Breaking Through The Wall

31 Oct

As many of you know, I have been losing weight since January 2007. I was morbidly obese (5′ 11″, 350 pounds) and I needed to lose lots of weight. My first goal was to be able to lose enough weight to be able to fit on the roller coasters at Silver Dollar City when my family went on vacation in June. I achieved that goal and was able to ride every ride that I wanted. The girls had a blast riding with their Dad.

Next, I set my goal at losing 100 lbs. That was the next logical step in my weight loss. Finally, after 10 months, I broke through that wall! As of my official weigh-in last night, I have lost a total of 104.2 pounds! I was really stressing this week prior to the weigh-in. I knew I was close but was afraid I would miss it. I blew right past it!

So, what is my next goal? I’m currently at 244.8 lbs. so my next goal will be to get down to 200 pounds. I haven’t been there since I was in the Marine Corps! I would eventually like to be able to fit into my Marine Corps dress blue uniform again.

New Man’s Open Letter to Tony Campolo

5 Oct

I just read an Open Letter to Tony Campolo by Drew Dyck of New Man Magazine. In it, he questions a couple of positions that Campolo seems to hold – 1) Muslims obtaining salvation apart from belief in Christ and 2) homosexuals shouldn’t have to change who they are to be saved.

These are two topics I have discussed in previous posts [Understanding the Emerging Church and Time for a discussion in the church about Gay, Lesbian and Transgendered Issues or God’s Grace – 101]. These attitudes are rampant in post-modern thought. We are living in a world where compromise is the norm and taking a stand for truth is abnormal.

The Case For The Real JesusI have been reading Lee Strobel’s new book, The Case for the Real Jesus. Although I am still in the first few chapters of the book, one point has been sticking in my mind as I read it. Over the years, in an effort to make Christianity more appealing to non-believers, the church has watered down it’s theology. As a church, we have stopped placing an importance on the redemptive act of Jesus’ death on the cross. In an interview with Daniel B. Wallace Ph.D., Strobel was trying to understand the authenticity of the scriptures in light of recent allegations that the Bible is full of mistakes and contradictions and missing some books that teach something else. Dr. Wallace, in addressing a particular allegation said, “It’s disturbing that when it comes to the Christian faith, people don’t really want – or know how – to investigate the evidence. Christians are not being led into proper historical research by their pastors. I have been saying for some time that I don’t think the evangelical church has fifty years left of life to it until it repents.” Strobel responded, “In what way?” Wallace continued, “First, we have to quit marginalizing scripture. We can’t treat the Bible with kid gloves. We really need to wrestle with the issues, because our faith depends on it. And second, we need to quit turning Jesus into our buddy. He’s the sovereign Lord of the universe, and we need to understand and respond accordingly.”

Isn’t that the crux of the whole situation we find ourselves in right now? As a church, we don’t teach theology so when some new theory comes along, we don’t have the knowledge or tools to defend our faith. Some things might even sound good so we compromise our beliefs because we don’t have a theological foundation to stand on. Then someone else comes along with some new special knowledge and we go along with that because we are already started down the road of compromise. We have faith – but we don’t have maturity. It is my opinion that today’s church has become what Paul described when he addressed the church in Corinth.

The Corinthian believers had become aware of the need to reorient their pre-Christian attitudes and actions along Biblical lines, but at first their transformation was incomplete, and they were just “babes in Christ,” to be pitied and nurtured in their immaturity. The Greek word sarkinos implies this infant stage.

However, as the years went on, they continued in their immaturity. By this time they should have grown to Christian adulthood, themselves helping others through the infant stage, but instead they had willfully and sinfully remained in their immature state. For this Paul rebukes them.

It is imperative that we continue to grow in Christ. Everyone needs to learn to emphatically defend their faith. We need to continue to help others through the infant stage into Christian maturity so when beliefs, such as espoused by Mr. Campolo are raised in the church, they can be debated with an argument based in knowledge and not feelings.

A good place to start would be our 21st Century Christian series or any other series we have posted at Grace Learning Center. Another resource that I enjoy is the online theology course at Reclaiming The Mind.

The Grand Weaver

2 Oct

Grand WeaverHow differently would we live if we believed that every event of our lives – from the happy to the tragic to the mundane – was part of a meticulous and purposeful design in which all the elements intertwined with breathtaking precision? That’s the question bestselling author and internationally know speaker Ravi Zacharias answers in his new book, The Grand Weaver.

I was sent a copy of Ravi Zacharias’ book The Grand Weaver to read. I had never heard of Ravi Zacharias but the description seemed interesting to me. I can say that after reading it, it gave me much to think about. Although I don’t subscribe to the notion that everything in life is planned out, I can see how events can weave together to fulfill God’s purpose for our life.

All-in-all, this was a good book and an interesting read. I would recommend it – in fact, if you would like to read the copy I have, I will send it to you. Just email me your mailing information. I only have one copy so first-come-first-serve!

Have an awesome day!

Simple Obedience Unlocks God’s Future!

18 Sep

Jeff Leake, pastor at Allison Park Church in PA, wrote this blog entry recently,

Thoughts On God’s Will

Discovering God’s will is less about searching for it, and more about doing it!

This was the theme of this past weekend’s message. Just like a car driving in a night-fog can only see a few feet ahead, so often this is like trying to discern God’s direction. God gives us revelation for the immediate. As we do what we know, we get more light.

Simple obedience unlocks God’s future!

God’s will is so much more about who you are becoming than where you are going, who you are going with, or what you will be doing.

But at some point, a major decision will have to be reached in certain areas of life. When I am making that decision, I look for FIVE INDICATORS to align.

#1 – What Does The Bible Say? – this is the foundational question. The primary way God speaks is through His revealed Word. He will never tell us to do something against His Word. The more we learn the principles and precepts of the Bible, the easier it is to discern God’s ways.

#2 – What Does The Holy Spirit Say? – the Holy Spirit is a person and our counselor. He speaks to us through his ‘still small voice’, through inner promptings.

#3 – What Do My Spiritual Advisors Say? – parents, pastors, leaders, and spiritual friends are a great source of caution or confirmation. As we gain direction from God, we test it and improve it through their advice.

#4 – What Do My Circumstances Say? – most often God aligns his direction by and open or closed door. There are exceptions to this rule. Sometimes God says move forward in faith even though the door is closed. Sometimes an open door may be a trap from the enemy. But many times our circumstances align with the previous three indicators.

#5 – What Do I Want? – Psalm 37:4 says, ‘Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.’ This tells us two things. The more we seek to please God and enjoy His pleasure, the more God will lead us into what we want. But even beyond that, the more He will shape our desires to want the right things.

What I like most about this is the line, Discovering God’s will is less about searching for it, and more about doing it! . I think we can get so wrapped up in trying to discover God’s will for our life that we completely miss opportunities to walk in His will. I am an analyst by profession. I analyze everything (and yes – I really mean everything!). It drives my wife crazy. She often tells me that I talk myself out of something before I even try. I admit – sometimes (o.k. – most times) I have paralysis of analysis. There are times where I think I should do something, but yes, the more I analyze it, the less likely I am to follow through with my idea. This is an area that I have been trying to improve on. How many times have I missed an opportunity to serve God because I talked myself out of it? Wouldn’t it be easier to just obey God? As Jeff says, “As we do what we know, we get more light.”

What is your Holy Discontent?

13 Sep

Not very long ago, I wrote a piece on wanting to discover a passion for something. I’m certain that every person who is alive and breathing has a desire to make an impact on their little part of this world. I know I do. In that post, I asked a simple question, “What keeps you up at night?

Bill Hybels - Holy DiscontentI recently was given the opportunity to review Bill Hybels book, Holy Discontent. In it, he talks about the response that he calls the Popeye response where Popeye says, That’s all I can stands, and I can’t stands no more! Here’s an excerpt from the inside cover of the book.

“Holy Discontent” can overtake you in an instant. You’re going about your business, doing life as usual, when suddenly something happens that awakens your awareness and jolts your soul. A heartbreaking personal experience, a national calamity, an infuriating injustice to someone close to you… whatever it is, you can’t take it lying down. You’ve got to do something.

It’s in that defining moment when your eyes open to something bigger than yourself that you just might hear God say, “Now you know how I feel.” That firestorm of frustration isn’t just yours, it’s his as well – and he wants you to focus its energy so that together, he and you can fix some problem that badly needs fixing.

Throughout the book, he gives examples of people who experienced their own Popeye moment, including his own. He couldn’t stand the boring lifeless church he was brought up in. Eventually, he decided that he needed to do something about it. Willow Creek is the end result. A church that has touched millions of lives. Quite a few examples in the book come from his work to end AIDS in Africa.

More than anything, this book will encourage you to search out your Holy Discontent. It will encourage you to run towards the uncomfortable instead of staying in the comfortable. It will

So, what is your Holy Discontent? What makes you say, That’s all I can stands, and I can’t stands no more!

I’d love to hear from you.