Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Heart of the Matter

Here is a question for you. “Why are you here this morning?”

You might think that sounds kind of like a question that you might ask a teenage class and well you would be right. I have taught a few classes and a few devotionals to the teens in my day.  Not sure how many but let’s just say it has been a few over the years. After all these years I had the tables turned on me a few weeks ago.  I sat in a teenage class and I was one of the students….taught by one of my students long ago.  MY SON!

My son had been asked to substitute for another teacher that was out of town.  It was the middle school class and the teacher provided a copy of the material he could present to the class. That was on a Thursday…..On Friday, another teacher called and said he also was going to be out of town and wondered if he could combine his high school class with the middle school class.  Of course he said yes, but could really teach the High School kids the lesson that was meant for the middle schoolers. So he pulled out a lesson he had heard previously….not by me….another bible teacher.

So here I sat listening to my son give a lesson to 30+ students.

He started off the class with the question I posed to you, “Why are you here today?” Can you imagine what sort of responses were said in the class.
1.       “My parents told me to get in the car.”
2.       “I didn’t have a choice.”
3.       “It has always been what we have done.”
4.       My parents began brainwashing me at a young age.”
There finally was an answer that said I want to be here and I want to please the Lord.

As I sat there I was thinking that out of all the individuals in that class, even the teacher, all of them were influenced by their parents.  They were initially all there because of what their parents required of them. Except for me.  I had a bit of different perspective as I was converted in my early 20s and not by my parents. Nobody in my family is in the church.  I was also the only parent in the class and understood from also a different perspective of why a parent would want to influence their child in the first place.  Obviously so they were not lost. This should be a “shoe in” for a conversion but we know that this is not always the case.

That was my son’s warm up question and then he went on with his lesson on Tyre from Ezekiel.  Something that I found very interesting and had not studied in detail before.

My lesson is not about my son.  I preach on my experiences that cross my path in life. Things that influence me. You see my son mentioned to me later that the question, “Why are you here today?” was something that was asked of him in a psychology class in college. However it was more along the lines of “Why do you go to church?”  Do you know what the primary answer was? It basically went back to “My parents told me to go.”

So, a very long introduction into what boils down to “I go to church because of the faith of my parents or of others.” Can you imagine what the professor did to the students…..yep, he really tore into them for their lack of having their own faith. A borrowed faith isn’t what we need.

We have to have our own heart fully committed to the Lord.

Heart is mentioned 926 times….roughly…..all different types of hearts.
EZEKIEL 11:17 
Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “I will gather you from the peoples, assemble you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.”’ 18 And they will go there, and they will take away all its detestable things and all its abominations from there. 19 Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them,[a] and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, 20 that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God. 21 But as for those whose hearts follow the desire for their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their deeds on their own heads,” says the Lord God.
EZEKIEL 18:30 
 30 “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways,” says the Lord God. “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. 31 Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord God. “Therefore turn and live!”
1.      Psalm 119:2
Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, Who seek Him with the whole heart!

2.      Psalm 119:10
With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!
3.      Psalm 119:34
Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart.
4.      Psalm 119:58
I entreated Your favor with my whole heart; Be merciful to me according to Your word.
5.      Psalm 119:69
The proud have forged a lie against me, But I will keep Your precepts with my whole heart.
6.      Psalm 119:145
קI cry out with my whole heart; Hear me, O LORD! I will keep Your statutes.

I ask you the question again, “Why are you here today?”
I am going GUESS that you originally became a follower of Christ because of maybe two things.
1.       You loved him. You trusted him, you believe in him, you believe in his promise. You seek eternal salvation with him in Heaven.
2.       The other part has to be that you fear him. You fear the other option that awaits you if it isn’t heaven.  Hell. Eternal Damnation. Do you think you might be a bit uncomfortable?

Sunburn is a bit uncomfortable. Hell is more than a sunburn.

I am also going to GUESS that you are here because you believe is his WHOLE PROMISE.

What comes with a WHOLE PROMISE….A WHOLE HEART? Maybe the question isn’t “Why are you hear today?” but instead, “Why aren’t you here today?...tonight? Wednesday? Why aren’t  you acting like a Christian all the other times? Why do you NOT put me first? You ask something pretty great of me but you give me little in return.

I really like that new car…..How much is it? OOO that is expensive…well I am committed to having  this new car, can I pay half of what you are asking? Hmmm, sure we will deliver it to your front door tomorrow. The car gets there and it doesn’t have any tires, there isn’t any air conditioning in fact there isn’t any engine.  You call up dealer and say, “Hey, you didn’t give me a WHOLE CAR…..yeah, you didn’t give me the WHOLE PAYMENT.

What if our salvation was like that? What if we got to Heaven and we had given less than a WHOLE HEART? You get to the gates and check in….Name? Eugene. Yes, we have your cottage over here…just beyond the gates…..What..Cottage? I thought I was getting a mansion? And why are we over here and not inside the gates…..Well you are in heaven…you are just in the Suburb of Heaven.  Suburb? What? Hey, my cottage doesn’t even have a roof.  Well that is true but we don’t get much rain here in Heaven so you should be okay.

It doesn’t work that way… are either in or out. He provides you a WHOLE PROMISE.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Don't Waste My TIME!

Last night my wife and I watched an interesting movie called "In Time". I know, I know it has been out for a long time and yes I am behind the times.....can you tell that this blog just might use the word TIME a few times? Sorry but it is inevitable! I have been wanting to watch it for some time now but just haven't found the time. So last night it was storming and we couldn't really doing anything else so we stopped off at the local Redbox and picked it up.  I am always in the mood for a good mindless sci-fi show so I was set.

It didn't take long until we both realized that there would be lots of "play on words" in the movie. Such as:
  1. "I have time on my hands"
  2. "I don't have any time to gamble"
  3. "don't waste my time"
  4. "I just wanna wake up with more time on my hand than hours in the day."
  5. "I put in some overtime"
  6. "Who has time for a girlfriend?"
  7. "You need to get out of here. Some body's gonna clean that clock."
You get the idea.
The basic storyline concept was about how time became a limited commodity and there wasn't any "wasted" time. Time was short and you just didn't hang out....unless you were time that is of course. I like the thought of not wasting our time but then again I would really miss the lazy afternoons! Those are precious in themselves. Sitting on the beach and watching the sunrise or sunset. Priceless!

Another concept the movie expressed was how the rich never had time run down so their life lasted forever (their bodies never aged after 25). They never even ran.....why ....they had plenty of time and were not in a hurry. So a moment in time held no value, however for those who had limited time....every moment in time was valuable and they were always watching their clocks. Doesn't it seem like when you have no money in the are always looking at the balance? I have never had the opportunity to ignore how much money was in my account.....always was cautious! The final moments on their clocks became much more precious to the characters in the movie.  Some of the rich characters had more than a century on their clocks. One of the comments they said often when they looked at their expiring time was, "We have a day....there is a lot that you can do in a day."

If you knew when your time was going to expire, what would you do with it? Would you waste your time? Would you share it with another? Would it be valuable to you?

I couldn't help but think of several lyrics to several songs.
Time keeps on ticking ticking...into the future.....I've got to much time on my hands....

My friends.....What do you plan on doing with your time today? Use it wisely and enjoy.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Whole Bunch of THINGYS!

I have really been dragging on any new postings recently.  Not a good thing! It just seems like things are so much busier right now.  Like what you may ask? I don't know....just THINGS!

For one THING it is the beginning of spring and so much yard work has yet to be done. I wish it would just stay frozen over the winter and pick right back up where I left off. Nope! Weeds grow everywhere, mulch beds need replaced. Plantings need to be added and of course all the over growth needs to be cut back or cut out.  Add this to all the other THINGS I am doing and I cannot keep up with the basic lawn mowing. Was out of town for two weeks and the front lawn was crazy.....what is worse that that? Well before I went out of town I didn't have time to mow the back lawn....Now that is a crazy jungle.  I think our small pup felt he was in a safari every time he ventured out in the back for a pee. Poor guy.

RESULT: This weekend (before another rainfall) I got the front lawn mowed and bagged, I worked on another mulch bed that needed mulch work. Yes a play on (Keep in mind I probably have about 13 mulch beds around the house...why 13....because lawn work in itself is unlucky). I trim a few bushes and transplanted a bush/tree...whatever you call that THING. Oh yeah, if you ask me what plants I have in my yard....I don't know.  It is a green tall thingy and the yellow flowers on a stick like branch and there are some growy purple get the idea! The most best piece (poor grammar is prevalent in today's writing) this weekend was a wack down of the back yard grass.  It needs a couple more mows before it is back in shape but at least my pup can go out there without being threatened by wildlife.

STILL TO DO: I always have the "still to do" lists.  They never end because I am never satisfied.  These lists may last for days, weeks and yes even years.  But at least I will add them today so we can all see my pathetic attempt to complete them this year.  I need to remove all the stone patio that I put down a few years ago.  The thought was a nice stone area to dine on in the evenings. The actual result... a constant weed battle that grew up between the cracks.  I am over it.  I will pull up the stone and use them as planter walls in the front yard and then add a concrete and stone (cannot describe because it is just a weird THING...that's what I do) in its place.  Maybe a fountain THING, I will have to see how adventurous I am. I also need to replace all the patio has met its you know how expensive that stuff is?! Crazy. Oh yeah and don't forget the sunscreen trellis THING over the the wood patio that has been planned for maybe 5 years.....still not built.  I did get the posts buried in concrete at the edge of the deck.  Speaking of deck....It all needs replaced as it is beginning to deteriorate.  One area is torn up due to pup getting stuck under the deck last year just before a thunder storm.  I had to tear up a chunck of it to get him out.

So there is one THING. But now I am too tired to type about all the others.  I could mention, work...see my business blog....if I can keep up with that too, travel (vacation)...yes that is a thingy too.... a much needed thingy from all the other thingys, Finish the inside of the house....too long of a list to notate, the need for new interior furniture, the diet and health thingy.....doing good there! To date over the last 9 weeks I have lost over 30 pounds.....yeah! Now I have to work at the running part.  Another 8K  thingy in a few weeks. Am I missing something else?...probably so.  I guess I better stop writing  this blog thingy and get up and start working on some of these other thingys......just after one more cup of coffee.....My friends....enjoy your day....before you know will have slipped away and you will have filled it up with a bunch of THINGYS!

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Next Steps of Life

It is always amazing to see your children take their next steps in life.  Yes it was exciting to see them take their first steps in life but once they begin their life and using some of the tools that you provided them all those years of growing up, is rewarding. Fruits of the labor so to speak. All of our kids are successful in their own way and continue to form their lives as they begin, continue and mature their relationships. It is interesting to see what parts of 'our' lives that get adopted into 'their' lives. For me, it has never been about a competition with our kids.  We always have wanted them to do better than us. Make better decisions than us. Have a better life than we did. To be successful in whatever they wanted to do or be. That is always our reward.

I got the opportunity to visit their church and to watch my son teach the middle school and high school class. Something I did for many years.  He was asked to substitute one of the classes for the regular teacher who was going to be out of town that weekend.  And then the other class teacher asked them to combine theirs also. The combined class was probably far more students than I have ever had to teach (on a regular basis), their church is much larger than ours was or is now.

Over the years, I had to be very spontaneous due to the limited number of teachers in our church. Often substituting or filling in. My son had the same occasion by just being informed on the Thursday before....but then throw in other age group and you really cannot use the standard material provided.  Teaching the teens always requires spontaneity.  If you can get any of them to have to run with it. You take what you can get otherwise you end up speaking to a bunch of faces staring back at you half asleep. I know...I have done it many times.

My son did quite well. He created his own lesson for the merged class based on a lesson he heard once on the history and prophecies of the city of Tyre from Ezekiel. However he started off the class by asking the question, "Why are you here in church this morning?". You can imagine the response that you get from a bunch of sleepy teenagers.....yep..."because I was told to get in the car this morning." or "It is just the thing we have always done since I was a baby." and even "We were brainwashed from a young age." Finally after a little prodding, you get them to say that they are there because THEY want to, not because their parents forced them.

As I sat there listening to the comments, I was imagining a handful of years (maybe a large handful of years) ago when my son was the student and I was standing in front of the group. The question he asked the teens twisted in my mind as the kids responded and told how they were "guided" by their parents into the church. Most all of these kids are there and have always been there because of their parents. Even my son was originally in the church because my wife and I attended. It wasn't until later where the faith became his own. He attends not because we tell him, expect him, or force him. It is his decision. I was the only one sitting in the room that was there because of a decision I made as an adult. A different perspective.

The teens also never thought about WHY the parents want them to be in church. That it is an important message that they want them to hear.  Maybe something in our youth that we didn't get to hear ourselves. Maybe we had to struggle more than we want our kids to struggle, because of poor decisions we made along the way.  Again we wish the best for our is so exciting to see the growth and the motivation of our children to continue with a piece of what we started so many years ago. A blessing indeed. Continue to PRAY for your children my friends.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Scream!

Edvard Munch's painting "The Scream," one of the world's most recognizable works of art, sold for $120 million at Sotheby's on Wednesday, setting a new record as the most expensive piece of art ever sold at auction.

The sale at Sotheby's Impressionist and Modern Art auction featured other works by Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and Joan Miro, but Munch's vibrant piece was the centerpiece of the auction in a salesroom packed with collectors, bidders and the media.
The vibrant pastel from 1895 was conservatively estimated to sell for about $80 million at Sotheby's, but two determined bidders drove the final price to $107 million, or $119,922,500 including commission, during a 15-minute bidding war.

One of four versions by the Scandinavian painter, which was being sold by Norwegian businessman Petter Olsen, "The Scream" easily eclipsed the old auction record held by Picasso's "Nude, Green Leaves and Bust," which went for $106.5 million at Christie's two years ago.
The sales room at Sotheby's erupted in applause and cheering when the hammer came down. The buyer, who won the auction via telephone bidding, was not identified by Sotheby's.

In recent decades "The Scream," a picture of a person with hands pressed to head against a backdrop of swirling vibrant colors, has become a ubiquitous image, appropriated for everything from coffee mugs to editorial cartoons. For many mainstream art lovers, it is perhaps second in familiarity only to the "Mona Lisa" and is certainly among the best-known works of art still in private hands.
Three other images of "The Scream," including two which were stolen and later recovered, are in museums in Norway.
Overall, the Sotheby's auction brought in $330.6 million and 80 percent of the lots on offer were sold. It was Sotheby's highest total ever for an Impressionist and Modern Art auction.
Picasso's "Femme assise dans un fauteuil" sold for $29.2 million, Miro's "Tete humaine" went under the hammer at $14.86 million and Dali's "Printemps necrophilique" was auctioned at $16.3 million. All those prices included sales commission.