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Showing posts from December, 2017

Looking Back

During the next week or so people will be making (and breaking) New Year’s Resolutions. Moving from one year to the next it is a natural time for rededication, but I think there is value in taking a brief look back.  We must not allow the past to overwhelm us with our failures or regrets, rather it can help us plan the days and months to come.  As we spend the time assessing where we have been and where we are going we need to be thankful that we have this opportunity.  Some people who had grand plans for 2017 didn’t live long enough to accomplish their goals.  Some people who had good intentions to correct their flaws didn’t get the opportunity to get it done.  All these folks left this earth either with wasted potential or regrets.  As I thought about unfulfilled lives I was drawn to a story told by Jesus in Luke 16 about an unnamed rich man and a pauper named Lazarus.  The lives of the two men paralleled each other, but there was little interaction – at least not on earth.  It appe…

The Coming Of The Lord

Throughout the years there has been a lot of discussion among those who identify as “Christians” as to the validity of honoring Christmas.  Some groups have invested a lot of time and energy in bringing significance to December 25 as a religious holiday while others have shied (or run) away from it.  Even among our own brethren the debate continues today – do we celebrate the season or not?   If we choose to participate, is it okay to place religious significance on the day or can we merely participate in the social aspects of season?  Do we gather around a Christmas tree or nativity scene? While I see the legitimacy of both sides of the argument, there is one thing that we should all agree on – Jesus cannot be left in the manger.  There is something wonderful about the story of Jesus being born of a virgin, wrapped in swaddling clothing and placed in manger; but apart from the rest of His life there would be no gospel.  The miracles surrounding Jesus’ birth provide a great beginning, …

Dealing With It

Many of you have heard me tell stories of growing up in Florida while others of you are aware that Jeane and I lived in Orlando prior to moving to Maryland.   Interestingly, sandwiched between those two stints in the Sunshine State was a lot of cold weather.  We spent about 30 years living in Kansas, Colorado, South Dakota and Wyoming.  During those years we “enjoyed” our share of blizzards and cold temperatures (sometimes experiencing -30 and wind chills as low as -70).  Often, our fair weather friends would want to know how we managed.  The answer is pretty simple – you stay out of the elements as much as possible and, if you have to be out, dress appropriately.  Coats, hats, gloves, thermals, and wind/moisture resistant clothes layered together can make you somewhat comfortable and might save your life.  Preparation before exposure to the elements made living in that part of the country manageable. How do successful Christians deal with sin and temptation in their lives?   Well, jus…

Consequences

I have been a fan of the Denver Broncos since the mid-1980s.  In fact, for about a dozen years in a row I attended one Broncos home game a year with a few of my buddies.  On the surface that might not sound like much until you factor in two things:  We were not season ticket holders which meant that the price we paid for our tickets was usually two to three times the face value.  Additionally, we lived over 500 miles from Mile High Stadium.  Since football is played in the autumn and winter, this trek made for some interesting travel (have you ever experienced an eastern Wyoming blizzard).   The reason I bring up this factoid is that I have given up on the NFL this year.  You can tell by the preceding information I was quite a fan, but this year, I’d had enough and after Week 3 I was done.  Several years of frustration with the players, the game and the league culminated in my decision.  I didn’t send a nasty letter to the League or cry as I burned my Broncos sweatshirts, I just made …

Field Training

Many of you know that between stints in the ministry I was in Law Enforcement.  Throughout my career I attended several different types of trainings including two Police Officer Training Academies and a Reserve Officer Training Program.  There was; however, one training program that will forever be stamped in my brain – the Field Training Officer (FTO) program.  During FTO officers learn a “hands-on” approach to policing in their community.  Good FTO programs utilize adult education models, but the goal of some FTO programs is to merely “fit” the recruit into the Law Enforcement culture and replicate the local agency’s preexisting way of doing things.  A common failing of some programs is they forget that men and women come into the profession with a wealth of personal experience.  Rather than enhancing these skills to flourish within the agency, trainers often try to retool a person into being the same thing everyone already is.  I acknowledge an overarching universal rule of law, th…

The Uncertainty Of Life

1958 was a challenging year in Cuba.  Revolutionary forces were active throughout the island nation while the ruling dictator, Fulgencio Batista, struggled to maintain control.  In spite of the underlying political tensions Havana continued to be the entertainment capital of the Caribbean.  Hotels, casinos and opulent shows were readily available just a few miles off of the southern coast of Florida.  New Year’s Eve 1958 probably began like many others – a night of celebration, entertainment and debauchery – but before the sun rose on the “Pearl of the Caribbean” the history of the Western Hemisphere was changed forever.  In the early morning hours of January 1, 1959 Batista fled Cuba and opened the door for Fidel Castro to come to power.  I am fascinated by the history of Cuba, especially the first three quarters of the 20th Century; yet, this event is more than a historical fact, it also offers a spiritual warning:  Life Is Fluid.  It is easy (and natural) to grow comfortable with t…