Saturday, March 16, 2013

Life Takes Training

When I was in Junior High, my basketball coach was fairly hard core.  We weren't tall, so our game had to be based on speed.  We had to be quick to the ball when it was loose and get down the court faster than our opponents.  If we couldn't jump higher than them, we had to be there to box them out further from the basket.  In a tough environment, you have to train to win.

One practice after a game where the coach felt we coasted and lost the game because of it, we ran.  And we ran.  Suicide after suicide (ball players may know what this is, and it isn't fun).  Sprint after sprint.  I still picture my friend Mark's face as pale as a sheet and guys doubled over ready to pass out.  We never coasted in a game again.  And I would argue that we were in better shape than most any team we faced.  I didn't appreciate the approach at the time, but it trained us for battle.

Parents, we are to "train" our children (Ephesians 6:4).  Christian, we are to "train" in order to win the prize that doesn't fade away. (I Timothy 4:7-8); be trained in righteousness by the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16); train ourselves so we can distinguish good from evil (Hebrews 5:4); and view any hardship we face in life as discipline, or a part of our training (Hebrews 12:11).

Training involves discipline.  Training our children is not taking them to church and trying to be good people at home.  Training is knowing your child, instructing them in the Bible, understanding how they think and where they need correction; directing them; helping them learn proper eating, handling of money and developing healthy relationships, all in a way that honors Christ.  It is taking time with them, helping them develop their minds and hearts in godliness.

Training takes time, effort and intentionality.  Training is discipline.  It takes exercising your mind, body and soul.  Training requires correction and rebuking for things that are not right.  Training takes constant encouragement, support and mentoring.  It is the daily task of life.

Many of us weren't trained, we were raised.  And many of us avoid training today because we don't want to put forth the effort.  But the harvest of training is a righteous life.  And isn't that the goal?  Not a righteous life that comes from us, but from the Father who trains us.

Let's not just do life or raise our kids.  The time is short.  Let's be in training and train those around us.  Rather than falling into the trap of thinking we must sin and our children must sow their wild oats, let's stand strong in Christ and prepare them so that the stories of brokenness do not have to be passed down from generation to generation.

But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s childrenPsalm 103:17

Friday, March 8, 2013

Holy Land Tour - February 10-23, 2014

Imagine yourself in this picture.  You are at the top of the Mount of Olives, looking down on the Old City of Jerusalem.  You are about to walk down the Palm Sunday trail, hearing the faint voices of people shouting "Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord."  At the bottom of the hill you walk into the Garden where Jesus prayed, "Father, not my will but yours be done."  Later you walk the very stones where Jesus walked, and the Bible comes alive before you.

Our Holy Land tour for 2014 will be different than any Pam and I have led.  We will begin our journey by heading south upon entering the land of Israel and following the journey of the Israelites up out of Egypt.  Our first night will be by the Dead Sea.  Following a morning dip in the Dead Sea, we will then visit Qumran where the Dead Sea scrolls were found; Masada; and travel south to the port city of Eilat.  We will spend two days here, visiting the Tabernacle set up in the wilderness; ride camels into the desert for those who desire; and scuba, snuba or simply enjoy sunshine in the midst of the Buffalo winter.  We will then cross into Jordan, taking in Petra, Mt. Nebo and one or two other sites before spending the night near Amman.  We then will cross back into Israel, visiting the ancient city of Bet Shan and traveling north along the Jordan River Valley until we reach the Sea of Galilee and the city of Tiberias.  We will spend three nights here, touring Jesus' hometown, the cities He ministered in, the Mt. Of Beatitudes, take a ride across the Sea of Galilee; visit the Golan Heights and the three northern borders of Israel; Caesarea Philippi where Peter made his profession of faith in Jesus; Capernaum; Cana; Nazareth; and have the opportunity for people to get baptized in the Jordan River.  We will then head along the Via Maris (the way of the Sea) to Megiddo, Mt. Carmel; Caesarea, Joppa and then up into Jerusalem.  Our last four days and nights will be taking in all the treasures of this ancient city; Bethlehem; the Elah Valley where David slew Goliath; visit with our pastor friend Steven Khoury; and make our way back to Tel Aviv and home.  The price for this fourteen day trip includes air; bus transportation; lodging, buffet breakfasts and dinners; guide; entrance fees; all tips; and health insurance.  A $300 deposit is due by June 15th to reserve your place on the trip.  A more detailed itinerary, including hotel links, a FAQ section, and additional travel info is available by contacting me at  Anyone is welcome to go, so if you have friends, family, or co-workers who have expressed an interest at some point, the trip is open to anyone.  We have room for the first 30 people who register.