Thursday, September 30, 2010
Obviously, Ford made this statement about beards.
Today as I strolled across the campus of the third institute of higher education that I have attended in hopes of acquiring an undergraduate degree, my mind recalled the famous words of Henry Ford. I also saw various forms of hair upon various forms of men. Some were big and some were small. Through thick and thin, ten were bad and two were good. Every mountain high, every valley low, beards appear everywhere I go.
Guys in college grow beards for various reasons. During October on the grounds of Montana State University, beards appear as hunting season draws near. In the bleak mid-winter, beards become icicles as engineers skip class for yet another powder day.
Conversations in the cafeteria fill my ears with big talk. November is preceded with the words "No Shave." New Year's resolutions already? I heard the phrase - "Just Be Hairy" January. Foreshadowing February, it's going to be "Furry." "Man Face" March. "A lot of hair" April. Celebrate the holiday, "Cinco De Mustache." Henry Ford obviously started something with his witty words.
Fortunately, some of the "think you can" guys are right. They are the lumberjacks of the chemistry lab, the rabbi's in the library, the Santas in the practice room,and the vikings lifting weights. Unfortunately, some of the "think you can't" guys are right. That "beard" just looks weird. There might be dirt on that guys face - or he's growing a beard. Why is this phenomenon even more prevalent on Christian college campuses?
Young men studying the Bible have often used Leviticus 19:27 to support this activity. Good logic, as long as you are seeking to be holy as the Lord is holy. There is also a widely accepted assumption that Jesus had a beard. WWJD?
What Henry Ford is saying and what college guys are doing connected with me in a way that only God can make things connect. Quite often I think I can do things that will make God happy. More often God shows me that I can't do anything without Him. Either way, God loves me. Now you can quote Ford and say, "...you're right."
Successful or failing. Rich or poor. Sulking or smiling. On top of the world or down in the dumps. Good or bad. Sinner or saint. Beard or no beard. Wherever you're at in life, that's right where God is with you.
1 John 4:10 says "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." Let that settle into your heart, while your beard begins to grow.
Monday, September 27, 2010
"But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things, there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit." - Galatians 5:16-25
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Repetition can get a bad reputation sometimes. I like to look at repetition positively.
Commuting can become repetitious. Some mornings, my brain feels mushy like my oatmeal/egg combo and the drive drags on forever. Other days, I am enjoying the same stretch of road like its an exploratory adventure into a new world. Why? Loud music, complete silence, different sunglasses, window down, window up, staying in the slow lane, or a phone call from a friend can spice up that repetitive activity.
Want to get better at anything? Repeat it. When I was a young lad learning to ski, I was adamant about doing 360's off jumps. I had to learn to fall down and get back up. Again and again and again. Repeating the process of catching air, spinning 270 degrees, and hitting earth like a fly swatter really payed off. I learned that you've got to keep looking over your shoulder and you'll come around. Now I repeatedly do 360's when I'm skiing.
What is the hardest thing about being a Christian? If you were to poll Christians today, there would be a large number of them telling you reading the Bible and praying (aka "doing devos") is the most difficult thing about being a Christian. Why is that? Is it our attitude toward the repetitive?
God has shaped my perspective on life. Repeating the same thing has become less of a burden. When I struggle with repeating the same sin for years, I find myself praying the same prayer day in and day out. This repetition makes God smile. He wants to repeatedly help us as we struggle though life.
Psalm 92:2 says "to proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night"- this is something I try to repeat everyday. When I wake up remembering how much God has love me it makes the same old routine a lot more fun. I realize how blessed I am to be alive. God loves me unconditionally. Before I go to sleep at night, I think about how God was repeatedly faithful to me throughout my day.
I hope you see that God's love has been on repeat forever and will be on repeat for eternity and that's a song that will never get old.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
In 2011 you'll remember Texas for another reason. Worship.
Join AFLC Young Adults in Ft. Worth April 1-3, 2011 for PASSION.
PASSION, geared for 18-25 year olds, is by their definition more than an event. "Rather, it is another step in a journey that is all about finding true meaning as we take our places in a story that is so much bigger than ourselves." Read more about PASSION at 268generation.com.
There might be flashing lights, larger than life screens and blaring guitars, but while those things are amazing at the heart of it all is the intimacy amongst thousands of brothers and sisters in Christ gathered in passionate praise to the Lord.
Come with us to PASSION 2011 Ft. Worth.
Our vision is to see AFLC Young Adults from across the nation meet up for PASSION, connecting there and worshiping together.
I read in the first verse of Psalm 108 today "I will sing and make music with all my soul." I believe PASSION is going to be a place for us to do this together. Please pray about attending PASSION. I'll be writing more in the weeks to come. Shoot me an e-mail if you are interesting in attending or have questions.
God's rich blessings on your week,
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
We are going through a series at church right now in which we are studying seven different attributes of God. The first one we are looking at is His goodness. Goodness isn't just what He does, it's who He is. I can take comfort in that.
Now maybe at this point you are wondering to yourself,"Why it is such a big deal that his scooter doesn't work anymore?" Well, maybe it's not, but I now need to figure out if I should, how, where, and when to get it fixed while still being able to get around town and do the things I need to do. Of course I've got two feet to walk on, friends to ride with, and cars to borrow, but the reality is that my life has changed in just a moment and whenever life changes questions and difficulties arise. How we respond to them is greatly going to determine where our hearts lie in regards to knowing and believing who is in control.
Something quite difficult may be going on in your life, but know this, God is in control and He can be your sun and your shield during this time.
It's ok to ask Him questions, but can you be satisfied with His answers...?
Monday, September 20, 2010
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
I finally figured you out! For years I have wondered how you decided on that perfect color combination. Green and yellow in perfect proportion. Enough green to fit in on St. Patrick's Day, and enough yellow to me up when I'm feeling too mellow. To most farmers your subtle hues are old news. To me you are a glimmer of hope. As I ran through the dense forest and rolling wetland that traces the path of the Minnesota River, I was struck by something with more power than a T670 Combine. You're all about transformation. Tilling old soil. Planting millions of seeds. Fertilize the growing plant. Chop the crop. Manicure grass to change a boring green piece of land, into an argyle sweater for the center fielder. Take sand from an unsightly pile and smooth it into a beautiful scene of laughter, high fives, and families connecting on a backyard beach volleyball court in the Red River Valley. Whether it's work or play, John Deere is transforming the land.
The leaves are beginning to change colors along the Minnesota River. Some are still the same vibrant green that 90% of the 3032E Compact Tractor comes painted. Some of the leaves might fall on the seat of an X500 Lawn Tractor and never be seen again. Regardless of the color, the leaves are in a time of transformation. John Deere tractors are hard at work today, transforming acres of crop into bushels of food.
Jesus is all about transformation. I have experienced it. Sometimes it has been as dramatic as the change in color from the wheel well to the roof on Uncle D's loader. During the process, I'm not the deep green of an August leaf or the bright yellow of an autumn leaf. Instead I'm that beautiful in between color that sparkles in the evening light, almost the color of the lime you just squeezed on your Chipotle burrito. Maybe it's the color of Kayle Buscher's VW Beetle. Regardless, transformation takes place when I spend time with Jesus. In 2 Corinthians 3:18, it talks about this - "And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." Hmmm. Like a leaf.
That's what's going on in my life right now, deere John. I hope you take some time to idle your engine, get refueled, and continue with the transforming business.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
I started a new job a month ago and I've felt a bit in the depths of despair. I know I am being a bit dramatic, but I've never found a job so extremely overwhelming. Before my interview I read Psalm 139 and Jeremiah 29:11. As I went into the interview I wanted to have in mind that it is God who directs my path. What I didn't expect, less than a week into the job, was to feel so completely out of my element. I constantly feel like a fish out of water. I tell myself it will get better, but it's a tough and awkward training period.
I've found myself debating, do I stay, do I find a new job, what do I do? I dislike it so much. I've found myself asking God if He provided me with this job, if it's really where He wants to be. But, what has really stood out to me these past four weeks is that I need daily to rely on God to get through each day. As much as I struggle to adjust to this new job and the discomfort and doubt I face as I learn so many new things and constantly forget stuff and make mistakes sending me through a roller coaster of emotions daily, what I know is that God is using this to draw me closer to Him. He's teaching me so much about turning to Him and seeking His face.
I've been reading in Psalms almost every day and drawing all my strength from God and His words. I am not the first nor will I be the last to go through a time of discouragement. I am so grateful the Lord has given His word to us for each season of our lives.
These verses have been especially encouraging to me in the last few weeks.
1 “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust."
3 Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
9 If you make the Most High your dwelling—
even the LORD, who is my refuge-
10 then no harm will befall you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 "Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation."
May you find your encouragement in the Lord each and every day! God's rich blessings upon you.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Two months ago or so (like my rhyme? :)) I moved out to Washington and since that time I have been seeking the Lord about where He wants me to get involved and what I should be doing. He has ledge to a few different things so far including some youth ministry, leading in Younglife, and spending a portion of my time witnessing to people at the local downtown coffee shop. It has been a battle to get to the place I am now though, which is simply confident that I am doing what He wants me to do. Ever since I started the witnessing thing I have just been getting nailed with a large amount of spiritual attacks in the form of confusion, discouragement, fear, and temptation. They are the kinds of things that I have battled with and through a lot but this time around has been some of the most difficult. The Lord has brought me through it though, as only He can do, but I am just exhausted. I have spent much of the past couple of days just sitting in God's presence and weeping, rejoicing, and praising Him for not just bringing me through it victoriously but also that He was with me through it. Two Scriptures come to mind that I would like to share with you in closing.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
Praise God! Both of those promises have been very close to my heart for the past couple of weeks. May you find strength and encouragement in them as well.
Monday, September 13, 2010
"I will lift my eyes to the mountains;from where shall my help come?my help comes from the LORD,who made heaven and earth.He will not allow your foot to slip;He who keeps you will not slumber.Behold, He who keeps Israelwill neither slumber nor sleep.The LORD is your keeper;the LORD is your shade on your right hand.The sun will not smite you by day,nor the moon by night.The LORD will protect you from all evil;He will keep your soul.The LORD will guard your going out and your coming infrom this time forth and forever." - Psalm 121
Sunday, September 12, 2010
...for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or the waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.
Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for the wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting."
In Jeremiah 29:11 it says, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." This verse says that God does have wonderful things in store for each of us, but He's not going to have you solely waiting for them instead of living.
So today I ask you this, what are you waiting for? There's a song by John Walker titled "While I'm Waiting" that has a line in it that says, "I'll be running the race even while I wait."
Are you running?
Saturday, September 11, 2010
A little more than a month has passed and I am walking through life with Jesus, and He is closer to me than ever before. Sometimes it feels like we are running together and I'm positive that He can run a faster mile than me. Thursday afternoon I was running around Normandale Lake with Jesus, He was pushing me to run harder, encouraging me as I was slowing down, and reminding me of so many great "firsts" in my life.
First and foremost, Jesus' death and resurrection has shaped me to be the man that I am today. With that being said, here are many of the other "firsts" that Jesus brought to my mind when we were running together on Thursday.
First chair on a powder day and first tracks eight minutes later.
My first day of school and then my first school picture.
My first car. The first time I was pulled over by the fuzz.
First season pass to Big Mountain.
The first time I was offered drugs. The first time I said "No."
My first bike. The first time I entered a mountain bike race, winning first place.
The first time I went for a run; and actually had fun.
The first time I witnessed someone get thrown through a wall.
The first time I saw my mother really mad.
The first day of college.
Skipping class to go skiing, for the first time.
My first road trip.
The ever so memorable first job. Two weeks later, receiving my first paycheck.
My first time climbing a peak in Glacier Park.
Realizing for the first time that I'm losing my hair.
Being in a wedding for the first time.
For the first time, caring about school.
Sharing with someone what God has done in my life for the first time.
The first time I slept in the back of my car.
My first visit to the emergency room.
Reading an entire book for the first time, just for my own enjoyment.
Hearing for the first time "She has a crush on you."
Having that first DTR.
First ride in a helicopter.
Living with my first "randomly selected roommate."
The first time I realized I am lactose intolerant.
Finding the first Easter egg.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, the first of the firsts, the first things that came to mind.
I urge you to think about some of the "firsts" in your life, and maybe for the first time, think about how God has been a part of every one of them.
Friday, September 10, 2010
Sometimes I am amazed at how easy it is to forget, especially when it comes to God's faithfulness, loving-kindness, and all that He has done in my life. In times of worry, stress, happiness, despair, challenges, and life changes, when we remember God, what He has done and what He promised to do, we known that God can and will take care of whatever comes along.
8"Remember this, and be assured;
Recall it to mind, you transgressors.
9"Remember the former things long past,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is no one like Me,
10Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things which have not been done,
Saying, 'My purpose will be established,
And I will accomplish all My good pleasure';
11Calling a bird of prey from the east,
The man of My purpose from a far country
Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass.
I have planned it, surely I will do it.
12"Listen to Me, you stubborn-minded,
Who are far from righteousness.
13"I bring near My righteousness, it is not far off;
And My salvation will not delay
And I will grant salvation in Zion,
And My glory for Israel.
(from Isaiah 46)
Take time to reflect on God's goodness and faithfulness now, and everyday after, knowing that He will fulfill His purpose in your life - if you let Him.
Monday, September 6, 2010
"'For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on . . . Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap, nor gather into barns, and your Heavenly Father Feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry . . . for your Heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.'" (Matthew 6:25-33)
Friday, September 3, 2010
1 Corinthians 6:12-20 (Amplified Bible)
12Everything is permissible (allowable and lawful) for me; but not all things are helpful (good for me to do, expedient and profitable when considered with other things). Everything is lawful for me, but I will not become the slave of anything or be brought under its power.
13Food [is intended] for the stomach and the stomach for food, but God will finally end [the functions of] both and bring them to nothing. The body is not intended for sexual immorality, but [is intended] for the Lord, and the Lord [is intended] for the body [to save, sanctify, and raise it again].
14And God both raised the Lord to life and will also raise us up by His power.
15Do you not see and know that your bodies are members (bodily parts) of Christ (the Messiah)? Am I therefore to take the parts of Christ and make [them] parts of a prostitute? Never! Never!
16Or do you not know and realize that when a man joins himself to a prostitute, he becomes one body with her? The two, it is written, shall become one flesh.
17But the person who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with Him.
18Shun immorality and all sexual looseness [flee from impurity in thought, word, or deed]. Any other sin which a man commits is one outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.
19Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you, Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God? You are not your own,
20You were bought with a price [purchased with a preciousness and paid for, made His own]. So then, honor God and bring glory to Him in your body.
God has laid on my heart these verses, and through experience of putting junk into the Holy Spirit's temple - my body - He is bidding me to make a change and clean out this temple. It is done through TV shows, movies, music, magazines, books…etc. It does matter how it affects you, or how strong you are that you are able to push the immoral things seen aside…the fact is, I am putting filthy junk into my body, a temple. Not very honoring to Someone who is Holy. But as I have realized this, God has repeatedly said to me…."How committed to Me are you going to be?"
As Christians we have choices - we can choose to fill our minds with immorality, or with God - His Word, His love, His vision, and RUN the race set before us.
Do you have some cleaning out to do?
"...whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them]."
Will you live a life that honors Christ, not your self, your desires, your pleasures?
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Everybody loves free stuff. Some free stuff literally will fall from the sky. Other free things show up in the mail. From time to time, a nice person will place something in front of me to eat, for free. It doesn’t matter how free things are acquired, because free is key.
During my elementary years, the end of summer always brought a lot of free stuff into my possession. Walking around the county fair (where I got free admission going with the group from the nursing home), I filled my free bag with free things as I stopped at booths overflowing with free information. Most of the stuff was useless for someone my age, but I sure looked fierce with a feather wrapped around my head, a meter stick in one hand, and a bag full of loot in the other.
As a teenager, September was full of anticipation for the upcoming winter. Going to the premier of a ski movie showcasing the best skiers in the world up on a big screen meant two things – drool down the front of your shirt (free) and free gear for all. T-shirts get thrown through the theatre like snowballs on a playground. DVD’s fly threw the dark like clay pigeons wrapped in plastic. Raffle ticket numbers are read with as much respect as a eulogy with everyone hoping to win a free season pass, new skis, a jacket, that fuzzy hat, and the ever illusive Alaskan Heli-skiing Vacation. The only thing sweeter than the smell of the first snow is the smell of free gear.
The other day I was driving through a nice quiet neighborhood, yielding to the school bus driven by the lady with pink hair and a flat bill cap. Just a normal day in Minnesota, right? Wrong! I saw something on the side of the road with my favorite sign scribbled onto a piece of yellow paper – FREE! There it sat, in all its mustard yellow glory, you’d think I had just found gold - looking tired, forgotten and old – a free bike!
Do I need another rusty old 10-speed bicycle with flat tires and malfunctioning brakes? No, but it was free.
Did I need that pair of skis? The bent, purple, K2 Big Kahunas? No, but they were free.
Is it completely necessary for me to eat those cookies and drink that punch? No, but they’re free.
Should I join the Collegiate Philosophical Astronomers Playing Chess While Throwing Frisbees and Listening to NPR Club (C.P.A.P.C.W.T.F.L.NPR.C.) when I attend their first meeting? No, but there will be free pizza.
Could I have made more money working at McDonalds during my summer break after my freshman year of college? Yes, but I got a free T-shirt unclogging toilets at camp.
Did I really want to fold towels and sheets, shovel snow off the roof, and chop firewood in a crawlspace? No, but I got to fly in a helicopter to backcountry ski lodge for a week, for free.
Throwing a party? Want people to show up? Make posters that say “Free Beer!”
Today while I was at the office, my co-worker Matt stuck his head in and asked “Does anyone want four FREE tickets to the Vikings game tonight?” My heart skipped a couple beats. The cause of this slight medical emergency was either the coffee and potato chip dinner I was eating, or the free tickets. Have I ever been to a professional football game? No. Were these tickets cheap? No. Could someone get them free? Yes! To make a long story short, my job had me going to the first Hopkins High School home football game instead, so I did not go to the Vikings game. Fortunately, I was able to get the tickets and give them to some friends , so they could enjoy a little Favre fever ... for free.
Of all the free things I have received in the past 22 years, one thing stands high above the rest. It has brought me adventure, comfort, friends, joy, healing, tears, purpose, identity, laughter, and hope. It has made me who I am today. My life has been changed forever because of a free gift that we can all receive.
I think Paul says it best …
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
In less than 24 hours, I’ve told eight people about the bike I got for free ... Have I told anybody about the free gift of eternal life that God has given me?
I love to tell people about my free T-shirts when I wear them ... Do I love telling people how I am free from the punishment I deserve for my sin?
Eating free tacos was the highlight of my day on Tuesday ... Is the highlight of my day being filled with God’s love (for free) when I spend time reading the Bible, and listening to Him?
When you really break it down, free is key.