Saturday, August 29, 2009
(May 29, 1903 - July 27, 2003)
ON TURNING 70
"You still chase women, but only downhill."
ON TURNING 80
"That's the time of your life when even your birthday suit needs pressing."
ON TURNING 90
"You know you're getting old when the candles cost more than the cake."
ON TURNING 100
"I don't feel old. In fact I don't feel anything until noon. Then it's time for my nap."
ON GIVING UP HIS EARLY CAREER, BOXING
"I ruined my hands in the ring ... the referee kept stepping on them."
ON NEVER WINNING AN OSCAR
"Welcome to the Academy Awards, or, as it's called at my home, 'Passover'."
"Golf is my profession. Show business is just to pay the green fees."
"I have performed for 12 Presidents and entertained only six."
ON WHY HE CHOSE SHOWBIZ FOR HIS CAREER
"When I was born, the doctor said to my mother, 'Congratulations! You have an eight-pound ham'."
ON RECEIVING THE CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL
"I feel very humble, but I think I have the strength of character to fight it."
ON HIS FAMILY'S EARLY POVERTY
"Four of us slept in the one bed. When it got cold, mother threw on another brother."
ON HIS SIX BROTHERS
"That's how I learned to dance. Waiting for the bathroom."
ON HIS EARLY FAILURES
"I would not have had anything to eat if it wasn't for the stuff the audience threw at me."
Friday, August 28, 2009
If I should pastor a brick and mortar church again, I think I’ll name it, “The House Of The Sometimes Sane.” Maybe there will be a rear entrance with a sign over the door that reads, “The House Of The Temporarily Insane.”
Choose your door.
If it drives you absolutely crazy that your thoughts and actions are often times opposite to the way you want and to the Truth you love, you fit well with a long line of the mentally plagued chosen. What will help you? What’s the solution to your temporary insanity? A fresh booster shot of the truth about what Jesus has done for you and what He has made of you.
It’ll drive out the crazies.
A famous and favorite MPC (mentally plagued chosen), the apostle Paul, wrote to a collection of temporary nutcases who comprised the church at Corinth. Paul had been told that their behavior was awful—nothing like what a Christians’ should be. So, while rightly pointing out the wrongness of certain actions, he sums up his attempt to revive them—his primary goal—by telling them that those kinds of deeds were no longer in keeping with the nature of who they had become. Jesus had done something so radical to them that they had become literally incompatible with sinful behavior:
“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor 6:9-11, italics mine.)
In other words, “Look, you’re acting like idiots, but you’re no longer idiots! You used to have the nature “Idiot!” to do such nasty stuff, but you have it no longer. Remember that whole ‘new creation’ thing? Well, it’s true! You are no longer of an earthly birth only, but have been born of heaven. You're magnificent, heavenly creatures! So come to your senses, be renewed in your mind, and quit it.”
Their faithful friend labored with them to bring the temporarily insane to their senses, giving them the truth, which, along with the Spirit’s work, clears the head and rescues the temporary nutcase.
Like the Corinthians, our ugly behavior doesn’t identify who and what we have become, it reveals we’ve temporarily lost our minds! And, of course, we act like it. When the Corinthian collection of the MPC looked and did awful, they needed to have their hearts and heads targeted with the truth, which is the power of God. (Romans 1:16) The apostle Paul knew it, even when they did not, and he treated them that way. He knew (and we should, too) that revival in our thinking leads directly to our behavior.
The next time you see a forgiven, sanctified and justified believer acting like a nutcase, encourage him with the truth that brings revival. He’s just confused, he’s just temporarily insane.
But you’re not. At least, not right now.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
I'm a Mac guy and it seems that the upgraded Word for Mac, '08, likes to save Word docs as .docx. Cut and paste articles from that format would not post to Blogger. However, when I saved the file to the older format, .doc, and posted it to Blogger, no more problems.
Why? I don't know.
But I'm back.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Where are you? Right this minute, where are you?
If you have received Jesus, then do you realize that at this very moment you are in Christ, actually in Him? Now, don’t water that down and think of it only as a metaphor, a nice figure of speech for God and theologians to discuss, but not for us regular folk. God has placed you into the body of Christ and that means everything for your everyday life. Everything for every day.
While my favorite Greek word for “Grace” appears 155 times in the New Testament, the phrase, “in Christ,” is used by the apostle Paul more than 160 times in various forms: “in the Lord,” “in Him,” “in Jesus,” “in whom,” and more. “In Christ” is how God thinks of us all the time! As closely as legs and arms are united to the body, so we are united to Christ, and enjoy intimate union with Him.
But an ugly tendency of my flesh is to insist that I see myself outside of Christ, separate from Him and kind of on my own two feet. I might commonly think of myself as for Him or on the same team, but not in Him. When those separate-from-Christ thoughts really get rolling in me, then everything I do becomes subject to judgment. Under the fear of scrutiny, it’s not long before either I’m paralyzed with fear over making a wrong move, taking a wrong step, saying the wrong thing, or I am eventually induced to give up on the attempt to please God. After all, who can actually do that all the time anyway?! Judgment (a constant estimation) is such a difficult thing to bear . . . especially if it’s God.
In my thinking, God becomes the Umpire of my life, and mostly I imagine He shouts, “Yer out!” I can almost hear the home crowd groan—Why does he bother to run, anyway?
However, the truth is that I am entirely safe, completely secure, holy and righteous already in Christ, safe at every moment. In Him I’ve scored already. No matter what seems to say “Yer out!” in life, no matter that I sometimes feel like I’m caught in a rundown, soon to be tagged out, or thrown out of the game for unsportsmanlike conduct, it isn’t so—I’m in Christ. He laid the plan a long time ago:
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” (Ephesians 1:3-6)
Living by faith in Christ doesn’t excuse or mean He winks at bad behavior. Believing that I am in Him and have everything He earned releases me from the nagging fear of judgment, which always messes up my behavior anyway. Secure in Christ at every moment, I enjoy confidence in Him, and my behavior reflects it. The pressure is off me.
I can run the base paths of life without fear because at every point I’m “Safe!”
“It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord." (1 Cor 1:30-31 NIV)
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
Ok, I was thinking. I know, scary, right!? I’m going to try to explain this the best I can over e-mail.
You know how you said to do everything through God and to ask His opinion on what you’re doing and what not? Well, what if you do something and you know He doesn’t like it, and you even ask Him and He tells you He doesn’t like it—but you do it anyway because you like to do it?
I know this is the flesh and not Him acting through me, but how do you not do it when you like it so much? Or, how do you make the flesh part of you not like it any more?
Does that make any sense?
Conundrum in Colorado
Well, I think you've got to take long, daily drinks of God's love and mercy and freedom from condemnation—I know that I do. When my goal is Him—to know Him and discover Him and wrestle with Him and even argue with Him(!)—then He does something in me that I alone cannot do. He sort of brings the "good me" out, the one born of the Spirit, and then my appetites or lusts or desires are those that are like His. Does that make sense?
If I just try to not do stuff I know He doesn't like, sooner or later I fail. The reason is that I've tried to get through life without the power of God to do it. It's like if you were a car and you had no gas in your tank. But rather than ask for some fuel, you tried to do everything you could to prove and act like you were a car anyway. You honked your horn, flicked your headlights on and off, on and off, flipped on your windshield wipers and squirted them a bit, and played your stereo loudly. How long before you, Miss Car, got tired of not doing what you were made to do?
What do you need? Gas. Or, in reality, grace. How do you get grace? Lots of ways.
Grace is all that you got when you received Jesus (a new you, heaven, forgiveness, Jesus, blessings, the Holy Spirit, etc.), and it is the power or life of God to work you. It's both. It's a position you now enjoy with God—perfect, blameless, holy, righteous—and it's God Himself in you to do something—it's practical. So, grace is positional and practical. What you want is practical. Am I saying this clearly?
So, since you know who you are (His girl) and where He is (in His girl), you want to live in such a way that He gets to do stuff in you. And that's a perfect fit. The apostle Paul called this the new way of life (Rom 6). It's very different than the old way.
Titus 2:11-14 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
So, what is it that teaches us to say “no”? Is it instruction about what to do and not do? Is it eating healthy? Getting plenty of sleep? Voting Republican? No. It's looking into how well off God has made you and His people. It's wondering about it, testing it, wrestling with it, being stunned by it, dazzled by it, and more. It's looking at how great and perfect His forgiveness is. It's sowing to the Spirit to see if He's actually-fer-sure there. . .and finding out that He is. It's asking God questions in prayer—"What do you think about Billy Bob or Mary May?" and hearing or feeling something about them. It's praying about something or singing to God, or taking a walk with God and then realizing that you feel way better than you should. And that's because He's been doing something in you!
Whenever you do something toward Him, something just to know Him, something curious, something inquisitive, He takes the trash out! If you spend a little time offering yourself to Him or thinking of Him or singing to Him or praying with Him, He becomes more evident in you—His desires and loves and dislikes—and the flesh is put in its place. Sometimes you won't even feel it anymore. But in any case, God will be satisfying you MORE than that other thing.
Fire back if this doesn't do it for you, or for any old reason at all.
(Her response follows.)
Ok that made so much sense—you have no idea!!! Usually they have to explain it at least twice. I have a thick skull if you couldn’t tell! Thanks so much.... and I guess I can put up with you for a little longer...!
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
A group of alumni got together to visit their old university professor. The conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life.
Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups - porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain-looking, some expensive, and some exquisite - telling them to help themselves to the coffee. After all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said: "If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is but normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, THAT is the source of your problems and stress."
"Be assured that the cup itself adds no real quality to the coffee. In most cases, it's just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups and then began eyeing each other's cups."
"Now consider this: Life is the coffee. . .and the jobs, houses, cars, things, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain life, and the type of cup we have does not define nor change the quality of life we live. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee God has provided us. God brews the coffee, not the cups . . . enjoy your coffee."
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Sanctification is simply this, that believing in who Christ is for us, we offer ourselves to the Spirit throughout the day, His life and provision becoming ever more apparent as the days progress. Isn’t that what you want? And what is His intention? In addition to being on display in a holy vessel of His choosing and making, the Spirit intends that you and I should share in the very glory of God, now in us! Now—not just later.
"But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14, italics mine)
Wow. What a plan.
Monday, August 17, 2009
I have a fascination about the future.
I wonder what direction it will take me, what will happen in
It might be epitomized by last February’s important event—Ground Hog Day. Every year there are tons of people who wonder, "What will Punxsutawney Phil do?" They wonder if there will be six more weeks of winter (please, no!), or if we are going to be moving into spring. I know that each year I will pay attention to what goes on with Phil and his shadow, even if he doesn’t. Isn’t that weird?
But I’ve realized that in my mania about the future I can become paralyzed in the present. I mean, what if I make a move today that screws-up my future? What then? And if I screw-up, it’s no longer just me that suffers—I’ve got my family to think about.
Maybe Punxsutawney Phil and I should just stay in our holes. Don’t move and that whole shadow thing doesn’t even come into play.
Problem: I’m living life in order to avoid it.
Life for me is not about how I work it and what God will do as the result of my work. Life is really about God working me. I’m His workmanship, and the delight of His day is in what He does with me. (Eph 2:10) Really, I believe that I can run up a mountain or down a valley, pastor a church or make coffee, watch a movie with Emma on my lap, or write a blog, catch frogs with Ellen, or go on a date with Sarah, and God is pleased. He’s busy and He’s working in me.
I don’t mean there aren’t times when God’s direction and choice for my day isn’t clear and absolute—that happens. But I think what God’s doing today is me—might as well get going.
Shadow or not, that’s my future.
“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.” (Phil 1:20-26 NIV)
Sunday, August 16, 2009
(On the weekend it's important to remember what's really worth remembering--like this bit of breaking news.)
MANCHESTER, N.H. — A 1,224-pound triple vanilla cupcake with pink frosting has set a record as the world's largest.
The sugary behemoth was unveiled Saturday at the Woodward Dream Cruise classic cars event in Royal Oak, Mich.
A Guinness World Records adjudicator was on hand to certify the cupcake's girth. It was more than eight times the size of the previous record holder.
The colossal cupcake took 12 hours to bake and included 800 eggs and 200 pounds each of sugar and flour.
Slices of the cupcake were served in exchange for donations to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure breast cancer organization.
Ryan Abood, owner of New Hampshire-based Gourmetgiftbaskets.com who made the cupcake, told the Detroit Free Press that it clocked in at an estimated 2 million calories.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
It won't be long until the boys spy-out my daughters and discover the treasure they are. While I'm working to hide and keep them to myself as long as I can, I'm also looking around for methods to encourage the undesirables to stay away. This seems like a good way to do it.
Friday, August 14, 2009
In case you missed me, my family and I have been on a wonderful vacation in southwest Colorado. Although we live in state, we've hardly been in that area--and are we glad we went.
I will post a few photos here, or you can check out our trip on my facebook page.
It's good to be home.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Well, it’s Monday. Happy?
For many of us Monday means battle, so Sunday evening means preparation and probably, dreading anticipation. Sometimes we weary before battle.
In a favorite scene of mine from the second of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, “The Two Towers,” Eowyn (Miranda Otto) anticipates a nearly hopeless and terrible battle with dark and ravenous forces converging upon them.
From a large trunk she draws a menacing sword and, grasping it with both hands and steeling her face, she begins to practice frightening blows to the yet invisible enemy. She is terrific and convincing.
Unknown to her, Aragon (Viggo Mortensen), who has from a distance recognized royalty and fortitude in Eowyn, has drawn up behind her. Continuing to slash and parry, Eowyn whirls about, bringing down her weapon in a full and powerful arc, only for it to be met by Aragon’s quickly drawn sword. Deflecting the blow brought by a suddenly startled Eowyn, their swords lock together.
And Aragon, frozen in battle stance along with Eowyn, says respectfully, “You’ve some skill with a blade.” Eowyn replies, “Women of this country learned long ago that those without swords can still die upon them. I fear neither death nor pain.” And as she returns the sword to the chest, Aragon asks, “What do you fear, my lady?” “A cage,” says Eowyn. “To stay behind bars until use and old age accept them, and all chance of valor has gone beyond recall or desire.”
Sizing her up, Aragon says, “You’re a daughter of kings. . .I do not think that will be your fate.” Eowyn looks knowingly and appreciatively into his eyes, royalty recognizing royalty.
Aragon was right.
You, too, are the offspring of a King. My prayer and hope for you is that the Spirit will revive your hope for godly valor and strengthen you as you offer yourself to Him today. He knows who you are. Recognizing royalty, He will convince you about you. Perhaps you need a little of that right now. And if you’ve grown accustomed to worldly limitations and unseen bars on a cage, they’re not true and cannot stand against you.
Believe Him. That’s where your strength and life begins – by believing God about Himself and by believing God about you. Because your battle is primarily spiritual and unseen, look there. It is the most valuable and important arena of your life.
Thomas Merton wrote: “I consider that the spiritual life is the life of a man’s real self, the life of that interior self whose flame is so often allowed to be smothered under the ashes of anxiety and futile concern. The spiritual life is oriented toward God, rather than toward the immediate satisfaction of the material needs of life, but it is not, for all that, a life of unreality or a life of dreams. On the contrary, without a life of the Spirit, our whole existence becomes unsubstantial and illusory. The life of the Spirit, by integrating us in the real order established by God, puts us in the fullest possible contact with reality – not as we imagine it, but as it really is. It does so by making us aware of our own real selves, and placing them in the presence of God.” (From “No Man Is An Island.”)
When the unseen enemy whispers his deceptive drivel about your skills and future, tell him confidently that you know you’re royalty, whether he likes it or not. And you might add, “I know I am better off than you would have me think. I do not think that will be my fate.”
Saturday, August 08, 2009
DO NOT SWALLOW CHEWING GUM!!
Friday, August 07, 2009
Think your sin and/or shortcomings have cut you off from God? Blocked His favor? Put you out of the light and out of fellowship with Him? Please--think again.
Check out Steve McVey's blog by clicking here.
This is something I've written about extensively, both here and in my book. It is vitally important for you and for the glory of God. And Steve just nails it in a magnificent way. Don't miss it--you'll love it. I promise.
Thursday, August 06, 2009
I despise doubt and unbelief and how it creeps upon me, fogging my mind and weighing down my life.
But I’m recovering.
I was today reminded of a scene in my favorite trilogy of films, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. In it, the marvelous King of Rohan, Theoden, has been under the terrible influence of a demonic spellbinder. While Theoden still sits on the throne, he no longer believes he is much of anything, and no longer understands the meaning of his own crown, nor wields the mighty sword of his kingdom. Instead, others of ignoble birth and evil intent direct a kingdom now in chaos.
As God would have it(!), a trio of valiant warriors break through to rescue him, along with Gandalf, who exposes and rebukes the spellbinder, releasing Theoden, King of Rohan. Rising slowly to his feet, his senses and eyes grow clearer. “Dark have been my dreams of late,” he says wistfully. Theoden looks at his hand and can scarcely move its fingers.
Gandalf, intent upon restoring the King, says, “Your fingers would remember their old strength better if they grasped your sword.”
The King’s second in command offers it to him, and, slowly taking it into his grasp, Theoden draws it from its scabbard. The evil, wormy spellbinder instantly squirms to get away, while the King looks at the sword somewhat in wonder. Suddenly, understanding lights his eyes and his face grows fierce. The recovering King glowers at the enemy and angrily hurls him out of the throne room.
“Hail! Theoden King!” comes the triumphant cry from all around, who look to him with renewed wonder, awe and thankfulness.
So, how are you, royal son? How are you, regal daughter? How have the thoughts playing in your head matched up to the dazzling crown on your head? Has The Spellbinder been whispering “dark dreams” to you, too?
“Your fingers would remember their old strength better if they grasped your sword.”
Remember what God has made of you, take Him at His word, and act like He meant it. He did! Throw off the contrary lies, and praise The King who shares His glory with you. You may remember your crown by singing a song to God, or by proclaiming a truth aloud, or by grasping your Bible and holding it up as the sword it is . . . and kick the evil one’s butt out the door. You’ll regain strength and stand again as the royal son or daughter you are.
And The Spellbinder will scurry off, fearful of a recovered king.
You’re better off than you think . . . but you are thinking.
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
Sometimes I’m a victim of drive-by worry. I can be doing the simplest of things like drinking coffee or reading or sleeping or talking with someone, and WHACK, something to worry about crashes right through the screen of my life and into my head.
I hate worry. Sometimes, that’s my problem—hating worry. If I think worry is bad, if I think worry is my problem (“Oh, no! Worry is here!”), I get focused on worry and begin devising plans to get rid of it. I become my own counselor when The Counselor Himself is already in me, and I give Him nothing to do. Oops.
It goes much better when I ask a question like, “Well, Holy Spirit, what’s going on?”
And even if I don’t hear a thing (and that’s about a 50/50 chance), something begins to change in me simply by directing my thoughts toward God. (It’s that whole sewing and reaping deal found in Galatians 6:8.) When I give my attention to Him, He begins to do something in me, even if I don’t know what’s bothering me. And I remember that I am not my own assembly line, and I’m not supposed to produce something for the glory of God. I live by faith in Him and He does the glory thing. Inner turmoil means that He wants to do something, whatever that is.
Unfortunately, the ‘whatever that is’ initially bugs me. What if I have to say something to someone that I’d rather not? What if He wants me to get out of bed and pray with Him for awhile?
But I think worry is simply a sign that my flesh is in conflict with the Spirit because He wants to do something in me and/or through me. And the flesh is putting up its usual resistance. No surprise there.
“For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.” (Gal 5:17 NAS)
I don’t think I’ll ever fully welcome worry, but I’m learning to turn to the Spirit when the drive-by happens. And that’s the best course for life.
Monday, August 03, 2009
Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed. (Romans 4:16)
The Lord desires that we should have great certainty concerning His promises. Our God does not want us to be plagued with apprehension concerning the fulfillment of His promises. In all that God has promised, He intends for us to stand in bedrock assurance: "that the promise might be sure to all the seed." This certainty is based upon two sets of related truths: one between His promises and His grace, and another between His grace and faith in Him.
The first set of related truths mentioned here (that makes God's promises sure) is His promises and His grace. Living by God's promises allows us to walk in the all-sufficient grace of God. The heavenly dynamic behind the promises of God is the grace of God. If God's promises are to be sure in our lives, we must relate to them "according to grace." If we are counting on any other hope besides grace to make God's promises certain, we will never stand in full assurance of the promises being fulfilled. If God's promises depend upon our performance, we will never walk in full assurance. If His promises depend upon the faithfulness or ability of others, full assurance will always elude us. The fulfillment of God's promises depends wholly on His grace.
Now, how do we treat God's promises in a way that does not disregard the grace that is behind them? The only acceptable response is faith. "Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace." Every other response creates a discord with grace. This was the great mistake that Abraham and Sarah made early in their pilgrimage with the Lord. When they relied upon their own ingenuity (using the slave girl, Hagar, to try to supply the son God had promised), they were operating outside the realm of dependence upon God. Basically, they were trusting in themselves.
Behind all of the promises of the gospel is the promised Savior, who would die on the cross for our sins. If we attempt to base God's saving work on our performance, we are setting aside God's grace. We are inferring that His death for us was unnecessary or inadequate. "I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain" (Galatians 2:21).
Father God, what a marvelous plan You have for Your children! You lay out Your purposes by means of great promises. You put Your wondrous grace behind every promise. Then, You ask us to place our faith in You to graciously fulfill all that You have committed to do. Lord, what assurance this gives concerning Your promises!