Coach Carter

26 Dec

Coach CarterLast night, I watched the movie “Coach Carter”. It is a movie about a tough basketball coach in a tough school that instills respect and educational standards into students that normally don’t have any hope. It is a real positive story and teaches about hard work, expectations, consequences and respect. It stresses education over basketball. This is the guy who cancelled games because the team didn’t maintain a 2.3 grade point average.

One of the side stories in this movie is that one of the star basketball players finds out that his girlfriend is pregnant. She fully intends on having the baby. In fact, there are scenes where she has bought the baby shoes and a scene where her and her girlfriends are trying to figure out a name for the baby. The basketball player, having already accepted his role as father is trying to come to grips with his new situation. Before Coach Carter entered his life, he never thought of college. Now that he was taking steps in the classroom to become successful, college looked like a possibility. He started looking at a future that was totally different than the mentality of the neighborhood he grew up in. Here he was working hard so that there may be a possibility of college in his future and he was wondering how he was going to go to college and support a girlfriend and baby at the same time. When he confronted his girlfriend about this, she was in denial. He asked her, “You want to go to Junior College, how are you going to go to college with a baby? How are you going to take care of the baby and go to school? You have it all figured out, so after you have the baby – then what?” He wanted her to take a look at a bigger world. To step back and see long term and not so short term. When they both did, a baby didn’t look so attractive.

( Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t seen the movie then this last bit will be a spoiler. I only write this because it has been out long enough so if you wanted to see it, you should have already seen it. )

Eventually, the basketball player is offered a full-ride scholarship. He tells the college about his situation and they are going to help him with his baby and girlfriend. When he tells his girlfriend about it, she informs him that she had an abortion. Apparently she also started thinking about the future. She didn’t want to end up like her cousin who had two kids by the time she was 19. She didn’t want to be inconvenienced.

I watched this with sadness because what was left unsaid was that she had made the choice to end the life of her child so she wouldn’t be inconvenienced. In the movie, abortion was the solution. Killing the child whom they had already named and bought clothes for was the option. The movie didn’t spell it out like that. They made it seem as though that was the best option for the two high school students. Now they could go on with their lives without the inconvenience of a baby. How sad. With the positive message of self-respect and responsibility, it also showed the ugliness of selfishness.

After the movie, I was left with a lot of impressions. I thought it told a great story of how, when we have high expectations for kids in school, they can meet those expectations. It showed me that if you teach kids to have respect for elders, others and themselves, they act differently in all situations. They aren’t punks. It showed me that nothing worthwhile comes without hard work and that you live with the decisions you make in life. It showed me that no matter where you come from, in America, everyone can have an opportunity to succeed. There were so many lessons illustrated in this movie.

When I woke up this morning, I kept thinking about what the movie didn’t say. I thought how this movie could be a great movie to watch with high school students. To get them talking about decisions, responsibility. To get them talking about premarital sex. Abortion. The big question for me is “Why, when everyone wanted the baby, it was a baby. Then when they didn’t want the baby, it was just a procedure?” What happened to “the baby”?

That is the question I want every teenager to have to answer. If you are someone who works with youth, ask that question to them. Ask them to wrestle with what it means to have an abortion. Then talk about positive alternatives. There are so many lessons to be taught here. Lessons that aren’t being taught in school.

Christmas At Home

24 Dec

Christmas at my house is always at least six or seven times more pleasant than anywhere else. We start drinking early. And while everyone else is seeing only one Santa Claus, we’ll be seeing six or seven.
W. C. Fields
American comic and actor, 1880-1946

What is Christmas like at your house? Tonight, we will be going to my Dad’s church where they will have a Christmas program. After the service, the whole family will head over to Mom and Dad’s for Oyster Stew (or chicken soup and chili for those who can’t stomach the oysters). After dinner, we will have a family Christmas program with the grand kids performing their favorite Christmas songs, Grandpa reading the Christmas story from the Bible and then we all participate in Mom’s activity which changes from year to year. (We never know what to expect.) Then we’ll all head to the basement where the kids will get get to open their presents from Grandma and Grandpa. The evening will also include an over-indulgence of desert and lots of coffee! Then we’ll all head to our own homes for another two hours of getting ready for Christmas morning. It’s usually 2am before we go to bed. Christmas morning, like any house with young kids, we’ll be awake bright and early to find that Santa did indeed visit our house and boy, look at all of the presents!

I usually like to make sure that the kids know why we have Christmas so we will usually tell about the birth of Christ one more time with an emphasis on why he came to this world. Then, with dripping anticipation, we’ll let the kids open the presents that are under the tree.

It usually takes a couple of days to recover. Just in time for my birthday on the 28th!

Have a great Christmas! Remember why Jesus came to this earth. Remember that the baby who was born on Christmas morning was the supreme sacrifice for your sins. Go into these two days with and attitude of thanksgiving.

Merry Christmas.

Attitude, Aptitude, Altitude

22 Dec

Years ago, I used to listen to a lot of positive thinking tapes. I was on my way to millions and I just knew that if I listened to enough success tapes and implemented their strategies, I too could be successful.

One of my favorite motivational speakers was Zig Ziglar. He had some great one-liners that I used to paste all over my house. A favorite that has stuck with me is:

Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude!

For a long time I associated that phrase with material success. Over the years, I have come to realize that success is not necessarily measured in material things. In fact, I consider my life sucessful if I am living in the perfect will of Christ. Material things don’t matter much to me anymore. It is a greater blessing to me to know that something I have done or said has impacted someone else for Jesus.

That is the whole point of Christmas. Jesus came to this earth to be the last and permanent sacrifice for our sins. It doesn’t matter how much we know. We won’t get to heaven unless we develop an attitude of gratitude for the supreme sacrifice that he made and accept His gift of salvation.

He has given us the ultimate Christmas gift. All we have to do is accept it.

Your attitude, not your apptitude, determines your altitude.

Read Matthew 13:1-23

Immanuel

21 Dec

Most people have heard the name Immanuel because of either the Christmas story or a song. Most everyone would recognize it spelled Emmanuel. My middle name is Immanuel. I was named after my Grandfather, Immanuel Petersen. I have always liked that name and it stumps almost everyone who tries to figure out what the “I” stands for in David I. Petersen.

Origins

The first place in the Bible we hear the name Immanuel is in the Old Testament book of Isaiah (Isa 7:14). We don’t see the name again until Jesus’ disciple, Matthew refers to the Isaiah verse when describing the birth of Jesus. In his gospel, Matthew tells us that Joseph was visited by an angel who told him that Mary became pregnant because of the Holy Spirit and that she would have a son and that they should name him Jesus. Matthew then refers to the prophecy in Isaiah to show how it had been fulfilled. Isaiah says that she will give birth to a son and call him Immanuel, God with us.

What Is His Name?

So what is his name? Jesus or Immanuel? Jesus means – God’s salvation. Immanuel means – God with us.

Here’s an explanation. If I were to talk about the Home Run King, you would naturally assume that I was talking about Babe Ruth. If I were talking about the greatest evangelist of the twentieth century, you would most likely think, Billy Graham. If you were listening to Matthew talking about God with us (Immanuel) you would assume that he was talking about Jesus. You see, Jesus is Immanuel.

Jesus was not just a sign of God with us. Jesus was God become flesh and blood. God incarnate. God with us in person. Jesus was man and God at the same time.

So the next time you hear the name Immanuel, let it remind you that Jesus came to this earth to be God with us.

Want More?

You can listen to my friend Steve’s audio commentary on Immanuel at Lifespring!

Giving Sacrificially

20 Dec

A telethon features an endless line-up of celebrities and business people coming onstage to donate whopping checks: $2.5 million, $500,000, $1.2 million, another for $750,000. This goes on until at last the cameras focus on Mrs. Gladys Smugley from Hazelhurst, Arkansas. She’s there to give $12.48 – all that’s left from her monthly Social Security check.

Suddenly the band starts playing, lights flash, and confetti starts dropping. The host stops the entire show to announce excitedly, “This is our biggest donation yet!”

If you can envision this, you’ve got a sense of the scene in Mark 12. Jesus’ views on giving are totally unexpected – attitude counts far more than amount. Giving merely leftovers – no matter how much – never impresses God.

Read Mark 12:41-43

During this Christmas season and throughout the next year, make a commitment to cultivate an attitude of sacrificial giving.

Month Full Of Sundays

14 Dec

As I type this, I am on vacation. Actually, we left yesterday and will finish our drive today. I had an experience yesterday that I would have never dreamed of when I was a kid. On the drive from Omaha to Kansas City, I listened to four different sermons! Now that is saying something since I used to try to find ways to get out of listening to sermons.

One of the newer technologies that I have been interested in is called “Podcasting“. Basically, it’s downloadable audio programs that you can subscribe to. I have been finding different and interesting churches that post sermons online. I have been downloading these and listening to them at work. For the drive I loaded up my MP3 player for hours of listening enjoyment!

So, all the way down, I listened to sermon after sermon after sermon. I like listening to what other people think about what the Bible says about different things in our culture. Like, what does the bible say about the environment, gay marriage, religion and politics, religious or secular music, comedy and glutony. The sermon series I am currently listening to is entitled “Counter Culture”. It is very interesting. You can find that series at Sandals Church. If you have iTunes, you can subscribe to their podcast at iTunes.

Of course, we also have our own podcast at Grace Community Church. You can always listen to the current sermon online at http://www.gracelearningcenter.com or you can subscribe to our podcast at iTunes.

Quad Stroller For Sale

2 Dec

We have been trying to sell our stroller. Here is a picture of the stroller.

Quad Stroller

There are more pictures here.

We are asking $500. It cost over $1,100 new.

We would prefer selling it locally so we don’t have to worry about the shipping.

Please email me if you are interested.

The Envy of Angels

2 Dec

I was reading 1 Peter in “The Message” the other day and came across this:

“Do you realize how fortunate you are? Angels would have given anything to be in on this!”

That is what is so amazing to me. I tend to think of angels as these super-powerful beings that can fly through walls, appear and disappear at will. They are invisible but have the strength of many men. God’s messengers and warriors. Yet, here they are, wishing they could be part of what we get to be a part of. Something so special that they would give anything to be part of it. Something many of us take for granted. Something a lot of people reject, yet, they would give anything to be a part of.

What is so special that God intended it to be just for us and that angels would give anything to be a part of?

The answer is found in the first part of the chapter.

3What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, 4including a future in heaven–and the future starts now! 5God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all–life healed and whole.

That is why the angels want to be a part of it. This whole plan that God has is all about restoring a relationship with us. When Adam sinned, the relationship was broken and God’s whole plan is to reestablish that relationship. It is amazing to me that people could refuse this gift – yet – we all know people who think we are crazy for believing in God.

The future is NOW! How are you helping others understand the gift that we as human beings are the beneficiaries of?