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9/11 Worship Service

I can’t believe it is already the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

In some ways it seems forever ago…  but on the other hand I can still remember that Tuesday morning as if it was yesterday.  It was a defining moment for our country.  We lost a sense of innocence that day and joined the rest of the world in understanding the reality that terrorists do wish us harm.

But in response I saw something incredible.  The power of God to bring good out of even the most evil of acts.  Our nation stood together united in ways I had not seen in my lifetime.  An entire generation was awakened to a new sense of purpose and direction.  We were inspired by the dramatic heroism of the first responders.  And people sought for spiritual meaning in ways I hadn’t seen before.

The flood into churches the following months may have receded, but I know people who have been forever changed.  Many discovered security in their Savior they couldn’t find anywhere else.  As I reflect back on that day, I know that the sacrifice so many people made was not in vain.

Our church will be hosting a special worship service on 9/11/11.  My prayer is that lives will be touched and transformed again.  We will remember those who were lost, celebrate how our nation came together and honor those who continue to serve.  Those in law enforcement, the fire department and the military will be recognized that morning.  Three courageous men from Summit will speak that day – a police chief, a fire captain and veteran who served in Afghanistan this past year.

My prayer is for the Lord to continue to guide and protect our country, as he has these past 10 years.  As Proverbs 18:10 says, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.”  Let’s continue to find great courage and hope in Him, whatever the future will bring!

Posted in Favorite Proverbs, In The News, Leadership, Ministry

Leaders Bringing Hope

My prayers are with the people of Japan as they deal with the triple tragedy of the earthquake, tsunami and destruction of their nuclear power plants.  The entire world seems to be watching–but those living in the country must be glued to every scrap of information released.

That’s why it was good to see Japan’s emperor address the nation today.  From reading an article this morning, I learned this is the first time the 77-year old emperor has spoken publicly to the nation after an event like this.  In the past this very dignified man has only spoken in times of war and great crisis.  The words of this beloved leader are lifting the spirits of the entire nation.

When a king’s face brightens, it means life; is like a rain cloud in spring. Proverbs 16:15

Never underestimate the power of the right words spoken at the right time by a leader.  Wherever you lead–whether in your government, church, company, school or family–don’t shy away from the opportunity to provide hope and strong leadership.

Posted in In The News, Leadership | Tagged as: , , , , , ,

Dishonest Scales

A week ago some friends brought Liz and I some jumbo shrimp back from Rocky Point, Mexico.  If you’ve never had fresh shrimp from Puerto Penasco, you are seriously missing out!  We had a tasty meal compliments of the local fishermen.

But we discovered something when we prepared dinner…  the shrimp weighed about 1/4 less than expected.

Our friends told us that they went to a new shrimp vendor for the first time.  There’s so much construction down near the waterfront that they weren’t able to use their normal, trusted source.  This guy promised that he would treat them right and was completely honest.  He looked them in the eyes and said they could trust him.

It was a great reminder for me that Proverbs is just as true today as it was back in Solomon’s time:

The LORD detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favor with him. Proverbs 11:1

God knows that it’s human nature to cut corners and try to gain an advantage at the expense of others.  It doesn’t matter if it is a Jewish marketplace, the waterfront in Mexico or a corporate boardroom in America.  The promise of a quick buck is an easy temptation – but God promises that you are much better finding favor with Him.

Our friends went out of their way to make things right… and I shared this verse with them.  I can’t wait to hear what happens the next time they talk to that vendor. :)

Posted in Family, Money | Tagged as: , , , ,

New AA Group

A few weeks ago a couple leaders approached me about starting an Alcoholic Anonymous group in Summit’s office.  We quickly figured out the details and gave them the green light to start the “Verrado Turning Point Group.”

I love the name – and I’ve been thrilled to hear they had 20 & 15 attendees at the first two meetings.  Their PR has all been by word of mouth, so it’s off to a great start!

Summit has always loved to partner with our local community, so this was a natural fit.  If you are looking for a group and feel God leading you to make a change, check it out:

  • Friday nights from 7-8:00 p.m.
  • In the Summit church office (behind Bank of America in Verrado)
  • For more info contact Gary at 256-318-5595 or Carl at 602-618-8282

I do not believe that alcohol in and of itself is sinful.  Jesus even turned water into wine for a wedding feast (John 2:1-11).  But alcohol abuse IS sinful and a problem for many people.  They can’t simply have a beer or a glass of wine – they NEED it or allow it to take control in their life.  God offers us great freedom when we turn to Him… and change begins when we accept His help & get accountability.  That’s why I’m excited about this new AA group.

If you read the end of Proverbs 30 and can see yourself in that picture, check out the group this week!

29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
Who has strife? Who has complaints?
Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes?
30 Those who linger over wine,
who go to sample bowls of mixed wine.
31 Do not gaze at wine when it is red,
when it sparkles in the cup,
when it goes down smoothly!
32 In the end it bites like a snake
and poisons like a viper.
33 Your eyes will see strange sights,
and your mind will imagine confusing things.
34 You will be like one sleeping on the high seas,
lying on top of the rigging.
35 “They hit me,” you will say, “but I’m not hurt!
They beat me, but I don’t feel it!
When will I wake up
so I can find another drink?”

Posted in Discipline, Ministry | Tagged as: , , , , ,

Mexico Mission Trip

This past weekend Liz and I traveled with a team of 38 people down to Mexico.  Summit has been building homes for a few years now, but this year was the most ambitious so far.  We built a “double-wide” house that was twice the size of the stardard home built through Amor Ministries (www.amor.org).

It’s one of those fun times when I get to help and watch other people lead well.  Char Bentz and the rest of the team did an awesome job.  And my Proverbs reading on Monday reminded me just how important it is to meet needs like this:

Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered. Proverbs 21:13

Here are my top moments from the 4-day weekend:

  • Watching a truly grateful family receive the keys to a new house
  • Seeing Fernando (the dad) work his tail off all weekend long with our team
  • Having Hugo join us a week before the trip – and be a total game changer as our translator
  • Worshipping and having dinner with the family at our campsite
  • Praying about the rain… and have the storm change course to the north of us
  • Sleeping with Liz in Ralph’s toy hauler rather than our tent :)

If you’ve never been on a trip like this one, mark your calendar right now.  The team will head back on Presidents Day weekend next year (February 17-20, 2012).

Posted in Marriage, Ministry | Tagged as: , , , ,

Grey-Haired Wisdom

Liz and my kids have a great time pointing out grey hairs now that they have started to appear.  They are not winning the battle yet, but with my family history I know that it is just a matter of time. :)   I’ve never wanted to try a goatee – in part because I know just how grey it would be!

People spend billions of dollars hiding grey hair in America.  Lots of products like this one and salons all across the country make some serious money helping to keep a youthful appearance in place.

The funny thing is that in many places overseas, people wish that grey hair would come in faster.  It’s seen as a sign of respect and wisdom, as Solomon highlights in today’s verse:

Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness. Proverbs 16:31

That was good news for my dad, because he went completely grey in the span of a couple years during a very stressful stay on the missionfield.  I remember my parents sharing about many differences in culture like that when they returned to the United States.  In fact, when people learned that being a little overweight was desirable in that part of Africa as well, I heard several volunteered to go overseas right away!

The next time you color your grey hair – or choose to display it – remember this verse.  Getting older may not be popular in America.  But in God’s kingdom, wisdom is always in style.

Posted in Family, Funny Stuff, Leadership | Tagged as: , , , , ,

Happy Valentine’s Day

Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”  Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Proverbs 31:28-30

As we celebrate Valentine’s Day, I am so incredibly thankful for my wife Liz.  God has blessed me with an incredible partner in life and in minstry.  Through the years she has proven herself to be a:

  • Faith-full woman who loves Jesus
  • Fantastic mother
  • Willing servant
  • High capacity leader
  • Wonderful wife
  • …and an organizational genius who simply makes things happen!

What other passage could be more fitting that the 2nd half of Proverbs 31 on this day?  I see so much of my wife as I read those words.  God has blessed me beyond measure with a place in His family… and by giving me this earthly family with Liz by my side!

Hallmark has nothing on the writer of Proverbs today… “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”  I don’t think I can say it any better than that!  :)

Posted in Family, Marriage | Tagged as: , , , ,

Sex & Craigslist

As most people know by now, Craiglist is not only a place to get a great deal on used furniture.  It unfortunately has also provided a venue for sex trafficking and for consenting adults to connect.

Congressman Christopher Lee is one more example in a long line of married politicans who thought they were above the system and would never get caught cheating on their spouse.  You can check out the CNN news coverage here.

Solomon knew exactly what he was talking about when he gave his son the following advice:

Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched? So is he who sleeps with another man’s wife; no one who touches her will go unpunished.  Proverbs 6:27-29

Even without the internet to help spread the news, Solomon knew that secrets like these simply will not stay hidden.  It’s why he spends so much time talking about sex and the dangerous game people play when they tell themselves, “Nobody will ever know.”

Keep it simple.  If you are married, enjoy the wife (or husband) God has given you.  Make the most of that relationship.

Long before the “Just Say NO” campaign against drugs in the ’80s, Solomon had it figured out.  Take his advice the next time an opportunity crosses your path (and it will).  You’ll save a lot of heartache in the process – and maybe your job too!

Posted in In The News, Marriage | Tagged as: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament

If you want to be inspired by the faith of a child, click on the picture to watch an 11 year-old share Jesus in all 66 books of the Bible.  It happened back in December, and the video has already been seen by close to a million people.

It is awesome to see a boy his age throw it down!  The truth is that the Old Testament is filled with prophecies and references about Jesus.  I have shared Isaiah 53:3-8 with some Jewish friends (without giving them a scripture reference).  They all immediately said, “That must be talking about Jesus, right?”

There have been many people who see Jesus in Proverbs 8 as wisdom personified.  I don’t believe that is the case because of verse 22, which talks about wisdom as the first of God’s creation before anything else.  John 1 makes it clear that Jesus was God from the beginning and participated in the creation of all things.

That being said, I do believe that Jesus does reveal the wisdom of God perfectly.  Check out this New Testament passage:

I want them to be strengthened and joined together with love so that they may be rich in their understanding. This leads to their knowing fully God’s secret, that is, Christ himself. In him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are safely kept. Colossians 2:2-3

As I read through Proverbs for the second time this year, I do hear echoes of Jesus in this book.  Wisdom offers the choice between life and death.  Wisdom transforms those who follow.  And wisdom is where we find the knowledge of God.

Enjoy the video!  It’s a great reminder that Jesus was a part of God’s redemptive plan all throughout history.

Posted in Ministry, Resources, Videos | Tagged as: , , , , , ,

Quality Time with Dad

There is nothing like the opportunity for kids to spend time with their parents.  I have great memories of trips and family game nights.  Our years growing up overseas and the many adventures we shared will always be with me.

I love both of my parents very much, but there is something unique about the bond between a father and a son.  With the overseas time change, I will always remember the special occasions when he woke my brother and I up to watch a Lakers playoff game in the middle of the night.  I remember him sharing his love for fishing and teaching us how to tie knots.

As the years have gone by, I also have come to realize how much he impacted me in my faith.  My dad spent time leading devotions with our family and taught confirmation for my brother & I in our home.

Reading Proverbs 4 a couple days ago reminded me just how important that is:

When I was a boy in my father’s house, still tender, and an only child of my mother, he taught me and said, “Lay hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands and you will live. Proverbs 4:3-4

Liz and I have been talking about how we can spend some extra individual time with our kids.  We want to make sure that she has some quality mom & daughter time and that I have opportunities to hang with Timothy.  And just like Solomon, I pray we take advantage of the time we have while our kids are still in these young years.  I enjoy the fun moments and times we laugh together - and I long for all three kids to ”lay hold” of the faith during those moments as well.

Posted in Family | Tagged as: , , ,