated their anniversary. They have been married for over 12 years now. The way they met can only be described as a God thing. One day while driving, the future-bride saw a dog in the road. Her response was to swerve and miss the dog. As a result, she drove down a ditch and into some pine trees. Along came a policeman to work the scene of the accident. They met and the rest is history. The policeman and the dog-swerving driver now live happily ever after! If the dog would have never been in the road, she would not have swerved. If she did not swerve, she would not have landed in the ditch. If she did not land in the ditch, she would not have needed assistance, and her hubby to be would not have showed up. Romans 8:28 reminds us that God works all things out for our good, even car wrecks! Whatever is happening in your life right now, hold on to hope. God is using it for your good and His glory. You may not see that right now. But, one day you will. This couple is blessed to have such a wonderful marriage. Where would they be without that wreck and the grace of God? By the way – the dog she swerved to miss could not be found. God does indeed work in mysterious ways.
Follow up on “A Serious Challenge”
Last week I issued a serious challenge. Ask three people [preferably total strangers] this question, “How can I pray for you?” For me, it was an amazing adventure. The first person I asked was a worker at Krispy Kreme. She responded she was having some emotional issues and almost began to cry. The second person, a Target employee, gave me her prayer requests. One of her requests was regarding her little girl. She pulled out her cell phone and showed me a picture of her daughter! The third was at the McDonald’s drive through. I asked her the question and she began sharing her struggles to work, raise a daughter, and go to school. My wife was with me on this encounter and was taken back at the girl’s response. This is what I have learned from the challenge. First of all, people want to be prayed for. No one rejected my offer. Now, someone will down the road, but that will not be the common response. Secondly, when you ask to pray for them, people begin to open up and share their life with you. They need to know someone cares for them. They want others to listen. I was reminded that workers I came across, at McDonalds, etc, are real people too. They need people to reach out and love them. Thirdly, this is a great way to share the Gospel with people. Each person let their guard down and shared with me. That is a great opportunity to tell them why you are praying for them and how God has changed your life. I am going to strive to do this on a more regular basis, whether I am at a drive-through, at Wal-Mart, or at the doctor’s office, for instance. People need Jesus. Show them you care for them by asking this simple question, “How can I pray for you?”