Showing posts from January, 2009

Let's Go Steelers! Let's Go!

When it comes to this Sunday's Super Bowl, most people know who I will be cheering on. And if you need a hint, they wear black and gold. Unlike the Apostle Paul who could say he was born a citizen of Rome, I cannot state that I was born a citizen of the Steeler Nation. In fact, as a youngster, I was an Eagles' fan. But then in 1984 we moved to Pittsburgh and I was introduced to the Steeler Nation. And after spending five years in the Steel City, I became a naturalized citizen! Now let me say that even though I carry my Steeler Nation passport with pride, if they lose the SB on Sunday, there is one BIG reason I won't be heartbroken ... please read on to discover just what I am getting at...

The Ballad of Kurtis and Brenda
There is a "ballad" of Kurt Warner and his wife Brenda that is floating around the Internet. It tells how Kurt met his wife Brenda in the supermarket where they both worked. Kurt asked her out and she declined - all because she had two children f…

A Costly Fall!

I posted the following back on February 1, 2006. It was relevant then ... it is relevant now. So I post it again for any who happen by!

A visitor to a British museum recently tripped over his own shoe lace. In doing so, he stumbled down a flight of stairs and fell into a display of century old Chinese vases.The vases shattered into a “million pieces.” The vases from the Qing Dynasty were worth a small fortune – although the museum is not saying how much the vases are actually worth. Ouch!You talk about a costly fall! And by the way, Museum officials said they will do their best to put the vases back together. I hope they succeed.

This unnamed man, whose fall resulted in such destruction, reminds me of another man’s fall. Unlike the unnamed man in the museum, this man has a name we know: Adam. And also unlike the destroyer of the vases, Adam’s fall was no accident. His fall was intentional. We read about his fall in Genesis 3. There in the midst of the paradise of Eden, Adam and his wife…

No Time for God?

A headline in this past Sunday's edition of the Lancaster Sunday News reached out and grabbed my attention. It read, Time for God? Over-scheduled believers squeeze in religion with books, emails, podcasts. In the article, the reporter answers the question as to how busy believers find time for God in their hectic schedules. What struck me in the article was some of the books that are offered in bookstores and online to help God followers to be able to squeeze God into their schedules. Some of the titles of these books include, The One Minute Bible - Day by Day, 5 Minute Theologian: Maximum Truth in Minimum Time, 7 Minutes with God and The One Minute Bible.

As I reflected on these titles, the words of Psalm one (which I had just read yesterday morning in my own devotional time) came to my mind. Read what the psalmist has to say about interacting with the Word of God and the benefit of doing so.

Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in t…

How Blessed I Am!

Mondays are my day off. I often spend the day lounging around the house in the morning, getting some projects done around the house or running errands, and most important of all, spending some time with my best friend (a.k.a. Sharon my wife). Yesterday was no exception. After a leisurely start to the day in which I drank a pot of coffee, read my Bible and the USA Today, I then balanced our check book and did some grading for an online course I am currently teaching. After a quick lunch, I then went to a movie with Sharon. The movie we chose to see was the British film, Slumdog Millionaire. I wanted to see this movie for two reasons: it was getting some good reviews from both movie critics and moviegoers and it was a movie about India and filmed for the most part in Mumbai. Having traveled to India twice to serve at Children's Fellowship of India's orphanage - part of my heart remains there!

As Sharon and I talked after the film, we both agreed on a couple of things. First we …

How Thirsty Are You?

Just after my 13th birthday my world changed dramatically. I went from being a city boy living in a small two story row home in the heart of Harrisburg, PA to being a country boy living in a much larger house on the shore of a lake in northern York County, PA. It was there in what we affectionately called "the lake house" that I spent my teen years. So as I began to look for employment, one place I found it was on nearby farms. During my years in York County I "made hay," picked strawberries, cleaned out horse stables, and spread manure (I definitely liked doing the first two but the latter two - let's just say with both of them it was "once and done!").

Now out of all my farm experiences, one in particular stands out in my memory. It was a very hot and humid summer afternoon. I was part of a group of teens a local farmer hired to bring bales of hay in from the field and stack in the barn. The farmer divided us into two groups. One group went out in t…

Be a Voice for the Voiceless!

Change has come to Washington D.C. Of course, it is to be expected. It was the most used word by President Obama in his campaign. Now I am not opposed to change. It is part of the package of life - especially life in our fast moving American culture. But I am opposed to a change that the President promised to make to a gathering of Planned Parenthood when he pledged to to sign the Freedom of Choice Act. This act would abolish all restrictions and limitations on women in the United States to have an abortion prior to fetal viability, whether at the state or federal level, or after the point of viability when the life of the mother is endangered. This clearly shows where our new president stands on the issue of abortion. He would say that he is pro-choice. If I had the opportunity to talk with him over coffee, I would ask him about the choice of the unborn. Shouldn't they have a choice?

Today is the 26th anniversary of the Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. Since …

Nuts! Even Squirrels Are Facing Tough Times!

It seems that it's not only people facing hardships these days - but squirrels are also struggling. Bontanists have discovered that there is a significant shortage of acorns throughout a large section of the U. S. Experts say that there is really no call for alarm since this is just part of the normal cycle of nature. Perhaps not alarming for these forestry experts - but what about the squirrels???

You see, it is easy to be calm and collected if tough times are facing "the other guy." But when tough times come knocking at our door - then it is not so easy. But my point today is this - when it is "the other guy" who is struggling, we who are doing fine need to reach out with a helping hand. The Apostle John puts it this way in the form of a question: "If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?" (1 John 3:17). Now there's a question to chew on!

Thanks for stopping by …

Let's Pray for Our President

Today is an historic day in our country. We will be swearing in an African-American as our 44th president. Only a generation or so ago, this would have seemed an impossibility. So for many African Americans especially, today is a very special day. Now, I will admit that I did not vote for our new president. I do not agree with his stance on certain issues. But that will not keep me from rejoicing with our black population who for so long have endured the brunt of unjust prejudice and bigotry. It will also not keep me from praying for President Obama. After all, all of us who claim to follow Jesus our under a mandate to do just that. In 1 Timothy 2:1-3a we read, "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior..."

So I invite you to join me in making a commitment to daily …

And WHO Said Video Games Don't Influence Kids?

Last Monday morning, a 6 year old Virginia boy missed his school bus. So what did he do? He did what any 6 year old would do (not!) - he grabbed the keys to the family car and drove himself to school - or at least he attempted to drive himself to school. He successfully navigated the first 6 miles of the winding country road before crashing into a utility pole just a little over a mile from school. Now you might be wondering what I was wondering when I first read about this - just where did this 6 year old learn to drive? The boy told police he learned how to drive by playing Grand Theft Auto and Monster Truck Jam video games! Fortunately the boy suffered only minor injuries. The boy's parents have been charged with child endangerment.

So for all those people out there who claim video games do not influence kids - here is proof positive that they are wrong. Now I am not an anti-video game crusader (I own a Wii - don't play it a lot, but enjoy it when I get the chance). Howeve…

Looking One's Best!

This past Monday, I fulfilled a wish my wife has had ever since we moved to Lancaster back in 1989. No, I did not give her a diamond necklace, or make plans for a Caribbean vacation. Nope. Much simpler and cheaper than either of those. I took her to the Pennsylvania State Farm Show. She had never been to the Farm Show, and after hearing about it year after year after year on the news, she wanted to go for herself and check it out. Now - you must think I am a rotten husband. "Come on, John! It took you 20 years to drive your wife 48 miles to the State Farm Show Complex? Really!" OK, may I speak in my own defense? Thanks! It is not that we did not try to go in the past. Several times when our kids were younger, we had planned to go - only to have one of them get sick. On a couple of other occasions we had planned to go, only to be stopped by inclement wintry weather. So it is not that I did not try (OK, perhaps I did not try hard enough. After growing up in the city of Harri…

Beware of Godward Anger!

An Alaskan advocacy group, Standing Together Against Rape, recently sponsored a lottery to raise needed funds for their programs. The winner came forward to claim his half-million dollar prize this past Saturday. It just so happens he is a twice convicted sex offender! "It's not how we had envisioned the story going," Nancy Haag, the group's executive director, told CNN Radio.

Ouch! How ironic is that! A lottery designed to help victims of sexual abuse is won by a man guilty of sex crimes! But that is how life works sometimes. We have great visions of this or that ... and something else - often unforeseen and often unwelcome - arrives instead! So what should we do at these times? The very first thing we must guard our hearts against is anger toward God. Yet this is often how we respond. We shake our fists toward heaven and shout, "God, how could YOU let this happen to ME?" This response of Godward anger when we encounter tough times is so ingrained in o…

Winning at What Really Matters!

Yesterday, the NFL lost a great coach when Tony Dungy of the Indianapolis Colts announced his retirement. The following quote from Clark Judge of CBS Sportsline says it all about this great coach who was an even greater man:

"Tony Dungy has nothing left to prove in the NFL. He had the Colts in the playoffs all seven of his season there. He won five AFC South tiles. He reached conference championship games three times. And, of course, he was the first African American to win a Super Bowl. He has the best career winning percentage of any active coach and missed the playoffs only twice in 13 seasons as a head coach. Better yet, he went to the top of the NFL without compromising his ideals. And that might be his greatest achievement."

His ideals, as everyone knew, were Christian. As Dungy once said, "That's one reason I stayed in coaching, to prove you could win with Christian principles." Tony Dungy was a man of integrity who lived what he believed. May all of us …

Finally Home!

Today I will be undertaking a task that I have done so many times across my close to 30 years as a pastor that I have lost count. I will be officiating a memorial service. When I met with family to discuss the service, they expressed their desire that the service be a celebration. I readily and heartily agreed. And why not? The deceased had lived a long and fruitful life in which the testimony of her faith in Jesus Christ was loud and clear. So why not celebrate! The moment she left earth's shores, she arrived in the harbor of the heavenly city, for to be away from the body is "to be present with the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:8). Now this is not to say at today's service, tears will not be shed. They most certainly will. But they will not be only tears of sadness (at the prospect of being separated from the one loved) but also tears of joy, knowing that the departed one is now in the very presence of God. She has arrived in the Father's house (see John 14). She is …

An Early Start to a Life of Crime?

This past Monday in a small town in Southern Ohio, a 4 year old boy shot a teen for stepping on his foot. That's right! You read it right - the shooter in this case was a mere four years old! After being angered for being stepped on, the kid pulled a shot gun out of a closet and shot the teen. Fortunately, the teen suffered only minor pellet wounds to his leg and side.

Now I don't know what kind of guidance this four year is receiving from his parents - but I think I could make an accurate guess to say that it is not what it should be. But this is the case in far too many families in our country today. Many parents are into their own agendas and are not willing to do what it takes to raise their kids. All because to do what it takes often requires self sacrifice. Even Christian parents must guard against this. We must all remind ourselves that our children are gifts from God (see Psalm 127:3). They have been entrusted to us by God so that we can raise them in such a way that t…

Happy National Smith Day!

In case you missed it, yesterday was National Smith Day. Given the fact that I received only one "Happy Smith Day" greeting, I am guessing most of you never knew. Smith Day commemorates the birthday of Captain John Smith (born January 6, 1580) who founded Jamestown, VA, the first permanent English settlement in what is now the United States. So for what it was worth -- I celebrated Smith Day by drinking a can of V-8 juice!

Now I have had a lot of fun with my name. After all, it is the most popular (not common, please!) name in the United States. Many people make wise cracks when I tell them my name (like, "OK, so much for your alias, now what's your real name?"and "So where's Pocahontas?") When asked the latter, I like to inform the person that Pocahontas never married Captain John Smith - she married a Virginia tobacco grower named John Rolfe. I also like to "head people off at the pass" when asked my name by saying, "My name is…

It's a Girl!

Back in September as my wife and I were driving to Sandy Cove, our son called my wife on her cell. He wanted to know what name she wanted to be called by her grandchildren. This was his way of telling us that he and his wife were expecting a child. Shortly after that, our daughter-in-law went to the doctor's for an ultrasound. This was to determine the baby's "due" date - which of course is merely an approximate date as a baby can come up to two weeks before or after the due date and still be considered "on time" (Now that's interesting - the only time a person gets slack for being way early or late is the first meeting in life - after that, you'd better be on time!). Yesterday our daughter-in-law had her second ultrasound and found out that the baby is a girl. When my wife heard the news and saw the baby's ultrasound pictures she, as expected, cried. But I kept my cool (although my eyes did sweat a little)!

As I looked at the half dozen photo…