Mission: Possible (Part 3)

From the Archives - Dec. 2008

This is it. The conclusion to Mission: Possible? If you have not read the first 2 parts please skip down two posts to Part 1. Join the discussion. Let's look at the final part of the Sermon on the Mount.

Matthew 5 was rough and chapter 6 was only slightly better (or worse depending on your perspective). Let's see where ch. 7 takes us.

"Stop judging so that you will not be judged. Otherwise, you will be judged by the same standard you use to judge others. The standards you use for others will be applied to you. So why do you see the piece of sawdust in another believer's eye and not notice the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to another believer, 'Let me take the piece of sawdust out of your eye,' when you have a beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye. Then you will see clearly to remove the piece of sawdust from another believer's eye.
(Matthew 7:1-5)

Ouch! Jesus pulls no punches here. Right out of the gate He hits the nail on the head of an issue plaguing our jobs, churches, etc. Who reading this has not been guilty of this one? I know I sure have.

The next few verses are like a whirlwind rush to the end. Asking, giving and receiving all are hit on here. Verse 12, also known as the GOLDEN RULE, talks about doing for others what we would have them do for us. Oh that we all truly lived that way. He even talks about knowing a believer by their fruit. Is the fruit the stuff He was talking about in chapters 5-7? What do you think?

Jesus tells us to avoid the wide road to destruction and to go into life through the narrow way but then says, "But the narrow gate and the road that lead to life are full of trouble. Only a few people find the narrow gate." The way He TELLS US to go is full of trouble. Not easy! Uh Oh....

Then He throws this one at us: "Therefore, everyone who hears what I say and obeys it will be like a wise person who built a house on rock."

The chapter comes to a conclusion with this: "When Jesus finished this speech, the crowds were amazed at his teachings."

Well yeah, I am as well. This was the longest discourse Jesus gave that we have on record. It is not a sermon to the unbelievers, to the world so to speak. It is a sermon to us, His children. Many say if we try to live this way we are "socialists, communists, hippies, etc. You can't live in peace with one another, you can't forgive EVERYONE who wrongs you. What about JUSTICE?"

The thing is, Jesus doesn't ask us for excuses. He doesn't say, "Hey try this and if it doesn't work for you no harm, no foul." He call us to obedience. It may be uncomfortable obedience but it is obedience He calls us to nevertheless.

Is it possible? Yes. Is it hard? Yes. What we need is Jesus living in us and through us to accomplish this possible mission. We also need faith! (Hebrews 11:6)

Do you long to see change in your life, church, etc? Let's all try to follow the example of Jesus and truly live our faith! I'll be honest and say I'm not there yet but I want to make the journey. Are you with me?


Mission: Possible (Part 2)

From the Archives - Dec. 2008

(If you have not read Part 1 I would suggest you skip to the post just prior to this.)

Let's continue examining the Sermon on the Mount and see if our mission truly is possible.

I will have to admit Chapter 5 of Matthew was really rough. Is Chapter 6 any better?

Verse 1 doesn't sound so bad. Not doing things for public praise isn't a bad idea. In the next verse it says, "So when you give to the poor, don't announce it with trumpet fanfare. This is what hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets in order to be praised by people. I can guarantee this truth: That will be their only reward."

Wait did that say "So when you give?" Why it sure does. Verses 3 and 4 talk about giving to the poor as well. Oh...this is something He actually wants us to do! Not announcing our actions is a key part of these 2 verses. That's not too impossible....is it?

Jesus then talks a bit about prayer and even gives us an example that we affectionately call the Lord's Prayer. It's a beautiful prayer. However there is that one potential stumbling block. That line that says: "Forgive us as we forgive others." How come God keeps throwing in all these things on forgiveness, helping the poor, etc? This is looking like Ch. 5 all over again.

Wait here's a piece on fasting. No problem there. Wait...what's that in verse 19-21....oh no....it says we shouldn't store up treasures on earth, that our heart is where our treasure is and it should not be here but in Heaven. (I will not look around my room, I will not look around my room....oh dang...where did all this stuff come from!)

The rest of chapter 6 talks about not worrying. Reminds me of the old Mad Magazine slogan, "What! Me worry?" I will admit I have been a worrier from time to time. It's been a hard one for me, yet Jesus clearly talks about not doing it.

Where will this all end? Things look even more impossible then before. What does Jesus want from us?

Come back for the 3rd and final part of Mission: Possible?


Mission: Possible (Part 1)

This is from the Archives...Dec. 2008

An examination of the Sermon on the Mount.

My family and I love watching old reruns of the American TV show, Mission Impossible, which ran from 1966-1973. Sure, most of the technology is cheesy now and the special effects are corny, but the show had a fantastic theme and a great premise. A team put together to accomplish the impossible missions.

Do you ever feel like God is calling you to the impossible? I do every time I read the Sermon on the Mount! If you read Matthew chapter 5 you'll find many things that might seem hard to swallow. Some will feel downright impossible.

Just look at how Jesus starts off in Matthew5:3-12. The Beatitudes...or as I like to think of them the way our attitude should be! Sure, some sound easy and nice, like v. 6 which says if we hunger and thirst for righteousness we will be filled. However when you look at v. 5 about being meek, v. 7 about being merciful and v. 9 about being a peacemaker....gulp...those are not easy. Try to encourage someone to be merciful when they are wronged and they are just as likely to turn on you! I know because I've done it...I've turned my anger to the person saying be merciful.

Matthew 5:13-16 doesn't sound that hard. Letting your light shine, being salt, can't be that difficult can it? (Unless you think about that meek, merciful peacemaker thing!)

Right after this, Jesus talks about the Law and how He came to fulfill it. Look what He points out though: In v. 21 He basically says, "Never Murder" and then in v. 22 He says, "But I can guarantee that whoever is angry with another believer will answer for it in court. Whoever calls another believer an insulting name will answer for it in the highest court. Whoever calls another believer a fool will answer for it in hellfire."

We've never done that right? We've never called another believer an insulting name, right? Or a fool?

Makes me want to not open my mouth period!

Jesus goes on to say adultery is looking at a woman with lust in your heart. Verse 39 is easy: "But I tell you not to oppose an evil person. If someone slaps you on your right cheek, turn your other cheek to him as well. " Oh wait.....

Well there is the whole love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you thing......well.....er....yeah........

This doesn't get easier does it? What do you think? Is Jesus trying to tell us another way to live? Yes. Is it comfortable? No!

Here's a question for you....do you want to live that way? The way of the Sermon on the mount? Is it even possible? Come back for Part 2 of Mission: Possible.


Genealogy of Grace

I have to admit that I never really enjoyed reading the genealogies listed in the Bible. I mean I have read them. However, to be honest, I just skim over them lately.

That is, I did until yesterday. I started reading the book of Matthew again. I was determined to READ the whole thing and not just skim it. So imagine my joy when I read Matthew 1:1-17 and realized how exciting the genealogy actually is. I mean this thing was a mess. I looked at this list and was like...Whoa!

Just look at this list in Matthew 1. Reading it you will find a prostitute, a murderer, an adulterer, idol worshipers, you name it.

These people were in the lineage of Jesus! This was the list God gave us of Joseph's family tree. This sounds like a who's who of reprobates. Most people would try to hide these kinds of relatives in their family tree. Not God. He wanted us to see the good, bad and ugly of Jesus' earthly lineage.


I believe it was because God's grace was on display. David was forgiven, Jacob became the father of a nation. Some repented, others didn't but God's grace WAS evident. Even those who did not come back into a right relationship with God, WERE given the chance. God sent prophets to call them to repentance. His mercy was there for all to see.

The same holds true for us. We might mess up royally but you know what? God forgives. His grace and unmerited favor is there for us as well.

Are you willing to accept?


Bobcat Tales - Watch

WATCHFUL, a. Vigilant; attentive; careful to observe.

I remember when our bobcat stood watch one afternoon.

The story begins when my Mom was letting the cats in. Our dog, which had been outside, pushed his way into the house. Now normally this would not be a big deal. However, the dog had rolled in some things that my Mom did not want spread around the house. As she yelled at the dog to get out, our bobcat came into the room and began chasing the dog around the house. As they ran through the kitchen, dining room and into my parent's bedroom the bobcat was swiping at my dog continuously. Finally the dog ran under my parent's bed and the cat began standing guard.

For the next hour or so, every time the dog would try to come out from under the bed the bobcat would take a swipe at him. This continued until my Dad came home from work. When he came into the bedroom, the bobcat looked at him, let out a cry and left the room. My dad promptly removed the dog.

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. (1 Corinthians 16:13)

As believers, we need to stand on guard as well. We need to be vigilant and when sin creeps in or comes towards our door we need to go on the offensive. We need to take the battle to the enemy and not give ground. However, there comes a time when we also need to look to the Father and repent. Maybe we fell, maybe we gave in "just a little". Whatever the case, we need to let the Father clean house and remove the offense.


Bobcat Tales - Chasin Possum

So, my pet bobcat cornered a possum once. (No this isn't the opening line to a redneck joke.)

I've talked about my pet bobcat here before. I remember one time we heard a ruckus in our laundry room just off the garage. We couldn't figure out what was going on. My Dad stepped into the laundry room and there was my bobcat going crazy. She was trying to get behind the washer. Dad looked back and there was a possum. My dad grabbed the bobcat and threw it out but every time the possum started to leave ( with the assistance of a broom) the bobcat would come back in and chase it behind the washer.

The ol'bobcat was persistent for sure. She was hoping her perseverance would pay off.

Of course, as believers in Jesus Christ, we can KNOW that our perseverance will pay off.

"through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope." Romans 5:24

"For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." Romans 8:24-26

You know, bad things are going to happen. Life is not a bed of roses. Illness, death, loss, hardship and hunger are experienced by those who believe and those who do not. Fires, floods and other disasters abound. God's children will experience persecution (both real and pereceived) and other unjust acts. It doesn't mean God is not in control.

"My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful." James 5:10-11

Those who endured were called blessed. The Lord is compassionate and merciful but that does not mean we will not suffer trials. The hard things in life are there for a purpose. They are there to grow us stronger, to show us character God wants changed, to mature us for the next adventure God has in store for us.

I remember well how hard it was to experience financial loss and even know the hardships of homelessness. I now work with people everyday who are going through similar things. I feel a compassion and have an understanding I never would have had if God had not allowed my family to experience this first hand.

We don't know the 'why', but we don't have to. We are called to persevere. So press on and cling to God. "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
(Philippians 3:14)


5 Questions with Tim Salmon

Welcome to 5 Questions With.....

Today's guest is Tim Salmon. Tim
is a former MLB right fielder/DH who played his entire career with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim franchise. Known affectionately among Angels fans as the King Fish, he is considered one of the greatest players in the Angels' franchise history. In 2002, he helped guide the Angels to their first World Championship. Tim Salmon thrilled Angels fans with his team effort and all-out play. He remains a fan favorite to this day. Founded during his playing days with the Angels, the Tim Salmon Foundation supports charities assisting (Orange County, CA), as well as faith-based organizations (Arizona, Europe).

And now without further delay, on to the questions:

Hi Tim,

Question 1: What one word would describe your current relationship with God?


Question 2: Your ministry, the Tim Salmon Foundation, seeks to help kids and families. Many have suffered abuse or are runaways. What was the catalyst for your involvement with these types of ministry?

Looking around at my own kids and family and realizing how blessed we are. We aren't the norm in society today. Wanting to give kids and families something to feel blessed about.

Question 3: How prevalent are these problems?

Teens in crisis are everywhere. Even in your neighborhood. People just aren't aware of the resources that are out there to help. Foster kids will always be with us. There is never enough volunteer help or good families to satisfy the need.

Question 4: What can Christians do to help in this area?

Do what we did. Start with your neighborhood or surrounding area. Try to make a difference where it's closest to home. Our two charities we supported were within blocks of our home. These are kids that may come in contact with us at grocery stores, shopping centers and schools. It was a great example for my kids to get involved.

Question 5: How hard is it to be a Christian witness in competitive sports?

It's no different than in normal life. If anything you have a greater platform to reach out to others from. But, I assume the question is referring to the obstacles or temptations out there. It's not much different from normal life. If you're not careful for the situations you put yourself into, you'll be prone to trouble. Insulate yourself with fellow believers that can keep you accountable, read God's Word daily, and have an active prayer life. This formula served best for me.

Thank you so much Tim.

There you have it. I would encourage you to check out Tim' s website where you can find out more info about his foundation.

To see past 5 Question guests, check out the rotating interview links on the sidebar.


2 Concussions and a Renewed Mind

I remember dropping like a sack when my Dad hit me in the head with a hammer. It was all my fault. See, my Dad was a plumber and I spent a year in the early 90's as his helper. He was securing basement pipes in place with metal straps. He was getting tired. I went to get him more straps and came up behind him just as he dropped his arm in fatigue...boom...1st diagnosed concussion.

Eggs...a simple word really. However, this was the word I forgot. Where as the first concussion left me with a headache the 2nd one 10 years later was far worse. I was working on cars for a living and had gone up to the balcony to get some parts and ran smack dab into a metal t-bar hanging from the ceiling. For the next 3 days I forgot simple words like eggs. At first my wife thought I was joking. I just wasn't in my right mind...(some think I'm still not...LOL)

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12:2)

After my second diagnosed concussion I wanted nothing more than to think clearly. However, thinking clearly as a believer takes time. When I gave my life to Christ, change did not happen overnight. For a while I still thought (and acted) like an unbeliever. Over time though, I began to notice that I was gravitating less and less to the things of the world the more I put my focus on Christ.

Matt. 6:31 talks about not being anxious. Matt. 6:33 says to seek God's kingdom first. The more we focus on God, the more we learn His heart, the more our desires and thoughts will begin to reflect His. I like how one study note I read talks about Rom. 12:2...it says our regeneration happens instantly but our transformation is ongoing as we seek and grow in Him.

Live the adventure. Let Christ change your life!


I am NOT the same person

I was once a very angry man. When I say angry, I mean that I yelled, I screamed, I punched walls, I fumed, I stomped around. Basically I was a JERK! I would mumble, mutter and complain. I was like a lit fuse ready to explode.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

It took a few years for me to change. I tried to hide this side of me from the world around me. (Though my wife new it)

I did not know who I was. I had not accepted Jesus as LORD. I had accepted Him as Savior but not LORD. I was not willing to let Him take control of my life. I did not recognize my identity in Christ. However, once I realized the reality of Gal. 2:20 and other such verses, I truly became a new man.

I like how John Wesley's explanatory notes explains the verse in Corinthians: All things are become new - He has new life, new senses, new faculties, new affections, new appetites, new ideas and conceptions. His whole tenor of action and conversation is new, and he lives, as it were, in a new world. God, men, the whole creation, heaven, earth, and all therein, appear in a new light, and stand related to him in a new manner, since he was created anew in Christ Jesus.

This is me in a nutshell. I am not the same old jerk. I am 100% different than I was before. I find my senses, my affections, are different than they once were. The things I gravitated towards no longer interest me.

Jesus Christ CAN change your life, if you let Him!


All By Myself - Just A Thought #40

I am reading through the book of John again. This is definitely my all-time favorite book in the Bible. Anyway, as I was reading the story of the woman at the well (John 4:6-42) I was struck by the story and it got me to thinking about my relationship with the Lord. Here we find Jesus at the well, and He has this whole discussion with the woman about living water and thirst. He speaks truth into her life and she is profoundly changed by the event. She is so impacted by meeting and talking with Jesus that she leaves her water jar, the reason she was at the well to begin with, and goes back to the to her town and says to the people, "Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?" (John 4:29)

Who knows what else this woman told the people? The Bible doesn't give all of the conversations. Some probably knew her (or her reputation) and some might have just been attracted by all the hubbub. For whatever reason, they came. Her testimony was powerful enough that many came to believe in Him. (John 4:39)

The people who came out to see Him asked Jesus to stick around. The Bible says He hung out for a couple days. Here is where it got interesting for me: "And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, "It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world."" (John 4:41-42)

See, some believed because of her testimony but they still had to encounter Jesus personally. I think it holds true today as well. We can share our stories, our sermons, our life. Many will believe, but they can't live on our faith. They need to encounter the Savior for themselves. They must have a personal, vibrant, real relationship with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We can raise our children in a Christian home, but one day they will move out. They will need to have their own personal relationship with God because kids won't survive living on their parents faith. Neither will our spiritual children that we lead to Christ; they must meet Jesus personally. Will we let them go to let them grow? Will we cover them in prayer as they walk through the valleys and the mountains, imparting wisdom, yet not stepping in to rescue? It's very natural to let a child begin to make their own choices as they age and to move out on their own when they are ready. Whether it is our natural children, or spiritual ones, their greatest need may not be our physical or emotional support, but our prayers for Christ to meet them where they are at. It is in His presence that they will find out that what we have told them about Him is true.