Friday, February 27, 2009
Sunday, February 22, 2009
The Judaizers were trying to appear spiritual by becoming circumcised so as to avoid persecution from zealous Jews. And were demanding that followers of Jesus Christ be circumcised, as well.
Takes me back to the night that Jesus had been arrested and was standing before the high priest. (You can read the account in Matthew 26.) Peter had been following Jesus from a distance, the scripture says.
Just the night before Jesus told Peter that he would deny Him three times and Peter vehemently disagreed, and said that he was willing to die for Him.
But now, as Peter walked along, following Jesus, but not too closely so as to be identified with Him, people were recognizing him as being one who had been with Jesus.
He denied his Friend once.
He denied him again, promising that he did not know Him.
He denied him a third time, cursing and swearing to boot, to avoid detection.
How far Peter had come in less than 24 hours. Where had he gone wrong?
First, Jesus had given Peter, James and John the opportunity to stand watch with Him in the garden and pray.
Instead, they chose to sleep.
They took the opportunity given to them to gain strength and wisdom from the Father and to pray for their friend and they let the time slip through their fingers as they fell asleep. Not once, not twice, but three times.
Are you slumbering spiritually? Do you miss opportunities that are given to you to pray, seeking the Lord's wisdom and strength, and for others who are struggling?
That lack of strength that Peter could have gained through prayer now caused him to be spiritually weak as he made his next crucial mistake.
He watched Jesus from afar.
His fear caused him to distance Himself from Jesus, and he sought to blend in with the crowd to avoid persecution.
What do we do to blend in with the world to avoid persecution? What worldly attitudes or ways have we adopted? How do we compromise our faith at home, at our jobs, out in public, to avoid “persecution?” And I put persecution in quotes because as of yet, here in the United States, most of us don’t know much of what real persecution is. (Stay tuned - I'll soon be beginning a new segment on the worldwide persecuted church.)
Ultimately, what are we risking? Being made fun of by a co-worker? Being fired? Having a family member distance themselves from us? Isn't God, well, God? Will He not take care of us, and even moreso those sons and daughters who are obedient to Him?
What about the risks we take when we are disobedient to the Lord? What blessings are we missing because we aren’t willing to take a step of faith? What miracles could God do through a life who is wholly, uncompromisingly devoted to Him? To what lengths will we go to stand with Jesus, who gave His life to purchase ours, and follow closely at his side?
Or are we content to follow Him at a distance?
When the proverbial rooster crows, and Jesus returns for you, will He find you acting like the world, or maybe following Him, but not too closely, so as to avoid detection and be ridiculed?
Or will He find you walking right with Him, uncompromising in your faith, standing for Him with passion, willing to go with Him wherever He calls you to go, giving any fear over to Him, and in the process being used by God in awesome and miraculous ways?
God loves you so much and He desires to use you in mighty ways!
"Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship does righteousness have with lawlessness? And what partnership does light have with darkness? And what agreement does Christ have with Belial? Or what part does a believer have with an unbeliever? And what agreement does a temple of God have with idols?
For you are the temple of the living God, as God has said, 'I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.' Therefore, 'Come out from among them and be separated,' says the Lord, 'and do not touch the unclean thing. And I will receive you and I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters,' says the Lord Almighty." 2 Corinthians 6:14-18
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Have you ever realized that you can give things to God that are of value to Him? Or are you just sitting around daydreaming about the greatness of His redemption, while neglecting all the things you could be doing for Him?
Friday, February 20, 2009
This first video I'm going to show looks like it's fairly old and maybe close to when she was just getting started. The people in the audience crack me up. They're just kind of sitting there trying to look all stoic and proper (they are on camera, you know!) trying to figure her out.
But now her audience now knows what they're getting into when they go see Chonda. The auditoriums in which she now speaks are filled with people who have come to laugh at her silly stories and cry at the amazing personal stories she tells. And she wraps them all up in her love for Jesus.
Okay, here ya go!
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Monday, February 16, 2009
And really, how could you not love Mr. Rogers? He was as loveable and humble as they come. But for as many years as I watched him stroll through his neighborhood, there’s still so much I didn’t know about him. There’s a lot we can learn from our be-sweatered friend. More than just being able to get your tennis shoes on and tied before the next part of the song starts or the secret to conversing with a kitten puppet whose vocabulary mainly consists of the word “meow.” He had a lot of love to give, and it seems he didn’t waste it. He loved everyone and he went out of his way to show it. And really, isn’t that the point?
I think the secret to this grand love that spilled out all over everyone he came in contact with lies in reason #3 below. No, not the weight-watching, the praying. His source of love was the Giver of all love. He sat with God every morning and was filled with this magical, moving, manifesting love that I’m sure changed many people’s lives.
I wonder how our lives and others’ would be affected if we made a daily routine of praying every morning even before our day got started, before decisions needed to be made, so that we could act in love rather than react out of stressed emotion. And what kind of spectacular things is God wanting to do through us if we would just sit with Him and hear His plan?
So, let’s all tie our tennis shoes, change our jackets for sweaters and learn from Mr. Rogers.
1. Even Koko the Gorilla loved him.
Most people have heard of Koko, the Stanford-educated gorilla who could speak about 1000 words in American Sign Language, and understand about 2000 in English. What most people don’t know, however, is that Koko was an avid Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood fan. As Esquire reported, when Fred Rogers took a trip out to meet Koko for his show, not only did she immediately wrap her arms around him and embrace him, she did what she’d always seen him do onscreen: she proceeded to take his shoes off!
2. He Made Thieves Think Twice.
According to a TV Guide piece on him, Fred Rogers drove a plain old Impala for years. One day, however, the car was stolen from the street near the TV station. When Rogers filed a police report, the story was picked up by every newspaper, radio and media outlet around town. Amazingly, within 48 hours the car was left in the exact spot where it was taken from, with an apology on the dashboard. It read, “If we’d known it was yours, we never would have taken it.”
3. He Watched His Figure to the Pound!
In covering Rogers’ daily routine (waking up at 5; praying for a few hours for all of his friends and family; studying; writing, making calls and reaching out to every fan who took the time to write him; going for a morning swim; getting on a scale; then really starting his day), writer Tom Junod explained that Mr. Rogers weighed in at exactly 143 pounds every day for the last 30 years of his life. He didn’t smoke, didn’t drink, didn’t eat the flesh of any animals, and was extremely disciplined in his daily routine. And while I’m not sure if any of that was because he’d mostly grown up a chubby, single child, Junod points out that Rogers found beauty in the number 143. According to the piece, Rogers came “to see that number as a gift… because, as he says, “the number 143 means ‘I love you.’ It takes one letter to say ‘I’ and four letters to say ‘love’ and three letters to say ‘you.’ One hundred and forty-three.”
4. He Saved Both Public Television and the VCR.
Strange but true. When the government wanted to cut Public Television funds in 1969, the relatively unknown Mister Rogers went to Washington. Almost straight out of a Capra film, his 5-6 minute testimony on how TV had the potential to give kids hope and create more productive citizens was so simple but passionate that even the most gruff politicians were charmed. While the budget should have been cut, the funding instead jumped from $9 to $22 million. Rogers also spoke to Congress, and swayed senators into voting to allow VCR’s to record television shows from the home. It was a cantankerous debate at the time, but his argument was that recording a program like his allowed working parents to sit down with their children and watch shows as a family.
5. He Might Have Been the Most Tolerant American Ever.
6. He Was Genuinely Curious about Others.
Mister Rogers was known as one of the toughest interviews because he’d often befriend reporters, asking them tons of questions, taking pictures of them, compiling an album for them at the end of their time together, and calling them after to check in on them and hear about their families. He wasn’t concerned with himself, and genuinely loved hearing the life stories of others. Amazingly, it wasn’t just with reporters. Once, on a fancy trip up to a PBS exec’s house, he heard the limo driver was going to wait outside for 2 hours, so he insisted the driver come in and join them (which flustered the host). On the way back, Rogers sat up front, and when he learned that they were passing the driver’s home on the way, he asked if they could stop in to meet his family. According to the driver, it was one of the best nights of his life—the house supposedly lit up when Rogers arrived, and he played jazz piano and bantered with them late into the night. Further, like with the reporters, Rogers sent him notes and kept in touch with the driver for the rest of his life.
7. He was Color-blind.
Literally. He couldn’t see the color blue. Of course, he was also figuratively color-blind, as you probably guessed. As were his parents who took in a black foster child when Rogers was growing up.
8. He Could Make a Subway Car full of Strangers Sing.
Once while rushing to a New York meeting, there were no cabs available, so Rogers and one of his colleagues hopped on the subway. Esquire reported that the car was filled with people, and they assumed they wouldn’t be noticed. But when the crowd spotted Rogers, they all simultaneously burst into song, chanting “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.” The result made Rogers smile wide.
9. He got into TV because he hated TV.
The first time he turned one on, he saw people angrily throwing pies in each other’s faces. He immediately vowed to use the medium for better than that. Over the years he covered topics as varied as why kids shouldn’t be scared of a haircut, or the bathroom drain (because you won’t fit!), to divorce and war.
10. He was an Ivy League Dropout. Rogers moved from Dartmouth to Rollins College to pursue his studies in music.
11. He composed all the songs on the show, and over 200 tunes.
12. He was a perfectionist, and disliked ad libbing. He felt he owed it to children to make sure every word on his show was thought out.
13. Michael Keaton got his start on the show as an assistant– helping puppeteer and operate the trolley.
14. Several characters on the show are named for his family.
Queen Sara is named after Rogers’ wife, and the postman Mr. McFeely is named for his maternal grandfather who always talked to him like an adult, and reminded young Fred that he made every day special just by being himself. Sound familiar? It was the same way Mister Rogers closed every show.
15. The sweaters. Every one of the cardigans he wore on the show had been hand-knit by his mother.
Monday, February 9, 2009
Last time we saw that as we seek to be a peacemaker by introducing Jesus Christ to people that God brings into our paths, we resemble our Heavenly Father who is the supreme peacemaker.
But as we do so, God's enemy will try to throw us curves to get us to either shut our mouths from speaking the gospel, or to try to ruin our witness any way he can. And we need to remember that he will use people to that end. Which brings us to the next “be-attitudes.”
“Blessed are they who have been persecuted for righteousness sake! For theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are you when men shall revile you and persecute you, and shall say all kinds of evil against you falsely, for My sake.” Mat 5:10-11
From the time one of my sons was in kindergarten, he had a strong desire to tell his friends at school about Jesus. On his own, he took his bible to school and read it during his own personal reading time. And he would tell his friends that they could have Jesus, too, if they would just pray and ask Him to come into their hearts. And he did in fact pray with a few of his friends to accept Jesus.
And then a couple of years later we moved, he started going to a new school, and the bullying started. We entered into what were some of the most difficult several years we had.
One of the kids who taunted him and called him some horrible names lived in our neighborhood. This child pushed my son off the bus they took to school. Other kids on the bus would turn to him out of nowhere and curse at him. Another child walked up to him and slapped his face for no apparent reason. One student even went so far as to outrightly tease him for being a Christian. This went on for years. I pleaded with teachers and administration for help, but none ever came.
The bible tells us that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the world's rulers, of the darkness of this age, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
The persecution my son endured did not come from just one or two kids, but from many, and I believe to this day that the enemy was using those children to quiet my son from telling anyone else about Jesus and from praying with them. But we continued to pray for his friends and for his teachers.
Those were some dark days, but God’s Word tells us that when we suffer persecution for obeying our God and doing His will, we are blessed because we will have a home with the Lord forever. And in that blessed place “the wicked shall be no more; Indeed, you will look carefully for his place, But it shall be no more.” (Psalm 37:10) The enemy will never again come against us. We will live among the royalty of the Almighty and indeed, live as princes and princesses forever. We will feast at the table of the King of kings and we will know unceaseable joy.
And the wondrous thing will be, that because we endured in doing our Father’s will and fought to spread the gospel and make disciples in spite of opposition, we, along with my son, will be blessed to see those very souls whom we prayed for and prayed with to receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. What a joyous time it will be!
As Jesus sat speaking to the multitudes, He told them, and us, that as we admit our sins, as we humble ourselves, as we do God’s will, and even as we suffer persecution, we have reason to keep an attitude of joyfulness, because we will have a reward, which is Jesus Christ Himself.
Don't be surprised to see persecution increase as the time gets nearer to the return of our Savior. But don't let that deter you. They're only scare tactics. Stay in prayer for strength and wisdom from the Lord and keep your eyes on the prize as you persevere. Seeing souls brought into the kingdom of heaven is far more important than our discomfort. And remember, you will have reward for your faithfulness!
“Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for your reward in Heaven is great. For so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt loses its savor, with what shall it be salted? It is no longer good for anything, but to be thrown out and to be trodden underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under the grain-measure, but on a lampstand. And it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in Heaven.” Matthew 5:13-16
Monday, February 2, 2009
Anyway, the stars were aligned on Superbowl Sunday when my husband and our oldest son went to downtown Tempe to scream and howl with hundreds of other people while they watched the Cardinals (almost) take the Steelers, and our youngest son went to hang out with his youth group from church at a friend's house to watch the game.
And I (weeeeee) was left in blessed solitude for a whole 4 hours. I seized the day and made this scrumptious recipe. And it was well worth the wait. This isn't the healthiest recipe, (sorry, Allan!) but it is delicious. And if you want to make a few changes you can certainly make it a healthier pizza. So, without further ado...
BBQ Grilled Chicken Pizza