Tuesday, July 31, 2012


I had the fulfillment of a nice gift yesterday.  I was given a Groupon to do a Discovery Flight.  I was given 10 to 15 minutes of "training" at a simulator on the ground and then we went up in a four seat Cessna airplane and I actually got to run the controls and fly.  It was a blast. I did notice that the instructor asked that I ease up my grip on the controls as we approached for the landing.  Wonder what that meant??  :-)

Pam, ever my faithful partner, sat in back and took marvelous pictures.  The thing that struck me while up there and also from her pictures was the perspective.  We saw Buffalo in a whole new way.  When we are on the ground, things look totally different.  They are congested or run down or gray.  But from above, it looks exciting, fresh, alive.  We saw the harbor, the Niagara Center, the Coca Cola Field.  We watched trains, buses and cars winding their way.  We noticed the gold dome of the M & T Center glistening in the sunshine.  What can feel dead or insurmountable on the ground looks different from above.

That is why we encourage people to consider God's perspective about their lives.  To us, on the ground, things can look rough.  But from above, God sees things, people, and places He has planned for us to bring us life.  His perspective is always better.

How's your perspective today?  I encourage you to look to the One who stands above it all and ask Him to show you His pictures.  Life will look far different for you too.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Below the Surface

I was sitting on our porch this morning watching and thinking.  The hot winds were blowing the young trees in the courtyard around pretty well.  Some were bending slightly but remaining steady.  We saw numerous trees uprooted in Indiana over the 4th of July from that freak storm that went through.  It was obvious that their roots weren't deep enough to help them stand.
This morning I was thinking through Jeremiah 17:

This is what the Lord says:
“Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
    who draws strength from mere flesh
    and whose heart turns away from the Lord.
That person will be like a bush in the wastelands;
    they will not see prosperity when it comes.
They will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
    in a salt land where no one lives.
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
    whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
    that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
    its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
    and never fails to bear fruit.” 

The time to determine where the roots of our trust lie is not in the midst of the storms, but before.  When our roots are deep and deepening in the Lord, we will stand.  But if we consistently trust in ourselves and other people, we will be uprooted when the storms come and then turn around and blame God for the storm.  

The purpose we are doing the House of Prayer and the Grow Discipleship classes as well as our Sunday offerings is to help people go deeper.  Many choose to want a more passive role and just "enjoy" a service.  But roots don't go deep with passivity.   It is in the storms of life and the development times in between that causes our roots to grow.  

Make sure you are growing.  There are storms coming.  Will you stand?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Too Busy

You don't have to talk long to someone or ask many questions until inevitably the issue of time or schedule comes up.  I hear stories of how overtime, games, parties, hobbies, and homework are stressing use of time to the limits.  For Christians, this can cause more stress because of the guilt felt by all the things that "should be" included in the schedule that are not.  It seems that time for prayer, studying of the Bible, meaningful conversations with our family members, and even church attendance get left out when time gets tight.
We all have 168 hours per week, 24 per day.  All of us have to make choices.  All of us will have a myriad of good things presented to us as possibilities.  So how do we determine which things we will do?  Here are some suggested guidelines for deciding.

1.  Put the non-negotiables in first.  The things that are essential for your well-being as a disciple of Jesus.  You will eat at some point.  You will sleep at some point.  Put in there that you will take time to study your Bible.  You will set aside time for your family to be together without interruption.  You will set aside time for spending time alone with the Father.  Church is a high priority.  Exercise is important.  Put these things in your calendar first.

2.  Put your required responsibilities in second.  We have to work or go to school.  There may be a few other things that you "must do."  Careful here.  There are things that we can do and might do and even feel pressure to do.  But they really aren't musts.  Put the things that are responsibilities in second.

3.  Decide what activities or people are the most important places to invest your time in.  Consider time as valuable than your retirement funds.  Since you have limited time (like funds), make choices based on what is going to be most beneficial for you and for honoring Christ.  You may react to the idea of being discerning with people.  But the reality is that there are very needy people who will monopolize all your time if you allowed them.  They need a team of people to deal with them, not you alone.  Plus if you invest time in a few key people they in turn will help you deal with others.  Learn to say "NO" to some good things so you will say "YES" to the most important.

4.  Don't forget to schedule some margin.  You don't have to be busy 24/7.  That is why God established the concept and requirement of Sabbath.  He knew that by nature we would be workaholics or busyholics.  So He scheduled a "time-out" once a week, once a quarter, once a year, and once every so many years, so we would stop and have some margin.  Read for enjoyment or improvement.  Have some no background noise think time.  But schedule some no schedule time in there.  Its ok.

Some years ago, my schedule got out of control and it was causing friction for Pam and me.  It was a defining moment for us in addressing the animal we can call the tyranny of the urgent.  All the things I was involved with were good. But they were not all necessary.  We sat down and worked through the process I listed above.  I began to say "NO" to some very good opportunities so I could focus on the "BEST."  Life changed.  Stress levels came down.  Enjoyment increased. 
I will tell you that this animal does not die.  You must constantly fight with it.  But by putting these guidelines in place, the battle is easier.  So go for it today.  And see how life can improve for you.