Category Archives: Christian Life

A Cricket as a Conscious

((Danger Will Robinson … Spoilers Ahead))

This weekend, I watched the newest Disney edition of Pinocchio. It’s a pretty good production. The locale setting for the production is in Italy. The CGI is excellent. The Disney’s ‘easter eggs’ are something that just pops – especially the collection of all the clocks in Geppetto’s home/shop.

I couldn’t quite pick out Keegan-Michael Key as Honest John.  But I did like Tom Hanks and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in their roles.

Jiminy Cricket gives an interesting piece of advice as young Pinocchio goes to school.  He tells him …

Pay attention
Obey all the rules
Do whatever the teacher tells you to do

Wow! Can you imagine if kids today actually did that? What a difference public education our nation would have. Not just kids that actually worked WITH the teachers, but parents that actually support the teachers.  Interestingly, this young student who would probably do what his Jimmy Cricket tells him to do, is actually booted out of school. It seems the educational system in the movie needs work just like our in real life.

Most are familiar with the story. The wish upon a star, the puppet that gains animation, and the innocent little puppet that is taken advantage of by Honest John. Then there is the whale, the extending nose, and the music interlaced throughout the movie. The newest movie has the old classic songs and some new ones thrown in.

Geppetto’s joy is felt as well as his deep concern when Pinocchio goes missing. 

Throughout the movie, P just wants to make his father happy. He wants to become famous … so he can become real … so his father will have a real son again. Fame is something even people today seek – but it’s not really satisfying. Fame is elusive and Fame is disappointing. But like real life, people take advantage of others, people lie, people are greedy, and people are down right mean.

It’s interesting. In this version, P tells a lie to get what he needed and the movie seems to show it was okay. (He lies so the nose stretched, so Jimmy can reach the key on the wall.). I don’t remember that twist. Almost like lying for the right reason is approved of. Hmm.

Jiminy gives a valiant effort as a conscious – even though he was drafted into it by the Blue Fairy. And P does seem to be filled with uncertainty and angst even when Jiminy is not around. But without that little push to stay on the straight and narrow – P continuously makes unwise decisions. But humans? The depravity of man is on real display.

All in all, Pinocchio is a pretty dark story. Child trafficking. Evil spirits changing kids to donkeys that turn into slave labor. Rejection of people because they are different. Hedonism. Betrayal. Deception.

But such is real life. In Pinocchio, P is not alone. His conscious strives to really advise and assist.

In real life, we too struggle with tight abs wrong (and by we, I mean those that are Children of the one true God) … we have a conscious that never leaves us and always walks beside us. The Spirit of God is always at work in us … convicting us, encouraging us, edging us in the right direction.

But in the words of Jiminy, and in light of humanity’s brokenness, being a conscious, “Is no easy job!”

So listen to Him. Strive to honor your heavenly Father. Live according to His ways. And in all your ways – drive to bring Him glory.

I would also say – nobody – and I mean NOBODY – would trap the Spirit in a jar like Honest John did to Jiminy. NOBODY!

Impacting Your Neighbors

There is a daily email I get that gives me names of my neighbors. The names are from a list of 12 families that rotate daily. Included is. Prayer you can say for them. This simple, yet engaging email is designed to help each of us have a way to connect.

It’s free and confidential.

Blesseveryhome.com gives you the tools to become a Light for Christ in your neighborhood. Join an ever-growing community of Christ followers who are devoted to being a Light in their neighborhoods through praying for, caring for, sharing the gospel with, and discipling their neighbors.

We provide all the tools to get to know your neighbors by name so that you can begin to build relationships with them. Use your dashboard to track your individual progress with each neighbor. You will even receive optional daily reminder emails with a prayer prompt and 5 neighbors to pray for that day.

You can get involved. Go to https://blesseveryhome.com

Jethro Leadership Lessons

Not the Hillbilly from Beverly Hills. Though he did have that down home charm. Not the special agent from NCIS – though I loved the discipline of Tony with the slap on the back of the head. I am one who (might have, I will deny it to government officials) used this policy raising my son through adolescence. Even to this day, he ducks if my arm twitches behind him (supposedly).

This Jethro is the one with seven daughters – a daunting task in itself. This Jethro is the one who raised livestock. This is the one that kept his two grandsons and their mother while their dad ran off to free a nation by taking on the strongest leader in the world. Quite a family man. This is the one that took the leader of a million plus refugees and told the leader he was doing everything wrong. He was not afraid of the hard calls and hard conversations. This is the one whose wisdom can be seen impacting judicial systems for millennia, even the America system.

Jethro – aka Reuel (which means friend of God) – a Midianite, who were descendants of Abraham through another wife after Sarah passed away. Jethro – a priest who worshipped Yahweh. Jethro gave his daughter, Zipporah, to Moses.

After Moses and the Israelites left Egypt, Jethro caught up with Moses. He escorted Moses’ wife and kids back to him. And then he shared a meal and listened to how the LORD worked through Moses and did great acts in delivering them from Pharaoh. Interestingly, the word most translations use is Jethro ‘rejoiced’ … but the word could also mean ‘shiver, feared.’

Later, he saw Moses tied down judging and helping people lined up to see him. Jethro motivates him to get leaders over 10, 50, 1000 etc. Let the judging be done through progressive system, Get a bureaucracy set up. All while doing what the Lord tells him to do.

Jethro was a wise man. From him we can learn some great leadership skills.

  • Be willing to listen to outsiders and glean wisdom
  • Be willing to have the hard conversation
  • Be willing share/delegate the responsibility
  • Be willing to hold people accountable and be held accountable
  • Be willing to stay involved

There are other lessons, but these are five basic principles in which we all can see powerful wisdom.

Thank you Jethro.

Defensive Driving — UGHH!

I was stupid. I wasn’t paying attention. I was distracted. My mind was not on everything around me.

It was a beautiful day. Sun shining. Puffy clouds sailing the skies. 460 was wide open (the state highway I traverse regularly.) BUT … there was a police car dealing with another car on the shoulder. I should’ve pulled over to the far lane. I always pull over when a vehicle is on the shoulder. Always. Well, not this time.

I was stupid. I wasn’t paying attention. I was distracted. My mind was not on everything around me.

The policeman got into his car and tracked me down – not hard since I am in an huge Voodoo Blue 2008 FJ Cruiser in a small county of 13,000. And then, there I was, on the side of the road, getting my ticket. I tried the pity card. I claimed stupidity. But nothing worked. So off to court I go.

I was stupid. I wasn’t paying attention. I was distracted. My mind was not on everything around me.

In court, I waited my turn. It was about 90 minutes in and he called my name … the judge, the one with power to throw me in jail. Yes, this infraction could be punished with such a sentence. He called my name. He looked over the paper work. He talked to the officer. He asked me … and I said …

I was stupid. I wasn’t paying attention. I was distracted. My mind was not on everything around me.

Maybe honesty would help, be refreshing for him. Nope. He wasn’t having it.

He gave me 3 months to do a defensive driving course and have the sentence reduced to a non-point infraction … Faulty Mechanics. Great, I can blame my mechanic. No, that would be stupid too – after all, I will still need a mechanic when all of this is over.

I paid my fine. Paid the court cost.

Oh, two church members were watching me – the court clerk knew me (ouch) and the county clerk took my money (ouch again). At least they smiled. For they knew something …

I was stupid. I wasn’t paying attention. I was distracted. My mind was not on everything around me.

So I sit at my desk, in the quiet afternoon with no one min the office but me. I take the online course. And in the end, it will be as if the infraction never happened. But it did. A course may reduce the penalty, but the dumb act never leaves my mind.

Thank the Lord when He takes away our sin, He too never accounts the penalty to us repeatedly. And He reminds me it is forgiven. Consider the past gone, forgotten, rubbish. And press forward.

I take the course, I learn my lesson, and I move on. Not a bad plan. God, help me learn my lesson, help me move on.

Help me … not be stupid.

Rain on a a Canvas

Sometimes it is interesting to just sit around and watch. To observe people, happenings, or just nature. Watching wind blowing the trees. Acorns falling from the limbs. Clouds traveling across the blue sky. Dogs running across the yards.

The other day, as I took my lovely wife to Missions BBQ for salmon, it began to rain … and rain pretty hard. We sat inside and I listened to the impact each little rain drop made on the windows. And then, as I stared at the patio umbrellas through the windows. They were out there on the empty outside eating area and just being pelted by the falling droplets. But the cool display was even better for I got lost watching the droplets descend the canvas … they streamed down the canvas, smaller droplets joining together to make larger droplets … like little rivers coming down the mountainside and falling off the canvas forming picturesque waterfalls descending to the patio below.

My mind just ponder the simplicity of the image, the beauty of nature, the essence of the moment.

In life, sometimes things just happen. Nature is a beautiful display of the creativity of God. It’s not that it has a message to proclaim, or a truth to challenge us, or a principle to ponder. What it does have is just a simple beauty, a simple repetition to get lost in.

Nature is like that. Find something to just observe, simply get lost in the wonder of life. Don’t sweat the small stuff and enjoy life.

On a closing note, I am not sure what my wife was doing during all this … I think she was watching me and appreciating the beauty of her great husband.. Actually, I think she was just eating and enjoying her salmon, collards, cornbread and cherry cobbler. I am not sure she knew I was there after I paid for the meal.

Open the blinds … Look outside … Enjoy the view.

Life would be a better is people would slow down ever so often and chill!

That’s One Expensive – and Gross – Cup of Coffee

It’s an addiction. I admit it. I long for it and I don’t really care what format in which it comes to me. I drink it. I love it in my medicine. And I might even find it in various food formats. Caffeine.

I hate the frilly, sugary type of drinks out there. Don’t give me a latte or macchiato or even add sugar /// smooth, black, and simple are my preferences. One time I decided to try various grinds. Not flavors but origins … Columbian, Hawaiian, etc. In my research I discovered Kopi Luwak – considered by many the most expensive coffee in the world.

Let’s get a little background. The bean goes through a specific process. First is a cute little Toddy Cat, aka Asian Palm Civet Cat. I am not a cat person, but these are pretty little felines. The cats are native in south and south east Asia. They have an unusual diet of coffee cherries. They pick the ripest and best … and eat them. Then the coffee cherries pass through the cat’s digestive system and only the coffee pit (or bean) is pooped out. Yep, pooped. The pooped beans are collected, cleaned (thank God), and processed. If the cat is a wild cat, the beans can catch up to about $500 a pound. $500! This is not something you pick up in a normal grocery store coffee aisle. A limited supply is produced each year.

There are imitations. There are poor quality beans. People capture the coffee pooping cats and farm the beans (though this is considered taboo). Farming the beans brings weak, short-lived animals and the beans are not as tasteful. So, certified wild Civet Kopi Lusaka is the preferred bean.

Okay, so we’ve got the pooped (and cleaned) beans. And the beans are then processed into a cup of coffee in whatever various ways you seem fit. Know this – you can’t get it in a K-Cup.

My preferred way is Aero-Pressed – cleaner, crisper, and fresher. And as always, freshly ground beans have the best aroma and taste.

What’s the point here? I guess it’s that we often find the best comes to us in unique and unexpected ways.

Don’t write something off just because it seems to be weird or have a weird history.

God shows us the best way to live through being an example Himself. He came to us, God in the flesh, and lived a selfless, caring, giving life. He reached out to the outcast, the lonely, the despised, the wonderers in life.

He loved us so much He died for us – taking our judgement, our punishment – so that we could have life, life with Him … forever.

That is the greatest story ever. Not the coffee, but the Savior. I hope He’s in your story too.

SNEAK PEEK

Sunday – Are you ready to worship? We have a God who is worthy of our worship. And this is part of what we will discover as we begin new sermon series … Fix Your Eyes on JESUS!

Set List — Lord, I Lift Your Name on High … Your Name … Jesus at the Center … What a Beautiful Name

And a solo … What a Beautiful Name … as we partake of communion too.

See it on Evergreen Baptist’s FaceBook page.

FRIDAY’S FRIENDS

The following is an article from Jim Denison, a powerful apologist out of Texas. I took his Philosophy/Evidentialism class while in grad school. I enjoy his daily articles and I thought you would too. Here is the article from Friday (9/9/22). Quiet Quitting is a new phrase making the rounds. You might enjoy subscribing.

Check it out on his webpage here.

The danger of “quiet quitting” and a surprising solution

Have you heard of “quiet quitting”?
According to Gallup, at least 50 percent of the American workforce is made up of people who are “not going above and beyond at work and just meeting their job description.” Only 32 percent say they are “actively engaged” at work.
Harvard Business Review believes that the problem is “bad bosses, not bad employees.” Managers rated most highly saw 62 percent of their direct reports willing to give extra effort, while only 3 percent were quietly quitting. By contrast, the least effective managers saw 14 percent of their direct reports quietly quitting, while only 20 percent were willing to give extra effort.
In other words, the more we work for someone we value, the more we value our work.
This fact reveals something deeply significant about our culture and our faith.

Working harder to have more
For generations, Americans have been taught that we are what we do and what comes from what we do. Achievement and prosperity, measured by financial and material means, is our secular society’s definition of success.
But in recent years, this pathway to purpose has hit a dead end. Consumer sentiment fellto a record low earlier this year even though unemployment is historically low. Surprisingly, consumers were more optimistic early in the pandemic than they are today. Rates of substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation continue to rise.
Clearly, the so-called American Dream—working harder to have more—is not enough for many.
Others are giving up on the “dream” itself. Four in five millennial employees say their generation will be “much worse off” in retirement than their parents’ generation, a fear that is already becoming reality for many.
It’s therefore not surprising that many workers, especially younger employees, would choose to do enough to get by but no more. And that is bad news for all of us.

Encouraging victories for religious freedom
Apple unveiled its latest technology yesterday, with new iPhones, a new Apple Watch, and new AirPods. It’s remarkable to think that I can connect with more than five billion people through the playing card-size device in my pocket. Technology engineers driven by excellence have literally transformed our world. I’m grateful they did not do just enough to get by at work.
I recently underwent spinal surgery; four of my lumbar vertebrae are now screwed and fused together. I cannot begin to understand the medical brilliance necessary to achieve this outcome. I assure you that I’m grateful my surgeon and his team did not do just enough to get by at work.
Brilliant Christian attorneys have been busy defending our religious freedoms, with remarkable recent results:
A judge ruled that a Michigan university cannot punish a Christian club for requiring that its leaders be Christian. (Yes, this was actually happening at Wayne State University in Detroit.)A federal district court held that a photographer cannot be forced to shoot same-sex weddings.A federal appeals court ruled that the US government cannot require several Christian medical groups and providers to perform abortions or gender transition surgeries under the Affordable Care Act.An US appeals court has ruled on behalf of licensed counselors who provide voluntary talk therapy to minors seeking help with unwanted sexual identity confusion.I’m grateful that attorneys who defend religious liberty for all Americans are not doing just enough to get by at work.

“I fell at his feet as though dead”
God’s word clearly calls God’s people to lives and service of excellence: “If there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8); “approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ” (Philippians 1:10); “whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).
However, there’s another dimension to our discussion that occurred to me as I was reading Ezekiel 1. When the prophet encountered “the likeness of the glory of the Lᴏʀᴅ,” he reported, “I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking” (Ezekiel 1:28). The visions and prophecies that resulted created the book of Ezekiel.
John had a similar experience with the risen Christ on Patmos: “I fell at his feet as though dead” (Revelation 1:17). The visions he received in response created the book of Revelation.
Isaiah “saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up” (Isaiah 6:1) and responded, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips” (v. 5). His “lips” were then “cleansed” (v. 7) and he was sent to the world with the word of God (v. 8). The result was the book of Isaiah.
The pattern is clear: when we are awed by God, we are empowered by his Spirit to serve him and others with the excellence and passion he deserves.

“Whatever you do, work heartily”
John Piper was right: “Seeking the worship of the nations is fueled by the joy of our own worship. You can’t commend what you don’t cherish. You can’t proclaim what you don’t prize. Worship is the fuel and the goal of missions.”
Said differently, Christians can measure the depth of our worship by the dedication of our work.
The more we love our Lord, the more we will love our neighbor (Matthew 22:37–39). The more we are awed by God, the more we are empowered to fulfill his mandate: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3:23, my emphasis).
The priest and poet Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy captured our best response to our awe-inspiring Creator:
To give and give, and give again,
What God hath given thee;
To spend thyself nor count the cost;
To serve right gloriously
The God Who gave all worlds that are,
And all that are to be.

When last were you awed by God?

____________________________________________

What Will They Write About You?

He was the eldest child (important in that culture!) He heard the very voice of God! He represented God before heads of state and before nations. He lived a long life and he saw and experienced some remarkable things. Yet most remember his flaws, his mistakes, his shortcomings.

Isn’t that the way we treat most people? No matter how remarkable, how many things are listed on our positive side of the paper, we too often focus on the negative side of the paper.

A few more things about this man … his brother is a household name. His brother is consider the GOAT of religious figureheads. His brother wrote one of the most important religious books of all times – the Torah. His brother was Moses. Talking about being in the shadow of your little bro – Aaron had that issue big time.

Thank about it – Moses often gets credit for the rod into a snake – it was Aaron’s rod (Exo7) – Aaron did the early miracles and spoke for God before the Hebrews, yet we give Moses the byline – time after time.

Now, this dude had ups and downs – as do we all …

  • He partners with Moses early on
  • He becomes the High Priest, the first High Priest of the Hebrew religion
  • He is consecrated before God
  • The Lord accepts his offering
  • He is the one allowed into the very presence of God on Yom Kippur

Now some slips

  • He gave into peer pressure and made a golden calf
  • Two of his kids died in an illegitimate offering to the Lord
  • He joined with Mariam (sister) and opposed Moses
  • He was prohibited from going in to the promise land

Yes he yielded to peer pressure – but later he stood strong in the face of danger. Yes he failed as a father by evidence of unwise kids – yet later, his grandson Phinehas stood brave in the face of a plague hitting the people (killing two offenders as stopping the plague). Yes he failed as a leader, giving into peer pressure – but later stood strong in face of opposition and mob mentality.

Aaron is an example of how we can still grow after slips and mishaps. He’s no Moses, but that’s not who God called him to be. He was Aaron.

I’ve stumbled, I’ve blown it; but I can still learn, I can still grow. So can you.

Maybe in the end, me and my son – with a dear friend – will climb a mountain; but in the end – three went up, two came down. Bury me on that high mountain but letting me know my son continues to walk following the Lord – that’s a good thing to be remembered for.

Falling Acorns

The noise was eerie. I was walking outside my house and I heard limbs crackling and trees creaking. I knew they were doing some utility work a lot or two over so I thought it was that … but it wasn’t. Their machines were idle and the sound of wood rustling was too close.

I walked around the house and investigated. There was a light wind, the limbs were moving ever so minimally, and the still green leaves were rustling. Within a 20-30 feet from the house is a line of trees, mostly evergreen types. But just behind my house are three huge oak trees. These trees are older than me, older than the house, and probably older than the church building next door, a 1907 structure.

And then I heard another sound. At first I thought is was squirrels jumping limbs. But no. It was something falling ‘through’ the trees. The mysterious sound was more than falling through the trees but falling from the trees. Acorns. Hard little large seeds that grow into huge shade providing, squirrel inhabited, bird loving … oak trees.

The ACORNS kept falling. One. Five. Twenty. Hundreds. Occasionally I heard the metallic ding from the roof of the car. It hit everything in the shade circle. I texted my wife and she gave no sympathy, no real understanding.

So I started thinking about lessons from acorns, maybe it was the hurting whittle head talking, but here goes …

A – all over the place, they sat there on the ground, the car, the patio, the sidewalk, driveway, everywhere … maybe we should think of impacting everywhere around us, not just one little area/spread the joy
C – cute, the little acorns were cute, I don’t know how edible (beyond for squirrels), but they are so cute … life should be enjoyable, not always grim and dreary, look for the positive
O – one, it only takes one little acorn to make a big tree … we are not too small to make a big difference in this world
R – release, the acorn had to be released to fall and to fulfill its purpose … we have to let go of everything, we have to die to ourselves to really fulfill what God has for us
N – noise, the tiny acorns created a noise that attracted me, a bystander … we too need to make a little noise that attracts those around us to see what is going on

So, this was just a few pondering from little acorns.