That loving feeling…

By now many of us are up to our eyeballs in wrapping paper,  garland and shopping.  At some level we have the Righteous Brothers song ‘YOU’VE LOST THAT LOVING FEELING’ as our theme song.  Christmas has become a hurried time of nerves and panic.

Somehow we have lost track of the reflections and thanks we offered just a few weeks back at Thanksgiving.  Let me offer us all permission to chill,  reflect and once again reboot into a Christmas spirit.  A time of rejoicing rather than racing.  Take a few minutes to read the following verses…

I THESS. 5:18: “IN EVERTHING GIVE THANKS, FOR THIS IS THE WILL OF GOD IN CHRIST JESUS CONCERNING YOU.”

PSALM 100:4  “ENTER INTO HIS (GOD’S) GATES WITH THANKSGIVING, AND INTO HIS COURTS WITH PRAISE; BE THANKFUL UNTO HIM, AND BLESS HIS NAME.”

 PHIL. 4:6-7: “BE ANXIOUS (DON’T WORRY) FOR NOTHING, BUT IN EVERYTHING BY PRAYER AND SUPPLICATION WITH THANKSGIVING, LET YOU REQUESTS BE MADE KNOWN UNTO GOD. AND THE PEACE OF GOD WHICH PASSES ALL UNDERSTANDING, SHALL KEEP YOUR HEARTS AND MINDS THROUGH CHRIST JESUS.”

 EPHES. 5:20: “GIVING THANKS ALWAYS FOR ALL THINGS UNTO GOD AND THE Father IN THE NAME OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.”

 HEB. 13:15: “BY HIM (JESUS) THEREFORE LET US OFFER THE SACRIFICE OF PRAISE TO GOD CONTINUALLY, THAT IS, THE FRUIT OF OUR LIPS GIVING THANKS TO HIS NAME.”

Now doesn’t that feel better! May the next 10 days be a blessing to all we see and love!

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II COR. 2:14a: “NOW THANKS BE UNTO GOD, WHO ALWAYS CAUSES US TO TRIUMPH IN CHRIST…”

NFL, turkey or Jesus?

football nfl

The Thanksgiving weekend has ended here in the U.S.A. and some of us had our fair share of American Football, turkey and mashed potatoes. Some are setting new goals…hopefully to begin prior to New Years day. Please read the following written by British friend and sports ministry partner Stuart Weir and be encouraged!!

turkey

Train yourself to be godly. For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. 1 Timothy 4:8-9

Perhaps no verse has been more misused in the history of the church’s attitude to sport than 1 Timothy 4:7, especially in the KJV wording “exercise profiteth little”, which has been seen as a proof-text against sport!

Look at the context. As in all the other athletic metaphors of the Pauline letters, he is not writing about sport. In 2 Timothy 2 where Paul compares the Christian to a soldier, an athlete and a hard-working farmer, he is no more trying to write a theology of sport than a theology of farming!

Whether you have a fit body or an unfit one is not of great significance in the light of eternity – although if you have an unfit body you may experience the afterlife quicker than if you keep yourself fit! All earthly pursuits – sport, work, travel, gardening etc. are of limited value but this does not mean that they are wrong.

You may have heard the proverb, “Only one life and it will soon be past and only what is done for Jesus will last”. This saying is true but often misunderstood. Neither 1 Timothy 4:8, rightly understood, nor this saying would have us spend all our lives singing hymns in church.

Our lives are rather to be lived in an attitude of developing godliness and doing everything we do for Jesus. That includes singing hymns but it also includes doing our daily work and our relationships with people. And why should it exclude sport.

Sport is a gift from God and is the arena in which we serve God. It is of course not all-important but it is no less legitimate than any other human activity.

Paul’s main point in this passage is godliness. Note that we have to train ourselves in it. Godliness will not just happen. No, it requires an effort on our part to make it a priority.

This is a series of devotional sports emails for the sportsperson. Stuart Weir http://www.veritesport.org

FEAR OF CONFLICT

FIGHTING
So often in my life journey in have hated the challenges that conflict brought. It seemed easier to navigate conflict on the sports field or floor. We called it competition. Sure there was tension and the occasional trash talking, but the ability to compete and sometimes win made it fun.

Normal life situations that include conflict often do not end up being events I would categorized as fun. The same adrenaline is not there. Rather there is fear of loss of relationship or exposure.
In recent years I have understood at a deeper level why I had these concerns and fears of confrontation. It was not the issue or issues at hand. Like most, I enjoy a good discussion and problem solving. The problems for me were in how people approached conflict.

Three main areas are what I now concentrate on in the midst of dealing with conflict:

1. Attitudes
2. Permission.
3. One on one

Attitude: Gal. 6:1 “Those of you who are spiritual in a humble manner approach….” is where I go with attitude. If someone approaches me in a humble manner, I am much more apt to take an approach that will make the issue less emotional and more factual.

Secondly, if they ask permission, it shows me that they have empathy for my time and life. If permission is asked and the immediate response is not demanded, I find I can be gracious. Let’s talk, and let’s set a time.

Lastly, the discussion does not need to be escalated by including others in the initial discussions. Matthew 18 seems to make sense here.

Conflict had not been modeled like this on the athletic field or in commerce. I respond best when conflict is handled in this manner. How about you? Thought these hints might help as family’s gather for the holidays :) Thoughts?

CHURCH IS NOT FOR ME!

Living in Indiana puts me on the fringe of what may be considered the Bible belt. No, it is not the deep south, but there is still a common understanding that church is a part of life. However, there are many who want nothing to do with church. The reasons are many, but for some people Sunday morning is a time to rest, read the paper, go out for breakfast or maybe work on a project. In other words, it’s ME time. For whatever reason, church is not for them.

CHURCH

As a follower of Jesus, I put a premium on getting together with other believers. That might be in a church setting, bible study, or meeting one on one. But at some level, I agree with the non-church goers. Church is not for me! Let me explain.

For more than 40 years I have been in ministry and have been exposed to excellent teaching, great sermons and Bible studies. I love learning more about the faith and how to live as a follower of Jesus. However, if I count on church to be my only source for spiritual growth, I am in trouble.

I love the worship time and I do gain something from nearly any sermon I hear. But I don’t go to church for me! I look left and right to see who God might have for me to invest in. That may be with a friendly smile, a handshake, a good discussion or invitation to coffee to talk more about life and faith.

II Timothy talks about men in my stage of life passing on faith to others, encouraging them and training them to be leaders. That is the biggest reason I go to church, to see if there might be a ministry God has for me with these young leaders. I love it!

2 Timothy 2:2 And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

HOW DO YOU PUT YOUR PANTS ON?

PANTS

While Carin and I were spending a few days on Washington Island, WI, we met a man who is a talented artist and musician. We had a great time together getting to know each other and I especially enjoyed discussing music with him. To add to the mix, he loves Jesus.

Realizing he has experienced some success with his band, during one of our discussions I asked how how he handles the fame, the autograph seekers and the attention from people when he is on stage. He told me his usual response is, “We put our pants on the same way you do, one sleeve at a time!”

I loved it! In that comment he was saying he was no better than anyone else; he had simply been given a specific talent. His twist on the common comeback caught my attention. God has given special gifts to each of us.

We need to stay humble, realizing we are no better than anyone else. But we are each different and unique, with special gifts, talents all given by God…and sayings! That is what keeps life interesting!

1 COR. 12:15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

ARE YOU INTO RELATIONSHIPS OR ACTIVITIES?

Events or relationships?

I don’t know many people that don’t get excited about vacation. There is almost as much enjoyment in the planning as in the going! We all need time away from our daily lives occasionally for rest and a fresh perspective.

CMU speaking

But the real question is not whether we all need a vacation every so often. The tougher question might be whether we are addicted to events over people. Think about it. Some people just seem to live life from one event to the next. If there is not something on the calendar they scramble to plan events and activities. I have to admit that I love activity. It makes life interesting! And I have been known to have a pretty full schedule at times.

However, one thing I have found is that I love relationships way more than activity. To get away for the purpose of an event quickly gets old. We were built for relationship, and even introverts have a need for someone special to hang out with and share life. Sometimes that is a spouse and other times a special friend.

I challenge each of us to consider how we live life. Is the excitement in life about the next adventure or about people. I believe for Jesus it was about relationships and I think that is what he would want for us. It’s great to get away at times, but let’s keep the focus on people.