Thursday, September 30, 2021

Atlanta Braves Clinch The Division!

The Atlanta Braves secured their fourth consecutive National League East crown on Thursday, defeating the Philadelphia Phillies 5-3. 

The Atlanta Braves have done it all before — many, many times before — but this one felt a bit different. More satisfying, for sure.

The Braves may have been the reigning champions, but their continued dominance was hardly assured. Atlanta finished the first half with a losing record, at 44-45, and entered August trailing in the division by five games. Nevertheless, the Braves were able to rally by winning games in the second half at a 98-win pace overall.

And there they were Thursday night, swigging champagne, puffing on cigars and celebrating an NL East championship.

Monday, September 27, 2021

"Giving It All To Christ" (Part III of the Salvation Series)

Getting started as a new Christian can be intimidating. So many voices, so many paths, it can be a overwhelming season as you take your first steps as a Christ-follower. I think C.S. Lewis would suggest that we don’t dip into this new life, we dive in! In this Devotional Classics excerpt, Lewis encourages us to abandon the idea of just ​“being good,” and to embrace utter abandonment to God. Step by step, Lewis walks us through the challenge and then offers us a practical exercise for getting started. 

1. How Much of Myself Must I Give?

The ordinary idea which we all have before we become Christians is this, we take as the starting point our ordinary self with its various desires and interests. We then admit that something else — call it ​“morality” or ​“decent behavior,” or ​“the good of society” — has claims on this self: claims which interfere with its own desires. What we mean by ​“being good” is giving in to those claims. Some of the things the ordinary self wanted to do turn out to be what we call ​“wrong”: well, we must give them up. Other things turn out to be what we call ​“right”: well, we shall have to do them. 

Sunday, September 26, 2021

"Knowing You Have Eternal Life" (Part II of the Salvation Series)

Some people doubt that they are actually Christians. They want to be, but feel like they are missing the joy of the Christian faith. In this blog we will discover how we can determine if we are indeed a follower of Christ and how we can put to rest our doubts and fears about this matter for good.

This blog is based on an article by Billy Graham. 

The dreadful uncertainty that haunts many people grows out of misunderstanding what the Christian experience is. Some people don’t seem to know the nature of Christian conversion, while others have been misinformed concerning conversion and seek an experience that is not biblical. But for most, it comes down to confusing faith with feeling.

Faith always implies an object—that is, when we believe, we must believe something. That something is what we call the “fact.” Now let me give you three words that will help you understand the Christian life: fact, faith and feeling. They come in this order, and the order is essential. In this order, you will have the joy and confidence of one who can say, “I know whom I have believed” (II Timothy 1:12).

Saturday, September 25, 2021

"The Narrow Path" (Part I of the Salvation Series)

The New Testament is filled with information on what it means to be a Christ follower, what Jesus Christ beautifully described as “the narrow path.” This path can be summarized as: Embracing Jesus’ sacrifice for mankind, Believing He died for our sins and Living life for Him.

Jesus purposely left no wiggle room when it came to the topic of salvation, explaining that the pathway is exclusive, and that path is through Him.

In Matthew 7:13-14 and Luke 13:23-24 we see Jesus saying that "narrow is the gate" and "narrow is the way." So without question Jesus is saying that Christian way is not one that most will follow. In fact, He says that only "a few will find it."

A lot of people speculate about the number of people who will embrace Jesus as the way, but that's not the point God wants us to take away from that scripture. We know from John 3:16 that God's desire is for none to perish but for all to have eternal life. God's desire is clear, His desire is for everyone to be saved.

Let's take an overhead view of the entire third chapter of John. We start with the story of  Nicodemus, a Pharisee and member of the Jewish ruling class, who visited Jesus to discuss how he could be saved.

Friday, September 24, 2021

A Gift Like No Other

I read something interesting in the recent biography,"Ali: A Life" by Jonathan Eig. It was a story regarding an old man and a young boy who showed up at Muhammad Ali's mansion in 1982. One of Ali's associates, Larry Kolb, answered the door and the old man explained that they had traveled from Tanzania to meet Ali. "We are here," the man explained, "because before I die, I wish to introduce my grandson to the great Muhammad Ali." 

Ali said to let them enter. He hugged the child, ate the gift of a Big Mac that the boy had brought Ali, and performed a magic trick for the young child. 

"Today we found you," the old man said, "Tomorrow we can go home." 

Ali gave them dinner and drove them back to their airport hotel. He embraced them both and told them to go with God. On the drive home, Kolb asked Ali why he had taken so much time for the two strangers. Ali explained that it was his belief that everyone had an angel watching them at all times, keep track of their actions and logging if they were good or bad. Ali called it a "Tallying Angel."

"When we die, he told Kolb, "if we've got more good marks than bad, we go to paradise. If we've got more bad marks, we go to hell . . . I've done a lot of bad things. Gotta keep doing good now. I wanna to to paradise."

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

September 21st

Do you have a favorite day of the year?

Now I'm not counting any of the Holidays, I mean who doesn't love either Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas. No, I'm talking about a favorite day of the year that has meaning beyond any other day of the year. 

For me, that date is September 21st. To be precise, September 21st, 2000. 

Before I go any further let me clarify a couple of things. Unlike some people, I can't tell you exactly when I made a decision to follow Jesus Christ. I made a public profession when I was young, but I'm not totally sure that date was the origin of my faith journey. In the days and weeks after that public proclamation, I began to truly understand what it meant to accept Jesus as Lord of my life. But I can't tell you exactly what day of the year that happened. 

And my own birthday, though I admit, holds some sentimental appeal, is not my favorite day of the year. It's a day that for me is filled with "Ying" and "Yang" and over the passing years it is impossible to separate the two. 

No, my favorite day of the year is my daughter's birthday. 

Friday, September 17, 2021

"The Duke"

My grandpa on my Dad's side of the family loved westerns. Not just watching westerns on TV, he loved to read and collect Louis L' Amour books, as well as pistols from that era. Saturday evenings at 10:00 pm were reserved for the western TV show Gunsmoke and distractions were simply not allowed. But like many people of that generation, my grandpa's favorite actor was "The Duke". 

John Wayne, also known as "The Duke", was the premier movie star in the 50's and 60's. Larger than life, he picked his roles carefully, to ensure that his movie characters aligned with his own philosophy about life and his cultural priorities. He starred in over 300 films and never once apologized for his pro-USA stance and old fashioned values. They say that some of the best ways to learn about someone is to listen to their views on life so here are some of my favorite quotes from "The Duke":

“All battles are fought by scared men who'd rather be someplace else.”

“A man deserves a second chance, but keep an eye on him.”

“My hope and prayer is that everyone know and love our country for what she really is and what she stands for.”

“I stick to simple themes. Love. Hate. No nuances. I stay away from psychoanalyst's couch scenes. Couches are good for one thing.”

Monday, September 13, 2021

The Gift Of Imagination

I've often pondered the gift of imagination. Is there a boundary that we cannot cross with our imaginations? Is there a future that we cannot imagine with this wonderful gift? And the opposite unfortunately is also true, is there a limit to the darkness that we can explore and unleash using this powerful tool that God has gifted to each one of us?

I believe that we are most like our Creator when we are creative. The Bible says that God imagined the entire universe and then it came to pass. His thoughts became our reality. And we have all been imprinted with that same seal of creativity, to be used for good or evil, in powerful ways that can influence people and alter history.

The reason you have this gift is because God imagines. And God gave you the ability to create with your imagination. When you use your imagination for good and for God, God smiles. 

Friday, September 10, 2021

"I Can Hear You!"

Three days after the horrific attack on the World Trade Center Towers, President Bush visited the site to speak to the first responders, troops, and citizens of our country. It was a perilous time in our nation's history, no one was sure who had attacked the United States, and no one knew if there were more attacks coming. All domestic and international flights were still cancelled, the military was on high alert, and our entire nation was on edge. 

President Bush had already addressed the nation from the Barksdale Air Force Base on 9/11 as well as from the Oval Office later that same evening, but this time, standing on the heap of debri that was the World Trade Center Towers, he seemed to connect directly with the people in a way that his previous speeches had failed to accomplish. Standing on a pile of rubble, arm around one of New York City's finest, he started speaking to the crowd through a bullhorn. It quickly became apparent that the volume of the bullhorn was not loud enough for everyone to hear but that is where President Bush seized the moment to utter his timeless words that comforted, and rallied the nation. In my opinion, this is one of the top five speeches given by anyone in my lifetime. 

We can disagree about the merits of President Bush's policies and even his response to the 9/11 attacks, but I think we can all agree that on that day, September 14th, he communicated with the people of our country in a way that few modern leaders have ever done, assuring the citizens of the United States that their voices were being heard and that soon, the world would also hear from them. 

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

Friday, September 03, 2021

"It Would Never Be The Same"

A question that historians have wrestled with for decades is this: "Would Germany and the Axis powers have won World War II without the intervention of the United States?"

No less an authority than England's prime minister at that time, Winston Churchill, expressed his belief after the attack on Pearl Harbor. "After the United States entered the war I never slept as soundly as the night following Pearl Harbor. For I knew that The American Race would now be entering the war and it would never be the same.”

Churchill knew that Germany was going to declare war on the United States in support of the Japanese attacking Pearl Harbor. He also knew that Germany had no means of defeating either Great Britain or the United States in an all-out war and that Japan joining the Axis alliance was not going to change that imbalance of resources.

Neither Adolf Hitler nor Hideki Tojo had the education or imagination to understand that, once the United States took sides in a conflict, it could not be stopped by any major power that controlled less resources then America could provide. And that the Americans, as they showed in their own civil war, were utterly relentless when they were angry enough to commit all their strength.