Tuesday, December 30, 2008

You’ve Just Won Free Tickets!

Today I heard a radio contest and it brought back memories of the one and only time I ever won anything from a radio show. The gift was nice, but I had to head on over to Memphis to pick up free coupon. As I thought about this FREE ticket contest, it reminded me that even though something wonderful and exciting can be free, there is always a price to pay to obtain it. But the FREE gift usually outweighs the duty spent to obtain it. Here’s a similar add that I heard today.

* - Hey, thank you for calling FM 92 where we play 80’s over and over and over, who’s this?

+ - Uh, this is Jonathan.
* - Hey Jonathan, thanks for calling in to the show.
* - Of course the show is sponsored by your local Quik-Shop, where we get you out the door, just as quickly as you came in.
* - Okay Jonathan there’s an NBA game tomorrow night at the local arena and you can win FREE tickets if you can answer the question. Did you hear the quik-clip that we just played?
+ - Uh, yea.
* - Okay, what was the number one hit on December 30th, 1987? (drum roll please)
+ - Uh…. Umm…. I think it was Faith by George Michael..?
* - You’re exactly right! That’s a great memory you have there Jonathan! Way to go!
* - Hang on the line there with me Jonathan, and I’ll hook you up with those FREE tickets.
* - Everyone be sure to have a good and safe and happy New Year out there this week, and remember the station that plays 80’s over and over and over – FM 92.
* - Okay, you still here with me Jonathan?
+ - Uh, yea.
* - Okay Jonathan, do you know where our radio studio is here in town?
+ - Uh, well, I live in the town right next to you, but yea, I know where it is.
* - Well, just head on over to our studios today, and pick up these FREE tickets for the game tomorrow night.
+ - Uh, you can’t mail them to me?
* - Well, they wouldn’t get to your house in time and the game’s tomorrow night.
+ - Uh, you mean I need to come way over to your town to pick up the tickets today, and come back way over to your town again tomorrow for the game?
* - Yes – if you’d like these FREE tickets.
+ - These tickets don’t sound very free to me.
* - We’ll they’re FREE, and they will be here waiting for you if you’d like to come and get them….

What about you, do these tickets sound like a good deal to you or not. It may depend on what the tickets are for, or what the event is whether it’s a good deal for you. For me personally, a basketball game would not really be something I’d be willing to put forth an effort to take advantage of. But everyone has something that interests them so that they’d be willing to take advantage of this “FREE” offer.

God offers us this very same deal, but the event is going to be the grandest event ever known to mankind or angelic beings alike – and that’s heaven. God offers us all “FREE” tickets to heaven. But just like the example above, there is an action required on our part.

Just as God told Moses to make a bronze serpent and put it on a staff and raise it up for the people who had been bitten to come and look at – and be made well again. Numbers 21:8-9. Many of the people who grumbled and complained against God were bitten by poisonous snakes and died. But God made a way for the people to be saved. The people were told if after they were bitten, if they would look at this snake up high on a pole, they would be made well. So, when the people were bitten those who believed looked to the pole and were saved.

Jesus himself retells this same story and compares what he would shortly be going through to be the saving means or mechanism that would save us. Jesus said:

Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, the Son of Man must be lifted up also. Then everyone who believes in him can live with God forever. "God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son. Anyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life. "God did not send his Son into the world to judge the world. He sent his Son to save the world through him. Anyone who believes in him is not judged. But anyone who does not believe is judged already. He has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. John 3:14-18

Free tickets to heaven anybody? Just come to Jesus. Let Jesus save you. Don’t let this great sacrifice go unused. Take advantage of it. He is waiting. He has a place prepared for us, if we will only wake up, and get up out of the hog pen and realize how filthy we are, and how much better our situation would be in “our father’s house” He stands up on the porch – just like the Prodigal’s father – watching and waiting for us to return to him. We must be willing to take the step, to even go out of our way if need be to come to him. We must believe. Faith is an active description which requires us to make an effort. Just like me having to drive over to the next town just to pick up some FREE tickets. If it’s heaven we’re talking about here, then its well worth the drive.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Giving My Best

I've rewritten or paraphrased a couple of passages from the bible, to help me study and understand these pasages a little clearer. God is so good in that he provided us with His holy scriptures, so that we might come to learn from Him.

GOD - Israel, I have loved you.
Israel - Ha! How have you loved us?
GOD - Was Esau not the rightful son who should have been blessed?
GOD - Wasn’t Jacob the younger chosen?
GOD - I cursed Esau because he dishonored his father.
GOD - I have torn down Easu’s mountains and left his dwelling desolate.
GOD - They may try and rebuild, but I will again destroy it all.
GOD - They shall forever be cursed.
GOD - You will see and know that God, who rules over all judges even them.
GOD - A son honors his father.
GOD - If I am a father, where is the honor I should have?
GOD - A servant honors his master.
GOD - If I am a master, where is the respect you should give me?"
GOD - You priests look down on me.
Israel - How have we looked down on you?
GOD - You put unclean food upon my altar.
Israel - How have we made your altar unclean?
Israel - How have we defiled you?
GOD - You do it by looking down on my altar.
GOD - By despising my altar you despise me.
GOD - Is it not wrong to sacrifice blind, sick, or defiled animals to me?
GOD - How would your governor enjoy those gifts?
GOD - Do you fear your governor more than you fear me?
GOD - Do you honor your rulers more than you honor me?
GOD - Now you dare to ask me to show you my favor and to bless you?
GOD - Don’t you know how you dishonor me?
GOD - As long as you give me these types of offerings, how can I bless you?
GOD - You might as well close up the temple and stop pretending to honor me.
GOD - I am not pleased with you, and I will not accept any of these offerings you bring.
GOD - My name will be great throughout the world!
GOD - The whole world will worship me from the east to the west.
GOD - In every place they will burn beautiful incense to me.
GOD - They will bring pure offerings to me because my name will be great in the world.
GOD - But you, you treat me and my name as if it is a common name.
GOD - You treat my altar as a common altar, worth less than your rulers.
GOD - You look down on the offerings you bring and give me the leftovers.
GOD - You grumble as if serving me is a burden.
GOD - You wish you could do the things that make you happy, instead of thinking of me.
GOD - You cheat me by promising the best, and delivering the second best.
GOD - Because you cheat me, you are under my curse.
GOD - Remember Esau.
GOD - Even the nations around you respect and know me as the great king.
GOD - So why can’t you?

Malachi 1

As Jesus looked up, He saw rich people putting in their gifts into the temple offering boxes. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins.
JESUS - What I’m about to tell you is true.
JESUS - That poor widow has put in more than all the others.
JESUS - All of those other people put in a lot, because they are rich.
JESUS - But even though this lady is very poor, she has put in everything she had.
JESUS - She has nothing else to live on.

Luke 1:1-4

What if I sing with the voice of an angel?
Without love, my voice and my songs are worthless.
I am really only a loud, noisy clanging symbol in God’s eyes.
What if God has blessed me with the gift of prophecy?
What if I memorized the Bible, inside and out.
What if I think I know the deep mysteries of God.
What if I have more faith than anyone, so that I can do anything?
If I don’t have love, then all of these gifts don’t matter.
Without love, I am really no one at all.
What if I give everything I have to the poor?
What if I give my own body to be sacrificed in place of someone else?
If I do not have love, these generous actions will not benefit me.
If I do not do these actions out of love, care, and concern, then I might as well not do them. It would be the same as I did nothing at all, than to do these without love. What good is it?

1 Corinthians 13:1-3

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Winter Solstice – A New Beginning

I’ve been cooped up inside at night for several nights over the past few weeks as the weather has been cloudy, rainy and cold. Typically, I like to spend several minutes outside at night on my back porch – just staring up at the stars and the moon. I obviously lead a rather simple life, but I have to say that spending some time alone on the back porch in the cold night air, looking up at the sky is one of my favorite things to do. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to some clear nights again as soon as this cloudy air mass can leave our area.

Have you noticed the dark days recently? I notice it especially on the drive home from work. During the summer months, when it would stay light up until after 8:00 pm, it now starts to get dark at around 5:00 pm. Winter Solstice is the shortest day, or the longest night of the year, and is marked as the beginning of winter for us in the U.S. But it is also the reversal of the gradually lengthening nights and shortening days. In other words, after December 21st, the days will start to lengthen giving us more sunlight during the daytime hours. This progresses until the summer solstice which happens around June 21st.

I am no scientist or history buff and cannot fully explain in further detail all the nuances of the solstice or solar system in general. But I am made to pause and consider that as we near the end of 2008, we end the year in a reversal of day light and night time. And speaking in terms of metaphors, the earth itself has gone through a transition of birth, growth, and prosperity in the spring and summer months to a transition of harvest, fading, falling, and dieing in the fall and winter months. Winter officially begins on Sunday, 21st. So we still have a few more months of winter before spring arrives.

So as we near the end of this year, and approach the changing of another season, I’d like to focus my life, and challenge myself more to grow closer and stronger IN CHRIST. Just as each day after the winter solstice becomes longer and longer – ever so gradually, just as the moon each night grows larger and larger after a new moon – ever so slowly, I want to commit myself to grow stronger and stronger in Christ. I know and understand that it will take time. Just as my children long for the first days of summer, they must learn patience through waiting and take one day at a time – making the most of the time that is afforded.

One big area in which I need focus on is the fact that I must fear God.
Job 28:28, Psalms 111:10, Proverbs 1:7, Proverbs 9:10, Proverbs 15:33

I should not put my trust in myself, any other man, or even in the God’s beautiful creation. Deuteronomy 4:7, Deuteronomy 4:8, Deuteronomy 4:9, Deuteronomy 4:19, Deuteronomy 4:39, Deuteronomy 4:40

Father God - Lord you are awesome. I know that you love me, but I do not understand why. I am a sinner and I choose often to please myself rather than to obey you. I thank you for your love, mercy and grace. I pray Lord that you will bless me with that same spirit that you have, that I may love others as you do. I read the story of Jonah tonight Lord, and I realize that I too judge others in spite of myself – just as Jonah did. Forgive me when I feel that others do not deserve your love, and I somehow do. Forgive me when I act like the older brother of the prodigal and do not celebrate when others return to you and find your love. Change me Lord, into what you want me to be. Work in me, and work on me, but I pray that you will be merciful to me. Amen.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Reports out just this week confirm that the U.S. has plans to increase its troop presence in Afghanistan as early as this summer. In fact, building construction is already underway in preparation for housing the expected 20,000 individual military troops. In a "change of strategy" admission by the U.S., Defense Secretary Robert Gates says that the new plan under the new president will be to "build up the Afghan army and better cooperate with Kabul on security operations." The U.S. emphasizes that its plan is to "work with" the Afghan country as a partner. This surge in troops is comparable to the rather successful one which had been implemented in Iraq this past year. A key plan for the U.S. in Afghanistan is to increase the size of the Afghan army and police, and that the U.S. forces would be there to train, support, and provide leadership and experience. To sum up what the U.S.’s plans in Afghanistan are to be would be to provide leverage. Most of the U.S. believes that without this leverage, the results in Afghanistan would be very undesirable.

When I hear the word Leverage, I immediately think of a strong and powerful word which conjures up thoughts of moving large boulders or any other insurmountable object in one’s way. A very early quote that I appreciate is this: "Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it and I shall move the world." Archimedes (287–212 BC)

Leverage is defined as a mechanical advantage. It could also mean to act effectively by using available tools to your advantage. Or also, to increase output more efficiently by use of a mechanical tool. Also, to provide support by giving something useful or necessary, to supplement what is lacking. Without the advantage of leverage, some tasks simply could not be completed.

In our Christian life, we too can benefit from the advantage of leverage. And I believe that we can get this advantage in various ways. Jesus told his apostles that they would be filled with the Holy Spirit and that the H.S. would give them words to speak. The apostles were fearful of their impending arrest and did not know what they were going to say. But Jesus told them to not be afraid; that they were going to be strengthened – or leveraged by the Holy Spirit. Mark 13:11

Jesus himself was leveraged by his Father God, and also by the Holy Spirit. Just after Jesus was baptized by John, the Father God spoke, and the Holy Spirit came down as a Dove. Those who stood around saw and heard the miraculous event and had no doubt in their minds that Jesus was the son of God. His claim of who he was, was leveraged by these infallible proofs. Luke 3:22

Can we also be leveraged by the Holy Spirit today? Yes. I believe this is plainly taught in the Bible. First of all, the Bible teaches that all spiritual blessings are found “in Christ” not “outside Christ”. See Galatians 3:14, Ephesians 1:3, Romans 3:24, Romans 6:23, Romans 8:1, Romans 8:11, Romans 8:39, Romans 12:5. Apostle Peter described to the 1st century crowd in Jerusalem just how to get into Christ in Acts 2:38. Once in Christ, God will fill us with His spirit, Romans 15:13 and work and move through us for great things.

I must realize that the troubles and struggles I face daily cannot be overcome by me and me alone. I must be leveraged or strengthened some how. But how? God, our faithful father wants to bless us. He wants us to depend on him - Psalms 62:8. He wants us to ask for His help - Luke 11:13.

Another great way for His people to be leveraged is to help and support each other. One of my favorite passages on this subject is when Jesus told Peter this before his betrayal and arrest. Luke 22:32. Jesus told Peter that he prayed for him. What a great way to show your support to your fellow brother. When someone tells me this, it carries me for days. But Jesus didn’t stop there. Jesus told Peter once he retuned to “strengthen your brothers.” When Peter wrote his first epistle to the churches throughout Asia and beyond, he ended his letter with a prayer to the Christians in those churches in this verse, he says: 1 Peter 5:10

I hope that the Lord will use me to leverage others, and I hope the same for you dear reader. God bless.

I’d love to hear your comments, so please feel free to write and encourage me and others by your words.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Music for the Soul

Something you might find interesting about me is that by late August, I am already thinking about the upcoming Christmas season. More specifically, I am already launching my Christmas music play-list in my computer media player. I can listen to Christmas music for months. Not the music that you hear non-stop on the radio the day after Thanksgiving, but the more quiet, contemplative stuff – acoustical guitar music mostly.

The other day, I came across a little music player that fits into the Blogger format. I’m trying it out. I like it, but, some of the song selections only play just a short 30 second clip from the whole song. Consider it a teaser. If you have about 20 minutes of listening time, head over to a newly created page that host some of my favorite Christmas songs by some of my favorite artist. I’d dare say that some of this music and artist – you’ve never heard before.


Enjoy, and I hope this helps to put you into the Christmas Spirit!

If you’d like the link to add this to your blogger site as well, the link is found here:

Add iLike music to your Blogger site found here.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


In our lives, we place a great amount of importance on being first. I am reminded by my younger son, the competitive nature in some children to be the first person in their class to finish their school work. I can remember wanting to be first in line to go to the lunch room, water fountain, or even to the playground. Often times as an adult, I find myself wanting to get something done first that’s important to me. Before I can do this, I must first do this or that. My hard working wife, (may God bless her) will often times say, “I must first balance the check-book, fold clothes, and unload the dishwasher” before she can sit down with me in the evening to visit and watch a little TV together. Often times I tell my kids that, “I have to get this blog entry written before I can play video games with them”. It’s all about priorities. What is my focus, and what is more important to me? I wanted to read a few verses from Jesus that contained the word first as found from the book of Luke.


How can you say to your friend, 'Let me take the bit of sawdust out of your eye'? How can you say this while there is a piece of wood in your own eye? You pretender! First take the piece of wood out of your own eye. Then you will be able to see clearly to take the bit of sawdust out of your friend's eye. - Luke 6:42

If I do not actively seek to find fault with others, then neither will I be judged with close examination. If I do not hold others accountable for their faults, then neither will I be found guilty for mine. If I am able to completely let go of a wrong that someone caused me, then I too will be forgiven. If I am able to give to others who are in need, then I will also receive more blessings than I can imagine. By the same methods of judgment, forgiveness, and benevolence that I administer, then same will be given to me. - Luke 6:37, Luke 6:38. There is only One who is in a position to judge me or anyone else and his name is Jesus. - Psalm 9:8. First things first – I must worry about getting my own life in order and concentrate on following Jesus’ teachings because I realize I will never be perfect and therefore I cannot judge others for something I cannot keep myself.


Once, Jesus and those who were with him were walking along the road. A man said to Jesus, "I will follow you no matter where you go." Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes. Birds of the air have nests. But the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." He said to another man, "Follow me." But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." Jesus said to him, "Let dead people bury their own dead. You go and tell others about God's kingdom." Still another man said, "I will follow you, Lord. But first let me go back and say good-by to my family." Jesus replied, "Suppose you start to plow and then look back. If you do, you are not fit for service in God's kingdom." - Luke 9:57-62

Those who choose to follow Christ must first prepare themselves to endure all discomforts. But the choice should not be done precipitously, hastily, or without long consideration. One must first consider - long and hard to make a life long commitment to serve Christ. One must first count the cost. Those who are called by God ought to consider the calling one of preference by God and count His calling to be the most important calling - even beyond the temporary, pseudo-obligations that we bind ourselves with – outside of God’s will. Those who follow Christ must at once renounce all worldly cares.


"When you enter a house, first say, 'May this house be blessed with peace.'" - Luke 10:5

Bless someone’s house after you enter before you do anything else. When you enter a house, first say, 'May this house be blessed with peace'. God is pleased with hospitable people, so offer up a blessing to someone's house and home so that God may return the blessing to your host. God is also pleased with thankful people, so we should be grateful for hospitable people and ask God's blessing on them. God is also pleased with peaceful people, so by first being peaceful to others, we may open a door of opportunity for someone to see Christ living in us. Ephesians 2:17, Jude 1:2, 2 Thessalonians 3:16, James 3:18


Just briefly, we can see that there are things that should be accomplished – first. There are things in this life that are important enough to remember to get right on the front-end. However, there are also some Christian characteristics that are better off in second place.

Someone asked him, "Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?" He said to them, "Try very hard to enter through the narrow door. I tell you, many will try to enter and will not be able to. The owner of the house will get up and close the door. Then you will stand outside knocking and begging. You will say, 'Sir, open the door for us.' "But he will answer, 'I don't know you. And I don't know where you come from.' "Then you will say, 'We ate and drank with you. You taught in our streets.' "But he will reply, 'I don't know you. And I don't know where you come from. Get away from me, all you who do evil!' "You will sob and grind your teeth when you see those who are in God's kingdom. You will see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets there. But you yourselves will be thrown out. People will come from east and west and north and south. They will take their places at the feast in God's kingdom. Then the last will be first. And the first will be last." - Luke 13:23-30