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Monday, October 31, 2016

Talk about scary!!

So its Halloween eve tonight and all the pumpkins are being placed. The costumes are being fitted and the candy dishes filled. Parents are arguing whose year it is to take the kids out and in a matter of hours, night will fall and the streets will be filled with little goblins, witches, animals and creepy creatures beyond your imagination. Door bells will begin ringing in a cascade of tones as kids of every age and costume eagerly await to grab a handful of tooth decay.
Now it may sound a bit like I am talking about our presidential debates or even the upcoming election but I am really actually talking about all hallows eve.
This is a time of year when the super spiritual and the casual Christian combat for the right to have their children dress up. For some churches they will have an "alternative" party where the kids can come dressed up and get candy and play games and not be part of that secular evil holiday. Others will tell their congregations to refute this pagan holiday and keep their lights off. If some child is bold enough to ring your door bell knowing the rules of trick or treating that is surely God's sign to lecture them about the perils of hell. That'll scare em for sure!!
But the reality is, "if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it is a duck"
Trick or treating, costume wearing, candy eating, pumpkin carving, apple bobbing, horror show watching are not necessarily evil in and of themselves. Not convinced? Think about the traditions regarding Christmas. How much of the manger scene we see in peoples yards are unbiblical? When we read the Christmas story how often do we get a picture other than what is taught? What about going out picking a tree, cutting it down, or buying it from a parking lot and dragging it into your house to decorate it, which was a pagan practice according to Jeremiah that some Christians say is instruction to not have a tree. Or what about that angel you are putting on the top of your tree? You know the beautiful, curly blonde haired, blue eyed female angel that is never mentioned in scripture.
My point is not to promote or condemn Halloween or Christmas for that matter, as it is far more significant than any man-made holiday. By the way Christmas on Dec. 25th is man made as well. For the Christian, every day is Christmas and Easter all wrapped up in one. For us to ignore the issue of the heart is to sin greatly. Pursue every day, not just the holiday as a day of opportunity to draw people to Christ and find reconciliation. Who knows our attitude may very well be the draw or rejection an individual will feel in discovering God. Of course this is not a free for all permission to join into sinful behavior or indulgences by which you know are sinful, rather an opportunity to minister to many more than ever before. So set your boundaries now, do not cross them. So which will it be for you? Set inside with the lights off, or will you use every opportunity to minister that God brings your way?
Till next time.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

What's in a brain?

My parents would be proud to see how much I know about the human brain after reading my last book. Honestly it feels like I have spent weeks with specialists helping me to understand how my brain functions, or as some have commented, doesn't work. I am referring to the book by Daniel G. Amen, M.D. entitled "Change Your Brain Change Your Life" To see the authors impressive credentials for writing such a book simply click here.
Besides his many credentials and years of experience, Dr. Amen has been instrumental in brain imaging technology. What has been revealed has opened the doors of research and treatment for many studies and has brought healing to those once thought beyond modern science. Dr. Amen shares techniques and facts that can help us to understand our own brains as well as others and offers help and encouragement to us as we face things such as depression, hyper activity, anxiety, fear, and so many other things.
Dr. Amen not only shares actual pictures of healthy brain scans and compares them to troubled brain scans, he also reveals the treatments used in his clinics. Here's a little secret, diet and changing the way we think are vital. Dr. Amen discusses, "4 circles of your life". They are biological, psychological, social, and spiritual. Although I wouldn't go as far as to say this is a Christian book, it is a great resource for those who do counseling, know or have someone with a brain disorder of some sort  and those who are intrigued by the complexities of God's design in the human brain. You will come to understand the chemicals and the concepts of brain development as you move through the pages. But even more importantly are the real life progression and practical ways of dealing with whatever ails you. In chapter 16 Dr. Amen reveals 7 types of ADD, 7 types of ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION, 6 types of ADDICTS and 5 types of OVER EATERS. i think this just about touches all of us in one way or another and as he progresses through the understanding of these different types of illnesses he also provides a chart that tells what diet changes need to be made as well as deficiencies of certain vitamins and chemicals. Although Dr. Amen has forgotten more than I will ever know about the brain this book is truly remarkable. The information is informative, helpful, revealing and encouraging to know we have practical hope and the ability to do something about it in many cases. I recommend this book to everyone who would like to understand the brain and desire to see it functioning in a healthy productive way. I received my copy from my friends at Blogging for Books for review, but you should pick up a copy for your own personal library, you'll be glad you did. till next time.

I Don't Get You

Well I just got done reviewing a great resource by author Sherry Graf. She wrote a book entitled "I don't get you, a guide to healthy conversations. I know you might be thinking "oh great another book on communication", but I assure you this is anything but typical or common place. I will admit I was a bit skeptical as well until I read the first part of this little booklet. I was instantly hooked on the originality of its content. There are so many books on sexual purity but I have been looking for a book on emotional purity that would help singles as well as couples. I deal with marriage issues all the time and believe it or not they are not always at my own home, ha ha. Seriously though as a pastor I am often contacted with couples who have been facing purity issues in their marriage. Everything from infidelity, pornography and almost always some element of emotional purity. I believe this little book does a great job of driving the point that emotional purity is where it starts. Sherry brings up examples and illustrations including her own experiences of connecting emotionally with people to soon or going deeper than they should if they intend to remain friends. This book primarily is designed, in my opinion, for singles and couples, but does have specific references for speaking to our everyday friends of the same sex as well. Sherry does include some resources for those struggling in homosexuality and dealing with that specifically. These books come as singles or 10 packs and are great resources for small group studies, one on one mentoring and include thought and discussion questions to help work through the implication and application of knowing where to set boundaries. Rather you seek to deal with the opposite sex in an emotionally pure way or trying to grow your marriage this is the tool for your relationship and communication toolbox. Although I received my complimentary copy from my friends at Tyndale House Publishers for review, I have already gone on line to order several copies to hand out and use in ministry and I would encourage you to get yours as well.
Till next time.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Pastor in Pink?!

I just got back from one of the most touching funerals I think I have ever been to. A young mother who leaves behind a husband and 2 children who had been battling cancer for years. Though I only met her a few times most of what I knew of her was in the form of shared prayer concerns, interaction with family and testimonies. One of her last comments to her husband as she lay her head on his lap was, "I finished well".
Those who shared during the funeral confirmed her steadfastness and love for her God and her willingness to minister to others in a time, quite frankly, they should have been ministering to her. Her final 4 or 5 years proved to a multitude of witnesses just how real her faith was and how easily she could encourage and challenge others and always giving credit where it is due, to God almighty. Cancer may have won the battle, but the war will end when God says it will end. In the mean time family and friends are left to deal with this void in their lives where this Godly woman once was and still is. No longer to call and visit, stop by and have coffee or cry on her shoulder, yet she leaves a much stronger legacy to those who knew her than that. She made every moment count and was heard to remind people to live each day as if it were her last, after all she knew hers drew near. As a proactive response she was instrumental in raising cancer awareness and was part of raising over 24,000 dollars for cancer research simply by challenging folks to wear pink. Specifically the idea that "real men wear pink". I believe for many of us we see pink, which triggers a response to associate it with cancer awareness. Thank you to this woman of God who has passed as a great testimony, now in the arms of Jesus and rejoicing with those who were called home before her. It isn't enough to call yourself a Christian, but we need to live it out daily. My condolences to the family and prayers to the husband and kids, and in remembrance I challenge everyone of us to show our support for the fight against this horrific disease that takes our loved ones by wearing pink this Sunday, Valentines day, to our church's, to our family gatherings and everywhere you go. Let it be know we serve a mighty God who will have His victory!! Come Sunday I will be preaching in pink.

Monday, January 18, 2016


Beginnings: The First Seven Days of the Rest of Your Life  -     By: Steve Wiens
January is a common month for people to dust off their Bibles, and endeavor to do what they have tried before. Read through the Bible in a year. Admirable and well worth the time, however by the time you make it to Leviticus you begin to lose interest in all the legal material and become inconsistent in your devotions until finally you all but abandon your great intentions. That's where a fresh look at a familiar text can give you the extra push you need to stick with it. I began reading Beginnings as I prepared to go through Genesis both personally and in my preaching but was not expecting such a fresh look at a well-known text. I really appreciate the down to earth simplicity of the writing. The author Steve Wiens takes a comprehensive look through each of the seven days and what these days mean practically to you and I. Although I do not agree with all of the theology Steve shares, or the paraphrase he quotes I appreciated his concepts of these days of creation. Steve begins each day with a personal story and parallels it with the creation of the day. Each chapter ends with a series of thoughts entitled "for reflection and discussion" to personalize your study. The thrust of each day is set in the theme of each day of your life. Each day presents opportunities for us to start over and experience a new beginning. This book helps you to understand how to recognize and embrace them. I enjoyed my free copy from the Tyndale House Publishers for an honest review. To check out more on this book visit Tyndale House Publishers