My random, sometimes insightful thoughts on life, God, family, and everything else

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It’s the end of the world as we know it!

R.E.M._-_It's_the_End_of_the_World_as_We_Know_It_(And_I_Feel_Fine)_(United_States)

In November of 1987, the band R.E.M. released a crazy, string of consciousness kind of song bearing this title. How many times has that song played in your head the last few weeks? Seriously, how many people that you know are literally acting like this is the end of the world? Maybe…that’s you?

First, let me assure you, it’s not the end of the world. In spite of what the news media or your cousin ‘who knows someone in the Pentagon’ tells you this pandemic is actually very minor compared to what we’ve gone through in the past. Don’t believe me, well then believe the people that actually catalog these things. This article here by Live Science ranks the top 20 pandemics of all time, Covid 19 does not make the list. In fact, two recent pandemics actually make the list that most of us already lived through, Zika and Swine flu. So, see, you’ve already lived through worse…and probably didn’t even know it, Congratulations!

Second, this however, doesn’t diminish the fact that we are in fact going through something, but hopefully it gives a little perspective. As humans we always overdramatize the present and under-represent the past, it’s just human nature. People, primarily those who are susceptible or have lower/diminished immune systems are not only getting really sick, but many people have died. Contrary to some who are running around saying every life is precious in one breath, and then saying that abortions are somehow essential, I actually believe that every life is precious. In fact, I believe every life was created by God, with a plan, a purpose, and significance.

So, finally, I also believe that God has clearly given those of us who follow Jesus Christ guidelines as to how we are to treat the pinnacle of His creation (ahem, that’s you and me btw). Jesus himself made this statement when asked about what was most important to God:

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:29-21 NIV

Now, I feel that when Jesus says something as definitive as this that you and I should pay a lot of attention…don’t you? He says, the most important thing, the most vital thing you can do in this lifetime, and with your life that you have been given is to love God and love people! I actually think the order is pretty important too, because there’s a lot of people in this world that I would struggle…do struggle…loving if it weren’t for my love for God. The love of God that I have received enables me to show, share, and spread love to others. If your connection with God is intermittent or loose, your love for others will reflect that.

So, maybe take a deep breath before you bash that person on Facebook today. Ask yourself, am I being loving? Is this how God has loved me? God’s not asking you to agree with him, in fact, you probably don’t, but aren’t you so thankful for God’s free will in your life? But maybe instead of calling them a ‘doody head’ or an ‘ignorant neanderthal’ you choose to creatively but respectfully disagree…or better yet…maybe just don’t reply at all…just a thought!

Dave

What Should We Do?

boredcoupleBy now you’re probably on season 4 of whatever show your binge watching, and the novelty of staying or working at home has already grown more stale than the aroma of your teenage boys socks! So, what should we do?

First thing I would say, is to do as much of your normal routine as possible. Yes, I know that some of it isn’t possible, but much of your daily routine you can still do. I love the words of Solomon, the wisest man that ever lived, who said this when staring into the face of his own mortality:

So I reflected on all this and concluded that the righteous and the wise and what they do are in God’s hands…Anyone who is among the living has hope—even a live dog is better off than a dead lion! For the living know that they will die,but the dead know nothing…Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do….Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days…Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom. – Ecclesiastes 9 NLT (selected verses)

Nearing the close of WWII CS Lewis, the author and theologian, famously wrote:

“How are we to live in an atomic age?” Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.”

In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation…the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies but they need not dominate our minds.

The second thing I’d challenge you to do, and I believe God would have us do, is to reconnect with both God and our family. I’d like you to open the calendar app on your phone and look at your schedule prior to two weeks ago. How many of those ‘extremely important’ events have been pulled from your life without you, your children, or your spouse dying?!

Maybe one of the greatest gifts from this craziness is that many of us reclaim our lives! When everything is taken from you it becomes really easy to see what matters most! And, when it comes to God, you’ve always been saying how you WANT to set aside time each day…well it looks like your day is pretty wide open, maybe start that life-giving habit now?

Third, be productive! Don’t just sit around in your PJ’s waiting for the Door Dash dude or the Grub Hub gal to knock on your door, do something. Ephesians 5:15-16 says:

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of your time, because the days are evil. (ESV)

In 1665 a young college student named Issac Newton…yeah him…was sent home because the Black Plague was spreading like wildfire across Europe. He could have easily wasted his time, gone on Spring Break with his boyz, or just walked around all day in his Sponge Bob Square Pants pajama bottoms, but no, he choose to apply himself.

During the year he was in quarantine he invented calculus, began studying the idea of light refraction and wrote his theories on optics, and there was one other thing…what was that? Oh Yeah, he discovered and started formulating the Laws of Gravity!!! Later in his life others coined his time away from college for the plague as the ‘annus mirabilis’ or the Year of Wonders. He returned to college and the rest as we say is history.

Seize the moment my friends! Live, Reconnect, and Make something happen!

Dave

Coronavirus & Christianity

Well this is a first time for me, writing about a virus. Now, granted, I actually have written about many spiritual virus’ and soul-sucking diseases, but never on one that was specifically a physical virus.

So, first a disclaimer: The virus is real, it has caused people’s deaths, and it is something that can be caught in the United States no matter how powerful or careful we are. Each of us should be wise and use caution by not being in people’s faces, washing our hands, and if we are sick, stay home for crying out loud!

I probably shake more peoples hands than most and I do it each and every weekend. Additionally, if you watch me I also use a whole lot of the antibacterial foam that is placed in multiple locations all around our foyer at Friendship Church (which have been there for years). I’m not paranoid, but I also don’t want to get sick. I have a wife that has two auto-immune diseases and I don’t want her to get sick. So I tend to bathe in the stuff each weekend, and I know I shouldn’t, but I actually put that stuff on my face sometimes…again I don’t want to get sick.

BUT – being wise and cautious is a far cry from what we are witnessing in many circles today. I’m old enough to remember a few other times that people reacted like this. For instance, there was this thing called Y2k. It was a computer glitch that was going to shut down the world, throw us into the dark ages, cause mass havoc, undermine national security. Interesting enough there were certain sectors of our markets that made billions off of supposed ‘fixes’ to the Y2K issue, and guess what, when the clocks rolled over to midnight and it turned 01/01/2000…nothing happened. Hysteria and panic make people do stupid and unwise things.

So, seriously though, how should Christians react to this? First, be smart. I love it when Jesus tells the disciples to be “…innocent as doves but as wise as serpents”. Now, he was specifically talking about how they ministered to people, but I believe it is applicable here too. For example, it’s probably not a great time to reinstate the “…greet each other with a holy kiss…” idea!

But most importantly I believe that Scripture compels us to be calm, to not fear, to not panic, or act as if we are abandoned. I remember several years ago I was undergoing a procedure, it was a small issue and it was with local anesthetic so I was awake the whole time. After the procedure was over, the doctor came back in the room and began to have a conversation with me. This was peculiar because before he stated, “I won’t see you after, I’ve got 7 more minor surgeries to do today.” Yet, there he was…he even sat down on the counter. After a few moments of chit-chat he said the following, “I don’t believe in God. I actually have several pastors as patients and they all pretty much react the same way everyone else does when they hear bad news. (and here is the kicker) But you were calm the whole time, it’s clear that you actually believe what you preach. I’m not saying this is changing my mind or anything, but I’m not going to lie, your reaction made me think.”

I’m not sharing this for you to be like, “Wow, Dave is such a super-Christian!” nope, I have good days and bad days, and that one was apparently a good one! My point is, my reaction to a non-optimal situation spoke volumes about the God I serve to a man who didn’t even believe he existed! (take two seconds and read that again)

Every cultural hysteria, crisis, disaster, etc… is an opportunity for the church of Jesus Christ to shine. To shine our love, our care, our courage, and yes our calm.

Luke the author of Acts records an amazing moment in the early church when Peter and John were standing in front of a court, literally with their lives hanging in the balance:

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. – Acts 4:13

Then Paul gives us a command, notice it’s not a suggestion, but a command:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7

I know stuff like this can be scary sometimes, I get that. But the situation around you does not change the God within you! He is still the same yesterday, today, and forever. He’s still in control, he still holds all things together, and yes indeed he is still the Great Physician.

Dave

PS – Just to wrap this all up, be wise, be cautious, and be calm, because your response speaks volumes about the God you say you believe in!

Marriage is easy…

…said no on ever!!! If you think marriage is easy then you are one of the following:

  • A single person
  • A child
  • A newlywed (like honeymoon night newlywed)

The reality is that marriage is hard, and far too many people give up on marriage way too quickly. This last year I celebrated 25 years of marriage with my bride, and I’m not going to lie to you it’s not been easy sometimes…for either of us. But, in the same breath I can tell you with unwavering confidence that this last year was, quite possibly, our best year ever!

You see over time you learn what to and what not to do that pisses off you spouse. You begin to understand their body language for both the potential positive (intimacy) and nasty negative (I just ticked them off). You grow comfortable, not the bad comfortable, but the ‘I can be completely honest and vulnerable with you’ comfortable, where you can drop your mask at the front door, take off your makeup, remove your shoes, and just sit on the couch with a glass of wine and talk about your day comfortable! Do you know how good that is?

In a world where everyone is judging, attacking, and trying to change you to be able to just…BE…is priceless.

Listen, if you are married and going through a rough patch, take a deep breath. Each day is a new day to start over, determine right now that you will be the change your marriage needs. I firmly believe that every marriage is just one or two small changes away from being amazing. Don’t wait till made up holidays to express your love, improve your marriage, or create a little romance, do it every day, one day at a time. You just may find that person you’ve been searching for has been there all along.

Traci:David-Laughing

Dave

PS – Thanks honey for sticking with me, you rock!!

PSS: You should check out the marriage series I’m currently teaching at Friendship Church: http://experiencefriendship.com/messages/from-this-day-forward

Impeachment, Christ-Likeness, and the Constitution

Okay, so here’s the deal, ya’ll need to stop! Seriously, stop posting, especially when you pelosi-trumppost in ignorance (def: lack of knowledge or information). Everyone has an opinion, and everyone is most certainly entitled to their opinion, but on some things its actually better to leave your opinion in your head:

Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent. – Pro 17:28

The mouths of fools are their ruin; they trap themselves with their lips. – Pro 18:7

So many of you love Jesus and want to be used by him, but your public rantings are literally alienating you from people that Jesus may want you to be helping. But, because you couldn’t resist posting something you will now not have that chance…is that really worth it? Do you think when you stand before God that he will ask you if you supported the impeachment of the 45th President of the United States? My money is on no!

As Christians we should be amazing citizens of whatever country we are born or chose to live in, of that there is no doubt. According to our Constitution, one of the most amazing human documents to ever be penned, your power rests in your vote, not on how many likes your Facebook post gets. You might think, “Oh I’m informing people”…no your not, you’re irritating people or getting people who think like you more wound up, how exactly does that advance the cause of Christ…just stop.

The people on the right scream, “The House proceedings were an absolute scam! They didn’t even let the Republicans call any witnesses!” The people on the left vent, “The Senate proceedings are an absolute scam! They didn’t call any witnesses!” Maybe your both right, maybe your both wrong, maybe you need to actually stop listening to what the other social media ranters are saying and brush up on the Constitution.

Here’s what I do know, you are called to act like Christ, so maybe you need to just stop!

PS – Here’s a couple other posts you can read if you are interested that might help:

5 Reasons I’ll ‘Never’ Preach Politics!

Donald Trump = Jesus 2.0 Right?

 

Makes You Stop and Think!

Kobe-Gianna

NEW YORK, NY – DECEMBER 21: Retired NBA star Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gigi, watch an NBA basketball game between the Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta Hawks on December 21, 2019 at Barclays Center in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Nets won 122-112.(Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

I was never really a fan of Kobe Bryant, it was nothing personal, he just played for another team that wasn’t my team…the Pacers, and he along with Shaq squashed my Pacers in the 2000 NBA Finals, so no I wasn’t a fan of him as a basketball player.

Now, as a leader, a legend, and his work after basketball, I was a huge fan! You don’t have as many titles as he accumulated, as many people who followed as he had, and as much of a difference in a community/nation as he did if you’re not what we would call a ‘good dude’!

I am a father of two incredible women, so I know a little bit about the relationship of father and daughter, and by all accounts his daughter Gigi (Gianna) was following in her father’s footsteps as a ball player and a leader. And this picture encapsulates the joy the two of them shared for the game they both fell in love with.

Kobe was 41 years old and his daughter was 13, they both are now in eternity. This picture was take just over a month ago, and now they are gone. It makes you stop and think doesn’t it?

He was just beginning his life without basketball and she was just beginning her life. I cannot even begin to imagine the feeling he had when he realized what was happening as his daughter sat next to him on that helicopter. I cannot fathom what his wife and three surviving children are going through today, but it makes you stop and think, doesn’t it?

None of us are promised tomorrow, only the moment we live in right now. How will you spend the moments you are blessed with today? Will you squander them scrolling through the internet, squabbling with your spouse, or sifting through hours of unwatched ‘streamable’ episodes of the latest binge-worthy show. It makes you stop and think…doesn’t it?

You…yes…you, were created by God to make a difference, an impact, a change on this world. You were designed to leave a legacy of substance to those who know and love you. So, today, and from this day forward will you continue to live as if “I’ve got 30 or 40 more years” or will you seize all of the divine moments given to you and become all that God created you to be…it makes you stop and think. Doesn’t it?

What can we learn from Game of Thrones?

So, let’s begin with the question that most of you are asking yourself…does Dave watchGoT GoT? Some of you are asking because you watch it and enjoy it, others because you can’t believe a pastor would watch such a thing. Read the rest of this page »

Peeled: The Fruits of the Spirit

Peeled_PP_MainThis next Sunday I’ll be launching a new series where we are going to look into all 9 ofthe Fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. (HCSB)

As you look at those 9 characteristics I’m fairly certain that all of us wish we had more of each of these in our life…especially that last one, right! So, you may be asking the question, “What do I have to do, change, work on, or be so that I can have more of those?” Well honestly, that’s the wrong question.

Notice, that Paul calls them “fruit”. When was the last time that you saw a fruit tree working at being a fruit tree? Seriously, have you ever seen a grapevine straining to produce grapes? No, of course not, that’s a silly thing to suggest! You see for the tree or the vine producing fruit just comes naturally…as long as it’s healthy and it gets the nutrients it needs.

Jesus says in John 15:

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vineyard keeper. Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit He removes, and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.” (HSCB)

A couple of really important things to notice; first off God is the one who is doing the work on you, not you! He is looking at your life, trimming away stuff that isn’t being productive, removing things that are stealing your energy, and making sure that what you are producing is what He wants you to produce.

Second, notice the key, “Remain in me”! Your job as a follower of Jesus Christ is not to produce fruit, your job is to stay connected. When you stay connected and in close relationship with Jesus, it is him that produces the Fruit in you through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Stop trying so hard to be the ‘perfect Christian’ and simply spend time with Jesus. Allow him to do what only He can do, so that you can be the person He created you to be!

It Is Finished!

I’ve had several people ask if my talk on Good Friday was recorded anywhere. Unfortunately, that night we had a lot of technical issues and it did not get recorded.

However, although I rarely do this, I actually did write out my talk for that night, so I decided to simply put it here. Feel free to share with others:

33 years…3 1/2 years of incredible miracles and teachings…12 Apostles…70 Disciples…Hundreds of followers…Thousands of lives transformed, healed, changed forever

Hungry were fed…Blind made to see …Deaf could hear…Lame began to walk…Sick were healed…Hurting were given hope…Dead were raised

Religion as a whole was changed forever:

  • He broke the rules
  • He confronted the arrogant 
  • He exalted the forgotten
  • He made the wise foolish, and the foolish wise

Cultural norms were challenged

  • He welcomed the poor
  • He listened to the powerless
  • He mingled with the wretched
  • He sat with the outcast

This one man who had done immeasurable good, was now hanging on a cross. He was not there because he committed some heinous crime, or lead an evil scheme, he hung there as the one and only innocent man from beginning of time till the end. 

He hung there as all of the sins of every guilty man, woman, and child from eternity past to eternity future were dropped onto his shoulders. His Father, God, had chosen him to be the sacrifice for your sin, my sin, the sin of the whole world, and he hung there and took every blow, absorbed each attack, and endured each insult…without one single complaint, without one inch of resistance, without one moment of regret…The Prophet Isaiah poetically puts it this way:

He was despised and rejected, a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. 

We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.

He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! 

But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. 

All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. 

Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all. He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.

And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. 

Unjustly condemned, he was led away. No one cared… 

But he was struck down for the rebellion of my people. He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal;

It is finished…final…complete…done

Yeah, but you don’t know what I’ve done…but His hands bore the nails, to undo every wrong you’ve ever done, to prepare good works for you to do

You don’t know where I’ve been, the company I’ve kept, the path I’ve chosen to walk…but His feet were pierced, to give you a new path and a new way

But no one can even begin to know the thoughts I’ve had, the things I’ve imagined, fantasized, dreamt about…but the crown of thorns was smashed into his skull, to give you a new mind, to help you think pure thoughts

But the things I’m carrying around, the burdens that I can’t get rid of …but He was whipped as his back was torn to ribbons and bled so you could share those heavy burdens with him, you were never meant to carry them alone

But the feelings I have inside, the hate, the anger, the hurt…He bled from his side as a soldier thrust a spear through his heart so you could be renewed, transformed from the inside out, so that you could be given a new heart and new hope

It is Finished…

Galatians 3:13 NLT

But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. 

It is Finished…

2 Corinthians 5:21 NLT

For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

It is Finished…

Romans 8:1 NLT

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. 

It is Finished!!!

The Crisis of Masculinity

I have linked below to an incredible article on Desiring God. The author, Tony Reinke, details how twisted and corrupted our concept of masculinity has become, and calls us to redeem it back to God’s intended purpose:

The Crisis of Masculinity