Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Son's Love

The best way my son has ever said that he loves me: "Daddy, if you were a baby, I would adopt you."

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

James Brown: An Uncommon Celebrity Sports Broadcaster

This is an excerpt from Tony Dungy's latest book, The Mentor Leader:

"I've seen examples of adding value time and again...most recently by my broadcasting friend James Brown. In 2009, he and I stayed at the same New York hotel as we fulfilled our weekend broadcasting duties. Early in the season, JB called to invite me to a Bible study he was hosting. When I arrived at his room, I found him surrounded by members of the hotel staff--a bellman and people from maintenance and food services.

"JB explained that he had become friends with these people over the last year, talking in passing about things that mattered to each of them. Eventually, they decided to get together more formally when JB was in town to broadcast, and they began a Bible study.

"It didn't matter to JB that he wasn't in a direct position of leadership. What mattered was that he could build into other people's lives, one on one.

"And in the process, they could build into his life as well" (pages 197-198).

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Contact Church's Summer Interns

This is an excerpt from Contact Church minister Ron Babbit's latest newsletter to supporters of his ministry:

"Every year at Contact, we have been blessed with great servants to walk alongside and to serve in whatever area in order to be a blessing to others. We continue to be blessed with an apprentice, 'Big Mac' Kaytie Jo. She shines with the darlins, both young and old, and shines mighty with the LORD. Occasionally she can't sleep at night because her heart is filled with concerns for her girls and their families. I will never forget a visit we made to a very uncomfortable, anger-filled house. I had tried to comfort the wife and two children who were cowering in the kitchen...afraid to breathe because of a clown shouting obscenities, put-downs, and nasty negatives. Big Mac immediately walked into the kitchen and started calming the two children, while I was reading the WORD to a very troubled man who didn't care that I was reading from GOD'S WORD. Big Mac...has a heart for the LORD.

"We also enjoyed the leadership of our interns: two other darlins and one hoss. All are students in college spending their summer with us at Contact. Yes, they raise their own money for their individual needs. Their responsibilities were teaching Bible classes on Sundays, running the van routes, and leading CBC (Contact Bible Club). That role is filled by 'ER' Kayla, who did a great job in leading, writing skits and lessons. It was a joy to watch 47 kids crawling all over her bones!

"Another God sent was Q or Quesie. She fit in immediately and lived up to the reputation from one of her elders. He said that she was very dedicated to the LORD, loves people, a hard worker, and very dependable. I loved watching her grow in her walk, and the way she touched the children. She continually reminded me when we needed to go visit and seize opportunities to encourage families so that we don't let them drop out of the race.

"Another intern was a hoss from Houston, Texas. His name is Ezequiel, but I call him 'Houston.' Houston is an IT-man, sharp with computers. He is the main computer hoss for Impact Inner-City Ministry. He was very kind and a great song leader. He taught some exciting songs to our children. He never turned down an opportunity or challenge to reach another heart. Houston was raised by his grandmother. When he was 3 years old, he saw his dad for about 10 minutes and hasn't seen him since. He has never seen his mother. He has a great heart of compassion.

"We have been blessed by this great team of servants who were fun, heart-caring, cross-motivated, and never concerned about who was in front. They just stepped up to get the job done. With this team, we were very busy, the evangelism kind of busy, reaching hearts."

Friday, August 20, 2010

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Tough Joy

I've noticed a special quality of joy in the Christians of the New Testament.

"But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised" (Hebrews 10:32-36).

These early Christians were characterized by joy when they faced ridicule, cutting remarks, imprisonment, and the theft of their property. They were being persecuted for believing in Jesus Christ. But their joy could not be taken from them, because they had sincere faith and hope in the promises of God's word. They trusted their Savior and his word. Their joy was tough because their faith and hope in Christ were solid.

Their tough joy was a product of the Holy Spirit in their lives (Galatians 5:22). I want to see him produce it in the lives of all of us who follow Christ today as well.

Monday, August 09, 2010

The Life That Matters

I liked today's reading in the devotional Our Daily Bread. Scripture quotations are from the New King James Version. It was written by David Roper. More devotionals may be found at http://odb.org. This is today's devotional:

"Remember those...who have spoken the Word of God to you, whose faith follow" (Hebrews 13:7).

"Isaac Hann was a little-known pastor who served a small church in Loughwood, England, in the mid-18th century. At the close of his ministry, the membership of the church numbered 26 women and 7 men. And only 4 of the men attended with any regularity.

"In this age of mass media and mega-churches, who would consider this a successful work? In our world today, Isaac Hann would be considered one of those pastors who never quite 'made it.' He certainly wouldn't have been invited to speak at pastors' conferences, nor would he have written articles on church growth.

"Yet, when he died at 88 his parishioners placed a plaque on the wall of their meeting house that remains to this day. It reads in part:

Few ministers so humble were, yet few so much admired:
Ripened for heaven by grace divine, like autumn fruit he fell;
Reader think not to live so long, but seek to live as well

"First Peter 5:5-6 comes to mind: 'God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.' Reverend Isaac Hann 'made it big' in a way that matters--humility before God and a reward in heaven. We can too.

"Humility is the recipe for success."

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Was Jesus Silent About Homosexuality?

In recent years, I have read this argument from those who urge followers of Christ to accept homosexuality: Since Jesus was silent about homosexuality, Christians should recognize it as being acceptable to God.

While it's true that the Scriptures never quote Jesus using the term "homosexuality," it's not exactly true that he did not address the topic.

Jesus affirmed the view that sexuality is properly expressed only between a man and a woman who are married to each other. In answering a question about divorce, he took his listeners back to the original purpose of marriage. "He answered, 'Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?" (Matthew 19:4-5). Marriage was designed so that a man and a woman would become "one flesh." They would become intimate.

Apart from a marriage between a man and a woman, Jesus referred to all other expressions of sexuality as "sexual immorality" (see Matthew 5:32 and 15:19).

Jesus never deviated from that standard. In fact, he raised it. He prohibited even the intent behind sexual sin. He taught, "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:27-28).

However, it should be pointed out that Christ died for those of us who have failed to live up to his standards...and that includes all of us. He has always welcomed everyone who has been changed by the message of his death and resurrection into his church. He has been forgiving our sins and changing our lives since the earliest years of the church. "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

Jesus condemned homosexuality along with all other forms of sexual immorality. But he also died in the place of the sexual sinner. Christ wants to free him or her from the guilt of the past.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Refraining from Profanity

This is an excerpt from The Mentor Leader by Tony Dungy:

"Leading through your words and actions--whether someone's watching you or not--tells the world who you are, and more important, who you believe God created you to be. It not only is true in times of turmoil, but is woven throughout the very fabric of our lives.

"James also reminds us of the destructive potential of our words, when he talks about the fickleness of the tongue:

"'Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water?

"'Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can't draw fresh water from a salty spring.'
James 3:9-12 (New Living Translation)

"In March 2009, Chicago Public Schools administrators proposed a new rule prohibiting high school coaches from using profanity while performing their coaching responsibilities. To my amazement, I was asked to go on a national radio show, not to debate whether this was a good rule, but to discuss whether it was even possible for coaches to comply. I assured the interviewer and the listeners that it certainly was possible and that I and many members of my staff were able to do it without need of an ordinance. I pointed out that the school board would be very disappointed if they went into the classrooms and found teachers cursing nonstop at the students and that I didn't understand why it should be any different on the playing field.

"I believe that coaches, especially in high school, should be held to the same standard as classroom teachers--if not a higher one. I agree with the idea behind the proposed rule in Chicago, but I must say it's sad they would have to legislate such an obvious standard of leadership to those in powerful positions of influence with our youth. What message does that type of language send to those young people? That it's okay to demean someone if you're in charge? That it's okay for me to disrespect an official because I think he made a mistake?" (pages 126-127)