To some I seem Amish

To some I seem Amish

Living in northern Indiana means we are close to many Amish communities. These people live plain and simple lives. They work hard and avoid the complications of our high tech world. Their clothing is conservative, their transportation is horse and buggy and their cooking is down home. To the outsider it seems they are from another century and their lives are stress free. But they have their own unique issues to deal with, just different from you and me.

amish

Typically, those reading this blog are not a part of the Amish community. We live complex, hectic and driven lives, including work, travel, entertainment and recreation. Although we do not ride in buggies and wear bonnets, we do have varied and unique lifestyles.

To some, my life seems Amish. There are many with more money, more travel, more entertainment, more toys and more time to chill. Isn’t it interesting how we can categorize and rank ourselves in comparison to others.

Life experiences vary but life’s basic necessities are pretty much the same for all of us. We need water, food and shelter. We need relationships to have a fulfilled life. And, according to Scripture, we all need Jesus. After that, it is not about how much we pack into our lives, but how much we give and share God’s love.
As we have time to reflect this week, how do we define success in our lives?
Wealth
.Toys
.Noise
• Position
• Relationships
• Travel
Jesus wants us to live a life of contentment, not comparison. To compare is an error.

2 Corinthians 10:12
Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.

Acts 20:35
In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

Galatians 6:4
But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor
.

That’s not in the Bible….

I am just back from vacation and with my mom’s hip surgery this week I was not able to pound out another blog…so I am sending one that was sent to me some time ago…enjoy!!

Someone recently said to me, “I know the Bible says that God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” Well, the Bible doesn’t say that, at least I can’t find where it says that. What the Bible says is this, “ No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Cor. 10:13)

pounding

I know that many people find comfort in this verse, but although I trust that it is true, it isn’t the most comforting word to me when I am feeling like I have been powerfully pummeled and I see another right jab coming my way. It lacks a ring of comfort to me because I am not too sure that I enjoy the thought of being God’s sparring partner who God beats down to the point of breaking, but not beyond so that we can go at it again tomorrow.

Truthfully, I am not certain what the Biblical writer was intending with this verse, but a God who sends his Son to die for me does not seem to be the kind of God who “tests” me by inflicting tragedies upon me, punching me to the point of me saying, “Uncle!”

I don’t believe that God spends his time seeing how many “punches” it takes to bring me to my knees. It is clear to me, however, that that is exactly what the world delights to do. Day in and day out I hear the world awake me with the words, “Okay. Put up your dukes!” Pressures at work and school that hit you square in the jaw. Uppercuts that attack your relationships. Lies that hit you in the gut and take the breath right out of you. From the corner there are those advising you to keep your hands up! Take it like a man! Get up and fight! Don’t be a sissy!
And when you’ve been thrashed enough, to the point that you can’t get up, that is when the crowd all around you starts yelling, “Loser!”

So, to me, when I find myself beaten and bruised, gasping for breath on the ground, I am glad to hear this verse from the Bible, “11 May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully12 giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light.13 He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son,14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Col. 1)
When the strength to stand has been beaten out of me, when my eyes have become so swollen that I can’t even see where to swing, when I am so pummeled that I can’t even lift my hands…and there are days when I find myself that way…I am glad….no not glad….elated….that God will fill me with his strength…that God has rescued me from the clutches of the evil one….and that through the power of his forgiveness God will send the puncher running with his tale between his legs.

It is not my strength that I need to count on to stand and face another day. The Bible tells me that I can face every day with courage, with hope, and with determination because when I stand toe to toe with the puncher, I do so with the power of God in my being. Sure, some of the days will be heavy weight fights, the world does not give up easily, if not at all. But, when I face those days, rather than quivering in paralyzing fear, I can find myself looking at the puncher square into his eyes and say, “Go ahead. Hit me with your best shot.”, and then a smile comes to my face knowing the power of the divine punch to which the puncher will be on the receiving end.

Someday, the puncher might just learn not to throw the first punch.

Pastor Jerry Nuernberger

Rules are made to be broken…

May I go out and play?

kids

As youngsters our parents often told us to ask for permission before eating certain foods, starting a project or leaving the house. If we felt we could get away with it, we would weigh the decision and the consequences and do what we wanted. But asking permission was the right thing to do and we knew it.

Somehow over the years we have lost the custom of asking permission. People say and do whatever they want under the banner of personal freedom. There is a culture of privilege that seems to assume it is our right to do whatever we please. We say whatever we want and call it free speech. Have you ever been hurt by someone’s words and then hear them use the excuse that they were just telling the truth, or saying what they were thinking? Words can be weapons.

My good friend Jerry Price has shared with me that it is polite to ask for permission to make a comment or express an opinion. Think about it. A comment or opinion offered without being asked can cause the other person to shut down from hurt or anger. Neither of these responses are good in a relationship.

There can be exceptions. If you are in a leadership position, it is your responsibility to share your thoughts and give direction. If you are in a conversation with a bunch of buddies about football, it’s understood there will be a variety of opinions. I’m guessing it’s the same for women in certain conversations.

However, always speaking what is on our minds may not be what God intends for us. We need to consider the impact our comments may have before expressing them. Often asking permission before speaking is the right thing to do.

Proverbs 17:28 Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Matthew 15:11 It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”

Colossians 4:6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

Coffee and Hot Dogs

Coffee and Hot Dogs

During this past baseball season I had the privilege of helping out with the Grace College Baseball team. Due to my schedule, I missed a number of games, but one game in particular was satisfying and fun.

hot dog game

Our team traveled to Huntington University to take on Coach Mike Frame’s Foresters. Huntington has a beautiful field and this particular doubleheader was going to be played at night. It was a wonderful spring evening as we unloaded our bus and walked toward the dugout. I have many fond memories on that field as I was privileged to coach at Huntington for 3 years in my early days. I still have many good friends there.

Once inside the park I spotted Coach Frame. The typical greeting with an opposing coach is a smile and a hand shake. That was not going to happen this time as we both embraced each other with a hug and caring words. We were about to compete but the relationship went way beyond the game. The greetings continued from the pitching coach, hitting coach and other friends in attendance.

After a few minutes of joking and catching up, Coach Frame told me that I was his guest and that I could help myself to as much coffee and food as needed during the evening games from their concession stand. I had a hot dog and two cups of coffee that evening, but the deeper meaning was that we were friends and fellow brothers in Christ.
Maybe that evening was a small snapshot of what Christ means when he tells us to care for one another!

Oh, by the way, they beat us twice in good games. 

John 13:34-35
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Don’t trash talk my bride!

How would you respond if someone came up to you and started telling you all about the imperfections of your wife? That could be an Interesting confrontation for sure. Hopefully you would be upset, reflect and hopefully not hit the person! None of us are perfect, but it takes a special time, place and special relationship and permission for another person to talk about the one we love in less than glowing terms.

bride

For some reason we all feel we can speak about Israel, HIS bride, in any terms we want. The bride is Israel and some even think it is the New Testament church. Pick out all her imperfections and make comments that make it sound like we are speaking about a third party that doesn’t hear us.

Christ died for Israel and us, HIS bride and body. To make comments out of anger, frustration or jealousy just is not right. My challenge this week is to think through how you talk to others about the Bride. Not the building, but rather the called out ones who make up that bride and just happen to meet in a building.

Revelation 21:9 – One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”

Ephesians 5:26-27 – so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.

Rev. 22:16-17 “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” 17The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.

Fear the Lord!

PLEASE READ THIS BLOG FROM MY BUDDY ACROSS THE POND…STUART WEIR…

Since then we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. 2 Corinthians 5:11

For a sportsperson, fear is normally a negative emotion. If we are afraid, we cannot compete. We are afraid to be bold in a race; we are afraid of losing the ball; we are afraid to express ourselves. We may fear defeat; we may fear our own ability to perform on the day; we may fear injury – or that we will fully recover from injury; we may fear meeting the coach after a bad performance; amazingly we may even fear winning, fear that we will not be able to cope with it.

FEAR OF GOD

When we think of fearing God, we should not have in mind the fear we might experience in our sport. I found the following comments by Emmanuel Oladipo helpful:
“Paul walked his talk, living what he preached in the fear of God. This was not fear in the sense of cringing dread but a befitting awe and reverence as he worked through each day in the perspective of eternity. This is approved of by God, but communicates sheer madness to those with a different mindset. Controlled and constrained by extraordinary love, how could Paul restrain himself from telling out the good news to everyone”.

Here are 4 other translations of the verse:
we understand our fearful responsibility to the Lord (NLT)
because we stand in awe of the one true Lord (Voice)
being conscious of fearing the Lord with respect and reverence (AMP)
We know what it means to respect the Lord (CEV).

As we train and compete, coach or administer, let us be motivated by a healthy and positive fear of God – and then we need fear nothing else!
This is a series of weekly devotional sports emails for the sportsperson.

stuart@veritesport.org

LABELS

Most of us don’t like labels. Words like ‘conservative,’ ‘prejudiced’, ‘bigoted,’ etc. have emotional attachments. Other labels are embraced. Words like generous, enthusiastic and patriotic usually have positive emotional attachments. You may be conservative in your theology but generous in your giving. I am prejudiced toward my Green Bay Packers but not bigoted toward other races of people. (bigot means a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion)

DICTIONARY

Recently I’ve been intrigued with looking up the definitions of words I have taken for granted over the years. I have found that many of the meanings have been adjusted or misused to further an agenda or position. Words can carry a great deal of emotion when used in the context of winning an argument or in the political arena. There are a lot of labels assigned to one’s opponent!
This got me thinking about a couple of labels that get thrown around in the Christian world. The following are a few:

PROTESTANT:
• Any Western Christian who is not an adherent of a Catholic, Anglican, or Eastern Church.

• an adherent of any of those Christian bodies that separated from the Church of Rome during the Reformation, or of any group descended from them.

• (originally) any of the German princes who protested against the decision of the Diet of Speyer in 1529, which had denounced the Reformation.

• (lowercase) a person who protests.

Interesting, ‘one who protests’. Although I believe in many of the issues of the Reformation, I want to be one who proclaims, not one who protests. What does Protestant mean to you??

CHRISITIAN: There are at least 11 meanings of this word.

• Word Origin
adjective
1. of, relating to, or derived from Jesus Christ or His teachings:
a Christian faith.
2. of, pertaining to, believing in, or belonging to the religion based on the teachings of Jesus Christ :
Spain is a Christian country.
3. of or relating to Christians:
many Christian deaths in the Crusades.
4. exhibiting a spirit proper to a follower of Jesus Christ; Christ like:
She displayed true Christian charity.
5. decent; respectable:
They gave him a good Christian burial.
6. human; not brutal; humane:
Such behavior isn’t Christian.
noun
7. a person who believes in Jesus Christ; adherent of Christianity.
8. a person who exemplifies in his or her life the teachings of Christ :
He died like a true Christian.
9. a member of any of certain Protestant churches, as the Disciples of Christ and the Plymouth Brethren.
10. the hero of Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.
11. a male given name.

What does ‘Christian’ mean to you? Is a Christian a good person? One who attends a Christian church? Christian has become overused in my opinion. Maybe Christ follower makes more sense?

What about words like ‘Evangelical’ or ‘Fundamental?’

What other words do you think may have lost or changed in meaning or have added emotional overtones over the years?