Categories
encouragement

Testimony

God calls us to be witnesses of what he’s done in our lives.  In February this year, I had the privilege of sharing my testimony with the staff at Answers in Genesis.  What a fantastic group of people.  Of course my testimony is rather lengthy (I am a lawyer), but this rendition covers the major points of my salvation story and the beginnings of my journey to becoming a young Earth creationist: Tony’s testimony at AiG

Categories
encouragement marriage and family

True Beauty

The apostle Paul encourages us to focus on those things that are good and pure.  Mother’s day is a day devoted to just that – celebrating and rejoicing in one of the purest and best aspects of humanity.  The bond of mother and child is one of our strongest and most intimate forces.  Praise God for the love of and for our mothers.

I thank God for the woman who gave me birth and raised me and for the woman who has given selflessly of herself to birth and raise our children.  My wife’s love for our children is as certain and steady and warming as the sunrise.  I thank God also for my grandmothers who loved my parents into existence, and then me, my siblings, and my cousins.

We really shouldn’t need a particular day to celebrate mothers.  The birthday of each child should be a celebration of the birth, i.e. a celebration of what God has accomplished through the mother’s labor.  The child should bring gifts to the mother.  That is not, however, the nature of parenting, particularly of motherhood. 

There’s an old Hebrew proverb, God could not be everywhere, so he made mothers.  While I disagree with that theology, I agree with its sentiment.  Motherly love is perhaps the closest our fallen race gets to godliness.  Self-sacrificing love is the essence of motherhood.  Thank you Moms!

Categories
encouragement video

Why are we here

I always struggle with finalizing a blog. Someone else always seems to say it better than how I would say things.

But as I was reading through Philippians today and came across 1:23-25, Paul talked about looking forward to Heaven yet realizing there is still more he had to do on earth. He says, “But I am hard pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith, so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again.”

In reading these passages, it made me ask myself, is this the meaning of life? Is this why we are here? We are to appear as lights in the world holding fast the word of life (Phl 2:15-16).

So let us spend our time here on earth focused on Him, worshiping Him, loving Him, and serving Him by being of the same mind as Christ, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose, doing nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind, regard for one another as more important than ourselves by not looking out for our own personal interests, but for the interests of others.

This is may so much easier said than done.

I later came across this video on YouTube called “We Are Here” which I thought was interesting given the state of mind I was in after reading Philipians:

Categories
encouragement

Our times together …

I enjoyed a father-daughter camp retreat this weekend.  We enjoyed fantastic Carolina weather and the Pamlico sound and a host of activities, but more importantly, it was really special having so much time together, just the two of us. There is no substitute for time spent together, particularly when the purpose of the time is to enjoy the time together.  The memories were precious and even a little painful as I’m reminded that this “parenting period” is temporary.  Older parents always say with nostalgia that it’s over before you know it, and most often it’s said with a tint of regret.

I’ve been really convicted this year on how easy it is to get sidetracked even obsessed with things that ultimately have little or no significance while at the same time neglecting what really matters — each other.  Some quotes to further that conviction:

“When you are in the final days of your life, what will you want? Will you hug that college degree in the walnut frame? Will you ask to be carried to the garage so you can sit in your car? Will you find comfort in rereading your financial statement? Of course not. What will matter then will be people. If relationships will matter most then, shouldn’t they matter most now?”
— Max Lucado

“Affection is responsible for nine-tenths of whatever solid and durable happines there is in our lives”  C.S. Lewis

“No relationship is perfect, ever. There are always some ways you have to bend, to compromise, to give something up in order to gain something greater…The love we have for each other is bigger than these small differences. And that’s the key. It’s like a big pie chart, and the love in a relationship has to be the biggest piece. Love can make up for a lot.”
— Sarah Dessen (This Lullaby)

“It is better to lose your pride with someone you love rather than to lose that someone you love with your useless pride.”
— John Ruskin

“The capacity for friendship is God’s way of apologizing for our families.”
— Jay McInerney (The Last of the Savages)

“The willingness to forgive is a sign of spiritual and emotional maturity. It is one of the great virtues to which we all should aspire. Imagine a world filled with individuals willing both to apologize and to accept an apology. Is there any problem that could not be solved among people who possessed the humility and largeness of spirit and soul to do either — or both — when needed?”
— Gordon B. Hinckley (Standing for Something: 10 Neglected Virtues That Will Heal Our Hearts and Homes)

“Never ruin an apology with an excuse.”
— Benjamin Franklin

“How did it get so late so soon?”
— Dr. Seuss

Categories
encouragement theology

What should we pray for?

I often think of the common child’s prayer: “bless Mom, bless Dad, bless my friends, bless my teacher, …”  Now as adults, we can make a much better sounding prayer, with much more more spiritual words.  However, how often do we really think about what we are saying when we pray for others?  What do we pray for?

I am encouraged to pause when reading the Bible when it covers a specific prayer or prayer requests. How often do our prayer requests model these precedents in Scripture?

Paul starts the letter to the Philippians with a prayer of encouragement:

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9-11)

In this prayer of encouragement, these are some of the specific requests made on behalf of the Philippian Christians:

  1. That your love may abound still more and more” – That their love (agape) would grow in abundance; more than enough
  2. “real knowledge” – That their love would be anchored in understanding and in the Truth of Scripture.
  3. “all discernment” – Also translated as “depth of insight”, that their love would show an understanding of what is good.
  4. “approve the things that are excellent” – That that they would evaluate things for what has real value
  5. “sincere” – lit. “without wax”; illustrating broken pottery that was repainted for a cheap sale.  The prayer for them is that their love and discernment would produce in them a pure faith without secret agendas or motives.
  6. “blameless” – that they would give no cause for offense; have no legitimate accusations against them
  7. “having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ” – recognizing that the only source of them being able to accomplish this was their salvation in Christ, and his ongoing work in them.
  8. “to the glory and praise of God” – the ultimate goal was for God’s glory in everything.

May we include this in our prayers for others.

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

Categories
encouragement

Real Hope …

 With spring comes the warm promise of summer months.  Summer means family vacations, warm beaches, long hikes, and sweaty afternoons.  Spring is positive.  Spring’s filled with hope, and hope depends on a vision for the future, a better future. 

Hope is also one of the three greatest blessings from God – faith, hope and love.  The hope God gives is more than a season; we have hope for eternity.

 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

John 14: 1-3.

[W]e speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written:
   “No eye has seen,
      no ear has heard,
   no mind has conceived
   what God has prepared for those who love him” …

1 Cor. 2:7-9.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” …

Rev. 21:1-5.  God promises us a tomorrow beyond our ability to even conceive.  Faith in Christ is the spring of what will be a perfect eternity.

Categories
encouragement

More thanks and praise!

No. 1- 10 here.

11. Friends

12. Friends that are encouragers

13. Friends that need encouragement

14. Sun soaked strawberries

15. A child’s ear

16. Listening with my daughter to Antonio Pompa-Baldi play Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto

17. Little league soccer

18.  The Gospel of John

19. Carbon fiber tri bikes

20. Moms loving on their kids

Categories
encouragement Poem

Encouraging Words

  •  
  • Somewhat rare to find
  • Often difficult to give
  • yet curiously
  • they cost nothing to make
  • but they may cost
  • a hug or a smile
  • once given away
  •  
  • Cool water for a parched throat
  • A dry coat to a wet man
  • Warm sunrise after a cold night and
  • Extra energy during a long marathon
  •  
  • They are easy love
  • A bright smile
  • A reason to believe
  • And blossoms of hope for tomorrow.
  •  
  • Give a few away
  •  
  • And you’ll have no less to give.
  •  
Categories
encouragement

Eternal Investments

Nothing lasts forever … except us, if we hold our hope in what Christ, the apostles and the prophets taught.  Nothing else lasts, however.  Jobs, cars, houses, stuff, stuff and all the stuff will be gone.  Forever burned away.  Replaced with a new creation, uncorrupted.  But we will remain.

Every person is of infinitely more value than all the stuff of the world combined … yet, we don’t typically view each other that way, at least, not in my experience.  We don’t even typically view ourselves in that light.   

Relationships.  Relationships are the stuff of eternity.  How we relate and what we do with each other have eternal consequences.  Our relationships with God and with each other are the only things of ultimate consequence. What we do with the life God’s given us is determined primarily by the countless small decisions we make each day, most with very little consideration or forethought.  Most of us have substantial interactions with others throughout each day.  Those interactions are the component parts of our relationships.  What are we doing with them?

Yet, it’s so easy to fixate on the sparkly things of creation instead of on the creator and on the other eternal souls around us.  From those with whom we are in regular contact – spouse, children, co-workers, to those with whom are meetings are few and fleet, God give us the eyes and wisdom to value our relationships and interactions more, help our relationships be marked by love and encouragement.

Categories
encouragement sports

God’s Word for Athletes

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

– 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

I enjoy preparing for long-distances races.  The training has its share of hardships, but I am always motivated by how the process makes me better: faster, stronger, more efficient, etc.  There are peaks and valleys, successes and failures, elation and misery. Yet at the end, many of my best experiences have come from these training times — sometimes even better than the races themselves.

Yet every race demands personal sacrifice.  I am frequently not careful about what I eat, and the junk food leaves me overweight and sluggish on my next run.  A close friend repeatedly attempts training, yet he is not careful about his other activities.  As a result he pays the price with frequent injuries — many of which have caused him to cancel his race plans.

The list can go on.  We strive to better ourselves in the physical world and to attain to a form of greatness.  In the passage above, God tells us to approach our spiritual life with the same level of intensity and sacrifice that is expected of an athlete as they prepare for a big race.

Let us pursue greatness in our physical lives, but especially in our spiritual lives!

Categories
encouragement video

Reverse

Categories
encouragement praise Uncategorized

He’s Alive!

Thanks to Don Francisco:

The gates and doors were barred
And all the windows fastened down
I spent the night in sleeplessness
And rose at every sound
Half in hopeless sorrow
And half in fears that day
Would find the soldiers breaking through
To drag us all away

And just before the sunrise
I heard something at the wall
The gate began to rattle
And a voice began to call

Categories
encouragement praise

Alive!

Must-see link: Alive!, by Max Lucado

Categories
encouragement theology

Happy Good Friday!

The irony and twists of God … a happy day because the innocent Christ was brutally slaughtered.  By the grace of God through his blood, we are saved if we will only place our faith and our trust in him.  We celebrate the price and fact of our redemption today, our eternal purchase, and at such cost.

Excerpts from Spurgeon’s sermon The Tomb of Jesus

 [W]e will stand at that tomb; we will examine it, and we trust we shall hear some truth-speaking voice coming from its hollow bosom which will comfort and instruct us, so that we may say of the grave of Jesus when we go away, “It was none other than the gate of heaven”—a sacred place, deeply solemn, and sanctified by the slain body of our precious Saviour. … 

 Away, ye profane—ye souls whose life is laughter, folly, and mirth! Away, ye sordid and carnal minds who have no taste for the spiritual, no delight in the celestial. We ask not your company; we speak to God’s beloved, to the heirs of heaven, to the sanctified, the redeemed, the pure in heart—and we say to them, “Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” Surely ye need no argument to move your feet in the direction of the holy sepulchre; but still we will use the utmost power to draw your spirit thither. Come, then, for ’tis the shrine of greatness, ’tis the resting-place of the man, the Restorer of our race, the Conqueror of death and hell. … 

  First, I would bid you stand and see the place where the Lord lay with emotions of deep sorrow. Oh cone, my beloved brother, thy Jesus once lay there. He was a murdered man, my soul, and thou the murderer.

  “Ah, you my sins, my cruel sins,
His chief tormentors were,
Each of my crimes became a nail,
And unbelief the spear.”

“Alas! and did my Saviour bleed?
And did my Sov’reign die?”

 I slew him—this right hand struck the dagger to his heart. My deeds slew Christ. Alas! I slew my best beloved; I killed him who loved me with an everlasting love. Ye eyes, why do you refuse to weep when ye see Jesus’ body mangled and torn? …

Come, view the place then, with all hallowed meditation, where the Lord lay. Spend this afternoon, my beloved brethren, in meditating upon it, and very often go to Christ’s grave, both to weep and to rejoice. Ye timid ones, do not be afraid to approach, for ’tis no vain thing to remember that timidity buried Christ. Faith would not have given him a funeral at all; faith would have kept him above ground, and would never have let him be buried; for it would have said, it would be useless to bury Christ if he were to rise. Fear buried him. Nicodemus, the night disciple, and Joseph of Arimathea, secretly, for fear of the Jews, went and buried him. Therefore, ye timid ones, ye may go too. Ready-to-halt, poor Fearing, and thou, Mrs. Despondency, and Much-afraid, go often there; let it be your favorite haunt, there build a tabernacle, there abide. And often say to your heart, when you are in distress and sorrow, “Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”

Complete sermon here.

Categories
culture encouragement entertainment

Christian Horoscope

I’ve been surprised by the increasing numbers of horoscopes that friends post to their Facebook pages and FB “horoscope” application invites I’ve received.  Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised.  The daily horoscope is as fundamental a part of the American daily newspaper as is the funnies and editorial page.  I seem to recall that many papers used to list the page number of daily horoscopes on the front page.  Horoscopes are an accepted part of modern American culture.

So here’s a Christian horoscope, good for any day and any sign:  Today is a day you should shout for JOY to the Lord and worship the Lord with gladness.  Come before him with grateful hearts and enter his gates with thanksgiving.  Know that the Lord is good and his love endures forever.  Take every opportunity today to pray and to bless others with love and grace.  Look for an opportunity to serve, particularly those that wouldn’t expect that from you.  Tell somebody about Jesus today.  You don’t have a lucky number or color.  Finally, don’t be afraid to shout “God is great!”, particularly in a crowded area.  If you follow this advice and place your trust and faith in Christ, a peace that transcends understanding will be yours.

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: this isn’t a “horoscope.” Bye definition a horoscope is a prediction of events based on a diagram of the stars and planets.  My forecast is not based on astrology but is based entirely on

Categories
encouragement theology

The Wisdom of God

The Wisdom of God

I have been reading through James lately and am being taught about the wisdom of God vs. the wisdom of the world.

Some attributes that we see from the world’s wisdom:

  • Feeds our own lusts (1:14, 4:3)
  • Builds within us a covetousness that develops into other sins (1:15; 4:2)
  • Enemy of God (4:4)
  • Jealous, bitter (3:14; 4:5)
  • Has no hope (3:15)

In contrast, some attributes of God’s wisdom:

Categories
encouragement entertainment praise

Always Enough

In the dry and weary land
Lord, You are the rain
In the sea of shattered ones
Your love comes rushing in

You hold the world within Your hands
And see each tear that falls
Through every fire and every storm
You’re Always Enough
Always Enough

Your love is peace to the broken
Faith for the widow
Hope for the orphan
Strength for the weak

Your love is the anthem of nations
Rings out through the ages
And You’re Always Enough for me

In the watches of the night
Lord, You are my song
Hope is in the morning light
Your love shines like the dawn

You keep my heart in perfect peace

Categories
encouragement love

Is there anything more wonderful than …

God’s love? 

He loved and knew you before he created you , before he created time. 

To a rebellious people who rejected him and killed his prophets, he bled and died to satisfy judgment and to preserve his holiness.  To those that reject his sacrifice, he still causes the sun to shine upon them and the rains to raise their crops.  He calls them through his faulty saints, his word, the majesty of his creation, and the force of conscience. 

He loves us patiently and is slow to anger.  He calls us to return his love and devotion and to love each other selflessly.  Though he is the ageless, almighty, creator of all things seen and unseen, he humbled himself to be born a child to a peasant couple in a backwater province on the outskirt of the Roman empire.  To make sure we didn’t miss the point, he was born among the squalor of livestock, with no servants, not even a bed. Instead of a king, to the world he appeared a bastard child.  He demonstrated what it means to humble oneself for purposes of serving and loving those that do not deserve it.  He calls us to demonstrate that same love in all areas of our lives and to all people. 

By this all will know

Categories
culture encouragement entertainment Ministry

I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ – massive campaign

Answers in Genesis has rolled out the “I Am Not Ashamed” campaign, featuring “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ” message.  It’s a media blitz – television, YouTube, blog, internet, Facebook, Twitter, TV, newspaper, billboards … it’s a massive campaign.  You can see it all here.  I encourage you to email the YouTube videos and post them on your FB account.  At the center of it is a “living” Bible where people contribute their rendition of Biblical passages.  Submit a video of you and/or your family reciting your favorite (or most obscure) chapter in the Bible.  There are really cool billboards, see them here, that feature “The Bible speaks for itself on _____,” where the blank may be abortion, racism, marriage, etc.  You can sponsor a billboard to include listing your church or ministry on it.  All very cool stuff.  Pray that this media blitz introduces millions to the Gospel and that souls are saved, and please spread the word!

Categories
encouragement theology

Do our words make us hypocrites?

“For we all stumble in many ways.  If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a mature man, able to bridle the whole body as well…for every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race.  But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.  With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing.  My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.” -James 3:2, 7-11

This passage of Scripture struck me as I was reading today.  How often do I have something bad to say about other people when their lives interfere with my own?  What will be my reaction to the driver who cuts me off on the way home from church tomorrow?

The challenge here in James is that it describes others as being “made in the likeness of God”.  Note also that the audience of our words is never spoken here in James — the core issue is our own heart, not with who hears us.  May we remember that about the next person who bothers or annoys us: let us remember that they are in God’s image, and may we also remember to keep our mouths shut.

Even when I am alone in my car!