Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The St. Louis Arch

I remember riding in the five person bubble to the top of the 630 ft St. Louis Arch as a kid. You could see the courthouse, St. Louis Cardinal Stadium and Illinois countryside. I even remember seeing part of the Arch built in the 1960's when I would visit my grandparents in the St. Louis area. The underground history museum of this stainless steel monument tells of the westward expansion of the United States. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

"The Life of David": 6 David's Conscience 1, Temptation 0

Focus passage: 1 Samuel 24: 1-22

Your character shows when things get tough. Lying comes naturally when you are backed into a corner desperate to save your skin. Anger erupts when someone hits you or slanders your character. It is easier to be good when things are going well. Maybe that is why the Lord sometimes throws hard times at you. He will send someone to you who needs help at a time when you are busy. He will back you into a corner and expect you to tell the truth. It is in those times of trial and temptation that character is forged and the dross flaked away. David has been hiding safely at the oasis of Engedi near the Dead Sea. Just when it seemed that David was beyond the reach of the army of Saul, his character is tried by a fateful encounter.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

"Super Church": 4 Super Impact

Focus passage: Luke 10:25-37

It started with a simple question about gaining entrance into to heaven and took a curve that the lawyer was not expecting. This story confronts us with God’s call for us to make an impact on our world by loving people the way that He has loved us. The zinger in this story is that the Jews would have expected the Samaritan half breed would have been the robber. He turns out to be the hero of the story. The question we must deal with is “how far should love go?”

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Story - Joseph, put down that selfie stick

Focus passage: Genesis 37-50

Athletes have them. Politicians have them. Even high school graduates sometimes have them. They all have dreams. It may be to win the World Series or to make lots of money as a doctor. Yet the problem with many of those pictures is that they are all about the dreamer. Great dreams include others. It is the person who wants to find a spouse and have a family. It is the person who wants to find a cure for cancer or feed the hungry in a third world country. These require surrendering something of ourselves for the good of others. Joseph starts with a dream that is all about him like a picture taken with a selfie stick. God gives him a big picture dream that will change the history of the world. His life is a lesson in why we need to stop focusing on ourselves and look at God’s big dreams for us. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Rocky Mountain National Park has always been a special place for me. I love the mountain lakes and the continental divide. It is a special place that reminds me how powerful and great is our God. Something this beautiful is not by accident. It is God painting on the canvas of the earth for all to see his artistry. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

"The Life of David": 5 A Friend in Need

Focus Passage: 1 Sam 20

From the beginning of time, God said that it was not good for man to be alone. Everyone needs a friend. The picture of hopelessness is a man or woman sitting by themselves with their heads in their hands and no one who cares. When life seems to fall apart, we need someone who we can come to so that they can support us. After the great triumphs in David’s life, his world seems to be falling apart. The king had made him a son in law, but now seems to want to destroy David. He had fled to the safety of being with Samuel, but he yearns to be with his friend and mentor Jonathan. Their friendship stands out as a model of what true friendship can be among the people of God. We all need a friend and Jonathan shows us what a true friend can do for you. 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

"Super Church": 3 Super Abundance

Focus passage: 2 Cor. 9:6-15

There never seems to be enough. We save and save, but will there be enough for retirement? We work hard but always wonder if the kids can go to college. Suddenly, the offering plate comes around on Sunday and we feel like we have little to give. We are consumed by worry instead of being freed by a faith that believes that the Lord will provide for our needs.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Story - Abraham: God Gets Personal

Focus passage: Genesis 12-35

If I were to grow a crop, I would plant a whole tray of seeds to make sure that I got six or eight good tomato plants. I would look for the hardiest and throw out the rest. In the time of the patriarchs, God does something entirely different. He throws himself totally into one family. He calls Abraham and no one else. There is not a plan B if Abraham doesn’t work out. To me, that is just crazy and dangerous. Yet, God will throw everything He has into this one man and his family. He will nurture them, save them from themselves, and protect them against enormous odds. No other God has ever shown such love and devotion. Some of the things he does make us scratch our head and wonder why he does them. We can see how much He will do to help us thrive.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Niagara Falls

Dividing Canada from the United States, the falls are a joy to experience. You can walk on an island that divides the American Falls from Horseshoe Falls or even ride in a boat at the base of the falls. Both sides of the falls have a unique flavor to them that makes this a delight to see and experience. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

"The Life of David": 4 Fear in Control

Focus Passage: 1 Samuel 18

There is a place for fear, but it should never control our lives. On a mountain highway with sheer drop offs, fear keeps us cautious and may save our life. However fear may deny us the chance to see friends or travel distances if our fear of heights prevents us from flying in airplanes. Fear can be a blessing when we keep it in check. Saul has been told that God will tear the kingdom of Israel from him and his family (1 Sam 15:28). He has pushed the Lord out of his life and has been tormented by an evil spirit (1 Sam. 16:14). He is now a man who lives in fear of everything around him and may be wondering who the Lord will give his kingdom to. In that moment of fear, a young man of amazing talent comes on the scene.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

"Super Church": 2 Super men and women

 Focus Passage: Rom. 12:1-8

No one is good at everything, but super men and women are great at something. Think of the 8 year old piano prodigy. He might terrible in math or science, but put him in front of a piano and it is magic. Think of the professional basketball player. He may have done poorly in school, but he flies toward the rim like a bird in flight. God’s children don’t have to be great at everything either. Some are great leaders. Others are great teachers. Others encourage and comfort. All God’s people have the opportunity to be great at something because God has made them great. They just have to discover what spiritual gift has been given to them.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Story - Creation: Congratulations, its a boy and a girl

Focus passage : Genesis 2-3

They are three of the highlights of my life. They are the days that each of my three children was born. My wife, Joan, and I had always wanted kids to share our life with and God granted that request. Three beautiful children with all their fingers and toes were given to us. Oh the joy and the heartaches! Yet, part of the bliss has been and still continues to be watching them grow. Helping them through the trials and watching their lives blossom. I may be jaded, but I picture God in the darkness before creation wanting children. I picture Him wanting to have someone to invest in and to watch grow and bloom. It is a scene in four acts.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston is a beautiful city filled with history and charm. From magnificent churches and carriage rides through the city, you find yourself caught in its southern charm. Be sure to visit some of the historical homes and beautiful gardens to get a sense of Charleston's past. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

"The Life of David": 3 David and Goliath

Focus Passage: 1 Samuel 17:32-51

Fear is the lion that grips our insides and tears them to shreds. It can be the fear of being laid off when the company is struggling. It can be the fear of illness when the doctor sees something on a routine x-ray. It can be the fear that grips us when God asks us to serve in a difficult ministry. Everything may work out right, but fear will make your life hell while you wait to regain life’s balance. Such was the problem for the Jews. Goliath would stand in the valley and taunt them. Their minds knew God was more powerful, but their shaking knees and cowardly hearts had not gotten the message.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

"Super Church": 1 Super Team

Focus Passage: Acts 2:42-47

It was only a week before the playoffs and the Saint Louis Cardinals were hot. When a starting pitcher had the occasional bad night, the bullpen brought the team back in the game. Injuries were no problem because players could be called up from AAA ball to fill the void. The team had a great skipper who managed his players well and left them all with smiles on their faces. What would it be like to be a member of a church that worked like that? What elements need to come together for a church to be on fire like a great baseball team? What would it take for every player to be “all in” and make their church team look like champions?

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Story: Watch Jewish History Flash Before Your Eyes

The story of God and His people

The Bible is a different kind of book. Other holy books are sets of rules on life and approaching the gods. They are filled with rules that must be obeyed or a vision of how to change yourself and have some kind of inner peace. The bible is different. It is a book about a relationship between a loving God and a fickle people. There are no heroes in the book other than God. As you read the Bible, you can see yourself in the ordinary people of the Bible who struggled, but by the grace of God did extraordinary things through God’s power. Follow the sweep and see how God works in ordinary lives like yours and mine.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Pike's Peak, Colorado

Our summer camping trip took us to Colorado where we drove to the top of Pike's Peak. At 14110 ft above sea level, you can see for miles in every direction. The air is clear and the world famous donuts in the gift shop and restaurant are amazing. If you don't want to drive, you can take the cog railway to the top. Here are just a few of the sights we saw. 

"The Life of David": 2 When God departs

Focus Passage: 1 Samuel 16:14-23

Human lives cannot exist as a vacuum. We are either filled with the Lord or filled with something else. People often think that if they push the Lord out of their life that they will be free. They resent the rules of faith and don’t want to belong to anyone. Sadly when we push God away, Satan often rushes in to fill the vacuum and rule over our lives and desires. He will take over our character and will guide our actions. Instead of freedom, we end up with bondage to a cruel master. Saul, the anointed of God chosen to lead God’s people Israel had rejected the Lord. As we will see in the text, he paid a high price for pushing the Lord out of his life.