The Great Equalizer

I got a fever blister last week.  I hate fever blisters!  Do you hear me?  Hate them!  Life was going along great.  I woke up early that morning at around 6 and went downstairs for my quiet time (my QT is going well, btw!).  I had a cup of hot tea and was reading through Psalm 8 “O Lord, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth, Who have set Your glory above the heavens!  Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants, You have ordained strength…”  I was feeling good about my walk with God (maybe a little too good about myself, if you know what I mean).  After a time of prayer and praise, I headed back upstairs for a shower and shave.  That’s when I noticed it!  “Tum-ta-tum-tum”  El Fever Blisterio!  As I rubbed my towel over my mouth, it just popped up as if to say, “Good morning, sucka!”

Fever blisters are the great equalizer.  I’ve known homeless people who get fever blisters and I’ve known beauty queens who get fever blisters.  There’s no socioeconomic people group that is FB free.  Someone in every tribe and tongue gets fever blisters.  And when you get them, there’s no hiding them.   I suppose women at least get to attempt covering them with lipstick, but not with much success.  And every time I get one, I can’t seem to find my little tube of ointment that’s suppose to get rid of them quicker.  So I run out to Walgreen and buy yet another $20 tube.  These tubes are about the size of a small paper clip.  I apply and reapply, over and over again all day and all night, and in about a week, I have a huge scab the size of Brazil on my lip.  A scab that falls off when I shower and then bleeds all over my clean towel, and then scabs over again.  This lasts for about a week.  But if I didn’t use the ointment, then my scab lasts… let’s see… about a week.  That’s right, I see no difference!  But never the less, in my panic, I fork over another “Jackson” for a tube of liquid gold.

So why a blog about fever blisters?  I have no idea, I just wanted you to know how much I hate them!  Oh, and I’m kinda glad that beauty queen’s get them too.  But not homeless people, they have a hard enough time dealing with life.  They don’t deserve them!

Investing in Others

Where are the Becky Waldrups and Chris Lieu’s?  And how about Todd Abernathy?  When I served in a church in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, these college students were a part of our church.  The thing that stood out about them was, they didn’t just attend occasionally.  In fact, they joined our church and got involved.  All three of these students made a major impact in the lives of my two kids.  Jolee and Andrew were teenagers at the time and these three UNC students invested in them.  Becky was the Youth Minister and was always seeking ways to engage my kids.  She even went as far as coming over to our house and watching the season premiere of “90210″ (or was it “Melrose Place?”) with our daughter.  She was willing to meet Jolee where she was.  Chris and Todd were constant chaperones for youth events.  Chris was premed and Todd was finishing up a degree, looking forward to a career in chiropractic medicine.  Neither of these guys were preparing for vocational ministries.  They weren’t filling service hour requirements or internships.  They were just a couple of guys willing to give up time from their studies and the college scene to invest in the lives of some random teenagers.  I thank God for these students.

How I long to meet more of the same.  Now days, it seems I can barely get a college student to visit our church now and then, in between a mulitude of other activities.  Rarely will I meet a college student who considers joining our church, much less get involved.  The trend seems to be going to the trendy, hip churches and being a spectator.  Now I don’t want to sound like sour grapes, and I’m sure if I were a college student I would be doing the same.  But I just hope that these college students and young adults will not forget about those who invested in their young lives.  I hope and pray that they will remember the sacrifice that Christ made for them in order for them to experience the abundant life they are living.  I pray that they will discover much sooner than I did, what a joy it is to be a part of the local church, sharing and serving one another.  Young and old, rich and poor, we all have something to contribute.  As great as it may feel to hang with all young, hip, well dressed congregations, I believe that they would gain much from hanging around old, wise, men and women who have served the Lord for decades. 

So thanks, Becky, Chris and Todd!  May your tribe increase!

Lost and Found – God’s Word

My wife and I went to Nashville for a National Women’s Bible Study event.  Yes, my wife is a women’s conference junkie, in particular, it’s all about Beth Moore.  So it was me amongst 23,000 women, searching for an unconverted men’s room.  But this blog is not about me not finding a restroom, but instead, it’s about me not finding my Bible.

As my story goes, we got in the car and drove a few miles down the road when Sally ask me if I brought my Bible.  “Yes I did,” I said smuggly.  I’m usually the one to forget my Bible, but this time it was my wife who forgot!  “Who would not bring their Bible to a (ahem…) Bible study?”  Anyway, we continued down the highway, listening to some preacher podcast.   (This is my generation’s version of listening to radio preachers.  My dad used to listen to radio preachers all the time and it would drive me crazy.  Now, I’m listening to podcast preachers!)  One of the things that was said that stuck in my mind was the preacher’s challenge regarding the Bible.  Did I really cherish God’s Word?

We arrived to the conference just in time with Bible in tow.  Sally and I enjoyed some great worship and Bible teaching together.  The first teacher was Priscilla Shirer.  She is Tony Evans’ daughter and she is incredible.  She too challenged us with words concerning the Bible.  Did we spend time in God’s Word?  Did we realize what a gift His Word is to us?  As we left the conference that night to go to the hotel, I threw my Bible and Conference workbook in the back seat and drove off.  When we got to the hotel, I made a conscious decision to leave my Bible in the car.  I wouldn’t need it.  It was late and I knew we’d be up early the next morning to head back over to the conference.

The next morning after checking out of the hotel, we made our way back to the conference.  To my surprise, when I opened the car door to the backseat to retreive my Bible, IT WAS GONE!  I looked everywhere.  I could only find my conference workbook.  Someone must have gotten into the car and taken my Bible.  But why would they take my Bible and not the IPOD sitting in clear view?  Sally was certain that I had left my Bible at the conference or the hotel room.  So I went to lost and found several times to see if my Bible ever showed up.  No Bible.  I told Sally that I think God took my Bible because I didn’t cherish it like I should have.  I started thinking about how much I neglected reading the Word.  I was feeling pretty lousy about my spiritual state.  I’m a scumbag!  People in other countries risk their lives for the Word of God, but here I am carelessly throwing my Bible around and losing it.

So I began to pray that God would forgive my neglect of His Word.  I prayed that I would find this precious book that I have had for over 20 years or He would allow me the privilege of buying a new one, with a renewed commitment to cherish it and guard it with my life.  It was at that moment that I actually envisioned where my Bible probably was.  I remembered that there was a pocket on the inside of the back car door.  Maybe my Bible slid into that pocket when we made a sharp turn. 

I couldn’t wait for the conference to end so I could check out the car door.  We walked several blocks to the parking garage, down the elevator to find the car, opened the car door to the back seat and sure enough, there was my Bible!  Thank You God for giving my Bible back to me!  It brings a whole new meaning to the passage in Isaiah 55, “It (His Word) shall not return to Me void”

Next entry, I will share with you how my personal Bible study is going.

Thinking Great Thoughts

I’m going to just come out and say it…my thought life stinks!  I confess I struggle with negative thoughts about myself, about my circumstances and about others.  I deal with envy and I wrestle with lust.  I tend to be sarcastic and I can get very impatient with everyone from my wife to the jerk who cut me off on the way to work. 

So here’s the big question, does my life’s circumstances lead me to think negative thoughts, or do my negative thoughts influence my life’s circumstances?

I’ve just come across a new book by Chip Ingram entitled, “Good to Great in God’s Eyes”  Ten Practices Great Christians Have in Common.  His first chapter is, “Think Great Thoughts.”  It was very convicting.  I realize that I entertain my negative thoughts throughout the day as a way of rewarding my negative circumstances.  Somehow I think I deserve to think bad thoughts because I’ve had such a bad day.  How crazy is that?!

Instead, the author encourages the reader to think great thoughts.  He sites many sources for these thoughts; Scripture, quotes from great people, beauty in nature and art and spiritual insights.  I like his quote from Charles Spurgeon who said, “Let us, dear brethren, try to get saturated with the gospel.  I always find that I can preach best when I can lie a-soak in my text.  I like to get a text and find out its meanings and bearings and so on; and then, after I have bathed in it, I delight to lie down in it, and let it soak into me.”

That’s what I want to do, soak in scripture!  The scripture that speaks to me on this is Philippians 4:8, “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” (NASB)

My prayer is that I will become proactive in thinking great thoughts and to allow God’s truth to set me free and transform me into His loving and faithful son, a son who looks just like his Father.